WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY MAY 5-8
Bill Charlap Trio and Fred Hersch
Bill Charlap has been called the heir to Tommy Flanagan's place among piano royalty, a pianist with a way of caressing a standard without fawning over it, and a stunning repertoire of those gems to work from. And just to underscore their similarities, Charlap often works with the Washington non-brothers (the unrelated Kenny and Peter Washington on drums and bass, respectively) as a stamp of authenticity. He'll tickle the ivories Wednesday through Saturday at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café (97 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-882-5299). And Charlap isn't the only international-star standard-bearer around this week. Fred Hersch explores plenty of standards too, but arguably extends and even distends them further, along the lines of his own prolific composing. (The New York Times magazine recently ran a great piece about his artistry and harrowing battle with AIDS). Fred Hersch is solo Thursday at 8 p.m. at Kerrytown Concert House (415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-769-2999) and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church (23 E. Adams, Detroit; 313-965-5422), where his performance is part of an ongoing concert series celebrating the church's bicentennial.
FRIDAY MAY 7
At the tender age of 20, and with just two albums to her name, UK folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling has mastered the art of melancholy sweetness, singing about love, heartbreak and death with poetic lyricism. The role of world-weary ingénue doesn't come across as an act for Marling; instead, she exudes genuine old-soul wisdom as she lends her lovely vocals to tunes hauntingly sparse or invigorated with urgent banjos and rollicking organs. Marling performs in support of her sophomore disc, I Speak Because I Can, with the Middle East and Smoke Fairies at 7:30 p.m. at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $12 advance, $14 day of; all ages.
FRIDAY MAY 7
Imaging the Future
TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
The future has always been one of the greatest of the great unknowns, a muse for artists and writers who have imagined worlds both idyllic and horrific. In Imaging the Future, 31 artists, architects, engineers, scientists and fashion designers render their own visions of what our future world will look like. The artists were challenged to pose a question about the future and then to "image" the response in their works. Results range from bucolic manifestations of hope to dark science fiction landscapes. Participants include Corine Vermeulen, the Architecture Research Office, Rocco DePietro, Fred Dyer, Lois Lovejoy and Bethany Shorb. Opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-997-7012; on display through June 13.
FRIDAY MAY 7
CONEY ISLAND BABY
Born in Cleveland in 1953, Baby Dee's life has followed a circuitous path, from Catholic church organist to Coney Island sideshow attraction, from harp-wielding, tricycle-riding street performer to cabaret recording artist. Across four discs, the classically trained transgender harpist has mined both her curious life and her exhaustive knowledge of the Western musical canon to create inventive, emotionally rich music that's nearly impossible to classify. Baby Dee first garnered critical attention in 2008 with the Will Oldham-produced Safe Inside the Day; her latest, A Book of Songs for Anne Marie, is a collection of piano- and harp-based compositions originally recorded for limited release in 2004 that she re-recorded for a wider release. Baby Dee performs with Prussia at 8 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; $6; all ages.
FRIDAY MAY 7
My Brightest Diamond
INDIE (ROCK!) ARIA
My Brightest Diamond is the project of Shara Worden, a multi-instrumentalist and classically trained vocalist who creates avant-rock imbued with classical flourishes. After earning a degree in classical vocal performance, Worden immersed herself in New York's art-rock scene, forming My Brightest Diamond with a band of musicians who relied on wind chimes, wineglasses and strings for their sound. After touring with Sufjan Stevens as one of his "Illinoisemakers," Worden debuted My Brightest Diamond with 2006's Bring Me the Workhorse. The critically acclaimed disc featured atmospheric and brooding melodies replete with strings and highlighted by the potent range and drama of Worden's voice. The vast instrumentation and rich imagery continued on 2008's A Thousand Shark's Teeth, originally conceived as an album of string quartet compositions. Worden brings her signature operatic theatricality to the Pike Room, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333; $10 advance; doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.; with Lac La Belle.
