WEDNESDAY JUNE 23
TWIST THE FOCUS KNOB
This special exhibit, Excel: Teen Reflections on a Photographic Journey, features photos snapped by students from Focus: HOPE's Excel Photography Program, a yearlong course that offered high school students the chance to learn technical and aesthetic photog skills through classes and photo shoots at locales throughout metro Detroit. The vibrant and eclectic results of the students' artistic journey will be on display through Sunday. The opening night includes a reception, with students and their shutterbug mentors in attendance. From 6 to 9 p.m. at the Museum for Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622.
THURSDAY JUNE 24
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby
CONJUGAL POWER POP
Separately, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby have been writing music for decades, he a cheeky icon of the British punk underground (Oh, c'mon, you've heard "Whole Wide World") and she, a longstanding fixture of the New York pop scene. As a married couple and musical duo, they create smart and humorous pop that combines Rigby's knack for folky storytelling with Eric's rock swagger. Fuzzy guitars and ragged harmonies give their sound a homespun feel that they used to full advantage on their self-titled debut disc. On this year's follow-up, they apply the same rules to an album of covers that range from Abba to Tom Petty. The twosome performs in support of Two-Way Family Favourites at 8 p.m. at the Majestic Café, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $8 advance; with Dan Kroha and Veloura Caywood.
THURSDAY-SUNDAY JUNE 24-27
The Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival
Do we have enough film festivals in town yet? A newer entry, the Detroit-Windsor International film fest, founded in 2008, is a welcome addition to the cinema gatherings, especially because of its international character. Taking over lots of locations in Detroit's Cultural Center — including the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University's DeRoy Auditorium and Gullen Mall — the program will include scores of films, among them shorts, features, docs, animation and even kiddie fare. Some films are rooted in our international metropolis, such as the urban ag doc Grown in Detroit to such shorts as the psychological thriller Bare Witness from local filmmaker Jeffery T. Schultz. For more information about locations and schedules, see dwiff.org.
FRIDAY JUNE 25
FRANKENSTEINIAN FREAK OUT!
From Hollywood versions of Frankenstein to the faceless boogeyman lurking under the bed or in the form of Karl Rove, monsters invade our consciousness from everywhere. The exhibit Monsters explores many of them, raising questions about the deformed beasts along the way. If, in childhood, monsters are shaped by our innermost fears, how do monsters manifest themselves in the adult world? And, as Disney would have us believe, can monsters ever be good, or must they always be grotesque and scary? Artists take a shot at these issues and more. Opening with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at Work Detroit, 3663 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-593-0940; on display through Aug. 6.
FRIDAY JUNE 25
Fourth Fridays in the Park
SCHOOL'S STILL OUT
Campus Martius kicks off its summer programming this Friday with its annual free concert series. Day-long entertainment, including lunchtime performances, a DJ showcase happy hour, evening concerts and movie screenings, will take place the last Friday of June, July and August. This month focuses on local sounds, with a lineup of former Detroit Music Award-winners, including the Brothers Groove, Thornetta Davis, Jill Jack and the Howling Diablos. The Detroit Techno Militia hits the turntables during happy hour, and the best of the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival will play after the concerts end. At Campus Martius, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit; info at 313-962-0101 or campusmartiuspark.org.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY JUNE 25-27
Northville Arts & Acts
Northville's annual summer art fair is reborn this year as an expansive celebration of the arts, adding theater, film and music to the fine art fare. Along with 75 artists exhibiting their wares, the streets of downtown Northville will be overrun by local musicians performing everything from country and honky-tonk to pop and New Orleans-style jazz throughout the three days. The Northville Film Fest will roll Saturday at 7 p.m. at Genitti's Hole-in-the-Wall (108 E. Main St.), featuring a screening of Unbeatable Harold and three Michigan-made shorts. And the Tipping Point Theatre (361 E. Cady St.) will host the Sandbox Play Festival at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, featuring four plays by local playwrights. The art fair and music are free; film fest and plays cost $8 advance, $10 at the door. See northvillearts.org or call 248-344-0497 for info.
