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Our event picks for the week, served fresh

Thursday | 24

Laugh It Up:

The New Improv Steps Out Tonight

When you've launched as many comedy clubs as Lee Herlands has, the science behind opening night is rather simple. "I wanted to overextend the whole place, so that whatever can go wrong will go wrong," says the boss of the Cleveland Improv and the mastermind behind countless other joints across the country. After 22 years in the Powerhouse, the Improv schlepped its crap across the Flats parking lot last week to the historic Sugar Warehouse. And for all its early glitches, the new place is one fabulous disaster — from its sleek open layout and VIP balcony to its larger bar and kitchen and waterfront patio. On tap for tonight's kickoff performance: Tony Rock, kid brother of comedian Chris Rock and a veteran of the same creative circles. "He's already been warned: You never know when the mic's gonna go out," says Herlands. Bask in that new comedy club smell all weekend at 1148 Main Ave. in the Flats. Showtime is 8 p.m. tonight ($16), 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday ($19), and 7 p.m. Sunday ($16). Learn more by calling 216-696-4677 or go to clevelandimprov.com. — Erich Burnett

Jazz Festival

The Rhythm Returns to Lakeland

Philly native and acclaimed jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel anchors this weekend's 39th Lakeland Community College Jazz Festival, which kicks off tonight in Kirtland. A winner of a big-deal Composers Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rosenwinkel started out as a session musician in the '90s and wound up as one of the world's most respected jazz guitarists, with an inventive playing style that borrows heavily from big band, bebop, and rock. Rosenwinkel will share his chops with students of all ages and skill levels during a free guitar clinic Saturday at 4:30 p.m.; at 8, he takes center stage for a $25 concert. There's plenty more music on the schedule, as well: everything from a Big Band Matinee to tonight's middle-school concert. For a full rundown of the weekend's concerts and activities, visit lakelandcc.edu/concerts. Tickets are available online or by calling 440-525-7526. It all goes down in the Lakeland Performing Arts Center, 7700 Clocktower Dr. in Kirtland.— Shanette Buford

Friday | 25

Orchid Mania

Party at the Garden

They'll be partying like it's 1789 tonight at "French and Funky," the preview bash for Orchid Mania, the annual orchid exhibition that opens tomorrow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. This year's theme — Purple Reign — reflects both a common orchid color and the exhibition's French-ified vibe, which reaches its peak at tonight's soirée. Among the attractions: live music, a visit from Her Majesty Marie Antoinette, and a spread that includes crêpes, macaroons, and purple champagne cocktails catered by haute spots like Fire Food & Drink, Sergio's Saravá, and others. Party tix range from $60 to $75 and can be reserved at 216-721-1600. The Orchid Mania exhibition continues through March 27 and is free with regular adult admission ($8.50). Cherchez les details at cbcgarden.org. The Cleveland Botanical Garden is at 11030 East Blvd. in University Circle.— Terry Jozwiak

RIP Speak in Tongues

An Old Friend Remembered

For Ken Blaze and his peers, Speak in Tongues was more than just an underground club. "It was the West Side epicenter of the indie community: a spot for music, art, parties, and just hanging out." Blaze's nostalgic new photo essay, Escaped to the Future: A Series of Speak in Tongues Photographs, captures that indie essence in 145 original pix snapped between 1995 and New Year's Day 2002, when the club, near the corner of West 44th and Lorain Ave., was finally shuttered. In the process, Blaze has served up a bittersweet slice of Cleveland's indie music history. "There's nothing like it in Cleveland today and never will be again," says Blaze, whose first contact with the club was as a musician. "Toward the end, I started thinking like a journalist, and realized this was something that needed to be documented." Blaze debuts his paperback tonight from 7 to 9 at Tremont's Visible Voice bookstore (1023 Kenilworth Ave.). Also on hand: S.I.T. founder Dave Petrovich, spinning tunes in the guise of DJ Party Sweat, and singer, songwriter, and S.I.T. alum Brian Straw. For more information, call 216-961-0084 or visit visiblevoicebooks.com. — Elaine T. Cicora

