15+ Things to Do in Cleveland This Weekend (Dec. 15-18)

Bill Squire's Christmakwanzakah returns to Agora and Ohio City Singers bring their holiday show to Rock Hall

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click to enlarge Pete Lee. - Hilarities.com
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Pete Lee.
Our weekly picks of the best things to do in Cleveland this weekend. Also check out our full Cleveland event calendar.

THU 12/15
Pete Lee

Reportedly the first standup comedian to get a standing ovation on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, comedian Pete Lee likes to joke about how he's such a huge people pleaser, he even hugs Uber drivers goodbye and offers to drive for them. The nerdy comic is currently a cast member of TruTV's Greatest Ever and hosts NFL Rush on Nickelodeon's Nick Toons. He performs at 7 tonight at Hilarities, where he has shows scheduled through Saturday.
2035 East Fourth St., 216-241-7425, pickwickandfrolic.com.

Cleveland Orchestra Holiday Concerts

Holiday Concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Chorus return to Mandel Concert Hall this month. Tonight's concert takes place at 7:30. It also features the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and members of the Blossom Music Festival Chorus. Performances continue through Sunday.
11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

Hamilton
With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, the Broadway hit returns to the State Theatre. Tonight's performance takes place at 7:30, and the play runs through Jan. 15.
1519 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Magic of Lights

A drive-through holiday lights experience featuring holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations, Magic of Lights returns to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds this holiday season. Hours are 5:30 through 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. Check the website for ticket prices.
19201 East Bagley Rd., Middleburg Heights, 440- 243-0090, magicoflights.com/events/northeastohio/.

The Nutcracker
Tonight at 7 at Connor Palace, the Cleveland Ballet presents this famous ballet in two acts that based on the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Performances continue through Sunday.
1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

The Sheepdogs
The Sheepdogs are a band that looks back fondly to the classic rock past. The Canadian group is most notorious as the act that won Rolling Stone magazine’s “Choose the Cover” contest, and as a result will go down in rock history as the first unsigned band to appear on the magazine’s cover. Not that they stayed unsigned for long after that. After getting the attention, the band signed a deal with Atlantic and recruited Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney to handle production duties on their major label debut. As part of a tour in support of their latest power pop-leaning effort, Outta Sight, they perform tonight at 8 at the Beachland Ballroom. Tickets cost $18 in advance, $20 at the door.
15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

“Soft/Loud” Lecture with Dr. Theo Cateforis
Today at 7 at the Rock Hall, Syracuse-based musicologist Theo Cateforis presents his lecture Soft/Loud. He'll discuss the songwriting form ushered in by alternative rock in the 1990s. Often referred to as the “soft/loud,” it became one of the genres and era’s strongest sonic markers. Laying out the history of songwriting form, Cateforis considers some possible pre-cursors of the soft/loud song form, from the classic rock of the 1960s and 1970s to the power ballads of the 1980s, as points of comparison, while noting the significant differences the song form assumed in the 1990s. Admission is free.
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216-515-8444, rockhall.com.

Spider-Verse Art Show
Carol and John's Comic Book Shop is hosting a Spider-Man themed art show featuring local artists who have created custom comic book covers showing their alternate version of Spider-Man. More than 120 covers will be on display from today through Saturday and can be won through a basket raffle system whereby one dollar gets you one ticket towards the cover of your choice. All funds collected will go directly to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
17462 Lorain Ave., 216-252-0606, cnjcomics.com.

FRI 12/16
14th Annual Holiday Hangout

The annual concert that takes place tonight at 7:30 at the Goodyear Theater in Akron will feature full-band holiday-themed sets from the Shootouts as well as northeast Ohio favorites such as the Labra Brothers, Angie Haze, Hey Monea, Marc Lee Shannon, Ohio Weather Band and Shelby Olive.
1201 East Market St., Akron, goodyeartheater.com.

2022 Holiday Market at 818 Studios
Vendors such as R.E.Y. Designs, K. Selvaggio, Urbal Guru, Gypsy Hermit Trading Company, Urban Rootz Artisan Soap, Denise and Judy, Barbara Merritt, Dott Von Schneider, Tessa, LaBaron, Jenny Glowe, Floyd Art will be on hand for this holiday market that takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. at 818 Studios. Hot chocolate, coffee and sweets will be served.
818 Jefferson Ave., merrittphoto.com/818studios.html.

Michael Blackson
Known as the "African King of Comedy," Michael Blackson developed his comedic skills with original humor and the ability to be fearless on stage. He jokes about current affairs and takes aim at celebs such as Kim Kardashian and Michael Jordan; however, he also focuses on more serious topics such as race, his love for America and his African descent. He performs at 7:30 and 10 tonight and at 6:30 and 9 tomorrow night at the Improv.
1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV, clevelandimprov.com.

Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers, an NBA team that seems to be stuck in a state of perpetual rebuilding but has performed well this year thanks, in part, to talented rookie Bennedict Mathurin,  come to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to take on the Cavs at 7:30.
One Center Court, 216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com.

Christmakwanzakah 2022
Local comedian Bill Squire's headlines this annual event that features performances by fellow comics Mary Santora, John Bruton, Mike Polk Jr. and Jasmyn Carter. The comedy starts rolling tonight at 7 at the Agora.
5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221, agoracleveland.com.

Elf the Musical
Elf the Musical centers on Buddy, a guy who grew up in the magical North Pole after stowing away in Santa’s bag as an orphaned infant and whose excitable and naive character is in for the culture-shock of a lifetime as he searches for his biological father in New York City. Buddy’s ecstatic nature, and elf suit, leaves him sticking out like a sore thumb in the big city but Buddy must find a way for his family to embrace the spirit of Christmas. Performances take place tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 at the Beck Center for the Arts. A performance also takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The play runs through Dec. 30.
17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 440-933-6210, beckcenter.org.

Friday Night Lights!
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History stays open until 8 tonight to feature special programming, including current science presentations, gallery talks, up-close looks at the museum’s animals, in-depth conversations with curators and special guests, and access to the Ralph Mueller Observatory, weather permitting. The events are free for members. For nonmembers, normal admission rates apply, and guests who purchase a ticket at any time on Friday are welcome to stay past 5 p.m. at no additional cost.
1 Wade Oval Dr., 216-231-4600, cmnh.org.

Holiday Lantern Tours
From 5 to 10 p.m. today at Hale Farm & Village, you can learn about the history and folklore of gingerbread while on a candle-lit tour through our historic grounds. You'll also see village residents as they prepare for the holiday season in the 1840s. Reservations are required.
2686 Oak Hill Rd., Newton Falls, 330-666-3711, halefarm.org.

LAKIM
A DJ and producer whose worked on tracks by artists such as Cousin Stizz, Yung Gravy & Lil Baby and Kemba, LAKIM performs tonight at Re:Bar. JamsDAVIS shares the bill and Mr. Fowler serves as host. Doors open at 10 p.m.
2130 E. 9th St., rebarcleveland.com.

Soul Clap
Known for marathon sets that are "an adventure into the future of funk with firm ties to the classics," Soul Clap comes to Crobar tonight at 9. Since the group aims to eliminate single use plastic from nightlife, the folks at Crobar have purchased reusable plastic cups. Guests may also bring their own reusable bottles. DJ Zoe will deliver a special extended opening set.
3244 St. Clair, 216-771-4727, crobar1921.com.

Slave to the Grave 2022 Tour

The Rochester, NY-based death metal band Undeath brings its co-headlining Slave to the Grave 2022 tour with the equally heavy locally based 200 Stab Wounds to the Foundry in Lakewood. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $20 day of show.
11729 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-555-6669, facebook.com/foundrycleveland.

SAT 12/17
15-60-75 The Numbers Band

For more than 50 years now, the avant blues act 15-60-75 The Numbers Band has been a singular entity on the local music scene. Band leader Bob Kidney is a compelling frontman who has a poet’s sensibility and plays a mean guitar too. Songs such as the woozy "Narrow Road" are simply mesmerizing. Tonight's show starts at 8 at Jilly's Music Room in Akron.
111 N. Main St., Akron, 330-576-3757, jillysmusicroom.com.

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter

A Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, known for his work with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers and from the many hit recordings he’s performed on as an in-demand, first-call studio musician, just released his first-ever solo album, Speed of Heat, earlier this year. The single, a hard-driving remake of Steely Dan’s “My Old School,” features a rare lead vocal by Baxter himself and suggests the wide range of material found on the album, which also includes a handful of original tunes. He'll play tunes from the album as well as a few "surprises" at tonight's concert at the Kent Stage. The show begins at 7:30.
175 E. Main St., Kent, 330-677-5005, kentstage.org.

Beachland Holiday Flea
The Beachland Ballroom will host its annual Holiday Flea today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Several vendors specialize in music-centric items such as vinyl, band merchandise and art. But that’s not all. There will also be vendors selling vintage clothing, jewelry and more. We are sure to find some incredibly rare finds. It's free to shop.
15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

Nissim Black
Damian Jamohl Black, who began running a hip-hop label when he was only 18, changed his stage name to Nissim Black after his conversion. As Nissim Black, he’s released a number of socially conscious albums and singles. His latest mixtape, Love Notes, features everything from ballads such as “Win” to pop-inspired numbers like “Best Friend” and "Hold Me Down." All the while, Black, who currently lives in Jerusalem, shows off his rapid-fire delivery and ability to alternate between singing and rapping. The rapper performs tonight at 7:30 at the Grog Shop.
2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588, grogshop.gs.

