The last two times they peeled into Cleveland, ska rockers/Yankees fans Spring Heeled Jack turfed the lawn with rallying cries of "The Indians suck!" But the members of the New York-based septet--who previously opened for Reel Big Fish and Cherry Poppin' Daddies here--are still alive, and tonight, they'll be singing songs about girls, getting caught drinking, and doing drugs. Their new album, Songs From Suburbia, is based on first-hand experience. "A lot of us still live at home," muses saxophonist Pete Wasilewksi. "We do mow the lawn . . . a couple of guys went cow-tipping once or twice." Showtime is 10 p.m. at the Grog Shop, 1765 Coventry Rd. in Cleveland Heights. Opening are the Scofflaws, the Smooths, and the Pilfers, all of them ska types. Tickets are $8; call 216-321-5588.
The turntables get all hot and sweaty tonight for Dance Floor Boogaloo Stomp, an informal tribute to the 45-rpm record, which turns fifty this year. DJs Mr. Fishtruck and Count Birdbrain will spin some of the more lewd, rude, and obscure R&B and soul tunes from the 1950s and early '60s. Some choice cuts: "Greasy Chicken" by moaner Andre Williams ("I got a new dance called the Greasy Chicken . . ."), the Ideals' "Gorilla" ("Go, gorilla, go . . ."), and "Alvin's Got a Boogaloo" by Alvin and the Cash Registers. Crazy, man, cra-zee. Beehive hairdos and checkerboard-patterned jackets are encouraged, but not required. The free show gets on the road at 10 p.m. at Pat's in the Flats, West Third Street and Literary Road (216-621-8044).
When it comes to curing winter doldrums, there's nothing like a well-timed left hook. Like grandma's chicken soup, it's both old-fashioned and homemade--as are the nicknames of the tough guys in the Battle at the Armory professional boxing event. Locals Joe "Bam Bam" Freytag, Joe "Boom Boom" Rayburn, and Mark "Mad Dogg" Enix will duke it out tonight at 8 at Gray's Armory, 1234 Bolivar Road. But they're just the playground bullies greasing the ring for the real action--a four-round welterweight "Battle for Ohio" between national Toughwoman runner-up Sabrina "Sock-It-To-Ya" Hall and Susan Mullett, an accomplished kickboxer from the Amish megapolis of Burton. The event's promoters are affiliated with TKO Productions, which has put on professional matches at the UAW Hall in Parma and Nautica in the Flats. Tickets are $20 and $30, available by calling 216-806-4693.
Though he's the manager of a dollar store, Jed is looking for more than a truckload of discontinued Garfield calendars. But his dreams for the future are crowded with fluorescent price stickers. It's time for a change--in merchandise. In Dollar Store, a work by Florida writer Arthur Menke that receives a staged reading in Cleveland Public Theatre's New Plays Festival, Jed tries to turn the franchise into a venue for performance art, at bargain-basement prices. But what "the people"--i.e., his employees--produce is louder and crasser than he envisioned. Dollar Store and Jake-Ann Jones's Death of a Ho, the story of a prostitute, a photographer, and the vengeful ghost of a rapper named Slam, are staged tonight at 8 and Sunday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue. Admission is $8/$6 students and seniors per night; call 216-631-2727 to make reservations.
Here comes the slime . . . aaaah! Or maybe a triple helping of whipped cream, smeared into Uncle Bob's hair. That's funny--to three-year-olds, who happen to be the target audience for Weinerville Live, the stage version of the Nickelodeon kids' show. The TV series, which ran from 1993 to 1996, featured comedian Marc Weiner performing the roles of five half-human/half-puppets who were very silly and, much like Mister Rogers, a little bit creepy. The live show offers more of the same--parents getting "Weinerized" (shrunk into puppet mutants), kids getting wet, and a cranky dinosaur named Boney telling stories. Weiner, who first hit the big time in 1981 with puppet boxing matches on Saturday Night Live, will be the master of orneriness. Showtime is 2:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill Street in Akron. Tickets are $16 and $13 ($2 off for kids 12 and under); call 330-972-7570.
Comedian Russ Stich didn't have to go far to find material for his stand-up act: "I spent a lot of time watching TV, and writing it off as a business expense." Stich started out in stand-up, but changed his laugh track (and learned to deflect flying beer bottles) when he joined the local Something Dada improv group a few years back. He and some of his Dada cohorts return to predetermined punch lines in Stand-up Dada, a one-night diversion from their thrice-weekly impromptu gig. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at Cabaret Dada, 1210 W. 6th St., 216-696-4242. Tickets are $10.
Abstract expressionist painter Carroll Sockwell is best known in Washington, D.C., where he lived a troubled life that ended in suicide (during the run of a retrospective of his work at the Washington Project for the Arts). Critics and curators took notice of hiscanvases while he was still very young, and at age 31, he had a solo show at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. Social worker Edythe Zimmerman befriended Sockwell in the 1950s, when he was in and out of juvenile court and mental hospitals. Zimmerman, who now works at Case Western Reserve University's counseling center, loaned her collection of his youthful works for the first extensive Sockwell exhibit since his death in 1992. The show, part of CWRU's African-American Celebration, runs through February 19 at CWRU's Mather Gallery, 11111 Euclid Avenue in Thwing Center. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 216-368-2679.
Even in the days of Benjamin Franklin, black athletes got the shaft. In 1796, heavyweight boxers Bill Richmond and Tom Molyneaux weren't allowed to fight in the United States--they had to go to England. John B. McLendon, an athletic advisor and professor of history at Cleveland State University, talks about them and other black athletes--tennis players, golfers, a race car driver--in his lecture The African-American Experience Through Sports. McLendon, the first black coach at an integrated U.S. college and an inductee in the National Basketball Hall of Fame, has also lived part of this history. Cleveland Rocker Michelle Edwards will introduce him at today's free lecture, at noon in CSU's University Center, 1983 E. 24th Street. For more information, call the Black Studies Department at 216-687-5461.
The "How to Be Funny" course, with its geek-friendly title, probably won't get you any dates, but it may teach you to laugh away those cares, dammit. Teacher Dave Schwensen, who interviewed Drew Carey and Jeff Foxworthy for his book How to Be a Working Comedian, has his pupils share funny stories and write down at least five uproarious things that happened to them that day (that traffic jam was a real hoot, and so was the rancid salami . . .). The four-session class starts today from 6-8 p.m. at Lorain County Community College, and runs consecutive Tuesdays through February 16. Cost is $55; call 800-995-LCCC to register.
Hypnotic Clambake has some clever song concepts--Jesus as a square dancer, a blind date with a Russian ballerina--to go with its rinky-dink rhythms. Unfortunately, the understated humor is so understated that it's not there, and the tunes can't stand alone. They go well with a bottle of really cheap wine and a big plate of macaroni and cheese made with water instead of milk. The Boston band plays at 9 p.m. at Wilbert's Bar & Grille, 1360 W. Ninth St. Tickets are $6; call 216-771-2583.