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Naked Ghouls Reading
7 p.m. Friday at Studio L'Amour; $20 (reservations required)
There are so many great Halloween-themed shows this week, but we want to highlight this one because, well, what's not to like about Naked Girls Reading? The ever-popular series returns, with all the gore (and bad puns) that you'd expect from a Halloween edition of the series. This month, the unclothed literati will favor us with selections from the spooky and the gross section of the library. Don't miss Cherokee Rose, a Naked Girl who will be Reading tarot.

Bob Dylan
7:30 p.m. Saturday at Riviera Theatre; $60
Like a force of nature, Bob Dylan just keeps rolling on. A few months shy of his 70th birthday, the greatest songwriter of the 20th century remains a force to be reckoned with a decade into the 21st. His Never Ending Tour continues to live up to its name and just out are a pair of albums generating massive buzz: a collection of demos from his first years in New York City and the first CD release of his first eight mono LPs. At one point, Dylan had a rep for delivering wildly uneven results live – either transcendent or mail-it-in bad – but he's seemed more energized lately and is one of the true must-sees.

North Halsted Halloween Parade
4 p.m. Sunday starting at Belmont and Halsted; free
Find crazy costumes and even crazier behavior as the best of Boystown let their hair down for the day. This year, the theme is "Little Street of Horrors" and the event will be emceed by the incomparable Miss Floozie. Think you're creative? Test yourself in the costume contest after the parade. There will be over $5,000 in costume contest cash and prizes.
More: Find all Halloween events.

Ghostface Killah
8:30 p.m. Sunday at Abbey Pub; $20-$22
If there were ever to be a perfect performance scenario, it would have to be Ghostface Killah performing on Halloween. The veteran Wu-Tang alum has always been a fan favorite, and his crafty lyricism and vivid storytelling abilities have placed his name right up there with the legends. Lately Ghosface has kept a relatively low profile, but his last project, Wu-Massacre, with Raekwon and Method Man, has propelled him back into the spotlight. His performance at Abbey Pub will likely be in promotion of Wu-Massacre as well as last year's Ghostdini Wizard of Poetry, but as we all know it's past classics from Ironman, Supreme Clientele and Fishscale that'll turn the Abbey into a Halloween destination.

Walk of Shame Halloween Party
11 a.m. Sunday at Faith & Whiskey; $35
Shake off the Halloween party cobwebs at this catered, open bar party in Lincoln Park. All food and drinks are provided for five hours, and you get five bucks off if you show up in your costume from the night before.

Just missed the cut: JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Watermelon Slim & The Workers, Death Toll: A Drinking Game, Clean Halloween


Oktoberfest Chicago
Friday-Sunday at St. Alphonsus Church (Lincoln and Southport); $5
As the festival season winds down, we now enter Oktoberfest season in Chicago. Find beer, brats and more. Music acts include locals 16 Candles and Rock Candy alongside traditional German acts like Die Musikmeisters Band. The area also has a lot of German history, and you could stand to learn a thing or two ... over a beer or two.

Lincoln Square Applefest
8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Gidding's Plaza (4700 block of N. Lincoln Ave.); free
This family friendly fest offers live music, cooking classes, plus an appearance by Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine. And don't forget the pie-eating contest (as if you won't be staging an unofficial one throughout the day).

Sonnets and Striptease
4 p.m. Saturday at The Spot; free
This sex-and-literature themed variety show features new writing, Shakespearean burlesque acts and something audience-participatory called "Strip Sonnet." The totally free event celebrates the publication of "Erratica," a play by local writer (and Centerstage contributor) Reina Hardy. After a reading of the first act, stick around for striptease, a bad poetry contest, naked librarians, and more. It's a lot of entertainment for exactly zero dollars.

Hyde Park Jazz Festival
All day Saturday at various venues in Hyde Park; free
This jazz marathon (over 30 performances in 13 venues) offers 12 hours of non-stop music. Performers include Orbert Davis, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Reginald Robinson, John Burnett Orchestra and Dana Hall. See the full schedule here.

