Options for live music in New Orleans this week include an Italian rock star and a pairing of contemporary rhythm and blues singers.


8 p.m. Thursday; Civic Theatre; tickets $25 to $35

If you were to tell a friend in Italy that you have a chance to see Zucchero in a venue that holds less than 1,500 people, the Italian would be shocked. The rock, soul and blues guitarist and singer — his stage name is the Italian word for sugar — is a huge star in his native Italy and throughout Europe. He has sold tens of millions of albums and worked with the likes of Eric Clapton, Sting, Miles Davis, Luciano Pavarotti and John Lee Hooker, yet he remains relatively unknown in the United States. For his new “Black Cat” album, he collaborated with Bono, Elvis Costello — who wrote the first single, “Turn the World Down” — and Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, among others. Locals Ruby & the Rogues, featuring singer-songwriter Ruby Rendrag, and Tonya Boyd-Cannon open the show.

Marsha Ambrosius and Eric Benet

8 p.m. Thursday; House of Blues, 225 Decatur St.; tickets $45

"The M.E. Tour," named for co-headliners Marsha and Eric, pairs two contemporary soul/R&B vocalists who have built credible, acclaimed careers without quite breaking through to the top level of pop stardom. Marsha Ambrosius first made a name for herself with forward-thinking British hip-hop/spoken-word duo Floetry. Her 2011 solo debut, “Late Nights & Early Mornings,” yielded the R&B chart hits “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)” and “Far Away.” Her most recent new album was 2014’s “Friends & Lovers.” Since the release of his debut, “True to Myself,” in 1996, Benet has steadily churned out singles and albums while acting a bit on the side. He released his self-titled seventh album late last year. For "The M.E. Tour," Ambrosius and Benet spend much of the show onstage together.

Chris Brown and 50 Cent

7:30 p.m. Thursday; Smoothie King Center; tickets $27 to $197 plus service charges

Mercurial contemporary R&B singer Chris Brown and rapper 50 Cent bring their 33-city "The Party" Tour to New Orleans on Thursday. Brown, returning to New Orleans for his third show in as many years, will essentially serve as the emcee for the night, kicking off the performance and then welcoming 50 Cent, Fabolous, O.T. Genasis and Kap G to join him on a stage erected in the middle of the arena floor. The Smoothie King Center will be set up in a reduced configuration; still, less than a week before show date, many tickets remained unsold. For those who plan to go, tour promoter Live Nation Entertainment said in a news release that "fans are urged to get there on time," due to the unconventional structure of the show.

Drive-By Truckers

Friday-Saturday; Tipitina’s, 501 Napoleon Ave.; tickets $26 each night or $48 for two-night pass

The Drive-By Truckers’ talent pool is deep enough to spin off guitarist Jason Isbell as a hugely successful Americana artist in his own right and still keep on truckin’. Guitarists/vocalists Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have been the twin engines that powered the Truckers from the get-go in the mid-‘90s. They fueled the critically acclaimed double album “Southern Rock Opera” and a succession of subsequent records that intermingle Southern rock, Americana and a political point of view at odds with that of the stereotypical Deep South. Deep down, as the title of their most recent album suggests, they are an “American Band” that, with as many as three electric guitars blazing away, can raise a racket. The Drive-By Truckers pull into Tipitina’s for a two-night stand this weekend. Hiss Golden Messenger opens both shows.

Other noteworthy shows this week:

On THURSDAY, Portugal. The Man is featured at the Joy Theater. Guitarist John Mooney does two sets at Snug Harbor. Keyboardist John “Papa” Gros leads his band at 8 p.m. at Chickie Wah Wah. Leroy Thomas is featured for Zydeco Night at Rock ’N’ Bowl.

On FRIDAY, Erica Falls, the powerhouse New Orleans singer known for her collaborations with Galactic and many others, showcases material from her second album, “Vintage Soul,” at the Maple Leaf. See New Orleans-formed alternative pop duo Generationals with Psychic Twin at One Eyed Jacks. Singer-songwriters Paul Sanchez and Will Kimbrough engage in a “song swap” at Chickie Wah Wah at 8 p.m., followed by Brian Prunka.

On SATURDAY, guitarist Chris Thomas King anchors a blues trio at Snug Harbor. Guitarist Walter “Wolfman” Washington plays a solo set at 9 p.m. at Chickie Wah Wah, then sits in with Soul Project starting around 10 p.m. Sample Charlie Wooton’s Zydefunk at the Maple Leaf.

On SUNDAY, Bruce Daigrepont hosts an Easter evening Cajun fais do-do at Rock ’N’ Bowl, starting at 5:30 p.m. Modern jazz master saxophonist and clarinetist Victor Goines is featured with a quintet at Snug Harbor. The Joe Krown Trio grooves at the Maple Leaf.

On MONDAY, Local H rocks The Parish of the House of Blues with Bantam Foxes. Bassist George Porter Jr. is joined by keyboardist Matt Lemmler and drummer Terrence Houston at the Maple Leaf. Foxygen is at One Eyed Jacks. Alex McMurray and fellow guitarist Spencer Bohren team up at Chickie Wah Wah.

On TUESDAY, the New Orleans swamp blues ’n’ boogie Honey Island Swamp Band plugs in at the Joy Theater at 11:30 p.m., right after the Bob Weir concert ends across Canal Street at the Saenger; admission to the HISB at the Joy is free with a Weir ticket stub or by advance registration. Galactic drummer Stanton Moore powers his jazz trio at Snug Harbor.

On WEDNESDAY, the Noah Young Band is at the Maple Leaf. Big Sam’s Funky Nation and Naughty Professor are featured for the free Wednesday at the Square show downtown at Lafayette Square. Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra are at Snug Harbor. Singer Meschiya Lake and pianist Tom McDermott team up at Chickie Wah Wah at 8 p.m., followed at 10:30 by the Mike Doussan Band with Dana Abbot. Rapper Curren$y visits the House of Blues.

Follow Keith Spera on Twitter, @KeithSpera.

Keith Spera writes about music, culture and his kids.