COMEDY: IMPROV FESTIVAL OF CINCINNATI
Cincinnati has had a successful Fringe Festival for experimental theater and performance art since 2003, and now another indie stage festival is finding an audience in Cincinnati: the lesser-known Improv Festival of Cincinnati. Organized by OTRimprov and held at Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre, it is in its third year and growing. This year’s IF Cincy event began on Tuesday and features performances through Saturday, plus workshops on Saturday and Sunday. About half of the featured improvisers are female, a result of efforts by OTRimprov. Friday night’s headliner is Atlanta female troupe Fun Bags, which includes Amber Nash, known for her role as the voice of Pam Poovey on the hit FX show Archer. Saturday night’s headline show features Los Angeles duo Orange Tuxedo, whose Craig Cackowski is an accomplished actor as well as improviser. Cackowski’s TV resume includes appearances on HBO’s Emmy-winning political satire Veep, Comedy Central’s Drunk History and NBC’s Community. (His wife, Carla, is the other half of Orange Tuxedo.) Cackowski will also share his tricks of the trade in two IF Cincy workshops. One, “Dr. Cacky’s Improv Cleansing,” is already sold out. The other, “Sell It!,” is recommended for both veterans and newbies. Other national troupes appearing this week include B&B (Portland, Ore.), Bearded Men (Minneapolis), Damaged Goods (Louisville, Ky.), Devil’s Daughter (Chicago), Human Amusements (Detroit), Improvised Sondheim Project (Chicago), The League of Pointless Improvisers (Ann Arbor. Mich.) and Shade (Chicago). Through Sunday. $21-$31. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, ifcincy.com.
ONSTAGE: THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
When his Elvis impersonation gets dumped at a small-town Florida bar and his wife tells him she’s expecting a baby, Casey has to evolve to stay employed. The bar’s new entertainment is a drag show: Can he reinvent himself? That’s what Ensemble Theatre’s season opener, a feel-good comedy, is all about. Staged by ETC’s D. Lynn Meyers, the show features several of the region’s best actors, including Michael G. Bath, Darnell Pierre Benjamin and Bruce Cromer as an aging drag queen, a role local theatergoers who know him as the Playhouse’s Ebenezer Scrooge might never have imagined seeing him play. Through Sept. 25. $25-$44. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.
EVENT: HARVEST HOME FAIR
With a history dating back to the 1860s, the annual Harvest Home Fair — the “biggest little fair in Ohio” — returns to Cheviot, kicking off on Thursday with a legendary parade. What makes this end-of-summer celebration different than the others? Well, it’s a fair, not a festival, which means there will be everything from live music and a petting zoo to livestock “best in show” competitions, a flower show and even a horse show that runs throughout the weekend. Proceeds from the fair will benefit youth and community programs, as well as Cancer Family Care. 6 p.m. Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday. $5 adults; free 12 and under. Harvest Home Park, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, harvesthomefair.com.
ART: NEW SCULPTURE AT CARL SOLWAY GALLERY
Alan Rath, acclaimed for his art combining sculpture with computer-animated still photographs of body parts, has a provocative view on the barrier between humans and machines.It’s permeable. “Machinery is evolving and becoming more lifelike as it becomes more complex,” he says by phone from his Oakland, Calif. studio. The Cincinnati-born artist, whose work is in the collections of many art museums, will have a show of New Sculpture at West End’s Carl Solway Gallery from Friday through Dec. 23. “As it does, it exhibits all these behaviors that are sort of lifelike. I feel, in a way, things like telephones are extensions of the body — they’re not isolated objects out there. They’re just like the way we grow hair. Our hair is dead, but we grow it and it helps us. Telephones are extensions of us. In my view they are part of us.” Rath, as he describes it, is interested in “the machine that has awareness.” Opening reception 5-8 p.m. Friday. On view through Dec. 23. Free. Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay St., West End, solwaygallery.com.
EVENT: MAINSTRASSE OKTOBERFEST
Prost! Celebrate Cincinnati’s German heritage — and our beer — at the 38th-annual MainStrasse Oktoberfest. With more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, an amusement park, live music on multiple stages and tons of traditional German food — from brats to cream puffs — this will be a weekend of gemütlichkeit. Not only does the event kick off with a keg tapping: Braxton Brewing Company, a sponsor of this year’s event, recently released their seasonal märzen, Oktober Fuel, which is sure to prep you for some polka dancing. 5-11:30 p.m. Friday; noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. MainStrasse Village, 529 Main St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/mainstrassevillage.
