WEDNESDAY JULY 15
Comix 101 with Art Spiegelman
Part of the '60s and '70s underground comics scene, Art Spiegelman smashed the conventions of the genre by creating comics that explored personal, political and social issues. Spiegelman first gained mainstream notice in the '80s when he published Maus: A Survivor's Tale, a graphic novel telling of his father's escape from the Holocaust. Maus II garnered him the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and Time magazine named him one of the most 100 influential people in 2005. Spiegelman will give a presentation in conjunction with the current exhibit of his work, Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; $7.
WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY JULY 15-18
Wendell Harrison's Swing Ensemble
OLD-SCHOOL, DUDE, REALLY OLD-SCHOOL
One of the big releases to look forward to this fall is a Carl Craig-produced reunion of Detroit's funky, cutting-edge '70s collective Tribe, featuring such Tribe principals as Wendell Harrison and Marcus Belgrave. Ironically, perhaps, Harrison's newest project is as delightfully retro as Tribe was forward-looking. Wendell Harrison's Swing Ensemble has him singing sweetly (serviceably reminiscent of Doc Cheatham) and flaunting his clarinet prowess (justifying the critics who class him with greats from Buddy DeFranco to Don Byron) while revisiting the vibe of the 1930s and '40s. Guitarist Niko Pittman and bassist Jef Reynolds more than ably round out the sound. Dirty Dog Jazz Café, 97 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Farms, 313 882-5299.
WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY JULY 15-18
Ann Arbor Art Fairs
What today consists of four art fairs in one, equaling a massive street fair engulfing all of downtown Ann Arbor in white tents, folding tables and hand-woven ponchos; started in 1960 with a mere 100 artists spreading out their works on the sidewalk or stringing it up between parking meters. Now, celebrating its 50th anniversary, the art fairs feature more than one thousand artists and attract more than half a million visitors interested in perusing and purchasing fine arts and crafts from emerging and established artists. The fairs also offer street performances, artists' demonstration, live music and children's activities. The golden edition of the famed fairs takes place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday in downtown Ann Arbor; for more info visit artfair.org.
THURSDAY JULY 16
FOLK BEAUTY, FOR REAL
Describing a band's music as earnest, heartfelt or sincere conjures up certain expectations: bearded crooner, acoustic instrumentation, layered harmonies. Bowerbirds have all these things, along with lyrics about harmonizing with nature, the connections between all living things, and the earth. Sure, the whole concoction may smack of nu-folksy schlock, but Phil Moore and Beth Tacular imbue their songs with grace and meaning, resulting in beautiful compositions that only the most hardhearted of hipsters could scoff at. Bowerbirds perform in support of their sophomore release, Upper Air at 8 p.m. at the Crofoot's Pike Room, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333; thecrofoot.com; $8; with Megafaun.
THURSDAY JULY 16
THE QUEEN OF THE DEVIL'S MUSIC
Although Wanda Jackson's been called the "Queen of Rockabilly," and even the "Queen of Rock" for decades, it hasn't always been so. During her initial '50s and early '60s 'billy heyday, she mostly scored "regional hits." Discovered by country star Hank Thompson in her native Oklahoma as a young teen, Jackson's goal was originally to "put the glamour back in country" — but it was Elvis Presley, who both toured with and dated Jackson, who convinced her she should be singing rockabilly. Perhaps it was the novelty of a beautiful woman doing what was then considered "devil's music," but she became legend in subsequent decades. Punker Pearl Harbour recorded a version of "Fujiyama Mama" in the late '70s that was related to the Clash. And the Queen's 2003 Heart Trouble album saw her joined by such stars as Elvis Costello, Dave Alvin and the Cramps, among others. During a recent performance at a New Jersey bowling alley, big fan Bruce Springsteen showed up to watch her. She's a queen for sure ... and here's an opportunity for Detroiters to see an original up close, red hot and in person. At 6 p.m. at the Henry Ford Museum, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-982-6001.
FRIDAY JULY 17
THE GRANDADDY OF FUNK
As the mastermind and ringleader of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective, George Clinton and his psychedelic funk left an indelible mark on popular music (note the gazillion samples of his songs in hip-hop hits). The Parliaments began as a doo-wop outfit in the '50s, before transitioning into the P-Funk powerhouse of the '70s. In the early '80s, Clinton started recording as a solo artist, but with many of the same musicians in tow, often performing as the P-Funk All-Stars. Now a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Clinton's indefatigable funk mothership rolls on, with no sign of slowing down. With War at 8 p.m. at Chene Park, 2600 Atwater St., Detroit; 313-393-7128; cheneparkdetroit.com.
FRIDAY JULY 17
The Michigan-Ohio Game: Teaching Ceramics
BATTLE OF THE KILNS
The ancient rivalry between the Mitten and our neighbors to the south enters the realm of the highbrow with Pewabic Pottery's new exhibit, The Michigan-Ohio Game: Teaching Ceramics. Thirty-five teaching artists from universities in Michigan and Ohio display works, from abstract creations that include sound and video to artfully functional forms. Created in an effort to give busy educators an opportunity to display their art, the exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and runs through Aug. 30, at Pewabic Pottery, 10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-822-0954.
FRIDAY JULY 17
A RICH MESS ...
