WEDNESDAY AUGUST 26
The Two Man Gentlemen Band
KAZOOS UP THE WAZOO
Dressed in impeccable suits and top hats, and armed with little more than a banjo, upright bass and kazoo, the Two Man Gentleman Band creates an updated vaudevillian spectacle, performing foot-stomping sing-alongs with the showmanship of traveling salesmen hawking cure-all tonics. The duo of Andy Bean and Fuller Condon spent two years as street performers in New York City, crafting their anachronistic personas and clever old-timey odes to everything from William Taft to the Hindenburg disaster. The duo's on tour in support of its fourth disc, Drip Dryin' with the Two Man Gentlemen Band, a 19th century-style party album which includes tunes sung in praise of gourmet beer, rabbit meat and croquet-playing girls. Shows feature a high level of audience participation, so come ready to sing your ass off and join in some kazoo solos — the instruments are handed out free to all audience members before every gig. That alone is worth the price of admission. With Skin and Bones and Brownstown Gals at the Painted Lady, 2930 Jacob St., Hamtramck; 313-871-2991.
THURSDAY AUGUST 27
Sun Ra Tribute by Planet D Nonet with Kenny Millions
SPACE IS STILL THE PLACE
"Music is the journey and the journey is endless." That's one of the aphorisms Sun Ra seeded the world with before his road took him off-planet in 1993. Don't know Ra? We could call him a bandleader with one foot in the swing era and one foot in the space era. Better to take it from the Planet D Nonet. Knowing co-leaders R.J. Spangler and James O' Donnell, we expect music attentive to Ra's compositions and to his spirit. And to ensure ecstatic heights, Spangler has recruited Florida-based (and world-traveled) saxophonist Kenny Millions (formerly Keshavan Maslak) as star caterwauler. Opens with footage of Ra sidemen with the late Lyman Woodard. Doors at 8 p.m. at CAID, 5141 Rosa Parks, just a couple blocks north of Warren Avenue; $5-$10.
FRIDAY AUGUST 28
4th Fridays with Ford
FEATURING LOLA MORALES
4th Fridays with Ford provide free entertainment at Campus Martius on the last Friday of every summer month. The series wraps up this Friday with a whirlwind of activities, including a headlining performance by the sultry and sassy Lola Morales. Born in San Francisco and now living in Detroit, Morales blends the Latin rhythms of her Nicaraguan heritage with Detroit style funk to create an eclectic world sound. Festivities kick off with lunchtime music and continue throughout the day. Highlights include a hip-hop dance competition, Detroit trivia and a screening of Purple Rain. Activities take place from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., with Morales performing at 8 p.m., at Campus Martius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit; info at 313-962-0101 or campusmartiuspark.org.
FRIDAY AUGUST 28
Post-Apocalyptic Motor City
A GROUP SHOW AND A COLLECTIVE J'ACCUSE
Omnipresent art enthusiast and writer Robert del Valle is the curator behind Post-Apocalyptic Motor City, a show that he says represents "optimistic, pessimistic, surreal, existential, nihilistic, resigned and defiant" artistic expressions of Detroit as envisioned by an eclectic array of visual work. Some 26 visual artists, including Julie Fournier, Marianne Audrey Burrows, Chris Turner, Shades, Aran Ruth and Jeremy Hansen, have been tapped for the exhibition, which also serves as the official pre-party to the third annual People's Arts Festival. "Detroit is no stranger to either bad times or political disasters," writes the sardonic del Valle, "but the annus horribilis we're experiencing today is unprecedented. The Big Three are the anemic triplets of a once robust industry, our elected officials have become poster children for municipal corruption and the only 'consolation' we have lies in the fact that much of this ongoing nightmare is simply a microcosm of what's happening to the rest of the country." If there's one contingent in our community not afraid to tell us like it is, it's the fine artists; they're about seeking the truth, they scrape away the layers of bureaucracy, they leave us not only with a lasting image, but a message. Asks del Valle, do we "pack it in or pack a punch?" The answers await at 323 East, 323 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 866-756-6538; 323east.com.
FRIDAY AUGUST 28
Michigan State Fair
The State Fair kicks off this Friday, continuing daily through Sept. 7, but after the cows head home this year, they may not return. Due to the state's gargantuan deficit, funding for the Fair, which began in 1849, may be cut, so this may well be the last year to enjoy such traditional pastimes as pig races, carnival rides, horse shows, live farm animal births (gross!), circus performers and daily cooking contests, to name just a few. Noteworthy this year is the addition of an urban farming display which gives instructions on how to turn abandoned lots into fertile gardens. The fair also features live music daily, including everything from Motown to gospel to country. Activities take place 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Sept. 7 at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, 1120 W. State Fair Ave., Detroit; 313-369-8200.
