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Get Out: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The Cleveland Orchestra leads this week's holiday event picks

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30

Cleveland Boomerang School

Anyone who's ever hurled a boomerang has had great expectations of it returning to his or her hand with cartoon precision. Unfortunately, the thing usually slams into the ground about 200 feet away from us. Next time you find yourself alone in the bush, you can draw on some of the things you'll learn from Cleveland Boomerang School headmaster Dave Boehm, who will help hone your 'rang skills at today's class. It may not be the outback, but Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Howe Meadow should serve as fine training grounds, with plenty of room for practice. Today's "Back Again" event is the first of four sessions taking place this summer, all leading up to the Boomerang Extravaganza on August 22. It all goes up and down, and hopefully back at ya, at Howe Meadow (4040 Riverview Rd., Peninsula, 216-524-1497, nps.gov/cuva) from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Nick Baker

A Celebration of Jazz

You usually don't see the words "jazz" and "career" in the same sentence, but that doesn't stop the nation's best musicians from doing their thing. The Monterey Jazz Fest Next Generation Jazz Band includes high school kids from across the country, all with topnotch chops, led by sax player Paul Contos. They kick off their 2010 tour in Cleveland tonight with a concert to benefit Tri C's Jazz Studies program. Joining them onstage will be members of the Tri-C Jazz Fest High School All-Stars, as well as one of the school's most famous alums, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Hanna Theatre (2067 E. 14th St., 216-241-6000. playhousesquare.org). Tickets range from $10 to $20. Michael Gill

Mike Polk

The mastermind behind the "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism" videos brings his standup act to his hometown this weekend. Polk may not be able to top the YouTube video where he takes Norton Furniture's Marc Brown out for a day on the town — nothing beats watching the slightly creepy furniture guru perform his commercial for you in person! — but his onstage mix of songs, videos, and traditional joke-telling add up to a distinctive comedy experience. Polk performs at the Cleveland Improv (2000 Sycamore St.) at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, and 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets range from $12 to $18. Call 216-696-4677 or visit clevelandimprov.com more for info. Jordan Zirm

THURSDAY, JULY 1

Hangover Eats

Hangovers are the worst. Waking up in pitch blackness (because you drew all the blinds to block out the sun) and limping to the bathroom as your head throbs isn't an ideal way to start any morning. A hangover can ruin even the most ambitious person's plans for the day. And while a Baconater from Wendy's might seem like a mouth-watering, greasy cure to your aching head, there's a much healthier alternative: Foodgazi's Hangover Eats class will show you how to make the best hangover elixirs — from an antioxidant smoothie that balances your blood to tofu rancheros to sop up all that excess alcohol floating around in your body. You'll be ready to drink — er, we mean, be productive — in no time! The class runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at Foodgazi (8911 W. Ridgewood Dr., Parma). Fee is $65. Call 216-539-4645 or visit foodgazi.blogspot.com to register. Zirm

The Foreigner

Larry Shue's 1984 comedy The Foreigner is a soufflé of a play, stuffed with daffy, improbable characters. Set in a Georgia hunting lodge, it revolves around a shy man who avoids speaking to other guests by pretending not to understand English. Needless to say, this frees up the tongues of those around him to say things they otherwise might be more discreet about. Hilarity ensues — or should, if the play is acted and directed with the proper light touch. Porthouse Theatre (1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls), which specializes in exactly this type of summery fun, opens the show at 8 p.m. tonight. Tickets range from $13 to $36. The show runs through July 17. Call 330-672-3884 or visit dept.kent.edu for more info. — Anastasia Pantsios

