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Komparu Enmaiza perform Noh and Kyogen
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, June 7-8

JPAS/Westwego Performing Arts Theatre, 117-A Sala Ave., Westwego, 371-3330; The Japan Expo Foundation was created as a nonprofit in 1980 to promote cultural exchange and understanding between the United States and Japan. Twenty-five years later, the organization presents a performance of Noh, a stage art that combines Japanese drama, dance, music and poetry, by the Komparu Enmaiza group. The tradition of Noh is more than 600 years old and, until recent efforts by a handful of dedicated promoters and performers, was a dying art form. Performer-playwrights Kanami and his son Zeami developed Noh -- and wrote a majority of the repertoire of works still performed today -- in the 14th and 15th centuries. Kyogen, a classical comic theater generally paired with the subtle, more serious Noh, will also be performed. Like the plays of Shakespeare, Noh survives because its timeless, allegorical stories continue to illuminate the mystery of the human condition. Tickets $25 general admission, $15 students 18-under. -- Katie Walenter


Michelle Shocked
5 p.m. Wednesday, June 8

Lafayette Square, 500 block of St. Charles Ave., 561-8927; Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock wrote, 'Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse, and rode madly off in all directions.' One-time New Orleanian Michelle Shocked has almost accomplished Lord Ronald's improbable feat by simultaneously releasing three new albums. She refers to Don't Ask Don't Tell (on Mighty Sound, as are the other albums), as her rock album, which means there's a lot of guitar on each song. Got No Strings visits the Disney songbook, interpreting songs while listening to her inner cowpoke. (Here 'Give a Little Whistle' becomes a spry western swing.) Mexican Standoff is an album of songs that could come from along the Texas-Mexico border -- if the inhabitants were as theatrical as Shocked. It's the shakiest album as her vocals approach dubious stereotypes, but the collection is an ambitious, typically personal way to explore the dissolution of her marriage. Free admission. -- Alex Rawls


Keane, Louis XIV and Regina Spektor
7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 12

Saenger Theatre, 143 N. Rampart St., 525-1052; Will Keane, Louis XIV and Regina Spektor live up to their hype onstage? The English trio Keane (pictured) spent its early years covering tunes by U2 and Oasis. Its time as a cover band taught the piano-heavy group, often compared to Coldplay, how to write brooding, majestic music perfect for an arena full of fans. Keane's debut CD, Hopes and Fears (Interscope), makes it clear that the group has the talent and the ambition to survive many years past their initial burst of fame. Louis XIV's debut, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (Pineapple/Atlantic), mixes punk and glam with the cartoon sexuality of a frat boy at a keg party. Regina Spektor is the odd woman out in this lineup, although the Russian-born pianist and singer would stand out in any crowd. Spektor emerged from New York's anti-folk scene with a collection of carefully built narratives sung with a foreign-inflected voice that can instantly shift from world-weary to wailing. Tickets $28.75. -- Todd A. Price


Karen Akers: 'When a Lady Loves'
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, June 9-11; June 17-18

Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; There's something about Karen Akers that puts her into that red-wine category of improving with age, it seems. How else to explain the gushing reviews the fiftysomething has received after having completed her eight-week run at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room in New York City, where she unveiled her most recent offering, 'When a Lady Loves.' The New York Times ' Stephen Holden, who knows a thing or two on such matters, was particularly effusive in his praise: 'Everything Ms. Akers expresses ... evokes her struggle to maintain perfect balance between aristocratic decorum and artful spontaneity. ... she has (recently) allowed that spontaneity the upper hand ... and is (now) free to roam the world in her golden coach with liveried footmen in attendance. In 'When a Lady Loves' (she) lives up to the daunting artistic standards set by her last two shows.' That's by design. 'I think the quest of developing your voice has to do with being true to who you are,' she said in a previous interview with Gambit Weekly . 'You recognize that certain things suit you because you believe in them, and you espouse whatever sort of life philosophy is behind them.' It's a good thing that New Orleanians can appreciate the perspective, as they've been able to witness those previous shows as Akers has become quite the frequent flyer down to Le Chat Noir -- her Dirty South home away from home, if you will. She will be accompanied by her musical director, Don Rebic. As usual, the gang at the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon will sponsor the first evening (Thursday); call 525-4498 for that night's tickets only, and Le Chat for the others. Tickets $30 for Thursday's performance, $45 for the others. -- David Lee Simmons


