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Kick It Up 

Meathead-free ass-kicking at J.K. Kang's on Friday

The Vanyo Fight Team is hosting free Muay Thai kickboxing fights the first Friday of every month at 7 p.m. at J.K. Kang's Tae Kwon Do (13311 Pearl Rd., Strongsville, 440.238.9842, Led by veteran instructor Mark Vanyo, students like Mark Ondich and Cory Berry square off for three two-minute rounds — which doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot when you're getting kicked by someone who can swing his legs like a ball bat. Other schools, including Cleveland's Rising Dragon, have dropped in to compete. Evenings typically include four fights. Considering the full-contact nature of the sport, the school has an inviting atmosphere, and the fights don't feel like you're walking into the Cobra Kai dojo. "Our school is meathead-free," says Chimaira frontman Mark Hunter, a lifelong martial arts enthusiast who trains at the school when he isn't on the road. "It reminds me of a rated-PG Fight Club. The whole premise is to prepare our students for a major competition. [Fighting with an audience] helps get the edge off." The school also teaches mixed martial arts fighting and may add an MMA night at some point. Hunter recruited MMA fighter Mavrick for Chimaira's 2007 "Resurrection" video, and regularly bucks up for UFC pay-per-views, including the November match in which hulking former amateur and pro wrestler Brock Lesnar overpowered MMA legend Randy Coture. "I thought it was a really good fight," says Hunter. "I was pleasantly surprised that Lesnar did something. I think a lot of people are underestimating his skill." D.X. Ferris

TH, 4/2

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird is moving closer to the mainstream ... or maybe he's so far away from it, it just seems that way. Two years ago, the violin-playing and whistling singer-songwriter released his most accessible album, Armchair Apocrypha. It was filled with buzzing guitars, baroque trimmings and surreal songs about vinyl couches. It's a charming and graceful work, but it's also a record that shows just how bizarre Bird can be. He's one of the most unusual and individual artists making records today — the kind of guy who fills the part of a song where a guitar solo should be with whistling. Bird puckers up plenty of times on his latest album, Noble Beast. But he also reels in most of his pretensions. It's a record of glistening beauty that more often than not justifies its many quirks. Bird plays the Allen Theatre (1501 Euclid Ave., 216.241.6000, at 8 p.m. Tickets: $26-$31. — Michael Gallucci

Blind Pilot

Portland's Blind Pilot have used a variety of techniques to build their career. The folk-pop duo got things started with a West Coast bicycle tour in 2007, pedaling from town to town and selling out their debut EP. They used the cash they made on the road to record their first album, the gently exquisite 3 Rounds and a Sound, released last year. Shortly after, Starbucks added "Go On, Say It" to its website as single of the week. The resulting two-million downloads landed the group on the Billboard charts, an impressive feat for a micro-indie release. Blind Pilot was chosen to open the first leg of the Decemberists' upcoming tour. Frontman Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dobrowski augment their stage lineup with four additional members, allowing them to add the multi-instrumental flourishes that distinguish 3 Rounds' best tracks. They need vans to haul all that, so you probably won't see them peddling their bikes through North Collinwood on their way to the show. The Unsparing Sea and Josh Jesty open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, Tickets: $8. — Chris Drabick

Jessica Lurie

Jessica Lurie's Shop of Wild Dreams offers everything from straightforward, melodic tunes like "Number Six" to experimental tracks like "The Usual Things," which begins with odd-sounding guitars that provide a backdrop to the Seattle artist's free saxophone improvisations. Things sometimes stray a bit: On "Pinjur" and "Circus Rain," instruments are all over the place, making for a confusing listen. But Lurie doesn't just experiment; "Flying Man" shows just how well she plays with pianist Erik Deutsch and banjoist Erik Seabrook. Lurie also works with multimedia artist Danijel Zezelj, who paints onstage as Lurie and her band improvise. Lurie opens for Big Head Todd & the Monsters at 8 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583, Tickets: $17.50-$29.50. — Ernest Barteldes

FR, 4/3

Agnostic Front

When punk started out, it consisted of a bunch of art students entertaining each other (and their friends in the music press) in New York and London. But seemingly out of nowhere, something awful happened: Teenage street thugs took the "anyone can do it" rhetoric, spilled on behalf of the Ramones, Talking Heads and Television seriously, and hardcore — violent, macho, lunk-headed — was born. Disgusted critics ran screaming, but the music spread like a virus, creating its own legendary figures like Agnostic Front. These tattooed, muscled-up New Yorkers have been shouting their furious working-class anthems for a quarter century (give or take frontman Roger Miret's early '90s prison term), and 2007's metal-tinged Warriors was as ferocious as ever. AF's core values of fraternal unity, rage against perceived social injustice and 90-second songs haven't changed a bit since 1983, and that's just the way their fans like it. Into the pit! Ruiner, Ringworm and Hellmouth open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, Tickets: $13 advance, $15 day of show. — Phil Freeman

