ART: MANIFEST CREATIVE RESEARCH GALLERY hosts Master Pieces, a juried show featuring eight artists. See Angela Kilduff's review here.
MUSIC: LUCINDA WILLIAMS AND JOHN MELLENCAMP play Riverbend Music Center. See Sound Advice preview here.
MUSIC: MANSIONS The first line of the recently released debut recording by Mansions, the project of Louisville's Christopher Browder, has been repeated in most reviews of the self-titled EP. And why not? Starting your album with the words, "Fuck you and your goddamn scene/ It never meant that much to me," is certainly an attention-grabber. But the music and songwriting on Browder's intro EP is more than enough to perk up the ears of fans of honest and direct Indie Pop in the vein of Sea Wolf, Nada Surf and Sebadoh. The merit of the songs is evident in the acoustic takes on the EP (available only digitally) and to those who were lucky enough to catch Browder on an introductory acoustic coffeehouse tour last month. But the full band tracks on the EP are revelatory, showing a songwriter who's already masterful with arrangements and dynamics.
Browder is one of the more promising new voices in Modern Rock, and Mansions' first full-length, New Best Friends (due out by the end of the year), should prove too infectious for critics and fans to resist. Mansions comes to town Wednesday at the Mad Hatter as a part of The Honorary Title's current tour. The New Frontiers, Paper Rival and All the Day Holiday also perform. $10; $12 day of show. 7 p.m. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Mike Breen
ONSTAGE: LA TRAVIATA Cincinnati Opera closes out what's been a successful 2008 summer season with a new production of Verdi's La Traviata tonight, Friday and Sunday at Music Hall. This tragic, romantic, musically sumptuous tale of a Parisian courtesan whose difficult attempt at finding love is finally interrupted by tuberculosis has been given beautiful new costumes by designer Allen Charles Klein in this co-production by the Cincinnati and Florida Grand Opera. Eglise Gutierrez sings the role of the courtesan, Violetta Valery. Stop by Music Hall early on Sunday for Violetta's Champagne and Shoes event. Check in at 1:45 p.m. to start your afternoon with your girlfriends. There will be complimentary champagne, a VIP brunch by the bite and door prizes. Bring any lightly used shoes or clothing to donate to Cincinnati Dress for Success to receive additional raffle tickets. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 3 p.m. Sunday. For 20 percent off Sunday's ticket price, call 513-241-2742 and say the word "Libiamo." Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Steven Rosen
ART: BETTS HOUSE If you have an abiding curiosity about great houses and the people who lived in them, stop by the Betts House Research Center, 416 Clark St., West End, for the exhibition Great Cincinnati Families at Home. It's up all this month and then the Betts House closes for August, but the exhibition reopens in September and October. Wall-mounted panels show pictures of houses and provide information about who lived in them.
The elegant Hauck Summer House at Sharonville, recently saved from destruction by a group of determined conservationists, is among those included. So too are Taft family residences, including William H. Taft's honeymoon house, still standing on East McMillan. Betts House itself was built in 1804 and is Ohio's oldest brick house. $2. Viewing hours are limited (11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday) but Julie Carpenter, Betts' director, will be glad to arrange a time that works for you. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Jane Durrell
LIT: ELLEN EVERMAN signs and discusses her novel Pink Dice at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. See interview here.
ONSTAGE: EDGES, a new musical revue about that awkward transitional moment between adolescence and adulthood, takes the stage at the Contemporary Arts Center. See Rick Pender's review here.
ONSTAGE: WEST SIDE STORY, with dancing worth watching, continues through Saturday at the Aronoff Center. See Rick Pender's review here.
