NOT JUST FOR POP GEEKS
She's earned a Grammy, been nominated for an Oscar, but never in million years should you hold that against her. Those accolades are flukes because few as worthy as Mann ever nab such honors. She's a Silverlake birdsong, an eagle-eyed fan of lit, an inspiration to PT Anderson, and author of some of the finest moments in pop music history since 1993's Whatever. So we welcome her second annual Yuletide show — which supports her winning 2006 collection of Christmas songs, One More Drifter in the Snow. Expect some droll stand-up banter, storytelling and song. Special guests include Paul F. Tompkins, Nellie McKay and Morgan Murphy, plus of course, Mann, her band and that songlist, which will include non-holiday fare too! At 8 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, 603 Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8397.
The Fiery Furnaces
FLASH OF AN INSTANT
The Fiery Furnaces? That's so 2002. The blunt-fringed brother-and-sister duo may already be a bit long-in-the-tooth as the greatest thing since, err, that other famous duo (called what? The Black Spots?) swung around, but the Furnaces' music — and their staunch following — hasn't suffered. For good reason: Brooklynite (by way of suburban Illinois) sibs Matthew and Eleanor Friedburger continue to push wonky boundaries musically and lyrically after the October release of their critically lauded fifth album, Widow City. Indeed, seems like the pair is working on a sign-language rock ballet. The Fiery Furnaces perform with bassist Jason Loewenstein of Sebadoh and drummer Robert D'Amico at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700 for info.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS TRASH
John Waters, Baltimore's most famous filmmaker, is a big fan of Christmas. It's hard to know how much X-mas is featured in his holiday program — which has been touring each December for four years now — but Waters was responsible for the best Christmas music collection, A John Waters Christmas, to be released in the last decade. Much like he did with the wonderful soundtrack to his hit film, (the original) Hairspray, the director-raconteur compiled kitschy (mostly rock 'n' roll) tracks from his personal history, including the little-known doo-wop classic, "Fat Daddy." The man who old Burroughs called "the King of Trash" describes his program as a cross between a standup comedy routine and a one-man-show. He recently told an interviewer that it's "a holiday program for people who think about throttling their kids and parents at Christmas." In the album's liner notes, he wishes everyone "a merry, rotten, scary, sexy, biracial, ludicrous, happy little Christmas" and what better way to kick it off than with a personal appearance by the dude himself? At the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw, Pontiac. 248-858-9333.
"SELLING SOULS" FOR THE HOLIDAZE
Like many forms of music, the idea of what constitutes "blues" has frequently been perverted over the years. Often, it ends up being some white amateur dude in a club doing a wretched Eric Clapton impersonation. It's not often that you get to see one of the originators and true Delta Blues legends of the form (most are now dead) — but such will be the case when David Honeyboy Edwards takes a local stage this week. A friend of the mythical Robert Johnson (Edwards was there the night Johnson drank the poisoned whiskey and died), the 92-year-old Mississippi-born Edwards was first recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942 but still does as many as 100 concerts a year. Also on the bill: Soul-blues great Bobby Rush (who fans of the form may recall from Martin Scorsese's The Blues series) and local gal Priscilla Price, recipient of the Blues Society of Detroit's "Lifetime Achievement Award" last year. At Bert's Marketplace Theatre, 2727 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030.
FABRICATED FESTIVITY NO. 1
It's Monkey Day! ... the fuck? "Monkey Day is an annual celebration of all things simian, a festival of primates, a chance to scream like a monkey and throw feces at whomever you choose." Yep, that's stealth, 'cause monkeys are the next ninjas. Or pirates. Or zombies. Or other feeble-minded cult faves. Anyway, much like Valentines Day, there's a commercial angle to this — the folks at Biddle Gallery will sell sweet monkey-themed art (free banana upon purchase) from such local artists as Carl Oxley III, Jack Johnson, Dave Moroski, John Benson, Terri Sarris, Davin Brainard, Ryan Weiss, Tara Hackett, Joey Merchant and Rick McQuaid. For info, visit monkeyday.com, or just show up in full primate garb at the Biddle Gallery, 2840 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte; 734-281-4779.
