For the first time in its history, the National Women's Music Festival will spotlight an all-lesbian drag-king company -- H.I.S. Kings (pictured). The shift in programming accompanies a shift in locale for the four-day fest, which takes place this weekend at Kent State University after nearly 29 years on campuses in Illinois and Indiana. Mary Byrne, who's been involved with the festival since 1982, says Kent was chosen for this year's outing because of the school's liberal reputation. "I feel [the move] will regenerate the energy of the festival and infuse lots of women," she says. "It's always meant an opportunity to expose new people to women's music and culture."
More than two dozen female singers, bands, and comics will perform, including Melissa Ferrick, Tret Fure, the Hissyfits, and Georgia Ragsdale. The gender-bending H.I.S. Kings' Saturday performance will be chronicled by a film crew that's making a road movie about the group. The National Women's Music Festival starts at 10 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Kent State University campus in Kent. Tickets are $70 to $95, and four-day passes are also available; call 330-672-3244. -- Cris Glaser
Powwow at Howe, Wow!
CVNP celebrates Ohio, Indian-style.
The sweet melodies of a cedar flute, the traditional colors worn by dancers at a powwow, and the taste of authentic American Indian food are all part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Native American Cultural Celebration. The festival -- part of the park's yearlong Ohio bicentennial program -- highlights everything you've always wanted to know about how local Native Americans lived, through drums, stories, and artists displaying their wares. The Grammy-nominated R. Carlos Nakai Quartet concludes the day with a performance at 8 p.m. The American Indian Cultural Celebration starts at noon Saturday at Howe Meadow, 4040 Riverview Road. Admission is $7 and $5; call 330-657-2909. -- Sarah Coleman
Don't Call Her Floyd
A tribute veteran does her own thing.
Marla Zahorsky spends a good deal of her time singing in the Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here. But her side project, Marla & the Professor, is getting increased attention these days. "Good lyrics, good melodies, [and] a good beat is what people want to hear," she says of her band's blend of pop, folk, and R&B. Zahorsky and keyboardist Michael Hirst Shields formed the group three years ago and recently released their debut album. "All great music comes from the heart," Shields says. "It's part of our desire to communicate." Marla & the Professor play at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Nuthouse, 1310 Weathervane Road in Akron. Admission is free; call 330-865-7550. -- Michael Gallucci
John Goodman must be too busy counting his West Wing residuals. So Dan Aykroyd recruited Jim Belushi, the brother of his other Blues Brothers partner, to assist with his new album, Have Love Will Travel -- Big Men, Big Music. Aykroyd and Belushi will be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1 Key Plaza) at 7:30 tonight, performing songs from the new CD and signing autographs. Tickets are free with your purchase of Have Love Will Travel at the Rock Hall's FYE store; call 216-515-1930. -- Michael Gallucci