ART: CLIFTON CULTURAL ARTS CENTER Thursday marks the opening of the Clifton Cultural Arts Center's first exhibition, the immense project entitled Floodwall by artist Jana Napoli. This, the installation's Midwest debut, marks the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the source and cause of the artwork. Napoli has collected hundreds of empty drawers that were displaced by the ravages of the hurricane and are assembled into a kind of memorial wall that speaks equally of diverse community and the shared experiences of loss and emptiness. The scale of the final visual experience is practically architectonic, and brings to mind some of the psychological investigations of domestic space by Columbus-based Ann Hamilton, an area of contemporary art that alters the inhabited space and overwhelms the viewer. I grew up in southern Louisiana and concur with the connections drawn by Ruth Dickey, the director of the center, who compared our riverside location to New Orleans and noticed, as I did, the resounding support Cincinnati showed in response to the disasters. I haven't seen the installation in person, and it will no doubt be a solemn experience for many who visit the exhibition, not just the smattering of southern transplants in our community. Floodwall, sponsored in Cincinnati by Procter & Gamble's Tide (detergent) Loads of Hope charitable initiative, has already been exhibited in New York City, Baton Rouge, La., and Austin, Tex. 4-8 p.m. Thursdays; noon-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; noon-5 p.m.
Sundays through Sept. 14. $5. The Clifton Cultural Arts Center is located in the old Clifton School at 3711 Clifton Ave. The arts center is not yet wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact www.cliftonculturalarts.org. -- MATT MORRIS
COMEDY: TIM NORTHERN "I don't know what made me get into this stand-up comedy thing," says Louisville native Tim Northern. "I just figured I'd give it a go and it's worked for me." The former truck driver began performing at open mics about 15 years ago. "I've done it maybe eight years as my primary source of income," he says. Ultimately he wants to play bigger and bigger venues. He doesn't view comedy as a launching pad for a film or TV career, though. "A lot of comics, I don't consider them comedians," he says. "Because they want to use my profession, and I consider it my profession. They don't want to do what I do which is write jokes and entertain people. They try to use it to act. I say to those guys, 'Go act. Don't disrespect where I eat.' " Northern makes people laugh with what he hopes is perceived as smart humor. "I have an intellectual bent when it comes to my taste in comedy," he says. That means plenty of word play, puns and twists of phrase. "I used to have this mole on my face," he says. "But I had to get rid of it. I was picking on it, and it bit me." Northern performs Thursday-Sunday at Go Bananas Comedy Club. $8-$12. 513-984-9288. -- P.F. WILSON
MUSIC: COWBOY MOUTH brings its blend of New Orleans Rock and Roots music to the Madison Theater. See Sound Advice on page 39.
MUSIC: ROBIN EUBANKS There are great instrumentalists, masters of their particular craft who will stun you with their virtuosity and command of their axe, and then there are consummate musicians who, in addition to demonstrating complete control of their instrument, also compose, teach and break new ground across genres. Robin Eubanks falls into this latter category -- a two-time Grammy winner who splits his time between serving as tenured Jazz Trombone professor at Oberlin College Conservatory and lecturing and performing around the country. Eubanks pushes boundaries with his compositions (incorporating a contemporary palette and odd-metered time feels) as well as with his instrument (applying electronic effects to the trombone).
Eubanks writes, "My compositions can change fluidly from Swing to Funk to Latin to 11/8 or 7/4, without sounding forced or awkward. This allows me to draw upon all of my experiences. I have the freedom to create forms that unite diverse influences into new structures that are organic." Eubanks has recorded seven albums featuring his original music and has played with a long list of music greats, including Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Eddie Palmieri, Sun Ra, Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Talking Heads. He won Grammys for his performances on Michael Brecker's Wide Angels and Dave Holland's What Goes Around. You can experience Eubanks up close and personal from 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. at The Blue Wisp Jazz club Friday. $15; half-price after 10:30 p.m. for students and professional musicians. www.thebluewisp.com. -- ELIZABETH WU
SPORTS: AVP PRO VOLLEYBALL TOUR Riding the wave of momentum that accompanies ultimate success, Summer Olympic beach volleyball two-time gold medal winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh look to extend their 108-win streak Friday at the 2008 AVP Crocs Tour at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason. Cincinnati, cash in the chance to see Olympic-class athletes digging and spiking in your own backyard. Gents, I don't think I'll need to repeat myself when I say there will be booze and beautiful babes in bikinis. Ladies, no discrimination here, there will be half-naked men for you to ogle, too. The three-day, ball-battering event is a nice way to take advantage of the last days of summer while supporting the sponsor of the event, Bud Light. Night and day sessions will take place all weekend with single session tickets ranging from $15-$35. VIP is available for $75 per session. If you don't think one session will sate your volleyball cravings then there's full event packages ranging from $65-$100. 8:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Friday; 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Saturday; 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Sunday. www.avp.com. -- ANTHONY SKEENS
