While traditional Malian music isn't exactly burning up the charts, kora virtuoso Mamadou Diabate (pictured) has brought West African music a new audience by infusing his playing with elements of blues, jazz and Bambera music. Descended from a long line of jeli, or musician-storytellers (also known by the French term, griot), Diabate learned the kor--a huge, hollowed-out, multi-stringed instrument--from his father, who played in the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali. An American resident since '96, Diabate has just released his debut album, Tunga, on Durham-based global music label Alula Records. Diabate's contemporary approach and live shows have pushed the envelope on the keiti music genre. Get there early for a pre-show celebration of West African culture featuring merchandise and traditional foods Friday, March 9, at Cat's Cradle. Call 967-9053 for more information.
New York City power-popsters The Figgs return to the area for an energetic set of guitar-driven, hook-filled, three-minute pop songs steeped in the live rock tradition. Sharing the bill is Lawrence, Kan., four-piece The Creature Comforts, whose album teaching little fingers to play references everything from Argybargy-era Squeeze to early Joe Jackson and Costello. Pop-heads, take note Thursday, March 8 at Local 506. Call 942-5506 for details.
File under: "But this amp goes to eleven... " Dorset, England's dope-promoting-doomsayers Electric Wizard (pictured) challenge Triangle rockers to stand up to their self-proclaimed "mind-melting riffs." Billing themselves the "most intense stoner sludge band" in the land, the heavy Brit power-trio are back after a four-year hiatus, ready to reclaim their Dopethrone (the title of their new weighty disc). What would the Grimoire of Exalted Deeds have to say? Will their vintage tube-driven, fuse-blowing, dB-spewing amps have scary, airbrushed demons on them? Will they fill the void left in your metal heart when Kyuss disbanded? Warhorse and The Stepgods open Thursday, March 8, at Kings. Call 831-1005 for details. --Angie Carlson