Nik Bärtsch's Ronin
STUCK IN A GROOVE — LOVIN' IT
Hardly the first jazz or rock figure to nick the '70s minimalism of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, etc., Swiss pianist-bandleader Nik Bärtsch is singularly single-minded about what he calls his "zen funk." His new disc, Holon, his second for the ECM label with quintet Ronin, hardly allays the notion of a one-trick pony, but, hey, so was Evel Knievel. The compositions — titled as "Modul 42" or "Modul 39_8," etc. — build layers and tensions from small, interlocking clusters of notes; often Bärtsch and friends are satisfied playing around in the grooves, but in the best pieces the tension resolves with a blast. At 9 p.m. at the Firefly, 637 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-9090; $15.
Blending '60s Cambodian pop with a psychedelic lounge sound, six-member Dengue Fever is led by vocalist and FOB Chhom Nimol. Yep, she's Fresh Off the Boat (and once nearly deported). In fact, band members, who were already dabbling with Khmer oldies after a '97 trip to Cambodia, discovered the freshly transplanted Nimol in 2001 singing in a nightclub in Long Beach, Calif. Nimol's English is still limited, so the lyrics are still largely in Khmer, and the backbeat's got some Bollywood-inspired flair. Though the band bears the dubious stamp of "world music," Dengue Fever has long since won over an adulating hipster fan base. And that's, uh, reason enough to see them, right? At the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333; all-ages; $10.
They don't cut their hair on tour. But their last two East Coast trips (the aptly named No Haircut Tour and No Haircut Part II) and a coveted spot on the Warped Tour earned Blameshift a loyal underground following — personal hygiene or hair fashion be damned. And, with a Long Island alt-regionalism, Blameshift is hard rock with harmony — a rare marriage of melodic din in their genre. The five-piece sports both a dude and chick lead vocalist, and boasts an Alternative Press nod as unsigned band of the month back in July. With two albums in three years, the band's making up for lost time, and will rock the Future Gallery with No One Goes Home, a local trio with an emo bent and a sound described as "pop-punk with a motherfuckin' keyboard, yo!" Nice. At the Future Gallery, 25744 Van Dyke Ave., Center Line; 586-838-0072.
SAX STAR'S HOMECOMING
It's been seven years since sax spectacularist James Carter last led a group for an extended hometown gig. That produced the fireworks of the Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge CD. No word about taping this one, so the way to hear is to be there. Carter's organ trio (with Gerard Gibbs and Leonard King) is augmented by bassist Ralphe Armstrong. In other Carter news, the CD Present Tense is slated for April release, featuring Dwight Adams, D.D. Jackson and others. At 7 and 9 p.m. on Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. other nights. At Arturo's Jazz Theatre & Restaurant, 25333 W. 12 Mile Rd., just west of Telegraph Rd. (in the Star Theatre Complex), Southfield; 248-357-6009; tickets $17.50-$24.50 depending on show.
METAL MACHINE HEAD
Bradford Cox, lead singer of indie noiseniks Deerhunter, coughs up his trademark experimental vocalizations in his side project, Atlas Sound. Much like Thom Yorke or even, gosh, Lou Reed (that's hyperbole, kids), Cox's voice echoes and reverberates, fading into a spaced-out, atmospheric instrumental background before becoming clear again, with simple, brain-tease-y lyrics. His elongated limbs (he's 6 feet, 4 inches, and has Marfan Syndrome) and exaggerated stage movements add swimmingly to Atlas Sound's surreal, odd feel. Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700 for info; 18 and up; tickets $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
On a summer night in 1973, Marietta Jaeger's 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was kidnapped from her tent during a family camping trip, and later murdered. Jaeger will speak about her experience — of hatred, turmoil and, ultimately, forgiveness — following a performance of British playwright Bryony Lavery's drama, Frozen. The play follows the aftermath of a young girl's abduction and murder through the perspective of her mother, the kidnapper and a psychiatric researcher. A series of monologues, Frozen won the prestigious Barclay award for Best New Play in 1998, and will be performed by the Stagecrafters from Feb. 29 to March 9 at Baldwin Theater, 415 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak; 248-541-6430; tickets $12.
Friday, Saturday 29, 1
BLACK PEOPLE ARE FUNNY
He's the original hip-hop comedian — "bigger and blacker" and "never scared." He was winning Grammys while Dave Chappelle was still lighting up with Jim Breuer. An Emmy winner and the creator of a TV show, hell, he was even a damn cartoon zebra in Madagascar. And if "cartoon zebra" doesn't scream success, then Chris Rock just isn't this decade's king of comedy. Rock is back on the road with his No Apologies tour — and with two nights at the Fox, this prince of race-relations comedy is sure to rattle some feathers, drop a few race jokes and scare a few white people. But for those who make it to the show, don't forget the comedian's advice: "If a brother steps on your sneakers at a theater — let it slide/Ain't no use going to jail because someone scuffed your Pumas." At the Fox Theater, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611 for info.
The 104th Birthday of Dr. Seuss
CAT IN HAT FOR SALE ON WALL
Spend your salary in a gallery of haberdashery. Rich-ass dicks and foxy chicks will come. Toothless hicks and kids of six will come. Will there be cliques? No, they all will mix. Oh, enough of such jackassery. Featuring prints and paintings of Dr. Seuss's iconic art, "unorthodox taxonomy" and wonky sculptures, the private collection of Theodore Geisel will be presented for public view and purchase until March 25, at the schmancy Art Leaders Gallery, 33030 Northwestern Hwy., West Bloomfield; 248-539-0262 for info.
THEY CAN FLY!
If ever there were a Never-Neverland, it might be among the corps du ballet, whose rigorous athleticism and delinquent eating habits leads to certain, err, delays in physical maturity. Did that cross the line? No, it just wasn't funny. See J.M. Barrie's classic brought to the stage, performed by the weightless, leaping dancers of the Grand Rapids Ballet — a perfect way to introduce your kids to the highbrow. At the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit; 313-237-7464 for info.
Midwinter Bikini Run
The towels, umbrellas and sunscreen may be out in full force on Sunday. And don't forget the bikinis. Wha ... ? Park Avenue will play host to a marauding mile of some of downtown's finest, sexiest, flabbiest, craziest and drunkest this Sunday afternoon. Even in the expected 33-degree weather, men in Speedos, women in sleek beach wear — hell, even men in the sleekest of women's beach wear — and the crazies wearing inner tubes and life jackets will participate in Park Bar's annual Midwinter Bikini Run. The one-mile run through downtown Detroit is held every year to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Michigan. With an afterparty at the bar, some Hawaiian-themed attire and drinks, and prizes for the fastest and slowest runners, the Bikini Run is a perfect way to get drunk and scope beach bods — and do it for a good cause. Meet at the Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2933 for info.