Summer Guide 2011
Published: June 15, 2011
July 30: Handsome Furs
Montreal husband-wife duo Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry imbue the sounds of drum machines and keyboards with a plaintiveness and desperation that belies their cold electronics, adding guitars and the cryptic lyricism of Boeckner's vocals to craft delicious tales of disaffection. As in his better-known outfit, Wolf Parade, Boeckner's words often show a kind of opaque braininess, but just as frequently hit on a simple truism filled with meaning and emotion when he sings it. Expect the sonic experimentation and killer hooks of the couple's first two discs to continue on their latest, Sound Kapital, due out June 28. At 9 p.m. at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; $10.
July 30-31: Maker Faire
Last year, the inaugural Maker Faire showcased local innovations in the fields of art, craft, music, science and engineering. Everything from fantastical robots, amazing musical instruments and new green technology was put on display in this celebration of the DIY creative spirit organized by MAKE magazine. The Maker Faire returns to the grounds of the Henry Ford again this summer, with more than 300 exhibitors, demonstrations and hands-on workshops strutting their stuff for the general public. Learn how to fix, make, alter and customize everything from kites and bikes to tools and appliances; participate in musical performances and biology projects; and check out arts, crafts, local foodie offerings, student projects and much more. At the Henry Ford, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-982-6001; makerfaire.com for info; $25 for a single day, $44 for the weekend, prices increase closer to the event.
Aug 3: The Glitch Mob
Across the vast musical terrain, you'd be hard-pressed to find a landscape as exciting to traverse as that of the current Los Angeles "beat scene." In that world, you'll find the three-piece Glitch Mob shifting tectonic plates beneath busy digital roads. They've remixed Daft Punk, TV on the Radio, and even the White Stripes, but, live, they throw down ferocious originals like they're trying to snap the San Andreas from wherever their stage is. Also on the bill are New York's electro-fuzz-blip duo du jour Phantogram (dig "Mouthful of Diamonds"), as well as Ghostly's summer star Com Truise (producer and DJ Seth Haley) who threw down hard at Movement this year with his washed-out stoner synth thing. (Try out "Cyanide Sisters.") Anyway, get there early, stay late, and drink. At 8 p.m. at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; majesticdetroit.com; $18 advance; all ages.
Aug. 5: The Whispers and Ashford & Simpson
The smooth vocal quartet of such hits as "And the Beat Goes On" and "Rock Steady" headline. But if Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson can't boast many big hits as performers — "Solid" and "Is It Still Good to Ya" went No. 1 R&B, but they never cracked the Top 10 pop — their songwriting catalog is a modern marvel, from "Let's Go Get Stoned" and "I Don't Need No Doctor" for Ray Charles to such Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell hits as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "You're All I Need to Get By." Not to mention hits for Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass, Diana Ross and the Brothers Johnson. At Chene Park, 2600 Atwater, Detroit; 313-393-7128; cheneparkdetroit.com; tickets $37 and $57.
Aug. 5-6: 162nd Annual Highland Games
Founded in 1849 by the St. Andrew's Society of Detroit, these games are a celebration of all things Scottish, from the heavy athletic competitions featuring such events as the caber toss and the stone put to piping and drumming competitions to a tug-of-war featuring both men and women's teams. There's also a showcase of Scottish animals, a marketplace offering Celtic goods galore, and ways to trace your Scottish heritage. There's live musical entertainment, of course. And if you've been suffering from a long-unfulfilled craving for haggis, then this is the event for you. The fun begins with a Ceilidh (pronounced KAY-lee) which is a traditional Scottish party that'll be held from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5. The games and other activities will be from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6; Historic Greenmead Park, 20501 Newburgh Rd., Livonia; highlandgames.com. Ticket prices range from $10-$50 (children under 12 free).
Aug. 7: Bob Dylan and Leon Russell�
Dylan, at 70, could easily take a couple years off from his 100-or-so annual gigs, drive up demand, and restrict himself to playing mega-halls or pay-per-view specials. Instead, he's a road warrior with a schedule unmatched by any of his contemporaries of the '60s. If you wonder how he'll mix up classics and more recent tunes, you can check bobdylan.com or setlist.fm to figure your chances of catching "Tangled Up in Blue" or whatever you're dying to hear. At Meadowbrook Music Festival, 3554 Walton Blvd., Rochester Hills; $29.50 and $64 at ticketmaster.com.
