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OUR TOP PICKS OF THE MONTH’S EVENTS

Van Halen, June 26

Dance + Dine
The Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival takes place June 9 and 10 at the Old U.S. Mint, featuring three stages of music with a slew of Louisana dance bands, including CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Rosie Ledet, The Lost Bayou Ramblers and numerous others. Fifteen food vendors will be strategically placed around the festival so that in between numbers you can fuel up on regional cuisine that perfectly complements the music.Information, JazzAndHeritage.org/cajun-zydeco

Seeing Red
The Creole Tomato Festival, held June 9 and 10 in the historic setting of the French Market, is an annual event that offers palate-expanding cooking demonstrations as well as a tomato-eating contest, live music and kids activities. With the nearby Cajun-Zydeco Festival, the tomato fest offers another cultural celebration that’s not to be missed. Information, FrenchMarket.org.   

Playing it Out
It isn’t a big secret that New Orleans begets a wealth of literary and theatrical talent, and on June 20,  New Orleans Southern Rep will present six staged readings by the 6x6 Writers Group at the Mid-City Theatre. Collaborators include James Bartelle, Gamal Chasten, Michael Aaron Santos, Lisa Shattuck, Jared Gore, Jon Broder, Paul Werner, Mike Harkins, Andy Vaught, Brittain Valenti, Lucy Faust, Brian Sands, Kerry Cahill, Mandy Zirkenbach, Pat Bourgeois and Madison Curry. Each mini play will be 10 minutes long, exploring themes that are close to the heart of New Orleans. Information, SouthernRep.com.

Hillbilly Hotel
Scott Solo, frontman of local honky-tonk band Hillbilly Hotel, keeps crowds entertained with his unique brand of joke-telling and flirting with the audience in between songs. Then there’s the music itself, which harkens back to the days of Johnny Cash. The group performs original material and revived hits with a refreshing energy. With a lineup of musicians, including Kris Wesling on pedal steel, Roxanne Guidry on lead guitar, Stu Guidry on drums, Chris Nicotera on bass, Joseph McGinty on mandolin and fiddle and Solo on rhythm guitar, Hillbilly Hotel performs for free every Wednesday night at the Howlin’ Wolf Den. This month the group will perform at Mojito’s on June 8 and on June 16 at the One World Family benefit show. They often perform with a rotating cast of stand-ins and supporting musicians, including Jack Alton Kennedy of Silent Cinema, Nancy Staggs, Natalie Mae, Pete Orr, Robert Randow and Gabriel Platica.

Who are your influences? We all come from different parts of the country, so our musical taste is pretty eclectic. We have influences ranging from The Misfits to The Grateful Dead. We’re influenced by all the greats including Hank Williams Sr., Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, June Carter, The Flying Burrito Brothers; the list goes on and on.

What are the biggest misconceptions about country music? Most people think that all country music is like the crap that you hear on the radio, when in reality there’s actually a very beautiful and rich wellspring of great music that isn’t really heard by the general public. I think that this is true in most genres of music, but especially country. Some of these old songs are just amazing, and it’s a real shame they aren’t being heard. That’s one of the things that I think is so exciting about Hillbilly Hotel. We rediscover old songs that nobody hears anymore and bring them to light in the present.

 How does living in New Orleans affect your music? New Orleans is a music city, the competition is pretty fierce – especially if you don’t play traditional New Orleans music such as jazz – because of the fact that the local music scene is just full of incredible talent. There are bands who barely find work here in New Orleans that would be incredibly successful anywhere else in the world. That’s why you see many of the more mainstream/successful acts go on tour over the summer. I think that’s one reason why New Orleaws is so great, because you can go out on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and still see really good live music.

Information, www.facebook.com/pages/Hillbilly-Hotel.

Through Sept. 23. “Leah Chase: Portraits by Gustave Blache III”; New Orleans Museum of Art. Information, noma.org.

Through June 17. “Furnishing Louisiana”; Historic New Orleans Collection. Information, hnoc.org.

June 5. Rubblebucket; Tipitina’s Uptown. Information, Tipitinas.com.

June 6. Wednesday at the Square presents Jeremy Davenport + Gravy; Lafayette Square. Information, WednesdayAt
TheSquare.com.

June 7, 14, 21, 28. Ogden After Hours; Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Information, OgdenMuseum.org.

June 8. NOMA and the New Orleans Film Society: Movies In the Garden presents The Wizard of Oz; Sculpture Garden (New Orleans Museum of Art). Information, noma.org.

June 9. New Orleans Voodoo vs. San Antonio Talons; New Orleans Arena. Information, AFLVoodoo.com.

June 9. Lost Bayou Ramblers with T-kette; One Eyed Jacks. Information, OneEyedJacks.net.

June 9. “IberiaBank Victory Ball”; World War II Museum. Information, DDayMuseum.org.

June 9. Kenny Wayne Shepherd; House of Blues. Information, HouseOfBlues.com.

June 12. Faulkner Society presents “Juleps in June”; private residence. Information, WordsAndMusic.org.

June 16. “Bourbon and Burlesque;” Contemporary Arts Center. Information, cacno.org.

June 19. “Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive”; Mahalia Jackson Theater. Information, MahaliaJacksonTheater.com.

June 26. Van Halen in concert; New Orleans Arena. Information, NewOrleansArena.com.

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