Let’s face it, the unlucky few of us who have had to endure an afternoon in a used car lot rarely reflect on it as a good thing. The abominable patches of pavement are usually populated by slick-talking salesmen and cursed by sour karma. But not the used lot at Merollis Chevrolet. (21901 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe). Here the annual Blues N’ Cruise Festival has made the space known more for hot licks that overheating lemons, and this years’ two-day event will one of the finer summer blues fests in the area. The lineup includes regional heavies such as B.B. Queen, Thornetta Davis, Johnnie Bassett & The Blues Insurgents and Larry McCray. An added bonus: The paltry daily gate charge of $5 all goes to benefit Rotary charities, so at least for the weekend, it’s a used car lot that guarantees a good deal; call 586-445-5013 for further info.
JAMbalaya Street Festival
Nothing says summer like throwing down some beer tickets and doing a tipsy stroll along the streets of Pontiac. In addition to the season’s popular summertime staples, such as the Woodward Dream Cruise and Arts, Beats & Eats, the city will also host JAMbalaya Street Festival this June. Count on musicians, food stands and amiable partiers to take to the city’s streets for three days of Crescent City-style revelry. Patrons can enjoy the spicy fare of 21 local eateries at the "Taste of Bourbon Street," meander through the art and craft booths, and check out all the local and national noisemakers and have a refreshing libation without guilt. After all, proceeds from beverage sales will benefit local charities. Call 248-334-4600 or go to www.pontiacfestivals.com for more information.
Ninth annual Dearborn Arab International Festival
It’s going to be the perfect father’s day weekend. You got good ol’ dad a nice new tie, a pair of slippers and a box seat at the Tigers game. Now, all you need is something fun to do? We suggest jumping in the car and heading over to the Dearborn Arab International Festival. The biggest festival of its kind in the country, the festivities sprawl over more than a dozen square blocks of the Western burb and includes everything from tasty ethnic eats to musical and dramatic performances. And if dad isn’t in the mood for shawarma, don’t sweat it; there will be all kinds of global cuisine from far beyond the Middle East. Last year over 200,000 people took to the Dearborn streets for the three-day happening, and, by all accounts, this year promises to be even bigger. Get to know your neighbor at 13320 W. Warren, Dearborn. Call 313-945-1700 for information or look to www.americanarab.com.
The Majestic, Detroit
The tired adage is that "Punk has no heroes." But after a look around at the woeful misinterpretation of "punk" these days — nauseating mall rats like Good Charlotte, par example — it seems like we might need all the heroes we can get. Patti Smith remains one of these, an iconic reminder of the dead word’s truest spirit and not only for her ballyhooed history owning the stage at CBGB’s but also for her longevity as an artistic force. When she returns to the stage this summer at the Majestic Theatre in support of her latest effort, Trampin’, those in attendance will bear witness to one of our culture’s most enduring, spirited voices. A woman whose legacy is, in a single word, heroic. The Majestic Theatre is at 4140 Woodward Ave. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com for information.
SIDE BAR 2-July
The Capitol Steps
The Power Center
To the glee of audiences everywhere, the Capitol Steps theater troupe is deconstructing the United States government. Be it the politicians, the braying masses of constituents or the lot of non-voting flunkies: No one is safe from the wrath of this satirist tongue. Elephants, donkeys and greenies from all over metro Detroit can unite for an evening of much-needed levity, much-welcomed honesty and fun. No partisanship, no bullshit … no one is safe at the Power Center (121 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor); call 734-764-2538 for further information.
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit and the Palace, Auburn Hills
So shouters "Diamond" David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar took a stab at reconciliation with 2002’s reunite-mare tour, an ill-conceived and short-lived coupling of he the two former front men of ’80’s rock outfit Van Halen. Not surprisingly, the tour did not work out, but despite the puffed chests and crispy blonde hair-pulling, one of them made it out on top — er, that is, one of them was asked to rejoin the old band for this summer’s tour. So, which towheaded wonder made it through, you ask? Da-dah-dah-daaaaa! It’s Sammy! See Hagar and the boys of Van Halen on Saturday, July 10 at the Joe Louis Arena (600 Civic Center Dr. Detroit) or on Sunday, July 11 at the Palace of Auburn Hills (3 Championship Drive, Auburn Hills); call 313-471-3224 for more info.
Nathaniel Mayer Record Release/Art Fair
Car Wash Café, Detroit
The Car Wash Café just might be the coolest place downtown that you’ve never heard of. Nestled across the way from beautiful Belle Isle, this bizarre hangout has been an underground treasure for years. Where else can you get a hand car wash, an ice cream cone, some barbecue and all the fun of a record release party/ art fair in the comfort of one setting? Sponsored by the folks at Padded Cell Jewelers, R&B man Nathaniel Mayer will be rocking the Car Wash Café for the release of his latest record. Support acts will be Bootsy X & the Lovemasters and Margaret Doll Rod. Eat, drink, be merry and buy some art at the Car Wash Café (444 Meldrum, at E. Jefferson, Detroit). For further information on this event, please call 248-336-6633.
WDET Garage Sale and Block Party
The WDET Warehouse, Detroit
WDET has been on the air for 55 years now, and in that amount of time, you can only imagine the stacks and stacks of goods that have piled up in their warehouse. The time has come to clean house so to speak, and what better way to get rid of the old stuff than with community garage sale and block party? From vintage swag, to CDs and books, WDET has got what you want. They say "Bring your sense of adventure and $2 to get in the door." The WDET Warehouse is located at 150 W. Canfield, Detroit. Sale will happen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine! Call 313-577-4146 for further information.
SIDE BAR 3-August
Wild Summer Nights at the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak
It’s Wednesday evening — do you know what you are doing tonight? Why not join the lions, tigers and bears at the Detroit Zoo’s annual Wild Summer Night concert series? Tangerine Trousers, a band who describes their sound as "Folkrockoustic," will be entertaining metro Detroiters in the fun setting of the zoo. A favorite on the acoustic circuit for years now, Tangerine Trousers are about as family-friendly as they come. The name alone evokes childish giggles! At the Detroit Zoo (8450 W. 10 Mile Road, at Woodward, Royal Oak); call 248-398-0900 for further information. This series happens every Wednesday evening, July 7- Aug. 25; 6:30-8 p.m. Visit www.detroitzoo.org for further information.
Shakespeare in the Park
July 29-Aug. 8
Starr Jaycee Park, Royal Oak
You needn’t be a thespian or a pedantic intellectual to enjoy the Water Works Theatre Company’s Shakespeare in the Park series. This year’s production, "Twelfth Night in Ragtime" is a fun take on the bard’s romantic adventure "Twelfth Night," as it’s set to the sounds of ragtime music. Got a kid that you’d like to expose to the brilliance of Shakey? Then don’t miss KidShakespeare!, a program for performance-minded youngsters, which runs Aug. 2-4. Shakespeare in the Park takes place at Starr Jaycee Park (13 Mile Road between Crooks and Main) in Royal Oak. Call 248-988-1359 for further information.
Hearts sank when Diana Krall married four-eyed rock legend Elvis Costello, but, hey, nothing can soothe a broken heart better than the milky sounds of female jazz singer. Her latest album, The Girl in the Other Room, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and this summer, metro Detroiters will have a chance to see her live. From torch songs to sexy originals, this gifted jazz diva will be at the Fox Theatre (2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit); call 248-433-1515 for ticket information — get your seats early, this show is likely to sell out.