Don't feel bad if you don't know what "an international pipa sensation" is we were confused too. The "sensation" is musician Yang Wei and the pipa is, well, a stringed lute-like instrument that sounds graceful and airy. Chinese musicians have played the pipa for more than 2,000 years. Wei moved to Chicago from China in 1996 to tour with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project and he says his musical interpretations honor both his homeland and his new Western digs. At 8 p.m. at the McIntosh Theater, University of Michigan School of Music, North Campus, Ann Arbor; 734-936-1930.
Poet Leslie Reese captured Detroit's ying-yang yo-yo nature in Urban Junkstar, published by Past Tents Press in 2004. Her Detroit was a place where " ... you have to buy yr sunshine / in daily lottery games," but it was also the home to the Heidelberg Project, portrayed in a poem that began with the affirmation "i love you." Now doing graduate studies in interdisciplinary arts at Columbia College Chicago, Reese is working to translate her poetic energy into motion, sound and visual art. She comes home to read at the Roeper School Birmingham Campus along with high school poets in an annual reading in honor of the late Roeper poet Alex Frank. 7 p.m. at 1051 Oakland Ave. (at Adams, two blocks north of Maple), Birmingham; 248-203-7300. Free.
At 29, jazz gal Jane Monheit has already snagged a Grammy nod and earnest comparisons to Ella. And while we think the coquettish chanteuse is more of a "Barbra," her 2000 release Never Never Land with accompaniment from pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ron Carter and saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman remained on the Billboard Jazz chart for more than a year and was voted Best Debut Recording by members of the Jazz Journalists' Association. In 2004, Monheit released Taking a Chance on Love, an overview of the singer's passion for early movie musicals, which included the duet "I Won't Dance" with dapper crooner Michael Bublé. She's at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5100.
Sensitive pats on the back for local poetry this week: As part of Poets Follies, a literary to-do at the Grosse Pointe Art Center, writer Peter Markus will be awarded the Humanities Professional Award by the Michigan Humanities Council. Markus will also be named Wayne State University's Urban Writer-in-Residence and will read from his books The Singing Fish and Good, Brother. Poets Follies director Mariela Griffor will read from her autobiographical poetry book, Exiliana; NYC poet Hannelore Hahn will also share; and local poet and host of Unrestricted Soul Jazz & Poetry Open Mic at the Grand City Grille Martha Carter will recite pieces from her recently released CD. 6:30-9:30 p.m. at 1005 Maryland, Grosse Pointe Park; 313-821-1848.
Ferndale Blues Festival
It'll be spread higgledy-piggledy across downtown Ferndale, but the Ferndale Blues Festival has a singularly sharp focus: nonstop tunage. Sure, it's the burbs and ain't nothing bluesy 'bout the burbs, but the whole city should feel honored to be part of a showcase so inclusive and joyful. This nine-day event features blues and rock 'n' roll acts from all over and will be held at several venues including Club Bart, Como's, Danny's, Ferndale Elks, Gracie's Underground, New Way Bar, WAB and several other locations. Visit ferndalebluesfestival.org for detailed lineups and schedules.
His affiliations with the 1960s bossa nova movement predates Stan Getz and Sergio Mendes, and Brazilian-born guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves has remained a viable go-to man in the world of recorded music. He toured with Old Blue Eyes; worked with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones; and he has also scored many movie soundtracks including the Oscar-nominated documentary Burning Down Tomorrow as well as a handful of big-budget Hollywood flicks. You may not know his name, but his status in the industry is ace. At the Music Hall for Performing Arts, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-963-7622.
FUN FOR ALL
More than 100 kids from metro Detroit are invited to paint floor tiles for the new Nordstrom Kid's Wear Department at Twelve Oaks Mall. Kids will not only have their artworks preserved in mosaic form, all proceeds from this tile painting party will benefit the Detroit Zoo. What a swell way to foster the artistic side of any kid age 5-12. At 8450 W. 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak; 248-541-5717 ext. 9750. Cost is $50 per child (two tiles each). Reservations recommended.
FUN FOR ALL
Having bestowed upon us a balmy Christmas season and a waterlogged New Year's Eve, Mother Nature is in the red on snow-filled fun. Let's celebrate the first signs of winter 2007 at Belle Isle's Snow Celebration two days of indoor and outdoor fun for cold-weather-lovers of all ages. The free events include music performances, storytelling, crafts and nature programs. There's "snowshoeing for beginners" (snow permitting), with Belle Isle Nature Zoo manager Mike Reed teaching interested trekkers how to traverse the snow safely; there's also "snowbound bugs," an indoor-outdoor tour which seeks out signs of winter insect life; "Groove," a performance from the University of Michigan percussion group with comedy skits and music with discarded trash items; "story time," with stories told near an indoor fire, and more. At Belle Isle, East Jefferson at the foot of East Grand Boulevard. Call 313-852-4056 for more information.
