You can honor somebody’s birthday without having to bake a cake. This week begins with observances of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday at a science museum and classical/percussion concert. It continues with the rebirth of indie-rock legends The Pixies, a documentary on the nearly 75-year-old Merritt Parkway, a three-day conference on how the 1960s New Wave film genre aged gracefully, and separate rock-club birthday celebrations for revered local metalhead Opus and rockabilly kittykat Michelle.
The Poetry and Science of MLK
Martin Luther King Day observations continue at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, which devotes an entire weekend every year to specifically celebrating Rev. Dr. King’s good works in the areas of environmental and social justice. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with performances by White Eyed Lizard, Taikoza, Solar Youth Drummers, Megahurtz, Brian Jarawa Gray and Friends, Nation Drill Squad Youth Program and drummer Michael Mills in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, plus an 11 a.m. Poetry Open Mic and a 1 p.m. Poetry Slam in the museum’s third floor auditorium. The full schedule is here. 170 Whitney Ave.
The Haven String Quartet, the ensemble which fuels the classical music urban outreach non-profit Music Haven, has two public concerts this week. At 2 p.m. today the HSQ joins the St. Luke’s Steel Band for what has become an annual tradition, the Martin Luther King Day Celebration Concert at St. Luke’s Church (111 Whalley Ave.). It’s a mind-blowing multicultural combination of strings and rhythm, in the name of peace and social justice. On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Haven String Quartet plays again, more quietly this time without all that accompanying percussion, 5 p.m. at Stetson Branch Library (200 Dixwell Ave.) Both the Monday and Wednesday concerts are free, with donations gratefully accepted.
Tuesday, Jan. 21
Three lyrical local acts—solo singer/songwriters Jimi Patterson (aka If Jesus Had Machine Guns) and Jason Prince plus the multi-member Saint Cobra—and hip SCSU creative writing prof Tim Parrish gather for a special evening of “Words & Music” at Café Nine (250 State St.; 203-789-8281). Styles range from electronica to folk pop to indie rock to short prose fiction. Free.
Wednesday, Jan. 22: Here Comes Your Man (and Female Bassist DuJour)
When they played Toad’s Place 25 years ago, in August of 1989, The Pixies were already being considered by the punk intelligentsia to be one of the most important bands of its time. When the Boston-based punk mutilation-waving act disbanded a couple of years later, their legend only grew, since one of the countless bands their sonic assault had heavily influenced had been a young northwestern trio named Nirvana, and since two Pixies in particular (leader Black Francis and bassist Kim Deal) continued to grave the spotlight and MTV videos (as Frank Black and The Breeders respectively). When The Pixies reunited in 2003, it was as a stadium act. This more recent rebirth is bittersweet, involving the band’s first new recordings since 1991 but also the departure of Kim Deal midway through those sessions. Kim Shattuck of The Muffs joined up, but didn’t last long. The bassist for tonight’s 8 p.m. show at the Shubert (247 College St.) and apparently for the forseeable future is Paz Lenchantin, the Argentinian multi-instrumentalist whose previous bands include A Perfect Circle and Billy Corgan’s Zwan. Pixies purists may scoff, but are likely to shut up when the sensational strains of “Gouge Away,” “Here Comes Your Man,” ”Where Is My Mind?” and “Debaser” fill the staid Shubert. These Pixies have been played 30 to 36 songs per night on this tour, and have brought along an excellent opening act, Los Angeles skate punks FIDLAR. FIDLAR has the devil-may-care urgency and anxious articulation of The Pixies in their prime. $55-$77.
Thursday, Jan. 23
Rush Hour Movie
Lisa Seidenberg hosts a screening of her 2008 documentary The Road Taken… The Merritt Parkway. The 34-minute film takes a well-rounded view of the thoroughfare, admiring its aestethics and appreciating its place in automobile-culture history. 6 p.m. at Main (Ives) New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm St.).
Vive la Nouvelle Vague!
And there are more movies! Yale is holding an academic conference (open to the public) on New Wave Europe: Cinema Circa 1962. The three-day film fest kicks off tonight with Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (7 p.m.) and Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie (9 p.m.). Friday brings Rosi’s Salvatore Guiliano at 12:30 p.m., then a 3 p.m. double bill of Munk & Lesiewicz’s Passenger and Nemec’s Diamonds of the Night (introduced by Nemec scholar Irena Kovarova), then a 5:30 p.m. panel discussion on “Open Form Cinema” with various Yale scholars and finally a 7:30 p.m. screening of Chris Marker’s 1962 short La Jetee and the Michelangelo Antonioni classic L’Eclisse, introduced by University of Chicago prof Noa Steimatsky. The conference wraps up Saturday with two more panel discussions (“The Wall and the Thaw” at 11:15 a.m. and “What Do Women Want?” at 6:30 p.m.) and five screenings: Konrad Wolf’s Divided Heaven at 9 a.m., Joseph Losey’s Eva at 1 p.m., Agnes Varda’s Cleo From 5 to 7 at 3:15 p.m., Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly at 5 p.m. and Andrei Tarkovsky & Eduard Abalov’s Ivan’s Childhood at 8:30 p.m. The whole New Wave flows through the auditorium of Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall St.). All the films are subtitled, and most are on “restored or archival 35mm prints,” so they’ll look as new and as wavy as when they were first screened over 50 years ago.
