So national acts wanna boycott Cleveland? We've got plenty to keep us busy.

Music Around Us 

So national acts wanna boycott Cleveland? We've got plenty to keep us busy.

Come wintertime, trying to catch a national act in Cleveland can be an exercise in frustration. Granted, the holiday season and the new year are universal downtimes for touring, but Ohio's inclement weather makes the few bands that are on the road hesitant to visit from the end of December through early spring. In an effort to defend against cabin fever, here's a list of activities to occupy local music fans in the months ahead and help avoid any Jack Torrance-like reactions to the winter doldrums.

Rock and roll bowling at Buckeye Lanes
(24488 Lorain Road, North Olmsted)

Much like beer and sleep, the sport of bowling is so close to perfection that there's really not much to improve upon. But that hasn't stopped the ambitious folks at Buckeye Lanes from trying every Saturday night from midnight to 2 a.m. "We lower the lights and blast the rock and roll music through the place," says Suzy Palko, a supervisor at Buckeye Lanes. "You can bowl, shoot pool, and the rental shoes are also included, all for $10."

Indeed, nothing complements an activity as exquisitely dumb as hurtling a big heavy ball at shiny logs better than the similarly mindless Kid Rock. Not since the invention of the plastic rings that hold a six-pack together has a good thing been made this much better.

Line-dancing lessons at the Boot Scoot'n Saloon
(4193 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls)

The Boot Scoot'n Saloon is to Northeast Ohio country what the Extra Value Meal is to love handles. This Wal-Mart-sized complex is the epicenter of the local country scene. On Saturday nights, you can indoctrinate yourself into the Stetson set by learning how to line dance, which is as much a prerequisite of the true country experience as bad hygiene is for punk rock. Instructor du jour Mary Harwood teaches you how to do the "Eatin' Right, Drinkin' Bad" and other dances, free of charge. Should you become a country aficionado, however, the mandatory Cadillac-sized belt buckle will cost around $50,000.

Undergroundshow.com MC battle at the Rhythm Room
(2140 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights)

The problem with hitting a foe with a choice insult is that it usually results in a swift ass-kicking. But the crew at local hip-hop entertainment company Undergroundshow.com has devised a way for you to let the verbal abuse fly without having to get your jaw wired shut soon after. On the second Saturday of every month, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Rhythm Room, Undergroundshow.com holds an MC battle and variety show, where rhymers are pitted against one another to test their mic skills. Anyone can enter the fray, meaning you can strut your stuff against some of Cleveland's finest wordsmiths or watch the spittle fly from the sidelines. The event also features rock, R&B, and pop artists, in a relaxed atmosphere where all the fireworks are saved for the stage.

"It's a real laid-back type of place," says Michael Turner, head of Undergroundshow.com. "It's not gonna be your normal hip-hop show. It's an integration of different types of artists. People are going to experience something that's not the ordinary, and they're going to have fun."

Heavy metal karaoke at the Revolution
(3415 Brookpark Road, Parma)

Now that we've seen what's become of the pop-metal prime movers of yesteryear -- last we heard, the singer for Quiet Riot had moved back in with his mother -- it turns out that it's better to experience that lifestyle vicariously. And that's exactly what you can do at the Revolution every Monday night, when the club hosts heavy metal karaoke. Backed by Warrant guitarist/hometown hero Billy Morris, you can take the stage and put to good use all that time you spent perfecting your pouty look and fine-tuning the requisite falsetto. The night packs all the thrills of '80s glam stardom without the ensuing bankruptcy.

Polka at Sterle's Slovenian Country House
(1401 East 55th Street)

Walking into Sterle's, with its murals of alpine mountaintops, is like stepping into a Ricola commercial. But instead of gnarly lozenges, the Sterle's staff offers biceps-busting pitchers of Warsteiner. And every Friday and Saturday night, the restaurant features live polka performances. The real fun is watching the elders that come out in droves to work it on the dance floor. There's nothing more life-affirming than spotting a 90-year-old man twisting to a wailing accordion like a top in a tornado.

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