The National
7:30 p.m. Sunday at Riviera Theater; $29
There's so much baggage in sharp-dressed New Yorkers The National and their ocean-deep LPs of despair. But when the lights hit the stage, front man Matt Berninger turns their quintessential brood into fierce lashes uncommon to what he and the band lay down in the studio, which almost always tears up his vocals, but surprises all who think they're solely a sad-sack set. The artist formerly known as Final Fantasy, currently known as Owen Pallet, opens, teasing Andrew Bird violin backbones with digi landscapes and a bit of Rufus Wainwright lull.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's
8 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Hall; $12-$15
Another representative of the orchestral pop genre that has become the flavor of the month, Margot stands out from the crowd by virtue of its quirky, energetic live shows. Though the band's members hail from various corners of Indiana, they've found a second home in Chicago, recording the sessions for their "Animal" and "Not Animal" albums here. The Lonely Forest and Cameron McGill & What Army open.

Lebowski Fest Chicago
Friday-Saturday at various locations
Creedence, bowling, White Russians, purple jumpsuits and lots more will be present at the third annual Chicago fest celebrating the 1998 cult classic film, "The Big Lebowski." The first night of the event takes place at Portage Theater, featuring a special screening of the film with some special guests making appearances. On Friday and Saturday, there will be bowling, trivia, costumes and more at Diversey River Bowl.

Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival and Art Fair
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Millennium Park; free
A true fiesta with music, food and art from the Latino community. The art fair will give you an opportunity to bring some love for all things Latin into your home. Local merchants will be selling artwork in addition to jewelry and clothing.

Harvest Jam
Friday-Sunday at Queen of Angels Church (2330 W. Sunnyside); $5-$10 (tickets)
Celebrate autumn at this Lincoln Square fest featuring live entertainment, carnival games (Skee-ball, anyone?), food vendors, dancing and more. The usual suspects on the festival scene (Too White Crew, Wedding Banned) try to make you forget summer is just about over.

Love! Valour! Compassion!
6 p.m. Sunday at Mary's Attic; $5-$10
Get gay-friendly with Harry Osterman, our beach-cleaning, parade-waving 14th District rep. Osterman will host the fourth installment in the "Great Plays of Terrence McNally" reading series: "Love! Valour! Compassion!" This bittersweet look back at summer follows the adventures of eight men over three holidays in one lake house.

North Coast Music Festival
Friday-Sunday at Union Park; $40 daily tickets
This inaugural festival promises to be "summer's last stand." With a lineup that includes such eclectic acts as The Chemical Brothers, Nas & Damian Marley, Umphrey's McGee, Moby, De La Soul and Chicago's own Lupe Fiasco, there should be something for everyone.

Naperville's Last Fling
Friday-Monday at Naperville Jaycees (Naperville Central High School); free
Naperville gives one last hurrah to summer by celebrating with a beer garden, dozens of food vendors, wine tasting and a rib cook off. Other events include a Big Wheel Race for kids (9-11 a.m. Saturday), a lip-sync contest, and a pie eating contest (11 a.m.-noon Sunday). The Parade will take place on Monday at 10 a.m. in downtown Naperville, preceded by a mile-long run. Musical acts include Buddy Guy (Friday), Collective Soul (Saturday) and Clint Black (Sunday), all $15 for tickets.

African Festival of the Arts
Friday-Monday at 5100 S. Cottage Grove; $5-$10
This year's theme is "Creating and Keeping the Culture," and features a live performance by legendary R&B singer Chaka Khan (Monday). You can also see performances by West African born Angelique Kidjo, a Grammy-award winning recording artist, and Tito Jackson from the famed Jackson 5 (Saturday).

Chicago Jazz Festival
Saturday-Sunday in Grant Park; free
Jazz Fest is certainly one of Grant Park's best festivals, a weekend teeming with the best in local and national acts on three stages. Performers include Nicole Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Brad Mehldau, Kurt Elling, The Either/Orchestra, Brian Blade and more. The Young Jazz Lions Stage is also back this year, featuring high school and college ensembles.

Vampire Weekend
6 p.m. Sunday at Aragon Ballroom; $38
When these New York City preppies played Pitchfork two years ago, they seemed a little overwhelmed by the initial acclaim and ensuing critical backlash for their sprightly self-titled debut. What resulted were faithful-to-the-record renditions of those songs, highlighted by Ezra Koenig's earnest singing and Chris Tomson's always spot-on drumming. Now playing the tunes from this year's more far-ranging "Contra," the boys should be a little more at ease on stage.


Gold Coast Art Fair
Friday-Sunday in Grant Park; free
The 53rd annual art fair attracts 450 artists and nearly 350,000 visitors. This year it moves to a new location in Grant Park, just across from the Art Institute.

