Bockfest is back for its 25th year as Cincinnati’s flagship three-day festival celebrating the coming of spring plus Over-the-Rhine’s brewing heritage and bock beer. For those who are unfamiliar with bock beer, it’s generally stronger than your typical lager with a robust malt character and a dark amber hue with little to no hops. Bockfest kicks off 6 p.m. Friday with its famed goat- and keg-led parade, which starts in front of Arnold’s on Eighth Street downtown and heads up Main Street to Bockfest Hall at the Christian Moerlein Malt House taproom. Saturday kicks off with the Bockfest 5K, followed by the Billygoat Ball and the Beard Baron and Sausage Queen competitions. Be sure to stop at one of the 19 participating bars and restaurants all weekend long, many with food and drink specials. Bockfest-inspired food will be available at Bockfest Hall all weekend, along with live music on two stages, brewery tours and guest bock beers tapped on an hourly schedule. Check the website for a full schedule.Friday-Sunday. Free. Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, bockfest.com.
ONSTAGE: WHEN WE WERE YOUNG AND UNAFRAID
Currently receiving its regional premiere at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Sarah Treem’s 2014 play, When We Were Young and Unafraid, provided a flashback for me. It’s set in 1972, the year after I graduated from Oberlin College. The Pop recordings that director Drew Fracher has chosen to warm up the audience before the show and during intermission, as well as to cover scene changes, comprise a soundtrack of tunes that take me back to my younger self: Judy Collins’ “Both Sides Now,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Different Drum” and Carole King’s “Beautiful” invoke a bygone era. It was a tumultuous time: The Equal Rights Amendment promised better treatment for women, Roe v. Wade was working its way through the courts, Richard Nixon was preparing for a second term as the Watergate scandal began to unravel his presidency. Treem’s play swims in those treacherous, historical waters, which feel all too similar to today’s political turmoil. It’s about Agnes, who operates a bed and breakfast on a secluded island off the coast of Washington state. In fact, it’s a physically remote shelter for abused women in an era when such protections were not generally available — or protected. Read a full review of the play here. When We Were Young and Unafraid continues at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through March 12. Tickets/more info: ensemblecincinnati.org.
MUSIC: SAVOY MOTEL
Combining the vintage influences and vibes of legends and innovators of genres from Glam and Post Punk to Power Pop and Psych (with nods to Funk and Soul), Nashville’s Savoy Motel lands at a sound that feels fresh and unlike any of today’s Indie music-blog- and fan-darlings. Oddly enough, it’s that sonic outsider approach that is rightfully turning the band into an Indie sensation in its own right. The quartet is already well on its way, drawing widespread praise for its stunning self-titled debut from the likes of Pitchfork, Mojo, The Guardian and Noisey. Besides being back-loaded with savvy songwriting, Savoy Motel’s unique blending of styles is so compelling because of the joyous energy that is evident immediately when listening to it. It sounds like the band’s creative process is a blast, and that feeling is contagious — listening to Savoy Motel’s playful, imaginative explorations will have you wanting to experience it in person. 9 p.m. Friday. $8; $12 day of. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, woodwardtheater.com.
ONSTAGE: SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Shakespeare and musical theater, all in one show? Impossible, you might say — but one wag termed this show “Broadway’s funniest musical in at least 400 years.” A pair of frustrated playwrights in Elizabethan London are eager to best an upstart guy named Shakespeare who’s getting all the raves. How to beat him at his own game? A soothsayer suggests the next big thing in theaters will be “musicals.” So they set out to invent them — with hilarious results. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love this show. And if you love Shakespeare (and musicals, parodied throughout), you’ll love this show. Through March 5. $30-$94. Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-621-2787, cincinnati.broadway.com.EVENT: CINCINNATI INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL
Wine-os, lend us your ears! The Cincinnati International Wine Festival is your destination for sampling luscious wines for a good cause. The multi-day festival includes winery dinners, grand tastings and a charity luncheon and auction. Looking to expand your palette? More than 700 wines from over 100 wineries are available to sample during the festival’s several grand tastings, held Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings at the Duke Energy Convention Center ($70-$120; 525 Elm St., Downtown). Your participation in the festival’s events allows the Cincinnati International Wine Festival to distribute grants to Greater Cincinnati area programs. The wine — and knowing you’re drinking for a good cause — are sure to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Through Saturday. Prices and event locations vary. Find a full list of events at winefestival.com.
