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Saturday, September 17, at Reliant Arena, 8400 Kirby, 713-629-3700.Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

As every storm junkie knows, most Gulf Coast hurricanes start roiling just off the west coast of Africa -- something about warm water and cool air. A black guy of decidedly mystical bent once told me to stuff all that rot meteorologists spew -- hurricanes, he said, really are the revenge of millions of dead black Africans on the former slave economies in the former Confederate States and in the Caribbean.

It's the kind of theory that's so rife with drama and poetic justice that I wish it were true -- deep within the shark-infested waters off the coast of Africa, ghosts of those doomed souls chucked dead and dying off the Middle Passage slave hulks stir the seas, brew up a storm, blow it across the Atlantic and into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, where, expending the force of 10,000 nuclear bombs, it annihilates the sugar plantations, cotton fields and slave markets from Havana to Savannah and all the way to Atlanta! Word. But don't the descendants of those slaves die in hurricanes, too? Isn't their property destroyed, too? What's up with that? Oh, well, what was that you were saying about "mid-latitude frontal boundaries," Dr. Neil?

But if that theory were true, the perfect soundtrack to the storm formation would be Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, or Hurricane Fela, as they should be called, so heavy is the presence of Mr. Kuti, the late African music god. The massive, multiethnic Brooklyn-based Afropop combo rains Nigerian beats over hypnotic grooves that pummel like a 140-mile-per-hour sustained wind, and the intricately interwoven electric guitars, percussion and bass move with an inexorable, slowly building power, which explodes with detonations of saxophones, organs and trumpets. In the eye of this cyclone are lyrics about the evils of imperialism, Dubya and international capitalism. Could be dreary, hectoring stuff if wrapped in a less attractive package (we all know that the Man sucks), but the Antibalas narcotize their messages with a bulletproof groove that will have you stomping out the floorboards in your master's house. And that's a force-five storm on music's hurricane scale. -- John Nova Lomax

Friday, September 17, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Drive, 713-521-0521.Susan Pace Benefit

While the meltdown of Houston's Southwest Wholesale, the largest independent music distributor in the Southwest, may not have pushed the collapse of Enron off the front page of the Houston Chronicle, the effect on the local music scene was devastating. And the loss of medical benefits has been equally overwhelming for longtime Southwest HR person Susan Pace. Pace has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease that normally strikes children. She's going to need a double lung transplant, and she's going to need it soon.

Former Southwest employee Susie Black has put together a benefit for Susan to help defray some of her medical expenses, and two mainstays of north Houston's vibrant hard rock scene have signed on to help out. Hollister Fracus and Sore both boast former Southwest employees, and their sizable fan bases will hopefully join with Susan's family and friends to raise some money for this most worthy cause. A silent auction also will be held.

As an added treat, the evening will be capped by a jam featuring members of Oz Knozz and Pitbull, two of Houston's most legendary hard rock acts from the past. This evening is a chance to check out the best of north Houston's hard rock scene past and present and help out someone who really deserves it. See you there. -- Greg Ellis

Saturday, September 18, at Forgetta'bout It Too, 5920 Highway 6, 832-593-7069.Leo Kottke

When Leo Kottke strolls onto the stage at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall to inaugurate Compadre Entertainment's series of Americana-themed concerts, most folks in the crowd will be there to hear him play guitar. I'll admit -- he's pretty dang good at it. His singular sense of composition and use of unusual tunings has made him the most popular and influential acoustic guitarist in America for more than 30 years. However, the reason I'll be there (and maybe one or two others like me) will be to hear Leo sing.

Kottke once said his daughter asked him, "Daddy, please don't sing. You sound like a goose." There's a small minority of fans who would beg to differ. Ever since I heard Kottke's singularly melancholic take on Paul Siebel's "Louise" when I was 14, I've been a fan of Leo the singer. Kottke's voice is as unique an instrument as you will ever hear, whether it's taking on classics like "Louise" or Tom T. Hall's "Pamela Brown" (I consider Kottke's versions of both definitive) or original material like the quirky "Frank Forgets."

Granted, more people agree with Kottke's daughter than with me, and that's why his current album features only one vocal number (a stirring version of the Weavers' "Banks of Marble") and why the majority of his show will feature his mind-boggling guitar playing. But I'll be in the crowd, looking around for signs there might be others like me, keeping my fingers crossed for "Louise." -- Greg Ellis

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