All City Art Show

All Cleveland residents were invited to submit work to the All City Art Show, which resulted in hundreds of pieces being entered. The judging hasn't happened yet, but Arts Collinwood, which hosts the inclusive project for the second year, is celebrating the turn-out with a party. In fact, there are parties all over Waterloo tonight, which makes a great excuse to just go out walking. The All City Arts reception runs from 6-9 p.m. at Arts Collinwood (15605 Waterloo Rd., 216.692.9500, Also check out Wunderkind Gallery (16006 Waterloo Rd., 239.293.9458), which is throwing a grand-opening bash; Lowlife Gallery (16001 Waterloo Rd.,, which opens Aloha From the Underworld with a reception from 7-11 p.m.; and the Shoparooni Annex (15813 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.3633,, which has a show called Superelectric Press launching at 7 p.m. Michael Gill


How many bands that kicked out the jams in the 1980s are still doing so today without sounding like parodies or shades of their former selves? Subtract bands outlasting trends, and among that tiny sum, you'll find Pittsburgh rockers the Cynics. Of all the myriad U.S. and U.K.-based '80s combos that fall under the rubric of garage-rockers, neo-psychedelia, jangle-rock and the paisley underground, the Cynics (formed in 1984) are among the very few retaining a rip-roaring, rockin' raison d'être. With hi-voltage guitarist Gregg "Cosmo" Kostelich and sultan-of-swagger singer Michael Kastelic at the core, the Cynics summarize the brash, basic (though not sloppy) stomp and yearning melodies that have always been at the basis of rock 'n' roll — whether it's 1964, '78, '86 or now. Texan tourmates the Ugly Beats drink from the same waters, and while they're a bit more stylized than the Cynics (organist Jeanine looks like she came straight outta American Bandstand 1967 — not that it's a bad thing, mind you), they pound with lean, insidiously catchy, winsome aplomb. The Rainy Day Saints and Hot Rails open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, Tickets: $10. Mark Keresman

Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books

Programming coordinator Lisa Heller moved to Cleveland from Philadelphia last fall to help out at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory. She says the studio has a lot to celebrate these days — especially the warm weather, which has enabled Morgan's Executive Director Tom Balbo and other artists to go back into the gigantic former factory space (it's way too expensive to heat during the winter). Three shows open tonight, including Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books, which was conceived as an international touring production. Hui-Chu Ying, associate professor of art at the University of Akron, invited 100 artists from around the globe (including a substantial contingent from Cleveland) to submit artist books in five editions so the show could tour in five different locations at the same time. Also opening are Artist Books Cleveland's Salon Show and Zygote Press director Liz Maugans' Trifold — Book, Print, Pulp. A free reception runs from 6-8 p.m. at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory (1754 E. 47th St., 216.361.9255, Gill

Rock the Puzzle

Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital's planned Autism Initiative will provide services for children, adults and families affected by autism at eight sites across the region. To support this innovative and ambitious project, the Northeast Ohio Autism Group is hosting a fundraiser, Rock the Puzzle, at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583, from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. tonight. Allan Fee of Q104 and WKYC's Andrea Vecchio host. Performers include Stan Miller, Blues DeVille, Nick Zuber, Second Place and Breakfast Club. The $100 admission includes "heavy" appetizers and wine tastings provided by Madison Ohio's Grand River Cellars, whose bottles feature labels designed by adults and children with autism. Frank Lewis

Kim Simmonds

Singer-guitarist Kim Simmonds has been string-strangling and shouting the blues for a very long time — as long as most of his Chicago blues-translating British peers. Unfortunately, Simmonds never attracted as much attention in his homeland as he did here in the U.S. His '60s and '70s output with Savoy Brown made him a late-night FM staple and even netted him a couple of radio hits, including the scorching "Tell Mama" in 1971. Simmonds, who has employed almost as many blues musicians as John Mayall, continues to tear things up with his Flying V, an astonishing 44 years after forming the first iteration of the Savoy Brown Blues Band in 1965. Tell mama, indeed. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., 216.226.5681, Tickets: $15. — Brian Baker

