The past five years have been a succession of pinch-me moments for The Stray Birds, beginning with their self-released, self-titled debut album, a Folk/Bluegrass/Pop hybrid that made National Public Radio’s Top 10 Folk/Americana list for 2012. The seeds for that event were sown years before, when Oliver Craven and Charlie Muench played together in River Wheel, a Bluegrass band in their Lancaster, Pa. hometown. As a side venture, Craven began playing open mics with Maya de Vitry, eventually recording an EP in 2010, with Muench guesting on bass; coincidentally, he and de Vitry had played together in their middle school orchestra. After a year spent exploring individual options, the trio regrouped, dubbed themselves The Stray Birds and set about to stand the Bluegrass world on its ear. Read more about the band in this week's Sound Advice. The Stray Birds bring a Folk/Bluegrass/Pop blend to Live! at the Ludlow Garage Friday. Click here for tickets/more show info.
EVENT: ART AFTER DARK: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Art After Dark returns to the Cincinnati Art Museum Friday with the enchanting theme “Through the Looking Glass ” — a play on the new special exhibit Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light. Centered on glass paintings from Louis C. Tiffany, the exhibit explores light and color through intricate patterns and textures found in his windows and lamps. Guests can preview the exhibit (which opens Saturday), enjoy specialty cocktails, listen to live music from Us, Today and check out a lighted hula hoop performance from the Cincinnati Circus Company throughout the night. 5-9 p.m. Friday. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
If you’ve grown weary of the fairy tale princess overload that seems to be unstoppable these days — latest evidence: the live-action cinematic Beauty and the Beast — The Carnegie in Covington has an antidote for you. Poisoned apples, glass slippers and handsome princes are out the window. Instead, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and yes, even Belle, come together for a musical evening of irreverent humor and snarky snipes. The New York Times called this show — an award winner at the Orlando International Fringe Festival — “a girls’-night-out rebellion.” Leave the kids at home and have a great time. Through April 9. $28; $25 members; $21 students. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott St., Covington, Ky., thecarnegie.com.
LECTURE: DIALOGUES WITH ARTISTS AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM
In the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Mary R. Schiff Library, artists Radha Lakshmi and Molly Donnermeyer will show examples of their artwork and respond to the question, “Why do you make art and how does this determine your connection to your audience?” Lakshmi has exhibited and taught workshops internationally that incorporate mandala art, design and mindfulness meditation, while Donnermeyer’s work in photography has expanded into drawing, sculpture and found-object installations. Coming from different backgrounds, both Cincinnati-based artists explore femininity, folklore and the place of rituals in everyday life. 7-8 p.m. Friday. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
EVENT: WASHINGTON PLATFORM OYSTER FESTIVAL
Oysters are like a fine wine or a full-bodied coffee — their taste varies widely based on their provenance or location of origin. Serving up a cacophony of Chesapeake Bay oysters, Washington Platform kicks off their 31st-annual Oyster Festival on Friday, boasting a menu of more than 40 items including Oyster Peckers, “Big Easy” Oysters, Oysters Giovanese and the Platform’s famous fresh-shucked oysters on the half shell. Through May 13. Prices vary. Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.
ART: DE-NARRATION CLOSING RECEPTION AT IRL GALLERY
The end is here for IRL Gallery’s De-Narration, a clever little show in which Ian Anderson, David Corns, Danielle Ezzo and Justin Hodges explore “the process whereby one’s life stops feeling like a story,” or at least a story of our choosing. Is uniqueness headed for obsolescence? On one wall, the models in stock photos become repetitious blurs. In the center of the room, bags of ramen noodles sit atop cinder blocks, representing all that’s left. As globalization and the Information Age connect people but strip away personality, will we just move haphazardly through barren spaces, like the show’s motorized mini boulder? Head in while you still can.Closing reception 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. IRL Gallery, 1319 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, irl.gallery.