Jim Brickman
Pianist Jim Brickman plays this part of the country every holiday season. Expect to hear both holiday favorites along with Brickman’s own holiday songs like “The Gift,” “Sending You a Little Christmas,” “Angel Eyes,” and “If You Believe” when Brickman performs today at 2 and 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Hanna Theatre.
2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Browns take on Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, their division rivals, today at 4:30 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won a close one earlier in the season in Baltimore. The Browns will undoubtedly want to play the role of spoilers today.
100 Alfred Lerner Way, 440-891-5000, clevelandbrowns.com.

Cavaliers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Led by Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić, the Dallas Mavericks are one of the best teams in the Western Conference. They'll provide the Cavs with a good test when they come to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse tonight at 8.
216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com.

Ward Davis
A singer-songwriter outta Monticello, AR by way of Nashville, Ward Davis has had songs recorded by Trace Adkins, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Wade Hayes, Sammy Kershaw, Bucky Covington, Jimmie Van Zant, Buddy Jewel, Carolina Rain and the Roys. Most recently, Ward Davis co-wrote “I’m Not The Devil” with Cody Jinks. He comes to the Beachland Ballroom tonight at 8.
15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

Donnie Iris & the Cruisers
Pittsburgh-based Donnie Iris found his early success while performing with the Jaggerz and Wild Cherry, which had a massive hit with the single “Play that Funky Music.” Iris released his first album, Back on the Streets, in 1980 through Cleveland-based Midwest Records. Thanks to the track "Ah! Leah!" receiving airplay, MCA Records took notice and signed Iris to a five-album deal before re-releasing the album. Since then, Donnie Iris & the Cruisers have gone through lineup changes but have soldiered on, releasing 11 studio albums, one EP, two live albums and two compilation albums. The band returns to MGM Northfield Park — Center Stage tonight at 7:30.
10705 Northfield Rd., Northfield, 330-908-7793, mgmnorthfieldpark.mgmresorts.com/en.html.

Monsters vs. Laval Rocket
The Laval Rocket come to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse today at noon to take on the Monsters in the first of a two-game series. The two teams will go at it again at 6 p.m. tomorrow.
One Center Court, 216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com.

Winter Carols and Lullabies
Following their successful collaboration on Cleveland-based Mushroomhead's A Wonderful Life album, Cleveland Chamber Choir and Dr. F (Ryan Farrell) are working together again, this time on a more classical choral concert. CCC has commissioned Farrell to write a set of holiday carols based on the German legend of Krampus (who comes and steals away naughty children). The concert showcases the Cleveland Chamber Choir under the direction of Jelani Watkins in a concert with more than two-thirds of the works being from the twentieth or twenty-first centuries. In addition to the Krampus Carols by Dr. F, there is also a commissioned Hanukkah piece by Mickey McGroarty. Today's concert takes place at 7 p.m. at St. Peter Catholic Church. Tomorrow's concert takes place at 4 p.m. at Disciples Christian Church in Cleveland Heights. Find more info on the website.
clevelandchamberchoir.org.

SUN 12/18
Breakfast with Santa

This holiday tradition takes place from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. There will be a limited, seating breakfast inside the magically decorated gardens. Following breakfast, meet Santa for a, photo and to share your wish list. There will be an array of crafts, including creating a custom, cookie plate for Santa when he visits. Advance ticket purchase is required.
11030 East Blvd., 216-721-1600, cbgarden.org.

Ohio City Singers
In 2003, local singer-songwriter Chris Allen, his sister Molly Allen and local singer-songwriter Doug McKean worked up four original Christmas tunes and then threw a big Christmas party to which they invited their musician friends. They played the four original tunes they had penned as well as a few covers, recorded them and delivered them on a CD to their families as a Christmas gift. That signaled the birth of the Ohio City Singers. The band would expand to include some of the best musicians in the region. It brings its holiday show to the Rock Hall today at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $25, or $20 for Rock Hall members.
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216-515-8444, rockhall.com.

Ben Moore
In one particular skit, comedian Ben Moore makes fun of his white friends who like to preface their racist statements by saying things like "I'm not racist, but ... ." He says he wonders if blatant racists, like members of the Ku Klux Klan, do the opposite, saying, "I'm a racist, but ..." before stating something that's not racist. The Cincinnati-based comic has won regional competitions, and WTF podcast host/comedian/actor Marc Maron calls him "very funny." He performs tonight at 8 at Hilarities.
2035 East Fourth St., 216-241-7425, pickwickandfrolic.com.

Turn Blue! A Benefit for Chris Yarmock

Metrolight, Home and Garden, California Speed Bag, David Loy and the Ramrods, Val Seeley and Mike DeCapite will perform today at 3 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern as part of a special benefit for Cleveland punk rock icon Chris Yarmock, who was severely injured while riding his bicycle. Tickets cost $10.
15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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