It's really more of a showcase than an exhibit, but Exhibit 1, a brand-new fine art installation at Cass Cafe in Detroit is worth a shout out. The event is hosted by Joseph Salerno and creativepeoplesnetwork.com (a so-called "online coffee table book," where visitors can peruse art and sounds from new artists), and will include works from locals Dave Kreiger, Phaedra Robinson, Amanda Coggin, Matthew Craven, Scott Humphrey, Erin Aube and John Azoni. Live entertainment will be provided by Big Black Cloud and Andrew Beer and DJ sets from Colin Zyskowski and Milieu. 7 p.m. at 4260 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400.
Shiny Toy Guns
Taking musical cues from Peaches and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and fashion cues from the nu-Goth insurgency, Shiny Toy Guns are an amalgam of all that goes bump in the pop music night. Replete with "haircuts," nonthreatening tats and gobs of cherry-red eyeliner, Shiny Toy Guns are creepy phantoms to pop music mediocrity, successfully letting their chops not the Warped Tour appeal do the talking. We say, go for it. At the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-933-9700. Paris to Rome and the Nice Device to open.
Saturday • 27
Hell City Records Showcase
Hell City made a name for itself last summer with a sampler that included label stalwarts like the hard-rock heroes the Whiskey Diaries and out-of-nowhere punk revivalists the Hadituptoheres (also known as Jackson’s version of Stiff Little Fingers) alongside tracks from up-and-comers and Detroit faves (The Amino Acids). The Diaries play this label showcase at Northern Lights, but you can also have your face ripped off and sewn back on by the Hadits, whose 2006 debut Are Bringing the Hammer Down was one of year’s most ferocious local records. The Royal Affairs are also on the bill, as is Matt Ratza, who’s one of Hell City’s promising new faces for 2007. Are Ratza’s tales of whiskey and women the kind that make you crave more of both? Let’s find out. At Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore, Detroit; 313-873-1739. See myspace.com/hellcityrecords.
Tuesday • 30
Ta’Raach’s Fevers flouts what “works” in contemporary hip-hop, easing between soul, street-level raps, live instrumentation, and sounds channelled through an MPC to become something more than a rap record, and probably closer to where contemporary hip-hop should be anyway. Like Common or the late, great Dilla (both confidants), Ta’Raach has a streak of positivity in him that never overtakes his desire to tell it like it is. Dude might have moved to Cali, but he knows Detroit is still where he’s from, and that almost guarantees this show’s hotness. See you there. Jan. 30 at Northern Lights, 660 W. Baltimore, Detroit; 313-873-1739.
Windsor Canadian Music Festival
Celebrating its 11th anniversary, the Windsor Canadian Music Festival is dedicated to the stewardship of new music. The weeklong event is designed for musicians and music lovers alike: There are four concerts, two lectures and a roundtable discussion with composers and conductor-composer workshops. This year's program explores the "connection between music and the visual arts the highlight coming in the form of Artistry in Rhythm, Texture & Line a Windsor Symphony Orchestra premiere of five new Canadian compositions (Friday, Feb. 2). Festival passes (including all events) are $45 for adults and $24 for students. Kicks off Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Capitol Theatre, 121 University Ave. W., Windsor; 519-253-7729. Ends Sunday, Feb. 4. Visit windsorsymphony.com for detailed schedules.
Call for Entries: Hatched!
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HATCH is a Hamtramck arts collective designed to bring local artists together while reaching out to the greater community. They're celebrating their first anniversary with a juried art exhibit and sale at Hamtramck's newest coffee house, Café 1923, and an opening night party on March 10, the weekend of the Hamtramck Blowout. All media accepted. Entries will be judged from digital images on CD (approximately 800x600 pixels at 72dpi, please). Entry fee for HATCH members: $5 for two entries [$5 each additional entry (no limit)]. Non-members: $15 for 2 entries [$5 each additional entry (no limit)]. Entries can be mailed to: HATCH, 12057 Gallagher, Hamtramck, MI 48212. They must be received (not postmarked) by Saturday, Feb. 24. Call Chris Schneider at 313-808-0154 for more information, or visit the HATCH Web site at hatchart.org.
The Illusion of Sex and Flowers
Eight decades before the coming of LSD-inspired music and art, “decadents” walked dark streets, drugged out and delirious on absinthe and a modernist theory called symbolism, which emphasized art askew on emotion and psychic energy. Detroit artist Charles Alexander is inspired by the anarchic rebellion and heady romantic idealism that characterized both those important countercultural movements. Culling from periods in between, too, such as dada and pop, Alexander presents intriguing works on paper packed tight with saucy hieroglyphs for his solo show, The Illusion of Sex and Flowers, at Detroit’s historic Scarab Club, 217 E. Farnsworth, Detroit; 313-831-1250. Runs through Feb. 10.