Arts & Culture » Culture

Night and Day



Will Hoge
Nashville singer-songwriter Will Hoge is the embodiment of a tried-and-true musician – indie and uncompromising. For a decade-plus, he has built a following with a relentless touring schedule that sees him playing his gritty Americana and heartfelt Southern rock at more than 200 gigs yearly. In 2008, he was sidelined for eight months after an automobile wreck; he returned in '09 with his fifth studio album, The Wreckage, a look at life's dark turns and the ultimate triumph of hope. At 8 p.m. at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $12; all ages; with American Bang and J. Roddy Walston and the Business.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's iconic American novel at this cinematic and literary fete. Local creative types, including poet Thomas Lynch, writer-scholar Keith Taylor and filmmaker Sultan Sharrief will offer reflections on the book followed by a screening of the classic 1962 film adaptation and an audience discussion. This event is one of at least 50 that the book's publisher, HarperCollins, has scheduled to take place throughout the country to commemorate To Kill a Mockingbird's milestone anniversary. At 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-TIME; $9, $15 premium tickets include special seating and the 50th anniversary edition of the novel.

Psychedelic Furs
One unfortunate hangover from the 1980s, that decade of overproduced bands, Reagan, MTV gloat, silly trousers and Haircut 100, was how the Psychedelic Furs got lumped into that ghastly pop nostalgia train of '80s packages, flanking, say, the Bangles, or worse, Missing Persons in (pre-) boomer consciousness. Think about that: Here was a London band vaguely defining the "artful" side of punk rock — er, post punk or whatever — this unholy mix of William Burroughs, Andy Warhol, early Roxy Music and the Velvet Underground, fronted by Richard Butler, a strangely graceful man — picture a whorehouse priest with some Modigliani-like facial features — who owed as much to Bowie as he did Johnny Rotten and Blonde on Blonde-era Dylan, who traded on pitched, chain-smoked rasps and cynical-satirical cut-out wordplay. Theirs was indeed a gloriously organized noise that netted pockets of worldwide fans by the group's second Columbia album, 1981's Steve Lillywhite-helmed Talk, Talk, Talk. Then the brilliant and poppy Todd Rundgren-produced Forever Now followed and gave up an improbable U.S. hit in "Love My Way," an elegantly unkempt metrosexual ballad that changed everything. 

The gold album made them famous. 

After the album Mirror Moves, which took on U.S. dance floors and MTV play with "The Ghost in You" and "Heaven," John Hughes called and titled a film after the band's Talk Talk Talk single "Pretty in Pink." The Furs misguidedly responded by re-recording a lesser version of the song for the film, and fans cried sellout. That howl became prophesy on 1987's Midnight to Midnight, whose undeveloped sound relied on production more than songs as much as the whole idea was an obvious grab for mainstream. ("Daniel Lanois [U2] was supposed to produce the album but he said we needed more time to develop the songs," Butler says with a laugh tinged with regret. "We went ahead and did it anyway with someone else!") Two well-developed — but underachieving — albums ensued, 1989's Book of Days and '91's World Outside (which featured the best Furs' single, "Until She Comes"). The band — which the Killers call their biggest inspiration — had run its course, and Butler then encored (alongside his Furs bassist brother Tim) with Love Spit Love, a '90s combo with its own history and moments of winking significance. 

But that was then. The one-time art student now lives in New York state ("close to Manhattan") in mostly quiet days, largely spent in his art studio, before he leaves to collect his daughter from school. Butler's oil-on-canvas work sees openings in galleries around the world.

His 2006 self-titled solo album (Koch) is a thing of gentle despair and beauty; it went basically unnoticed stateside, but was self-defining for the singer. 

Today Butler stands outside a studio in Miami where the Furs — which, technically, re-formed in 2001 — are rehearsing for the current U.S. tour. Butler talks of the music that changed his life, the Furs' unlikely mainstream success, his art, drinking and why New England is the "new" England. He's constantly laughing, poking at himself, as if it's almost a gas that the Furs trade on nostalgia these days, to be one of few doing sizable tour business.

Metro Times: It's like the Furs participated in the grand British tradition of taking all things American — Warhol, Velvet Underground, Burroughs, Dylan — and selling it back to us. ... 

Richard Butler: [big laughs] Yeah, the British do that well, don't we? We just take bits and pieces, dress it up and send it back! Yeah, as a kid, I loved all that New York stuff ...

Royal Oak Music Theatre,  318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; 248-298-0708. All ages.

Patty Hearst: The New Musical
A black comedic musical by Barton Bund of the Blackbird Theatre, Patty Hearst tells the story of the media heiress who was kidnapped by a fringe revolutionary organization — the Symbionese Liberation Army — only to become a beret-wearing, gun-toting guerrilla herself, spouting cheap revolutionary rhetoric and participating in a bank robbery. The musical explores the question that the media frenzy surrounding Hearst's kidnapping and trial raised — was she a victim of abuse and brainwashing or just an entitled princess eager to rebel? The premiere production of Patty Hearst: The New Musical takes place Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. at sh-aut Gallery & Cabaret, 325 Braun Ct., Ann Arbor; tickets and info at 734-332-3848 or A2 too far to travel? Blackbird Theatre will also stage the play June 16-26, at the Marlene Boll Theatre in the Boll Family YMCA in Detroit.

Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Hedwig & the Angry Inch tells the story of an East German transgender rock singer, using the androgynous trappings of '70s glam and early punk to explore issues of identity, sexuality and love. The musical is set at one of Hedwig's gigs; through a mixture of song and speech, the eponymous heroine tells her story — an outrageous, hilarious and touching quest for the other half that will complete her — that begins when she undergoes a botched sex change in the name of love l-u-v. The award-winning musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1998 and has since been staged around the world and adapted into a 2001 film. 9 p.m. at the Eagle Theatre, 15 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333; $10 advance, $15 day of.

Stanley Clarke Band featuring Hiromi
As a member of Return to Forever, innovative bassist Stanley Clarke was in on the first wave of jazz fusion groups that transformed the music in the '70s. Since then, he's collaborated frequently with fellow fusioneers — George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham et al. — and rockers such as Jeff Beck, Stewart Copeland and Ron Wood. His current quartet puts him alongside younger musicians, including pianist Hiromi Uehara, whose dazzling technique and Pachelbel-to-bop-to-the-future eclecticism seems all the rage. The Spencer Barefield Quartet opens. At 8 p.m. at Sound Board at Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-237-7711; $29 and $32.

The All Childish Things Trilogy
The All Childish Things Trilogy follows the year-long shenanigans of life-long friends and Star Wars geeks Dave, Carter and Max, and Carter's girlfriend Kendra, as they attempt the heist of a nerd's lifetime: a pricey cache of Star Wars memorabilia. But when things go wrong, the clique must deal with secrets, danger and friendships nearly torn asunder. The world-premiere production of this comedic ode to Star Wars by local playwright Joseph Zettelmaier runs in rotating repertory Thursdays through Saturdays and on select Sundays at the Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck; 313-365-4948; for a complete schedule visit Theatergoers who don't mind a sore ass can see all episodes in one day on July 3.

323 East 2 Year Anniversary
When the door at 323 East Fourth St. in Royal Oak opened two-years ago, it revealed a hip visual art, jewelry and clothing boutique featuring droves of youthful creators from Detroit and elsewhere. There were CDs for sale and some books of locally produced poetry too. With gentrification seeping through the suburb's once-subversive downtown, Jesse Cory's lime green art shop was a much-needed addition. It brought some funk back. A set of turntables became a characteristic aspect of the boutique's terrain, and 323 East booths became a staple at area fests. Eventually, the narrow structure began hosting art openings like a proper gallery, particularly after hosting a show by lowbrow king Glenn Barr. Audrey Pongracz, Kill Taupe, Ron Zakrin, David Foox, and Mark Arminski have had substantial openings here, and more than 100 other artists have seen their works on its walls. In collaboration with CPop and Y-Arts Detroit, 323 East is hosting a three-day arts throwdown to celebrate its second year. The weekend will also serve as a book launch for Kobi Solomon's My First Graffiti Coloring Book. Artists including Arminski, Tom Thewes, Matt Eaton, Shades, Randy Chabot, Foox, Sintex, Malt, Mike Doyle, Drew Kups, Megan Harris and Solomon himself, among others, will offer artistic interpretations of the alphabetized (A is for Aerosol) pages in which Solomon executed his book. For the third time, 323 East will undergo an external overhaul as it becomes the canvas for "a 72-hour mural" created by area street artists. And there'll be barbecue too! Celebration on Friday, with live mural continuing Saturday and Sunday, at 323 East Gallery, 323 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 866-756-6538;

Kids Read Comics Convention
The Kids Read Comics Convention promotes comics appropriate for pint-sized readers and showcases how illustrated works can rev up kiddie creativity. The free event also demonstrates to parents, educators and librarians how comics can promote literacy. Guests include a number of local and national writers and artists, as well as Chiller Drive-In host Wolfman Mac! From 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, at the Henry Ford Centennial Library (16301 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-993-2330). In conjunction with the exhibit, Green Brain Comics (13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-582-9444) is hosting an art display on the "kids reading comics" theme. Works will be auctioned off to defray convention costs and will be displayed through a convention kickoff reception on Friday, June 11.

Detroit Wig Out and Family Hootenanny
Detroit Wig Out debuted last year as a benefit for a local chapter of Gilda's Club — a nonprofit aiding cancer survivors and their families. The theme was simple: Ask revelers to don wigs and dance and drink the night away. This time, it's a weekend of wig-wearing wildness. It all starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday with the second annual Detroit Wig Out at the Magic Stick (4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700), featuring Mick Bassett & the Marthas, the Wrong Numbers, the Barrettes and Tim Pak, as well as a Rock 'n' Roll Wig Stroll (a music themed "wig walk"). On Sunday, the Wig Out Family Hootenanny is an afternoon celebration for children to wear wigs, bowl and listen to live music in the Garden Bowl. Funds raised will benefit the Southfield-based National Bone Marrow Transplant Link. Admission is $10, $2 surcharge for the wigless.

The New Pornographers
When singer-songwriter AC Newman assembled the New Pornographers in Vancover in the late '90s, the band was seen as little more than the sum of its parts – a group worth following only because of the cultish status the members enjoyed individually in the local scene. More than a decade later, the members have enjoyed success on their own — especially, bewitching alt-country siren Neko Case — but the group as a whole is also recognized as a powerhouse in its own right, thanks to Newman's brainy songwriting backed up by pure power-pop brawn. The supergroup hits town in support of its latest disc, Together (and yes, Neko will be there), at 7 p.m. at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333; $25; with the Dodos and the Dutchess and the Duke.

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