Lots of reunions scheduled at the Magic Bag this month, but the old punk rockers should be most excited about the original members of this storied '70s unit getting spotlight. Guitarist Vince Bannon was one of the co-owners of Detroit's legendary punk club Bookie's, so if you spent much time there, you probably saw these guys support at least one touring band. The group is still remembered fondly for its 7-inch, "I Wanna Be Rich" b/w "You're a Mess" (the A-side was also included on the acclaimed Killed By Death punk comp), although a few fans have equally fond memories of the group's Ramones-ish cover of J. Frank Wilson's "death-rock" anthem, "Last Kiss." Guitarist Gerald Shohan, who founded the group with charismatic frontman Andy Peabody, promises all those "hits," as well as "everything else we can remember." Rounding out that "we" will be drummer and local rock 'n' roll icon Bob Mulrooney (aka Bootsey X) and Dan Blickenstaff. And openers Gorvette — the relatively new project from Amy Gore and Nikki Corvette — only ups the ante. Also with the Chet Offensive. At the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030.
FRIDAY-SATURDAY JULY 17-18
Bicycle Film Festival
GET YER LANCE ARMSTONG ON
The urban bike movement continues to gain popularity and exposure, especially in Detroit, where the moniker of Motor City is starting to take on an aura of must. Right on the heels of a New York Times piece positing Detroit as a potential biking nirvana, the Bicycle Film Festival rolls into town for the first time in its nine year history. This year's offerings include two feature-lengths and 40 shorts which explore the underground minutiae of bike culture, from Trinidadians who rig stereos onto BMX bikes in Made in Queens to nighttime street racers in L.A. in Wolfpack Hustle: All City Team Race 2. Screenings are at 7 and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Marlene Boll Theatre inside the Boll Family YMCA, 1401 Broadway, Detroit; 313-903-9622; $8 per program, tickets and info at bicyclefilmfestival.com. Afterparties take place at the Park Bar on Friday and the Cass Café on Saturday.
SATURDAY JULY 18
Shadow Art Fair
Every six months, the Shadow Art Fair offers an exhilarating alternative to the average art fair. Sure, the vendors do sell the typically untypical handbags, T-shirts and similar alt-crafty folderol, but the organizers especially encourage nontraditional vendors, which at past shows have included a foot photo booth and members of the Michigan Design Militia (who organize the event) dishing out vegan gumbo and hugs. Outside, a hodgepodge of performances take place, including comedy, a puppet show, bands, DJs, poetry and a "noise-folk fusion" featuring folkies taking on noisier acts, including Matt Jones vs. Pinkeye and Chris Bathgate vs. Better Late than Pregnant. As usual, a special Shadow Art Fair brew will be on tap, with proceeds going to the fair's Art Grant, which helps local artistes fund their out-of-the-box projects. Noon-midnight at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti; 734-480-2739; info at shadowartfair.com.
SATURDAY JULY 18
The Upper Crust
Boston's the Upper Crust portray 18th century aristocratic dandies, complete with satin breeches, powdered wigs and a sneering disdain for the proletariat. The gimmick could easily wear thin if it weren't for the fact that the quartet's AC/DC-inspired "roque" (which really does rock, by the way) comes with genuinely witty lyrics and a gleeful commitment to the schtick. The Upper Crust is on tour in support of the digital-only Revenge for Imagined Slights. With Wolfbait and the Shakey Jakes at Small's, 10339 Conant Ave., Hamtramck; 313 873-1117; $8 advance, $10 at the door; all ages.
SATURDAY JULY 18
KEEPING UP WITH THE RACKET
Detroit's annual music and improvisation mini-fest turns 15 this year, with all the usual hoopla still intact: the penguin toss, the hollow log, the Noise Camp nurses, the crafts table, folk songs around the campfire, cardboard scenery and noisy electro at midnight from Princess Dragonmom's tent. Also contributing to the uproarious din are Dawn of the Devil, Genders, Aran Ruth and Metal Dungeon. At 8 p.m. at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit; 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit; 313-899-2243; free.
SUNDAY JULY 19
Michigan Jazz Festival
DETROIT'S UN-INTERNATIONAL JAZZ EVENT
Though dwarfed by the Detroit International Jazz Festival, this one-day shebang that's all about Detroit-area talent has been plugging along since 1995. This year's festival is a tribute to Dennis Tini, longtime pianist and educator at Wayne State University, whose quartet plays at 3:30 p.m. The music runs on six stages from noon to 9:45 p.m., and includes the Hot Club of Detroit, Tom Saunders Detroit All-Stars, Ed Nuccilli & Plural Circle, and, on one stage, pianists Bess Bonnier, Sven Anderson, Alma Smith, Bob Seeley, Charles Boles and Taslimah Bey, an incredible back-to-back cross-section of styles and talent there alone. Schoolcraft College, 18600 Haggerty Rd., Livonia; call 248-474-2720; michiganjazzfestival.homestead.com. Free.
TUESDAY JULY 21
This Scottish indie quartet turned heads with their second LP, 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight. Powered by hyper-intense drumming, the songs find a focal point in the vocals of frontman and guitarist Scott Hutchison (he founded the group with brother and drummer Grant in 2003), who expresses vulnerability, anxiety, heartbreak and self-loathing with a striking urgency. Also gaining a rep for exhaustively energetic live shows, Frightened Rabbit performs with Antlers and Our Brother the Native at 8 p.m. at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $12; all ages.