SATURDAY AUGUST 29
Great Lakes Swimmers
Toronto's Great Lakes Swimmers create melodious folk-pop in the vein of such indie buzz bands as the Fleet Foxes, but, you know, before the Fleet Foxes even existed. Over the course of seven years and four albums, the group, mainly a vehicle for singer-songwriter Tony Dekker, has expanded from stark and simple songs about nature, humanity and love to lush, richly instrumented songs about ... nature, humanity and love. The more upbeat approach to these recurring themes can be heard on Lost Channels, the Swimmers' fourth disc, which spices up quiet introspection with soaring melodies recorded in churches, historic sites and even a castle, locales appropriate to the aura of solitude that even the disc's most optimistic songs can't escape. Lost Channels is up for the Canadian Polaris Music Prize, awarded (along with $20,000) to the best Canadian album of the past year. As part of its exhaustive tour in support of the album, Great Lakes Swimmers performs at 8 p.m. at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-761-1451; theark.org; $12; all ages.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY AUGUST 29-30
People's Arts Festival
GET REAL (ART)
Now in its third year, the People's Arts Festival has extended to two days; a welcome change in a year that has seen most festivals scramble to cut down and cut back as recession plagued corporate sponsors have given markedly less. A crowd that more than doubles last year's 14,000 is expected at the fest, which features more than 100 artists and craftspeople, and more than 60 bands and performers, including Satori Circus, Tone & Niche, the Space Band, Marco Polio & the New Vaccines, Circus Boy, Rogue Satellites, the Mantons and Black Lodge. Billed as the largest "real" arts festival in the city, the People's Arts Festival takes place from 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay Ave., Detroit; info at peoplesartsfestival.com. Rain dates are Sept. 12 and 13.
SUNDAY AUGUST 30
Cass Collective XXII
MIDTOWN MUSICAL REVUE
The last Sunday of every month, Woodbridge Records hosts a showcase of an eclectic mix of local musicians and creative people of all types known as the Cass Collective. This 22nd edition features Will Sessions, an eight-piece funk ensemble complete with a full lineup of horns, known for incorporating hip hop and jazz into its heavy rhythms. Also on the bill is New Detroit rock trio Gardens, rock-infused bluegrass outfit the Catfish Mafia, the sweet sounds of rocking folkie Jessica Hernandez and groovy tunes spun by DJ Erno the Inferno. And did we mention that it's free? And the beer's pretty cheap too. At 8 p.m. at Cass Cafe, 4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400.
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 1
Motörhead with Reverend Horton Heat and Nashville Pussy
Sometimes "redneck" ain't a derogatory term ... and we're not referring to Jeff Foxworthy here, either. All of the area's cool rednecks should be out in full force for this show, since it spotlights two of the coolest acts in the (almost parodic) redneck rock 'n' roll genre — namely, Reverend Horton Heat (psycho rockabilly as opposed to just plain psychobilly) and the coed Nashville Pussy ("white trash" at its finest ... and damn proud of it!). Motörhead isn't redneck, per se, though it's also always been impossible to put any sort of label on their make-your-ears-bleed sound — be it heavy metal, speed metal, thrash metal ... and they were the only band labeled "metal" that the early punk rockers embraced. Their ace leader, Lemmy Kilmister — a veritable, death-defying, rock 'n' roll Zelig (he watched the Beatles at the Cavern; roadied for Hendrix, was a member of Hawkwind) — simply calls it "rock 'n' roll." And who's gonna argue with that dude? Turn it up to "11" and marvel to the handsome dude who just may be too cool to be killed by death! At the Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-237-7711.
Michigan Renaissance Festival
GET YOUR MEDIEVAL FREAK ON
The Renaissance Festival has been satiating the public's desire for turkey legs, wenches, jousting knights and all things 16th century (minus the plague) for 31 years. The 17-acre village of Hollygrove takes visitors back in time with costumed revelers, entertainment on the streets and on 16 stages, and more than 195 artisans selling everything from chain mail to sterling silver dragon pendants. This Saturday and Sunday the fest takes on a Celtic air with the first Highland Fling weekend, featuring traditional Scottish games, a bagpipe competition and a Celtic village. Other upcoming theme weekends include the Buccaneer Beer Fest (Sept. 5-7), Pirate's High Sea Adventures (Sept. 19-20) and the Harvest Huzzah (Sept. 26-27). The Ren Fest takes place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends through Oct. 4, at the Renaissance Festival Grounds, 12500 Dixie Hwy., Holly; 800-601-4848; michrenfest.com.