EVENT: CINCY BEERFEST
It’s hops heaven: The eighth-annual end of summer Cincy Beerfest takes over Fountain Square this weekend with more than 300 craft beers from more than 100 breweries, plus live music and food vendors. Both local and national craft breweries — from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment and New York’s Brooklyn Brewery to Cincinnati’s Urban Artifact and MadTree (and Rhinegeist and Taft’s Ale House and Mt. Carmel…) — will be offering a handful of different styles by the sample and pint, from saisons and ciders to IPAs, pilsners and more. Ticket pricing starts at $15 and includes a souvenir mug and five five-ounce samples. 6-11 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday. $15-$50. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, cincybeerfest.com.
EVENT: LIBRARY STREETCAR CELEBRATION
The streetcar might still feel like a myth, but it’s time to prepare for the ride. The newly named Cincinnati Bell Connector will begin operation at noon on Friday, and the main branch of the public library is hosting a grand opening celebration all weekend. The library’s exhibit, Cincinnati Transportation: Past, Present and Future, opens Friday, and the library will also host a series of other programs focused on the history of transportation in Cincinnati through Sunday. Learn everything there is to know about the streetcar before you decide to ditch your car and hop on board. Friday-Sunday. Free. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org. Read more about the streetcar and opening celebrations in last week's issue.
EVENT: CINCY COMICON
Bam! Boom! Ka-pow! Cincy ComiCon lands in town this weekend to celebrate the art of comics and the lives of those who create them. Vendors, panels, a costume contest and more than 50 artists pack three supersized days at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. Sign up for a workshop on topics like comic-related tattoos and get to know artists during moderated panels. Attending artists include Nick Bradshaw, who works for Marvel Comics on a variety of titles like Wolverine and the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy; Annie Wu, who recently worked on Hawkeye and Adult Swim’s Venture Bros.; Ryan Browne, creator of God Hates Astronauts; and Mike Norton, creator of the Eisner Award-winning webcomic BattlePug. 3-7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $25-$75. 1 W. Rivercenter Blvd., Covington, Ky., cincycomicon.com.
ART: STUDIO OPEN AND WILLIAM KNIPSCHER: WHERE THE LIGHT GOES AT THE CARNEGIE
The Carnegie hosts openings for two different shows this weekend: Studio Open, an exhibition organized around the very best of recent graduates and MFA recipients in the region, and a body of work done on light-sensitive paper by assistant professor and head of the photography major at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, William Knipscher. Selected this past spring based on their thesis and senior exhibitions, Studio Open includes 22 artists chosen by The Carnegie’s exhibitions director, Matt Distel, who also commissioned Knipscher for a permanent installation of his photographic images in the building’s common lobby area. Knipscher’s Where the Light Goes is sponsored by FotoFocus. Opening reception 5:30-9 p.m. Friday. Through Nov. 26. Free. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, Ky., thecarnegie.com.
MUSIC: MARK BROUSSARD
A decade and a half ago, Marc Broussard was a member of a Christian Rock band. But after its quick demise, the son of Louisiana Hall of Fame guitar legend Ted Broussard went the solo route with his debut album, 2002's Momentary Setback. Broussard's finely chiseled good looks and infectious blend of Soul, Pop, R&B, Funk, Blues and Southern Rock — evident in his cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Back in Your Arms" on 2003’s Light of Day tribute compilation — attracted the major labels, resulting in an Island contract and his 2004 acclaimed sophomore release, Carencro. His imminent new release, S.O.S. 2: Soul on a Mission, is another example of his philanthropic generosity; the nearly all-covers album, comprised primarily of ’50s and ’60s Soul/R&B tunes from Solomon Burke, Etta James, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and many others, will benefit the poverty-relief agency City of Refuge and will stand as the first in a series of fundraising releases for nonprofit organizations through Broussard’s new Save Our Soul Foundation. 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $35. St. Xavier Performance Center, 600 West North Bend Road, Finneytown, facebook.com/CincyMusicSeries.
