L.A. previews February 17-23: Leni Stern, Wackerman-Holdsworth, Machine Head, LAFMS gallery blast, Phil Ranelin, Symphony X, Tracy G, The Darkness, Elliott Caine, Ben Perowsky, Rhythm Chowder Quartet, Johnny Osbourne, Goatwhore, Stanley Clarke.

Fri. Feb. 17 -- Guitarist-singer Leni Stern, who's been closely involved in the Malian music scene as a resident, teacher, organizer and performer these last several years, turns up again with a n'goni under one arm, a Strat under the other, and a retinue of fantastic African musicians. The crew this time includes multiskilled bassist Mamadou Ba (a constant presence for a few years now; watch his finger technique), talking-drum thwapper and throaty singer Kofo (who rocked the house at Stern's last visit to this room) and a new addition on djembe & percussion, Alioune Faye (a vet of David Murray's outfits). Especially jazzed to be debuting this rhythm-oriented outfit, Stern will be exploring the delicacies and intricacies of "Sabani," which has just arrived on CD following a warm reception for the download version. She wanted to showcase her songwriting on the new trio disc, where the intimacy shines, as it always does onstage. San Pedro ain't far. Check out some videos and stuff here. At Alva’s Show Room, 1417 W. Eighth St., San Pedro 90732; 8pm; $20; www.alvasshowroom.com; (800) 403-3447, reservations suggested.

Fri. Feb. 17 -- Zappa drummer Chad Wackerman has computer-fingered guitarist Allan Holdsworth tagging along (glad to see A.H. circulating SoCal more regularly); the stellar band includes bassist Jimmy Johnson and keysman Jim Cox. At the Baked Potato, 3787 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Studio City 91604; 9:30 & 11:30pm; $25; (818) 980-1615; www.thebakedpotato.com.

Fri. Feb. 17 -- I'm not alone in calling Machine Head's "Unto the Locust" one of last year's top metal albums. Robb Flynn's thrashers keep raising the bar in variety, musicality and ambition, and their live sound adds unexpected dimensions of lysergitude. Metallica shouldn't get all the attention among the '80s Bay Area outburst, with bands like Machine Head (and Testament) still living and growing. With rad headbanging support from Suicide Silence, Darkest Hour, Rise To Remain. NOTE: This show will be OVER by 9pm. At Avalon, 1735 Vine St., Hollywood 90028; 5:30pm; $34; (323) 467-4571; www.ticketmaster.com.

Fri. Feb. 17 -- The electronic/outmuzik of Points of Friction, Albert Ortega, Artzenkraft, Small Drone Orchestra and Destroy Date is only one reason to visit this sub-downtown art gallery; you can also browse the L.A. Free Music Society's retrospective of fliers, photos and weird junk, which makes it seem as if everybody must have known about this collective's prolific revolutionary activities in the '70s, '80s and onward. Few did, though: no internet! And of course, no money. Only a week to go in the exhibit. At The Box, 805 Traction Ave., downtown 90013; 6:30pm; free but donations welcomed.

Fri.-Sat. Feb. 17-18 -- In the early 1970s, pockets of African-American collectivity and self-determination were cropping up all over the country, including Chicago, L.A. and notably Detroit, where trombonist Phil Ranelin is from. To expose the jazz explorations of himself, Marcus Belgrave, Doug Hammond and more, Ranelin and cohorts started Tribe Records, which released its first recording 40 years ago. Ranelin is celebrating with two nights of his swinging, bumping, joyful expressions, and he's got the band for it: windman Pablo Calogero, pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Don Littleton. You can cop a sampling of a Tribe anthology here -- spacy hints of Sun Ra, who spent some time in Motor City. Photo by Joe LaRusso. At the World Stage, 4344 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park 90008; 8:30 & 10pm; $15 (students $5).

Sat. Feb. 18 -- Demiurges of Florida metal Iced Earth storm onward with guitarist Jon Schaffer the only original member; don't weep for the fate of epic progressive melodic heft as long as Symphony X keep a-twiddlin'. At Club Nokia, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown 90015; 6:30pm; $40; www.ticketmaster.com.

Sat. Feb. 18 -- I wouldn't recommend just any Dio/Sabbath tribute night, but in addition to copykittens Dia and Sab fabs Electric Funeral, you get the band of Tracy G, guitarist for an especially heavy and freaky late-'90s edition of Dio. Murky fun. At the Old Towne Pub, 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena 91103; 7pm; $10; (626) 577-6583; theoldtownepub.com.

Sun. Feb. 19 -- England's The Darkness remain the hookiest, riffingest hard-rock/glam band on the planet. Too bad that when I tried to buy tickets a month ago, they'd all been bought up by scalpers (literally hundreds available that way). There oughta be a law. Wait, there is a law, it's just a gutless travesty. At House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood 90069; 8pm; one million $ or your firstborn child; (323) 848-5800; www.livenation.com.

Sun. Feb. 19 -- Relax and let Elliott Caine's trumpet take you back to the days when jazz was a social lubricant. The quintet has the sirloin tone of Carl Randall on sax, the ubiquitous Mahesh Balasooriya and Trevor Ware on piano and bass, and Kenny Elliott on drums. At the York Bar and Restaurant, 5018 York Blvd., Highland Park 90042; 7:30-10pm; (323) 255-9675.

Tues. Feb. 21 -- New York drummer Ben Perowsky has a moody electro thing that could pull the ear of the more adventurous without getting all noisy. Played with John Zorn, Steven Bernstein -- yeah, and here he's got Chris Speed on winds and Tim Lefebvre on bass! Original. At the Blue Whale on the third floor of Weller Court Plaza, south of East First Street between South Los Angeles Street and South San Pedro Street, Little Tokyo 90012; 9pm-midnight; $10; validated parking underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.

Wed. Feb. 21 -- Who are Rhythm Chowder Quartet? Percdude Brad Dutz along with Bevan Manson, Tom Rizzo and Dave Robaire, so it's gonna be nonstandard and smart. At the Blue Whale on the third floor of Weller Court Plaza, south of East First Street between South Los Angeles Street and South San Pedro Street, Little Tokyo 90012; 9pm-midnight; $10; validated parking underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.

Wed. Feb. 21 -- Dancehall roots for sure: Johnny Osbourne, Wayne "Sleng Teng" Smith and Ranking Joe, the Jamaican originators, at the microphone, and the superior Echodelic DJs on the decks. At the EchoPlex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park 90026; 9pm; $15 ($10 before 10pm); www.attheecho.com.

Wed. Feb. 21 -- Kinetic frontman Ben Falgoust pushes Goatwhore to extremes; Hate Eternal burns the blackness; seven more (including band name of the year Cerebral Bore) tote pigiron & logos to the modern-metal mini-fest. At the Whisky, 8901 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood 90069; 6pm; all ages; www.whiskyagogo.com; (310) 652-4202.

Thurs.-Sat. Feb. 23-25 -- For sheer flash, nobody can match Stanley Clarke on the bass, here leading a quartet. At Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90028; 8:30 & 10:30pm; $30-$40; (323) 466-2210; www.catalinajazzclub.com.

Read Don Heckman’s jazz picks here and MoshKing's metal listings here. Read John Payne's plutonic Bluefat.com here.