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Glenn Tilbrook brings his new band to the Beachland on Friday, March 27, and leads this week's event picks

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Glenn Tilbrook earned his place in rock-history books as co-leader of Squeeze. He and Chris Difford were the Lennon and McCartney of their day, turning out smartly crafted '80s gems like "Tempted," "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" and "Cool for Cats." Squeeze dismantled in 1999, but Tilbrook hasn't lived off his legacy. His recent solo records, including the new Pandemonium Ensues, show that he's still in prime form, serving up delightful pop that's brimming with melodic hooks and literate lyrics (made all the more impressive since he — not Squeeze lyricist Difford — pens the words now). On Pandemonium, he works with his new band, the Fluffers, but it's anything but fluff. The energetic album commences with the sprightly, accordion-powered "Best of Times" and continues on through groove-filled pop ("Still" and "Interest & Love"), rock 'n' roll that's both ragged ("Slaughtered Artist") and buoyant ("Relentless Pursuit"), ballads for adults ("Little Ships") and even a Joe Meek-y curio (the Johnny Depp-narrated "Too Close to the Sun"). While Tilbrook has a deep catalogue to choose from, one tune he's bound to play is "Beachland Ballroom," a jolly Pandemonium rave-up about how a local audience rescued him after his bus broke down before reaching the club a few years ago. Hopefully, he'll have an easier time getting to tonight's show. The Spring Standards opens at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets: $20. — Michael Berick

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25

The Marriage of Figaro

Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Möst has been working toward opera for years. After a few intermediary steps over the past few seasons, he's finally staging Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro with full set and costumes. Welser-Möst borrowed the production accoutrements from the Zurich Opera, where he recently concluded his tenure as music director. Showtime is 7 p.m. today and Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave., 216.231.1111, clevelandorchestra.com). Tickets: $65-$210. — Michael Gill

THURSDAY, MARCH 26

Hot Club of Detroit

These Midwestern gypsy ghosts of Django Reinhardt return to the namesake of their 2008 album Night Town. And, as they seem to do whenever they play the jazz club, they're bringing a friend. Sax player James Carter tagged along in 2007; this time out, guitar great Frank Vignola will be in tow. After netting acclaim for his 1988 Hot Club of France tribute, Vignola has spent the past two decades expanding gypsy sounds on modern acoustic and electric guitar. A more obvious fit than the experimental Carter, Vignola should nevertheless add new angles to Hot Club's music, while fanning the flames of guitarist and group founder Evan Perri's already fiery approach. The group never wades completely out of its deep Reinhardt influence, infusing every fork in its musical path with the exotic buzz of the master's distinctive brand of swing. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Road, 216.795.0550, nighttowncleveland.com). Tickets: $20. — Matt Marshall

Dom Irrera

Surrounded by relatives growing up, comedian Dom Irrera had an easier time telling jokes when he was a kid. "I was funnier before I had to do it professionally," he says. "It's easier to make only 20 people laugh." Irrera got his big break on the '80s TV showcase Nothin' Goes Right, which starred Rodney Dangerfield, an early supporter. "The competition from the younger guys never bothered him," recalls Irrera. "He helped Roseanne and Sam Kinison. Roseanne probably ended up making more money than he did, but he didn't care." Since winning awards for his 1988 HBO standup show, Irrera has become a late-night staple and has had small roles in a few films. He's done so much standup over the years, it's now second nature, he says. "I respect the whole thing, if you want to call it a craft. But it's like, how hard can it be if I can do it? To me, a car mechanic is a genius." Irrera starts a four-night gig at Hilarities (2035 E. 4th St., 216.241.7425, pickwickandfrolic.com/hilarities) at 8 tonight. Tickets: $15-$25. — Jeff Niesel

Sonia Nazario

Before writing the Pulitzer-winning series that became Enrique's Journey, Sonia Nazario traveled on trains and buses across rivers and deserts with Latino kids to see firsthand what they go through to get to the United States. The book is named after a Honduran boy whose mother crossed the border when Enrique was five, promising to return. But it didn't work out that way, and after years apart, the boy set off to find his mom. He jumped trains overrun with gangs, discovered that most police were corrupt and, through it all, never forgot his goal. Nazario talks about Latin American immigration at 7 p.m. at Lakewood Hospital's Wasmer Auditorium (14519 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216.321.9220). It's free. Gill

