LOW VS. DIAMOND
One of Rolling Stone's bands to watch in 2008, California's Low vs. Diamond crafts grandiloquent indie rock with a nod toward Coldplay schmaltz and the '80s-style pop anthems of the Killers. But what makes Low vs. Diamond notable is that it manages to strike an appealing balance between the two, avoiding both the maudlin and the cheesy while approaching damn near epic on such songs as "Don't Forget Sister" and "This is Your Life." The band is on the road co-headlining with Nickel Eye, a side project of Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture, in support of its eponymous debut. With Rogue Satellites and Solitary State at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7665; all ages.
MAKING THE FAMILIAR ART
In conjunction with its current photography exhibit, In the Company of Artists: Photographs from the DIA Collection, the museum is hosting a lecture and book signing by participating photographer Ari Marcopoulos. Beginning his career with Andy Warhol in the '70s, Marcopoulos is known as a pre-eminent portrait photographer, capturing simple yet engaging images of subjects from emerging subcultures, such as hip-hop artists in the '80s (including Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, who he photographed extensively and directed videos for) and snowboarders in the '90s. Marcopoulos will discuss how to make art out of everyday details at 7 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; a pre-lecture cocktail reception at 6 p.m. is $25, lecture and signing free.
FERNDALE BLUES FESTIVAL
One doozy of a music fest, the eighth annual Ferndale Blues Festival takes place over 10 days at 22 venues, adding up to more than 60 concerts. Gaggles of bands will sing the blues for (mostly) free with donations accepted for local do-gooders Ferndale Youth Assistance and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project. Venues include the Emory, Como's, Dino's, the Ringwald Theatre and Sakana. A complete list along with a schedule can be found at ferndalebluesfestival.org. The festival runs through Feb. 1.
HAN BENNIK-MARY OLIVER/FREDDY COLE
INSTANT COMPOSERS/A STANDARD BEARER
The ICP (Instant Composers Pool) out of the Netherlands motors along as one of the wryest, wackiest long-running jazz vehicles on the planet. But the wackiest piston in the engine has to be drummer Han Bennik, who works his drums in styles from swing to dada, and is apt to move from his drum to do press rolls on nearby furniture, bandmates, your noggin maybe. We're guessing that ICP violinist-violist Mary Oliver is the designated slightly-less-madcap half of the team. At 2739 Edwin Gallery, 2739 Edwin, Hamtramck; doors at 8; $10-$20 suggested donation. Meanwhile in a busy jazz night, fans also can consider suave offerings of Freddy Cole, who fellow-singer Ruth Brown once said has the power to "open the door to your heart with a key that you did not even know existed." Jazz Café at Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-887-8501; 8 and 10 p.m.
SING A SONG OF STOCKHOLM SYNDROME
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? This fully staged reading allows audiences to preview the show — full production is slated for 2010 — and provide feedback. At 8 p.m. at Blackbird Theatre, 1600 Pauline, Ann Arbor; 734-332-3848; blackbirdtheatre.org; $10.
PLYMOUTH INTERNATIONAL ICE SPECTACULAR
ON THE ROCKS
One of the oldest and largest ice-carving festivals in the country, the Plymouth International Ice Spectacular draws more than 500,000 visitors to the west side suburb to ogle astounding and ephemeral works of art carved by international pros, amateurs and high school and college-age students. Along with completed works, visitors can view carvers transforming gigantic blocks of ice into everything from dragons to the cast of Scooby-Doo. Artists compete to earn cash prizes and scholarships, while special celebrity carvers compete to earn money for charity. The free event takes place at Kellogg Park at Main St. and Ann Arbor Trail, Plymouth; info at 734-459-6969 or wattsupinc.com.
The Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association hosts this annual convention — a mecca for fantasy and sci-fi writers, artists and fans who come to revel in all things otherworldly and futuristic. This year's theme is steampunk, a genre in which the advent of current technologies takes place in the steam-powered Victorian era. A masquerade and costume contest carries on the theme — attendees should dress in Victorian garb while wielding futuristic paraphernalia. The weekend also features 24-hour gaming, anime, movies, music, workshops, panels, parties and more. Best-selling fantasy author Kelly Armstrong tops the list of visiting literati. Let your geek flag fly at the Detroit-Troy Marriott, 200 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-680-9797; weekend passes priced at $45 and $35 for students are available at the door.