Saturday | 26

Fresh Air

Breakfast With the Birds

Nature or nurture? This morning, you can have both when the Rotary Club of Shaker Heights joins the Shaker Lakes Nature Center to serve up a breakfast of pancakes and sausage. While you nurture your body, you can learn all about the natural life of birds. After breakfast, there'll be a birds of prey show, guided nature hikes, and activity stations for the kids. (The center, after all, has been designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, and its trails teem with migratory and resident species.) Breakfast with the Birds is $8 for adults and $5 for kids ages 4 to 10; wee ones under three are free. You can pay at the door, but advanced registration is required at 216-321-5935. For more details, go to shakerlakes.org. The Shaker Lakes Nature Center is at 2600 South Park Blvd.— Chrissy Niehaus

Spaces Gallery

Brunch With Broken Instruments

Post-modernism, music, and bakery come together this morning at Spaces Gallery during "Brunch With Broken Instruments," an experiential happening organized by the artists-in-residence of Machine Project. The musical/performance art/educational/pirate troupe out of Los Angeles uses the communal experience of a shared meal to structure an experiment in "unmelodious melodies." The event takes place around sculptor Nate Page's couchbleachers, an interactive installation that is exactly what it sounds like: a stair-stepped pile of cozy thrift-store sofas stacked ceiling-high. Shoes are forbidden, but you'll still feel really tall. Today's brunch is just part of Machine Project's ongoing Camp Cleveland event, continuing through April 1 at Spaces Gallery, 2220 Superior Viaduct. For more information, call 216-621-2314 or go to spacesgallery.org.— Joseph Clark

Get Your Irish Up

St. Paddy's Day Preview!

Whether it's a marathon, an aria, or a beer-soaked bash, anything worth doing requires practice. Tonight, the good folks at the Irish American Club East Side are standing by to help you get in shape for St. Patrick's Day with a rousing workout featuring Dulahan, a five-member Celtic band from Dayton. Founded in 2001 by singer-songwriter Kyle Aughe, the band claims a "hybrid" sound that blends elements of both traditional and contemporary Irish music. Factor in their powerful three- and four-part harmonies and (mainly) traditional instrumentation, and the band will have you toning up your inner step-dancer in no time flat. Doors open at 7:30, and the music starts at 8:30. Admission is $8 for members and $10 for non-members. You can also count on sandwiches, a cash bar, and specialty drinks from the club's enthusiastic Irish bartenders. Find them at 22770 Lake Shore Blvd. in Euclid. For information and directions, check out irishamericanclubeastside.org. — Cicora

Caged Fury

MMA at the Armory

It’s time again to enjoy the spectacle of big, bare-chested dudes pummeling the crap out of each other. No, we aren’t talking about happy hour at the Russian teahouse: We’re talking about Caged Fury, a night of mixed martial arts cage fighting brought to you by the North American Allied Fight Series, a leading regional fight promoter since its 2005 launch in Cleveland’s Flats. Tonight’s card at historic Grays Armory includes two former Pro Series heavy-weight champs, three NAAFS national amateur champs, and some of the sport’s best professional and amateur prospects. The top pro bout features Josh Hendricks taking on Dan Spohn in what people who know about these things call a possible career-defining fight. Tickets range from $25 to $80 in advance; snag yours at most Discount Drug Marts, online at NAAFS.tv, or by calling 330-280-8442. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the first bell is at 6:30. Grays Armory is at 1234 Bolivar Rd. downtown. — Cicora

Sunday | 27

Classical Music

Philharmonic at Tri-C

It'll be an afternoon of beautiful music when the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra brings the Romantic era to life at Cuyahoga Community College. Today's featured soloist is violinist Andréa Belding, a Cleveland Institute of Music alum and recent finalist in several prestigious contests, including the Hugo Kauder International String Quartet Competition. Together with the orchestra, Belding will be performing Johannes Brahms' monumental Symphony No. 1 and the Violin Concerto in D Major by Tchaikovsky. The concert begins at 3 p.m. in the school's Metropolitan Campus Auditorium; adult admission is $10. Learn more by calling 216-556-1800 or visit clevephil.org. — Cicora

Free Jazz. No Really

Jazz Orchestra Kicks Off a New Series

For those of you still asking, "What is this 'jazz' you speak of?" the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra will provide some quick and easy answers today in the form of a free one-hour performance. Slated for Ohio City's St. Ignatius High School, the show is the kick-off to a series of equally free-and-easy CJO recitals at venues around town, all aimed at converting new audiences to the art form. "I fell in love with music — particularly jazz — at a very young age," says Sean Jones, the orchestra's artistic director. "I want to provide the same opportunity to other young people — and the entire Cleveland community." Today's opportunity knocks at 3 p.m. inside the school's Breen Center for the Performing Arts, at 2008 West 30th St. The concert will feature a quartet of CJO musicians, including Jones, playing jazz standards and gospel classics. Tickets are not required, but seating is first-come, first-served. For more info, go to clevelandjazz.org. — Cicora

Comic Fight!