FRIDAY, MARCH 27

Cowboy Junkies

Launched in Toronto in the mid '80s by the Timmins siblings (brothers Michael on guitar and Peter on drums, sister Margo on lead vocals) and their friend, bassist Alan Anton, the Cowboy Junkies self-released their debut album, Whites Off Earth Now!, in 1986. The band's languid Velvet Underground-flecked country-blues and Margo's sultry, sanguine voice culminated on 1988's The Trinity Sessions, a set of covers and originals that was recorded in one 14-hour session in a church, using a single microphone. The covers showcased their diverse influences: VU's "Sweet Jane," Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight," Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." The album's success led to widespread touring in the States and a period of label-hopping before they started self-releasing records again. In that time, the Cowboy Junkies have astonished fans with a sound that often veers from a reverent quiet to a defiant squall, and always delivering equal intensity between the two extremes. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., Kent, 330.677.5005, kentstage.org). Tickets: $30 advance, $33 day of show. — Brian Baker

The Fantastic Flute

George Pope's flute cred (he's principal flautist with the Blossom Festival Orchestra, founder of the Solaris Wind Ensemble and professor of flute at the University of Akron) won't mean much to his audience this weekend, when he introduces his instrument to kids ages three through six in The Fantastic Flute. The 30-minute program — part of the Cleveland Orchestra's Musical Rainbow series — is hosted by actress and singer Maryann Nagel and includes pianist Nicholas Underhill. Performances are at 10 a.m. today, and at 10 and 11 a.m. tomorrow at Reinberger Chamber Hall (11001 Euclid Ave., 216.231.1111, clevelandorchestra.com). Tickets: $7. Gill

Gringo Star

Atlanta-based retro garage-rockers Gringo Star delivered their punchy debut All Y'All last year. The smart, visceral songs bristle with immense electricity and exuberant hooks that position the band in a lineage of rock's most incendiary, infectious delights. Most blatantly, the group echoes '60s British Invasion bands like the Animals and the Kinks, but there are also hints of '70s Marc Bolan glam and grunge-era guitar-pop like the Posies. Gringo Star's kinetic live shows have a reputation for frenzied instrument-swapping, sweetened by the band's sharp vocal harmonies. Brainbow opens at 9 p.m. at the Matinee (2527 W. 25th St., 216.574.2843, thematinee.net). It's free. — Michael David Toth

The Lady With All the Answers

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After writing a string of ratings-grabbing scripts for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, David Rambo became a co-producer of the hit TV show. He also pens plays. In 2006, he wrote The Lady With All the Answers about Ann Landers, which portrays the advice columnist as a complex woman — liberal on some issues, conservative on others. But the play mostly focuses on Landers' relationships with her husband and her twin sister Abigail Van Buren, a.k.a. Dear Abby. Cleveland Play House associate artistic director Seth Gordon opens a production in CPH's Bolton Theater (8500 Euclid Ave., 216.795.7000, clevelandplayhouse.com) at 8 tonight, with performances through April 19. Tickets: $43-$52. Gill

SATURDAY, MARCH 28

The Death Set

They don't sound much like the Clash, but the Death Set channel the same rebellious, life-affirming spirit. The Australian-born duo blends effervescing synth fills and propulsive programmed beats with distorted guitar crunch and joyous shout-along anthems that sound like the Go! Team leading an Atari Teenage Riot. Inspired by noisy New York art-punkers Japanther, Johnny Siera and Beau Velasco moved to the U.S., where they could do the kind of months-long touring that's just not possible on a continent that has only a half-dozen major cities. Moving in next door to Dan Deacon in Baltimore, they quickly settled into the area's vibrant underground scene, staging shows that resembled European soccer riots. After a series of EPs and 7-inches, they released their debut album, Worldwide, last year. The 18 spazz-core tracks clock in at barely more than 30 minutes, thanks to the band's drag-race aesthetic. Since the album's release, the band has moved to Philadelphia and grown to a quartet onstage. The attitude, energy and humor recall punk's infancy, before it became a sullen teen. Team Robespierre, Ninjasonik, Totally Michael and Cerebral Ballzy open at 9 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show. — Chris Parker

Michael Greenwald

Michael Greenwald's landscapes imagine away the details, so all that remains are elements of abstraction. But he leaves scenes — often horizons — intact enough that there's never a question of whether you're looking at lines for their own sake or color fields or the sun just beneath the surface of some large body of water. His works are decidedly depictions of sea, sky and land. People sit for hours and stare at horizons. Greenwald's way with a fraction of light above the line and weighty clouds make his paintings worth long looks too. River Gallery (19046 Old River Rd., Rocky River, 440.331.8406, greenwaldstudio.com) opens an exhibit of his work with a free reception from 3-7 p.m. The show continues through May 2. Gill

