Harpo Never Played This Harp
The harp may be the most angelic instrument, but West Africa's 21-string version, the kora, has a particularly earthbound heritage. It's been played by "griots," who pass on tales of ancestors in the form of songs. Before moving to Michigan, Senegalese-born Mady Kouyate, for instance, studied under internationally acclaimed Toumani Diabate, whose roots in kora are said to go back 73 generations. Great kora players like Kouyate deliver all the shimmering, heavenly overtones of a Western harp, while quickly plucking melodies with fingers of both hands: History meets trance. Part of the Ford-Comerica Global Thursdays series at Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave. (at Schaefer Road), Dearborn; 313-624-0207; theaanm.org.
Snotty bubblegum grin
Get it: Ryan Allen, the impish and ping-ponging Thunderbirds Are Now! frontman, has formed a lil' pop 'n' fizz outfit called the Friendly Foes. So what, you say? Another dumb indie band whose fresh-faced members are in a million other faceless bands? Yeah, well ... hold on. There's hooks here, chief. The big, fat, giant, classic kind born of power chords and harmonies — the likes of which haven't been heard in these parts since, well, probably Toby Redd. In fact, "1234" and "Walk Home in the Dark" are two that, in some other universe, could own radio, could own the hip-sway of chicks in high school hallways. Of course, as with most indie bands, FF describe themselves in a suitably quirky manner — their sound is "a cute bunny rabbit devouring a werewolf or vice versa." With New Grenada and Alan Patrick Scheurman at the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333.
That's right, bitch
The ever-notorious Noir Leather has arranged another night of ass whippery: Hellbound, an erotic masquerade party, will take place in the foggy depths of Hamtramck's newest dance club, Shadow Bar. The party's got a little something for everyone — as entrants must either don formal or fetish wear, they have the option to enjoy either a massage chair or a flogging bench. The night features performances from Lady Pain, Snowfire, Abida Blaze and Francie Inferno, and there's a cameo from the lovely ladies of SPAG Burlesque. No word on strap-on training. Yet. Be sure to sharpen your stilettos before entering the dungeon at Shadow Bar, 11425 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck; 313-365-1446 or shadowbardetroit.com for more info.
The Salt Miners Farewell Show
Tanx for the memories
"The Salt Miners thrive on a stage where distortion has no home and a bola tie is standard garb," we once wrote. "And even though they all come from goodly rock 'n' roll beginnings, they have developed their very own version of the modest sound of bluegrass." Well, thrive no more. After six years, Tim Pak's the Salt Miners are hangin' up their banjos, and will perform two sets in their final show at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700 for info.
The SantaLand Diaries
David Sedaris gives us all hope. The SantaLand Diaries is a one-act, one-man play based on the phenomenally popular Sedaris essay about the pain and humiliation he felt working as a department store elf. And, see, we learn that if an elf can make it big, so can we all. So can we all. (Provided we have the brains, the humor, the writing chops and all that other unimportant stuff.) It's a funny play, which will be followed by another one-acter, Dylan Thomas' lyrical and touching A Child's Christmas in Wales. Two must-sees. At the Blackbird Theatre, 1600 Pauline Blvd., Ann Arbor; 734-332-3848.
Faruq Z. Bey and the Northwood Improvisers
A few years back when we profiled saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey, we hailed his '70s-'80s outfit Griot Galaxy as "the best jazz band to never make it out of Detroit." Griot may have been avant -garde, but considering its long residency at the old Cobb's Corner, it was a great bar band as well. Here's a chance to hear the most prominent of Bey's current vehicles — more often heard in concerts and festivals — take it to a bar stage as well. The lineup features saxophonists Mike Carey and Skeeter C.R. Shelton to better chase a collective post-Coltrane plane of existence. Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave.; 313-961-2543.
We've all had our Ludacris moments: Petey Pablo's "Raise Up" recalls fond memories of that stallion in the mesh beater, and we needn't delve into the intimacies that transpired during Juvenile's "Back That Ass Up." As for your current gal-pal — didn't you share that first, tender kiss as the Lil Jon lyrics "To the windoooooow/to the wall/till the sweat drip down and falls/till all these females crawl/Till all skeet skeet motherfucker/till all skeet skeet goddamn," played? Relive that magical moment, as Lil Jon performs Dirty South fuck-me-in-the-eye-socket beats at Plan B, 205 W. Congress, Detroit; 313-226-1200 for info. YEAH-ya.
The Great American Rampage Tour
Bangers & bongwater
What's next? A harmonium with crossbones? A lute, maybe, with dismembered heads? World music meets metal, 'cause with such an international lineup, there isn't much American in this Great American Rampage tour. Latin metalcore band Ankla uses claves — Afro-Cuban rhythm patterns — in their music, and UK-based Skindred fuses reggae with their death metal sound. Joined by the Aussies of Karnivool, only Nonpoint's Floridians hail from the land of apple pie. At Harpo's, 14238 Harper, Detroit; 313-779-9278 for info.
Shorts from the Sundance Film Festival
Blink twice ...
Oh, the weather outside is frightful — so for full effect, push them ski goggles up over your brow, wear that jacket from the winter of '99 with the ski tags still on it, and voila — you may as well be Sundance-bound in resort town Park City, Utah. Right? Exactly. The Michigan Theater is showing award-winning shorts from the 2007 Sundance Film festival, including Death to the Tin Man, a modern retelling of how the heartless Oz-man lost his limbs; Peace Talk, a story of two young girls playacting as soldiers; King, where a 65-year-old woman in apartment 3B has "unusual plans"; Salt Kiss, where a chauvinistic confirmed bachelor coerces his recently engaged friend to go back on the prowl; God Provides, a perspective of human reaction to natural disasters; Everything Will Be OK, a dark exploration of the meaning of life; and Happiness, where a woman buys a box of happiness and has no idea what to do with it. Each runs seven to 10 minutes; the evening is perfect for the cinephile whose taste for the highbrow is only exceeded by a painfully low attention span. At the Michigan Theater, 603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor; 734-668-8397.
Dave Koz & Friends
Smooth bells ...
'Tis that season again — and smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will be celebrating his new Capitol Records holiday album, Memories of a Winter's Night, hitting the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart this past week by returning to the Motor City with the 10th anniversary edition of his "Smooth Jazz Christmas" tour. Billed (as usual) as "Dave Koz & Friends," this year's band of "Friends" includes contemporary jazz singer-guitarist Jonathan Butler, basketball player-turned-jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale (who's returning to the music scene after battling life-threatening cancer this past year — Koz describes it as a "real Christmas miracle"), and singer Kimberly Locke, who was an American Idol finalist and runner-up to Clay Aiken and Ruben Stoddard in the series' second season competition. In addition to his arrangements of such seasonal favorites as "White Christmas," "Silver Bells" and even "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Koz (not to be confused with Claus!) and crew will also be performing selections from his last LP, Dave Koz At The Movies, which topped Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart for most of the summer, claiming the No. 1 spot for 12 weeks. Save room for the eggnog! At the Music Hall, 350 Madison St., Detroit; 313-963-2366.