Back when he fronted Page France, Michael Nau played folksy indie-pop sparked by various band members’ inclination to keep things moving. With his new duo, Cotton Jones, Nau teams up with Whitney McGraw (also a Page France alum), who unplug and drift through sleepytime songs that rarely shake out of their crusty-eyed doze. Parts of their debut album, Paranoid Cocoon, ease into the grooves, like the willowy “Gotta Cheer Up” (which sounds a little like X on ’ludes); other times, all the whistling (like on “By Morning Light”) makes them sound like a flightless Andrew Bird. But don’t let the laid-back strings and harmonies fool you: Beneath the warm and cozy melodies are some caustic words about broken hearts and lonely souls. Hurray for the Riff Raff and the Woovs open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $7. — Michael Gallucci
Look, sometimes there are things from our past that we just can’t avoid, even if we constantly try to distance ourselves from them. You know the games you play — the “I never liked them” and “I never wore that” excuses. But we all know the truth: You did wear that, and you did like them. Case in point: New Kids on the Block. Yeah, we know, you really didn’t like them. Sure, we believe that, somewhere in your parents basement, there isn’t a copy of Hangin’ Tough. Look, instead of feebly trying to ignore it, why not embrace your secret shame and try to come to some sort of reconciliation with your past? With some of the best-selling albums of their decade, and about as many chart-topping records, NKOTB were tapping into something that appealed to late-’80s and early-’90s kids. Perhaps it was the cultural bridge the group tried to build between urban black music and suburban white youth. Perhaps it was the feel-good beats and singalong choruses. Or the more likely alternative — you liked all the cute girls who thought Donnie Wahlberg was hot. Well, even though you’re not in sixth grade anymore, there’s a chance that cute girl, the one with the sideways ponytail and the cool Trapper Keeper, will be there for this one. Here’s your shot, champ. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Blossom (1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 330.920.8040).Tickets: $20-$79. — Hall
Tania James, a first-time novelist at age 28 with degrees from Harvard and Columbia, notes that she still hasn’t achieved the goal she set for herself when she was 10: to become a Supreme Court Justice. Her novel, Atlas of the Unknowns, is a coming-of-age and coming-apart story about a young Indian girl who wins a scholarship to a prestigious school in America, but she must leave her family and country behind. James mines her own college film studies for a protagonist who makes a documentary about her life. James discusses her book and signs copies at 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (in Legacy Village, 24519 Cedar Rd., Lyndhurst, 216.691.7000). It’s free. — Michael Gill
Joseph Beth Booksellers (Legacy Village, Lyndhurst, 216.691.7000) hosts AHMA Day on June 28. The mission of the AHMA is to help transform health care through the integration of all aspects of wellbeing: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and social. AHMA staff will be on hand throughout the day to answer questions, provide information and offer free hand reflexology sampling.
The Lemonheads’ membership roll reads like a Mormon genealogy, and the styles the band has embraced over the past 20 years defy categorization. Through it all — from punk yelps and jangle-pop to classic-sounding rock — the one constant has been Evan Dando, a drug-glazed cover boy who’s also a somewhat triumphant survivor. The Lemonheads’ new album, Varshons, was inspired by the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes, who sent mixtapes to Dando filled with rootsy folk, fuzzy psych-rock, electro-pop, murder ballads and a duet with Liv Tyler on Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” Even by Dando’s standards, Varshons is the Lemonheads at their scattershot best. Filmstrip opens at 7:30 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $15. — Brian Baker
Arthur “Ace” Enders might be one of the hardest working, and most approachable, artists in indie music today. If he’s not giving away albums like The Secret Wars as a free digital download, he’s doing live chats, making fans photographers for the day and releasing ambitious triple-disc endeavors like The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path (with his old band, emotive punks the Early November). He’s now sweeping the country as part of the BBQ Across America Tour featuring Ace Enders. If you preorder tickets to the concert, you’ll be invited to a pre-show BBQ, where Enders will actually cook for you — burgers, hot dogs, chicken — before showcasing his newest and best album, When I Hit the Ground. “I’ve wanted to do it for years now,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to incorporate something where people can just hang out in a laid-back environment. And I love to barbeque. Every man has a love for something — mine happens to be grilling.” After the foodfest, Enders’ band will take the stage and blast through tunes like “Reaction” and “Sweeter Light,” gorgeous power-pop anthems that far surpass the bratty faux-punk sounds of groups like New Found Glory, Finch and, yes, the Early November. As always, the style of the live experience will be up to the crowd. “Some nights we’ll get up there ready to rock and blow people’s heads off,” says Enders. “Some nights it’s more of a classy affair with a cool vibe — people just sing along and hang out. It’s all based on what the crowd is doing. If the crowd is relaxed, we’re relaxed. If the crowd is crazy, we’ll go crazy.” Person L, My Favorite Highway and the Dangerous Summer open at 7 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. — Keith Gribbins
It’s another crazy-busy June weekend, what with festivals like the Larchmere Porchfest and BigCoolCats at Cain Park, Gay Pride and the Summer Solstice party celebrating the opening of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new wing. But if you’re seeking peace — a peaceful evening benefiting the area peace movement — there’s a laid-back evening of coffeehouse music from 6-9 p.m. tomorrow at St. Paul’s Community Church (4427 Franklin Ave.). The Cleveland Nonviolence Network, the Network of Spiritual Peace Activists and Artists for Peace are sponsoring the evening on behalf of the eighth annual Peace Show, taking place at the Free Stamp at East 9th and Lakeside on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Four veteran area performers will offer up their acoustic music on behalf of the cause — alternative folk artist John McGrail who has released numerous albums in the last two decades, singer/songwriter/theatrical music director Evie Morris, hammered dulcimer folk/bluegrass player Ian Heisey, and one of the Peace Show’s founders, Tim Smith, whose music is in a classic ’70s folk vein (Cat Stevens, James Taylor). There is no admission; a freewill offering will be taken. The Peace Show, a free event designed to counter the militaristic message of the National Air Show taking place at Burke Lakefront Airport at the same time, features music, speakers, information tables, kids’ activities and crafts. — Anastasia Pantsios
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