Mike Polk Squares Off Against Chicago

You can TiVo the Oscars. You can't TiVo tonight's Bash at the Beachland, a stand-up battle royale pitting Cleveland's self-styled "comedic provocateur" Mike Polk (Last Call Cleveland) against Chicago comics Will Miles and Kenny DeForest. Joining in the battle of the wits, find Cleveland's quirky indie-folk band, Lowly, The Tree Ghost. Not only is the show a fine opportunity to check out some Midwest talent, says Chucklefck founder and Bash host Ramon Rivas II, "but really, for $5 it's an amazing price for a killer evening of live entertainment." Doors open at 7; the show starts at 8. For more info and advance tickets, check out beachlandballroom.com or call 216-383-1124. The Beachland Ballroom & Tavern is at 15711 Waterloo Rd. — Cicora

Monday | 28

Cleveland Auto Show

Superman's Choice

Not that the Man of Steel needs wheels to get around. But if Superman ever wanted to cruise for babes, we like to think he'd slip into one of the vintage stainless-steel cars on display at this year's Auto Show. On loan from the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum, the collection includes three of the world's rarest Fords — a 1936 DeLuxe Tudor sedan, a 1960 Thunderbird, and a 1966 Lincoln Continental — each crafted entirely of stainless steel. Originally commissioned as a promotion for Allegheny Ludlum Steel, the fully operational cars are strong, handsome, and shiny enough to blind a super-villain. And because today is family day, kids 15 and younger get into the show for free. While you're there, check out the lineup of concept cars, truckloads of visiting sports stars, and the Green Gallery, featuring the newest hybrid models. The Cleveland Auto Show continues through March 6 at the I-X Center. Parking is free, but regular adult admission will set you back $12. Get tickets at the door or online at clevelandautoshow.com. The I-X Center is at One I-X Dr. in Cleveland. — Cicora

Tuesday | 1

National Pancake Day

Free Flapjacks at IHOP

It's National Pancake Day, and while that won't get you a free day off of work, it will get you a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes at IHOP. Of course, feeding you for free isn't their only goal: The hope is you will leave a little change behind to benefit the Children's Miracle Network Hospital's programs at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. Last year, the spare change added up to $2.1 million nationwide, so obviously, not everyone just dined and dashed. What you do, of course, is between you and your conscience. The flapjacks are free today from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more info and a list of locations, check out ihoppancakeday.com. — Cicora

The Inner Artist

Capturing Orchids at the Botanical Garden

If seeing, smelling, and maybe even copping a surrepitious feel of the orchids at the Cleveland Botanical Garden isn't enough, now you can learn to draw them too. As part of the ongoing Orchid Mania exhibition, the garden is offering Capturing Orchids, a four-week drawing class for artists of all levels led by instructor Susan Gray Bé. Bé will schlep you through the gardens and glasshouse, helping you bring to life the natural beauty of the flowers. Both sketchers and painters will get help with improving skills and composition. The quartet of lessons begins today, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and continues every Tuesday through March 22. Cost is $75 for members and $85 for non-members; advance registration is required at 216-721-1600 or online at cbgarden.org. The Cleveland Botanical Garden is at 11030 East Blvd. in University Circle. — Niehaus

Wednesday | 2

Woman Power

Gloria Steinem Speaks at Finney Chapel

Whether or not you agree that we've come a long way, baby, an evening with feminist Gloria Steinem could be enlightening. The co-founder of the National Organization for Women, and an acknowledged "hope-aholic," Steinem has been championing women's rights for more than 40 years. Lately, a large chunk of her time has been devoted to talks on college campuses, gently nudging young women to examine their options. For those who would claim that feminism is dead, Steinem begs to differ. "More women self-identify today as feminists than as Republicans," she maintains. We suspect you'll hear more reasons for hope tonight in Oberlin College's Finney Chapel. Steinem takes the podium at 7:30. Her talk, part of the college's Convocation Series, is free, and tickets are not required. For directions and more information, go to oberlin.edu. — Cicora

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