Cape Breton fiddle queen Natalie MacMaster keeps the focus on the fingers, not the feet, when she brings her blazing approach to Celtic music to Harvard’s Sanders Theatre (45 Quincy St) on February 4. She’s followed there by the revered African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo — of both Paul Simon’s Graceland and Lifesavers-commercial fame — on February 11. Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Évora, whose fiery emotions smoked Cassandra Wilson’s headlining set a few years back at the Fleet Enema Pavilion or whatever the hell that place on Boston Harbor was called back then, plays the Orpheum on March 31, delivering a lesson in authoritative song salesmanship that transcends language. African trumpet ’n’ groove bossman Hugh Masekela hits the Somerville Theatre on April 14, and the great percussionist Zakir Hussain, best known by Western audiences for his trailblazing fusion recordings with John McLaughlin, brings his Masters of Indian Percussion troupe to Boston’s Berklee Performance Center (136 Mass Ave) on May 18.
If you’re looking for something packed with edge, note that Boston’s Alloy Orchestra have created a soundtrack for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1929 Blackmail. This sordid tale of attempted rape and murder, the first British film with sound, is right up Alloy’s inventive alley; they’ll perform it March 25 at the Somerville Theatre. The Kronos Quartet are also offering a film-inspired program when they and guest vocalist Asha Bhosle play Berklee on April 9. They’re touring behind You’ve Stolen My Heart (Nonesuch), an homage to Indian pop-film scorer Rahul Dev Burman, a kingpin in Bollywood.
Road tripping’s your style? Well, there’s fun to be had in Worcester — honest! Union Blues (2 Washington Square; 508.767.2587), the swanky club in the beautifully reconditioned train station, has J. Geils Band bassist Danny Klein’s Stonecrazy on January 14, and on the 27th James Montgomery holds court. Across town at Ralph’s Chadwick Square Diner (148 Grove St; www.ralphsdiner.net), punks the Ducky Boys headline a bill that includes hair-metal joker Robby Roadsteamer on January 13, and there’s a Boston ’80s-rock-scene flashback on the 14th with the Lyres and the Classic Ruins.
The easiest way to get tickets and more information for the Orpheum, Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Avalon, the Paradise, the TD Banknorth Garden, Mohegan Sun, Verizon Wireless Arena, Cumberland Civic Center, the Wang Theatre, and the Paradise is to visit ww.cc.com on line. Somerville Theatre tickets can be purchased at the box office or via Ticketmaster on-line or at 617/518.931.2000. Middle East tickets can be purchased at the club’s box office (617.864.EAST) or via Ticketmaster. World Music/CRASHarts tickets are available at www.worldmusic.org or at 617.876.4275.