SLIM CESSNA'S AUTO CLUB
From backwoods revivals to murderous boys next door, this seven-member alt-country combo eyes the darker sides of life and religion in rural America. One listen to "This Is How We Do Things in the Country" and you'll never want to leave the city again. Fronted by the engaging Slim Cessna, the Auto Club's out pimping its latest album Cipher, one of those Old Testament romps through sin and damnation, backed by plenty of banjo. Often hailed as one of the best live bands in the country (no shit!), Slim Cessna's Auto Club promises a toe-tapping, Bible-humpin' good time. Playing with the Readies (see story on p. 22) at 8 p.m. at the Pike Room of the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333; $10.
NELS CLINE SINGERS
Nels Cline is a guitarist for all seasons, but he's best when the weather's stormy. He played with some of the most important names in Fringeville — from Julius Hemphill on the jazz side of town to Mike Watt's Second Men on the rock side — before hooking up with Wilco a few years back gave him a new level of visibility. (It also helped tilt Wilco to a jammier, noisier sound.) We're guessing that new visibility has something to do with this unprecedented tour for his instrumental trio, the Nels Cline Singers, swinging through the area. How good is he? Guitar Player, which put him in the cover spot usually reserved for Carlos Santana- and Joe Perry-level stars, called him a "genius" with a "near-magical ability to reinvent guitar craft." At 8 p.m. at the Ark, 316 S. Main, Ann Arbor; 734-763-8587; $17.50.
SHE WANTS REVENGE
SAME AS THE OLD BOSS
The brainchild of California DJs Adam Bravin and Justin Warfield, She Wants Revenge tempts comparisons to trusty '80s new wavers the Cure and Joy Division, as well as almost famous contemporaries Interpol. But don't let that scare you. See, so well has the duo perfected its retro pastiche that music aficionados wonder if it's pure irony. Who cares? The indie kids are all too busy dancing to lyrical gems such as "I heard it's cold out, but her popsicle melts/She's in the bathroom she pleasures herself" to care. Nice, then. With Be Your Own Pet, The Virgins and Switches at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-6358; $18; doors at 6:30 p.m.
As both a solo artist and a member of seminal alt-rock (yes, seminal alt-rock) band Throwing Muses, Hersh has captivated listeners with impassioned vocals and honest, personal lyrics. Moving between delicate whispers and outright screams, she has described childbirth, relationships and losing custody of her first son. Hersh's current project, Paradoxical Undressing, takes the singer-songwriter in a new direction by including elements of spoken word, film and music. The title, which refers to the tendency of hypothermia patients to remove blankets and clothes despite the fact that they are freezing, aptly (if obviously) describes the way the introverted Hersh will expose herself to audiences by reading excerpts from her upcoming memoir of the same name. Sound precious? Yeah, but remember: We're talkin' Kristin Hersh. At 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward, Detroit; 313-833-7900; free with museum admission.
THE ART OF DR. SKETCHY'S ANTI-ART SCHOOL OPENING RECEPTION
SKETCH SOME BURLESQUE
While the idea of sketching a naked model might cause some adolescent twittering in nascent art students, figure-drawing classes are actually a dull affair. Bright lights, bland surroundings and 10 students with sketchpads surrounding one naked person do not a good time make. This is where Dr. Sketchy comes in. Formed in Brooklyn in 2005, Dr. Sketchy took life-drawing from staid to sexy by moving it out of the classroom and into the bar, and featuring models drawn from the exotic fringes of life, such as burlesque dancers and circus freaks. The Anti-Art School now has 50-plus braches scattered across the globe, including the Motor City Division, whose monthly event is sponsored by the Hamtramck art collective Hatch. This exhibit will feature 50 works produced in the last two years by Dr. Sketchy students (or "art monkeys," as Sketchy-ists would have it). The opening begins at 6 p.m. at Café 1923, 2287 Holbrook, Hamtramck; 313-319-8766. A Dr. Sketchy session will take place 6-8 p.m. ($5 to draw). See hatchart.org for info.
RAHEEM DEVAUGHN AND CHRISETTE MICHELLE
R&B HIPPIE NEO-SOUL ROCK STAR?
When Raheem DeVaughn came through town last September for a set at Seldom Blues, MT contributor and hip-hop head Khary Kimani Turner proclaimed that the upstart "actually stole the show" from headliner Common. "His performance was a complete show ... his band tight and animated," Turner wrote. The set included a tribute to deceased soul singers, a visual artist painting at an easel onstage and a bit where DeVaughn collapsed onstage and finished the song "singing and playing while laying prostrate. It was sick!" And that was before the self-proclaimed "R&B hippie neo-soul rock star" escaped the underground hit-maker designation with the Grammy nomination for his tune "Woman." DeVaughn shares the bill with Chrisette ("Your Joy") Michelle, kicking off summer concerts at Chene Park. (T.I. and Rick Ross continue the series on Saturday.) At 2600 Atwater, Detroit; 313-393-7128; tickets $32.
? & THE MYSTERIANS
IT ALL STARTED HERE
What more does one need to say aside from "96 Tears"? Yep, the former Rudy Martinez (who legally changed his name to "?" and has never, ever wavered from stating that he comes from the planet Mars) formed the band decades ago with a bunch of Saginaw Steering Gear plant friends in Bay City. They started in the garage; several months later, they had the No. 1 single in the country. Perhaps the definitive example of a "one-hit wonder," the Mysterians' song was a major influence on both the punk, garage rock and even the No Wave genres (and where would Elvis Costello's This Year's Model have been without it?) ... and the Mysterians remain as captivating and vital live today as they were on the numerous teen rock TV shows all those years ago. There is a lot more than just "96 Tears" in their wonderful repertoire. With F'ke Blood (featuring former members of the Von Bondies). At the Museum of Contemporary Art, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622.