Love's Labour's Lost
Through Sunday at Oak Park Festival Theatre; $10-$20
Oak Park Festival Theatre had a critical hit with its season opener, a sorrowful, starlit take on "Of Mice and Men." Its second show of the season is more typical outdoor summer fare, a Shakespearean comedy that's billed, alarmingly, as a bardic version of "Sex in the City." That warning aside, this should be a deft, enjoyable picnic of a show.

North Side Summerfest
Friday-Sunday at Lincoln and Irving Park; $5
This new fest (only in its fourth year) is all about the party, and you'll need to let off some steam after a grueling festival season. The music lineup includes all the festival staples, like Sixteen Candles (Friday), Too White Crew and Wedding Banned (Saturday) and Hairbangers Ball (Sunday).

Superstars of Burlesque
10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Music Box; $20
America's top teasers descend on the Music Box for a weekend of glitz, debuachery and highly creative pasties. This two-night-only event, organized by Michelle L'amour (the Chicagoland area's duchess of skin) is guaranteed to be a fancy affair. Why? Every single performer holds a world title from the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Demitria Taylor, Rob Blaine
9 p.m. Sunday at B.L.U.E.S.
One of the Eddie Taylor prodigal spawn, daughter Demetria doesn't get the limelight her brothers enjoy. But that'll be a passing phase when people start to pick up on her Memphis Minnie meets Koko Taylor sass, which she's been slinging in spades from B.L.U.E.S. to the Chicago Blues Festival without the fam. Opening guitarist Rob Blaine, 29, has seen stints with both the late, great Little Milton and The Chicago R&B Kings, heartily recruited for his ability to keep in time while traversing through blues, soul and funk, albeit armed with his most lethal weapon: a bearish growl channeled in '70s roadhouse lore.


Pierogi Fest
Friday-Sunday in Whiting, Ind.; free
Yes, we know Whiting, Ind. (where?) is a haul, but it's worth it just to see Mr. Pierogi, along with his friends The Pieroguettes and Miss Paczki. They perform a number of musical spoofs, including the ingenious "We're Off to Eat Pierogis" ("We're Off to See the Wizard"). There will also be plenty of family fun, a pierogi toss contest, a beer garden and an art show at this Eastern European festival.

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival
Friday-Sunday; $5
Three days of gallery exhibitions, live music and art events at multiple venues along a two-mile stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square. The long list of curated gallery shows includes names like "The Gutter Exhibition," where the only submission requirement is that work "embodies the physical or mental gutter." While you're there, you can also check out the Logan Square Farmers Market.

Taste of Lincoln Avenue
All day Saturday-Sunday in Lincoln Park; $7-$10
Five stages will host more than 40 music acts, including the Freddy Jones Band, Soul Asylum, Trippin' Billies and 7th Heaven. Also visit the Kids Carnival, which includes a giant slide, petting zoo, face painting and more. There is also a "Virgin" Wine Garden, sponsored by the Virgin family of wines.

9 p.m. Friday at darkroom; $10-$15
Although he may be a little less visible than his counterparts, longtime DJ and music connoisseur Maseo has always been known as a DJ's DJ. His technical skills obviously hold weight, otherwise he wouldn't have been De La Soul's DJ for more than 20 years, but it's his song selection that has always made Maseo a must see for hip-hop lovers and beatheads alike. He plays an intimate show at darkroom sans De La.

I Still Love H.E.R. (atributetohiphop)
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at New Regal Theater; $15-$25
See director/star Wendell Tucker's tale of Love 1 is a respected Chicago broadcast personality who is retiring from the biz after becoming disillusioned. The long-running Chicago play makes an encore of sorts this weekend before heading to New York for a November run at Apollo Theater and later on Broadway.


Old St. Pat's World's Largest Block Party
Friday-Saturday at Madison & Des Plaines (Old St. Pat's Church); $40-$45
Oprah called it the place to meet your match after more than 70 couples met here and later married. If you value your book club membership, you'll go. Also, Barenaked Ladies headlines on Friday (Kris Allen and Angel Taylor will also play). The Block Party typically sells out, so get your tickets in advance. Five drinks are included with admission.

Baby Wants Candy, The Completely Improvised Full-Band Musical
Through Sunday at Theater on the Lake; $17.50
Sing a song of summer with Chicago's foremost musical improvisers. This troupe of quadruple threats have been stunning audiences for years with their ability to take a simple suggestion and spin it into a full-length book musical with more laughs, tunes, and narrative coherence than say, "Shrek." At Theatre on the Lake for just one weekend.

