Amplified violins, flamenco, Foreigner

Still nursing your Coachella hangover? Alas, I’m not—deadlines and an allergy attack kept me home. Thanks to Benadryl, I’m now upright and, despite cottonmouth, in search of new and inspiring live music. I don’t have to look far.

Like Bob Dylan before her, acclaimed classical violinist and UNLV prof Wei-Wei Le is going electric for two nights (7:30 p.m. April 28 and 29) in the UNLV Black Box Theatre (inside the Alta Ham Fine Arts building). This concert of contemporary percussion music features the piece “LEX” by renowned postmodern American composer Michael Daugherty and includes a multimedia collaboration involving Le, the UNLV jazz ensemble, the UNLV Lighting Design Studio (which assembled an evocative set) and several student dancers. The event marks Le’s debut on an amplified instrument, one specially made for her by Yamaha. Tickets are $13 at the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office or by calling 895-2787.

If that’s too highbrow, neo-flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook heats up Henderson Pavilion at 7 p.m. April 28. Cook’s trademark “rumba-salsa” style has served him exceptionally well on recent and highly praised albums—2007’s majestic Frontiers and 2009’s grittier The Rumba Foundation (check out his DVD of the same name)—that take flamenco guitar into new terrain without being New Age-y or electronically tainted. A full band will back the Juno Award winner; I look forward to hearing him shred. Tickets are $10 at

Finally, at 8 p.m. April 29, check out the Basic High School Concert Choir at Green Valley Ranch Grand Events Center. They’ll join Brit-American hard-rock legends Foreigner on their 1984 hit “I Want to Know What Love Is” during the band’s concert. Joining the Grammy Association to restore music education in U.S. public schools, Foreigner selected the choir after hearing how awesome the kids are via word of mouth. The band also donated $1,000 to Basic’s music program. (A portion of sales from their new CD Can’t Slow Down goes to the Grammy Association.)

“‘I Want to Know What Loves Is’ came out the year I was born,” says choir director Lynne Ricci, 27, in a phone interview. “But I experienced Foreigner through my parents’ memories, and I know all the words to all their many hits.”

OK, but what about the kids?

“Several of them have heard of Foreigner, and some were like, ‘Who are they?’ But when I sing a melody or play a riff on the piano, they instantly recognize the songs.”

Ricci also confesses that she has yet to see Foreigner live in concert, but she has seen filmed performances that suggest the band “really knows how to move a crowd.” Ricci held an audition, selecting 25 singers from a choir of 50 to bring onstage.

“We’ve put in hours of rehearsal,” she says. “We’re going to be polished. And we’re so appreciative, because now we can buy more sheet music, more recordings, more uniforms for these always-growing kids. We’re honored to have this opportunity and blessed to have this donation to help our kids achieve their dreams.”

Tickets start at $25 and can be had by calling 547-5300 or visiting

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