July 24-30, 2002

24 WED • MUSIC Ursula Rucker Maybe redefining the parameters of hip hop, spoken word and soul nouveau is easy. At least Philly singer/poet/visionary Ursula Rucker makes it sound effortless with her explorations that wind through soulful drum ’n’ bass, funk and spoken verse. Though most of her fame comes from her days with groundbreaking Philly hip-hop family the Roots, Rucker is hardly resting on her laurels. She pushes the envelope into performances that leave audiences breathless. Presented by Soundcircle Collective the evening opens with DJ Hannah of Planet E. Alvin’s is at 5756 Cass, Detroit; call 313-831-4577.

24 WED • MUSIC Motorpop Music Festival Missed Synthpop Goes the World, the enormous synthpop music festival in Toronto, last month? Fear not, as Wed., July 24, a noisy wall of synthesized electronic body music goodness will descend upon St. Andrew's Hall (431 E. Congress, Detroit; call 313-961-MELT), for the first Motorpop music fest. Featuring locals Cosmicity, Neuroactive from Finland, Iris from Texas, and System22 (cq) from Los Angeles. Be sure to bring your goggles and big stompy boots. Can I get an oontz, oontz?

26 FRI • MUSIC Diane Reeves with the DSO Of all the contemporary singers with a debt to Sarah Vaughn, the riveting Reeves is among the few who can handle a serious payback. She proved that on her tribute record, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughn, delivering on the Divine One’s classics (cue up "Send in the Clowns") and tunes that got one brilliant recording and then languished ("Key Largo," for instance). It’s a rare opportunity to hear a top jazz vocalist in concert with strings as a part of the Meadow Brook Music Festival. Call 313-576-5111 for information.

27 SAT • MUSIC Mulgrew Miller Be it a simple blues or a maze of chords, playing the theme of a jazz tune is rather like knocking on a door in the dark. Improvising amounts to going inside to discover the rooms are beautiful and quite possibly endless. Or so it’s supposed to be, and so this pianist reminds us. He was integral to kick-ass ensembles of the late Woody Shaw and the late Tony Williams, and if his reputation as a leader has lagged, his only musical sin has been his craftsman’s subtlety. Notably, Miller appears here with his regular New York trio, including former Detroiter Karriem Riggins (cq) on drums. At the Harlequin Café, 8047 Agnes, Detroit; call 313-331-0922.

27 SAT • FUN FOR ALL Noise Camp Ah, yes. Something so comforting lies within tradition doesn’t it? School’s out, the days are longer and Princess Dragon Mom is brining its blaring hysteria to the great wide open — well, just outside CPOP (4160 Woodward, Detroit; call 313-833-9910) for the eighth annual Noise Camp. Why not get a camp haircut? Play a game of Penguin Toss. Hopefully the camp nurse won’t run out of bandages when you get that snake bite. Blending natural elements with manufactured mayhem, PDM electrifies a pinecone, a log, even a cardboard bear to remind us that noise is friendly. Noise Camp is about letting go and having fun, getting pelted with a piece of formerly electrified watermelon or run over by a walking bush or tree. It’s a full-frontal assault of your senses that has the power to leave you in awe of the beautiful noise in the world. And what could be more comforting than that?

27 SAT • MUSIC The Electric Six Just when you thought it was safe to do whatever it is you do with your Detroit nightlife, the Wildbunch has reappeared. ’Cept, it seems that, through no fault of the band, it’s been renamed the Electric Six (the rumor mill reports that some European hip-hop producers had snagged Wildbunch). But the good news is the band has been contracted by London-based (as in England) XL Recordings to let loose at least two singles. The Wildbunch’s "Danger! High Voltage!" single (on Ypsi’s Flying Bomb label) found its way last year into the Top-10 lists of many a Limey DJ and pop star. So, it was just a matter of time before the rest of the world found out what we’ve been keeping in the darkest corners of our musical basements. Catch the live debut of the Electric Six this weekend when the group plays with cocktail-lounge hip-hop birthday boy, EsQuire and Bantam Rooster main man Tom Potter with his new solo debut. At Fenrdale’s Magic Bag (22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; call 248-544-3030). Please note: More on the Electric Six in this space as events unfold.

28 SUN • MUSIC The Paybacks, the Come Ons, the Clone Defects Maybe they saved the best for last with the Sunday sessions at the Motor City Brewing Works. A triple bill of the Come Ons, the Paybacks and the Clone Defects will close out the brewery’s series of live recording sessions. The evening of punk, rock and soul represents the range of the downtown music scene perfectly. The tough-as-nails rock of the Paybacks, the scrappy punk of the Clone Defects and danceable soul, funk and R&B from the Come Ons will all be recorded for the second installment of the Ghettoblaster compilation. Motor City Brewing Works is at 470 W. Canfield, Detroit; call 313-832-2700 for information.

30 TUE • FUN FOR ALL The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss — "Say! You like green eggs and ham!" Even if the creative world of Theodor Seuss Geisel (cq), aka Dr. Seuss is primarily aimed at children, his surreal and colorful worlds of half-nonsense rhymes and gentle ideologies seem just as relevant to adults. Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated 48 books during his prolific career; until July 31, Art Leaders Gallery (33030 Northwestern Highway, West Bloomfield; call 248-539-0262) is displaying a large selection of works from the artist/author. This collection includes works from Dr. Seuss’ private collection, as well as illustrations from his books.