Cleveland Orchestra

Only 17 years old, violinist Caroline Goulding has already performed with the Cleveland Orchestra and recorded a CD that snagged a Grammy nomination. Having just wrapped her first year at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Goulding appears with the Orchestra today at its annual Public Square concert. Her performance includes a patriotic piece — Henri Vieuxtemps' variations on Yankee Doodle, a.k.a. "Souvenir d'Amérique" — and another virtuoso work, Pablo de Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs). Goulding will also play an arrangement of Gershwin's "Summertime." The rest of the program is rich in Americana, including the "Hoedown" from Aaron Copland's Rodeo and Russia's contribution to the genre, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Tito Muñoz conducts. A pre-concert festival starts at 5 p.m. on Public Square. Music begins at 8:45 p.m. Call 216-231-1111 or visit clevelandorchestra.com for more info. Admission is free. Gill

FRIDAY, JULY 2

OddyFest #23: An American Trilogy

Anyone can celebrate America's history with a carefully choreographed fireworks display set to the Top Gun soundtrack. But one local theater maverick and some likeminded pals are planning a different type of birthday bash: a trilogy of one-act plays that examine our nation's history and culture through an altogether different spectacle. Matt Greenfield — playwright, director, and founder of the local independent theater troupe the Oddy Festival — unveils three new plays as part of today's OddyFest #23: An American Trilogy. "Welcome to Virginia" looks at America's first settlement, "September 10, 2001" centers on a suburban family's reaction to tragedy, and "Gazebo" explores our country's sense of identity. Showtime is 6:45 p.m. at the Cleveland Heights Library (2345 Lee Rd., Cleveland Hts.). Call 216-932-3600 or visit chuhpl.lib.oh.us for more info. Admission is free. Nick Baker

Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center

The Cleveland Orchestra's real summer season at Blossom Music Center (1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls) doesn't start until July 10. But at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, the Orchestra joins forces with the Blossom Festival Chorus to ... wait, do we hear you humming the 1812 Overture already? Yes, Tchaikovsky's fanfare-and-fireworks July 4 staple is on the American Spectacular program, along with music written by actual Americans that celebrates America (that famous overture was written to honor the Russian stand against Napoleon). "America the Beautiful," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," and Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide — you know them, you love them, and you hear them at virtually every Fourth of July concert, including this one. Tickets are $19 to $43. Call 216-231-1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com for more info. — Anastasia Pantsios

FIREWORKS WITH THE TRIBE

It's no secret that the Indians' 2010 season hasn't been so great. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of reasons to watch them play. For starters, Progressive Field is still one of baseball's best parks. Shin-Soo Choo has quickly become one of the better hitters in the game. Rookie phenom Carlos Santana was recently called up, giving you a chance to watch the excellent young catcher before he becomes trade bait. Then there are the hot dog races. Who doesn't enjoy watching three penis-shaped meat products with legs running around the infield? It's also fireworks night, so you can kick up your feet and watch the pretty lights illuminate the city skyline. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. at Progressive Field (2401 Ontario St.). Tickets range from $9 to $100. Call 216-420-5487 or visit clevelandindians.com. — Zirm

SATURDAY, JULY 3

The Moody Blues at Nautica

If you’re going to construct a diverse fan base, the Moody Blues’ model seems to be a good one to copy. Since 1964, the British quintet has managed to strike a chord with nearly every kind of music listener. The band’s first hit, “Go Now,” reflected their British R&B slant, but after Justin Hayward and John Lodge joined the group, it made the 1967 symphonic prog-rock masterwork Days of Future Past (which included the signature cuts “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon”). The Moody Blues quickly rose as classical-rock heroes with 1968’s In Search of the Lost Chord and 1969’s On the Threshold of a Dream, and their music became increasingly complex and intricate. In the ’70s, the Moodies enjoyed greater success with a leaner rock sound on hits like “The Story in Your Eyes” and “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band.” But midway through the decade, the band took a break, before reuniting at the end of the ’70s with a more streamlined sound. By the early ’80s, they had another No. 1 album, with Long Distance Voyager. In the ’90s, the band’s sound became increasingly balladic and poppy, and they relied heavily on touring, often performing with orchestras. In the new millennium, the Moody Blues have recorded a Christmas album, remastered and reissued their early catalog, and compiled their BBC sessions for a two-CD set, remaining a formidable presence with a loyal audience as varied as the masterful music they’ve created over the past 46 years. They play the Nautica Pavilion (2014 Sycamore St., 216-622-6557, livenation.com) at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $29.50 to $79.50. — Brian Baker

Hermit Crab Racing!

