Yo Ho Ho and a Barrel of the Real Thing
"Hollywood and Johnny Depp didn't quite accurately portray real pirates," said Douglass McDonald, president/CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center, at a recent press conference announcing the world premiere of center's latest exhibition. Really? I so hoped that Depp's deliciously rollicking Keith Richards impression was the real deal.
Hopes aside, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship aims to set the record straight, richly detailing the Jack Sparrow-free tale of a real pirate ship and the lives of those who once roamed its decks.
Real Pirates wouldn't have been possible without the persistence of Barry Clifford, one of the world's foremost experts in underwater surveys and excavations. Piqued as a child about tales of a sunken pirate ship off the shore of his Cape Cod, Mass., stomping grounds, Clifford finally discovered the remains of the Whydah in 1984, the first authenticated recovery of its kind in American waters.
More than 20 years later he's still excavating artifacts from the 75-foot ship, which sunk in a storm in 1717. The results of his findings can be found throughout Real Pirates, an exhibition that offers up more than 200 artifacts from the many ships captured by the Whydah's pirate captain Sam Bellamy and his men as well as the history of a period whose economic engine was propelled by the Caribbean slave trade.
The Real Pirates experience is a virtual one as visitors walk through numerous multimedia galleries that re-create everything from the ship's living quarters to a detailed scale model of the Whydah to the violent storm that sank it.
"Discovering the Whydah was the most exciting moment in my career," an ecstatic 62-year-old Clifford said at the press conference.
"The sheer volume of artifacts the Whydah carried, from more than 50 ships Bellamy and his men captured, provides a rare window into the otherwise mysterious world of the 18th-century pirates. I see this exhibition as the culmination of my many years of work. Most important, it is a chance to bring the real story of pirates, as it's never been told before, to the public through real objects last touched by real pirates."
The exhibition runs daily at the Cincinnati Museum Center through Jan. 2. Tickets are $10.50-$16.50. 513-287-7001. (See Attractions.) — JASON GARGANO
WEDNESDAY 08 — FRIDAY 10
Manifest Gallery's summer exhibition MASTER PIECES is coming to a close on Friday. For the show, Manifest gathered a group of entries from MFA candidates in art schools around the country. Narrowed down to just 15 works by 11 artists, Master Pieces is less about genre (you'll find just about every kind of art form here) than it is about dignity. It's hard to be a graduate student — especially in the fine arts, when you know that your talent, top-notch or not, needs a whole lot of luck to make you successful. Well, luck and the right attitude. MFA candidates around the globe should come here for answers. How do you get a gallery show? As Manifest will show you, you need as much class, organization and professionalism as the MBA kid. 2727 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills, 513-861-3638. (See Art.) — LAURA JAMES
In 1924 Nathan Leopold was passionate about Richard Loeb. In turn, Loeb was passionate about crime and excitement. The two young law students from Chicago formed a secret pact to satisfy each other's needs. Loeb convinced Leopold that they were above the rules of mundane society, people who could get away with murder. But their perfect crime unraveled, and today Leopold and Loeb are remembered for their cold-blooded murder of a 14-year-old boy, judged by many to be one of the most infamous and heinous crimes of the 20th century. Their story has been turned into a musical by Stephen Dolginoff, THRILL ME: THE LEOPOLD AND LOEB STORY, presented during August by Know Theatre of Cincinnati. This is a great chance to see an edgy new chamber musical created in 2005; it's being presented in one of Cincinnati's newest and most exciting theaters, Know Theatre's home at 1120 Jackson St. in Over-the-Rhine. Performances begin Thursday and continue through Aug. 26. $12-$22. 513-300-5669. (See Onstage.) — RICK PENDER
THURSDAY 09 — SUNDAY 12
To say STEVE BYRNE is one of the busiest comedians in the country is a bit of an understatement. After touring the country last year, he entered the TBS/MySpace Stand-up or Sit Down Comedy Competition. After capturing the title in Las Vegas, Byrne finds himself back on the road on a new tour sponsored by the Web site. In between tours he worked on NBC's Wedding Crashers. The relentless schedule hasn't kept him from developing new material though. "My act has changed. I teach men how to fight, how to make love," he chuckles before explaining. "I talk a little bit more about my family. My own issues when I was younger. Life experiences when I was younger." Those experiences are projected through the lens of someone born in New Jersey to a Korean mother and an Irish father. Byrne performs at The Funny Bone on the Levee Thursday through Sunday. $15-$17. 859-957-2000. (See Onstage.) — P.F. WILSON
