The music options in New Orleans this week include an ageless crooner, a stone-cold country singer and a mass celebration of the local music industry.
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Saenger Theatre, $59-$99
Johnny Mathis passed on a chance to try out for the 1956 Olympic team in track-and-field in order to cut his first recordings in New York City. Soon enough, he’d scored the first of his many hit ballads, “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not For Me To Say.” Lest there be any doubt about the extent and quality of his 60-year association with Columbia Records, in December, the company released “The Voice of Romance: The Columbia Original Album Collection,” a massive, 68-CD boxed set that collects the crooner’s voluminous output for the label to date. But the 82-year-old Mathis isn’t stuck in the past. The most recent album included in the boxed set was “Johnny Mathis Sings the Great New American Songbook.” Released in September and produced by tastemaker Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and mogul Clive Davis, the album features Mathis covering such contemporary fare as Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” Adele’s “Hello,” Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.”
Best of the Beat Awards
6 p.m. Thursday, Generations Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Blvd.), $40
Three nights before Sunday’s national Grammy Awards telecast, OffBeat magazine’s annual Best of the Beat Awards will celebrate the local music community. The winners in more than two dozen categories, including album, artist and song of the year, will be announced. Mardi Gras Indian legend Big Chief Monk Boudreaux will be the subject of an all-star musical tribute featuring harmonica player Johnny Sansone, guitarist Anders Osborne, drummer Johnny Vidacovich, pianist Tom Worrell and singer Bo Dollis Jr. Other scheduled performers on the six-hour event’s two stages include the Soul Rebels, Jamaican Me Breakfast Club, Alfred Banks with Cool Nasty, Muevelo, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers and the Lost Bayou Ramblers (who also happen to be nominated for a Grammy).
9 p.m. Saturday, House of Blues, $40-$75
An alternative-country icon even before the term was coined, Lucinda Williams was born in Lake Charles and spent her formative years in New Orleans before setting off on a never-ending road. Her early compositions included “Passionate Kisses” (a hit for Mary Chapin-Carpenter) and “Changed the Locks” (which Tom Petty covered). Her own Grammy-winning, gold-certified 1998 album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” established her own bonafides as a recording artist standing at the crossroads of country, folk and rock. Last year, Williams took the unusual step of re-recording and re-releasing her 1992 album “Sweet Old World.” The 2017 version, titled “This Sweet Old World,” features re-arranged versions of the original album’s songs, along with four bonus tracks.
9 p.m. Saturday, Joy Theater, $25 and up
Hailing from Texas, Cody Jinks fronted a thrash metal band for years until realizing hardcore country was his true calling. He spent nearly a decade toiling in obscurity and releasing albums on his own before a tour in 2015 with alternative country star Sturgill Simpson helped elevate his profile. That set the stage for Jinks’ 2016 release “I’m Not the Devil,” which hit No. 4 on Billboard’s country charts. The album, which steeps his baritone in hardcore honky-tonk arrangements, ranges from the lickety-split boogie of “Chase That Song” to a cover of Merle Haggard’s “The Way I Am” to the somber, confessional title track, which Jinks wrote with his buddy Ward Davis. In January, Jinks unearthed the country core of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”; his cover version features pedal steel guitar, which, it turns out, is well-suited to the song. Ward Davis opens for Jinks at the Joy Theater.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY SHOWS
Guitarist Detroit Brooks presides over a benefit for Puerto Rico at Snug Harbor; scheduled performers include Kermit Ruffins, Donald Harrision Jr., Topsy Chapman, John Boutte, Leroy Jones and rapper Master P.
High-flying contemporary R&B/funk band Water Seed fires up at Gasa Gasa.
Following a 7 p.m. set by Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Streets hosts Big Freedia’s Birthday Carnival.
The House of Blues presents a Tom Petty tribute band, Southern Accents.
Traditional jazz clarinetist Dr. Michael White holds court at Snug Harbor.
Gasa Gasa has a Grateful Dead tribute with the Tanglers Bluegrass Band and Daria & the Hip Drops.
In light of the Krewe du Vieux parade passing on Frenchmen Street, Snug Harbor deviates from its normal, two-show schedule to present a single, 9 p.m. set by blues harmonica man Johnny Sansone; cover is $10 at the door, cash only.
Naughty Professor presides over its fifth annual post-Krewe du Vieux party at One Eyed Jacks.
Blues harmonica wizard Jason Ricci hits Chickie Wah Wah.
Paul Varisco & the Milestones play a 4 p.m. set at Rock ‘N’ Bowl.
Before embarking on a rock cruise out of the port of New Orleans, Cowboy Mouth headlines a send-off party at the House of Blues.
The Yonder Mountain String Band does contemporary bluegrass at Tipitina’s.