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Double-Edge Dance at Cleveland Public Theatre on Thursday, May 14 leads this week's events picks

Double-Edge Dance artistic director Kora Radella says improvisation is an integral element in her company. "It's composition in the moment," she says, "an art form in itself." She brings plenty of improvised dances to XspanD, this week's installment of Cleveland Public Theatre's DanceWorks series. A piece by Kirstie Simson will be completely improvised, and Radella will perform a minimally structured, mostly improvised piece with saxophonist, composer and the ensemble's co-founder Ross Feller. But they're not making it all up as they go along. The program also includes a couple of pieces where the costumes are just as crucial as the dancers. "Re-tracing" features a troupe member coiling her clothing — a "very long piece of silk" that begins around the dancer's waist. Throughout the performance, it gets pulled in circles around her. In "Laden," a dancer wears an outfit with "tons of pockets" that are stuffed with fabric. Radella says the piece is loosely based on the concept of hoarding, as fabric is pulled from the pockets and the costume gets smaller and smaller. XspanD plays at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday at Cleveland Public Theatre's Gordon Square Theatre (6415 Detroit Ave., 216.631.2727, cptonline.org). Tickets: $10-$20. Michael Gill

THURSDAY, MAY 14

John Brown's Body

This Boston band loads their latest album, Amplify, with songs that go beyond their reggae roots, borrowing from reggaeton, hip-hop and other genres without compromising their signature sound. They've been around for more than a decade but recently went through a considerable lineup change -- bassist Scott Palmer died in 2006. At that time, the band almost disintegrated, leaving only drummer Tommy Benedetti and singer-songwriter Elliot Martin to lead the current ensemble. John Brown's Body are touring in support of Amplify and Re-Amplify, a collection of remixes that takes their music in yet another inspired direction. They perform at 8:30 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Passafire opens. Tickets: $12 advance, $14 at the door. — Ernest Barteldes

Napalm Death

Napalm Death's Scum remains one of the best heavy records ever recorded. And Birmingham's fathers of grindcore are still at it after 27 years and 14 records. Sure, they've slowed down a bit, especially during the '90s, and they're arguably more of a progressive death-metal band than a grindcore band these days. But their past few albums have revealed a band that's still relevant, brilliant and innovative. Their latest CD, Time Waits for No Slave, is easily their best modern-era outing. It's got beats aplenty, skull-crushing riffs and more speed than a midwestern teenager. As always, politics is front and center. Napalm Death's indictments of modern culture are more sophisticated than the genre's typical offerings, going so far as to actually endorse practical change. Among their suggestions: pro-peace on a local level that fosters civil social interactions, a curtailing of our career-obsessed culture and an appreciation for the colossal power of evolution and Darwinism. Then again, you'll have to scan the lyric sheet if you want more than "the singer is a little pissed." Mark "Barney" Greenway's guttural vocals are about as heavy and grating as they come. The band's Campaign for Musical Destruction tour includes death pack mules Kataklysm, Toxic Holocaust, Coliseum and Trap Them. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at Peabody's (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999, peabodys.com). Tickets: $17 advance, $20 day of show.

Nick DeMarino

Taking Back Sunday

As befits a band saddled with the dreaded emo tag, there's rarely been a shortage of drama in Taking Back Sunday. Forming in Long Island a decade ago, the quintet shuffled members in the middle of its first EP, and the door has been revolving ever since. Shaun Cooper and John Nolan left to form Straylight Run, and Fred Mascherino split two years ago for his Color Fred project. Through it all, Taking Back Sunday have managed to release four engaging albums (their latest, New Again, featuring new singer Matt Fazzi, comes out next month). From their indie roots to major-label backing, Taking Back Sunday have successfully and consistently blended pop melodies with punk energy for a sound as crunchy as it is sweet. Envy on the Coast and Anberlin open at 7 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583, hob.com). Tickets: $25. — Brian Baker

William Elliot Whitmore

With an old man's whiskey-worn rasp and a bruised acoustic guitar, William Elliot Whitmore offers a weary, emotive take on Americana. More soulful and livelier than Bonnie "Prince" Billy and more stripped-down than Tom Waits, Whitmore calls on folk, blues and gospel muses to help render his mortality-obsessed tunes. He may not be a grizzled scene vet yet, but by dropping five releases in the past six years and touring frequently, Whitmore has proved himself to be a rugged and capable journeyman. At a time when just about any musician thinks he can lift up an acoustic guitar and join the seemingly endless parade of backwoods, folk-aping performers, Whitmore presents a purist's take on the genre. He sports an effortless but detailed guitar style and a genuine farmhouse croon that is surprisingly timeless and moving. Frontier Ruckus and Adam Luhta open at 8 pm at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $8 advance, $10 at the door. — Matt Whelihan

