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Fresh event picks for the week, because we want you to be popular

Thursday | 08

Readers Arise!

A Union Man's Biographer Visits Mac's Backs

If iconic labor organizer and songwriter Joe Hill were alive today to witness the brouhaha over SB 5, he would be all smiles. Then again, the fact that Hill died by firing squad in 1915 is a reminder that the labor movement has never been much of a laughing matter. A murder conviction earned the union troubadour a death sentence after prosecutors linked his red bandanna to one worn by the killer. But author William Adler claims Hill's hands were clean. "The case would have been dismissed if Hill wasn't involved with the Industrial Workers of the World," says the freelance writer and contributor to Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Mother Jones. "His unjust death served as an inspiration for unions worldwide and his words — 'Don't waste time, organize!' — are as true today as they were back then." Adler's biography, The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, sheds new light on Hill's life and death, and argues convincingly for the guilt of another man. You can discover the real story tonight at Mac's Backs in Coventry, where Adler will be speaking at 7 p.m. Rootsy Rust Belt folksinger Deborah Van Kleef will bring Hill's songs to life. It's free and open to the public. — Phil Barnes

1820 Coventry Rd., 216-321-BOOK, themanwhoneverdied.com/events.

Friday | 09

TGIF Downtown

Party on the Block

Stick around after work today for the 12th annual end-of-summer block party on Star Plaza at Playhouse Square. A $25 ticket gets you eats from spots like Star, Bricco, Corks, and Otto Moser's, along with live entertainment from '60s girl-group tribute band the Pop Tarts and the "folky, countryish, Japanesey pop" of Britton Roberts & the Jones. Also on tap: a guided walking tour of the 'hood, a free 7 p.m. dance showcase in the Palace, and the Playhouse Square cornhole championship. It's all happening from 5 to 9 p.m. Get your tix online or by phone, and be sure to pack some bucks for the cash bar. — Logan Boggs

Star Plaza (Euclid Ave. and East 14th St.), 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Broadway Sing-Along

Communal Cabaret in Elyria

Sick of getting scoffed at while rocking out with your iPod? Then tonight's Big Broadway Sing-Along at Lorain County Community College's Stocker Arts Center is your chance to shine — or at least to shamelessly belt out those big musical faves along with 150 other would-be warblers. Chorus director Bill Rudman and pianist Nancy Maier will be leading tonight's audience through two dozen popular Broadway tunes. And if your pitch slips a bit on "Over the Rainbow" (it's a tough one), all those other voices will be there to drown you out. "This is the first time we've tried this, but it should be a very affirming experience for everyone," says Rudman. "If you don't want to sing, that's OK too; you'll still get a kick out of listening." Tonight's tunes begin at 8 p.m.; the show repeats tomorrow at the same time. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under, which also gets you lyric sheets for 30 songs. Order by phone, online, or in person at the box office. The event marks the kickoff of the 2011-2012 Studio Theatre Cabaret season. — Barnes

1005 North Abbe Rd., Elyria, 440-366-4040, stockerartscenter.com.

Saturday | 10

Moon Shine

Autumn Fest in AsiaTown

Cleveland's Asian Town Center is celebrating the moon and the fall equinox today with an Autumn Festival featuring an impressive lineup of Eastern culture and cuisine. Among the entertainment, you'll find Japanese drummers, Chinese dancers, and Korean hip-hop artists. And when the hungries hit, check out the Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese food vendors. Speaking of eats, you might want to enter the eating contest. Organizers won't say what the food is, but it definitely won't be pizza or hot dogs. The culmination of the festival comes with the traditional lantern release, where hundreds of lanterns are unleashed to the heavens. It's all happening from noon to 5 p.m., and admission won't cost you a dime. — Barnes

3820 Superior Ave., 216-621-1681,asiantowncenter.com.

More Moon Shine

Chinese Ensemble in North Olmsted

If Korean rap doesn't float your lantern, perhaps you'd like to celebrate the autumn moon with classical Chinese music. Today marks the launch of a series of five local concerts by the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble. Founded in 2008, the ensemble performs a wide variety of Chinese music on traditional string, wind, and percussion instruments under the direction of musician and teacher David Badagnani. Today's free concert spans a thousand years, all focused on themes of the moon and autumn. Stick around afterward to sample black tea and moon cakes. It all happens from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the North Olmsted branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Register online in advance to reserve your space. To learn more about the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble's other autumn moon concerts, find them on Facebook. — Cicora

27403 Lorain Rd., North Olmsted, 440-777-6211, cuyahogalibrary.org.

Fit for Foodies

Garlic Fest Adds Zest

You'll find chefs, farmers — even tiny fairies mixing it up at this weekend's Cleveland Garlic Festival on Shaker Square. But most of all, you'll find garlic: on french fries, in ice cream, and just waiting to go home with you to boost your next meal. If you're only familiar with the bitter grocery-store variety, the fresh, locally grown sort is a revelation: for its crispness, complexity, and mellow aroma. As well as showcasing the newly trendy bulb, the Garlic Fest is a fund-raiser by and for the North Union Farmers Market. Single-day adult admission is $7, and today's opening preview brunch, complete with local eggs, seasonal fruits, pastries, and mimosas, checks in at $50. "Garlic is a significant cash crop in Ohio," says NUFM founder and executive director Donita Anderson. "Both for its amazing flavor and possible health benefits, it's becoming very popular." The fest, too, is gaining national fans: Recent articles in Saveur, The Wall Street Journal, and Southwest Airlines' Spirit mag have touted the event. Also on tap are cooking demos, a parade, and plenty of live music. As for those fairies, they form the court for Miss Garlic, who will be crowned this afternoon. Today's hours are 1 to 9 p.m.; tomorrow it's noon to 6 p.m. For a complete festival rundown, check out the website. — Cicora

Shaker Square, 216-751-7656, clevelandgarlicfestival.org.

Arty Party

GLarts Fest Comes to Lakewood

Three Lakewood venues will serve as launch pads for the inaugural GLarts Fest happening today from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Presented by the recently formed Great Lakes Arts Initiative, the fest aims to link local musicians and artists with the broader community. Executive director Tracy Walters promises the all-ages fest will have something for everyone. That includes a lineup of acoustic, folk, blues, and classic rock at the 5 O'Clock Lounge (11904 Detroit Ave.). The Hi Fi (11926 Madison Ave.) will be tuned to alternative, rock, and pop. And the Symposium (11802 Detroit Ave.) will convene a bill of electronica, funk, soul, and rap. Meantime, independent artists will be on hand displaying photos, paintings, drawings, jewelry, and more. Also on the schedule from 1 to 5: a chalk walk between venues so you can make your own mark on the surroundings. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door; those under 21 add an extra $3 cover. For more info, check out the website or find Great Lakes Arts Initiative on Facebook. — Cicora

Lakewood, 440-782-1891, glarts.com.

Smell This!

It's Skunk Fest Time in North Ridgeville

Think skunks are critters to be avoided at all costs? Not so, if the 1,000 attendees at last year's Skunk Fest are any indication. Fans of the famously fragrant furball can get their skunk on again today when Skunk Fest 2011 takes over North Ridgeville's South Central Park. Owners can enter their Pepe Le Pews in the Skunk King or Queen contests or the talent show. Non-owners can enjoy speakers, vendors, and educational exhibits — plus the comfort of knowing you thought better than to own a skunk. Breeders will be on hand with apricot, lavender, and brown variations on the theme of black and white, and rescue groups will be offering various adoptees. Contest registration begins at 10 a.m.; entry fee is $10 for the first skunk and $5 for each additional. People get in free, although donations of cash, paper towels, organic pasta, or natural grain cereals are encouraged. The action continues till 5 p.m. in the name of the local rescue group Skunk Haven. For more info, contact Deb Cipriani. And yes, all the pet skunks have been de-scented. — Cicora

7565 Avon Belden Rd., North Ridgeville, 440-327-4349, skunkhaven.net.

Family Fun

City Hop Strikes Sparx

What makes Cleveland so special? Find out today during the ninth-annual Sparx City Hop, a celebration of Cleveland's arts, culture, and food. Hop on board one of the three free trolley routes for narrated tours of AsiaTown, Tremont, or Ohio City and the West Side Market. In each district you'll find artists and street-side entertainers; get out and shop, eat, or explore historic buildings. Tour stops will connect travelers to attractions like the Old Stone Church, the Autumn Festival in AsiaTown, Ohio City's open-air market, and various artist studios and galleries. Rides are free from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., although riders need to nab a wristband at any of the stops. Check out the website for route maps and other details. — Cicora

downtowncleveland.com/sparxcityhop.

Sunday | 11

9/11 Commemoration on Public Square:

Cleveland Remembers

Today from coast to coast, Americans are pausing to commemorate the heroic first responders of September 11, 2001, and to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on that terrible day. On the North Coast, we'll mark the solemn occasion through a series of activities on and around Public Square beginning at 2:30 p.m. That's when a procession steps off from the Western Reserve Fire Museum (310 Carnegie Ave.) featuring the Cleveland Firefighters Honor Guard and their Memorial Pipes and Drums, accompanied by three FDNY fire trucks that were present at Ground Zero. Once the procession arrives at Public Square, community groups including the Cleveland Public Library, the Maltz Museum, and the Old Stone Church will share poems, songs, essays, and photographic images of peace. The memorial wraps up at 5 p.m. when the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Loras John Schissel, takes the stage with an all-American program of patriotic and reflective music including works by Copeland, Irving Berlin, and Carmen Dragon's I Am an American, narrated by Robert Conrad. It's all free and open to the public. Bring a lawn chair and some tissues — and keep the car at home if at all possible. With as many as 50,000 people expected to descend upon the square, plus the Browns' home opener taking place across town, things are going to get crowded. — Elaine T. Cicora

Superior Avenue and Ontario Street, clevelandorchestra.com.