COMEDY: PHIL PALISOUL It's been a long time since comedian Phil Palisoul had a day job, but he can still offer some helpful advice to his audiences. "If you're going to quit your job," he says, "give them two weeks notice. Call them up and say, 'In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been there in two weeks.'" Like many good comics, he didn't get very far on Last Comic Standing, which might be a backhanded indicator of just how funny he is. Indeed, the Denver native has appeared on several other TV programs, including The Tonight Show and Comedy Central's Premium Blend. He has, essentially, a two-pronged attack. The redhead, sporting glasses, often starts with a little self-deprecating humor. "Are you like me?" he asks his audience. "Are you a little disappointed that this is how I turned out?" He'll then change it up to some quick set-up punchline jokes. "I used to be with Charles Schwab," he says. "Now I'm with his brother Cotton." While that sinks in he offers, "I tried Coke Zero, and they're right, it sucks." You need to stay on your toes. "Chicken Pot Pie," he offers, "my three favorite things." Palisoul performs at The Funny Bone on the Levee Thursday-Sunday. $15. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- P.F. Wilson
EVENTS: WESTERN & SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP MASTERS The Western & Southern Financial Group is a locally-based Fortune 500 company that believes sponsoring tennis tournaments is a good way to get its name out there to wealthy sports fans. This weekend the W&SFG Masters will put the plan into full effect -- with the world's 44 best male tennis players scheduled to compete in Mason for $2.75 million in prize money. It's time for all of us to take a break from our weekly croquet matches and polo competitions to watch some tennis and consider diversifying our portfolios with one of the most trusted names in the investment business. The tournament really is one of the best in the world, with two-time defending champion and world No. 1 Roger Federer attempting to avenge his Wimbledon finals loss to world No. 2 Rafael Nadal. The world's No. 3 player, Novak Djokovic, will be in the mix, as will American Andy Roddick, who is more likely than any other competitor to go John McEnroe on an umpire. The men's tournament starts with a qualifying round Friday and goes through Aug. 3; the women's tourney begins Aug. 9 (we'll remind you again next week). $15-$250 for ticket packages. Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Dr., Mason. www.cincy-tennis.com. -- Danny Cross
ONSTAGE: THE PAJAMA GAME Summertime and kids in the theater seem to be a winning combination, and that's been proven for 26 consecutive seasons by Cincinnati Young People's Theatre, which has provided tons of experience for teen performers and techies. Lots of kids who were part of these extravagant summer productions have gone on to careers as actors, singers, dancers, technicians and musicians -- and many of them are majoring in areas like drama, opera, music theater, voice, music and broadcasting at universities and colleges across the country. This summer the launching pad is The Pajama Game, a rollicking musical comedy that goes all the way back to 1954. It's set in the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where things are anything but peaceful. Sparks begin to fly between a new manager and a young woman who heads the union grievance committee in the factory he's been hired to bring more order to. Directed by veteran Tim Perrino, the show involves more than 85 kids representing 36 different schools. This all happens at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts (4990 Glenway Ave.). $10-$14. Runs through Aug. 3. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Rick Pender
EVENTS: LITE BRITE INDIE POP AND FILM TEST takes over the Southgate House for a weekend of film screenings and live music. Tonight features bands Extra Golden (see interview here), Film School (see Sound Advice preview here) and Light Pollution. $10. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.
ART: COFFEE EMPORIUM This Friday, a few of my favorite things collide into exciting union. The Coffee Emporium will participate in Over-the-Rhine's Final Friday gallery walk, presenting Steeped In, with an opening reception from 6-8 pm. The new show will feature Kim Burgas, a renaissance woman represented here by a series of miniature drawings. Various brown puddles and stains of tea, coffee and ink blossom across the papers' surfaces, eliciting feelings of nostalgia and decay. Fine lines in ink and graphite wander in and out of the earthy ponds. While basically abstract, they are reminiscent of city blocks, EKG readings (some of the drawings are horizontally long like scrolls) and various calligraphic languages. In other words, it's both specific and appropriate that this work is presented in an urban coffee house. The drawings presented are part of a broader process of production that spawns as much from tea ceremonies and Burgas' travels in Turkey as from art studio practice. Meditative and dreamy, sad observations feel lost in translation, scrambled into thorny scratches. 110 E Central Parkway. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Matt Morris
EVENTS: LITE BRITE INDIE POP AND FILM TEST takes over the Southgate House for a weekend of film screenings and live music. Tonight features local band White Girls, The Best of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and films about Brooklyn-based rockers (and Cincinnati natives) The National. $5. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.
EVENTS: NEWPORT ARTS AND MUSIC FESTIVAL Immerse yourself in the local arts scene at the 13th annual Newport Arts and Music Festival where you can enjoy music, eclectic art and various activities for kids along the colorful Newport riverfront. This outdoor summer festival will feature local and regional artists displaying fine arts and unique crafts such as pottery, handmade jewelry, stained glass, mosaics, paintings and photography at their individual booths. The kids will even be able make their own art in the Children's Art Zone. While perusing the numerous booths, you can also enjoy bands and local live entertainment throughout the festival. Attracting more than 30,000 people in 2007, the festival is sure to be a hit this year. Noon-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Elizabeth Brand
MUSIC: SUITS THAT ROCK Some of Greater Cincinnati's top business and civic leaders have double lives that most of the public doesn't know anything about. Although that might sound salacious, their secrets don't involve whips, ball gags or dungeons. Well, not all of them. Nope, they once pursued the Rock & Roll dream and came close to fulfilling their fantasies (some more than others). The Carnegie Visual Performing Arts Center presents Suits That Rock, a benefit to raise art education programs at the Covington facility. More than 20 people who have high-profile day jobs will take to the stage and re-live their youth when they dreamed of being the next Mick Jagger -- or at least the next Wayne Newton. Among those scheduled to perform include University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher, Campbell Family Court Judge Mickey Foellger and Fidelity Investments executive Kevin Canafax. Between music sets, secrets will be spilled, like who once was an opening act for Sonny and Cher and who toured with the Beach Boys. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here. -- Kevin Osborne
MUSIC: BOSCO ROSSI, with witty Indie/Acoustic/Pop artist Molly Sullivan, plays the Mad Hatter Sunday with Walk the Moon. See Sullivan interview here.
EVENTS: LITE BRITE INDIE POP AND FILM TEST finishes up at the Southgate House with a live performance by filmmaker and screenwriter John Waters (see cover story interview here) and The Best of the Test film screenings. $25. www.litebritetest.com