FRIDAY, MAY 15

Alvin Ailey American

Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents itself in a curatorial manner this weekend: Its Revelations program features highlights from Ailey's career — a retrospective look at his company's debut in 1958 to the final work he choreographed before his death in 1989. Ailey's blues and gospel piece, "Revelations," is one of the most familiar works in modern American dance, so why the self study? The company is winding up a year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary. Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, and 3 p.m. Sunday at the State Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave., 216.241.6000, playhousesquare.com). Tickets: $10-$70. Gill

Tarace Boulba

Imagine dozen of musicians onstage — singing, pounding drums and blowing on horns to create funky beats that liberally mix in reggae and afrobeat influences. Chances are you've never heard anything like Tarace Boulba. The ensemble was created by French nonprofit group Rasta Baboul, founded in 1993 by two former members of world-music ensemble Les Négresses Vertes. For a small fee (15 euros for a lifetime membership), anyone can join, get training on horns, percussion and vocals, and then join a performing ensemble. The band began touring extensively in 2003; about a year ago, it began laying the groundwork for its current six-week U.S. tour, which takes it from New Orleans to Minneapolis back east to Washington D.C. and New York. By some miracle (well, actually the hard work of Gary Gross, music booker for the Hessler Street Fair), Cleveland is on its so-called "route du funk." Tarace Boulba will initiate listeners at 9 tonight at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Outlaws I & !, DJ Franklin from WRUW open; tickets are $10. If you get hooked on their big, brassy grooves, the group will be playing the Hessler Street Fair both Saturday and Sunday.

Anastasia Pantsios

Alkaline Trio

Chicago rockers Alkaline Trio have been through several incarnations. After six albums, three drummers and ascent to a major label, the group has become an amalgam of its original dark, angsty punk aesthetic in an obvious inclination to move forward. The threesome's latest album, last year's Agony & Irony, is a logical continuation of songwriters Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano's tortured lyricism and chugging melodies, but it lacks the immediate urgency of their earlier material. You really don't believe the anguish anymore. Saves the Day join Alkaline Trio on what seems like an emo kid's dream tour — never mind the fact that both bands have been around long enough to acquire fans who are old enough to drink. Saves the Day have a new album due later this year — the third part of a trilogy that includes 2006's Sound the Alarm and 2007's Under the Boards. Nightmare of You opens at 7:30 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583, hob.com). Tickets: $19.50-$22. — Emily Zemler

Willie Nelson

Given his relentless touring schedule, you'd never guess singer-songwriter Willie Nelson just celebrated his 76th birthday. And yet the country icon continues to hit the road with the enthusiasm of a young buck. (He'll be back this way again later this summer when he joins Bob Dylan on a 22-city tour of minor-league baseball parks). Over the years, there's little Nelson hasn't done. Sued by the IRS for back taxes and busted for pot, he's had his share of run-ins with the law. But he's also had a Ben & Jerry's flavor created in his name and appeared in ads for the Gap. He's collaborated with everyone from Johnny Cash to Kid Rock to Sheryl Crow. While he's mostly aligned with country music, the songs he plays these days caters more to jam-band audiences. Little surprise, since his laid-back, easygoing vibe befits a man who's at ease with his past, present and future, and just wants his fans to mellow out and have a good time. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Youngstown's Chevrolet Centre (229 E. Front St., 216.241.5555, ticketmaster.com). Tickets: $37.50-$47.50. — Jeff Niesel

SATURDAY, MAY 16

Hessler Street Fair

"It's so nice on Hessler Street," Cleveland folksinger John Bassette sang back in the '70s. Alas, Bassette passed away in 2006, but the spirit of the street he sang about lives on. And every year, the residents of the block-long brick street hidden in the bowels of the Case Western Reserve campus in University Circle share that spirit with the larger community at the Hessler Street Fair, which retains the aura of the year of its origin, 1969. If you still have your old Birkenstocks, Grateful Dead tie-dye T or India-print cotton gauze skirt, this is the place to wear them. This free fair, taking place from 11 a.m.-dusk today and tomorrow, has the friendliest and most laid-back vibes of any area festival. You'll find homemade vegetarian food, revolutionary tracts and information about saving the world, and hand-crafted dreamcatchers and ceramic bowls. And on a stage nestled in the street's dead end, you'll find a non-stop lineup of local bands playing everything from blues to reggae to prog rock to folk to jazz. The crowd-pleasers, of course, are bands like Cats on Holidays, Mifune, Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band, who get everyone from toddlers to old-timers up on their feet bouncing around. French brass/percussion collective Tarace Boulba, which plays both days, freshen up the music mix. If you can't make it down, the performers are broadcast live on WRUW 91.1 FM, but you can't see the sights and smell the smells and really dig the groovy vibes over the radio. Hessler Street is off Ford Ave. between Euclid Ave. and Bellflower Rd. Go to hessler.org for info. — Pantsios

