Wednesday • 30
POST-CARS, PRE-UTOPIAN DREAM SHOW
The last time Todd Rundgren came around, it was as the leader of the critically lambasted New Cars project, which is now on hiatus. "We couldn't get the rights to use the name 'the Cars,' and 'the New Cars' just confused everybody," Rundgren recently told Billboard. "I've got my own music and my own audience; I had no reason to start trying to begin a new career with another band." So the pop craftsman is returning to his roots, playing intimate solo shows — this one in Detroit accommodating an audience of no more than 300. It's definitely worth catching, since the man responsible for such pop gems as "Hello, It's Me" and We've Got to Get You a Woman" also told Billboard that his next album will be an "arena rock record … something between prog rock and pop music … essentially the kind of music that works well in an arena." It, in fact, sounds like something resembling Utopia, his '70s-'80s rock band. Thus, this show promises to be Mr. Rundgren in his element, something true fans won't want to miss, as he demonstrates exactly why he's a musical wizard and a true star. At the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030 for info.
Thursday • 31
McCoy Tyner invented a sort of keyboard sweep that crashes over a tune like a monster wave over a ship deck — then, wonder of wonders, rather than capsizing, the ship sails on into a calm sea of melody, the storm's tensions having been momentarily released. That's just one facet of the musicianship that first made Tyner a star in the classic John Coltrane Quartet of the 1960s — and has kept wowing audiences for decades. He's accompanied by Eric Kamau Gravatt on drums and Gerald Cannon on bass. Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111.
* The McCoy Tyner event has been postponed.
Thursday • 31
Save this one for, say, your old college roommate — Oleanna is not the best choice for first-date night. David Mamet's incendiary drama creates a modern twist on the Inquisition, examining mechanisms that dictate gender roles and social classes through the relationship between a female student and her male professor. Film critic Roger Ebert turns a brief trick as theater reviewer, and writes: "Experiencing David Mamet's Oleanna on the stage was one of the most stimulating experiences I've had in a theater. In two acts, he succeeded in enraging all of the audience — the women with the first act, the men with the second. I recall loud arguments breaking out during the intermission and after the play, as the audience spilled out of an off-Broadway theater all worked up over its portrait of … sexual harassment? Or was it self-righteous Political Correctness?" The play runs until Feb. 16 at the Furniture Factory, 4126 Third St., Detroit; 313-832-8890. Performances on Feb. 22 and 23 will be held at Mackenzie Hall, 3277 Sandwich St., Windsor; 519-255-7600.
Thursday • 31
Dwele & Amel Larrieux
DONNY HATHAWAY SMOOTH
When he profiled Dwele a few years back, MT scribe Khary Kimani Turner broke down the meaning of the singer's CD title Some Kinda. It seems everybody has some kinda love or passion that puts the umph in life. For Dwele, the guy from Detroit with the smooth baritone that stirs memories of Donny Hathaway, that's clearly some kinda music. He's been associated with Slum Village, rapper-producer Lacksadaisical (Lacks) and Jay Dilla, including vocals on Slum Village's classic "Tainted" — all leading up to this solo-artist era. He shares the bill with the likewise smoothly soulful Amel Larrieux, whose latest album dips into the great American songbook for such gems as "If I Were a Bell." Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-887-8501.
Thursday-Sunday • 31-2
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
In March, 1958, Alvin Ailey debuted "Blues Suite" with a troupe of African-American modern dancers. The storied performance depicted joy and desperation in the poverty-ridden South, and thus changed the public's perception of modern dance entirely. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has since performed for an estimated 21 million people around the world, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans. Part of the Detroit tour's repertoire will be Revelations, a spiritual dance set to gospel songs and holy blues choreographed by Ailey himself. Choreography from Twyla Tharp, Judith Jamison and others — set to a range of music, from Pink Floyd to Igor Stravinsky — will be performed at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; 313-237-7464.
Friday • 1
American Mars CD Release
ONE OF MICHIGAN'S FINEST
American Mars takes their time, to be sure, but its end work thus far satisfies. This year's Western Sides is their first release since 2001's great but criminally ignored No City Fun, which followed 1997's worthy Late. The quintet, together since 1995, has an almost Enoish feel, a slight countrypolitan air and an innate ability to soundtrack long drives into gentle dusk — all effortlessly pushed by Dave Feeny's pedal steel lilts, the occasional upright bass and Thomas Trimble's winsome voice. The band performs with the Friendly Foes, Darling Imperial and Dan John Miller at the Magic Stick, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.
Friday-Sunday • 1-3
The Vagina Monologues
READ MY LIPS
If you've not seen it, shame on you: Like it or not, Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues is a cultural tour de force, convincing legions of women that their most private of parts are beautiful, fascinating and smell like "snowflakes," "pine," "peaches" and "me." With monologues like "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could," "Because He Liked To Look At It" and "My Vagina Was Everyone's Village," the play is at times humorous, at times devastating. Also being performed are selections from "A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer," which are essays by Howard Zinn, Alice Walker and others. At 1515 Broadway, 1515 Broadway St., Detroit; 313-965-1515. A host of educational events, such as Vagina Arts & Crafts and the Clothesline project, will accompany the weekend's monologues; for more info, visit Thinkgirl.net.
Saturday • 2
JAZZ GIANT II
The aforementioned McCoy Tyner isn't the only jazz giant hittin' the D this week. South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela was among the first of his countrymen to take to modern jazz in the 1950s and remains the movement's biggest international star. With "Grazing in the Grass" and the anti-apartheid anthem "Bring Him Back Home," he's the rare serious jazz cat with bona fide hit singles. (Music Hall's Jazz Café series also has a choice offering on Friday with saxophonist Alex Graham and his All-Stars — Jim Rotondi, trumpet; Rodney Whitaker, bass; Steve Davis, trombone; David Hazeltine, piano; and Carl Allen drums.) Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; 313-887-8501.
Monday • 4
You'd think that a decade-plus of misanthropic, Alice Cooper-copped shock gets old. But hey, Manson just keeps going and going and ... with that kind of stamina, you've got to wonder how the 39-year-old Thin White Juke managed the divorce upon which he waxes psychopathical in his latest, 2007's Eat Me, Drink Me. The man's getting crotchety: In "Mutilation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery," he sings "If you want to be me … Then Stand in line like the rest … Now, do you know what I mean? ... The young get less bolder … The legends get older …" At the Fillmore, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5451.
Tuesday • 5
Myspace: The Movie
PIMP THAT PROFILE
Tagline: "The Most Downloaded Movie of All Time." The Mitten Movie Project is showcasing Myspace: The Movie, a farce directed by the 22-year-old Washington, Mich. native David Lehre. The film, originally distributed on the Internet, pokes fun at the obsessive nature of MySpace users — detailing the courtship habits, the social hierarchies and the proliferation of profile images. "Myspace: The Movie" will be screened at 7:30 p.m. at the Main Art Theater, 215 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111.
Tuesday • 5
LOOKING FOR NEW
Brief history lesson, kids: Alongside the Pistols and the Clash, the Jam were one of Britain's most popular — and song-friendly — UK punk exports from the '70s (and into the '80s). Topping the charts with such ditties as "In The City" and "Town Called Malice," the trio's Kinks/Who/Memphis-riddled guitar pop influenced scores of faux soul-mods and power-poppers in ensuing years. Call this show the Little Chill; and who cares that boring old fart Paul Weller is sittin' this one out? Because the Strangler's Hugh Cornwell opens the show! At the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333.