Scottish jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith recorded his first album while still in high school, but his chops weren't squandered on reckless youth. The straight-ahead player, composer, and arranger, well-versed in the acoustic jazz tradition, went on to play with vibist Gary Burton's group for a few years and to record with guitarist John Scofield and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Fifteen years and ten releases later--his latest is The Sound of Love, a tribute to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn--he's still being hailed for his fast and fluid melodies. In the U.S. for a three-date micromini tour, Smith brings his band to the Diamondback Brewery tonight at eight for an all-Ellington show (today's the Duke's 100th birthday). Tickets are $15. At 724 Prospect Avenue; call 216-771-1988.
Is Satan calling, or just Avon? The South Shore Skeptics will check it out for you at their monthly meeting. Over the past fifteen years, the certified curmudgeons have been called on to investigate flying saucers over Lake Erie (they were really the planet Jupiter in an odd conjunction with Venus and Mercury), monsters (just a drunk guy making up a story), and a devil appearing on somebody's front door (a split veneer). "One time I was invited to find a mermaid on top of a refrigerator in a bar," recalls member Page Stephens, who declined the invitation. "I have no idea what it was. I don't even care." Tonight, the skeptics discuss ghosts and God--and whether seeing spirits and spirituality are one and the same. The open meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in Room 18 of the Life Sciences Building at Baldwin-Wallace College, 336 Front Street, Berea. Call 216-676-4859.
Cleveland's own rock and roll scuz buckets, Quazimodo, are back in the studio, laying down tracks they recorded with Dead Boy Jimmy Zero for an anticipated summer release. But they'll climb out of the basement and into the above-ground basement at the Euclid Tavern tonight for round one of The Main Event--Two Nights of Pure Bar Rock. Headlining tonight's show is Me First, an upbeat punk band from San Francisco. Saturday night, the chairs fly with Bump 'n' Uglies, a hardcore metal band composed of semi-professional wrestlers, and the Clone Defects, a really sloppy punk band with some really tight moments. Both shows start at 10 p.m. at the Euclid Tavern, 11629 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $6 each night, and a two-night pass is $10; call 216-229-7788.
Cozy up with some caped crusaders tonight at Superheroes Never Sleep, an all-night screening of B-movies, superhero flicks from the '60s, and short films by Ohio artists. Among the selections: early Spider-Man cartoons, vintage footage of Tokyo-savers Ultraman and Johnny Socko, and one memorable vignette that finds a depressed, middle-aged Incredible Hulk in a therapy session. Does Viagra enhance up-up-and-away? See for yourself at 9 p.m. at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, 8501 Carnegie Avenue. Admission is $5, which includes beverages and snacks. Reservations are recommended, but not required; call 216-421-8671 ext. 21.
Marked men and women will compete in categories like "best backpiece," "best sleevework," and "best animal design" when tattoo artists from around the state gather for the Annual Tattoo Celebration this weekend at the Richfield Holiday Inn. As in past years, bikers, punks, and little old ladies are expected to cheer on their branded friends in Saturday's People's Choice contest. But you won't find too many hula girls dancing on the biceps of drunken sailors, as these days, even classic "MOM" tattoos have been modernized into Kodak moments. "I've seen artists hold a picture of a guy's wife in their hands and actually tattoo it in," marvels organizer Dave Tiffe. "That's how sophisticated it's getting." But can they turn that Pac Man into a Taco Bell chihuahua? The needle strikes today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Holiday Inn is at 4742 Brecksville Road, just off exit 11 on the Ohio Turnpike; call 330-659-6151. Admission is $10.
After months on the road, the shy, reclusive types in Radiohead began to wish their rocket to stardom had blown a gasket in Peoria. Meeting People Is Easy, music video director Grant Gee's documentary of the band's 1997 tour through Europe and Japan, focuses on the monotony of newfound celebrity. Though the film is heavy on the stroboscopic lighting, the camera forgoes the glamour shots, fixing instead on eleventh-hour press conferences, endless photo sessions, and handshake marathons with men in suits. Concert footage is used sparingly, though in one unsettling flick-your-Bic scene, 100,000 rain-battered fans sing "Creep" in unison. The film screens at 9:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard. Admission is $6; call 216-421-7450.
The Secret Garden isn't exactly a "fun" kid's book. A spoiled little girl is orphaned and sent to live in a fortress with her Uncle Archibald, a guy so cold he could freeze a Cornish hen on his forehead. Meanwhile, her infirm cousin languishes in a locked chamber. But as retold by writers from Captain Kangaroo and The Tracey Ullman Show, Playhouse Square's musical version of the work (performed by Theatreworks, a New York-based children's theater company) should drown out any Dickensian chain-rattling. Today's performance is at 3 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre, 1501 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $8.75; call 216-241-6000.
The Team X-Treme roller hockey leagues at Cleveland Sportsplex are divided into recreation and competitive divisions, so players can stretch either their abilities or their beer guts to the limit. Unlike ice hockey, checking isn't allowed in the sport, and offsides isn't called, so the only time to take a breath is when you're bouncing off the wall. Co-ed league play starts today at the Cleveland Sportsplex, 18909 South Miles Parkway. Cost is $80 for individuals, $750 per team (bring your own equipment); the staff will take your money right up until the opening whistle blows. Call 216-587-7827.
When a guy lifts a brick with his penis, it's an act that pretty much speaks for itself. But if anybody does need an explanation, the Jim Rose Circus will provide it. "Secrets of the Strange," the confessional version of Rose's "don't call it a freak show" freak show, still features all the old stunts (Rubberband Man putting his body through a tennis racket, Bebe the Circus Queen catching a bowling ball with her stomach), but with a special bonus debriefing revealing the trick behind each act. The weirdos parade out at 8 p.m. at the Odeon, 1295 Old River Road. Tickets are $15; call 216-241-5555.
Like Martha Stewart, performance artist/porn star Annie Sprinkle knows how to stay active. She likes to travel and keep house. Her hobbies include cooking, swimming, whale watching, and painting "tit prints" with her enormous breasts. Tonight, she'll give a rare performance with all her clothes on--and share some handy recipes for making your own smut flick--in Herstory of Porn--Reel to Reel, an introspective look back at her Triple-X resume, with thoughts on personal growth, prevailing attitudes toward sex, and better living through orgasms. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Cleveland Public Theater, 6415 Detroit Avenue. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors; call 216-631-2727.