FRIDAY-SATURDAY MAY 7-8
Early Bloomers Flower & Garden Expo
LES FLEURS DE BONS
This annual sale features a large selection of perennials and annuals for your planting pleasure, all grown locally by agriscience students from Detroit's Golightly Career and Technical Center. The expo also includes prepared hanging baskets, as well as educational seminars on such topics as flowerbed planting and presentation, and container design. Proceeds from the sale benefit the agriscience program, which educates and trains high school students for careers related to horticulture, greenhouse production and floral design. Noon to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Williams Recreation Center, 8431 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit; call 313-224-1160 for info.
SATURDAY MAY 8
Recycled Treasures Earth Day Benefit
REDUCE, RE-USE, PARTY!
Recycled Treasures is a nonprofit resale shop that sells low-cost used goods to the public, rehabs items that would otherwise be trashed and provides emergency services for people in crisis. This second annual benefit will help Recycled Treasures continue this work; entertainment will be provided by garage rockers the Meltdowns and DJ Pleasure Kitten. The party also includes door prizes, a silent auction and snacks. Yum! At 7 p.m. at the Belmont, 10215 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-871-1966; $10.
SATURDAY MAY 8
Motorcity Special Launch Concert
A joint venture between Motorcityblog and Product of Detroit, Motorcity Special is a new record label founded to promote and market Detroit's diverse musical offerings. The label will only produce limited edition vinyl of live performances by Detroit bands at various venues around town. The first recording takes place at this show, featuring performances by the Wrong Numbers, Duende!, Electric Fire Babies, Canja Rave, Mr. Shz and DJ Savage Matt. Concertgoers can pre-order the album, allowing them to get their hands on the very first hot-off-the-press edition and to relive the concert until the grooves turn gray. Doors at 7 p.m. at the Music Hall's Jazz Café, 350 Madison St., Detroit; 313-887-8501; $10.
SATURDAY MAY 8
Drawing in the Margins
HOOKED ON SCRIBBLING
North Corktown outdoor art space the Lot kicks off its warm-weather season of display and performance with Drawing in the Margins, an art exhibit-cum-workshop that explores the interplay between image and words. The method for this heady investigation? Doodling! The audience will be treated to a number of entertaining and interesting lectures and will even be supplied with paper and pens, invited to doodle throughout in order to unleash the secrets of their psyche. Or, you know, just have a really good time. Topics and presenters are a diverse and varied crew; on the slate is Detroit Lions' assistant secondary coach Daron Roberts, Adeboye Adegnbenro of Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, cartoon expert Kat Harman and more. Woodbridge Pub will provide food and Samantha Linn and Andrew Barrett will perform a musical intermission. From 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Lot, 3013 Cochrane St., Detroit; bring a lawn chair or blanket.
MONDAY MAY 10
MIX WELL AND SERVE
Local Natives are the latest brainy indie band to win critical hyperbole, thanks to their ability to synthesize the best of indie rock's recent successes, from Grizzly Bear and Arcade Fire to Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend. On its debut disc, Gorilla Manor, the L.A.-based quintet combines light and airy melodies with thoughtful wordplay, three-part harmonies that suggest yearning, and sorta complex, orchestral arrangements. So, with acumen and musical precision, the group creates a racket that may not fully rise above its various influences, but nonetheless provides a joyful blend. With Suckers at 8 p.m. at the Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8555; $10; all ages.
Detroit Student Art Exhibitions
This month, patrons of the arts have plenty of opportunity to recognize and celebrate the youngest of Detroit's budding artistic talents with two K-12 student art exhibitions. At the Detroit Institute of Arts, 300 works in mediums from drawing and painting to ceramics and jewelry are displayed as part of the 73rd edition of its annual Detroit Public Schools Art Exhibition, which runs through May 30 (5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900). Meanwhile, the Wayne County Community College District's Continuing Education Division hosts The Landscape of My Life, featuring 250 pieces by students from various Detroit schools including Cass Tech, Cody High, Winans Academy and the Detroit School of the Arts. The exhibit opens with a reception on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. and displays through June 4, at the Brown and Juanita C. Ford Gallery (1001 Fort St., Detroit; 313-496-2510).