There's an informal backstage contest at the annual Detroit jazz fest to see which sideman can claim the most gigs. We haven't seen final scores, but we know bassist Don Mayberry has ofttimes been a front-runner. So it's notable when he plays front man, particularly in the good company of Vincent York on sax, Sven Anderson on piano, Bob Tye on guitar, Jim Ryan on drums and vocals by Shahida Nurullah. Part of the Jazz Forum series at 8 p.m. at Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church, 17150 Maumee St., Grosse Pointe; 313-881-0420.
Non-Philistines will know Mark Sengbusch from his 2004 exhibit, 101up, a collection of 101 disc-shaped paintings made in 101 days. They might also remember this ambitious artist from his days as the owner of the 101up Gallery, a quaint Cass Corridor hangout. But this week, they'll have to make their ways to the Majestic Café to check out Sengbusch's latest installation his works will adorn the trendy café's walls. Opening reception is 11 a.m.-8 p.m. at 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.
T.S. Monk-Rachel Price
T.S. Monk has managed to embrace the music of his much-lauded father, jazz giant Thelonious Monk, and claim an identity of his own. How? By leading hot bands and commissioning arrangements (of tunes by his pop as well as others) that sizzle on their musical griddle. His band includes former Mingus pianist Danny Mixon and saxophonists Bobby Porcelli and Willie Williams. Sharing the bill is up-and-coming singer Rachel Price, whose breakthrough seems just a matter of time. Since she's only 19, she has a little. Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111.
El Vez at the DIA
A riotous and non-pudgy Elvis impersonator, El Vez does for Elvis impersonating what the TV dinner did for latchkey kids in his own weirdly comforting way, he fills the void. With skintight lamé, pencil moustache, towering pompadour and Sin City stage shows and shimmying, gyrating backup singers known as the El Vettes the original Mexican impersonator is a holiday fave to rock crowds the country across. El Vez may have achieved the impossible and out-tackified his muse. At the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900.
I Want to Hurt
For our money, the clangy atonal art rock that's slowly invading rock 'n' roll communities is by far the most interesting modern music going. Thing is, it's nothing new. And since '70s no-wave badasses like Teenage Jesus & the Jerks have been (and will always be) overlooked in the accolade department, let's not neglect this second wave of fringe music. OK? This week's "I Want to Hurt" showcase has a nice cross-section of the aforementioned wave. To wit: the lovable Quebecois, Les Georges Leningrad (whose latest record review you can read in this week's music section), NYC's Psychic Ills, Indian Jewelry, Tyvek and Genders at CAID, 5141 Rosa Parks, Detroit; 313-899-2243.
Moscow Cat Circus
FUN FOR ALL
And you thought all Snowball was useful for was the occasional catnip trip-out and hours of apathetic leering. Turns out the Russkies know how to make the housecat a viable form of family entertainment. Enter the Moscow Cat Circus: "The cats are the stars of the show they walk tightropes, balance balls, do paw-stands, jump from great heights and unerringly negotiate complex mazes," says master of ceremony Yuri Kuklachev. "We glorify them and that's why we provide the cats with a traveling entourage including a vet, kitty caretaker and personal stylist to tend to the needs of our feline superstars." Not a bad life for an animal with the cranial capacity of a walnut. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison, Detroit; 313-963-7622. Additional performances on Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23.
Xiao Dong Wei
Offering exotic respite from a likely Christmas music overload, Xiao Dong Wei comes to Ferndale just in time. With the help of her erhu (Chinese violin), Wei performs original music that echoes sounds and styles from all over the map: Middle Eastern, prog-rock, punk, traditional eastern music, etc. Wei, who now lives in Michigan, is a graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and plays her unusual instrument with haunting beauty. At Xhedo's, 240 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-3946.
It's from the same people who brought us last summer's wildly popular Urban Craft Fair, and the timing couldn't be better. If you're the type who prefers to give unique and handmade holiday gifts, this is the place for you. Expect one-of-a-kind clothing, artwork, handbags, shoes, totes, stationery and more. And you'll rest assured knowing that these items were manufactured using good old-fashioned elbow grease, imagination and local labor. Now that's a gift you feel good about giving. No cover, starts at 10 a.m. at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.
Honky Tonk Tuesdays
If you're holding up the bar at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night, you are either a) a twentysomething dilettante waiting for that thing to happen (that, incidentally, won't); or b) a "there's-a-tear-in-my-beer-cuz-I'm-crying-for-you-dear" drunken sot. Either way, Honky Tonk Tuesdays is the place for you. Expect weepy twang, cheap domestic suds and a DJ who may or may not play that Porter Wagoner request. Nudie suits encouraged. At the Belmont, 10215 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-871-1966. Ongoing.
Our Body: The Universe Within
FUN FOR ALL/LEARNING
Excepting a stint through med school or a Fantastic Voyage-style romp through the guts, you're not going to get much closer to the inner workings of the human body than Our Body: the Universe Within, a new educational exhibit at the Detroit Science Center. Using actual human specimens and anatomical displays, guests will connect with the installation on a personal level that should enhance their understanding of human biology, not to mention their own bodies. At 5020 John R., Detroit; 313-577-8400. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 8.Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]