Cleveland Police Museum

Images of Ground Zero

Years of experience as a courtroom sketch artist helped New Yorker Aggie Kenny hone her ability to capture the emotions of real people in real time in extreme circumstances. In 2002, she turned those skills on the police, firefighters, and clean-up crews sifting through the rubble of the World Trade Center, producing a series of 25 sketches and watercolor paintings now on display at the Cleveland Police Museum. This is only the second time Kenny's works — on loan from the New York City Police Museum — have been shown and the first time they've traveled outside N.Y.C. The exhibit, Artist as Witness: The 9-11 Responders, catalogs the day-to-day work of the recovery crews as they cleaned up after the nation's most deadly terrorist attack. Some of the images might be called mundane if not for their historical import; in others, the heroism of the responders' gruesome, grueling work is more overt. The free exhibition opens today from 1 to 4 p.m. and runs through November 4. Regular museum hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Joseph Clark

1300 Ontario St. (inside the Justice Center), 216-623-5055, clevelandpolicemuseum.org.

Monday | 12

Book Concert

867-5309 Author Drops a Dime on Barnes & Noble

Alex Call's memoir should be required reading for wannabe entertainers of all stripes: If ever a life reflected the vagaries of the biz, it's his. You may not know his name — which is kind of the point — but unless you spent 1982 in a bunker, you know the most famous tune he ever wrote: "867-5309/Jenny" (made famous by Tommy Tutone). Yet from the founding of his 1960s country-rock band Clover to his current "book concert" tour in support of 867-5309 Jenny: The Song That Saved Me, Call has yet to discover fortune and fame. That's despite writing hits for Pat Benatar and Huey Lewis and the News — and a close encounter with Elvis Costello. "It's been an interesting ride," the 62-year-old Call says from a Chicago stop on the tour. "I've been pretty high, just to find that someone has put a boot in my face and down I go." These days, he's channeling that drive into a new career as an author and storyteller. Call will be telling tales and playing his songs today from 7 to 9 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Woodmere. Copies of his book will be on sale for $26.95; the concert is free. — Cicora

28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere, 216-765-7520, bn.com.

Dig In to Pigskin

Taste of the Browns

You don't need to dig football to dig into the 13th annual Taste of the Browns tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. at Browns Stadium. A fund-raiser for the Cleveland Foodbank, the self-styled "party with a purpose" is a bountiful buffet of food and drink, garnished with appearances by assorted Browns players and alumni, including co-chairs Joe Thomas and Al "Bubba" Baker. More than two dozen of the region's best independent restaurants will be dishing out the grub, including Lago, Melange, Deagan's, and Bar Cento. To drink, there will be beer, wine, and java from Caruso's Coffee. Auctions — both silent and noisy — offer chances to snag everything from free custom tooth whitening to two tix to see the Foo Fighters at the Q. Tickets are $150 — which seems like a bundle until you consider how much good that does for Cleveland's hungriest residents. — Cicora

100 Alfred Lerner Way, 216-738-2046, clevelandfoodbank.org.

Tuesday | 13

Downtown Doings

Order Up for Patio Week

More than two dozen downtown restaurants have joined forces to give us one more chance for alfresco feasting before the snow flies: It's Patio Week, happening now through Sunday, September 18. Among the deals: $15 lunches, $30 three-course dinners, and a chance to enter a drawing for one year of gratis downtown dining. Participating hot spots include heavyweights like Greenhouse Tavern, Chinato, and Lola on beautiful East Fourth Street; Pura Vida on Public Square; and Johnny's and Zdara in the Warehouse District, among many others. (Be sure to ask about Patio Week specials when making your reservations.) It's all sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance; check out their website for a complete list of participating restaurants. — Boggs

downtowncleveland.com.

Wednesday | 14

You Say Klobasa

I Say Kielbasa

Roast it, grill it, bake it, or fry it: There are many ways to enjoy klobasa — the Slovenian spelling of kielbasa. The region's best klobasa vendors will gather at SNPJ Farm in Kirtland from 1 to 8 p.m. today for the eighth-annual Slovenian Sausage Festival, handing out samples of their scrumptious links and vying for the title of "best sausage maker." And what's a Slovenian fest without polka? Canada's polka king, Walter Ostanek, is set to fill that void. Tickets are $7 online or by phone from the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame; admission at the gate will set you back eight bucks. — Barnes

11000 Heath Rd., Kirtland, 216-261-FAME, polkafame.com.

Revenge of Chucklefck

Comedy Week at Reddstone

Next week could be the funniest ever for local comedy impresario Ramon Rivas, what with Chucklefck shows set for Ingenuity Fest, Bela Dubby, and Hilarities. But the kickoff is tonight in Reddstone's intimate upstairs lounge, where Rivas plays host to Big Apple comedian/former minister (seriously) Kurt Metzger. Also on the bill: local comedian Chris Sinchok and New Yorker Dylan Shelton. Showtimes are 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 online or at the door. For dinner seating, call Rivas at 440-522-7035. — Cicora

1261 West 76th St., 216- 651-6969,

brownpapertickets.com/event/194567.

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