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New Orleans-based singer/producer Allen Toussaint is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the Big Easy's musical history. He's worked as a session player with most of New Orleans' major heavyweights (the Meters, Patti LaBelle, the Neville Brothers, and Dr. John) and got his start playing backup for Fats Domino in the 1960s. He's the unofficial ambassador of New Orleans jazz, and was a media darling during the first days after Hurricane Katrina. But none of that explains what audiences will see when Touissant comes to town this week for Hollywood's Mardi Gras fiesta. His ragtime piano playing style and Cajun roots are a hoot to watch in person. This is the man who wrote "Lady Marmalade," which disco addicts are still humming right now. He's known for engaging his audiences, and has a string of hits you think you've never heard, until the invisible eight-track in the back of your brain remembers "Right Place, Wrong Time" and half of the Neville Brothers' and Boz Scagg's catalogs. Jonathan Cunningham