Kenny Chesney may be the headliner at tonight's country music hoedown at Blossom, but be sure to get there early for openers Keith Urban and Deana Carter. Not only are they better-looking than the big-hat-wearing Chesney, but both take a decidedly more traditional approach to their music. While Australian Urban's Golden Road leans toward the rockier side of country (he's a mighty fine guitar player, too), Carter's I'm Just a Girl benefits from the Nashvillian's twangy sweetness. And "Strawberry Wine," her 1995 CMA Award-snagging Song of the Year, is one of country's finest odes to lost innocence. They'll be at Blossom Music Center (1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls) at 7. Tickets range from $25 to $49.50, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Friday, July 11
Lake Metroparks' PGIF (Penitentiary Glen Incredible Fridays) features a summer full of family-friendly programs, such as Plants You Can Eat and Bodacious Butterflies. "Subjects were chosen to be the best things some of the naturalists are good at," says Dan Burnett, Nature Center manager. "We told them, What would you like to teach people about? Because if you know a lot about it, your enthusiasm shines through to the program. So they're all fun and informative." This week's program is Dazzling Dragonflies, in which kids "actually go out to catch dragonflies, identify dragonflies, talk about dragonflies, and then release dragonflies," Burnett says. Best of all, it's free. PGIF starts at 1 p.m. at Penitentiary Glen Reservation (8668 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Kirtland); call 440-256-1404.
Saturday, July 12
Route 2003: An American Road Trip is like an auto show and a driving school under one roof. There are adventurous test drives, where you can get behind the wheel of a new car for a spin on five on- and off-road courses. There's also tons of advertising for Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge, whose vehicles you'll be maneuvering through the courses. Route 2003 takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow at the I-X Center (6200 Riverside Drive). Admission is free. Call 866-768-8303 for more information.
The Akron Zoo's annual Pajama Party is more than just a night of running around the zoo in your PJs. It's also a scavenger hunt, with crafts, train rides, magicians, snacks, contests, and a bedtime story. "It's a different atmosphere than just coming to the zoo and walking around and looking at the animals," says the zoo's David Barnhardt. "You're in your pajamas, it's a little more laid-back." Most important, it's a rare chance to see many of the zoo's nocturnal critters up close. "You get to see the zoo at night," Barnhardt says. "That's not something that always happens." Staff will be wearing jammies, but the lions, tigers, and bears will be clad in their natural furry outfits. The Pajama Party runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. tonight at the Akron Zoo (500 Edgewater Avenue). Admission ranges from $6 to $12. Call 330-375-2550 for more information.
Sunday, July 13
Tonight's An Evening at the Movies program, part of the Blossom Festival, features Bill Conti, whose résumé includes the themes from Rocky and The Right Stuff, among other film scores. He has also served as music director of the Academy Awards show for the past several years. So the guy's more than qualified to conduct the Cleveland Orchestra through a program of film favorites. Among the tunes to be performed are scores from Chariots of Fire and Flashdance (neither of which Conti composed), a medley of familiar TV theme songs, a tribute to Walt Disney (with songs from Disney's animated films, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Lion King), and of course, Conti's Rocky showpiece, "Gonna Fly Now." An Evening at the Movies is at 7 at Blossom Music Center (1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls). Tickets range from $17 to $35. Call 216-231-1111 for more information.
Monday, July 14
Creeper Lagoon's been MIA lately. After leaving fans and music magazines drooling over its two driving, riff-heavy albums, the San Francisco-based band all but disappeared from the alt-rock landscape. For the past couple of years, the group members have been holed up in the studio, working on new material, some of which ended up on a little-heard indie-label EP released last winter. The band's Glutton for Punishment tour makes a stop in town tonight. The set will feature new songs and a lot of material from 1998's I Become Small and Go and 2001's major-label outing, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday. Creeper Lagoon is at the new Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 10. Earlimart opens. Tickets are $7. Call 216-321-5588 for more information.
Tuesday, July 15
The Akron Art Museum's In a Romantic Mood: American Impressionists and Their Era compiles more than 60 paintings from the late 19th century. Works by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Frederick C. Frieseke, Emil Carlsen, and others give props to a period rich in natural tones and setting. It's also a wonderful primer to the landscape- and still-life-heavy genre. In a Romantic Mood is at the Akron Art Museum (70 East Market Street in Akron) through August 30. It's open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday (till 9 p.m. Thursday). Admission is free. Call 330-376-9185 for more information.
Wednesday, July 16
Hot Hot Heat's debut album, Make Up the Breakdown, was originally released on indie Sub Pop last year. Warner Bros. recently rereleased it, adding even more fuel to the hype machine. The driving British Columbia quartet makes post-punk you can actually dance to. Singer Steve Bays's jagged intonation, combined with equally convulsive rhythms, gives Hot Hot Heat a nostalgic vibe that recalls both Gang of Four and the Buzzcocks. The band is thoroughly modern, though, making room for some pretty pop melodies among all the guitar-bashing. It's at the Agora Theatre (5000 Euclid Avenue) at 8 p.m. with the Moving Units and the Fever. Tickets are $10, available by calling 216-241-5555.
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