What should be on your radar as July 4 approaches. 

Cover image of Bob Andrews' new album, Shotgun.

With the Fourth of July in the middle of next week, touring activity is down but free stuff is up.

Friday: Our Music is the Healing Force of the Universe, 7 p.m., Ashé Cultural Arts Center: This concert will also be recorded for a CD to be released this December, and it features a musical lineup that spans and interesting cross-section of the African-Amercan cultural experience, from Rev. Lois Dejean and The Johnson Extension to the Kora Konnection featuring Moreikeba Kouyate and Theirmo Diobate to the improv jazz combo of Kidd Jordan, Hamid Drake and William Parker. Also on the bill are  Germaine Bazzle, Carol Bebelle with Tanya & Dorise, Michaela Harrison, Frederick "Hollywood" Delahoussaye,, and Monica McIntyre. The show's host will be Kalamu ya Salaam. (tickets)

Also Friday: Porter Robinson, 10 p.m., The Howlin' Wolf; Robert Earl Keen, The White Buffalo, 9 p.m., The House of Blues

Saturday: Micah McKee's Birthday with Anthony Cuccia and Natalie Mae, 10 p.m., The Circle Bar: A night of good, adventurous and sometimes psychedelic rock with Empress Hotel's lead singer.

Also Saturday -   Benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project with Slaughter and Lyram, 9 p.m., The Howlin' Wolf; Uniquity Featured Artists Series hosted by Slangston Hughes feat. Ian Louis, Macniffy, 5th Child, DJ RQ Away and Room Service Band, 10 p.m., Big Man's Lounge

The Maple Leaf's listings advertise Papa Mali and Uptown Shotgun, but Papa Mali announced online four days ago that he went in the hospital more than two weeks ago for a procedure that went wrong, and as of a day ago, his Facebook status talked about the view from his hospital room window. I'd call the club before heading over.because it's unlikely that he'll play that show.

Monday: Bob Andrews, 8 p.m., Chickie Wah Wah: Bob Andrews is a British pub rock veteran, having played in Brinsley Schwarz and in Graham Parker and the Rumour, and since moving to New Orleans he's immersed himself in New Orleans R&B, playing keyboards with artists as different as John Mooney and The Royal Fingerbowl. His new album, Shotgun, is clearly influenced by New Orleans down to its title, but it's also a return to the roots-influenced rock of the Brinsleys and The Rumour.

Tuesday: Improv Music Mash-Up with Jonathan Freilich, Jeff Albert and Friends, 10 p.m., Blue Nile Upstairs: Adventurous guitarist Jonathan Freilich is back in town and performing again. This week, he's performing as part of the Open Ears Series of improvised music with one of the organizers of the series, trombone player Jeff Albert, joining him.

Wednesday: America: The Party 3, 2 p.m., The Rusty Nail: Tony Skratchere pioneered yacht bounce - the bourgeois offspring of yacht rock and New Orleans bounce - and he'll celebrate our nation's independence by spinning yacht bounce with Quickie Mart, who's also done a yacht bounce remix or two in his day.

Thursday: Essence Music Festival's New and Next, 7 p.m., Mercedes-Benz Superdome: "New and Next" kicks off the Essence Music Festival with a little outreach to the next generation of Essence attendees with a showcase featuring Diggy Simmons, OMG Girlz, recent Dancing with the Stars contestant Roshon Fegan, Katlyn Nichol, Coco Jones and the Roots of Music Marching Crusaders. (tickets)


Free Tickets: My Spilt Milk has a pair of tickets to give away for Saturday night's show at Tipitina's - Koan’s Nuthin’ But Heat Summer Jam - which features one of New Orleans' stronger indie hip-hop voices in Koan, along with Sean C and DJ Skratchmo, Jay Jones, and John Smith of NO Battle Zone. The show starts at 10, and to win, write me (alex@myspiltmilk.com) with the name of Koan's album from 2011. Contest closes at 4 p.m. tonight, so get on it.

Voodoo at The Revivalists: Last week, The Voodoo Music and Art Experience released its preliminary lineup and announced the addition of Jack White (I assume as a headliner) with Green Day and Neil Young and Crazy Horse (who'll have another album out by Voodoo). As part of the run-up to Voodoo, the festival will give away stage passes Friday night at The Revivalists' show at One Eyed Jacks. Show starts at 10 p.m.

The Newsroom: Aaron Sorkin's new series debuted on HBO last week with an episode set in 2010 that featured a rag-tag newsroom going through major upheaval breaking three months' worth of BP oil spill reporting in three or so hours, and stories that in real life trickled out for months were on the air in 22 minutes. It should have been winceworthy in its remarkable improbability, but not in Sorkin's hands. The story moved like his dialogue, swiftly, dramatically and theatrically, and at its best it makes issues of realism irrelevant. The human reality is left in the actors' hands, and based on one episode, it's easy to imagine Jeff Daniels as anchor Will McAvoy as one of those actors who does career-defining work with Sorkin (also in the list, Bradley Whitford on The West Wing and Peter Krause on Sports Night). I look forward to at least 30 percent fewer wistful gazes from Emily Mortimer in Daniels' direction, just as I hope Sam Waterson's news division president Charlie Skinner becomes more distinct from Ed Asner's network exec on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Still, the pilot boded well. Sunday, 9 p.m. Central, HBO.

Just When You Thought it Couldn't Get Worse Dept.: Since last week's post on the David Lowery/Emily White dust-up, Dayna Kurtz and a few others have been talking about the realities for musicians trying to make a living. Today Digital Music News posted an even less cheery piece of news for those who think they'd like to make a career in music:

This was recently posted by Jimmy Swan, owner of Dallas-based Executive Music Group. ERG is distributed by INgrooves Fontana, and its roster includes Jamiroquai, 12 Stones, Alien Ant Farm, and Khleo Thomas.

"As a record exec I'm asked all the time to listen to bands. May I make a suggestion,keep in mind that most labels don't want to know about a band, they want to find a band. So if they don't want you to submit music and info how do they sign bands?? It's really easy to be honest with you. The secret (besides not sucking, not be broke, and have a huge following) is......... Open up for and become friends with the labels other artists!! That's it.... We trust our bands and if they ask us to listen we normally do. Between them and a lawyer we sign the majority of our bands. I'm just being honest here cause I listen to about zero of the hundreds of weekly demos I get from random people. Just saying."