WEDNESDAY 4 AND FRIDAY 6
DANNY'S STILL ROCKIN'…
Danny Kroha is, of course, already well known on the Detroit rock 'n' roll scene, thanks to his work with the Gories and, more recently, the Demolition Doll Rods. Following the dissolution of the latter group and a brief spell trying his hand as a solo musician, Kroha is back with a new band he's dubbed the Readies, which is just now starting to make some big waves around town. Armed with a sound overflowing with Motor City garage rock fuzz and plenty of raw power, Kroha and the Readies are, ahem, ready to lay a sonic assault on their hometown…and beyond. Wed, June 4 at the Crofoot, 1 South Saginaw, Pontiac; 248.858.9333, and Friday, June 6, at the Painted Lady, 2390 Jacob, Hamtramck; 313-874.2991.
DETROIT FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
FROM MARS TO MAKEBA
The official kick-off to the summer fest season, the Detroit Festival of the Arts never fails to surprise with its eclectic mix of artists and art forms. There's sidewalk painting on Kirby between Woodward and John R, a 75-ton sand sculpture on Cass Avenue, and Cirque du Soleil-style spectacles on the north lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts nightly at 9 p.m. from Wise Fool New Mexico. There's a passle of poets and music literally from around the world, including Cape Verdean singer-guitarist Tcheka, Italian-American (by birth, but Brazilian in his heart) accordionist Rob Curto and Americanized Afro-beat from Budos Band. There's American Mars, Teddy (son of folk-rock icons Linda and Richard) Thompson, a tribute to the late Detroit jazz legend Donald Walden, former Mavericks singer Raul Malo … all building to a finale with South African legend Miriam Makeba. See the music section for an interview with Lewis and more on key headliners. Detroit Cultural Center, Friday, 4-11 p.m.; Saturday noon-11; Sunday noon-9 p.m. Info at detroitfestival.com.
BLACKBYRD REVUE FEATURING ALLAN BARNES AND GORILLA FUNK MOB
(STILL) WALKING IN RHYTHM
They may not know his name, but legions of listeners have heard Detroit saxophonist Allan Barnes as sampled in records by Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, Ghostface Killah, R. Kelley and others. That's not to say that lots of folks didn't hear those discs the first time around, especially the smooth-fusion hits Barnes made with the Blackbyrds in the '70s. Of late, the rip-roaring Barnes has hooked up with hip-hop-minded musicians live as well, specifically the Gorilla Funk Mob, whose extensive résumé includes backing up DJ House Shoes, Slum Village and Dwele. Barnes and the Mob are together for a special tribute to his old group, the Blackbyrds (formed by former Detroiter Donald Byrd), to reprise such classics as "Walking in Rhythm," Black Byrd" and "Summer Love." At Alvin's, 5756 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-633-6326; alvinstwilightbar.com.
Sir Jack White returns to Detroit for his first show in ages, although Meg won't be anywhere near the stage. Nope, he's back with his other band, the Raconteurs, featuring fellow native Detroiter (and pop maven) Brendan Benson, along with the two-man rhythm section from Cincinnati garage rock trio the Greenhornes. Our music editor termed the band's new album, Consolers of the Lonely — which successfully merges White's blues rawk sensibilities with Benson's pop affection — surely one of the best of 2008, overflowing as it is with huge hooks and melodic riffs. The D is surely ready to give 'em a big hometown welcome, even if the singer-guitarist is quoted in the latest issue of Rolling Stone as calling the city "like an iron-maiden sort of torture treatment. I couldn't breathe in that scene." At the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611.
SIXTH ANNUAL U.S. AIR GUITAR CHAMPIONSHIP
BE JIMMY PAGE OR JACK WHITE…IF ONLY IN YOUR MIND!
Nothing beats the awe and majesty of a hundred guys powerchording chest vapor into purely imagined rock!! We're talkin' Air Guitarist, baby!! The U.S. Air Guitar Championship is open to the public and anyone can qualify, even you, cherished reader, could be a windmill chord or two away from adding "Air Guitarist Champ" to your resume. And if the gods are with you, this will lead you to Oulu, Finland to reclaim the all-American first place honor that David "C-Diddy" Jung was awarded in 2003. After all, if you want to be revisionist about it, Tom Cruise stripped down to his briefs put air guitar on the map for a lot of Gen Xers and by birthright, that honor should be ours. And that future champ should hail from Detroit, which, of course, is where that wretched Bob Seger song originated. At the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030.
DOUGLAS OF DETROIT: MASTERWORKS OF THE MALE FIGURE
NUDE DUDES NO LONGER LEWD
The 1950s were a quaint and repressive time. In Detroit, a censorship battle was being fought over the photographs of native Detroiter Douglas Juleff, a renowned and highly respected photographer of the male figure. In the end, Douglas' career, along with many of his prints and negatives, went up in flames. Today, collecting and viewing images of nude men is no longer illegal (just fun!), and Douglas' work is sought after by collectors who value the prints both for their rarity and for their distinctive dark tones and dramatic lighting. This exhibition is the first to feature his work. On display through July 15, at the Book Beat gallery, 26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park; 248-968-1190 for more info.