Thursday & Saturday 12 & 14
Youve probably never heard of them, but the Boston-based sing-song trio Mittens hits the metro area twice this week. Dont think too hard about it: If you like the songs of the Shins or the less-is-more ethos of VU, shell out the paltry cover charge and hear something new. Your first chance to catch the cherub-faced chowdah-heads will be on Thursday, Jan. 12, at Ypsilantis Elbow Room, 6 S. Washington St., 734-483-6374; and Saturday, Jan. 14, at Paychecks, 2932 Caniff, Hamtramck; 313-874-0909.
Mark(s) Rent Party
For the past six years, the elegant and cutting-edge online magazine mark(s) has presented an impressive array of Detroit-based art to the world, from essays by Barrett Watten and Chris Tysh to poetry by Dennis Teichman and Ted Pearson to visual art by Robert Sestok and S. Kay Young. Thats not to mention globe-trotting former Detroiters such as John Sinclair and Sadiq Bey, or such non-Detroiters as Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Bob Holman. But online success breeds bandwidth (and other) problems, hence a rent party to raise $10,000 for new equipment. Music is by the jazz-blues group Big Shorty, featuring drummer James E. Hart (which should surprise folks whove known him only as an arts administrator, teacher and critic.). 7-9 p.m., Cass Cafe, 4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400.
This month, the Zeitgeist Gallery in Detroit remains true to its reputation as an unusual place to get your art fix, with Poetic Myth, a new exhibit featuring the artwork of French painters Claudine Goux and Pascal Hecker, and local artist Robert Hyde. Opening reception will include flamenco music and dance from Alquima Humana with Djeto Juncaj & Mary Laredo. 7 p.m., 2661 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-965-9192. Runs through March 5
Saturday & Sunday 14 & 15
On 4 Sides
The Detroit Dance Collective brings something innovative to the stage this week. Its most recent offering, On 4 Sides, has been choreographed so it can be appreciated from any angle, immersing audiences in image, music and dance. Premieres include Tessera, choreographed by Barbara Selinger; One, choreographed by Kay Rediers; and Shattered Spaces, which includes original music from local musician Jon Anderson. 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15. Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, Studio A-Black Box Theatre, 15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. For information, call 248-767-1898.
Hakim Jami with Skeeter Shelton
Go elsewhere for neat, fleet, flamenco-style runs on the bass. Hakim Jami emphasizes the big burly sounds that can roar out of a double bass. Hes not afraid to throw his instrumental weight around, which is the way to go if you encourage a rafter-shaking saxophonist like Skeeter Shelton to go for what he knows. They tear it with James Blood Ulmer on Revealing (worth seeking out on Jamis Reparations Records), recorded live at the Detroit Art Space. No Blood this time, but expect the same energy. As part of a Monday night series at Slows Bar BQ, 2138 Michigan Ave. (across from Michigan Central Station), Detroit; 313-962-9828.
Free Roses for MLK Day
Wesley Berry Flowers in West Bloomfield is commemorating Martin Luther King Day with free roses. But theres one condition. The flower shop will give away a dozen roses to anyone who promises to keep one rose and give the other 11 to different people. Spread Kings gospel the sweet-smelling way while supplies last. 6677 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-851-2881.
Langston Hughes Patternmaster
Socialist Joy: Reflections on the Writings of Langston Hughes is to be published in the fall by the University of Missouri Press. Author Jonathan Scott who grew up in southwest Detroit and now teaches at the City University of New York comes back to town to share the fruits of his years of thinking about and researching his subject. Hes particularly interested in Hughes as a leftist who, as Scott said in an online conversation, was shaped in part by the anti-slavery tradition and the Bolshevik revolution, and ultimately came under attack during the McCarthy era. Noon. Bernath Auditorium of the David Adamany Undergraduate Library, Wayne State University campus, Detroit; 313-577-2321.
Esbjörn Svensson Trio
Swedens Esbjörn Svensson Trio E.S.T. to fans has been one of the biggest European jazz sensations of recent years. As Jazz Times editor Chris Porter puts it in the intro to a Q&A with Svensson in the latest issue, overseas writers slobbered over the group like it was the second coming of the Bill Evans-Scott Lafaro-Paul Motian trio. On the other hand, they havent had an easy time winning over the American audience, including a Jazz Times critic who, in the same issue, slammed the trio as one of the most inconsequential ensembles that anyone ever stood in line for ... aural wallpaper. Zen-like or just a snooze? Hear them live and pick a side. The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-761-1451.
Stagecrafters 2nd Annual New Works Play Festival
As part of its 2nd Annual New Works Play Festival, Stagecrafters invites aspiring playwrights to submit an original short play. Participants must send five copies of their work by Tuesday, Feb. 28. Plays should not be more than 15 minutes long and are restricted to adult drama/comedy pieces. No musicals or childrens plays will be considered. Submit entries to Stagecrafters, c/o New Works Play Festival II, 415 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak. 248-541-8027 or stagecrafters.org.