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This Week's Day-By-Day Picks

The North Mississippi Allstars play rootsy R&B at - Peabody's Sunday.
  • The North Mississippi Allstars play rootsy R&B at Peabody's Sunday.

Thursday, February 12

The Cleveland Zoological Society is gearing up for Valentine's Day with Animal Attractions, its annual spotlight on wildlife sexuality. Learn all about birth control in captivity (hint: God would not approve) and how to tell the difference between boy and girl baboons. Zoo staff will explain how animals get busy, and food will be provided by Amazon Trail Seafood & Steaks, Fat Fish Blue, Fulton Bar & Grill, Johnny Mango, and other restaurants. You've gotta be at least 21 to attend. Animal Attractions happens from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's RainForest, 3900 Wildlife Way. Tickets are $22 to $27, available by calling 216-635-3324.

Friday, February 13

Medina's making the most of our dreadful February weather with its 10th annual Ice Festival. It's a weekend devoted to outdoor games and craftmaking, complete with a chili cook-off and a lighted walk, featuring the ceremonial illumination of a 10-foot ice chimney. Best, though, are the ice-carving contests (pro and amateur divisions!) happening throughout the fest. Last year's giant frozen penny ruled! The chill sets in at 6 tonight and lasts through Monday at downtown Medina's Historic Square. Admission is free. Call 440-717-1940 for times and more information.

Hard to believe it's been 18 years since Ladysmith Black Mambazo catapulted Paul Simon's landmark Graceland album into a world-music behemoth. The 10-member Zulu a cappella group still records; better yet, they still tour -- and they still know how to convey messages of love, hope, and peace through mere whistles, handclaps, and tongue clicks. Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs at 8 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 South Main Street in Akron. Tickets are $21 and $26, available by calling 330-253-2488.

Saturday, February 14

They say it takes two to tango, and tonight's First Tango at Art House takes the saying quite literally. Couples -- and couples only -- are invited to learn the basics of the sultry dance at a 90-minute workshop. An accordion player provides live music, and sweet desserts -- including chocolate cake and cream puffs -- fuel the festivities. First Tango takes place at 9 p.m. at Art House, 3119 Denison Avenue. Admission is $40 per couple. Reservations are required. Call 216-398-8556 for more information.

Sunday, February 15

The North Mississippi Allstars went for bigger, bolder sounds on Polaris, their third album. "We were shooting for something [more ambitious]," says singer, songwriter, and guitarist Luther Dickinson. "We recorded some blues songs, some rock-and-roll songs, and just threw it all against the wall to see what stuck." Luther and drummer Cody, his brother, are the sons of legendary session man and producer Jim Dickinson, whose résumé includes everyone from Aretha to the Replacements. The Allstars' dirty, swampy roots rock bridges the same disparate artists. "We grew up around all that stuff," Luther says. "But we never got to record at [Dad's] Ardent [Studios]. We were conspiring to do that for a long time, to participate in that tradition. But we can't really control what we do. I can't control what I write and what comes out of me." The North Mississippi Allstars are at Peabody's (2083 East 21st Street) at 8 tonight. Tickets are $15 and $17, available by calling 216-241-5555.

Monday, February 16

Spend Presidents' Day with a free staged reading of The American Revolution, the tale of the founding fathers . . . with a bit of a twist. "There's some untraditional casting -- George Washington is played by an African American," explains David Hansen, who guides tonight's action and directs Bad Epitaph Theater Company's upcoming summer production of Kirk Wood Bromley's irreverent play. "We think of Washington as this god. But he was a multidimensional, nuanced human being with doubts and fears. This makes him more real. It's a sexy retelling of our origin." It starts at 7 p.m. at Playhouse Square's East 14th Street Theatre, 2037 East 14th Street. Call 216-556-0919 for more info.

Tuesday, February 17

On its second album, Circles, the Autumn Defense makes lush, orchestral pop that reaches back for inspiration to '70s-era Cali-based singer-songwriters. Leader John Stirratt is well acquainted with the sounds and style. As Wilco's bassist (and sole survivor of Jeff Tweedy's decade-long game of musical chairs with that band), he helped shape the aural landscapes of Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Circles isn't nearly as majestic, but the delicate melodies and active arrangements -- on such songs as "Silence," "The World (Will Soon Turn Our Way)," and "Tuesday Morning" -- ring loud and clear. The Autumn Defense performs at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 9 p.m. The Dreadful Yawns and Kelley Stoltz open. Tickets are $10, available by calling 216-241-5555.

Wednesday, February 18

Lewis and Clark's adventure was so huge, it takes an Omnimax screen to contain it. And in Lewis & Clark: The Great Journey West, the pioneering explorers trek 8,000 miles in three years -- over uncharted land and through turbulent waters, from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean and back -- to stake a claim in the wild, wild West. Expect plenty of 19th-century-style wilderness escapades. Lewis & Clark plays at the Great Lakes Science Center (601 Erieside Avenue) at noon, 2, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m., 1, 3, and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Omnimax tickets are $4.95 to $7.95. Call 216-694-2000 for more information.

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