Iron & Wine
9 p.m. Thursday, June 9

House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE; Over the past six years, Iron & Wine (Miami native Sam Beam) has released three full-length albums and one EP that have done as much as any artist has to cement the interesting trend of folk inflections in indie rock. Beam is no delicate troubadour, though. The creepy Americana presented on 2005's Woman King EP (Sub Pop) evokes an alternate version of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (with Beam overdubbing his own vocal harmonies) that's about a million times more melancholy and sinister. Though the overall effect is as rustic as an Appalachian hoodoo doll, each track is a minor production masterpiece, as Beam meticulously layers his own percussion, keyboards, piano and guitar into a denser sonic palette than on his previous releases. With Band of Horses. Tickets $16.50. -- Alison Fensterstock


Spencer Bohren
9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday, June 9

626 Frenchmen St., 949-0696; Spencer Bohren's work harkens to the days of last century when musicians were less pigeonholed. Like such traveling musicians as Charlie Patton and Hank Williams, Bohren's guitar playing and songs encompass spirituals, country, folk and blues in such a way that indicates the beauty and uniqueness of each style. His latest record, Down the Dirt Road Blues (Zephyr) shows exactly that, following one song's evolution through various blues forms with commentary on every version. Onstage, Bohren's knowledgeable and gregarious presentation is less a lecture than a captivating hang with a well-traveled uncle. He is also a connoisseur of fine instruments, and these days he has been exploring the lap steel, often performing a slow, soaring version of 'People Get Ready' that's more than a spiritual; it is spiritual. After giving workshops at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace guitar camp in Ohio a few weeks ago, his playing should be at its most impressive. Tickets $15. -- David Kunian


The Bad Off
10 p.m. Friday, June 10

Circle Bar, 1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616; It's always a question as to how a rock band that thrives in a hard-hitting, high-energy live performance will translate such sound to disc. Luckily for the Bad Off, its recently released album, Twilite in Eclipse , conveys the full power of its raucous-good-time live show into four tight, accessible and engaging tunes. Recorded at Piety Street and Solomon Palace studios and produced by Wesley Fontenot, the album hits hard and fast, each tune a showcase for a band high on talent and ambition, but, to date, relatively low in recognition. With this stellar output, this lack of notice should, in a perfect world, change. Twilite in Eclipse sways to frontman Erik Corveaux's sexy, abstract lyrics, while the muscular combo of Jody Smith's drum work and Johnny Foran's guitar drives the music. For this show, the band will perform songs from the album along with a set covering Led Zeppelin, a reprise from its well-received Masked Band Ball show last Halloween. -- Etheridge


French Market Creole Tomato Festival
Noon to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11

French Market, Dumaine and N. Peters streets, 523-4201 The local love for food and festival come together this Saturday in an event quickly rising to become a tradition on the New Orleans calendar: the French Market Creole Tomato Festival. In addition to the beloved vegetable and various food vendors, this year the festival offers a stellar lineup of local musicians. At noon, the inter-faith, interracial gospel group Shades of Praise takes the stage, followed by the salsa swing of Fredy Omar con su Banda at 2:30 p.m. and Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots closing the festival from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. At the nearby floodwall steps, a karaoke stage encourages audience participation in the music. In Dutch Alley, a tent hosts the Nicholas Sanders Trio, a jazz combo of NOCCA students. Shades of Praise will lead a parade at 1 p.m., with other groups marching, including the Treme Brass Band, Storyville Stompers, the Black Bottom Brass Band from Japan, and Mardi Gras Indians. Free admission. -- Etheridge

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click to enlarge JAKE CHESSUM
  • Jake Chessum
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