ONSTAGE: RICHARD III
“A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” Shakespeare wrote that cry for an actor portraying embattled British King Richard III. Nobody got in this guy’s way as he murdered his way to the crown — supporters who doubted his morality, women of no more use to him, even his young nephews who stood between him and the throne. He died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 when he lost his horse and had to fight hand-to-hand, becoming the last King of England to die in combat. Actor Billy Chace is tearing up the stage as Cincy Shakes’ presents the story of his villainy. Through March 11. $26-$42. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, cincyshakes.com.
COMEDY: JOHN ROY
“I talk about social issues, which I have always done, but I think there are some broader topics addressed in my current act,” says comedian John Roy. Current topics of discussion and comedy could range from global warming to racism. His podcast, Don’t Ever Change, features guests both famous and not discussing their high school days. Typically dressed in a T-shirt and zip-up sweatshirt, Roy feels many so-called grown-ups might not be as mature as they should be. “I wear clothes like this every day of my life. I eat cereal for dinner, I play video games and if I come up to an automatic door, I might make a Jedi motion,” he says. Roy has appeared on Last Comic Standing, Conan and The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Through Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
MUSIC: ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES
Winston Churchill, the old “British bulldog” and statesman, inspired many a politician as well as the British public at large during WWII. However, you might not expect the former British Prime Minister’s posthumous influence to currently motivate a fledgling Soul band in small-town Alabama in America’s Deep South and help shape its new record. But you would be mistaken. Relaxing at home in Birmingham, Ala. after a European tour, lead singer Paul Janeway spins anecdotes about his band, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, the musicians’ varied influences and their slow-molten burn of a second album, Sea of Noise, during a recent phone interview. With the surprising success of St. Paul & the Broken Bones’ 2014 debut record, Half the City, the eight-piece, neo-Soul/Rock outfit has toured exhaustively and perfected its blazing blend of Janeway’s exuberant frontman combustion and the Bones’ pulsing rhythm-and-horns support. If Janeway looks more like a mild-mannered, bespectacled accountant than a Soul singer, it doesn’t take long in concert to be moved by his over-the-top, delirious antics and voice. “Unhinged” is the word he uses to describe his stage persona, and it fits. Read more here. St. Paul & The Broken Bones play a sold-out show Friday at Madison Theater. More info: madisontheateronline.com.
EVENT: LEBANON QUILT & FABRIC ARTS SHOW
The Lebanon Quilt & Fabric Arts Show returns with plenty of quilts, quilting supplies and other textiles for all your needlework needs in the 35th-annual show and sale. The Warren County Historical Society will also display The Time Between the Wars: 1930s Textiles. Other events include speakers AnneMarie Chany of Gen-X Quilters and Cindy Oravecz of Quilter’s Fancy, plus a hands-on needle-felting workshop. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $7 door; $5 online; free for members. Warren County Fairgrounds, 665 N. Broadway, Lebanon, wchsmuseum.org.
EVENT: THE CODFATHER FISH FRY
Christian or not, fried fish is doggone good, and Mary, Queen of Heaven is the home to one of the best Lenten fish frys (fries?) around. Offered every Friday in March and the first Friday in April, Mary, Queen of Heaven boasts a huge menu of fried Icelandic cod including their signature Holy Haddock sandwich. Sides offered include fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw, green beans and more. And the namesake Codfather, aka John Geisen, the CEO of Izzy’s, dresses in Mafioso gear and carries a huge stuffed cod around the fry for cherished photo ops. 4-8 p.m. Fridays. Through April 7. 1150 Donaldson Highway, Erlanger, Ky., mqhparish.com.