The Classical Clown

Musical comic Dan Kamin — who's worked with Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp — will battle for control of the Cleveland Orchestra when he joins assistant conductor Jayce Ogren for The Classical Clown. The program, the final one in this season's Family Concerts series, mixes theater and classical music, and tosses in lots of snappy tunes. Think Charlie Chaplin with an orchestra. The concert features parts of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" (from Peer Gynt), Rossini's finale from the William Tell Overture and much more, all clocking in at less than an hour. Showtimes are 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave, 216.231.1111, clevelandorchestra.com). Tickets: $10-$28. Gill

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra

"It's kind of a mixed bag of emotions," says trumpeter Jack Schantz about his final performance as director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. He steps down after 16 years leading the ensemble — a kind of a big-band jazz museum that's played tribute concerts to legends like Count Basie and Duke Ellington over the years. Incoming director Sean Jones — who was principal trumpet of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis — grew up in Warren and was Schantz's student at Youngstown State University. Schantz will continue to perform with the band, but he plans to spend more time on other projects, including his Jazz Unit group. Schantz and Jones will play together at tonight's A Joyful Noise program. The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra will be joined by the 75-voice Word Church Voices of Victory Choir of Cleveland, as they explore the link between gospel and jazz. "It will be really good music," says Schantz. It starts at 8 p.m. at the Beck Center for the Arts (17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216.521.2540, clevelandjazz.org). Tickets: $15-$30. Gill

Allan Holdsworth

Although this British-born jazz-guitar virtuoso is considered one of the most inventive players of his generation, Holdsworth isn't exactly a household name. That probably has a little to do with his laid-back temperament and shy nature. Onstage, it usually takes a few songs before he even acknowledges his audience, letting his bandmates take the lead. Having grown up listening to the revolutionary works of saxophonists Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, Holdsworth uses his own instrument in a similar manner — his inventive riffs, complemented by various electronic effects, often resemble the sound of a woodwind. He's credited for introducing various techniques to the electric guitar, including a version of a trick Eddie Van Halen fans are familiar with — the pull-off. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., 216.226.5681, thewinchester.net). Tickets: $20. — Barteldes

Home Landscape Fair

Now that spring is finally here, you're probably thinking springy things: Shit, I gotta cut the grass today. Why won't this goddamn window open? Boy, the garage smells like bananas and raccoon feces. You might also be thinking about landscaping your property. That's where today's Home Landscaping Fair at the Cleveland Botanical Garden comes in. Local landscaping reps will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about shrubs, mulch, trees and those big-ass rocks people put in their lawns. Bring pictures and ideas, and the experts can tell you how to spend your next nine weekends making the outside of your house look pretty. It runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (11030 East Blvd., 216.721.1600, cbgarden.org), with a 2 p.m. panel discussion about trends for the year and how you can landscape on your paltry budget. Free with garden admission: $7.50. — Michael Gallucci

Hormonal Imbalance

A group referring to itself as the — I can hardly bring myself to type the words — Four Bitchin' Babes is putting on a great big lipsticky bitch of a show tonight. And it's aimed right at the menopausal demographic. Here it is, ladies: Four singer-songwriters — Sally Fingerett, Debi Smith, Nancy Moran and Deirdre Flint — combine stories about marriage and kids with a little social commentary and a whole lotta PMS. Says the press release: "Throw in a hot flash or two, and you've got Hormonal Imbalance, a mood swinging musical revue!" You go, girls. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave. 216.241.6000, playhousesquare.com). Tickets: $10-$37.75. Gill

Mudhoney

Even though they never achieved the same level of success as their Seattle peers, Mudhoney have steadily released a string of uncompromising albums over the past 20 years. Last year's The Lucky Ones exemplifies the spirit of the band: raw alternative rock. It's harsh but melodic, ugly but earthy, simple but pleasing. Mudhoney hold up well because, quite frankly, their music is more about attitude and sound than actual songs. There are some hooks and catchy choruses, and many of their songs could be polished into crafty pop tunes. But they're not. They're left unfinished, or more accurately, finished but imperfectly formed. In the early '90s, Mudhoney moved away from a marketable sound, even as other grunge bands were selling records. This is music for music's sake. Anyone who still spins Pixies records will not want to miss this. National Suicide Day open this late show at 10 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $15 advance, $17 day of show. — DeMarino

