In the beautiful downtown district of Harmonie Park, it looks like some new agitprop artist has set up shop. The subversive images of young, hot French artist Alexis Peskine can be seen through the sheet glass windows of G.R. N’Namdi gallery, temporarily housed on Randolph Street. Peskine, currently based in Jersey City, N.J., pours energy into his pop-inspired art with equal doses of cynicism and sensitivity to present scathing commentary on race and religion in the Western World. His solo show Freedom Fried opens with an artist reception from 6-9 p.m. and runs through May 3, at G.R. N’Namdi Gallery, 1435 Randolph St., Detroit; 313-831-8700.
Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical
An inspiring tale of an ingénue's intrepid journey to achieve her life's dreams, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical is playing at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadw... Ha! (Depending on when you pick up this issue), April Fools! Who but the Who Wants Cake? theater company of Ferndale would put on such a spectacle? To those (and there are many) who have already enjoyed the famed '78 porno, the plot is simple: A bevy of cheerleader gal pals earn extra cash through erotic flesh service to send the totally titular Debbie to Texas to join the squad of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Plenty of, um, tongue-in-cheek humor, the musical comedy will be performed Friday through Monday until April 28, at the Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-556-8581 or whowantscaketheatre.com for info.
As evidenced by the group's March-released album, Alopecia, the Oakland, Calif., indie-folk trio seamlessly melds genres, nicking elements from hip hop, dream pop and power pop in a deliriously lurid muddle of sound. Dab some gray eye shadow under your eyes and you may not seem as out of place as you sway alongside the zombie work mules (students) that will invariably attend the 8 p.m. performance at Pierpoint Commons, University of Michigan, 2101 Bonisteel Blvd. Ann Arbor; call 734-763-3202 for info.
BIRD LIVES (ON)
If she's coming this close to her hometown stomping grounds, you can be sure Sheila Jordan will sing her hip vocalese lines immortalizing the hep cats she hung with in her jazzy D-town youth. Along with her compatriots, she was singing versions of Charlie Parker solos in the D before Lambert, Hendricks and Ross made such notions popular. She's never lost her roots (bop, blues and folk) or her sense of adventure. Or her spry, jazzy sense of humor for that matter. With the Tad Weed Trio at the Firefly, 637 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-9090. Shows at 9 and 11 p.m.
Sine of the Times
FUTURE ELECTRO/LOVE SOUNDS
U of M prof and avant filmmaker Chris McNamara will perform in association with the splendid Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future exhibit, which closes Sunday. Digital dub ambient DJ support by Paris ‘68 members Jennifer A. Paull and MT contributor Walter Wasacz. The program runs 7-9 p.m. and is free with $10 admission ($5 for students) to the Saarinen show at Cranbrook Art Museum’s deSalle Auditorium, 39221 N. Woodward, Bloomfield Hills; 1-877-462-7262 for info. To read Wasacz’s complete Subterraneans column, see the Subterraneans column.
AMERICANA, MOTOWN STYLE
In a day when back story seems more important than content, American Mars has a doozy. After spending a couple years supporting No Fun City, they began working on the new album in 2004. But when bassist Garth Girard was diagnosed with colon cancer, those sessions came to a screeching halt. When Girard beat his cancer, the band paused momentarily to ponder their next move. “I think that in everyone’s own way, they tried to set up an endgame for the band,” says frontman Thomas Trimble. “But when Garth got a clean bill of health — and we all got together — we said, ‘Well, no, let’s do this.’ We were never in any tragic mode — everybody’s spirits were good. It’s just from a practical standpoint, it was like, ‘Can this even work?’” Western Sides, their stunning new album, answers with a resounding “Yes!” Shearing the experimental atmospherics from their sound, it pares their rootsy twang and pedal steel whine back to its essential elements. “Over the period of making the record, things like the war or things that were going on in Detroit seeped into the songs,” Trimble says. At TC’s Speakeasy, 207 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti; 734-483-4470. With Todd Deathridge and Dirt Road Logic.
Murder By Death
Indiana’s Murder By Death have long drawn from the darker side of the human experience, toying with ideas of death and vengeance and regret while playing dusty, imposing music that only helps to accentuate the inherent lawlessness of lead singer Adam Turla’s voice. The influences on their new Red of Tooth and Claw LP run from Johnny Cash to Nick Cave to Spaghetti Westerns. They’ve even recorded a new song called “Theme (For Ennio Morricone).” At the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.
