- The force comes to town this weekend for a Star Wars Spectacular (droids optional).
Only John Williams knows the music of Star Wars better than Erich Kunzel. Williams wrote it, after all. But Kunzel, director of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, is a close second, having performed and recorded most of the six films' scores.
So there's no one better to present this weekend's Star Wars Spectacular. "John's music is so symphonic, and the results are fantastic," says Kunzel. "He knows how to make an orchestra sound terrific."
If Star Wars fans aren't already salivating, they will be when they learn that Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in all the movies, narrates the concerts performed by the Cincinnati Pops. Daniels will recount the entire Star Wars saga -- from Anakin's birth to his rebirth as Darth Vader. "As the story is narrated, people can realize how well John wove all the motifs together," says Kunzel. "It's very tightly knit."
And thanks to Revenge of the Sith, Kunzel has a full program in his hands. "It completes both the music and the narrative," he says. "This is the perfect time to put them all together." Feel the force at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday at Blossom Music Center, 1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls. Tickets are $19 to $42; call 216-231-1111. -- Zachary Lewis
Singer can't escape that azure mood.
A stint in Holland last year to sing with a Dutch blues band was just the inspiration trumpeter Kristine Jackson needed before forming Basically Blue. "I had the urge to do more than just be a horn player," says Jackson about her role in Blues on Purpose, the band she founded in 2001. "I needed to search for something more." Today, Jackson sings in the smaller Acoustically Blue, when she's not fronting the jazzier Basically Blue (see a theme here?) quintet. "She has a way of making you enjoy how she lays it down," says Buddy Miles Express bandleader Mark "Muggie Doo" Leach. "If the rest of the band isn't on their p's and q's, you can bet she's walking away as MVP of the night." Basically Blue performs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at Club 2527, 2527 West 25th Street. Admission is free; call 216-771-2527. -- Cris Glaser
Local septet horns in on slinky grooves.
Trombonist Kris Morron says it's a "natural fit" for his seven-piece Aphrodesiatics to open for instrumental funksters Breakestra this week at the Grog Shop. He points to the jazz and funk vinyl records that he and his bandmates grooved to after class (most of them met while attending Tri-C together). "I've listened to a lot of Kool & the Gang, James Brown, and Parliament-Funkadelic for a long time," says Morron, aka Skinny K. "We like to play music that gets people dancing, rather than doing cheesy pop tunes." The Aphrodesiatics play at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $10; call 216-321-5588. -- Cris Glaser
Driving That Train
On its mouthful-of-a-title debut Twilight Tales From the Prairies of the Sun, New York-based neo-hippie Steel Train sounds a lot like the Grateful Dead. Which shouldn't come as much of a surprise, since producer Stephen Barncard and mandolin player David Grisman collaborated with the Dead. See whether Steel Train stretches songs to 25 minutes at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Avenue) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $11; call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci