THURSDAY FEBRUARY 25
He has released three commercially and critically successful albums, collaborated with high-profile artists such as Kanye West, and earned a truckload of awards, including six Grammys, but R&B crooner John Legend's most important work may have nothing to do with his music. The 30-year-old with the throwback voice (that earned him the sobriquet "Legend") has devoted an increasing amount of his efforts to philanthropic causes, championing the environment and the eradication of poverty. His efforts to that end earned him the CARE Humanitarian Award for Global Change in 2008 and helped him make Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of 2009. Legend will speak about his world-changing activism and perform at 7 p.m. at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111; $17-$55, a limited number of $150 VIP tickets, which include a meet and greet, are available.
THURSDAY-SUNDAY FEBRUARY 25-28
It Came From Mars
MY FAVORITE MARTIAN
The 1938 broadcast of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds is the backdrop for this comedy by local playwright Joseph Zettelmaier. A group of radio actors — which includes a washed-up director and his ex-wife, a German sound effects expert and a wannabe war hero — hear the broadcast while rehearsing for their own lackluster show at a struggling radio station. Believing the arrival of little green men, and the subsequent end of the world, to be imminent, the group disintegrates into panic — revealing secrets, exploring forbidden passions and contemplating the meaning behind such an abrupt turn of events. A winner of the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, It Came From Mars is enjoying its world premiere at Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-0684; $10-$41; performances through March 21 at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with two 3 p.m. Saturday matinees on March 6 and 20.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 26
The scruffy and charmingly homemade power pop of Ireland's So Cow comes via Brian Kelly, a sometime open-mic singer who formed the one-man musical project in 2006 while living in South Korea. After self-releasing a number of albums, So Cow earned enough of an under-underground buzz to land performance slots with the likes of Ted Leo, Deerhoof and Dan Deacon. In 2009, Kelly released his first proper studio disc, an eponymous collection of the best of his shambling, home-recorded tales of hopeless love that drew comparisons to the Television Personalities and the criminally overlooked Nerves. Hot on the heels of his sophomore effort, Meaningless Friendly, So Cow takes the stage at 10 p.m. at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668.
FRIDAY-SATURDAY FEBRUARY 26-27
FREE HEALTH CARE!
This two-day art and music showcase will raise much-needed dollars for FernCare, a medical clinic slated to open in Ferndale that will provide free care to uninsured and underinsured patients. A silent art auction and a 50/50 raffle will contribute to the cause, while visual stimulation will be provided by artists Steven Gamburd, Kris Hilla, Vicky Childers and more, and music comes courtesy of Duende!, Black Lodge, Old Empire, Emily Rose, Carl Henry, the Crooks, Bobby Pennock and more. From 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. both nights, at the Phoenix Café, 24918 John R, Hazel Park; 248-667-8817; $10; for more info on FernCare, visit ferncare.org.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26-28
BEAT FROM THE STREET
A project conceived by University of Detroit Mercy faculty member Yolanda Fleischer and written by the UDM Theatre community, Unheard Voices is a series of original monologues that describe the experience of homelessness. Many of the pieces are based on true stories and seek to provide an empathetic portrayal of the homeless, granting humanity to an often-ignored fringe population. Proceeds from the production will benefit the Homeless Action Network of Detroit, an organization whose goal is to eliminate homelessness through housing and service programs. Unheard Voices debuts at 6 p.m. Friday with a gala premiere that includes a strolling dinner, silent auction and afterglow. Regular performances take place 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Fountain Lounge of the University of Detroit Mercy, 4001 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit; 313-993-3270. For tickets to the gala premiere — $50, $75, $100 — call 313-993-3270. Regular performances are pay-what-you-can, $16 recommended. Donationsof clothing on a hanger will also be accepted.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26-28
CALLING ALL MOTORHEADS!
Tricked-out wheels define Autorama, the annual car show featuring hot rods, customs and sweet '50s cruisers. More than 1,000 rides too cool for roadways will be displayed, along with two (count 'em, two!) Batmobiles. Other highlights include a vintage dragster display, a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Ford, more than 200 Ol' Skool Rodz displayed as part of Autorama Extreme, pinstriping demos and, new this year, the Tuner Galleria, which features imports, Euros and high-performance vehicles. At the Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit; info at 248-373-1700 or autorama.com; $18.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27
Erotic Poetry & Music Festival
Now in its 23rd year, the Erotic Poetry and Music Festival is a celebration of all things provocative, titillating and just plain naughty in art, music and poetry. This year showcases performance artist maven Satori Circus, the premiere musical collaboration between cabaret-styling Renaissance woman Hayley Jane and beguiling songwriter Audra Kubat, poetry readings by Archaela Cindy Cadaver and Dena Luckett, and an expanded visual arts section featuring works by Jeff Hocking, Chopper Peshkepia, Julie Fournier and more. At 9 p.m. at The Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103; $8, partial proceeds benefit Paws with a Cause.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27
A Benefit for the Hub
BUCKS FOR BIKES
While two-wheeled transport may not be top-of-mind during these icy winter months, the Hub, Detroit's nonprofit bike shop, provides cycling services year-round, rain, snow and sleet be damned! The shop sells and rehabs old bikes, provides repair services and offers a variety of youth and educational services to the community. To aid these worthwhile efforts, local rockers the Hentchmen and Wheatpaste have teamed up for a benefit performance. A raffle, with proceeds also going to the Hub, will also take place. The grand prize? A bike of course! At 9 p.m. at The Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2933; $5.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27
TAPPING OUT NEW SOUNDS
Jazz fans know pianist Geri Allen epitomizes the blend of the intellectual and the earthy that's as good a definition as any of Detroit jazz. They know about her days under the wings of Marcus Belgrave and others through the Danish Jazzpar Award (jazz's answer to the Oscars) and her recent Guggenheim. But, of late, she has added a new element to the mix in her new group, Timeline: the eye candy of tap dancer Jarel Waters, making the music as visually kinetic as it is aurally exciting. Free master class at noon, followed by sets ($25, $35 with reception) at 7 and 9:30. Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center, 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-965-8430; artsleague.com.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28
An Intimate Evening with Jeff Scott and Band
THE DREAM, VERSION 2.0
What becomes of a dream deferred? Jeff Scott can tell you, it never dies. Scott, a Royal Oak native whose smoky baritone and poster-boy looks propelled him to local radio airplay and victory in a national American Idol-type talent contest in the 1980s with his band the Big Picture, left the music business out of frustration and entered the ad game, rising from copywriter to president and managing partner of his agency over a 21-year career. But the music mojo never left him, so he's giving it a second shot in the 21st century with a new solo CD, Begin Again, a commitment to start from the bottom as a Nashville songwriter, and a showcase engagement at Bobby Higgins' Metro Room in the Oxford Inn, 1214 S. Main St., Royal Oak.; 248-543 5619. For more info or to hear cuts from Begin Again, visit jeffscottmusic.com.
Retired Detroit school teacher Dennis Orlowski has painted murals within many public institutions, most notably in Detroit and Hamtramck, but also internationally, in Germany and Mexico. Between 1982 and 1990, Orlowski painted a number of murals for the old Midtown location of the Burton International School. While some murals remain in the building (which now houses the Burton Theatre), the portable murals have found new homes, both in the new Burton School and in the Hamtramck Public Library. This exhibit includes a complete series of murals that depict the mythic tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and a selection of works from Orlowski's Heroes & Heroines series. On Friday, Feb. 26, Orlowski will lecture on these epic works from 10 to 11 a.m. and the murals will be on display through March 12 at the Ellen Kayrod Gallery, 4750 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-1300 ext. 18.