A great first album can be both a blessing and a curse. Marshall Crenshaw’s 1982 self-titled debut stands as a power-pop classic, packed with a dozen slices of hooky nirvana. Timeless tunes like “Someday, Somewhere” and “Cynical Girl” serve as simple yet sublime examples of Beatlesque tuneage (perhaps not surprisingly, considering Crenshaw played John Lennon in an early production of Beatlemania). The down side of making a classic is following it up. Crenshaw’s subsequent releases garnered critical kudos, but they never quite matched his debut’s magical charm. Over the years, he’s continued to make well-regarded albums. He also penned a hit for the Gin Blossoms, played guitar with the reconstituted MC5, contributed to the Walk Hard soundtrack and wrote a book about rock ’n’ roll movies. His latest CD, Jaggedland (his first in six years), is another fine example of pop craftsmanship. The Detroit native still writes songs about life and love, although the years have added layers of poignancy and perspective. His new tunes might not exude his earlier records’ jingle-jangle jubilance, but tracks like “Long Hard Road” and “Just Snap Your Fingers” resonate as grown-up love odes, while “Eventually” and “Sunday Blues” offer ruminations on adulthood’s tribulations. Although he’s no longer the young romantic “rockin’ around in N.Y.C.,” Crenshaw remains a pop-rock master. Ben Gmetro opens at 8 p.m., at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $15 advance, $17 at door. — Michael Berick
Streetlight Manifesto represent everything that made the third-wave ska revival great: a tight, flashy horn section; uptempo arrangements full of frenetic energy; punky guitars and vocals; a slight hardcore edge. What they blessedly lack is the watered-down, formulaic ska-light pap that rode the heels of that wave onto the radio dial in the mid-’90s. Thanks to singer Tomas Kalnoky’s rough edge, the band has retained a strong dose of punk, which plays well against the tight and cleanly orchestrated music. The horn lines, in particular, are lean, muscular and creatively arranged. While the band clearly falls into many of third-wave ska’s formulas, it’s not because it lacks originality; there’s real love there for the choppy, offbeat guitars and the bright pop of brass. Without these elements, the music would cease to be what it is in the first place: a portable party machine for sweaty inebriates, unmoved by matters of faddish popularity. Another reason this show’s a must-see: After this tour, the band is taking a year-long hiatus and will then cut back its touring schedule. !OUTERNATIONAL! and Broadway Calls open at 8 p.m. at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $16. — Nicholas Hall
Euclid Beach Park closed in 1969 after 75 seasons. With the growing trend toward super-parks, the amusement parks that had sprung up in the late 1800s and early 1900s rapidly disappeared: Canton’s Meyers Lake in 1974, Youngstown’s Idora Park in 1978, Medina’s Chippewa Lake in 1984. Euclid Beach is remembered with particular affection and has had a lingering afterlife — in a book (Euclid Beach Park Is Closed for the Season), Euclid Beach taffy and popcorn balls (which are sold in many area stores) and a club called Euclid Beach Park Now, which for the fifth year is sponsoring Remembering the Sights & Sounds of Euclid Beach Park. It takes place at the site of the former park at 16301 Lakeshore Blvd. from 1-5 p.m. and includes walking tours with the locations of the old rides marked with pictures (and in some cases, pieces of the rides themselves), refreshments, games, artwork, artifacts, and Rocket Ship Car and Thriller Coaster Car rides. There’ll also be a car show called “Cars We Drove to Euclid Beach,” featuring vintage rides from 1969 and earlier. It’s all free. Go to euclidbeach.com for more info. — Anastasia Pantsios
Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Möst opens the orchestra’s family season with an introduction to his ensemble today. He’ll lead them through music selections that showcase each section so kids can get a feel for the sounds of the different string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. You can show up an hour before the concert for free interactive activities, including an up-close introduction to the instruments. It starts at 2 p.m. at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave, 216.231.1111). Tickets: $10-$23. — Michael Gill
A decade ago, these obscure proto-punks never even blipped on the radars of the vinyl junkies or noise-lovin’ hipsters who heap praise on them these days. That’s because the three Hackney brothers put out only one single, which was self-released in 1976 and limited to 500 copies. They formed in Detroit in 1970 as just another of the city’s solid but indistinguishable R&B bands. Inspired by Detroit’s rock scene, they totally scrapped their funky sound in favor of some raw power. Death’s demo landed in the hands of record exec Clive Davis, who set them up in a studio, where the sibs started making their debut album. Then Davis asked them to change their band name to something less sinister. They refused and were booted from Columbia Records, leaving with the seven songs they completed. One 45 was released, and that was it for Death … until one of the songs landed on a punk compilation seven years ago. The slow-building buzz since then eventually led to … For the Whole World to See, which came out earlier this year and includes the seven songs Death recorded in 1975. The two surviving members (one of the guys died from lung cancer in 2000) are playing only three shows in support of the album, and one of them is at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124) at 9 p.m. Rough Francis — which includes three sons of one of the Hackney brothers — and Cleveland’s This Moment in Black History open. Tickets: $13 advance, $15 day of show. — Michael Gallucci
Back in 1973, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White got together for the first time during a weeklong gig that would ultimately launch their lineup of Corea’s fusion mega-group Return to Forever. Last summer, the three reunited with Al Di Meola to revisit some of the band’s electric classics. But on their current tour, Corea sheds the keyboards and synths, Clarke leaves his electric bass at home and the focus shifts to an acoustic trio that will make the most of the telepathic communication these musicians have developed and honed over the years. Recalling the interactive approach that made Corea’s 1968 album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs a classic of the modern era, the trio covers a range of material, including favorites like “Spain,” “Steps — What Was” and “What Game Shall We Play Today?” Corea, Clarke and White play House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583) at 8 tonight in a benefit concert for the Human Fund. Tickets: $32.50 advance, $35 day of the show. — C. Andrew Hovan
Beethoven’s string quartets cover a lot of musical ground. The early ones are in the classical tradition: very orderly and clear. The middle ones — known as the Razumovsky quartets — push the form and add some drama, and are the most popular. The later ones are the most complex. Having played all 16 of them last year at public libraries around town, the Cavani String Quartet begins the cycle again this afternoon — this time at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The first program in the two-year project includes Quartets No. 9 (one of the Razumovskys) and No. 14. Violinists Annie Fullard and Mari Sato, violist Kirsten Docter and cellist Merry Peckham perform at 2 p.m. at CIM’s Mixon Hall (11021 East Blvd., 216.791.5000). Admission is free, but seating passes are required. — Michael Gill
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