THURSDAY MARCH 18
An elderly Russian man, a Jewish grandmother, a young African-American rapper, a Pakistani immigrant — Tony Award-winning actress, playwright and spoken-word poet Sarah Jones has played them all. Jones' multicharacter, multicultural one-woman shows — including the breakout hit Bridge & Tunnel, produced in part by Meryl Streep — have won her critical and popular acclaim, as well as wide-ranging recognition for her efforts to challenge stereotypes, promote women's rights and shed light on immigration issues. Recent honors include performing at the= White House (courtesy of the first lady's personal invitation) in honor of Women's History Month. It's a role she reprises here in Detroit, using her shape-shifting ability to explore the stories of women's triumphs throughout history. At 6 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; 313-494-5800. Tickets are $10 for museum members, $15 for nonmembers.
THURSDAY MARCH 18
Science Rocks II
PERIODIC TABLE OF JAMS
The second installment of Science Rocks! once again lures the young at heart back to the Science Center with a night of beer, bands and controlled chemical explosions (well, that last one may be a bit of a stretch). The lineup of local faves features Silverghost, the Prime Ministers, Darling Imperial and the Electric Fire Babies. The fete is part of Sci Quest, an eight-day celebration of science, technology, math and engineering, which features special activities and workshops daily through Sunday, March 21. Science Rocks! Runs from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Detroit Science Center, 5020 John R St., Detroit. Tickets are $20, $15 for members; call 313-577-8400, option five or visit detroitsciencecenter.org.
FRIDAY MARCH 19
ENERGY: Charles McGee at Eighty-Five
DETROIT'S GURU OF THE ARTS
For more than six decades, artist Charles McGee has tirelessly contributed to the Detroit artistic community — and to the region as a whole — through not just his work as an artist, but also as a teacher, mentor and promoter of community arts in Detroit neighborhoods. Widely recognized as an early practitioner and booster of contemporary art, as well as a keen social commentator and chronicler of African-American urban life, McGee's achievements have been honored with numerous awards, including being named the first Kresge Eminent Artist in 2008. This 60-year retrospective showcases McGee's artistic growth, from his early charcoal sketches to his later abstract paintings and sculptural works, providing a comprehensive view of the career of one of Detroit's most significant artists and cultural leaders. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at College for Creative Studies Center Galleries, 301 Frederick Douglass Ave., Detroit; 313-664-7800; on display through April 24. McGee will speak as part of CCS's Woodward Lecture series on 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.
SATURDAY MARCH 20
ONE BAD MOTHER
The virtuoso of ripe and raunchy R&B, Andre Williams' legendary career includes penning hits "Shake a Tail Feather" and "Twine Time," producing records for the likes of Ike & Tina, Stevie Wonder and the Dramatics, working at renowned labels Motown, Chess and Fortune, and recording his own sleazy cult hits "Bacon Fat," "Greasy Chicken" and "Jail Bait." His career stalled thanks to struggles with drug addiction, but, by the late '90s, Williams had ditched the drugs and was enjoying Round 2 of his career, thanks to his rediscovery by white-boy garage rockers. Since then, he's recorded a handful of albums, worked with everyone from the Dirtbombs to Jon Spencer, been the subject of a documentary, written a seedy pulp novella, and even launched his own brand of perfume. Damn! The 74-year-old Williams will perform with his signature smut and swagger at 8 p.m. at the Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313 962-2933; tickets $10 advance at thecrofoot.com; with Jeff Meier and Michael Hurtt's Party Stompers. Williams will also sign copies of his book, Sweets, at 5 p.m. at the Book Beat, 26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park; 248-968-1190.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY MARCH 19-21
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
FLASHY THREADS & GOOD EATS
The Park Players have been putting on shows in Detroit's North Rosedale Park for more than 50 years, transforming from a residents-only clique culled from the then-segregated hood to a multicultural cast made up of members from across the metro area. For its spring production, the group is performing the family-friendly favorite Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. One of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's ubiquitous Broadway hits, the musical is based on the coat-of-many-colors story from the Bible, exploring themes of betrayal, redemption and forgiveness. This weekend features the Park Players' popular food and beverage nights: Enjoy a spaghetti dinner Friday, wine and cheese Saturday and a special "Pharaoh's Feast" luncheon Sunday. Eat up at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale St., Detroit; 313-835-1103; $22.
SATURDAY MARCH 20
Obscura Day at the Heidelberg Project
EXPLORE THE STRANGE
You've kissed the Blarney Stone, marveled at the Grand Canyon, and sunbathed on Hawaii's black sand beaches. What's next? For a peek into the world's more fantastical destinations, check out the Atlas Obscura (atlasobscura.com), a compendium of obscure museums, bizarre historical sites and eccentric attractions generally ignored by traditional travel guides. Saturday, Atlas Obscura hosts Obscura Day, an international celebration of these strange destinations. Here in Detroit, the Heidelberg Project will offer guided tours of Tyree Guyton's polka-dot painted houses and surreal found object sculptures. In other locales, participants can tour the world's largest tree house, ogle at curious medical anomalies and explore lost subway tunnels. Tours of the Heidelberg take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the 3600 block of Heidelberg Street, Detroit; visit heidelberg.org to RSVP.