Friday, Jan. 24
Brickhouse and Mink
The Fred.Giampietro Gallery (the first one, at 315 Peck St. in Erector Square, rather than the newer “satellite” gallery in the Ninth Square) is opening a new exhibit tonight, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Giampietro’s style is to arrange dual exhibits for artists whose work is different yet complementary. This time it’s Lucy Mink, who’s named her half of the show “it’s got me, it’s got you,” and Farrell Brickhouse, who’s named his “Wishes, Prayers, and Offerings.” Both artists work with oil paints and abstract shapes, but that’s where the comparisons should end. The display is supplemented with “works in the office” by Rebecca Lowry.
Tofflemire’s Torch Songs
Get your kicks at Lyric Hall (827 Whalley Ave.) with the latest installment of Cavaliere’s Cabaret. The ongoing “song, dance and variety” series, named for the guy who restored the lavish little theater space to its early 20th century glory, is hosted by accomplished cabaret artiste Anne Toffelmire, accompanied by pianist Dave Bell. An open mic is part of this unpredictable evening of merriment. 7:30 p.m. $15.
Iconic local metal drummer Opus has turned the celebration of his own birthday into an important local rock tradition. He rallies some of the most raucous bands in the area for the cause. This year’s line-up: the tribute acts Alcoholica and Earth (which honor Metallica and Black Sabbath respectively, and both of which feature Opus on drums), metal parodists Nasty Disaster, “Eaten Alive” artists Darkitecht, self-proclaimed “American rock” royalty Kings & Liars, occultists Nightbitch and “Spider Stole the Weed” confessors Curse the Son. The party will reportedly end with Alcoholica playing the Master of Puppets album in its entirety. The music starts 7:30 p.m. at Toad’s Place, 300 York St.
Saturday, Jan. 25
The Valentine Chocolate Festival is marking its delectable fifth anniversary this year. One of the sweetest social events of the season, it’s a fundraiser for the Montessori School on Edgewood, which was created in 2006 as one of several major community empowerment intiatives in the Dwight/Edgewood neighborhood. But, besides that—chocolate! Renowned local chefs whip up treats that delight the eye as well as the palate. While you wander about sampling the desserts (and voting which ones will win awards), you can take part in a silent auction (where the grand prize is a weeklong trip to Cancun) and a raffle. There are also activities for kids and opportunities to schmooze with lots of cool people. 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Thomas E. Golden Jr. Center (i.e. the Yale Catholic Center), 268 Park St. Tickets are $15, $10 in advance.
A Spanish Spin on Polyphony
Yale Schola Cantorum sings good old-fashioned Renaissance Polyphony—you know, cantus firmus, Gregorian chants and other pop hits of the 16th and 17th centuries—at 8 p.m. tonight at St. Mary’s Church (5 Hillhouse Ave., 203-432-5062). There’s a Spanish/Portuguese accent on this set, which includes such hallowed Old World/New World composers as Cardoso, De Padilla, Franco, Salazar, Saldanha and Vivanco. Free. (203) 432-5062.
Let’s Go Get Old!
Go Kat Go! has been bringing some of the best rockabilly, psychobilly and roots-rock acts in the country to the New Haven for over a decade. The series was founded by Michelle, who’s made tonight’s event a special Birthday Bash for herself at Cafe Nine. Two New York City bands, Screamin’ Rebel Angels and The Bloodshots, bring the party. 9 p.m. 250 State St. $8.
Sunday, Jan. 26
The Art of Youth
The tots take Yale University Art Gallery (1111 Chapel St.; 203-432-0600) this afternoon for the museum’s annual Family Day. There are guided tours, storytellers spinning tales in the midst of the galleries, and special hands-on art activities. A wild artsy time for kids 4 to 10, all starting at 1 p.m. Free.
Spring With Strings
A Spring Open House at Neighborhood Music School (100 Audubon St.; 203-624-5189) is more than an opportunity to register for classes. There are sample classes and mini-lessons for all ages—NMS runs a musical nursery school program and classes in everything from classical to dance to jazz to theater and cabaret performance—as well as an instrument petting zoo for those who’ve always wanted to gently stroke a violin.