If their reputation as a world-class free jazz ensemble doesn't ingratiate them to Detroit audiences, The Thing's 2001 CD Garage should do the trick. Reedman Mats Gustafson, percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and low-ender Ingebrigt H. Flaten's jazzy improvisations liven Detroit's slightly dank Bohemian National Home with texture and nuance and grooviness. If we're lucky, we might be treated to some of the band's interesting cover choices including tunes from Lightning Bolt, the Sonics and the White Stripes. At 3009 Tillman St., Detroit; 313-737-6606.
Freedom Weekend VI
ISSUES & LEARNING
Freedom Institute founder the Rev. Wendell Anthony says one of the highlights of the sixth annual Freedom Weekend will be the national town hall meeting, a gathering that focuses on black America and the 2008 presidential election. The meeting takes place at 3 p.m. on Saturday and will be attended by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the Rev. Al Sharpton and leaders from the Nation of Islam. The event will be preceded by three days of workshops and symposiums, including a Power Economic luncheon and a Health Empowerment Expo. Wednesday-Saturday at Cobo Conference Center, One Washington Blvd., Detroit. The weekend is capped with the annual Freedom Fund Dinner of the Detroit NAACP with keynote speaker former President Bill Clinton at Cobo Conference Center. Visit freedomweekend.info or detroitnaacp.org for more information. Call 313-871-2087 for ticket information.
Patty Griffin, the coquettish guitarist-singer-songwriter, has become a symbol of strength and tenacity for many of today's aspiring female musicians. After piquing interest in folk circles with her 1996 debut, Living With Ghosts, Griffin spent several years grappling with record execs and bean counters over creative differences. And ever since she rid herself of the corporate monsters finding instead, greener pastures with Dave Matthews' ATO label Griffin has spent the past few years churning out tunes so raw, feminine and beautiful, everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Jessica Simpson has covered them. Her 2007 release, Children Running Through, is but one more reason to love her. At the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8480.
Detroit Tree Planting Celebration
Dozens of volunteers from the National Arbor Day Foundation will be on hand when children from Lodge Elementary plant 100 large trees and give away hundreds of seedlings to Detroit residents. As part of a national campaign to increase awareness of the importance of trees in a livable city, volunteers will learn how to properly plant, mulch and water trees in order to facilitate long-term health. Public welcome at 8 a.m. at the Lodge Elementary School, 24325 Bennett St., Detroit. Visit arborday.org.
FUN FOR ALL
Recent breaks in the weather mean that garage-turned-gallery, Alley Culture, is in prime condition for a new show. This week's art exhibit, dubbed Carmaggedon, will host pinewood derby cars of all varieties artist-designed, high-concept, whimsical and stealth for a foray into art appreciation that's not too highfalutin for fun. Opening festivities are 7-10 p.m. (in the alley between Trumbull and Lincoln, south of Willis). Exhibit ends May 19.
The 1976 film Sparkle inspired the much-lauded and loved Broadway and film hit Dreamgirls. And since both productions were loosely based on homegrown superstars the Supremes, it only seems fitting that the first time the stage rights to Sparkle have been released it's performed at Detroit's Cass Tech High School. Opening night is this Friday. VIP patrons will enjoy a pre-show dinner served in Cass Tech's dining commons and passes for the afterglow reception at Bert's on Broadway (1315 Broadway, Detroit; 313-220-7150). Doors at 7 p.m. at the Jeanette Wheatley Theatre at Cass Technical High School, 2421 Second Ave., Detroit. Call Ada Smith at JAS Events at 800-790-2046 for tickets.
Totally Awesome Fest
Hyperbole rarely deserves attention in these pages, but when Dreamland Theater's Totally Awesome Fest came to Night & Day's attention, it immediately was a must-include event. Welcoming the quirky and experimental musical talents of Melting Moments, Charlie Slick, Lord of the Yum-Yum and Boxcars as well as music and puppets by Patrick Elkins there's much to dig. Adding to the oddball fun will be a Madlib improv marionette show from the Dreamland Puppet Troupe and a shadow puppet show by Carrie Morris. 7 p.m. at the Dreamland Theater, 26 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti; 734-657-2337.
Scores of dealers head to the annual Michigan Modernism Expo this weekend to unload all kinds of furniture, clothing, jewelry, radios, art glass and more. Items for sale will be authentic and of the art deco, art nouveau, arts and crafts and surrealism movements. At the Southfield Civic Center, 26000 Evergreen Rd.; 248-354-1000. Admission is $8.
Jigu! Thunder Drums of China
Pummeling the senses with exotic sights and sounds, the Jigu! Thunder Drums of China features 28 colorfully costumed drummers, percussionists and musicians from Shanxi province, plus dazzling lighting and special effects. 8 p.m. at Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-943-2354.
Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival
With screenings throughout the metro area, the Jewish Community Center's ninth annual film festival runs Sunday, April 29, to Thursday, May 10. Highlights include Steel Toes, starring Good Night and Good Luck Oscar-nominee David Straithairn, who plays a Jewish attorney defending a skinhead accused of murder, and Checking Out, starring Peter Falk. Other notable flicks include Jewish Women in American Sport and Wrestling with Angels, a profile of playwright Tony Kushner. Also, at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, film critic Joel Siegel will speak at Handleman Hall in the Jewish Community Center (6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-661-1000). Participating theaters include the United Artists Theatre in Commerce Township, the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, the Palladium Theatres in Birmingham, the Flint Institute of the Arts in Flint and the Cineplex Odeon in Windsor, Ontario. Visit jdff.org for listing information.
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