I am Woman!
Helen Reddy's pro-femme song of the same name made it a fist-pumping anthem for the ERA movement back in the 1970s, but this week, I Am Woman! is a local celebration in song, story, dance and ritual. In honor of Women's History Month, local singer, drummer and griot Jahra Michelle McKinney, vocalist-ritualist Sumarah Karen Smith and ritualist-performance artist Ruby Woods invite men and women alike to partake in an evening of spiritual enlightenment and female-positive revelry. At 7 p.m. at the Constance Cooper Community Center, 5901 Conner, Detroit; 313-579-6930.
It's a ridiculous shame that the most notable iconoclast in today's music biz is a dude who has pockmarks older than every single member of Fall Out Boy. Though the honky-tonk legend is still best known for his ability to write a killer love song and meander through genres, Nelson is the celebrity go-to guy when it comes to enlightening Americans on the virtues of green energy. And since he tours the country in a bus propelled by fryer oil, we've got to conclude that not only does Nelson have a stranglehold on music's past, he knows more than most about the future. He's at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611. Ray Price (who's apparently still alive) and Asleep at the Wheel to open.
Greed, corruption and revolution take center stage this week at Marygrove College Theatre. The play is called Urinetown and, though the title is unsavory, the play's look at human nature in the face of a crippling water shortage is hysterical. Produced by the University of Detroit Mercy's Theatre Company, this event takes place on the Marygrove College campus at 8425 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit. Call the Theatre Company at 313-993-3270 for ticket information.
He's often associated with his 1965 ultra-mod radio hit "The In Crowd," but Ramsey Lewis' jazz lineage bridges all kinds of musical sciences. From his recent work with gospel to his years as a smooth jazz troubadour, the 71-year-old Lewis has covered some serious sonic ground. He'll play two shows (7 and 9:30 p.m.) at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts, 7878 Brighton Rd., Brighton; 810-299-4130. Tickets are $20-$100 (this includes an afterglow and meet-and greet).
Phoenix Ensemble: The Oblivion Project
A recent book on tango lauds the late Astor Piazzolla for adding elements from "Bartok and Bach, cool jazz and free jazz" to make the world sit up and notice the Argentine music anew. But a fan reminds us that the fundamental appeal of Piazzolla's "nuevo tango" is the fundamental libidinal electricity of the classic stuff, "the sexiest music you can hear that doesn't involve the voice of Barry White." Ann Arbor's Phoenix Ensemble knows that. Their fifth annual Piazzolla extravaganza coincides with their live EP The Oblivion Project, which captures the soaring drama and sexual tension the music is all about. At 7:30 and 9:30 both nights; Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-769-2999; $15-$30. (Bonus tango alert: Piazzolla's former piano player and arguable heir, Pablo Ziegler, plays Rackham Auditorium on Friday, March 30.)
This song-and-dance masterpiece hit theaters four years before Bernstein's West Side Story, but somehow the play with the race riots, young love and accidental murder eclipsed it. This week, the newly (re)discovered Bernstein musical, (it had a Broadway revival in 2003 with Brooke Shields) Wonderful Town, lands at Music Hall. Based on the play My Sister Eileen, this Bernstein gem follows sisters Ruth and Eileen as they leave the Midwest to make waves in the Big Apple and, yes, it has all the fabulous tunes, dance numbers and costuming one would expect in a production of the legendary composer's work. At 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-963-7622.
There's a DIY success story behind the band Bloc Party that seems to be rare in today's pop milieu. And since the British rockers hit it big after sneaking a demo into the hands of Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos and Radio One DJ Steve Lamacq, they took full advantage of their rare op and went on to become trendsetters in their own right. These guys are ambitious songwriters and as proved by their February 2007 release, A Weekend in the City not afraid to risk everything by challenging prosaic Top 40 ideals. Also: Viva racial integration in the rock arena, and thumbs up to any band that earns its keep! At the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-399-2980. With Albert Hammond Jr. and Sebastian Grainger to open. Tickets are $27.50.
For the Love of Art
It's year number 25 for the Paint Creek Center for the Arts, and in celebration of their silver anniversary they've enlisted "community celebrities" such as mayors, judges and local business owners to help the cause. Festivities will include a strolling dinner, open bar, live music from the Jello Shots and a silent auction. Note: the auction will feature 25 different photographs taken by the "community celebs" themselves. From 7 p.m. to midnight at the Twin Lakes Golf Course, 455 Twin Lakes Dr., Oakland; 248-650-4960. Tickets start at $85.
FUN FOR ALL
Finally! Something for the furry-faced! Though the hairiest among us are usually saddled with depilatory and shaving woes, this week it actually pays to get woolly. An Ann Arbor nonprofit, 826michigan, dedicated to helping young students improve their creative and expository writing skills, will host a unique fundraiser: In honor of such 'stache-clad literary greats as Mark Twain, Langston Hughes and the Bard himself, participants are asked to have friends and family sponsor the growth of a mustache. The event kicks off on Monday, March 26 mustache-growers are asked to have a clean-shaven face and are expected to attend weekly "weigh-ins" where photographers will document progress. To participate or to sponsor a grower, visit 826michigan.org. Begins at 8:26 p.m. at the Arbor Brewing Company, 116 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-213-1393.
Scene Causing 101: Dance Classes for Freaks, Misfits and Outcasts
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The name of the class pretty much sums it up, but what should be mentioned about this so-called alternative dance class is that it's led by a visionary (not to mention unusually kind) dance instructor. Christopher Leadbitter, founder of Causing a Scene Productions, has danced with world renowned Les Ballet Tocadero De Monte Carlo and uses his artistic bent to make learning to dance a fun and expressive way of life. Spring classes begin Sunday, April 1, and will range from beginning tap to advanced jazz. Call 248-804-4577 or e-mail Christopher@causingascene.com. Classes are $8-$10 a session. CASP studios are located at 1353 Fisher in Eastern Market, Detroit.
Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org