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Brite Winter Fest warms up our coldest hour

Thomas Fox, a co-chair and one of the three organizers of the third Brite Winter Festival, knows what you're thinking: An outdoor music fest? In February? In Cleveland? That's fucking stupid. But Saturday's bash, which takes place at eight venues throughout Ohio City, is a pretty awesome thing. "Mostly the reason we do this is that people generally think it's not a good idea," he says. "I really don't want to get into about it celebrating winter, because people typically don't realize we can enjoy the wintertime. That's such a tired story."

He's right. So let's focus instead on the music. More than three dozen artists, whittled down from a list of 300, will perform at places like the Garage Bar, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Touch Supper Club. But the centerpiece is the Brite Winter Outdoor Stage at West 26th Street and Bridge Avenue, which will feature performances by Tom Evanchuck, Lighthouse & the Whaler, Bethesda, and others. That's quite a jump from last year's one-stage-with-a-handful-of-bands setup. There's also art installations, games, food specials, and more going on. A full schedule can be found at britewintercleveland.com.

Many of the artists hail from the area. A few — like N.Y.C.'s Black Taxi and Cincinnati's Bad Veins — are coming to town for the free fest. And Fox realizes that — like, say, at Austin's South by Southwest — you're not gonna be able to catch all the bands at Brite Winter, since artists will be onstage at the eight venues simultaneously. "I'm kinda bummed I won't be able to see everything," says Fox.

But he's made the schedule a little more manageable by grouping like-minded artists. Market Avenue Wine Bar will feature singer-songwriters like Sam Brenner, Touch will spotlight hip-hop with DJ ESO and others, Joy Machines Bike Shop will include punk bands like Two Hand Fools, and Great Lakes Brewing will get all twangy and Americana with Honey Bucket and more. "I recently saw a TV show with Hugh Laurie, and he said there are only two types of music that matter: good and bad," says Fox. "I totally subscribe to that. You can go to any one of these venues and have a great night."

ROCK YOUR BALLS OFF: The second WJCU 2012 Radiothon Benefit Concert happens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Foundry in Lakewood. And like last week's first show, it'll be a loud one. Bill Peters, longtime host of the station's Metal on Metal program, lined up some of his favorite local bands for the show. Shok Paris will headline, but the most exciting group on the bill may be the School of Rock's Metal Command, a bunch of young guitar-wielding students who'll kick off the night with a set of covers. Tickets to the show are $5, all of which goes toward funding one of Cleveland's best college radio stations.

BLOW YOUR HORN: Trumpet player Josh Rzepka is catching some national buzz for his latest album, Into the Night. It's all over the industry tip sheet and the JazzWeek radio chart, recently scoring a Top 30 debut as well as the honor of No. 2 Most Added record. Rzepka and Into the Night are also making some noise on CMJ's jazz lists, where it's currently resting in the Top 5. Plus, the album is getting airplay on jazz stations throughout the country, including major markets like New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas.

More by Michael Gallucci

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