There would be no American music as we know it without the influence of West and Central African music carried here in the hearts and souls of enslaved Africans. So a collaboration between African-American Charles Neville of the famed bayou soul Neville Brothers and Senegal's Youssoupha Sidibe represents a full musical circle of sorts - Africa-meets-America-meets-Africa-again. In addition to blowing sax with his brothers, Neville has also jammed with everyone from Ray Charles to The Grateful Dead. For his part, Sidebe, who plays the 21-stringed kora, or harp, has worked with everyone from India Arie to Michael Franti. Neville and Sidibe have released a fine new album fusing jazz and African and Western music titled 'Tree of Life.' And remember, that's the tree the fruit of which we were supposed to eat in the Garden of Eden before that snake fellow showed up and started talkin' jive about that other tree.
Charles Neville, Youssoupha Sidibe, 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, Mt. Tabor Theater, 4811 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. $12 in advance. $15 at the door. Info: 503-360-1450, taborpdx.com.
When she's not drawing intricate henna designs on festivalgoers' arms and legs around town, washboard enthusiast, fiddler and folk singer Wendy Rover is jamming with her y'all-ternative roots band The Lost Boys - Christian McKee on vocals, mandolin and mandola; Phil Garfinkel on vocals and guitar; Paul Prato on bass. Rover's vocal stylings are rooted in the pre-World War-II era of American music - she'd be happier to sit in with Bessie Smith or Billie Holliday than Lady Gaga, that's for sure. And Portland's roots music scene is certainly the richer for that, by Goddess.
Wendy and the Lost Boys, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, Hawthorne Theatre Lounge, 3862 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. Free. Info: 503-233-7100, hawthornetheatre.com.
The Portland quartet Padam Padam is one of those bands you want playing when you're gazing at your lover's eyes as the two of you plan an ambush of Nazis in occupied Paris, in a smoky bar. Combining French cabaret music, klezmer tunes, tangos and a touch of Tin Pan Alley, the group features singer Lisa Berkson Platt as well as KBOO-FM environmental show host Barbara Bernstein on viola, Venezuelan cuatro (small guitar), guitar, and vocals; former Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks member Jaime Leopold on string bass, guitar, piano and vocals; and KBOO world music show host Kathy Fors on accordion, melodica, piano and alto horn.
Padam Padam, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, TaborSpace, corner of Southeast 55th Avenue and Belmont Street. $7 to $10. All ages. Info: 503-235-2623, padampadam.com.
More than a Creeling
Brad Creel and The Reel Deelpretty much play what used to be called country music or hillbilly music before it became Americana and/or indie roots. No matter what you call it, it's music to make you long for home sweet home when you're stuck fighting in Afghanistan or about to be tasered in Pioneer Square for lighting up a cigarette. Creel plays moonshine guitar and sings, while Sat Atma jams on mandolin and guitar; Ben Grosscup plays bass; Mark Pedersen bangs the drums; and Tom Frisch massages the keyboards.The Reel Deel will celebrate the release of their debut full-length album 'Probably Not,' and share the stage with singer-songwriterLincoln Crockett, who's also putting out a new CD.The Deel album features guest appearances by The Decemberists/ Black Prairie member Chris Funk on dobro and pedal steel, Chris Kokesh of Misty River and Broken Top on fiddle, and Thad Beckman, of Tom Russell fame, on guitar.
Brad Creel and the Reel Deel, Lincoln Crocket, 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 N.E. Alberta St. $12, admission gets you free copy of 'Probably Not.' Info: 503-719-6055, albertarosetheatre.com.
Stars from Mars
Taking the musical route progressive jam bands take will rarely lead you to routine commercial airplay - just ask Phish. However, if you win the spacey psychedelic rock festival crowd over, you pretty much are set for your touring life - just ask Phish. Portland's Mars Retrieval Unit is a left-of-center sonically ambitious group in the Phish vein, stirring prog rock, jam rock, space trippy music, funk, jazz and even some Bjork-like wanderings into one heady stew that Frank Zappa's ghost breathed a 'Boo!' over. The group features Chelsea Luker on vocals, sax and flute; Rob Sipsky on vocals and guitar; Joel Davis on bass; Joshua Birns-Sprague on piano and synthesizers; and Murray Gusseck on drums. MRU is releasing its first album, the 11-track 'Two Sides,' which features a guest appearance by Zappa guitar alumnus Ike Willis. The Martians share the stage with hootsy rootsy Fruition and funky danceable hip hoppish Outpost.
Mars Retrieval Unit, Outpost, Fruition, 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $5. 21 and older. Info: 503-225-0047, mcmenamins.com.