MUSIC: DAVID SHAW’S BIG RIVER GET DOWN
Last year, Hamilton, Ohio native and Revivalists frontman David Shaw founded the Big River Get Down, a one-day music festival intended to celebrate the city's civic pride, display the beautiful RiversEdge Amphitheater and to benefit the city itself. This year's second annual BRGD will again feature Shaw's Revivalists as headliners (and an acoustic set by Shaw himself), and a slate of great musical talent. Proceeds will help fund next year's Fourth of July fireworks in Hamilton and additional free RiversEdge concerts. Noon Saturday. $20 advance; $25 day of show. RiversEdge Amphitheater, 116 Dayton St., Hamilton, Ohio, bigrivergetdown.com.
EVENT: CINCINNATI HISPANIC FESTIVAL
The Cincinnati Hispanic Festival offers a weekend of music, dance, art and food to celebrate Hispanic heritage throughout the community. Stop by the performance stage for live entertainment after you sample a little (or a lot) of the available authentic ethnic foods. This family-friendly event has something for everyone and helps the Hispanic Cultural Society of Cincinnati achieve its goal of empowering Hispanic Cincinnatians to become leaders in their everyday lives. Noon-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. mass Sunday; fair noon-11 p.m. Sunday. $8 per car; $1 walk-in. Hamilton County Fairgrounds, 7820 Vine St., Carthage, cincinnatihispanicfest.org.
EVENT: THE CHEESE FEST
New research suggests cheese is as addictive as cocaine — and, yes, we all knew that. The folks at The Cheese Fest have your hook up and are ready to celebrate. Whether you drink wine or beer, you can pair your favorite alcohol with any available artisan cheese, many from cheesemakers around the world. Experience something new, like cheese honey, or eat cheese paired with a carb at the Meltdown grilled cheese competition and Macdown mac-and-cheese competition; you help decide who makes the city’s best gooey cheese creations. 1-7 p.m. Saturday. $35; $75 VIP. Smale Riverfront Park, 100 W. Mehring Way, Downtown, thecheesefest.com.
EVENT: OLD WEST FEST The sound of Bluegrass along with a side of gunshots — the Old West Festival is back for its ninth-annual celebration, transforming acreage in Ohio’s countryside into an authentic Wild West experience. Gunfights, medicine shows, covered wagons, can-can dancers and an old time saloon (that definitely has alcohol and sarsaparilla) await you in good ol’ Williamsburg. Grab your boots with the spurs and get down there. Upgrade to Sheriff admission and get free soft drinks and $1 off draft beer. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through Oct. 16. Tickets start at $12.99. 1449 Greenbush Cobb Road, Williamsburg, Ohio, oldwestfestival.com.
ART: DO HO SUH: PASSAGE
It's the final weekend to view Do Ho Suh's Passage installation at the Contemporary Arts Center. The South Korea-born British artist seems as dedicated to transforming architecture and transcending conservative notions of what a “building” should look like. “Building” is in quotation marks because two of Suh’s major sculptural installations — the key work of this show — are structures you can walk through. Yet they are soft and fragile, made with gossamer-like fabric unobtrusively supported by steel tubes. Soft versions of “hard” objects aren’t new — Claes Oldenburg did it decades ago. But Suh makes these something more. His pieces are, in essence, unexpected architecture. Using colorful fabric, he has constructed soft, allusive versions of spaces he has known in his 53 years of living and traveling throughout the world. The show features four major fabric sculptural installations, including a stand-out (and stand-up) three-story staircase called “348 W. 22nd St.”It also has other objects, including three video installations, two rubbing installations and 23 drawings, rubbings and works on paper. Through Sept. 11. Free. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org.
As an adoptee, Gabrielle Smith knew nothing of her lineage beyond her birth father's Tlingit heritage (indigenous peoples with roots on the Pacific coast of Canada and in Alaska). So to reclaim her cultural identity, Smith decided as a teenager to perform her lo-fi “Bedroom Pop” under the name Eskimeaux. After a childhood of choir and violin training, Smith began writing songs in her late teens and released her first album, iglu songs, in 2008, the same year she enrolled at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. Two years later, Smith dropped out of school and returned to Brooklyn, N.Y., where she crafted three more releases before co-founding The Epoch, a Brooklyn collective comprised of local artists and friends she had met at UOTA with the aim of establishing a support system for the area's creative community. Since then, Eskimeaux has released seven additional titles, including her 2012 self-titled album and the most recent Eskimeaux release, the six-track Year of the Rabbit. 6:30 p.m. doors Sunday. $15-$18. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.
