If you’ve never heard Bett Butler sing, write this down: On Wednesday, February 17, the New World Quintet (Butler, Cecil R. Carter, Joël Dilley, Lloyd Herrman, and Jonathan Raveneau) will put on one of the best blues/jazz shows of the year at Casbeers (1150 S. Alamo, 8 p.m., $10, (210) 271-7791). The concert is named In Praise of Popular Song: “Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues,” and is produced by Azul Barrientos, a blues fan (and a true blusera) herself. The show will include sacred and secular songs by W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington, and John Coltrane, and will explore the lives of blues greats like Bessie Smith and Alberta Hunter, whose voices “were speaking the truth about social and working conditions, discrimination and injustice, relationships, domestic violence, and women’s dreams and ambitions,” as Butler explains in a press release. Everything Butler and Azul do individually is a labor of love. Put them together in a setting like Casbeers, and you’ll get magic.
And you might stay at Casbeers: The next day, contemporary bluegrass innovator John Cowan hits the church at 8:30 p.m. ($15). –Enrique Lopetegui