Andy Friedman's press kit offers many descriptions of the Brooklyn poet and artist: "painter with lyrics," "master of the slide projector," "a country-blues-rock-n-roll-cabaret-spoken-song [performer]." Friedman doesn't really care what you call him. He realizes audiences need familiar and identifiable labels to pull them in. "People need to be able to sniff the ass of the dog," he says. "If I had my way, I'm just Andy Friedman. I'm just an artist."
Friedman really is hard to categorize. He basically goes onstage and recites verse while a slide show plays out behind him. Lately, he's been dragging out the Other Failures -- an electric guitarist, a mandolin player, and whatever local musicians he can round up to join him. "It's like a pickup hockey game," he says. "We'll probably find a drummer and fiddle player."
And he'll talk about whatever's on his mind. But don't expect a free-form, improvisational performance. "I'm certainly not a storyteller," explains Friedman. "A lot of people think I tell stories and show pictures of the stories. That's not what happens at all. It's not a theater performance." Friedman is at the Barking Spider Tavern (11310 Juniper Road) at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is free; call 216-421-2863. -- Michael Gallucci
In the Mix
Weekly DJ showcase eschews glow sticks and E.
David Bishop and the crew at HeadRush Music agree on at least one thing: A good time starts with a diverse Mix of people. Business folks hang with artists, homos with heteros, working class with college kids. "It's the range, attitude, and critical mass of dynamic individuals that make for a great party," says Bishop, a longtime New York DJ. "It lets people really let their guard down and enjoy themselves." Since the first Mix in October, Bishop has watched the crowds grow every weekend to hear local DJs spin. Once a month, a national headliner makes an appearance. "A lot of folks have the vision of raves in their minds," says Bishop. "They think about house events complete with glow sticks, whistles, Ecstasy, and big massive warehouses. That scene certainly still exists, but that's not the only experience that exists out there." Mix happens from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday at Abbasso, 1222 Prospect Avenue. Admission is free without open bar, $10 with it. Call 216-566-7278 for more information. -- Cris Glaser
DJ will make you thank God for Latin Fridays.
For the next three months, DJ El Bato will be mixing things up at Club 34's Viernes Latinos (translation: Latin Fridays). "I try to do something different," says El Bato, who was born in Puerto Rico and has been spinning in Cleveland for more than 34 years. "The other DJs don't play the music I play. Every night, they play reggaeton, reggaeton, reggaeton. You need different beats to get people on the floor. I play what the people want -- salsa, merengue, and reggaeton, bachata, Latin jazz. I don't give them a chance to get bored." It happens from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday at Club 34, 3400 St. Clair Avenue. Admission is $5; call 216-391-6268. -- D.X. Ferris
Juke Joint Jubilee
1/26-2/20 Playwright Gregory S. Carr penned Johnnie Taylor Is Gone in honor of the late soul singer (pictured). It's set in an old-school bar, whose owner refuses to put hip-hop on the R&B-heavy jukebox till a rap impresario offers to buy the tavern. The musical is at Karamu House (2355 E. 89th Street) Wednesday through February 20. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 to $10; call 216-795-7070. -- Cris Glaser