MUSIC: ANGEL OLSEN
Angel Olsen’s voice is an uncommonly expressive instrument — subtle and intimate one minute, big and raw the next. Her lyrics are just as distinctive — they’re evocative and personal without being too literal. The Missouri’s native’s full-length debut, 2012’s Half Way Home, featured an impressive array of gothic-tinged Folk songs, which brought to mind a female Roy Orbison doing Moon Pix-era Cat Power covers. The follow-up, 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness, broadened her sonic palette, mixing Olsen’s minimalist leanings with a noisier, full-band sound (or, as she calls it, “my Velvet Underground stuff”). Now comes the just-released My Woman, her most diverse offering to date. Synth-driven album opener “Intern” conjures a cross between something David Lynch might use on the Twin Peaks soundtrack with a moody, ’80s Pop hit. And “Shut Up Kiss Me” is a jaunty rocker with a killer hook, Olsen’s voice as sassy and combative as it’s ever been. Then there’s the album’s lengthy and languid second half, during which tunes like the captivating “Sister” go into unexpected directions — from Blues and R&B to Psychedelia and straight-up Neil Young-esque guitar excursions. Angel Olsen performs Sunday at the Woodward Theater. Tickets/more info: woodwardtheater.com.
ATTRACTION: FALL BACK IN TIME AT KROHN CONSERVATORY
The Krohn Conservatory has been plucked from the present for its annual fall floral show, which depicts the formal gardens and inspired designs of Victorian England. Fall Back in Time is a tranquil ode to a simpler time — one in which flowers were often used to convey secret messages (think pre-smartphone-era emojis). Follow crisp chrysanthemums, trailing fuchsias and soothing lavender into the past and immerse yourself in the pacifying sound of trickling waterfalls. Keep an eye out for steampunk-inspired gears and amenities throughout the show. Through Oct. 23. $4 adults; $2 kids; free children 4 and under. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.com.
ONSTAGE: A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY
John Irving is a significant American novelist. He first found recognition with The World According to Garp (1978) and continued with a string of comic but philosophical novels featuring quirky characters, coincidences and twists of fate that have charmed readers. His reputation culminated with 1989’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. Cincinnati Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison says Garp was his first experience with Irving, both the novel and the film starring Robin Williams. “But it was Owen Meany that turned me — and millions of others — into a true Irving fan,” he says. The play launches the Playhouse’s 57th year of production. In the mid-1980s, the novel’s narrator John Wheelwright traces his friendship with Owen from 1953, when they’re 9 years old, to the mid-1960s. “The main thrust of their relationship,” Robison says, “is that John is riddled with doubt — doubt about religion, doubt about friendship, about the purpose of life. Owen on the other hand is convinced, because of a series of visions he’s had, that he is personally an instrument of God. John is looking back on his life and his relationship with Owen and how that has profoundly changed him and made him a believer, when he wasn’t one before.” In print, Owen Meany fills more than 600 pages. So how has Irving’s picaresque tale become a play that can be staged in one evening? "(This adaptation) is all about Owen’s faith journey and the friendship between John and Owen,” Robison says. Through Oct. 1. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com.
COMEDY: AL JACKSON
Cleveland native Al Jackson has been all over television in two countries. In the U.S., he has appeared on Comedy Central in his own half-hour special, as well as that network’s @Midnight program and Live at Gotham. He was also on Last Comic Standing, FXX’s Legit and Playboy TV, just to name a few. In England, he was a TV presenter, as they like to say, on a show called Truly Amazing, on which he showed people attempting to break world records. But before comedy, he was a middle school teacher. “My favorite time to teach was Black History Month,” he says. “A young black dude teaching middle school science. Had my kids do a report on a famous black scientist and I get a bunch of hands going up: ‘Can we do Dr. Dre?’ ” Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
EVENT: RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
Ever wonder what the 16th century was like? Well, worry no more, because the Ohio Renaissance Festival is here to show you. Cheer on your favorite knights to victory during a jousting tournament, shop around in a medieval marketplace or feast on a giant roasted turkey leg. The variety of games, shows, crafts, food and drink is enough to keep all ages entertained. Walk around with swordsmen, pirates, nobles and peasants as you enjoy your day (or take it to the next level and come dressed as one yourself). The festival is bound to transport you back 400 years and give you a day-long adventure. This weekend is Time Travelers Weekend: Come dressed as your favorite character from a movie, TV series, comic book, sci-fi or fantasy work. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through Oct. 23. $21.95 adult; $9.95 child. 10542 East State Route 73, Waynesville, Ohio, renfestival.com.