Back in 1991, a group of singers hired to perform musical interludes during a Stockholm Royal Dramatic Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet stayed together after the show closed. Led by artistic director Benoit Mamlberg, and accompanied by lute and percussion, Romeo & Julia Kören play a range of styles — from Italian renaissance to French baroque, with a few Slavic folk songs thrown in for good measure. Nineteen years later, the group is still at it, presenting songs as scenes, with lavish costumes and staging to set them in motion. Romeo & Julia Kören make their Cleveland debut with a “madrigal comedy” featuring music by Claudio Montverdi, followed by a collection of songs about love and melancholy, as part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Viva and Gala series. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at CMA’s Gartner Auditorium (11150 East Blvd., 216.421.7350). Tickets: $39. — Michael Gill
When Brooklyn-based singer and bassist Mark Stepro isn’t touring and recording with his band the Madison Square Gardeners, he’s taking road trips to Cleveland to jam with yuletide faves the Ohio City Singers. That might not make Stepro a jetsetter, but it does give him special affinity for Cleveland and, especially, for the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave., 216.651.9474), where the Ohio City Singers regularly play and where the Madison Square Gardeners perform at 9 tonight. The band is now on the road supporting a new EP, Tune It Up, Dime It Out, a snappy collection of power-pop tunes that connects the musical dots between Tom Petty and Paul Westerberg. — Jeff Niesel
This is the time of year when we’re being besieged by charities begging us to walk/run/bike/skate/turn cartwheels “for the cure.” The Autism Society of Greater Cleveland has a better idea that even the lazy can get behind: Eat chili to help provide support for families affected by autism. The Greater Cleveland Chili Cook-Off for Autism takes place from 6-9 p.m. at the Terrace Club at Progressive Field. There’ll be music, raffles, door prizes and, of course, chili of all types — ranging from mildly spiced with Hungarian cherry and jalapeño peppers to the habanero-infused variety for more daring eaters. Suggested donation is $20. For more information, visit the web site or call 216.556.4937. — Anastasia Pantsios
Nearly 10 years ago, the Appleseed Cast released Low Level Owl 1 and Low Level Owl 2, two heady albums that relied on the kind of undulating melodies that post-rock bands Tortoise and Trans Am are known for. But unlike most records in the genre, Appleseed Cast’s albums aren’t instrumental, even though they include instrumental interludes with repetitive guitar riffs and tepid drums. Pitchfork dug it; everyone else, not so much. Still, those two discs stand as the Kansas band’s best work. On their new tour, the Appleseed Cast are playing each album in its entirety to celebrate their recent reissue. While it’s certainly not tantamount to Springsteen playing Born to Run beginning to end, it does add significance to tonight’s show at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Dreamend, a noisy Chicago band that features Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Ryan Graveface, kicks things off at 9 p.m. Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show. — Jeff Niesel
Writer John Stark Bellamy grew up in Cleveland in a newspaper family. So he’s been hearing local disaster stories since he was a kid. But Bellamy’s fascination with the subject began in earnest when he worked as a history specialist at the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Fairview branch. “You have to be really committed to the gloom and doom of Cleveland,” says Bellamy, who now lives in Vermont. “I went through a couple of hundred years’ worth of newspapers in the course of 16 years there. Eventually I started keeping an index. I still have it. It has about 15,000 entries.” When Bellamy first started writing the nonfiction books that made him a local favorite, he aimed for scale: The more bodies the better. He later went for intrigue, exploring the personalities of killers or heroism on the part of ordinary Clevelanders. But he didn’t have much of an audience until 1995, when local publisher Gray and Co. released They Died Crawling. Bellamy’s seventh and latest volume in the series — Cleveland’s Greatest Disasters — is an anthology of greatest hits, including “Streets of Hell” (about the East Ohio Gas Company explosion), “Death in the Deep Pit” (about workers who died laying Terminal Tower’s foundation) and “Smithereen Street” (about the day West 117th Street was blown to bits by another gas explosion). Bellamy returns to Cleveland this week for a series of talks around town. Here’s where you can find him: 7 p.m. Monday, April 19, at Cuyahoga County Public Library in Bay Village (502 Cahoon Rd., 440.871.6392); 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at Cuyahoga County Public Library in Strongsville (18700 Westwood Dr., 440.238.5530); 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, at Cuyahoga County Public Library in Brecksville (9089 Brecksville Rd., 440.526.1102); 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22, at Willowick Public Library (263 E. 305th St., 440.943.4151); 7 p.m. Friday, April 23, at Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., 216.961.0084); and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 24, at Cuyahoga County Public Library in Parma Heights (6206 Pearl Rd., 440.884.2313). All of the events are free. — Michael Gill
The intrepid and experimental vocalist Nora McCarthy will make a rare hometown appearance tonight at 7 at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216.795.0550), performing material from her three independently released albums. A striking woman of unusually elastic voice, McCarthy infuses her music with poetry and theatricality that’s both stark and sensual. McCarthy left Cleveland for New York 16 years ago after working with talents like the late pianists Neal Creque, Willie Smith and Ace Carter. A devotee of classic jazz, global rhythms and the fine arts (one album was inspired by the paintings of Russian modernist Wassily Kandinsky), McCarthy is a musical colorist eager to push the envelope. On her newest CD, Circle Completing, she refreshes “Come Fly With Me” and “The Shadow of Your Smile,” converts Willie Dixon’s bluesy “Little Red Rooster” into a slow seduction, rolls out her own love songs and, in the philosophical “Faith in Time,” delivers an appropriately languid homage to a key influence, androgynous Cleveland jazz singer Jimmy Scott. Joining her at Nighttown will be pianist Dan Maier, acoustic bassist Martin Block and drummer Roy King. “I think about returning to Cleveland and miss the days when there was a more active jazz scene than I see now,” says McCarthy. “However, I always loved Cleveland, it is my hometown, and I have many great musical memories there and dear friends and family.” Tickets: $10. — Carlo Wolff
When U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson announced the first Earth Day back in 1970, there were rumors that April 22 was chosen by the avid Wisconsin environmentalist as part of a commie plot, since that’s also Lenin’s birthday. Forty years later, despite continuing opposition from right-wingers who probably still believe it’s a red rather than green thing, Earth Day has become a huge, spawning worldwide network of celebrations. Among them is the annual EarthFest at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way, 216.661.6500), sponsored by Cleveland’s Earth Day Coalition. It takes place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today, with 175 exhibits and activities to make people more aware of the impact that renewable energy, locally grown food, recycling, composting, alternative transportation and “green” home improvements can have on the environment. All activities are free with regular zoo admission: $10 adults, $7 ages 2-11. But if you register for the Earth Day Coalition’s Walk/Bike for the Earth, an easy jaunt that starts at 9 p.m. and winds up at the zoo entrance, you get in for free. Go to earthdaycoalition.org or call 216.281.6468 to sign up. — Anastasia Pantsios
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