Horses, dogs, and even turtles race each other. But for years, hermit crabs have sat off to the side, wondering when they were going to get a turn. "If turtles can race while lugging around heavy shells on their backs, we can certainly race in our seashells," they cried. Thankfully, Around the Corner Saloon and Café heard their cries and obliges them with every Saturday night Hermit Crab Racing. While the crabs line up to race on a large table, you can throw down some cash on whichever crab is giving you good vibes. The festivities begin at 9 p.m. at Around the Corner (18616 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-4413, atccafe.com). Admission is free. — Zirm

Lakewood Farmers Market

Lakewood has opened a second farmer's market to balance the hours of the original North Union Farmers Market. The new market makes a point to sell food grown or produced in Lakewood. That means the veggies, herbs, cookies, salsa, and whatever other tasty things you might find here are truly local. Fresh food, fresh air, and summer? Our stomachs are rumbling just thinking about it. The Lakewood farmers market is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sinagra Park (at the intersection of Detroit and Cook avenues in Lakewood). Visit lakewoodfarmersmarket.blogspot.com for more information. Zirm

Larchmere Festival

When the Rocket Car graces a festival with its presence, you know it's gotta be good. But this year's Larchmere Festival is also packed with things to do: Antiques will be showcased by stores on the street and by dealers who have some serious collectibles to offer. Bizarre Bazaar will be there too, along with many other independent artists from the area. You can also check out a flea market, 40 local authors, and giant puppets that may or may not freak out you and your kids. If this all sounds exhausting, settle down for a nightcap at Larchmere Uncorked and treat yourself to a well-deserved glass of wine. Intoxicated riding of the Rocket Car is not recommended. The fest takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Larchmere Boulevard (from East 121st to 130th streets). The fest is free, but tickets to Uncorked are $25, $20 in advance. Call 216-421-2100 or visit larchmere.com for more information. Zirm

Weekend at Geneva-on-the-Lake

You'd better get your cabin booked, like right now, because Geneva-on-the-Lake really hops on July 4th weekend. The infamous biker riots of years past have receded into the mists of time; many of those same bikers are now undoubtedly among the throng cruising Lake Road's strip with their families in tow. There's nothing glossy or ultra-modern (or expensive) here: The town is a nostalgic array of miniature golf courses, game arcades, family-style restaurants, informal bars, and T-shirt shops. Today, Mom can check out an outdoor flea market and craft show in the park (5536 Lake Rd.) while Dad takes the kids to the water slide. If you're out there with your honey, end the evening at the Old Firehouse Winery (5499 Lake Rd.), where you can have dinner on a patio overlooking the lake, sip on wine made on the premises, and take a sunset ride on the historic Erieview Park ferris wheel. From 4 to 7 p.m. tomorrow, the Firehouse has polka music with Mike Wojtila on tap, so break out your dancing shoes. Fireworks go off tomorrow at 10 p.m. at the golf course. Go to visitgenevaonthelake.com or call 800-862-9948 for more information. — Pantsios

SUNDAY, JULY 4

Go Fourth and Ride

The United States may have been symbolically founded on the Fourth of July, but it wouldn't have developed into the land we know and love had it not been for a revolutionary mode of transportation that took us from sea to shining sea: the railroad. Those first transcontinental rails blazed across some awe-inspiring terrain, but these days a train ride generally involves underground tunnels and stretches of concrete — hardly a venue for a scenic ride. But the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers an old-school view, traversing the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Today it's selling discounted tickets for six different routes, including the Peninsula Explorer, the Canton-Akron Flyer, and the National Park Scenic route. Each comes with its own audio tour that highlights natural and historic gems you'll see along the way. Departure stations and times vary from route to route. You can find all the info by calling 800-468-4070 or visiting cvsr.com. Tickets are $10. Nick Baker

Salute to the U.S.A.

