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Closer to Home

Not all the best acts at the festival carry passports

Mardi Gras may have ended weeks ago, but Wild Magnolias, from the Crescent City, resurrects the spirit of the celebration with its party chants. Splicing together rowdy sing-alongs with bits of rap, R&B and blues, Wild Magnolias -- contrary to the celebration itself -- appeals to folk young and old. The band will perform at the World Music Stage at City Hall on Saturday, April 8, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

At the Bank United Texas Stage at Smith and Lamar, guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson will perform Saturday, April 15, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Known for his versatility, switching from blues to rock to jazz at the drop of a pick, Johnson mixes smooth melodies and catchy riffs with up-tempo beats and slinky rhythms. The Austinite typically goes for showmanship, not show. Solos are usually deliberate pieces of song with only flashes of quick-fingered brilliance. Not many six-stringed slingers approach the instrument so honestly.

At the American Stage at Sam Houston Park, Shemekia Copeland will perform Sunday, April 16, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Copeland has been wowing people with her huge voice and mature stage presence for years. Though only 18 when she recorded her debut, Turn the Heat Up (nearly everybody's favorite contemporary blues record of 1998), Copeland sings as if she's been belting the blues since Prohibition. Perhaps that's not surprising; she's the daughter of late Texas blues legend Johnny "Clyde" Copeland.

And at the Latin Stage at Tranquillity Park, Chris Perez, former husband of slain Tejano singer Selena, will perform from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 15. Perez should score with the post-Santana populace. The guitarist incorporates aspects of radio rock into his style, which is hook-heavy, dance-friendly and sometimes a bit grungy. Not much is particularly Latin about this performer except his pedigree, surname and ability to sing in both Spanish and English.

 
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