It's been nearly 70 years since the first body washed up on Kingsbury Run, a wasteland of weeds and garbage that stretches from the Flats to East 55th Street. A new documentary, The Fourteenth Victim: Eliot Ness & the Torso Murders, examines every facet of the still-unsolved case. "People can't stop looking at this," says producer Mark Stone. "It's so fascinating and grisly." The film profiles Ness (Cleveland's safety director at the time), the murders (the so-called "Mad Butcher" decapitated his victims), and the ripples from a case that still enthralls today (DNA tests may finally reveal the killer). "There's so much material here," Stone says. "And once you commit, you're drawn right in." It airs at 10 tonight and 10:30 p.m. Saturday on PBS channels 45 and 49.
Friday, September 19
Gillian Welch has made four splendid albums of rustic folk. Her latest, Soul Journey, continues the expedition she began on 1996's Revival. Which means there are plenty of spare and leisurely songs plucked out on acoustic guitars with minimal accompaniment. Welch's roots-ready voice -- a crackling mix of twang and Americana -- complements her songwriting, which often deals with the desolation and desperation of everyday people. It can be sad -- and also very potent. Welch is at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 tonight. Tickets are $22 and $25. Call 216-383-1124 for more info.
Saturday, September 20
This weekend's sidewalk Chalk Festival is all about temporary art at its finest. While some participants opt for simple designs -- flowers, seascapes, bowls of fruit -- many others show off their prowess with self-portraits or re-creations of classic paintings. And all of them hope for good weather . . . The Chalk Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow at the Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Boulevard). It's free to watch; cost to participate is $7.50 to $15, depending on the size of your concrete canvas. Call 216-421-7340 for more information.
Today's FallFest: Heritage Day in the Metroparks' North Chagrin Reservation features homemade-apple-butter tasting, flame-cooked-popcorn munching, and mechanical-cow milking. There'll be contra and square dancing, as well as visits from Johnny Appleseed and live animals. Tomorrow's Cedar Valley Settlers Celebration at Rocky River Nature Center includes more old-fashioned eats and hands-on activities, such as rug weaving, candle dipping, and two-person sawing. The Trail Hawgs and Hillbilly Idol supply the tunes. FallFest: Heritage Day is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at North Chagrin Nature Center (Sunset Lane entrance of North Chagrin Reservation, off SOM Center Road/Route 91 in Mayfield Village; call 440-473-3370). The Settlers Celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Rocky River Nature Center (24000 Valley Parkway in North Olmsted. For more information, call 440-734-6660).
Sunday, September 21
According to Don McLean, February 3, 1959, was the day the music died. According to the Cleveland Orchestra, today is the Day of Music. The event includes worldly performances by strolling musicians, percussion troupe Dance Afrika Dance, jazz combo Roberto Ocasio's Latin Jazz Project, and gospel chorus the Voices of Koinonia. It concludes with a concert by the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Mozart, Schubert, and Strauss are lined up, along with storytelling and music-centered activities for the kiddies. The Day of Music runs from 12:30 to 6 p.m. at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Avenue). Admission is free; call 216-231-7300.
Monday, September 22
Idaho rockers Built to Spill are back in town tonight, but don't expect to hear much new material. In the two years since its last album, Ancient Melodies of the Future, the trio has lain pretty low. It spent some time on the road promoting the record, and leader Doug Martsch released a blues-infused solo album last year. Built to Spill hasn't been in a studio since the Future sessions and isn't likely to be till sometime next year. Which makes this tour a good opportunity to catch the band working through some old favorites and choice covers (their version of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" is, well, killer). Built to Spill is at the Agora Theatre (5000 Euclid Avenue) at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $5 to $15, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Tuesday, September 23
Cleveland Play House opens its 88th season tonight with 2 Pianos, 4 Hands, Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt's off-Broadway hit about two pianists and their classical dreams. The piece is billed as a "play with music," which differs from a standard musical in that "there's very little singing," according to director Bruce Sevy. "But all the scenes are framed by music, or often the centerpiece of a scene is a piece of music." A pair of actors do everything onstage, including playing parents and teachers, and perform everything from Bach to Billy Joel. "The skill level required is amazing," Sevy says. "You need two people who not only can play difficult classical piano music at a highly proficient level, but can also play a number of different characters in various styles of performance." 2 Pianos, 4 Hands runs through October 21 at the Cleveland Play House's Bolton Theatre (8500 Euclid Avenue). Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $12 to $47.50. They are available by calling 216-795-7000.
Wednesday, September 24
San Francisco artist Dale Kistemaker relives his formative years in Cleveland in the show First Sight -- An Encyclopedia of Childhood. The collection of life-sized black-and-white photographs represents the boyhood of 55-year-old Kistemaker -- pics of books, toys, clothing, and games abound. Arranged chronologically, they trace Kistemaker's possessions over the years and offer a vivid portrait of the artist as a young man. First Sight runs through January 4 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (8501 Carnegie Avenue). It's open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $3 and $4. Call 216-421-8671 for more information.