Meeting of minds
Some bands just can't help but be great. That's certainly the case with Afrocubism, a collaborative effort of musicians from the African nation of Mali and Cuban members of the Buena Vista Social Club. The group features: Cuba's 'Johnny Cash' Eliades Ochoa on guitar and vocals; Toumani Diabate, on kora, or West African harp; Bassekou Kouyaye on ngoni, a banjo-like lute; veteran griot singer Kasse Mady Diabate; Djelimady Tounkara, who's been called the finest guitar player in Africa; Fode Lassana Diabate on balafon, a 22-key xylophone; as well as several other musicians in what amounts to one of the sweetest sounding orchestras on Earth.
Afrocubism, 7 p.m. Friday, July 8, Oregon Zoo, 4001 S.W. Canyon Road. $19. Info: www.oregonzoo.org/Concerts .
Swingin' in the rain
Portland's old-time jazz and swing ensemble, the Bridgetown Sextet, tackles the songbook of the Harlem Stride master, composer and pioneering jazz vocalist Fats Waller. The band will play some of Waller's famous hits as well as some lesser-known tunes by the great pianist as well as solo piano performances by Scott Kennedy and Andrew Oliver.
Salute to Fats Waller, 8 p.m. Friday, July 8, Tony Starlight's, 3728 N.E. Sandy Blvd. $12. Info: 503-517-8584, www.tonystarlight.com .
Parlez vous Portland?
We won't bother you with the gory details of the French Revolution, but will point out it gave birth to some awesome parties, with Bastille Day topping the list. Portland's Ninth Annual Bastille Day Festival features French wine, cuisine, art and sport, as well as a waiters/waitresses race and Le Jazz, featuring: the Patrick Lamb Band; Mistral, playing traditional music from Brittany; Eric John Kaiser, Portland's French Troubador; and performers from the Portland Opera.
Bastille Day, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 9, Jamison Square Park, 810 N.W. 11th Ave. Free. All ages. Info: www.afportland.org .
Four for Outdoor
If you grew up in Oregon, you know Outdoor School is a rite of passage. However, budget cuts have threatened the middle school program in many districts, but four bands ain't gonna let that happen and are playing a benefit for it. The show features: Wilson High School's Kittin, a wonderfully uptempo group that sounds a bit like a chorus mixing skater punk, ska and crunchy-yet-bubblegummy pop; the father-son band Squid Attack! who combine glam rock, surf, singing hall and psychedelia; folkies Trails, who are mix of acoustic rock with Latin sounds and intellectual vocals; and Falcor, a mysterious post-grunge band obsessed with bowling alleys and the carbon makeup of its members.
Kittin, Squid Attack, Falcor, Trails, 4-7 p.m. Sunday, July 10, Backspace, 115 N.W. Fifth Ave. $5. Info: 503-248-2900, www.backspace.bz .
These bands have cool names
San Francisco's Dead to Me plays punk that makes you want to overthrow governments, slam against leather jacketed poseurs and ride subways late at night looking for trouble. 'Anthemic' was invented for just such a band. Meanwhile, Minneapolis' Off With Their Heads plies the punk trade in a similar fashion, strumming guitar chords with ferocious energy just to make sure you get it, and if you don't, you'll be thrown to the corners of the bar like a teddy bear tossed to the wall in a toddler's tantrum. Then there are them Texas boys Riverboat Gamblers, who aren't afraid to experiment a little bit with their power-pop-punk, and sport some compelling vocals. Portland's Ninjas with Syringes rounds out this powerhouse rock 'n' roll bill by not wearing shirts, which allows you to better see the sweat induced by their thrashy, melodic attack.
Dead to Me, Off With Their Heads, Riverboat Gamblers, Ninjas With Syringes, 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, Branx, 320 S.E. Second Ave. $12. All ages. Info: 503-234-5683, www.rotture.com .