Canton's annual bacchanal, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival, happens this weekend. Ostensibly, it's about inducting pigskin greats -- like John Elway and Barry Sanders -- into the museum. It's also a convenient excuse for tailgate-style revelry. The party gets started with the Ribs Burnoff at the Stark County Fairgrounds (305 Wertz Avenue in Canton). Side dishes Huey Lewis & the News and Donnie Iris perform tonight and Saturday, respectively, but sandwiched between them (with an 8:30 gig tomorrow night) is Gretchen Wilson, summer's hottest country breakthrough ("Redneck Woman" is inescapable). Score! Festivities (a parade, concert, fireworks, and a game also get in on the action) run through Monday at various Canton locations; call 330-456-7253.
Friday, August 6
Don't go to the Ohio Shakespeare Festival's Side by Side by Sondheim, opening tonight, expecting to see some Shakespeare. Think outside the bard! "The vast majority of Shakespeare festivals around the country do more than just Shakespeare," explains director Nancy Cates. "If we're to grow, we have to pursue other bodies of work." Side by Side gathers a bunch of composer Stephen Sondheim's best Broadway bits (including tunes from A Little Night Music and Company). "He's the master of American theater," Cates says. "And this [show] gives a new and different perspective on someone whose work we're so familiar with." It's at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens' outdoor lagoon (714 North Portage Path in Akron) through August 15. Show times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets range from $9 to $18, available by calling 330-836-5533.
Tonight's Post-Capitalist Love Songs program at Asterisk Gallery includes screenings of short films by Sundance vet Bill Brown and Florida filmmaker Roger Beebe. It's part of a Midwest tour that also includes music by pop-rockers Roommate. Movies include Beebe's The Strip Mall Trilogy and A Fragmentary History of the 21st Century and Brown's Mountain State and Invisible Bridges. Expect to see parts of America that you drive past every day presented in artsy, enlightening ways. It starts at 9 at Asterisk Gallery, 2393 Professor Street. Admission is $5. Call 216-939-9350 for more information.
Saturday, August 7
In Hairstyles of the Damned, a tale of "growing up punk on Chicago's South Side," Joe Meno charts his protagonist by his choice of 'dos over the years. "We're defined by the way we look," Meno says. "It's about belonging. Whether you're 17 or 30, you don't want to be alone. You want to know that there's someone else in the world that you feel connected to, whether it's through music or a sports team or whatever it might be." Meno's coming to town tonight as part of The2ndHand Reader tour (which also includes appearances by The2ndHand's Chicago-based editor, Todd Dills, and contributor Mickey Hess). "Music had a huge effect on my life, socially, politically, and personally," says Meno, a Punk Planet writer. "Punk music hasn't changed much in 20 years. And there are still those musical genres that kids align themselves with. It helps you figure out where you are and where you belong in the world." The2ndHand Reader tour hits town at 7 p.m. at Mac's Backs Paperbacks, 1820 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. Admission is free. For more information, call 216-321-2665.
Sunday, August 8
We're not so sure we're up for the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Eucharistic Adoration at today's FEST Catholic Family Festival (in fact, we're not even sure we know what they are). But any time "brand new inflatables" are promised, we're there! (We're especially looking forward to the giant balloon-like foosball players that will be participating in a field-covering game.) Kutless and Seven Places bring the God-approved noise, and game, food, and vendor stands fill in the spaces. Plus, look for appearances by American Idol's Matt Maher, The Real World's Matt Smith, and presumably other guys named Matt. It starts at 3 p.m. at the Center for Pastoral Leadership, 28700 Euclid Avenue in Wickliffe. Admission is free. Call 440-943-7662 for more information.
Monday, August 9
No telling what the Greensboro Bats will think when they roll into town tonight to take on the Lake County Captains during Dog Day of Summer, when fans are encouraged to bring their canines to the park. Bitches can pose for pics with their favorite Captain or the team's mascot, and there's a pet parade following the game. Prizes will be handed out to the cutest dog, the one that does the most awesome trick, and -- no foolin' -- the dog that looks the most like Captains manager Luis Rivera. The fun starts at 6 p.m. at Eastlake Ballpark, 35300 Vine Street in Eastlake. Tickets are $5 for humans, $3 for dogs. For more information, call 440-975-8085.
Tuesday, August 10
Tasmanian devil, er, singer-songwriter Audrey Auld shares a lot with her fellow countrywoman Kasey Chambers: a sexy twang, an affinity for roots music, and a huge debt to Lucinda Williams. Her CD debut was a duets album with Chambers's dad, Bill; her second solo album, Losing Faith, features songs about pain, love, and devotion. Hear some of 'em at Wilbert's Food & Music (812 Huron Road) at 8:30 tonight. Tickets are $5; call 216-902-4663.
Wednesday, August 11
Cinema at the Square kicks off tonight with one of the funniest movies ever made, Mel Brooks's 1974 western parody, Blazing Saddles. Fourteen films will be shown over the next couple weeks on the Palace Theatre's super-huge screen, and almost all of them are bona fide classics (including Gone With the Wind and The Godfather). And while bigness won't make Saddles any more hilarious, we can't wait to catch the infamous campfire scene in all its booming glory. Show time is 7:30 at the Palace Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $5; call 216-241-6000.