Arts & Culture » Culture

Night and Day

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Thursday • 19
Nas
MUSIC

Songs like “Money over Bullshit” and “Carry on Tradition” on Nas’ 2006 release, Hip Hop is Dead, are turning out to be more relevant than most of us imagined. After a publicized truce with the ultra-powerful Jay-Z and a recording contract from the positivity-pushing Def Jam camp, Nas’ rapping-as-storytelling has yanked social consciousness and personal responsibility to the front row. And by bum-rushing audiences with more narrative than ego, his collaborations (will.i.am, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg) have become some of the most accessible in rap. At the State Theatre, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5450.

Thursday • 19
Ralph Nader: Seventeen Traditions
LITERATURE/ISSUES & LEARNING

Activist and presidential election-adjuster Ralph Nader will be at Borders in Farmington Hills this week to discuss his latest effort, Seventeen Traditions. In the book, Nader gets personal by discussing his childhood in Winsted, Conn., and the 17 key traditions he absorbed from his Lebanese immigrant parents, his siblings and the people in his community. The result is an inspiring look back from today’s complicated times. At 7 p.m. at 30995 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-737-0110. Nader will also be present at the screening of An Unreasonable Man at the Detroit Film Theatre. See the cinema section for more information.

Thursday • 19
Magic Poetry Band
MUSIC/LITERATURE

Among the pleasures of the latest from the Magic Poetry Band is a tune from the long-defunct but legendary Griot Galaxy — saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey’s “Fosters,” the Galaxy tune where you hear the spirit of Sidney Bechet wailing in the rafters — refitted with an M.L. Liebler poem extolling the wonders of jazz. That’s not to mention a refracted strain of “I’m an Old Cowhand” behind a poem by guitarist Ron English that invokes poets Baudelaire and Michael McClure, and Liebler transmuting the Barrett Strong classic “Money (That’s what I want)” into a darker anti-anthem called “Blood Money.” The jazz, funk and free verse clan celebrates the release of The Kurl of the Butterfly’s Tongue. At the Jazz Café at Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-887-8501. Free.

Friday • 20
Detroit Music Awards
MUSIC

It’s been a couple of years since anyone new from the Motor City was on the worldwide music radar; and while the lucky few were off snagging Grammys and packing arenas, the Detroit Music Awards soldiered on. Always there to give props to local musicians left to make their waves regionally, what this controversial awards show might lack in heft, it makes up for in entertainment: This year’s scheduled performers include the Go; rapper Trick Trick; electronic music and hip-hop peddler DJ Godfather; gospel ensemble God’s Army; blues gal Alberta Adams; a veritable ax-a-thon courtesy of homegrown guitar dudes Jeff Grand, Jim McCarty and Bobby East; plus Alexander Zonjic and Friends. Begins at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5450.

Friday-Saturday • 20-21
Odu Afrobeat Orchestra/NOMO
MUSIC

Both collectives look to bandleader and mercurial spirit Fela Kuti for inspiration. Odu’s leader, saxophonist-vocalist Adeboye Adegbenro, even played with Kuti as a young musician in late-1980s Lagos, Nigeria. Both lineups include jazz cats, punk rockers and learned musicians with university credentials. Both freely mix Afro-beat’s polyrhythms with pop, funk, jazz and rock influences. But it’s not often that you can conveniently compare and contrast their styles in a single night, let alone two nights in a row. Friday at Neutral Zone, 310 E. Washington, Ann Arbor; 734-214-9995. Saturday at Alvin’s, 5756 Cass, Detroit; 313-832-2355. Both nights will feature special guests, including DJ Dez of Slum Village on Saturday, who just might sit in on the congas. (The Alvin’s gig, by the way, is part of an effort to breathe new life into the struggling Cass Avenue venue.)

Saturday • 21
Supercross Series
SPORTS

Don’t overthink it: danger + dirt + exhaust fumes + speed = America’s fastest growing extreme sport, Supercross. Featuring crack athletes like Chad Reed, Kevin Windham and Bubba Stewart, this week’s 125cc and 250cc stadium motorcycle racing event at Ford Field is sure to evoke more “oohs and ahhs” than an entire season of Lion’s home games. Tickets range from $20-$50 and were still available at time of publication. At 2000 Brush St., Detroit. Call Ticketmaster at 248-645-6666 for information.

