Over the past 16 years, the Capricorn Party has clawed its way from dingy Columbus clubs to the forefront of Cleveland nightlife. "My birthday is January 14th," explains party mastermind Packey Malley, reggae promoter and confectioner (he co-owns Malley's Chocolates). "When I was going to college at Ohio State University, I found out that several of my very best friends shared the same birthday as mine. As we started to celebrate this party every year, we met more and more people who either had a January 14th birthday or were close enough. And the Capricorn Party was born."
Headlining this year's fest are 2 Skinny Dorks (pictured), a quartet that plays spirited, tribally tinged acoustic alternative rock. Funk-jazz-soul fusion combo the Aphrodesiatics will also play, and DJ Tommy Fox will spin old-school reggae and classic roots. Comedians Mike Farrell and Jason Lawhead will emcee the affair.
And while it might not be the biggest bash of the year, Malley says, the Capricorn Party is a direct fallout from the year's hugest fete. Applying some fuzzy math to the human gestation cycle, Malley jokes, "Legend has it that St. Patrick's Day is our day of fertilization." The party starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at House of Blues, 308 Euclid Avenue. Admission is $8; call 216-523-2583. -- D.X. Ferris
Local kids might be poets (but don't know it).
Poetry slams are the competitive art of performance poetry. And now the kids are getting into it. At Friday's Slam U! workshop, aspiring high school Wordsworths will learn the tricks of the trade. "The ability to develop a vocabulary and confidence allows students to express themselves accurately," says area poet Michael Salinger, who leads the workshop. "It's something that will last them a lifetime." The class focuses on building words and rhythm; Salinger and another performer help teens develop skills and prepare for a spot on Cleveland's First National Youth Poetry Slam Team. Competitions will be held on March 11 and 18; five budding poets will then be selected to travel to April's National Teen Poetry Slam in San Francisco. Workshops are open to Northeast Ohio students ages 14 to 18. Words flow from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at Kennedy's Down Under, 1501 Euclid Avenue. Events are free, but reservations are recommended; call 216-348-7909. -- D.X. Ferris
Now and Zen
The Tricksters play a more reserved brand of jam-band music.
The Zen Tricksters are past winners of Relix magazine's Jam Off contest. They work country and jazz motifs into their songs. And a couple members of the New York-based foursome do double duty with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. All this adds up to one thing: The Zen Tricksters are a jam band. But they're a restrained jam band (we've never heard a String Cheese Incident song on ABC's super-slick Alias). Alas, this doesn't mean they're immune to endless noodling; several cuts on the group's latest album, Shaking off the Weirdness, approach the 10-minute mark. The Zen Tricksters are at Wilbert's (812 Huron Road) at 9 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $10. Call 216-902-4663 for more info. -- Michael Gallucci
More than 20 groups are participating at Playhouse Square's Showcase 2005, the International Showcase of Performing Arts for Young People's traveling mélange of dance companies, musicians, and thespians from Italy, Scotland, and the U.S. Headlining the fest is ISH, a hip-hop group from the Netherlands. Woord! It runs Wednesday through January 22 at Playhouse Square's State, Ohio, and Palace theaters. For a complete list of times, performances, and ticket prices, visit www.playhousesquare.com/showcase2005. -- Michael Gallucci