THE SURE SHOTS
SWING YOUR PARNTER, DO-SI-DO
The Sure Shots play old-school swinging Western, country and backwoods Americana. Comprised of three of Detroit's most talented musicians — multi-instrumentalists and music aficionados Joel Peterson and Nick Schillace and the owner of that sweet and plaintive warble, Jennie Knaggs — the Sure Shots play pitch-perfect originals in synch with the old-timey classics that are also included in their repertoire. With an opening solo set by Nick Schillace at 8 p.m. at the Trinity House Theatre, 38840 W. Six Mile Rd., Livonia; 734-464-6302; $12, $9 members. The group is also performing every Wednesday through Feb. 4 at the Majestic Café (4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700) where free shows will be accompanied by a special menu of down home delicacies.
GINO FANELLI'S RED HOT SUGAR DADDIES CD RELEASE
HOT JAZZ ON COLD NIGHTS
When temps are in the negatives, who doesn't dream about high-tailing it to sunnier climes? And with Mardi Gras fast approaching, what better place to fantasize about than the Big Easy? While actually getting there may not be an option, the N'awlins hot jazz of Gino Fanelli's Red Hot Sugar Daddies provides a perfect mental escape from these dreary winter days. Help this Louis Armstrong-style band celebrate the release of its new disc Caught Live at D'Amato's and ditch the winter blues for at least one smoking-hot evening at 6 p.m. at D'Amato's Restaurant, 222 S. Sherman, Royal Oak; 248-584-7400. With the Motor City Sidestrokers.
TIM AND ERIC AWESOME SHOW, GREAT JOB!
If men spewing copious amounts of fake vomit while wearing spandex body suits outfitted with giant testicles sounds like a fine way to spend the Sabbath, then don't miss the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! tour. The brainchild of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the Awesome Show (which airs on Comedy Central's Adult Swim) features skits, video clips and musical numbers presented in the painfully low-production style of public access programming. The live show ups the ante by allowing for audience participation (if you consider getting a hot dog thrown at you "participation") and also features videos from the upcoming season. They take uncomfortable humor to a new extreme of awkwardness — but you just can't look away. At 7 p.m. at Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-399-2980; $22 advance, $25 day of show; all ages.
THE SCIENCE OF GROOVING
What musician doesn't want to move an audience, but who's spent as much time thinking about it as Vijay Iyer? A pianist-composer-bandleader who's been getting his props of late (his Tragicomic placed fourth on the 2008 Village Voice jazz critics poll; he shared the cover of Downbeat last June), Iyer earned his Ph.D. in music and cognitive science at University of California at Berkeley with a dissertation concerning, among other points, our "embodied" perception of rhythm. Or as Iyer tried to explain to us over the phone the other day: "The way we perceive rhythm is a lot like moving, and I mean that not just metaphorically, but neuroscientifically. Perceiving rhythm is almost identical from a brain perspective to moving your body. So when we hear rhythm, we're imaging ourselves moving ... so there's a very primal identification between rhythm and movement, which really affects me. It's something I think about all the time when I make music. ..."He went on: "These are not really quantitative things, but these are points that have scientific underpinnings, even though these are things we already intuitively know about music. It's one of my interests figuring those things out and how specific and how precise we can get with these kind of statements."On that theoretical scaffold, Iyer builds musical structures drawing elements from varied (but fundamentally related) elements: the South Indian Carnatic tradition, hip-hop, pop hits, Broadway tunes and the jazz of artists from Bud Powell to Andrew Hill to Steve Coleman. It's heady music that keeps the rest of the body in mind; music that trades in intriguing complexity, but has its own kind of flashing hooks and glimmers of the familiar. Moving stuff.Vijay Iyer and his longtime trio (Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums) perform Friday, Jan. 23, 7 and 8:30 p.m. in the Rivera Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-7900. At metrotimes.com Iyer discusses his own music and versions of tunes by Bud Powell and John Lennon, with sound samples and full-performance videos.
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