Saturday • 21
Hard Lessons/HiFi Handgrenades
MUSIC

Squeaky-clean hometown rockers the Hard Lessons came out of the chutes at a full clip and haven’t ceased hurling dust at the nags. And while the pie-eyed anti-hipsters have single-handedly carved out a new niche in the Detroit rock scene, there’s no doubt that they took cues from saltier and more seasoned personalities like John Speck, former front man from the Fags and current leader of the HiFi Handgrenades. This week, the diametrically opposed outfits share stage and sentiment: There’s more than one way to be a maverick. Sponsored by SPIN magazine and 89X, this show is all-ages. At 8 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-MELT. The Silent Years and Island View Drive to support. Tickets are $8.90.

Saturday • 21
Shadow Princesses
MUSIC

Albertan artist Deborah Forbes’ latest installation exhibit, Shadow Princesses, might sound ethereal and sweet, but it comes from darker places. An abstract investigation of the world’s fascination with “princesses” — from the painting “Infanta Margarita” by Diego Velázquez to the image of JonBenet Ramsey — the multimedia offering uses projected visuals, shadows and reflections to represent the tragic beauty and the ubiquity of the “princess” icon in contemporary culture. Opening reception is 7:30 at Artcite Inc., 109 University Ave. W., Windsor; 519-977-6564. Ends May 19.

Saturday • 21
Grupo Escobar
MUSIC

Guitarist Steve Jarosz used to blow up crinoline skirts with his swamp rock-rockabilly outfit Blue Voodoo, but his musical evolution has taken him to places much more exotic. His Grupo Escobar specializes in the sounds of Cuba, but also employs the band members’ diverse backgrounds; incorporating timba, salsa, jazz, cumbia, Middle Eastern and tropical rhythms. At the Amber House, 7012 E. Nine Mile Rd., Warren; 810-754-3434.

Saturday • 21
Aria Hendricks with the Scott Gwinnell Orchestra
MUSIC

In New York you can hear singer Aria Hendricks putting her vocal polish on big bands like David Berger’s Sultan’s of Swing. In Detroit, well, you usually can’t hear her at all, except for this weekend when she performs with the innovative Scott Gwinnell Orchestra at its home base of Cliff Bell’s. She’ll be singing arrangements worked up especially for the occasion (including charts by Gwinnell and Berger). Word is that Aria’s hep daddy-o — Jon Hendricks of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross — will be on hand and sitting in on a few numbers. Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543.

Friday-Sunday • 20-22
PenguiCon
COMMUNITY

A gathering of hundreds of Linux geeks, gaming fanatics, sci-fi folks and fellow travelers, PenguiCon, is described as “an anarchic hotbed of intelligence and creativity, a geek Woodstock, a true Nerdvana.” Headliners for the fifth annual event include “security guru” — as the Economist dubbed him — Bruce Schneier, nanotech booster Christine Peterson and John W. Campbell Award-winning sci-fi writer Elizabeth Bear. The anime goes nonstop, and the ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen. Don’t forget your light saber. At the Troy Hilton, 550 Crooks, Troy; info at penguicon.org. Day rates vary, $45 for the weekend.

Tuesday-Wednesday • 24-25
Jazz Café at Music Hall
MUSIC

Former WDET-FM host Judy Adams holds fort of late with a free Music Hall series to search for an unknown band to perform at this year’s Detroit International Jazz Fest. New bands play Wednesdays, while Tuesdays are semi-final match-ups for bands that have already appeared in the series. Adams says contestants have ranged from their teens to their 70s and span the jazz genres. This Tuesday, the high schoolers of In the Pocket and the Jesse Kramer Trio square off. Jazz Café at Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-887-8501. Performances from the series are recorded and air Sunday nights at WVMV-FM (98.7), Adams’ new home on the airwaves.

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