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Diane Birch plays the Grog Shop on Wednesday

Diane Birch is kinda like an American version of Amy Winehouse. But without the crack addiction. Or skankiness. Or the tendency to wander city streets at 3 in the morning in a bathrobe. But she sings an awful lot like Winehouse, with soulful ache and occasional celebration that reach all the way back to '60s R&B stars. The Michigan-born singer's debut album from last year, Bible Belt, chronicles a lifetime of globetrotting (she's lived in Los Angeles, New York, South Africa, and Australia, to name a few places). The 27-year-old connects with the past (her own, as well as R&B's) in the horn-powered "Fire Escape," "Fools," and "Rewind," all designed to showcase her big voice. But Birch isn't a showoff. Like Norah Jones, she sneaks into songs without calling attention to herself. It all comes out sounding rather effortless, despite all the heat she's giving off. Birch plays the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216-321-5588, grogshop.gs) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Tickets: $17 in advance, $20 day of show. — Michael Gallucci

Wednesday, May 26

Brown Bag at Trinity

Composer Ástor Piazzolla's combination of music from Argentina and Vivaldi's popular Four Seasons violin concertos is tough to resist. Written in the late '60s, Piazzolla's "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" mixes Vivaldi's iconic themes with sultry tango rhythms. Visiting violinist Jonathan Sturm joins the Trinity Chamber Orchestra and director Horst Buchholz in a lunchtime performance of the piece today. They'll also play Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 32 in C Major. Bring your own brown-bag lunch, or you can get something there for $5 and enjoy the free music. It starts at 12:10 p.m. at Trinity Cathedral (2230 Euclid Ave., 216-771-3630, trinitycleveland.org). — Michael Gill

Thursday, May 27

Cleveland Orchestra

Anton Bruckner has been a big part of the Cleveland Orchestra's discography ever since the late '80s, when former music director Christoph von Dohnanyi first started recording all nine of the composer's symphonies. More recently, Franz Welser-Möst has conducted live performances of three Bruckner symphonies that have ended up on DVDs. This weekend, he conducts Bruckner's Symphony No. 8, which a 19th-century critic called "interesting in detail, but strange as a whole, indeed repellent." The work's four movements last almost 90 minutes, so be sure to pee before the music starts, since there won't be an intermission. Showtime is 8 p.m. tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com). Tickets are $31 to $87. Gill

Sex & the City Ladies Night

During its 1998-2004 run, HBO's Sex and the City became a major cultural phenomenon, as women — especially those approaching middle age — identified with the four distinct personalities. And its popularity goes on and on: The 2008 movie based on the TV show now has a sequel. Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital Circle of Friends is using the release of Sex and the City 2 as a fund-raising opportunity, inviting people (well, women, primarily) to a screening party at Shaker Square Cinemas (13116 Shaker Sq., 216-921-9342, clevelandcinemas.com) today. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for appetizers from Shaker Square restaurants, wine and soda, free popcorn, live music, and mini spa services. If you really identify with Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte, come dressed like one of them and maybe win a $100 prize package. All that pampering is followed by a screening of the new movie at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40. — Anastasia Pantsios

Friday, May 28

Art Fur Animals

Snap a leash on your dog or cat and bring him down to the sixth annual Art Fur Animals, Friends of the City of Cleveland Kennel's fund-raiser for animals not as fortunate as yours. Yes, some people do bring their pets to this benefit, which attracts a mixed-age, funky, artsy crowd. The focus is on the art: Work by prominent local artists like Douglas Utter, George Kocar, Mark Yasenchak, John G., and Dana Depew will be up for silent auction all evening, while ceramic dogs and cats decorated by area artists go up for bid later on. Appetizers, wine and beer, and dance music by DJ Funk-Shway lubricate and energize browsers. Art Fur Animals takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Galleria at Erieview (1301 E. 9th St.). Tickets are $15 advance, $20 at the door. Your pet gets in free, just because he's so darn cute. Call 216-274-9480 or go to friendsofclevelandkennel.com for tickets. — Pantsios

