CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET TO ...
Childhood is rife with problems — sibling rivalry, overprotective parents, unfair teachers — that an abundance of pedantic TV shows teach kids how to navigate smoothly in just 30 minutes, complete with heartwarming hugs and schmaltzy music. But what about adults? Who's teaching us how to steer the straight and narrow as we deal with bills, jobs, relationships and that all-consuming question, the purpose of our lives? Enter Avenue Q, the Tony Award-winning Broadway smash hit that steps in where Sesame Street and TGIF left off. Through the story of Princeton, a recent college grad with no job and no money, we learn how to deal with unemployment, confused sexuality and Internet porn. Who said that only kids can learn life lessons from puppets? Through Nov. 23, at The Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-872-1000; info at broadwayindetroit.com; $32-$77.
A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF FINE ART
PAINTINGS À DEUX
Tracee Mae Miller and Greg Siemasz are both artists who are better known for their roles in the local music scene than their skills with a brush and canvas. Miller is the ethereal beauty from gothic alt-country band Blanche, and her period aesthetic and calm dreaminess are reflected in her captivating works. Siemasz is a K-8 art teacher in Detroit Public Schools and the former host of Radio Fever, a garage rock show on 97.1-FM, and his works combine nostalgic images with a contemporary consciousness. Their pretty, pretty pictures will be on display 8-10 p.m. at the Majestic Café, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; majesticdetroit.com. Exhibit runs through Nov. 30.
Since forming in 1989, Café Tacuba — a quartet from Naucalpan, Mexico — has probably been the most famous purveyor of the rock en español genre in the world. And yet it's probably an insult to label these dudes solely "rock en español," which of course generally involves a fusion of rock with Latin rhythms and instrumentation. On the contrary, this band is all over the musical map on each of its albums, incorporating such diverse elements as electronica and even punk rock into their sound. Each album — their last was 2007's Sino — follows a grand thematic scheme and musical approach, which has made the group international critical darlings. Chances are you've never heard of 'em if you're a gringo ... but Madonna worships them and they're as big as the Beatles in Mexico and places like California and Texas with huge Hispanic populations. The group canceled an extra night in Chicago to treat the Motor City with their tunes this time out. At St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-MELT.
DETROIT REP SEASON STARTER
Making its professional debut in Michigan, Defiance is the second play in John Patrick Shanley's projected trilogy focusing on the moral dilemmas often encountered in monolithic institutions. The play centers on a Marine Corps battalion during the 1970s experiencing racial unrest. The commander, Col. Littlefield, hopes that by promoting Capt. King, an African-American, he will quash tensions and further his own career. But their discussion of race, as well as Capt. King's knowledge of the colonel's dirty little secret, leads the men to deeper and darker explorations of the heart. At the Detroit Repertory Theatre; 13103 Woodrow Wilson, Detroit; 313-868-1347; detroitreptheatre.com. Playing Thursdays-Sundays through Dec. 28.
FOR THE MELLOW-HEARTED
Discovered by Yusef Lateef, boosted to stardom through gigs with George Benson, Detroit-born Earl Klugh defined his own guitar sound in the '70s — mellowly melodic, casually swinging, adamantly acoustic in a plugged-in era; here was a pop-jazz guy who let the world know his first six-string hero was (and remains) C&W star Chet Atkins. The multi-Grammy winner's recent The Spice of Life is his first big production disc in nearly a decade, following Naked Guitar, his 2005 solo guitar outing. His homecoming playlist includes new stuff plus his classics backed by the Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Orchestra. Admission for the 8 p.m. show is $19 to $60, but a through-November DSO special seats students (up to grad school, with ID) for $5. A ticket includes a 6:30 set by the Civic Jazz Band directed by Diego Rivera. Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111.
Remember when MTV's unplugged series revealed that stripped-down sounds could actually be cool? Of course, real musicians knew that all along, and a bevy of Detroit musical glitterati will prove it all over again, but, you know, locally, at this night of sans-electric entertainment. Members of Blair & the Boyfriends, the Pop Project, the Nice Device, Four Hour Friends, Terrible Twos and the Copper Thieves will be strumming their shit (for free!) starting at 8 p.m. at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668.
A MELODIOUS GROWL?