FRIDAY JUNE 25 & SUNDAY JUNE 27
NO, NO IT'S NOKOKO
While their sound is firmly rooted in the traditional music of Ghana, this West African dance and music ensemble shakes things up by bringing modern rhythms and instruments, such as electric guitar and bass, into the mix. This innovative blend of Afropop and jazz is a new style of Ghanaian music that Kusun has dubbed "Nokoko." They've performed it — along with their electrifying dance moves — around the world. They bring it to the Detroit Institute of Arts for two performances Friday night and a special family performance on Sunday that includes educational info and audience participation. At 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, at the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; free with admission.
FRIDAY-MONDAY JUNE 25-28
Gay Play Series
The local campy theater masters at Who Wants Cake? present the inaugural Gay Play Series, which features original one-acts by local playwrights. Friday rings in the theatrical fest with a staged reading of Valley of the Dolls. On both Saturday and Sunday, all five one-acts will be staged as one performance, with the winning entry — as voted by the audience — concluding the series on Monday. Following the winning play's final hurrah, The Motown MisCast Cabaret will give a special performance of musical theater hits featuring gals singing the guys' parts and guys singing the gals' parts. Oh, my! At 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, at the Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-545-5545; tickets $10 per day, $20 for a weekend pass; visit whowantscaketheatre.com.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY JUNE 26-27
Jazzin' on Jefferson
NAWLINS MEET MOTOWN
Can a festival be a leading economic indicator? We hope so, since the Jazzin' on Jefferson Festival goes back to a two-day shebang this year. Marion Hayden and the Detroit Legacy Band, among others, perform Saturday before the close-out by the Joe Krown Trio out of New Orleans at 7:15. (That's Krown, holder of the Maple Leaf Bar piano chair of the late Professor Longhair and James Booker, plus Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste). On Sunday, the Hot Club of Detroit closes out (same time) following Sky Covington and others. That's not to mention the artists, food vendors, a kids' area and others who show off the ongoing efforts of the sponsoring Jefferson East Business Association by turning the avenue from Chalmers to Alter into a noon-to-9 party both days; 313-331-7939 or jazzinonjefferson.com.
Language. Power. Difference.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Through photography, video and digital prints, artist Joe Namy explores the issues surrounding the space between languages, from the disconnect experienced by bilingual speakers to the way that translation can lose or distort various shades of meaning. A former Detroiter of Lebanese descent, Namy uses his experiences as a bilingual artist as inspiration for his work, which invites viewers to ponder the imbalances created by the lexical gap. When in Detroit, Namy co-created the Arab art collective OTHER; he's currently finishing his MFA at New York University. Language. Power. Difference. will be up through July 24, at Re:View Contemporary Gallery, 444 W. Willis St., Unit 111, Detroit; 313-833-9000.
BIRD, BIRD, BIRD IS THE WORD
Whimsy is the name of the game for Matthaei Botanical Gardens' summertime display. From feats of topiary fantasy such as Nessie the Garden Serpent to such enduring (for better or worse) accessories as gnomes and pinwheels, the gardens are overrun by decorative frivolity. The biggest feature is a flock of plastic pink flamingo lawn ornaments — dozens of the kitschy birds are on display, outrageously decorated by University of Michigan art school students, community members and Ann Arbor Public School students. But of course, the gardens' beautiful and colorful seasonal plants and flowers will truly be the main attraction. Through Sept. 30, at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-647-7600.
It's the USSF, baby
Along with workshops, organizing and grass roots collaborating, the U.S. Social Forum offers near nonstop cultural haps from Wednesday to Friday. Music, art, film and performance feature on the Forum's schedule, plus a slew of events happening about town, both officially and unofficially USSF-affiliated. Here are just some of the highlights; for a complete schedule visit ussf2010.org/culture.