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

If Bruce Springsteen is the expansive, epic romantic poet laureate of New Jersey, Southside Johnny Lyon is its gritty, short-story realist. While Lyon's lyrical turns were never quite as ethereal as the Boss' — there are no legs wrapped around velvet rims and hands strapped across engines in Asbury Jukes songs — they possess a basic and undeniable R&B earthiness and accessibility. Springsteen's just-add-FM-radio success in the mid-'70s briefly and deservedly brought some attention to Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, but most of it was deflected after 1978's Hearts of Stone, a minor hit that was followed by some near-misses and not-even-closes. Springsteen might have the bigger trophy room, but a Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes show has all the swagger, sweat, and unadulterated passion of any E. Street Band performance. They play the Great American Rib Cook-Off & Music Festival at 9 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City (351 Canal Rd., 216-522-4822, livenation.com). Tickets are $8 to $25. — Brian Baker

Saturday, May 29

Happy Together 25th Anniversary Tour

In 1985, '60s hitmakers the Turtles reformed and headlined a massively successful "Happy Together" oldies revue tour, named after their biggest hit. The 25th anniversary tour features a particularly classy lineup of vintage rock acts, including the Grass Roots, the Buckinghams, the Monkees' Micky Dolenz, and Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere & the Raiders. Dolenz is an exceptionally charismatic showman, and his inspired sets of Monkees' hits are among the finest on the oldies-concert circuit. Lindsay, who performs separately from the currently active Raiders touring group, was the band's singer-songwriter during its heyday. The show, part of the Great American Rib Cook Off & Music Festival, starts at 8 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City (351 Canal Rd., 216-522-4822, livenation.com). Tickets are $8 to $40. — Michael David Toth

Shen Yun

If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, a shitload of color, operatic voices, and athletic dance performances will probably help the politics go down. The New York-based performing group Shen Yun says its goal is to "revive the true, five-millennia-old artistic tradition of China that thrived before decades of suppression by the Chinese Communist Party." All that aside, the group's Chinese dance styles, magnificent voices, orchestra, and intensely colorful costumes and sets are quite dazzling. Still, the production has been criticized for promoting the Falun Gong, which was declared an "evil cult" by the Chinese government in 1999. So if that sorta thing bothers you, check your political beliefs before Shen Yun play the State Theatre (1519 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $29 to $130. Gill

Strange Matter

The Great Lakes Science Center says its latest exhibit, Strange Matter (which opens today), is all about the "study of stuff." That sounds kinda vague, we know, but one of the things you can do is make your own slime. And we're always down for some slime-making. Like all Science Center exhibits, this one is all about teaching you and your kids something with interactive displays and a large dose of fun. More than a dozen hands-on stations show you how matter is incorporated into things you use every day, like your DVD player and golf clubs. But the fun part is testing all this out. You can smash a windowpane with a bowling ball, get all touchy-feely with magnetic fluid, and test a crusher machine. Sounds like our kind of stuff. Strange Matter runs through January 3 at the Great Lakes Science Center (601 Erieside Ave., 216-694-2000, greatscience.com). It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $9.95, $7.95 for kids. Gallucci

Under the Sea

There's a whole other world in the ocean. That's the world the latest IMAX film, Under the Sea, explores. Narrator Jim Carrey takes viewers to out-of-the-way, unspoiled locations — like the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Triangle Islands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia — and submerges them, making it feel like rare and beautiful sea creatures are swimming right past them. Hey, watch out for that oil spill! Under the Sea opens today at the Great Lakes Science Center's OMNIMAX theatre (601 Erieside Ave., 216-694-2000, greatscience.com). The film screens several times daily. Go to the website for times and more info. — Pantsios

Sunday, May 30

Dokken

Dokken came out of Los Angeles in 1983 with Breaking the Chains, which established wailing singer Don Dokken and hard-rocking guitarist George Lynch as major metal players. Cut from the same cloth as the Scorpions and Blue Öyster Cult, Dokken relentlessly played the arena-rock circuit and delivered platinum hits like 1985's Under Lock and Key. But the band called it quits in 1989, a couple of years before Nirvana would have made it obsolete anyway. Dokken reformed in the mid-'90s and have been on a roller-coaster ride since (Lynch left the group, and the rhythm section was completely restructured). The band's latest album, 2008's Lightning Strikes Again, is a halfhearted attempt to return to its former glory. L.A. Guns, Trixter, and Danger Danger round out the '80s-oriented lineup, part of today's Great American Rib Cook-Off & Music Festival. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Amphitheater at Tower City (351 Canal Rd., 216-522-4822, livenation.com). Tickets range from $8 to $25. — Jeff Niesel