Step to Hope

If you're among the nearly 10 percent of Ohioans without work, today's Step to Hope event might make your job search a little easier. The two-and-a-half-hour training session features Remington College instructors dispensing free advice about résumés, computers and interviews. They'll also help you beef up your references and fill you in on what you need to do to snag an interview. Of course, it would help if there were some actual jobs out there for people to ply these new skills, but at least you'll be armed when something comes your way. It starts at 9 a.m. at Remington College's Cleveland Campus (14445 Broadway Ave., 800.560.6192, remingtoncollege.edu). It's free, but space is limited so call to reserve a spot. And if you can't make it today, don't worry; there's another training session on May 23. Gallucci

SUNDAY, MAY 17

Let's Take A Trip To ...

Clevelander Bill Rudman already has plenty to do, with his syndicated radio program Footlight Parade, which airs in 75 markets across the country. Since 2000, he's also produced shows in his Musical Theatre Project. Today, Cuyahoga Community College's Metro Campus presents Rudman's musical travelogue Let's Take A Trip To ..., which mines the Great American Songbook for tunes about travel: "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," "Route 66," etc. Expect to hear songs about Kalamazoo, Chicago and New Orleans too. Joe Hunter hosts, with singers Evelyn Wright and Susan Hesse performing. It starts at 3 p.m. at Tri-C's Metro Campus Auditorium (2900 Community College Ave., 216.241.6000, playhousesquare.com). Tickets: $17. Gill

Testament

Metallica may grab all the headlines, but real metal fans know that Testament is a crucial part of the Bay Area thrash scene, one of the reigning triumvirate that also included Exodus. Forming a couple of years after their brethren, Testament became a fast favorite with their 1987 debut, The Legacy, and world tours. But tensions in the band resulted in a series of lineup changes (the quintet has gone through a Spinal Tap-ish 11 drummers!) and shifts in direction. Through it all, Testament maintained a fervent fan base, releasing 10 studio albums (including last year's The Formation of Damnation) and four live records. The band's current lineup dates back to its earliest incarnations — Alex Skolnick and Greg Christian left after 10-plus-year runs and then returned, Chuck Billy has been frontman since 1986, and Eric Peterson co-founded the group in 1983. Metal takes many forms; Testament play them all with brutal precision and incendiary passion. Unearth and Lazarus A.D. open at 7:30 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Avenue, 216.523.2583, hob.com). Tickets: $24-$38. — Baker

Clarence E. Van Duzer Tribute

Evolution, not retrospection, is the focus of today's tribute to artist Clarence E. Van Duzer, organized by his widow Kathy Lynn Van Duzer. The painter, who studied at Yale and was part of the Cleveland School, was one of the first artists to live in the Flats and own studio space there. He's less known in Cleveland than he is elsewhere. That's why Kathy Lynn calls his extensive body of work a "treasure chest waiting to be opened." Van Duzer began his career as a representational painter before moving on to abstract metal sculpture, which included large pieces and fountains for shopping malls. He returned to figurative representation later in his life. He produced a lot because he had a strong work ethic, says Kathy Lynn. "His main concern was working as an artist every day of his life," she says. "Getting dressed and going to work in the studio every day." The free reception for the one-night-only tribute runs from 4-7 p.m. at Convivium 33 Gallery at Josaphat Arts Hall (1433 E. 33rd St., 216.881.7828, josaphatartshall.com). Gill

MONDAY, MAY 18

When God Gives You Ugly Tour

If there were top-dollar awards for album titles, Minneapolis indie-rappers Atmosphere would be billionaires. (See their latest album — When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold — and new tour, When God Gives You Ugly). The cleverness doesn't stop there. Mastermind Slug's rhymes reflect on autobiographical and not-so-autobiographical stories about substance abuse, unexpected motherhood and just about everything in between. Producer Ant uses fewer samples on When Life Gives You Lemons than he has in the past, going for more live instrumentation. Over the past 11 years, the group has released more than a dozen studio and live albums. The tour celebrates the recent reissue of God Loves Ugly, Atmosphere's 2002 masterpiece. The group rips through its repertoire, with Brother Ali, P.O.S. and Attracted to Gods opening. Check out Minnesota's best at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets: $20. — Danielle Sills

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