Some people just can't get enough of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. For them, this time of year is pure bliss. At 8 p.m., the Blossom Festival Band, conducted by Loras John Schissel, will trot out the Independence Day chestnut to conclude the Salute to the U.S.A. at Blossom Music Center (1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls). The program opens with "The Star-Spangled Banner," works its way through familiar tunes by march king John Philip Sousa and operetta composer Victor Herbert, and offers a tribute to our armed forces before the cannons and fireworks go off. The Blossom gates open at 5:30 p.m. for an All-American cookout, where you can buy hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, and a bunch of fixin's to eat on the lawn before the concert. Tickets range from $19 to $43. Call 216-231-1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com for tickets and info. — Pantsios

MONDAY, JULY 5

Red, White, and Zoo

If you've run out of ideas for celebrating the long weekend and the kids are getting restless, take them to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500, clemetzoo.com). Today is Red, White, and Zoo, when anyone wearing red, white, or blue gets $2 off admission — which means it's $8 for adults and $5 for kids 2 through 11. Zookeepers will be feeding animals red, white, and blue treats, and you can take a self-guided tour of the red (panda), white (stork), and blue (poisoned dart frog) animals. The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., which gives you plenty of time to check out the three very different special exhibits open just for the summer: the animatronic robots in Dinosaurs!, the tropical butterflies in Flutter!, and The Scoop on Poop, where kids can ogle an elephant turd. — Pantsios

Grupo Fantasma

The Austin-based 11-piece Latin funk troupe Grupo Fantasma has built a fervent grassroots following over the past decade with its vibrant percussive swing, fueled by sweaty live shows that shake the building with high-spirited energy. They could be Ozomatli's younger Texas kin, blazing their own path. Indeed, their Latin vibe is more steadfast, right down to the lyrics, which are almost entirely in Spanish. While their West Coast siblings in Ozomatli explore hip-hop, club, and even disco, Grupo Fantasma don't stray far from their wriggling mélange of cumbia, salsa, mambo, and old-school funk (peppered with a dash of sultry southwestern rock). They formed in 2000 and have grown steadily ever since, highlighted by several stints backing Prince in the mid-aughts. They've undergone a number of lineup changes over the years, most notably the departure of singer Brian Ramos just prior to their third album, 2006's Comes Alive. Timbales player and primary songwriter Jose Galeaño stepped into the breach without missing a beat, and they've since released two albums, including the recent El Existential, which explores some slower, more meditative tempos. They play the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com) with Funk You opening at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. — Chris Parker

TUESDAY, JULY 6

Scorpions

Scorpions are making one last run before hanging it up for good — and they deserve the break. They recorded their first album, the progressive Lonesome Crow, in 1972. Since then, they've become heavy metal gods, peaking in the early '80s with the hits "No One Like You," "Rock You Like a Hurricane," and "Still Loving You." Their final studio album, Sting in the Tail, is a surprisingly strong effort, packed with hard-rock anthems and a few of the band's trademark lighter-wavers. They even get a little meta (and a little creepy) in "Sly" about a girl named after "Still Loving You," which was playing while she was conceived. The band plays Time Warner Cable Amphitheater (1887 W. 3rd St., 216-522-4822, livenation.com) at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $65. Phil Freeman

AMC Summer MovieCamp

AMC's Summer MovieCamp celebrates its 25th year of keeping kids out of their parents' hair during that trying time known as summer vacation. Every Tuesday for the next month and a half, two local theaters will screen kid-friendly movies — like Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda — for a mere $1. This week, it's Monsters vs. Aliens. In addition to the cheap ticket, theaters are offering discounted concession goodies. The "camps" culminate on August 10 with a "Surprise Mystery Title." Zoinks! Showtime is 10 a.m. at Ridge Park Square 8 (4788 Ridge Rd., 216-749-4345) and Westwood Town Center 8 (21653 Center Ridge Rd., Rocky River, 440-331-2816). Visit amctheaters.com for more information. — Nick Baker

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