Described as an essential part of any serious band's bus or van, Tour: Smart is a practical guide to successful touring, merchandising, and self-promotion. With more 30 years of experience in the biz, its author, musician Martin Atkins (Public Image, Nine Inch Nails, Murder Inc. etc.), takes his knowledge on the road with a book tour. Dissect Atkins' brain with your bandmates at his Detroit book seminar. Stay for live music and the after party at the Labyrinth. The seminar begins at 6 p.m. at the Leland Hotel, 400 Bagley, Detroit; 313-962-2300 — just proceed southward, to the basement, for the after party.
Friday, Saturday 14, 15
The Ladies Room
DAN THE MAN
Lovable misanthrope Dan DeMaggio has been hurling his offensive prose at Detroit audiences for years. And, every few months, the cranky barfly and one-time MT scribe dons a suit and barks new material at people in some D-Town watering hole. This time, the performer promises to yak about the women he has known. He promises to explore "every significant relationship, whether platonic or familial or sexual and romantic, from mad matriarchs down to the one-night-stands." If you love hearing bright, poetic people spinning eloquent paeans to love and the fair sex, stay away. DeMaggio warns, "It's not poetry, nor do I strive for the affected, self-important mumblings of the 'spoken word artist.'" OK, Dan: Tell us how you really feel. At the new performance space, Park Bar Underground, beneath the Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2933.
As with their recent Motown send-up and knockout, the kids in Mosaic Youth Theatre are performing a show about an era that predates their births. This time they've talked to oldsters about things like the holiday fantasyscapes that Hudson's created annually on the downtown store's 12th floor, and about the year the Thanksgiving float broke free in the wind. With a cast of 150. In the Detroit Film Theatre of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-4005 or mosaicdetroit.org.
FABRICATED FESTIVITY NO. 2
Bring all ye boom boxes — it's Detroit Unsilent Night. A tradition since 1992, Unsilent Night is the modern equivalent to Christmas caroling because, rather than singing, participants play a different "voice" on their boom boxes. Unsilent Night has been held in cities from San Francisco to Sydney, and will begin at 7 p.m. at Clark Park, on the corner of Clark St. and Vernor St. in Detroit. Cassettes, CDs or Mp3s of each "voice" will be distributed upon arrival. Visit unsilentnight.com or email email@example.com for more info.
Saturday & Tuesday 15 & 18
JAZZ WITH SPIRIT
From Satchmo to Duke to Marylou Williams, jazz cats have gotten down on their knees and given thanks by bringing the ostensibly profane together with spiritual. The ever-smoking guitarist Ron English follows admirably in that tradition with Devotions (Detroit Radio Co.), along with the Psalm 150 Ensemble. A stalwart of the Cass Corridor arts firmament of the '60s, Cobb's Corner in the '70s, and innumerable scenes and gigs since, English began developing the ensemble in the '90s at Rosedale Park Baptist Church. He'll showcase some of Devotions material — minus the vocal choruses — Friday at 10 p.m. at Music Hall (his trio plus saxophonist Dean Moore II) and Tuesday at 8 at Baker's (trio). Jazz Café at Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit 10-2; 313-887-8501. Baker's Keyboard Lounge, 20510 Livernois Ave., Detroit, 313-345-6300. Both gigs free.
The Night 89X Stole Christmas
ONE HIT, TWO HIT ...
Let's play a word association game. "Delilah." Yep, reminds you of migraines and the Plain White T's, don't it? Next word. "Everything." Yep, you're snapping your fingers, humming "everything, everything will be just fine ... everything will be all right all right," as you curse Jimmy Eat World for composing such catchy fare. Listen to the other stuff these bands, along with Paramore, Coheed & Cambria and Mutemath, have to offer at the Night 89X Stole Christmas. At the Fillmore Theater, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5450.
Title of the Sunday night made-for-TV premiere: Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Albom's for One More Day. Oh, Mitch. We can't make fun of you anymore. Signing books at Borders Books, 43435 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-844-2090.