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Concerts: New Edition, Beth Orton, Al Jarreau, Ramsey Lewis

bethortonBeth Orton returns to the Variety Playhouse Friday night, just a few weeks ahead of her first new album in more than six years. Photo: Jo Metson Scott

TODAY
Beth Orton

The atmospheric beauty of this Brit singer-songwriter’s marriage of folk and electronica has made her a favorite of the adult alternative set. The 2006 release “Comfort of Strangers” (still her latest) scaled back on the electronics. The music was more organic, matching the plaintive warmth of her voice, but her songs are as beautiful and intelligent as ever. In 2010, she signed a worldwide deal with Anti-Records (home of Neko Case, Tom Waits and Nick Cave), and the fruits of the union will hit stores and digital outlets the first week of October.
8:30 p.m. Sept. 21. $27.50; $25 in advance. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.

TODAY
Al Jarreau and Ramsey Lewis

Jarreau has five Grammys in three categories — pop, jazz and R&B — but his earliest work put him in the jazz category and drew comparisons to Billy Eckstine. The 72-year-old vocalist’s warm, smooth style got even smoother as the years advanced and he hit the Top 40 in the early ’80s. Long-serving composer and pianist Lewis, 77, is another in that rare breed of jazz artists to maintain respect within his genre while crossing over into the mainstream. He had four Top 40 entries in the mid-’60s, including the No. 5 hit “The In Crowd.”
8:30 p.m. Sept. 21. $40-$100. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800.

SATURDAY
New Edition

Do a little time traveling back to an earlier era of boy-band mania with this 30th anniversary reunion of pop-R&B ’80s sensations New Edition. Alumni Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Mike Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe are all back on board for this celebratory tour.
8 p.m. Sept. 22. $39-$89; $25 lawn. Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. 404-733-4900.

SATURDAY
Jimmy Herring

Widespread Panic’s lead guitarist, who is also a favored sideman for several former Grateful Dead members, is touring behind his second solo album, the August-released “Subject to Change Without Notice.”
8:30 p.m. Sept. 22. Variety Playhouse. $22.50; $20 in advance. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.

SATURDAY
Ben Sollee

Sollee is one of the most difficult musicians to categorize. No pigeonhole seems adequate for this singing-songwriting cellist. He’ll release a new CD, “Half Made Man,” on Sept. 25. If it’s  like his past work, you’ll hear the flavors of jazz, bluegrass, soul, rock and pop standards winding their way through his fetching, often topical songs.
9 p.m. Sept. 22. $18-$20. Terminal West, 887 W. Marietta St. N.W., Atlanta.

WEDNESDAY
The Walkmen

Experimental post-punk is rarely as tuneful as the stuff on this Brooklyn-based band’s latest album, “Heaven.” It’s a musical meat grinder that pumps out tasty stuff such as “We Can’t Be Beat,” which references doo-wop both musically and lyrically and channels it through contemporary indie rock.
8 p.m. Sept. 26. $20. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.

WEDNESDAY
All American Rejects

These four Oklahoma boys self-released their self-titled debut in 2002, which was later picked up by DreamWorks Records. Then the irresistible “Swing, Swing” caught radio’s ear, followed by the even more irresistible “Dirty Little Secret.” In 2008, the band reached a new Top 40 peak with “Gives You Hell,” which climbed to No. 4 in March. Since then, things haven’t been quite as rosy. Nothing from the band’s latest album, “Kids in the Street,” has reached the Hot 100. With Boys Like Girls.
7 p.m. Sept. 26. $27.50. Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-659-9022.

THURSDAY
Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson

It wasn’t Jethro Tull’s fault that the folks who were voting on the Grammys back in 1989 thought Tull was the optimal choice to win the brand-new “best hard rock/metal performance” category. Tull was most definitely not metal, and though some of the band’s songs rock pretty hard, Tull isn’t hard rock, either. The band should have won a Grammy for 1971’s powerful “Aqualung,” but the Academy never honored the best album that blends rock, folk and flutes. Anderson, the band’s frontman and primary musical architect, is back on the road with a performance of the follow-up to “Aqualung,” “Thick as a Brick,” and Anderson’s own 2012 sequel, “Thick as a Brick II.”
8 p.m. Sept. 27. $43-$83. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800.

Shane Harrison,sharrison@ajc.com

8 comments Add your comment

Beverly

September 21st, 2012
7:55 am

I would LOVE to see Al Jarreau!!! It would be a dream, I absolutely love him. Maybe in the next life.

Henry

September 21st, 2012
10:36 am

Look forward to seeing the All American Rejects!
http://www.reverbnation.com/notquitedevils

Lar

September 21st, 2012
11:02 am

Come see Kate and Corey at Dakotas in Auburn GA on Saturday night. See why they are the winners of the Texaco Country Music Showdown for New York! kateandcorey.com

Ms

September 21st, 2012
11:39 am

I can’t wait to see New Edition tomorrow night!

FenderMan

September 21st, 2012
3:12 pm

If you’re a guitar fan check out Jimmy Herring.

Donna Outlaw

September 27th, 2012
9:03 am

THICK AS A BRICK!!!!!!!!! I bought at least five 8-tracks because I plated it do much!

Donna Outlaw

September 27th, 2012
9:04 am

Played too…lol

ood life

September 27th, 2012
3:59 pm

going to ian anderson,gonna rock. as they say back in the day ian anderson was thought by most to be a man named jethro tull, he was lead singer and flute player , 1 of the most talent of all time, check out some u-tube clips