Katy Perry

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Sick of Katy Perry yet? Ever since her debut album, One of the Boys, came out last summer, she's been inescapable. First, the bi-curious-but-not-really "I Kissed a Girl" was all over the place. Then the Cher-cribbing "Hot N Cold" took over iTunes and radio. Now, the 24-year-old singer has been popping up in tabloids (for feuding with Lily Allen, who she kinda called fat), on TV (her recent award-show performances were so over-the-top, it's no wonder gay men love her) and across the country — Perry's two-month-long "Hello Katy" tour has sold out every place it's played. In a way, she's just getting started. The platinum-selling One of the Boys still has a couple of strong cuts that can be pulled as singles — the latest, "Thinking of You," is a power ballad that hits all the right making-out-on-the-couch notes. So ... sick of Katy Perry yet? She plays House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583, hob.com/cleveland) at 8 p.m. The show is sold out. — Michael Gallucci

Quicksilver

Just to make sure you don't forget that it's been 250 years since George Frideric Handel died, early-music ensemble Quicksilver closes Case Western Reserve University's Chapel Court and Countryside series with a performance that puts Handel's music in context with some baroque contemporaries. Turns out Handel knew many of these guys: organist Dietrich Buxtehude, music theorist and diplomat Johann Mattheson, harpsichordist Christoph Graupner and violinist Arcangelo Corelli. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at CWRU's Harkness Chapel (11200 Bellflower Rd., 216.368.2402, music.case.edu). Tickets: $10-$27. Gill

SUNDAY, MARCH 29

American Composers

Broadway composer and arranger Robert Russell Bennett worked with George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill, but he never gained their fame. His "Hexapodia — Five Studies in Jitteroptera" is one of five works by American composers in a Cleveland Institute of Music faculty recital by violinist Stephen Sims and pianist Sean Schulze at Mixon Hall (11021 East Blvd., 216. 791.5000, cim.edu) at 4 p.m. Also on the program are works by David Diamond, Aaron Copland and William Grant Still. It's free, but passes are required. They're available in the lobby before the performance. Gill

Brian Jonestown Massacre

Uncountable indie bands can claim that their frontmen are crazier than a soup sandwich, but almost none have a feature film to prove the point. The Brian Jonestown Massacre is in that incredibly small minority. DiG! showed the world what a good many fans and detractors already knew: BJM creative spark plug Anton Newcombe is an off-the-rails headcase. And, along with the rotating group of guys who make up Brian Jonestown Massacre, he's also responsible for creating some of the indie scene's most astonishingly contemporary acid-tinged psych-rock, even — perhaps especially — when he transcends it. Since roaring out of San Francisco a decade and a half ago, BJM have dabbled in country, folk, electronica, R&B and pop, all filtered through their collective neo-psychedelic consciousness. Last year's My Bloody Underground was an experimental freak-out, fueled by Newcombe's chemical indulgences and a Dadaist ban on talking during studio sessions. What will this year's tour bring? Depends on the size and strength of the dose. The Flavor Crystals and the Volta Sound open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $15 advance, $17 day of show.

Baker

Donald Erb Tribute

When composer Donald Erb died last summer at the age of 81 after having lived most of his life in Northeast Ohio and teaching composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music, The New York Times took note. Erb was a major figure in avant-garde music, making news in 1967 when "Reconnaissance" — one of the first pieces to pair synthesized and acoustic instruments — premiered in New York with electronic-music pioneer Robert Moog on synthesizer. The Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra and the New Music Ensemble perform a tribute today. A pair of trumpet players — Joseph Connors and Alexander Pride — nod to Erb's early stints as a trumpeter with a high-school dance band and as a post-Navy jazz player. Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis also performs. The program includes Erb's oft-performed mid-career piece "The Devil's Quickstep" and three works written during his final years as a composer. The show starts at 7 p.m. at CIM's Kulas Hall (11021 East Blvd., 216. 791.5000, cim.edu). It's free, but passes are required. They're available in the lobby before the performance. Gill

Lo Còr de la Plana

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Six guys singing a cappella accompanied by hand drums sounds like something you might have seen in the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show. Drawing equally from church, tavern and dance traditions, Lo Còr de la Plana work just as well shrouded in incense smoke as they do in a beery cigarette haze of a Parisian café. They sing in medieval Occitan — a relative of Catalan which isn't French, Spanish or Latin, yet related to all of them. Listen and you'll hear European, African and Arabic cultures flowing together. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Murch Auditorium (1 Wade Oval Dr., 216.421.7350, clemusart.com). Tickets: $32-$34. Gill