Three-Woman Show

Few Clevelanders have had a more colorful life than neon purveyor Dana Patterson. It's been a long, hard road for Patterson, who fights the system for his freedom to screw up how and when he chooses. But he claims he's past most of that now. He's moved into a Kamm's Corners studio (17025 Lorain Ave., 216.240.2261) and is struggling, as always, to keep the lights on. Through it all, he's doing his best to turn his studio into a respected West Side gallery. "It's nice when I sell a painting, but this is more or less about trying to give back to artists I believe in," he says. "I have a venue now to show these people off." At Three-Woman Show, Patterson will feature — you guessed it — three local female artists reaching out for deserved exposure. All are visually inclined: Heather Lindsey of Euclid, Melissa Harkins of Berea and Francisca Ugalde, originally from Chile. The show opens with a free party, from 7 p.m. -midnight. — Dan Harkins

SA, 4/4

Denny Carleton

Christian folk-rocker Denny Carleton has taught music at Willoughby Fine Arts since the early '80s. He's been in bands around town much longer than that, including stints with the Choir and the Lost Souls in the '60s. This week, the Willoughby Fine Arts Association puts Carleton in his element with a coffeehouse concert featuring stories, commentary and original acoustic music. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Gallery (38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby 440.951.7500, It's free. Gill

Kaspar Hauser

Led by former Clevelander Thomas Comerford, Chicago's Kaspar Hauser turns up the volume on their new album The Sons, which commences with the rowdy, Son Volt-inspired rocker "Not of this World" and picks up steam from there. The band's brand of Americana references all the touchstones, including Neil Young's harmonica wail and swagger on the grunge-like "Frontier." And they'll have you singing along to barroom ballads like "Prodigal Son." The guys open for local singer-songwriter Chris Allen at 9 p.m. at the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave, 216.651.9474, The $5 admission includes a copy of The Sons. — Jeff Niesel

On With the Show

In 20 years with the North Coast Men's Chorus (11 of them as its director), Richard Cole has played a huge role in shaping the organization's personality and concerts. So blame him and give him credit for the group's campy shenanigans — like the boys dressing up as girls and bringing Bernadette Peters and Armistead Maupin to town to sing with the chorus. This weekend, he's leading a program of Broadway hits, On With the Show. Performances are at 8 tonight and at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Cleveland State University's Waetjen Auditorium (2001 Euclid Ave., 216.556.0590, Tickets: $15-$40. Gill

Robots, Owls, Bees and Birds

Kris Williams had admired Kris Barnes' sculptural felted and knit stuffed toys for quite some time before they met. Williams was selling some yarn on Craigslist; Barnes called about it. Both make quirky, whimsical art they thought would appeal only to kids, but they've since found out that they have a budding adult audience too. Williams started painting in graduate school, when she was studying education. Her work — which used to be all about her dogs and other animals — changed when she had a daughter. She still paints animals, but now she paints big animals paired with baby animals. She says her work also reflects the taste of the kids she's close to, including one who really likes robots. Williams and Barnes open their show Robots, Owls, Bees and Birds with a reception from 6-9 p.m. at Local Girl Gallery (16106 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216.228.1802, It runs through April 18. It's free. Gill

SU, 4/5

Cleveland Philharmonic

When Cleveland Philharmonic music director Dr. Victor Liva asked Birch Browning to put together a program of Scandanavian music, Browning uncovered pieces he thought would be crowd-pleasers but not obvious choices. "There's so much music out there," says Browning. "The trick was trying to find music that would showcase some of the great Scandanavian composers without dropping to cliché — like Sibelius' 'Finlandia.' That gets played all the time." So Browning chose the same composer's Symphony No. 5, which he says is "a stretch for any ensemble" — a work of formal experimentation without folk tunes or a programmatic theme that often defines music of nations. He also found a place for saxophonist John Perrine, a Cleveland State University colleague, who helped him choose the Larsson Saxophone concerto. "There are only a couple of Scandanavian saxophone concertos," he says. "We liked this one because it is neoclassical and, frankly, I just always wanted to do it." Browning says they're taking a "Mozart-esque" approach to the piece, going for as much lyrical line as possible. The program starts with "a big strong concert opener," says Browning — Nielsen's Prelude to Act II from the opera Saul and David. The performance is at 3 p.m. at Tri-C Western Campus Theater (11000 W. Pleasant Valley Rd., Parma, 216.556.1800, Tickets: $5-$10. Gill

The Color Fred

Fred Mascherino left a cozy gig as guitarist and backing vocalist of alt-punk juggernauts Taking Back Sunday in 2007 to focus on spearheading the Color Fred. If it's possible create a roots-emo album — think a far indier-leaning version of Dashboard Confessional — Mascherino did so on the Color Fred's debut, Bend to Break, serving up an impressive order of environmental and animal-rights activism on the side. Meanwhile, Chiodos frontman Craig Owens' one-man acoustic set promises to include solo material, Chiodos songs, choice covers and sunny-by-comparison pop-rock offerings by his side project Cinematic Sunrise. Before respectively hitting the

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