EVENT: MARDI GRAS MASQUERADE BALL
Want to celebrate Mardi Gras but can’t make it to New Orleans? The sights and sounds of NOLA will fill the Krohn Conservatory Friday with lively music, light appetizers and fortune telling, plus plenty of masks and beads. Check out the Blooms on the Bayou exhibit while you enjoy gumbo and jambalaya, beer and wine. There will be free feather masks at the door. Ages 21-plus. 6 p.m. Friday. $15. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.com.
SATURDAY 04ONSTAGE: ONE WOMAN SEX AND THE CITY
Let’s be real, we all miss hearing the inner monologue of newspaper columnist and fashionista Carrie Bradshaw. Tantric sex, the naked dress and Mr. Big — sigh, so many memories. Nostalgia will be abundant at Taft Theatre’s tribute to the cult-classic, titled One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody on Love, Friendship, and Shoes, directed by TJ Dawe and starring one-woman sextravaganza Kerry Ipema. What better way to spend a night out than by basking in the brunch banter of TV’s most beloved friends following all six seasons? Anticipate puns, cosmopolitans, audience participation and lots of laughs. Doors open 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $20 advance; $25 day of show. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org.
ONSTAGE: CONSIDERING MATTHEW SHEPARD
The Vocal Arts Ensemble takes a bold step forward this weekend with two performances of the Grammy-nominated Considering Matthew Shepard, written by its music director, Craig Hella Johnson. While the ensemble’s mission is to “raise and nurture the public’s appreciation of the life-enriching qualities of the choral arts,” this work also has a political dimension with crucially urgent resonance. On an October night in 1998, 21-year-old Shepard was brutally beaten and tied to a fence outside of Laramie, Wyo. because he was gay. He died six days later. Two men were convicted of his murder and sentenced to life in prison. Shepard’s death — and especially the gruesome circumstances — transformed the diminutive University of Wyoming student into an icon for the LGBTQ community and helped prompt the passing of the 2009 federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. In 1998, music director Johnson was 26 and just starting his career as a choral conductor, composer and teacher. “Matthew Shepard’s death affected me greatly and I always wanted to respond in some way,” he says. Read more about the VAE's performance here. The Vocal Arts Ensemble performs Considering Matthew Shepard 8 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at Gallagher Theater, Xavier University. Tickets and more info: vaecinci.org.
With all the Joseph variations we’ve got running around Cincinnati, you’d think we wouldn’t have to import any more. We’ve already claimed Joesph, the solo Indie Pop project from former Pomegranates member Joey Cook, and of course there’s Joseph Nevels, better known as JSPH, a contemporary Soul/Pop/R&B marvel. But where Josephs are concerned, the third one might just be the charm, so it only makes sense to invite anyone to town who fits the bill, hence the imminent arrival of rising Folk/Pop group Joseph. Much like our own Joseph-related artists, the trio of sisters based the name of their group after someone’s first name, specifically their grandfather Jo, although they also intended it to be a tribute to Joseph, their Oregon hometown. Oldest sister Natalie Schepman was exploring a solo singer/songwriter direction when she invited her younger twin sisters Meegan and Allison Closner to serve as vocalists for her new project. After settling on the Joseph identity, the sisters recorded and self-released their debut album, 2014’s Native Dreamer Kin, a raw but atmospheric blend of modern Pop, 21st-century acoustic Folk and hints of Delta Blues, topped with their flawless gene-kissed harmonies. Read more about Joseph in this week's Sound Advice. Joseph plays the 20th Century Theater Saturday. Click here for tickets/more show info.
EVENT: THE ART OF SHIFU LECTURE
The Cincinnati Asian Art Society — a group of local collectors and admirers of Asian art — hosts author Susan Byrd at the Cincinnati Art Museum as one of their annual programs. Byrd will lecture on the subject of her book, A Song of Praise for Shifu, which is based on the author’s 25 years of research on the laboriously intensive process of shifu, or making paper thread to weave into paper cloth. She will speak about the historical origins of the endeavor, share examples and demonstrate the process for visitors. 2 p.m. lecture, followed by a 3 p.m. reception Sunday. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiasianartsociety.org.