Aug. 16: My Morning Jacket with Neko Case
After proving there's no sound they can't or won't approach — taking on the Americana of the Band one minute, Prince's the next, and ripping out Erykah Badu's "Tyrone" at live shows — Kentucky iconoclasts My Morning Jacket are back with a sixth record, Circuital, which is, more or less, a return to experimental roots rock form. Each dude in the band is a musician's musician, and they dip their live show into jam realms without ever coming close to self-indulgent wankery. Have you ever been experienced? New Porno's siren Neko Case is also on the bill, making it a phenomenally refreshing folk-rock summertime slam. At 7 p.m. at Meadow Brook Music Festival, 3554 Walton Blvd.; Rochester Hills; palacenet.com; $40.50 pavilion and general admission pit; $26 lawn.
Aug. 19: Return to Forever
Pianist Chick Corea has gone through many sonic phases. Yet throughout his career, from his work as a Miles Davis sideman or the founding of his groundbreaking group Return to Forever, Corea's chameleon approach to music never diluted his one-of-a-kind virtuosity and composition. Presently, the fourth version of RTF has embarked on the "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy World Tour." Composed of the group's core members — drummer Lenny White and bassist Stanley Clarke — the new ensemble has added legendary violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Frank Gambale to the mix. The band will revisit the album that shares the tour's name, along with brand-new material composed by the group. They are supported by Zappa Plays Zappa, helmed by the late Frank Zappa's son, guitarist Dweezil Zappa, at 7:30 p.m. at Meadow Brook Music Festival, 3554 Walton Blvd., Rochester Hills; $25-$45.
Aug. 24: Tony Bennett
If you caught him during his last visit a couple years ago, you know what a compelling performer Bennett remains, a master of poise, a guy who gets to the audience by being almost radiantly personable, somehow projecting small club intimacy into big halls. He's the last giant performing from that pre-rock era when what's now called the Great American Songbook was just the pop music of the day. At 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611; $55-$85.
Sept. 2-5: Detroit Jazz Festival/Arts, Beats & Eats/Hamtramck Festival/Bass Fest
The Labor Day week ends the summer with an explosion of free music (and we count the following Saturday's Dally in the Alley as the summer's Cass Corridor aftershock). Arts, Beats & Eats is in its second year relocated in Royal Oak, but, as usual, no lineup until later in the summer. Ditto the more DIY Hamtramck Fest and the second annual Bass Fest. But the Detroit Jazz Festival has another stellar lineup well in place, with this year's theme of "We bring you the world." Former Detroiter Regina Carter returns with her African-influenced Reverse Thread project. Vinicius Cantuaria, Paquito D'Rivera, Sammy Figueroa, Ivan Lins Quinteto, Luciana Souza and others bring various Latin flavors. Israel's Anat Cohen, Japan's Vertical-Engine and Azerbaijan's Amina Figarova are among the others adding to the international mix. To name some of the additional performers: Jeff Tain Watts (this year's artist in residence), Kevin Eubanks, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, Curtis Fuller and a reunion of the J.C. Heard Orchestra. Hart Plaza and Campus Martius, Detroit; see detroitjazzfest.com. 313-961-4668; $10.
All Summer Long: New Center Park
The free entertainment offered by this New Center green space is nonstop from now through the first weeks of September. On Wednesdays, the office set can catch free lunchtime concerts that run the musical gamut; upcoming performances include Zap Toro (June 22), the Reeferman (June 29) and the After 5 Jazz Ensemble (July 6). Wednesday nights, catch free outdoor movie screenings; our personal highlights are The Big Lebowski (June 29), Back to the Future (July 27), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Aug. 10) and season closer The Wild One (Sept. 7). Thursdays feature a jazz and blues happy hour with performances starting at 6 p.m. — Sean Blackman & Wayne Gerard's Violao, Thornetta Davis, Scott Gwinnell and Johnnie Bassett are all on the schedule; and on Saturdays, Camp Hi-Fi brings together art, fashion and music for a wide variety of performances all summer long. Coming weeks feature Child Bite (June 18), Odu Afrobeat Orchestra (June 25), the High Strung (July 9) and American Mars (July 16). New Center Park is located at 2990 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-784-9475; find a complete schedule at newcenterpark.com.
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