Thursday Night Live
Brad Sandiford has been on a nine-month mission to turn Club E into Cleveland's version of Harlem's historic Apollo Theatre. His Thursday Night Live comedy spot for black performers features Columbus' Cortney Gee as host. "When we first opened up last fall, we went through all the bumps and bruises of opening a business," recalls Sandiford. "We wanted to give a wide variety of entertainment — not just having a DJ and people having parties." Since the middle of last month, Gee has kick-started the Thursday-night sessions with 15-minute sets of cracks about urban life. He's followed by headliners like BET staples Hope Flood and Ted Carpenter, who throw down an hour's worth of jokes. Even Pierre Edwards - who played Halle Berry's main squeeze in the 1997 movie B*A*P*S - stopped at the club earlier this month to perform. "We're not just a comedy spot; we're an entertainment complex," says Sandiford. "This is something we wanted to put on our agenda anyway." Gee steps up to the mic at 10 tonight at Club E, 4104 Lee Rd. Admission is $10. Call 216.295.1770 for more information. - Cris Glaser
Thursday Patio Parties
Follow Meredith Barnes' lead if you're going to join her tonight at the Thursday Patio Parties in the East 4th Street entertainment district. After spending the past few weeks hopping between the eight restaurants and bars on the brick-lined street, the 21-year-old Kent State coed recommends chowing down before drinking up. "Otherwise, you're going to make a complete ass out of yourself," laughs Barnes. "Take it from me. I know." Starting at happy hour, the weekly blowout offers dinner deals on the Mexican fare at Z—cala (2071 E. 4th St.; 216.781.0420), Saigon's (2061 E. 4th St.; 216.344.2020) Asian Cuisine, and the American-heavy menus at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave.; 216.523.2583), Lola (2058 E. 4th St.; 216.621.5652), and Pickwick & Frolic (2035 E. 4th St.; 216.241.7425). The price tags on cocktails also take a dip at the nearby Wonder Bar (2044 E. 4th St.; 216.298.4050) and Flannery's Pub (323 Prospect Ave.; 216.781.7782), while the Corner Alley (402 Euclid Ave.; 216.298.4070) buzzes with amateur bowlers. To Barnes, the neighborhood is a haven during summer break. "It's really nice to have an alternative place to party and people-watch," she says. "If I could only take it back to campus in September, I'd be a happy gal." The party starts at 5 this afternoon on East 4th Street, between Euclid and Prospect avenues. Admission is free. — CGTaste of Akron
All cuisine is created equal under the ginormous Taste of Akron tent at Hardesty Park. Thirty top chefs and caterers will dish out hometown favorites like burgers and fried sauerkraut balls to go along with 150 wines from around the world. With food ranging from $2 to $6, expect more than 7,000 participants to navigate each and every booth - from Ivan's Deli and Papa Joe's to Vaccaro's and the Akron Art Museum's Jasmine Café. "We're trying to stay loyal to local businesses," says organizer Yvette Davidson. "All the restaurants have a great attitude. They want to see these festival visitors in their establishments in the very near future. My only regret is there is not enough room in my stomach to try all their yummy dishes." The fest runs from 6 to 10 tonight at Hardesty Park, 1615 W. Market St. in Akron. Admission is free. Call 330.375.2836 or visit www.akronperforms.com/artsexpo. — Marge Perko
Walt Seng: Photographs From the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota
Walt Seng considers himself a photographer first, then a biker. So it's a natural fit that the Russell Township shutterbug is unveiling his 50-piece snapshot collection at today's 6 p.m. opening reception of Walt Seng: Photographs From the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota at River Gallery. "I wanted to record my impressions of what my eye goes to," he says. "I don't take an editorial view with me. I wait and see what happens out there." Seng has plenty of models to choose from. Founded in 1938, the rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota attracts more than a half-million riders from around the country. Seng took along his camera to snap pics of bikers and their Harleys in 2000, 2002 and 2004. "The first rallies were originally a pretty rough deal, with all the Hell's Angels," he recalls. "Now it's just a lot of friendly riders." The collection is on display from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays through Saturday, September 6, at River Gallery, 19046 Old Detroit Rd. in Rocky River. Admission is free. Call 440.331.8406 for more information. — CG
