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Fifteen must-see shows on a holiday festival weekend

for Journal Register Newspapers

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If you have, or know somebody who has, a good remedy for dizziness, this is the weekend to use it.

The Labor Day holiday brings summer to an end in metro Detroit with a, yes, dizzying array of music at the annual Arts, Beats & Eats, Detroit Jazz Festival and Hamtramck Labor Day Festival. And this year's inaugural Great Lakes State Fair in Novi only adds to the mix. Exponentially.

In all, more than 300 acts total will take to stages at the four events, and with multiple stages at each so even clones would be run ragged in order to catch everything that's good. Accept that you'll miss more than you'll see, but here's 15 that should be at the top of anyone's list...


The Ann Arbor soul man, who made most of his sophomore album, "How Do You Do," in Detroit, comes home again to play the Arts, Beats & Eats Michigan Lottery National Stage with his band, the County, at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. He'll then take over the DJ turntables for an after party starting at 10:30 p.m. at Fifth Avenue, 215 Fifth Ave. in Royal Oak. Admission is $10.


The Detroit Jazz Festival's (DJF) first salvo is always a) manageable and b) essential -- and it's no different this year. Artist in Resident Terence Blanchard and his Quintet opening the evening at 7 p.m. on the JP Morgan Chase Main Stage near Campus Martius Park, while saxophone legend Sonny Rollins, making his first festival apeparance in 25 years, follows at 8:45.


Student bands from the Royal Oak-based Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music will open the Budweiser Rock Stage each day of Arts, Beats & Eats, starting at 11:30 a.m. Friday and 11 a.m. each of the other days. Rochester's School of Rock, meanwhile, will hold forth at 5 p.m. each day on the nearby Made In Detroit Stage.


Arguably the metro area's leading country band, the quartet will double-dip this weekend, headlining at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at the Great Lakes State Fair and then closing the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Stage at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at Arts, Beats & Eats.


The epitome of jazz is improvisation, chance meetings and once-in-a-lifetime collaborations -- all of which will be possible at the three after-hours DJF jam sessions taking place at about 10:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, 400 Renaissance Drive at E. Jefferson Ave. DJF organizers have lined up house bands for each to facilitate the happy accidents, with guaranteed appearances by players such as Rick Margitza, Rodney Whitaker, Dwight Adams and others.


Get an early start at the DJF on Saturday, Sept. 1, to catch Terence Blanchard working out with the the DSO's Civic Jazz Orchestra at noon on the Carhartt Amphitheatre Stage. High times for the highbrow among us.


The Ferndale-based rock troupe, led by former Von Bondies frontman Jason Stollsteimer, will preview tracks from its first full-length album, "You Light Me Up in the Dark" (out Oct. 9) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 on the Ford Escape Alternative Stage at Arts, Beats & Eats.


It's a two-step two-fer for the popular polka parody band this weekend as it releases its new album, "Quadroswinia," to coincide with its appearances. The group plays at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, on the Arts, Beats & Eats International Stage, and a promised three-hour set at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2 on the South Stage of the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival.


Wayne Shorter will rule on Sunday, Sept. 2, at DJF. The saxophonist and his Quartet, along with Joe Lovano, will appear in the Chrysler Jazz Talk Tent at5 p.m., while a group of all-stars -- including Rick Margitza and Scott Gwinnell -- will perform A Tribute to the Music of Wayne Shorter at 7:45 on the Carhartt Amphitheate Stage. Shorter -- accompanied by Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade follow with a headline set at 9:30 p.m.


The Americana quartet from Ferndale has a fine new album, "Chasing Vapor," to showcase and will do just that at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, on the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Stage at Arts, Beats & Eats -- and you'd do well to stick around for subsequent sets by Doop & the Inside Outaws and Trip N' Dixie.


Part of a new movement of acoustic-based folk rock from Great Britain (Mumford & Sons, anyone?), the Leeds quintet will play songs from its debut album, "Blind Sighted Faith," at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, on Arts, Beats & Eats' National Stage.


Trumpet legend Marcus Belgrave has assembled a Homecoming Band of Detroit expatriates -- including Marion Hayden, Louis Hayes, Curtis Fuller and Harvey Thompson -- to play a special show at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, on the DJF Main Stage.


One of the music legend's less-celebrated sides will be surveyed at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3, on the DJF Main Stage, as David Berger conducts the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra with luminaries such as saxophonist George Benson, vocalists Ursula Walker and Thornetta Davis and a 100-voice choir.


Just in time for the popular HBO series' third season, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is joined by Donald Harrison, Jr, Christian Scott and James "Twelve" Andrews for a 75 minutes of New Orleans musical majesty at 5 p.m. Monday at the Carhartt Amphitheatre Stage at DJF.


The onetime Motown funk brother and "Scorpio" hitmaker has made the rounds of all the metro area festivals and is always a must-see. This year he closes out the Hamtrack festival at 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3 on the South Stage.


* Arts, Beats and Eats celebrates its 14th year and third season in Royal Oak from Friday-Monday, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, with juried art exhibitions, four dozen food vendors and 200 performances on 10 stages. Admission is $3 but free before 5 p.m. on Friday. Visit www.artsbeatseats.com for schedules and more information.

* The 33rd Annual Detroit Jazz Festival takes place Friday-Monday, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, in Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Sixty-five acts play on four stages, and admission is free. Visit www.detroitjazzfest for schedules and other information.

* The 2012 Hamtramck Labor Day Festival takes place noon-10 p.m. Saturday through Monday, Sept. 1-3. The weekend includes the annual Polish Day Parade, "yacht" races and a kielbasa eating contest on Monday. Shuttle transportation will be available from Royal Oak and Ferndale. Visit the festival's Facebook page for more information.

* The inaugural Great Lakes State Fair brings the livestock, giant vegetables, midway rides and other onetime Labor Day weekend traditions back to the metro area Friday-Monday, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave., Novi. Admission ranges from $5-$30. Call 248-348-5600 or visit www.greatlakesstatefair.org for full details.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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