MUSIC: CHEF DAVE Fans of pure, expressive "Jam" music with a Southern slant might have found their new favorite band in Nashville's Chef Dave. The band's mostly instrumental sophomore album, No Strings Attached, harnesses the Soul of the south, from Stax to the Allmans, with a trippy, mesmerizing groove and some spectacular musicianship. Seth Davis leads the band with his high-arcing, soul-tickling slide guitar work, where the Delta runs smack dab into the early PsychRock of the Dead and their torch-bearers. Davis has surrounded himself with magnanimous company, including organist extraordinaire Johnny Neel (Allman Brothers Band, Lonnie Mack, Gov't Mule), who gives the songs thrilling trills and smoky atmospherics. Davis' debut was called Happy Accident, an apt description of the band's genesis (the group's name was a club booker's misinterpretation over the phone of "Seth Davis Band" and that first album was the result of a remarkably productive demo session with the legendary Victor Wooten handling bass work). While the band's improv workouts are probably still loaded with "happy accidents," the band's new album finds Chef Dave with a clear sense of purpose -- to give fans of Southern Rock jams an equally virtuosic and progressive alternative to the genre's mostly still-active pioneers. The band hosts a CD release party 9 p.m. Friday at Stanley's Pub with local Funk/Jazz crew Souse. $5. 513-871-6249. -- MIKE BREEN
ART: KZF DESIGN GALLERY The best way to honor our soldiers in Iraq is to stop that needlessly started war and bring them home. (Afghanistan is another matter; it looks like soldiers, sadly, will have to be there a long time.) In the meantime, it's important to pay attention to those who have served in those war zones and try to learn from their experiences. KZF Design is doing that with its new exhibit, opening Friday and running for an undetermined time, called Meet My Hero. It combines photographs from Iraq by soldiers, especially those of the 478th Engineer Battalion of the U.S. Army, with work made by students of the Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center, a nonprofit organization providing arts to urban teens as a means to stimulate their interest in education. KZF Design's gallery is in its offices at 655 Eden Park Drive and is on view during normal business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday). 513-621-6211. -- STEVEN ROSEN
MUSIC: MAROON 5 supports their glossy sophomore album, led by their unnaturally handsome frontman, at Riverbend along with guests the Counting Crows. See Music on page 33.
EVENTS: RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL This is one event I try to go to every year because I truly believe it's worth the money, and I'm not even interested in the whole turkey-leg-the-size-of-my-head thing or the fact that you can drink Arbor Mist while you're there. I'm just in awe of the people who devote their time practicing to become authentic medieval citizens in a re-created 16th-century village at a fairground in Harveysburg, Ohio. My friend Tina usually plays a pirate named "The Blaze" doing all the stunt performances and shouting, but she isn't doing it this year. Luckily there are other pirates and other performers like jousters, strolling minstrels, knights and ladies who walk around in believable costumes saying believable things in believable accents in order to transport you back in time to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. And the 30-acre property is chock-full of a lot more than actors. There are craftsmen and artisans like glassblowers, blacksmiths, people who make weapons, leather crafters and jewelers selling their wares. There's also other non-turkey food choices like steak on a stick, beef stew in a bread bowl and normal festival stuff like French fries and funnel cake. So for $19.99 (plus $2 parking) you can take a mini-vacation, a stay-cation, and spend a day wandering around a medieval village, eating, drinking and watching people poke each other with swords. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 19. Renaissance Park is located just minutes off of 1-71 or 1-75 on State Route 73 in Warren County. 513-897-7000.
-- MAIJA ZUMMO
EVENTS: RIVERFEST Summer is almost over, which doesn't mean much to me anymore as an adult, besides signaling that the community pool is closing and that I have to start wearing pants soon. But one great thing that the end of summer does bring with it is the annual WEBN/Rozzi fireworks display at Riverfest! There's nothing better than cramming in really close to some sweaty strangers while you collectively look up at those wonderful, colorful explosions in the sky and listen to "Smoke on the Water." As many seasoned fireworks attendees will tell you, the best way to get a good seat is to get there early. Luckily Riverfest starts at noon with all-day family entertainment, food and beverages, so you'll have something to do while you wait for the big bang. The fireworks, which are dedicated to the U.S. armed forces, start at 9:05 p.m. and, as usual, promise to be bigger, better and louder than last year. If you can't make it down to the river to watch, or you refuse to put yourself through the stress, try some other popular viewing hot spots like Devou Park or your living room. WLWT Channel 5 starts live fireworks coverage at 8 p.m. Free. 513-686-8597. -- MAIJA ZUMMO