TUESDAY, MARCH 31

Garotas Suecas

During the 1970s, Brazilian musicians like Jorge Benjor, Os Mutantes and Tim Maia absorbed the sounds of George Clinton, James Brown and Sly Stone and fused them to their own samba grooves, creating what became known as Brazilian soul. Like the bossa nova generation a decade earlier, these singers and songwriters discovered something new by creatively blending different genres. That style is now enjoying a revival in Brazil with artists like Curumin, Moreno Veloso and the relatively new Sao Paulo-based Garotas Suecas, whose name translates as "Swedish Girls" (maybe it's a pun on the Brazilian Girls?). The band captivates audiences with it high-energy sets that include Portuguese-language tunes like the funk-laden "Não Espere Por Mim" and the psychedelic "Dificil de Domar," which gets audiences moving, even if they don't understand a single word. This might be the next great thing coming out of Brazil, a country that seems to have a never-ending supply of new, creative musicians disregarding international borders. There clearly must be something in the water there. Hot Cha Cha and Arte Povera start the show at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets: $8.

Ernest Barteldes

The Gaslight Anthem

It's too easy to call the Gaslight Anthem a cross between the Clash and Bruce Springsteen. But that description certainly fits in a pinch. The New Jersey natives play heartland rock spiked with a bit of punk assertion. They sing songs with rousing choruses that could have been written in the '60s, '80s or yesterday. Plus, they work in plenty of references to Springsteen characters who probably listened to the Clash when they got home from the factory. Last year's The '59 Sound is filled with fist-raising sing-alongs about doubt, nostalgia and the promised land. It's also one of the best albums of 2008. Frontman Brian Fallon can get a bit too earnest at times ("I lit a fire that wouldn't go out until it consumed the walls and roof of this house," he sings). But that's always been Springsteen's and the Clash's biggest problem too. Good Old War opens at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.6700, clevelandagora.com) at 8 p.m. Tickets: $13.50. — Gallucci

Raul Malo

While Sarah Palin has forever tainted the word "maverick," you shouldn't think any less of singer Raul Malo, who once fronted the crossover country band the Mavericks, a terrific group that spotlighted Malo's soaring, Roy Orbison-like vocals. The Mavericks called it quits more than five years ago, but Malo has continued on with a solo career that enters a new phase on Lucky One, his first set of original material in seven years. It runs a wide gamut — from ornate balladry ("Hello Again") to old-time swing ("You Always Win"). While the focus is always on Malo's fantastic pipes, the guy really pushes himself to explore genres outside of what you'd typically categorize as "country." The Magpies open at 8 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets: $20 advance, $22 day of show. — Niesel

Junior Boys

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Junior Boys may be the smoothest pair of dudes in all of Canada. Their sleazy, yet hook-filled take on electro recalls '80s dance parties as much as it does contemporary French club bangers. Hushed vocals entice like the devil-horned half of your conscience, as slithering synths scramble all over pulsing, computerized beats. The duo's latest album, the slick and contagious So This Is Goodbye, will draw even the tamest soul to the dance floor with its seductive grooves and come-hither swagger. This is classic soul updated for the club-going set, and right now, no one is doing it better. Max Tundra and the Sleeps open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 at the door. — Matt Whelihan

Monty Python's Spamalot

With book and lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez, Monty Python's Spamalot has credible provenance. Fresh from closing on Broadway in January and a successful tour stop in Cleveland last season, the 2005 Tony winner for Best Musical returns with some Broadway cast members. It opens at 7:30 tonight at the Palace Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave., 216.241.6000, playhousesquare.com) and runs through Sunday, April 5. Tickets: $27.50-$77.50. Gill

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1

Walter Trout & the Radicals

Trout is a veteran of the Jersey Shore music scene that spawned Bruce Springsteen. But, like many other American blues guitarists, Trout has found a much larger following abroad than in his homeland. He was a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Canned Heat before launching a solo career in the late '80s. Over the past 35 years, he's played with blues legends like John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley. Trout has a fiery guitar style reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but at times he slows down, putting in clever, measured licks with more of an English-blues vibe à la Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton. But he's no imitator — Trout has a voice all his own, bolstered by the original material he's released over the past two decades. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., 216.226.5681, thewinchester.net). Tickets: $20. — Barteldes

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