Leon Russell, Lauryn Hill, Biz Markie — ASD's Live Music Picks, June 27

Leon Russell, 8 at the Independent. $25.

“Those who visit the Leon Russell empire at Disney, Oklahoma, and do not succumb to Russell's dark magnetism come away muttering about mind games and mass manipulation and even “rock evangelism.” Rita Coolidge, I know, was glad to pull herself away from the Russell influence. I have seen rock audiences who could not resist his control begin behaving just the way I have seen audiences react to another Oklahoma performer, evangelist Oral Roberts. Both Roberts and Russell offer a form of salvation and, importantly, both men appear to have been tamed by success, which led in both cases to a quest for respectability. That quest, in turn, has drastically altered both men's work: Roberts becomes a southwestern Billy Graham and Russell becomes musically schizoid.” —Rolling Stone

Lauryn Hill, 7:30 at Paramount Theatre. $Sell a vital organ.

“Hill seemed remarkably in command. What was planned as a half-hour set ran an hour longer; she just kept singing even when event planners turned on the house lights to get her off the stage. She grew more intense as the night wore on, standing at the very front of the stage, staring straight ahead for minutes at a time, singing until her voice was shot, and gesturing wildly behind her for more drums, more drums. Lauryn Hill didn't look like a fallen diva last night. She was an intensely shrewd queen, and she knows her crown is there for the taking whenever she's ready for it.” —New York Magazine

Biz Markie, 8 at Ruby Skye. $25.

“Biz Markie's inclination toward juvenile humor and his fondness for goofy, tuneless, half-sung choruses camouflaged his true talents as a freestyle rhymer. The Biz may not have been able to translate his wild rhyming talents to tape, but what he did record was worthwhile in its own way. With his silly humor and inventive, sample-laden productions, he proved that hip-hop could be funny and melodic, without sacrificing its street credibility.” —AllMusic

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