The bands in the Manual Independent Music Festival aren't known for their hummable tunes--unless it's the hum of a pile driver on a bed of clay. Organizer Brian Ulrich of Cleveland band Hilo brings together sixteen of his favorite soundbenders for the three-day event, meant to be a blueprint for young upstarts who want to host their own happenings. Tonight, Hilo takes the stage, along with low-lonesome the For Carnation, a quiet, moody bunch who tinker with distortion and dead silence. The reverb cranks on Friday with Kent's Party of Helicopters--a pounding punk band with a sex-symbol drummer nicknamed "Goat," space rockers Poem Rocket, and Cuisinartists Morsel, whose vocalist sings through a flute with a microphone attached to a spinning speaker. Power-tool pop surfaces on Saturday with Panicsville and the Turning Machine. Tonight's show starts at ten at the Grog Shop, 1765 Coventry Road; Friday's 8 p.m. performance is at Speak in Tongues, 43311 Lorain Avenue. On Saturday, the grating starts at 6 p.m. at the Euclid Tavern, 11629 Euclid Avenue. Admission is $8 per night; call 216-426-0144 for more information.
Nobody on this planet cared to publish Batya Weinbaum's science fiction stories, and she couldn't swing the postage to Mars, so she started her own rag: FemSpec, a feminist sci-fi journal. Included in the inaugural issue: a critique of the work of 1930s science fiction writer Leslie F. Stone--whose characters traveled to another dimension, only to bicker over who was gonna wash the dishes--and a short story about a goober named Slim Fixit, who inadvertently blows up the world for the sake of chivalry. Weinbaum, an assistant professor of English at Cleveland State University, reads tonight at the free Science Fiction Spectacular with Cleveland playwright Linda Eisenstein, local horror and fantasy author Steve Swiniarski, and Maureen McHugh, whose novel China Mountain Zhang was nominated for a Hugo Award. At 6 p.m. at Mac's Backs Paperbacks, 1820 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights; call 216-321-2665.
As host of Comedy Central's Offsides football follies show, on which pumped-up jocks get their egos deflated, comedian Dom Irrerra has interviewed more than a few men without necks. Some of them, like new Browns defensive lineman John Jurkovic, could take a joke and run with it. But Carolina Panther linebacker Kevin Greene would've rather hit the showers: "I felt like he could snap any minute," says Irrerra. "He was more like a professional wrestler." San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice also had a little trouble opening up. "You can tell the guys that take themselves too seriously," Irrerra notes. "All they're doing is saying their name in the third person." Irrerra wields his shtick at the Cleveland Improv, 2000 Sycamore Street (in the Powerhouse in the Flats), for two shows tonight, at 8:30 and 10:45. Tickets are $12; call 216-696-4677.
The collaborators in Tremont's Theatre Labyrinth write their plays standing up, fleshing out scripts during rehearsals, while still in character. In a recent production, Our Warbling Carousel, they were abducted by aliens, but they're back on terra firma for Transformations of Lucius, a loose interpretation of an ancient Roman play about a miserable wretch who searches for Truth, only to be turned into a donkey. The braying begins at eight tonight at the Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2592 West 14th Street. Tickets are $12, $6 for students, seniors, and starving artists (ribs counted at the door); call 216-281-1285 for reservations.
Grocer Roberto Ocasio, owner of La Familia Deli on West 33rd Street, plays more than the ice machine. He's also the leader of Rhythm Latino, a salsa band that ranges from seven to twelve pieces, depending on how big the party is. Rhythm Latino, which until recently had a standing gig at Keka restaurant, will shake things up today during Open Air at Market Square, a weekly summer art and antique fair that last year was more ketchup than hot sauce (unless you're into patchouli pasta and hand-carved elephant end tables). Admission to the outdoor festival is free, and the band plays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At Market Square Park, corner of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue (across from the West Side Market). Call 216-781-3222.
Leave the kielbasa under the porch; it'll keep. It's time for a free vegetarian feast in honor of Vesakha, or Buddha's birthday. The three Buddhist denominations in town--Tibetan, Zen, and Theravada ("the way of the elders")--will host a traditional service today with chants, a little cymbal crashing and gong-clanging, meditation, and offerings of candles and flowers. A potluck dinner that's heavy on the luck--you don't have to bring any macrobiotic food, just scarf down what's provided--follows the 10:30 a.m. service at the Cleveland Buddhist Temple, 1573 East 214th Street in Euclid. For more information, call 216-692-1509.
The sky's the limit, but the pavement's still a lot closer at the Stiltwalking Workshop, where kids can get a leg up on the competition with the help of Canadian parade artists and stiltwalking specialists Brad Harley, Ezra Houser, and Rick Simon. The free event is part of the elaborate, hands- and feet-on preparations for June's Parade the Circle Celebration, a DIY arts parade sans the Shriners in go-carts. Share stilts at the free event or bring your own set of stems. They'll be wobbling around the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Call 216-421-7340.
Rock and roll has never been kind to Graham Parker, and he's returned the favor through thick and thin, crafting bitter, brilliant punk songs that articulate, rather than vent, their anger. Failure and success are still alternately nipping at his heels after all these decades, and Parker has lived up to his abrasive reputation with his latest outing, Acid Bubblegum. He'll spew his venom at Wilbert's, 1360 West Ninth Street, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15, call 216-241-5555.
The bohemian ragamuffins in Rent couldn't afford an umbrella in the desert, let alone a ticket to a Broadway production. But why sweat the details when you've got a snappy musical number to carry you through the hard times--and a threadbare couch to keep you company? Jonathan Larson's Tony Award-winning play makes its second Cleveland appearance at Playhouse Square today through May 23 at the State Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $12.50 to $49; tonight's performance is at 8 p.m.
The first gentleman on the moon wore a top hat and tails in French filmmaker Georges Melies' silent film A Trip to the Moon. That charmed version of the lunar landing--its image of a silver rocket, lodged in the moon's eye, setting the tone for the twentieth century--is one of five hundred Melies pictures, about ninety of them surviving. Seven Melies flicks, dating from 1902-1909, will be screened tonight in The Melies Project. The program, which made its debut at Lincoln Center, features an experimental jazz score performed live by composer Phillip Johnston and his Transparent Quartet. More conversation than accompaniment, the music talks with the past in present-day terms, the time machine traveling in both directions. Liftoff is at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard. Admission is $10, $6 for children twelve and under; advance tickets are available at 216-421-7350.