Les Écailles de la Mémoire
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Germaine Acogny have a couple of things in common: their African heritage and their successes as renowned choreographers for reputable dance companies. Add one more credit to that which they share: Recently they’ve been shaking up the dance scene with a highly charged performance incorporating dance, music and theater performed in collaboration by Zollar’s Brooklyn-based Urban Bush Women and Acogny’s Senegal-based troupe Jant-Bi. The resulting performance is a fusion of modern Western and traditional African dance forms. “Les Écailles de la Mémoire” is at 8 p.m. at the Power Center, 121 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor. Call the University Musical Society at 734-764-2538 for tickets or visit ums.org.
Vincenzo Bellini's 1831 opera La Sonnambula, or The Sleepwalker, tells the tale of the beautiful Amina, a Swiss somnambulist whose nocturnal vagrancy accidentally leads her — to her fiance Elvino's chagrin — into the boudoir of another man. If only we all had the same excuse. Because amends are made, and weddings are had, and most importantly — a hauntingly beautiful operatic score is sung. Tickets range from $20-$128, and the show runs through April 6, at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit; 313-961-3500.
Saturday • 29
Artist and animator Martha Colburn has made more than 40 of her unusual films, including “music-art” films for bands and sequences in the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnson. This week, she’s coming to MOCAD’s fundraiser not for a staid “screening” but a full audiovisual jam. Detroiter Ian Clark will mix the sounds and Colburn will stitch it up visually, using two 16mm projectors showing excerpts from her animations and found footage. She’ll even use hand-made colored filters to create what she calls a “light-picture show.” The animator says vaguely it “should look like art.” At about 7:30 p.m., they’ll start mixing music with sound feeds from the projectors, which Colburn will keep running for at least a half hour or “until the machines fall apart, the films tangle or I cut my fingers!”
WE ARE THE '90s
Those suffering mid-'90s In Living Color nostalgia can rejoice — the Damon half of the Wayans Brothers will be joined by Tommy Davidson, David Allen Grier and his son, Damon Wayans Jr., for a night of stand-up. Among the lot, such films as Booty Call, Juwanna Man, Little Man and Major Payne have graced the silver screen so, for better or for worse, you know what you're in for. Tickets $51.50-$78 for the 8 p.m. show at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611 for info.
Acid Mothers Temple
THREE BIG WORDS!
The psychedelic circus of Japan's Acid Mothers Temple only rolls through Detroit every few years. Hell, we're lucky the group has enough time to catch a breath. Its shows are like shamanistic rituals. It's Krautrock immersed in whooshing Moog synths and No Wave guitars and the crazed conductions of bandleader Makoto "Speed Guru" Kawabata. In other words, expect large, skin-peeling walls of sound. Portland's neo-prog rock oddballs Danava accompany the band on its "Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness Tour." Given the nature of Acid Mothers Temple, you won't know whether to move or stare straight ahead, stoned and blissed. Either way, as the Acid Mothers say: "Do what you want to do." At the Magic Stick, 4020 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.
Ten seconds into the first track, and you know you already love Stars. The dream-pop fivesome crafts songs of hummable beauty; swirling and whimsical orchestration and eloquent lyrics uphold the melodic purr of singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Critics called Stars' 2004 album, Set Yourself on Fire, a modern masterpiece, and the band's pretty incredible live. Of note, Campbell, Millan and bassist Evan Cranley make up a fraction of the indie "Rat Pack" Broken Social Scene. So yeah. Don't be dumb. Grab that Sammy Davis Jr. wandering eye and hit the show. With Martin Royle at the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333 for info; doors at 8 p.m.; tickets $20; all ages.
LOVE LETTER TO DUSTY
The Grammy-winning alternative-country/pop/R&B maverick has long been compared to the late, great Dusty Springfield — so Ms. Lynne decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and recently released Just A Little Lovin', a loving tribute to the British pop superstar. With producer Phil Ramone helming the project (which was originally the idea of Barry Manilow, of all people!), Lynne recorded nine songs closely associated with Springfield (in addition to one Springfield-inspired original), updating them all and making them her own. The critical reaction has been ecstatic thus far (although our music editor was disappointed the tracks drifted so far away from Springfield's original recordings). The evening is billed as "Shelby Sings Dusty" ... but if you're lucky, you'll also hear some of Lynne's earlier gems, including "Killin' Kind," a magnificent little pop morsel that sounded a lot like a new recording by ... um, old Dusty herself. At the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-1991.
PAINT IT BLEAK
Celebrated Cass Corridor artist Brenda Goodman retains a cult-like following here despite having lived in New York since 1976. Two series of paintings — one of singers; the other of figures in menacing situations, recalling, perhaps, the old silent film cliff-hangers of The Perils of Pauline — comprise Brenda Goodman: New Work. Viewers willing to join in the fun will be entertained aesthetically, psychologically and philosophically at Paul Kotula Projects through April 5; 23255 Woodward Ave., Ferndale;