Beth Debevc doesn't want patrons to remember only her family's warm hospitality and fine wines. She's also pretty proud of the hundreds of animals sporting bright colors and party hats at Chalet Debonné's annual Pet Day competition. "We had a black Lab covered in purple balloons - like a walking grape cluster," laughs Debevc. "It won Most Wine-ish." Dogs usually dominate contests for the cutest, ugliest, best attired and most unique pets. But owners have also brought horses, hamsters and llamas. "We even had one guy who brought in two snakes," recalls Debevc. "But cats, we discovered, don't usually work well in crowds." Animals aren't the only winners here; humans also score. For $6, Debonné's resident vintners will pour four samples of their award-winning wines and beer. "One kid painted the Olympic colors on his turtle," says Debevc. "It was the cutest, for sure. And the terrier that could hold a golf club in his mouth the longest was amazing. It's become an annual tradition for people who love to show off their animals." The fest starts at 3 this afternoon at Chalet Debonné, 7743 Doty Rd. in Madison. Admission is free. Call 440.466.3485. — MP
Because the royalties from his two albums don't pay the bills, singer-songwriter Jason Farnham has been teaching English to Asian students since he moved to L.A. from Canton two years ago. He's coming back to his hometown for tonight's CD release party for his third album, Serene. "I have a built-in audience," he says. When he isn't teaching, the 33-year-old Perry High School grad plays keyboards with his eponymous rock trio at SoCal nightspots like the Cat Club, Whisky a Go Go and BB King's. But on his new album, Farnham goes solo with a set of new-age originals - like the dreamy title track and the bouncy "Winter in L.A." "When I wrote it, it sounded like the first snowfall of the year coming down," he says. "But because it's in a major key, it also has a sunny quality to it." But Farnham isn't putting his band on hold. He has a steady schedule of gigs with the guys waiting for him when he returns to L.A. next week. "I prefer the rock stuff because it tends to be a little more fun. But I also like the piano stuff, because I feel that people who do like it appreciate it," he says. "I find that, if they're upset, it makes them feel better again." Tonight's release party starts 7 at Second April Galerie & Studios, 324 Cleveland Ave. in Canton. Call 330.451.0924 or visit . — CG
Despite her onstage persona as Simone, Lisa Celeste Stroud insists she puts her own stamp on the sultry jazz songs that made her late mother, Nina Simone, a legend. At tonight's concert at the Beachland Ballroom, the 26-year-old chanteuse will perform "Child in Me," "Don't You Pay Them No Mind," and "(You'll) Go to Hell" from her debut CD, Simone on Simone. Stroud has been paying tribute to her mom since a 2006 show in New York that marked the third anniversary of the singer's death from breast cancer. The performance became the genesis for Simone on Simone. "The idea had been pitched to me before," says Stroud. "But I had been writing a lot of my own material for almost 10 years, and my goal was to record those songs. It felt like an obstacle between me and that goal to do a tribute record to my mother. But after the Town Hall performance [in New York], I started considering it."So she and producer Bob Belden pulled 11 songs from her mother's repertoire and set them to new big-band arrangements. Even Stroud is astounded at the finished product. "I was more of a funk and R&B kind of singer, along the lines of Chaka Khan," she says. "But the truth is, I could do gospel and jazz in my sleep - given the presence of my mother's music around me since I was born." Showtime is at 8 tonight at the Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Rd. Tickets are $20. Call 216.383.1124. - CG