Gothenberg, Sweden, may not be widely known as a place of great musical provenances — unlike, say, Liverpool or even our own troubled burg — but it was in Gothenberg in the early '90s where (melodic) death metal was born. The ostensibly oxymoronic genre came bloody, kicking and screaming into the world thanks in part to In Flames, which helped introduce harmonized guitars and keyboards to metal. Eighteen years, nine albums and three Swedish Grammy awards later, In Flames are still gaining international popularity with metal's dark legions. And that counts for something, right? With All that Remains, 36 Crazyfists and Goijira at 6 p.m. at the Emerald Theatre, 31 N. Walnut; Mt. Clemens; 586-913-1921; emeraldtheatre.com; $22 advance, $25 day of show.
THE FULL RELEASE PARTY
DOUBLE YER PLEASURE
Nitty and gritty retro glam goes double duty at this party celebrating the release of both the 2009 Spag Burlesque Calendar and Margaret Dollrod's new CD. Performances by the Spag girls and the storied Margaret will be complemented by punk, rockabilly and lounge music; busty, beer-drinking babes; and devilishly charming zoot-suited gentlemen. Purchase both freshly minted goodies and receive a discount — ain't that the cat's pajamas? At 9 p.m. at Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739. $6 or $5 if you dress up in '20s-'50s lounge style.
"CELEBRATION OR COMMISERATION"
ZEITGEIST SHUTS DOWN FOR GOOD
In the last 11 years, Zeitgeist gallery and theater space has carved out an aesthetic and community niche for itself — it became a defining center of the city's art scene. Sadly, such endeavors are often commercial failures. So it is that this well-curated DIY space is closing its doors for good this month, leaving a gaping hole in Detroit's art community. Honor the Zeitgeist in a final event fittingly titled "Celebration or Commiseration," an evening of entertainment and art spearheaded by Eric Mesko. Starts 7 p.m. at the Zeitgeist, 2661 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-965-9192. [To read more on Zeitgeist's closing, see Chris Handyside's thoughtful piece, "Celebrations of emergency."]
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx, La India emerged from the Latin hip-hop scene of the '80s (yes, there was such a scene) to became a Latin music luminary working with everyone from Tito Puente to Marc Antony and scoring hits, awards and critical kudos left, right and center. The self-proclaimed princess of salsa has released 10 albums, the latest 2006's Soy Diferente, garnering her two hit songs and two Latin Billboard Awards. She's what you would call muy caliente. At 7:30 at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison, Detroit; 313-833-8500; musichall.org; $30 and $50.
SAMPLING THIS, JACK
Depending on your point of view, Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) is either a profligate copyright violator or the messiah of electronic music. Transcending dime-a-dozen remixes and mash-ups, Gillis seamlessly blends samples — often more than a dozen in one track! — into carefully crafted electro pop gems. Old school hip-hop, pop hits, classic rock jams — you name it and Gillis has used it. His last album, Feed the Animals, released online in June, uses more than 300 samples in less than an hour. Hot damn! And even kids who usually scoff at electronic music flock to Girl Talk's shows, where he drops sing-along hooks while the audience's frenzied dancing reaches orgiastic heights. And all it takes is a laptop and an encyclopedic hard drive of pop hits. Awww, shit! With the Death Set and CX KiDTRONiK at the Eagle Theater, 15 S. Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333; thecrofoot.com; $20.
A JOURNEY OF HOPE: MICHIGAN'S IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE
FROM HUDDLED MASSES TO MICHIGANDERS
In these bleak times, our fair state — America's high five! — seems less like a land of promise and more like a land best viewed in the rearview mirror as you get the hell out. But many once came, and still do come here, to find purchase on our shores, and this exhibit tells the stories of the major ethnic groups of the region — why they came here, the contributions they've made, and the diverse cultural traditions they've brought with them. A variety of displays showcase photos and artifacts, while special events take place throughout the length of the exhibit. This week, check out lectures on Ukrainian and Jewish immigrants (Thursday and Friday, respectively), 19th century music and dances (Saturday) and Irish dancers (Sunday). At the Albert L. Lorenzo Cultural Center, 44575 Garfield Rd., Clinton Twp., 586-445-7348; details on special events at lorenzoculturalcenter.com. Through Nov. 23.