Another World is Possible Progressive Film Festival
A diverse array of indie films will screen Wednesday through Friday, exploring issues such as poverty, education, environmental justice, workers' rights and militarism. Films include local doc Our School, a chronicle of life in three Detroit public high schools; Promised Land, which explores land reform issues in South Africa; and black./woymn.:conversations; a documentary which focuses on the experiences and views of black lesbians. But no doubt the highlight of the fest is the preview of South of the Border, Oliver Stone's new doc, which rolls at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The film is a bullish examination of the current leftist turn in South American politics and includes interviews with Cuba's Raul Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. All films play at the AFSCME Building, 600 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit.
A fundraiser for the Student/Farmworker Alliance, Hip-Hop Fandango features hip hop with an international flavor from the Brooklyn-based Rebel Diaz Arts Collective and spit-fire lyricist Olmeca. The fandango is supplied by Son Solidario, a group that performs Son Jarocho, a traditional style of music from the Mexican state of Veracruz. The Student/Farmworker Alliance is a national coalition of students that have joined forces with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida-based organization of low-wage farm workers that has led successful campaigns that resulted in a number of fast food chains — most famously, Taco Bell — making changes to improve the wages and working conditions for the workers in the restaurants' food-supply chain. From 8 p.m. to midnight, Thursday, June 24, at Spirit of Hope Church, 1519 Martin Luther King Blvd., Detroit; see sfalliance.org.
The East Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Indigenous Environmental Network have teamed up for a fundraiser to support their Earth-friendly endeavors. EMEAC has been active in Michigan for nearly 50 years, educating the public about environmental issues and working for the passage of environmental laws. IEN is celebrating its 20th anniversary of working toward sustainability and environmental justice for indigenous peoples and communities. Performers include locals such as Blair, jessica Care moore, Cold Men Young and Joe Reilly, as well as renowned Native American performers such as poet, musician, actor, activist John Trudell and singer-songwriter Annie Humphrey. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 24, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; all ages.
Hart Plaza's amphitheater and Pyramid stage will play host to a variety of performances throughout the three days of the forum — theater, spoken-word and musicians, both local and far-flung, performing everything from hip-hop to folk, but the grand finale is Friday night's Leftist Lounge. Three venues in Eastern Market will feature DJs spinning soul, hip hop, house, Afrobeat and more, along with live performances by local hip-hop activist Invincible, Brooklyn's Readnex Poetry Squad and global hip-hop trio Rebel Diaz. DJs include Chela, Rimarkable, Sake-1, Graffiti, Waajeed, Sicari and more. The party also raises funds for local organizations involved in planning for the Social Forum. From 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday, June 25, in Eastern Market at Bert's Marketplace (2727 Russell St., Detroit), the Johanson Charles Gallery (1345 Division St., Detroit) and Shed 3 of the Market; leftistlounge.com for tickets.
Fire By Night
A bevy of Detroit's avant-jazz musicians pay tribute to the abolitionist movement, the spiritual forebears to the activists participating in the Social Forum. As today's rabble-rousers agitate for social justice, it's only fitting to remember the radicals of the past who fought for the liberty of enslaved African-Americans. James Cornish, Brad Duncan, Joel Peterson, Hassan Razzaq, Skeeter Shelton and more honor the likes of John Brown and Harriet Tubman with an evening of jazz and improvised music. From 8 to 11 p.m., Saturday, June 26, at 2739 Edwin Gallery, 2738 Edwin St., Hamtramck; admission by donation.
A number of anarchist and anti-authoritarian collectives organized a track of workshops and activities for the USSF under the umbrella title "A New World From Below." They're also hosting a convergence center at the Spirit of Hope Church where like-minded individuals can convene to network, socialize and enjoy art and various performances. It all culminates in this celebratory show that gives attendees the chance to decompress after days of anarchic strategizing. Performers include Blair, Audra Kubat, the Last Internationale, Born in a Cent, David Rovics and Ryan Harvey of the Riot Folk Collective. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 26, at Spirit of Hope Church, 1519 Martin Luther King Blvd., Detroit.