THURSDAY NOVEMBER 12
Brad Felt Nu Quartet Plus
LITTLE AND BIG HORNS
One of the sublime treats of Brad Felt's new disc is "Explode the Modular," which juxtaposes Steve Wood's spry soprano lines against the weight of Felt's euphonium lines, in a sort of Laurel and-Hardy dance of the horns that echoes Steve Lacy (and behind him Thelonious Monk). The euphonium isn't so well-known in jazz as its larger cousin tuba, but Detroiter Felt's out to change that. His excellent new disc, First Call (Launch Control Records), features his longtime modernist accomplice Wood on soprano and tenor, the too-little-heard Gary Schunk on piano, Nick Calandro on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. By way of endorsements, Felt has toured Europe as a featured soloist with Howard Johnson's famed tuba ensemble Gravity, the all-star team of the tuba universe. At 9 p.m. at Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave.; 313-961-2543.
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 12
Wielding an industrial-strength spray gun and a panoply of brightly hued acrylics, German artist Katharina Grosse creates paintings that boldly defy the traditional precepts of the genre. Her site-specific works spare no doorframe, window, ceiling or floor as she transforms immaculate gallery spaces into swirling abstractions of colors, ranging from pulsing neons to timid pastels to sludgy combinations created when incompatible colors mix. Impermanent, unrestricted, lacking even the slight order prescribed by the use of a brush, Grosse's work has invented a new notion of what painting can be. The internationally renowned artist is often cited as one of the most exciting artists working today, and Detroiters will have a chance to hear her speak at 7:30 p.m. at the College for Creative Studies' Walter B. Ford II building, 201 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 313-664-7800; free.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 13
Chain Reaction Showcase
In the mid-1990s, a band of Berlin outsiders, centered around the record store Hard Wax and studio Dubplates & Mastering, began reducing sonic pressure to pure grayscale essence. The labels Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, Main Street, Burial Mix and Rhythm & Sound tossed Detroit techno, Chicago house and roots dub beats in a compression chamber and squeezed out something entirely other. Two of the key people in the scene, René Löwe and Peter Kuschnereit, returned to Detroit to perform live (as Scion) and spin individual DJ sets. Tasty textures guaranteed. Support from Detroit's Patrick Russell and Drew Pompa of Blank Artists, your hosts for the evening. Doors at 10 p.m. at Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman St., Detroit; $10.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 13
FREEDOM & FORGIVENESS
Immaculée Ilibagiza spent three months locked in a tiny bathroom with seven other women in order to survive the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She emerged from that cramped room to discover that most of her family had been murdered; that life as she had known it had forever changed. Ilibagiza immigrated to this country in 1998; in 2006 she published her memoir, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, a New York Times bestseller with a message of transcending bitterness and hate with faith, love and forgiveness. Now a popular and powerful speaker, Ilibagiza travels to Detroit to tell her story at a benefit for Freedom House, a shelter that provides services to refugees seeking legal asylum in America. At 6:30 p.m. at Fellowship Chapel, 7707 W. Outer Dr., Detroit; contact Freedom House for more info at 313-964-4320 or freedomhousedetroit.org. Tickets are $25 for the lecture only or $75 for the lecture, a reception and a copy of Left to Tell.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 13
HCat Benefit Dinner
CALLING ALL CAT LOVERS!
The Hamtramck Cat Assistance Team (HCat) provides aid — from food and water to veterinary care and rescues — to the stray, feral and forgotten felines of Hamtown. To raise funds for this noble endeavor, the group is hosting an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner complete with salad, dinner rolls and one non-alcoholic beverage (a cash bar is also available). Raffles, drawings and a presentation on the good work that HCat accomplishes will also take place. From 4 to 9 p.m. at the Gates of Columbus, 9632 Conant, Hamtramck; tickets are available at the door and cost $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13-15
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
CAN YOU USE IT IN A SENTENCE?
