Chock full o’ festivals 

If the question on the docket this week is “What do you want to do?” the answer is simple: Get out of the house! If you were planning on a relaxing weekend swinging in the backyard hammock or getting some of that much-needed garden work done, you might want to reconsider. This is the weekend to slough off the temptations of lazy summer living; this is a week of to-dos, get-togethers and what’s happenings, and we here at Night & Day want to let you know what is in store.

 

For starters, there’s the Fourth Street Fair. The most casual of weekend affairs, this annual block party-cum-outdoor festival in the Fourth Street neighborhood has been a favorite among urbanites for 30-odd years (nobody really seems to remember exactly how long). For years, residents have been fighting the man (in this case the Michigan Department of Transportation) to avoid being bulldozed for new development (namely an I-94 expansion that has thankfully been postponed). And as long as it can hold out, this little bohemian neighborhood off Fourth and Holden opens its streets, lawns and front porches to the public for one of the most special days of the summer. Local bands play, beer flows, Vernors-and-rum floats (a Fourth Street Fair favorite) delight, and vendors sell everything from delicious food to jewelry and clothes. Some of the fair highlights include a special performance from the beloved folks of Blanche, rawk ’n’ roll from newbies Lee Marvin Computer Arm, a special performance from the Family Hootenany (expect lots of singing mommies and daddies) and some spoken word from hometown orator Blair and the master of the X-rated diatribe, Jimmy Doom. Saturday, July 17 — rain or shine. Starts at noon.

 

Hippies, hipsters and politicos not your thing? Well, then the Community House JazzFest in Birmingham might be more your caliber. This free concert series is an annual attraction in the bustling shopping district of downtown Birmingham. Beginning Thursday, July 15, at Shain Park (located in the heart of downtown B’ham), jazz lovers can enjoy a special appearance from the Motor City’s favorite diva, Thornetta Davis, and jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic & Friends. On Friday, Gerard Gibbs & ReOrgan’YZ (6:30 p.m.; see p. 23) and jazz pianist Keiko Matsui (8 p.m.) will perform. And on Saturday, moms, dads and children can check out the family entertainment of Kevin Devine and Family Fun (11 a.m.) and a variety of acts including a Count Basie Centennial Celebration from the Paul Keller Orchestra (3:45 p.m.) and the Latin sounds of Cuban-born trumpet star Arturo Sandoval (7:30 p.m.). For further details visit communityhouse.com.

 

OK … so Birmingham is a bit too north of Eight Mile for you? Maybe a little soul music and soul food is what you need. Hip shakers and barbecue lovers should make their way to Hart Plaza (at the foot of Woodward Avenue in Detroit) for the Ribs ’N Soul Festival. Fifteen of the area’s best “ribbers” will compete for bragging rights and the “Best Ribber” title. Among the judges will be Rick Browne, also known as Grill Master of the Universe, and Dr. Que, who also will demonstrate the art of the grill. On Friday, Con Funk Shun takes the stage and on Saturday, the soul sounds of Carl Carlton, Howard Hewett and Enchantment will keep things jumping. On Sunday, interested participants can join Rev. E.L. Branch of the Third New Hope Baptist Church for a noontime sermon. Prayer session to be followed by a daylong offering of gospel music.

 

Still thinking that you’d like to stay in? Maybe the 10th Anniversary Michigan Jazz Festival on Sunday, July 18, at Schoolcraft College in Livonia will change your mind. This free festival is a chance to hear some of the deepest traditions in Detroit jazz (including groups led by vocalist-pianist Alma Smith and pianist Bess Bonnier), big bands (the boisterous Johnny Trudell Big Band and Ed Nuccilli’s Plural Circle, known for its eclectic repertoire) and newer voices, like pianist Tad Weed, a transplant from the West Coast. There’s also plenty of jazz influenced by sounds from abroad. The Hot Club of Detroit and the Royal Garden Trio are inflected with the gypsy swing of Django Reinhart; jazz meets jigs in Chris Collins’ Celtic Bebop; and the samba and other Brazilian influences are the name of the game for Brazil and Beyond (known for their eccentric takes on the Beatles) and Larry Nozero’s celebration of composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. Visit michigan-jazzfestival.homestead.com for the full lineup. Schoolcraft College is located at 18600 Haggerty Road (between Six Mile and Seven Mile roads) in Livonia. Music runs noon to 10:30 p.m.

Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. E-mail edoster@metrotimes.com

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