ART: PRESENT COMPANY FEATURING PHOTOGRAPHS BY MERRILEE LUKE-EBBELER AT 1305 GALLERY
1305 Gallery in Over-the-Rhine will host an exhibition of photographs by Cincinnati-based photographer Merrilee Luke-Ebbeler. Curated and sequenced by teacher, curator, picture editor and fine art documentary photographer James Friedman, the show will feature Luke-Ebbeler’s typical documentary-style black-and-white photos and “reflect Merrilee’s characteristic skillfulness, but also show a new empathy and emotional core,” Friedman says. Opening reception 6-10 p.m. Friday. Through April 23. Free admission. 1305 Gallery, 1305 Main Street, Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/1305gallery.
EVENT: 199C SCANDALS, SUPERSTITIONS & SCREWBALLS AT BLDG
It’s almost Opening Day, so join BLDG and Renaissance Covington for the fourth-annual 199C: Scandals, Superstitions & Screwballs art exhibit and block party. The exhibition explores the often-addictive relationship that exists between fans and their team and exposes the various ways in which we express our love, superstition and adoration. Covington’s West Pike Street will be closed between Madison and Washington streets to make room for festivities including a “Timeless yet Tainted” small business storefront window challenge, Home Run Derby, Walk-up Jock Jams, Queen’s Table Ping Pong and plenty of food and drink from local restaurants and vendors. Block party 6-10 p.m. Saturday. Exhibit through May 31. Free admission. BLDG, 30 W. Pike Street, Covington, Ky., facebook.com/thebldg.
It’s a petal-palooza! Witness the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden become the Cincinnati Botanical Garden & Zoo during Zoo Blooms. As one of only two accredited botanical gardens in Ohio, the zoo’s tulip display — one of the largest in the nation — is sure to fill your day with explosive color. Just a taste of what you’ll see: tulips, more than a million daffodils, and flowering trees. What better way to mark your debut into spring than in a sea of blooms? For added fun, stop by the garden for Tunes & Blooms, a free after-hours concert series set every Thursday evening in April. Through April 30. $17 adults; $12 children online. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
See the life of Nelson Mandela through the camera lens of Matthew Willman in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu. From humble beginnings, Willman’s work follows Mandela’s path as he grew from a young South African boy to a man prepared to die in the name of equality, justice and freedom. From Mvezo Village to Johannesburg to Robben Island, the exhibition provides a platform for visitors to share in the values richly present in Mandela’s life and the role they play in overcoming today’s challenges in society. Through Aug. 20. Admission is $5 with general admission. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown, freedomcenter.org.
Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, which debuted on Broadway in 1959, has become a staple of American drama ever since it received four Tony nominations that year. The play addresses such substantial topics as poverty, family, racism and abortion — themes made digestible through a script that is genuine and very funny. Raisin, a snapshot of the 1950s, endures due to its timeless lessons about discrimination, ambition and love. What a revelation it is to watch Cincinnati Shakespeare Company tackle this production so expertly. Read a full review of this Critic's Pick here. A Raisin in the Sun is at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through April 15. More info: cincyshakes.com.
The Cincinnati Playhouse’s Blake Robison calls Jen Silverman “part of a new generation of very exciting and accomplished playwrights taking over American theater.” Continuing the Playhouse’s serious and overt commitment to new works by women, Robison is presenting the world premiere of Silverman’s new play, All the Roads Home, at the Playhouse. All the Roads Home is about three generations of women in one family. In the 1950s, teenager Madeleine runs away to New York with fantasies of becoming a dancer. In the 1970s, her headstrong daughter Max, a wannabe cowboy, rebels against the same small-town Massachusetts life that drove her mother away. Fast-forward to today and Max’s daughter Nix travels the country as a musician, chasing a dream that might not be her own. Silverman’s play is a coming-of-age story times three, as well as an exploration of the impact of mothers’ choices on their daughters. Read more about the show here. All the Roads Home continues through April 23 at Playhouse in the Park. Tickets/more info: cincyplay.com.