If you told Peg Neeson nine years ago that the World Series of Wine would still be around today, she would have clobbered you with a bottle of Shiraz. A November blizzard pummeled the area on the morning of the first outing in 1995. "We said, 'Nobody's going to come! It's going to be horrible, and we'll have to give all these refunds!'" recalls organizer Neeson, who's since calmed down. "But they came!"
And wine connoisseurs have been taste-testing samples of 400 vinos ever since. From California's Napa Valley to the wine regions of Italy and France, 150 vintners uncork their vintages for wine collectors and novices alike. "Some people are scared of wine," says Neeson. "If you go out for dinner at a nice restaurant, you say, 'Geez, a bottle of wine is going to cost 50 bucks.' For a lot of us, that's a big investment."
Enter the Series, where folks really learn -- unlike at other tastings, sniffs Neeson, "where people guzzle just about as much as they can." It begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Sunday and 1 p.m. Saturday at Jacobs Field's Terrace Club, 2401 Ontario Street. Tickets are $70 (Saturday) and $80 (Friday and Sunday); call 216-398-2800. -- Cris Glaser
Mekons member makes the most of men.
One glance at the title and cover of Sally Timms's new CD, In the World of Him, might imply it's an exercise in man-bashing. But forget the picture of long-faced Sally, sitting on the edge of the rumpled motel-room bed, in the red slip and the stiletto heels. In the World of Him is a collection of songs written by men (Ryan Adams, Kevin Coyne, Johnny Dowd, fellow Mekons member Jon Langford) dealing with men's deeper concerns, such as wars, wars between the sheets, and the inability to express emotions without looking like a wimp. Timms, who grew up in Leeds and now lives in Chicago, has given us a "Stand by Your Man" for the post-feminist era. Timms performs at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 p.m. Thursday. Johnny Dowd is also on the bill. Tickets are $10, available by calling 216-383-1124. -- Steve Byrne
Howard Johnson blows a mean tuba and flügelhorn and . . .
Though considered by music biographers as the most influential tuba soloist in modern jazz (and who are we to argue?), Howard Johnson is more than a one-instrument man. As an original member of the Saturday Night Live house band, the Massillon native is proficient on the tuba, baritone sax, bass clarinet, flügelhorn, and pennywhistle. In the mid-'60s, Johnson moved to New York and sat in on recording sessions with jazz giants Charles Mingus and Hank Crawford. A few years later, he found himself performing with Taj Mahal and arranging scores for B.B. King. Johnson performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tri-C's Metro Campus, 2900 Community College Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-987-4400. -- Cris Glaser
Death From Above
At the St. Ignatius Rubber City Ultimate Symposium Juggling Festival, folks will gather their balls and clubs and go to work. "The sport is freakishly difficult," says spokesman Ben Becker. "It [can involve] torches, knives, and pretty much any set of household items that some juggler saw creative possibilities in juggling." It happens from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Ignatius High School, 1911 West 30th Street. Admission is free; call 216-651-0222. -- Lucy McKernan
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