Hellenic Heritage Festival

As with most ethnic festivals, the real star of the Hellenic Heritage Festival at Tremont's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (2187 W. 14th St., 216-861-0116, annunciationcleveland.org) is the food — moussaka, baklava, dolmades, spanakopita. All that and more will be dished up in the churchyard and basement from noon to 10 p.m. today. Greek music and dancing, tours of the church, and a flea market are also part of the free event. But it's the Greek goodies, made by church members, that draw people from around the region year after year to this beautiful church nestled under a freeway ramp just west of downtown. — Pantsios

Monday, May 31

Berea Rib Cook-Off

If you can't find ribs in Cleveland during Memorial Day weekend, you aren't really trying. Between the Great American Rib Cook-Off at Tower City Amphitheater and Berea's National Rib Cook-Off, you should be well fed and entertained. The Berea Cook-Off, which kicks off Friday at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds (164 Eastland Rd., 440-234-5181, berearib.com), wraps up from noon-9 p.m. today with two bands that allow older rib-eaters the chance to indulge in nostalgia and younger ones the opportunity to hear some classic rock. The New Century Beatniks feature guitarist John Zdravecky and drummer Michael Hudak — onetime members of one of Cleveland's most popular '70s/'80s groups, Love Affair — playing the '60s and '70s music that inspired them. And tribute act Aftermath devotes each set to a different genre of '60s music, fully costumed to match the style. More than a dozen chefs provide ribs, and if ribs don't tickle your fancy, you can gorge on all the usual fair food, like hot dogs, french fries, funnel cakes, and cotton candy. A rock-climbing wall and inflatable play areas will keep the kids busy. Admission is $5. Kids under 12 get in free. — Pantsios

Tuesday, June 1

Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of the Doors

Riders on the storm are approaching, lighting fires for fans of one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Billed as Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of the Doors, the keyboardist and guitarist will perform Doors material with bassist Phil Chen, drummer Ty Dennis, and Fuel singer Brett Scallions, subbing for the still-dead Jim Morrison. While no one can replace the charismatic recklessness of rock's poet laureate, beggars can't be choosers. Manzarek is 71 and Krieger is 64, and these rock icons are still dynamiting the stage with some of the best psychedelic rock ever written. So feel free to scream "Light My Fire." The band's fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and poetry will time-warp you to the golden age of the hippie, where you can moon dance on the backs of Krieger's spidery guitar fills and Manzarek's reptilian organ riffs. The show starts at 8 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-523-2583, houseofblues.com). Tickets are $27.50 advance, $30 day of show. — Keith Gribbins

Mynabirds

Laura Burhenn may be best known for her stint in the short-lived jangle-pop duo Georgie James, but she's been releasing solo albums since 1999. Her latest, under the Mynabirds moniker, is a far cry from Georgie James' up-tempo energy blasts. While much of her older material centered on punk sensibilities and political messages, Burhenn's new songs include more personal messages about rebuilding and recovery. The singer moved from Washington, D.C., to Omaha after Georgie James split in 2008 and worked with local musicians on her Mynabirds debut, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, including Bright Eyes' Nate Walcott, who arranged the horns. She plays the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com), with Cowboy and Indian opening at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Danielle Sills

Jack Ricchiuto

"In this golden age of connection, screens reshape the meaning of 'distant' and 'close,'" writes Jack Ricchiuto in the introduction to his 2009 book, The Stories That Connect Us. Opening with these heady words might make it seem like the author is gearing up to tell us how computers are tearing us apart (especially since he promises to explore whether social media is "eroding or empowering our cultural capacity for narrative"). But Ricchiuto's stories turn out to be more durable than the media that carries them. Turns out that he has something to say about building narrative skills and keeping them sharp as we adapt them to media designed for short attention spans and limited keystrokes. Ricchiuto will talk about his book, answer questions, and share some stories at 7 p.m. at Mac's Backs Paperbacks (1820 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-321-2665, macsbacks.com). Admission is free. Gill

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