Good thing there's something cold to drink at Deeker's Sidetracks tavern in Mentor. If there wasn't, owner Craig Deekman would keel over from heat stroke from watching all the ladies compete at today's Cornhole Tournament. "They wear these skimpy dresses with lots of cleavage hanging out," he says. "Pretty soon, they're playing in their bare feet. It's entertaining, to say the least."The contest itself includes two-player teams competing for a pot made up of half of the admission fees. But it's more about having fun, says Deekman. "People like to have something to do while they're talking and drinking." Sign up by 3 this afternoon at Deeker's Sidetracks, 8455 Station St. in Mentor. Team fee is $30. Call 440.205.0797 for details. — CG
Melanie MaloyMany people assume that comedian Melanie Maloy picked up her dreadlocks from years of living in Jamaica. Even Jamaicans treated the Pittsburgh native like one of their own when she visited last year. But her boyfriend spoiled the moment. "He was screwing it all up, saying 'Bon Jovi, mon,' instead of 'Bob Marley.' And he's calling me 'Pasta' instead of 'Rasta,'" says Maloy, who's in town this week for a string of stand-up shows at the Funny Stop. "I thought they'd be, like, 'Hey! What's this white chick doing, thinking she's a Rastafarian?'" At least Maloy adapts Jamaica's laid-back ethos — "everyone's high most of the time," she says — onstage. It's helped her relax in front of audiences, especially restless college kids. "They're rude, texting throughout the show and getting up and walking around," she says. "Now I know how to interact with them without being annoyed by them."Even a crack from Howard Stern doesn't bug her anymore. A few years ago, E! named Maloy one of the 50 funniest people in America. Stern - who didn't make the list - called her a "no-name." "It was just so funny how mad he was about it," says Maloy. "That was the highlight for me. Not that I [made the list], but because he was so disgusted." Maloy performs at the Funny Stop (1757 State Rd. in Cuyahoga Falls) at 8:30 p.m. today through Thursday and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $5 to $12. Call 330.923.4700 or visit www.funnystop.com. — P.F.
WilsonWorld Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational
Look for fewer gray hairs and wrinkled faces when the nation's 50 top-ranked pro golfers hit the links for today's start of the six-day World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. With his victory at the AT&T National Tournament earlier this month, 23-year-old Anthony Kim is one of 17 twentysomethings teeing up at the 10th annual tourney on Firestone Country Club's par-70 course. An $8 million purse is up for grabs. Californian Kim joins other fresh-faced linksters this year - like 23-year-old Martin Kaymer of Germany (last year's European Rookie of the Year) and 27-year-old Ross Fisher of England, who took the top prize at this year's European Open. Action starts at 7:30 a.m. today, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday at Firestone Country Club, 452 East Warner Rd. in Akron. Tickets are $25 to $250. Call 877.942.4849 or visit www.worldgolfchampionships.com. — CG
Today's "Free Speech on MySpace and Facebook" lecture was spearheaded by high-school and college students interning at ACLU Ohio. After all, one of their own in Toledo was busted by her school's assistant principal after she impersonated him on her MySpace page. "We've seen an increasing number of cases of schools that have punished students because of things they've posted, and employers who have screened the sites before they hire anyone," says ACLU spokesman Mike Brickner. "It's especially pertinent because most social-networking sites are places where high-school and college students frequent. We want them to hear the issues that go into that."That's where Antoinette Clark comes in. The Ohio Northern University law professor and juvenile-justice expert will talk about First Amendment issues at today's workshop, which is part of the ACLU's Brown Bag Lecture Series. Among her talking points: Does freedom of expression extend to sites like MySpace and Facebook? "We know quite a few teachers that have posted stuff on their personal websites," says Brickner. "They will be dismissed if there are pictures of them drinking or using foul language. Our feeling is, if you do it at home on your own time, a school or employer shouldn't really be a part of it." It all starts at noon at the Max Wohl Civil Liberties Center, 4506 Chester Ave. Admission is free. Call 216.472.2220 or visit www.acluohio.org. — CG
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