New-ish Northside club The Gypsy Hut has become one of the more interesting live music/dance music venues in the area. The club has a "basement party" vibe in the performance room, a lively bar, a built-in clientele and — for you smokers — a great outdoor meeting area. The Hut has also been an excellent home for some really eclectic musical happenings, from experimental music projects (like Wednesday's Art Damage movie night, where musicians improvise soundtracks to short films) to DJ nights (everything from Rock to Experimental to old-school Soul) to a wide array of live original music from both locals and Indie touring bands. The club goes Hip Hop Friday with an event dubbed "PREACHING TO THE CHOIR." Scribble Jam participants from Boston and national underground faves RADIx (who recently did dates in Europe) headline, rounding out a bill that features eclectic DJ Phily Phil, masterful local MC ILL POETIC (pictured) and playful Dayton spinster Possum. Save your dough for Scribble; this event is a total freebie. What an amazing weekend for local Hip Hop fans. 513-213-6008. (See Music) — MIKE BREEN
Local writer Nancy Jones was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago. The neurological disease has changed and shaped her life, but her outlook is full of positive thoughts and good humor. One of the ways she's faced the challenges of MS has been by writing about it. The result is an engaging performance art monologue, ABOVE THE 37TH PARALLEL, on view at the Jarson Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center this weekend. (For some reason there is much higher incidence of the disease above the 37th parallel, the line that runs just south of Cincinnati.) The monologue will be all the more interesting by virtue of its performer, veteran actress Sherman Fracher, who says, "This is not a play about MS. It's about a funny, intelligent quirky woman who is coping with the daily challenges of a chronic illness." Fracher's husband Drew, nominated for two CEA directing awards this year for works he staged at Ensemble Theatre (Opus) and Cincinnati Shakespeare (The Tempest), is the director. He says that Jones' play "has a lot of heart." With talents like the Frachers involved, it's sure to be a memorable evening. 513-621-2787. (See Onstage.) — RICK PENDER
When it's this hot outside, a drive to The Beach Waterpark seems to make sense. Where else in Cincinnati can you cool off in 750,000 gallons of man-made ocean waves? And where else in Cincinnati can you chill out the sounds of authentic Jamaican music under the shade of a real palm tree? Obvious answer: nowhere. That's because the park's REGGAE FEST puts the "party" on repeat. This weekly, afternoon music festival hosts live Reggae bands on the Kokomo Kove stage every Sunday from 2-5 p.m. This week, grab a beverage (alcoholic or non) and claim a spot in the sand for True Believers. The party ends Aug. 26, so if you can't make it out this week you still have some time. Next week's band is Stagalag, and the following weekend's is Positive Reaction. $27.99 general admission; $10.50 for children and seniors. 513-398-SWIM. (See Attractions.) — MAIJA ZUMMO
Oxford, home of Miami University, isn't quite the most conducive environment for budding young bands that want to play original music. The clubs and bars tend to cater to the masses who just want to hear mindless Pop music when out on the town, and when bands do play they're more often than not playing the same 10 covers of their favorite Dave Matthews songs. That being said, it's all the more impressive when something original is born in the college town. The Pop Punk outfit LOOK AFRAID rose primarily from the ashes of the surprisingly popular psuedo-Ska band Sofapunch. While the latter bounced and grooved with a Chicago-meets-Reel Big Fish vibe, the former constructs a throbbing, thrashing, uptempo sound in the vein of Coheed and Cambria. When Look Afraid's two lead members, Mat Franklin and Alex Nauth, started piecing together an Oxford dream team of Punk musicians after Sofapunch disbanded, they brought in a drummer from the student-run radio station, a bassist from another short-lived yet popular band and a guitarist from the successful local group The Culling Song. The band is building momentum from the recognition of its members' past projects and the accessible and danceable sound they are now creating. They're doing some modest summer touring to promote their first EP before the reality of still being in college puts a slight damper on their outside-of-Oxford/Greater Cincy reach. Look Afraid is headlining The Poison Room's new Wednesday night "Grinder," supported by The Poor Richards, The Defex and Now Entering Rehab. 513-333-0010. (See Music.) — KEVIN MICHEL