In a world ruled by spell-check, spelling bees still manage to maintain a sort of sadistic allure — watching kids at the height of awkward adolescence suffering through scrutiny and competition is apparently endlessly fascinating. But this Tony Award-winning musical turns a kind eye to the absurdities of this enduring tradition, presenting stereotypes of the spelling circuit — the fiercely competitive returning champ, the lisping overachiever, the hapless fat kid, and the overly enthusiastic adults who facilitate it all — with both humor and empathy. At 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 22, at Marygrove Theatre, 8425 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit; 313-993-3270, theatre.udmercy.edu. Those audience members interested in showing off spelling chops should arrive 30 minutes early to sign up for a chance to participate in the production as spelling bee contestants.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 14
Detroit's raucous rock misfits are the highlight of this punk-popping night of mayhem at the Club Above, Ann Arbor's well-worn but recently re-invigorated rock haven. Fronted by the chaotic and wee bit psychotic Rick Ruiner, the Ruiners have survived a decade of destructive, if not preconceived, antics — from lighting themselves on fire to handing out baseball bats to frenzied audiences. Loud, fast and not-so-scientific, the Ruiners showcase new songs from their forthcoming CD. They're joined by Chicago punk staples the Heathens, Ramones tribute Gabba Gabba Hey, Ann Arbor's own Lawn Care and, making a rare appearance, Ken's Loud Band featuring avant-songster and Frank Pahl collaborator, Ken Stanley. At 9:30 p.m. at the Club Above, above the Heidelberg Restaurant, 215 N. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-7758.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 15
MV + EE and the Golden Road
PSYCH FOLK FREAKOUT
Matt Valentine and Erika Elder are at the center of this rotating collective that's released dozens of albums under a handful of names since the beginning of the decade. The Vermont-based duo's self-described "lunar ragas" are a heady combination of lo-fi freak folk, psych-rock and celestial imagery that eschews accessibility in favor of meandering (but not aimless) explorations of traditional folk awash in drone, feedback and all sorts of avant-noise. It's a trip, dude. At PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; $7; with the Sugarcoats.
MONDAY NOVEMBER 16
RETURN OF THE ROCK
Reigning Sound debuted in the early ‘00s, cutting their nitty-gritty garage with the urgency of classic soul and R&B. Fronted by singer-songwriter Greg Cartwright — a staple of the Memphis rock scene thanks to his Compulsive Gamblers, and the Oblivions — the Sound combines swirling organs, muscle-y riffs and Cartwright's fierce rasp to get you all dizzy. It's mindful of early rock 'n' roll but timeless in the immediacy sense. After a few years under the radar (but not in Detroit!), the group's touring in support of its fourth disc, Love and Curses, released this year. 8 p.m. at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $12; all ages.
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 17
ELECTRO ON ICE
The term electro-pop doesn't quite do justice to the sound of Sweden's Little Dragon, a quartet creating minimalist soundscapes who backdrop the dreamy R&B warble of vocalist Yukimi Nagano. After acquiring something of a cult following stateside with its self-titled debut, Little Dragon has returned with a self-described "dance" album, Machine Dreams. And while deep electronica creates a somewhat chillier aesthetic (plus an awful lot of dreamy languor for tunes that are supposed to make you boogie), Nagano's voice is still saturated with a kind of soulful warmth, which contrasts steeply all them bleepin' synths. At 9:30 p.m. at Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543.
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 17
MIDWEST IS BEST!
Born of a small town called Seymour, Ind., this quartet carries the torch of old-fashioned Midwestern rock, calling on forebears such as Seger and Springsteen (even nodding occasionally to their hometown's most famous export, Johnny "Cougar" Mellencamp) with their down-to-earth din. On the band's fourth release, The Great American Midrange, the Elms dissect the Middle American experience of the workin' man against a tightly knit collection of hooks, humming guitars and roots rock underpinnings. The quartet opens for the Pat McGee Band at 8 p.m. at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030; $12. Before the big gig, the Elms perform a free acoustic set at 5:30 p.m. at Goodnite Gracie, 224 S. Sherman St., Royal Oak; 248-544-7490.
Lizards Live is the local solo debut of Washington, D.C., artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer, a visual artist whose work dissects traditional notions of gender, identity and sexuality. The pieces displayed in Lizards Live specifically draw on Thalhammer's experience as a young girl growing up in the male-dominated environs of her family's truck plaza. Drawing on iconic images of beautiful women draped across sports cars, she positions women with jumbled body parts — legs where the torso should be, arms missing — on the hoods of semis. In other paintings, brightly colored shooting stars project from the heads of these lizard-like women, symbols of beauty chopped up and reassembled. On display through Nov. 28, at the Butcher's Daughter, 22747 Woodward Ave., Ste. 201, Ferndale; 248-808-6536.