SUNDAY MARCH 21
La Marche du Nain Rouge
PARADING OUT THE BAD
According to local lore, Le Nain Rouge, aka the Red Dwarf, is an evil spirit that has plagued Detroit since the city's founding, first cursing Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (he was indicted for illegal trafficking and imprisoned soon after), and then periodically popping up throughout history to cause the city misery and grief (explains a lot, doesn't it?). It's claimed that early Detroiters organized the first March of the Nain Rouge on March 23, 1710, to banish the mischievous little bastard from the city and to welcome the coming spring. This year, the purported tradition is resurrected for a special 300th anniversary march; in the spirit of Carnaval and Mardi Gras, Detroiters will band together to symbolically purge the city of evil and revel in thoughts of the warmer and better times that lie ahead. Marchers are encouraged to get their costumed freak on — the more masks, boas and sequins, the better. The march begins at 3 p.m. at Third Street Bar (701 W. Forest St., Detroit) and ends at Cass Park. Info at lenainrouge.com.
Scott Hocking Installation
Sure, he can draw and snap photos; he can even create a compelling commentary about the plight of animals by mutilating decorated fiberglass creatures; but what Detroit artist Scott Hocking is really known for is the way he culls art from the abandoned, the derelict and the ruined. Exploring the desolate buildings and lands of Detroit, Hocking has turned rusted scraps of metal into lovingly rendered works, created pyramids from tires, installed abandoned detritus in beloved institutions and carefully crafted exhibits in forgotten buildings for scrappers, explorers and the homeless to discover. In this installation, Hocking fills a University of Michigan gallery with items evacuated from the Roosevelt Warehouse, a former US postal office building and Detroit Public Schools warehouse that's been empty since the '80s. Along with relics from the site, Hocking has constructed a sculptural installation from the more than 500 abandoned textbooks he found there. A rich commentary on heritage, renaissance and ruin, the installation will be displayed through May 15 at the U-M Institute for the Humanities Gallery, 202 S. Thayer St., Ann Arbor; 734-936-3518.
Once or twice in the Detroit jazz year, there are these harmonic convergences that cram a festival's worth of music into a single weekend. This is one of those with ...
Her debut disc may have had a pop-jazz veneer, but when she recruited a guitarist from the Screaming Headless Torsos, for instance, you knew her ambitions were grander. Hiromi Uehara's new solo piano disc, Place to Be (Telarc), is intense, probing, rife with gestures out of Euro classical music and classic jazz. "She plays blindingly fast, yet flawlessly," opined Jazz Times. In fact, she sometimes recalls jazzin'-the-classics players of years' past (as when she gently swings Pachelbel's Canon on the new disc). The emphasis in the preceding is on sometimes, since she's a pianist as hard to pigeonhole as she is easy to appreciate. Solo performance Friday, March 19, at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; free with admission.
ROVA Sax Quartet
Beginning in the late 1970s, ROVA was one of the two groups — World Sax Quartet being the other — that defined the sax quartet as a jazz platform and redefined it as a contemporary classical platform. The West Coast ROVA has been steadfast in, among other interests, extending the post-Coltrane, post-Ayler energy school, including promoting John Coltrane's "Ascension" as a latter-day answer to Handel's Messiah. Although ROVA has come to Ann Arbor in the past, this marks their first Detroit appearance. Friday, March 19, at 8 and 9 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; $11 for both sets, $8 for second set.
Hot Club of Detroit presents Django Fest 2010
Torchbearers of the gypsy jazz tradition, Hot Club of Detroit call in out-of-town help to pay homage to the sainted guitarist Django Reinhart in this the centennial of his birth. Guitarist Howard Alden, who overdubbed Sean Penn's strumming in Sweet and Lowdown — as he played an unrepentant Reinhardt worshipper — returns to play with HCD again. Joining them for the first time is the much-lauded Israeli-by-way-of-New York clarinetist Anat Cohen. HCD's new disc drops next month, so a preview would seem likely. Saturday, March 20, at Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave.; 313-961-2543; $15.
Randy Weston's African Rhythms Trio
The pianist is the composer of such classics as "Hi-Fly" and "Little Niles," one of the greatest interpreters of Monk and Ellington, a jazz bridge to the music of the Africa and the Caribbean, and a thundering presence at the keyboard. His trio of bassist Alex Blake (a master of flamenco-style bass strumming) and percussionist Neil Clarke works with the highest level of rapport. Saturday, March 20, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-769-2999; $10-$30.