Boulevard Bash
Friday-Sunday at Albany & Sacramento; $5
Logan Square gets into the street fest scene with this inaugural three-day barrage of music, food and (presumably) people. Two stages will run simultaneously with acts like Waco Brothers (Friday), Smoking Popes (Saturday) and Yourself and the Air (Sunday).

Roscoe Village Burger Fest
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; $5
The former Belmont, Arts and Music fest gets a makeover into this celebration of all things burger. Nearly a dozen local restaurants will offer up their best burgers, including Bad Apple, Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, Select Cut and the Village Tap. There will also be two stages for music, featuring '90s groups 10,000 Maniacs (Saturday) and Gin Blossoms (Sunday).

Slum Village, Que Billah
9 p.m. Saturday at Double Door; $15-$30
After the passing of J Dilla in 2006 and then the passing of Baatin in 2009, it seemed like Slum Village was destined to take a fall. But after all they've been through, remaining members T3 and Elzhi have pushed forward with a new album entitled Villa Manifesto ... The LP. No one knows for sure who will be with T3 and Elzhi for the Chicago stop of their promotional tour, but you can bet they'll have more than enough to bring down the Double Door. Opening will be Que Billah, 80's Babies, Crown Nation and DJ Rude One.

The Heavy

The Heavy, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound w/Ralph "Soul" Jackson
Noon Saturday at Taste of Chicago; free
The best show at this year's Taste may be at the weirdest time slot. Yes, we know it's early on a Saturday. And yes, we know it's the tourist trap otherwise known as Taste. But you won't be disappointed with these acts. UK ex-pats The Heavy blend a little bit of everything to a boisterous show, and JC Brooks and the boys bring some soul to your Saturday. Renaldo Domino, East of Edens Soul Express DJs, Mr. Greenweedz also add to the funky mix.

National 40-Ounce Week/Heckler Party
10 p.m. Friday at The Fifty/50; $9.99
Celebrate the end of National 40-Ounce Week at this Wicker Park bar by drinking $5 Mickey's 40s. If that's not enough, you can win some great Cubs swag and party with satirical sports publication The Heckler. Buy tickets early and you get a Heckler fan pass, a free 40, a shot of tequila and entry in the Wrigley rooftop raffle.

Eyes to the Skies Balloon Festival
Wednesday-Sunday at Community Park in Lisle; $5
With the city canceling its big fireworks display this year, why not head out to Lisle for some good ol' country fun. In addition to fireworks shows all weekend, check out the adjacent free carnival. And the star attraction -- hot-air balloon launches -- are just a buck a ride all weekend.

LeapFest 7
Through Saturday at Stage Left Theatre; $12-$25
It's your last chance to take the leap with this festival of five politically aware new plays. The scripts, which will be presented as workshop productions, cover everything from beauty compliance (Mia McCullough's "The Face of a Ruined Woman" to truckers' unions (Jayme McGhan's "Mother Bear"). It's the perfect way to make your summer theater experience a little less fluffy and a little more fiery.

Porn on the 4th of July
10 p.m. Saturday at Vision Nightclub; $10-$15; get tickets here
The 11th annual event is sure to start some fireworks for your holiday weekend. Porn star (and current "Entourage" babe) Sasha Grey makes an appearance, and DJ Johnny Chaos will handle the music. There will also be "entertainers" from Pink Monkey and products available from Lover's Playground.

If you're looking for a little more G-rated fireworks show, check out our handy guide to July 4 shows.

Salt 'n' Pepa, Bell Biv Devoe, Rob Base, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh
5:30 p.m. Friday at Taste of Chicago; free
Normally we wouldn't stoop to promoting such a mainstream commercial event as Taste in this space, but just look at the lineup for the first night. Anyone growing up in the '80s or '90s couldn't pass up a chance to see all of these old-school R&B and hip-hop acts at once.

The Glorious Ones
7:30 p.m. through Sunday at Theater on the Lake; $17.50
If you get all festivaled out this weekend, head to the lake and get some culture at the Park District's weekly production. This week, BoHo Theatre rolls into town with this musical about a troupe of 16th-century traveling players.

Pride Fest
Friday-Saturday on Halsted; $7 donation
Where to begin with this fabulous weekend of gay-themed events? How about both Tiffany and Taylor Dane (among dozens of others) performing. How about drag queens as far as the eye can see. How about these cultural events going on all week. And we didn't even mention Sunday's Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade.

Crossroads Guitar Festival
All day Saturday at Toyota Park; $100
Eric Clapton brings a roster of guitar gods to Toyota Park to support his rehab facility, Crossroads Centre, in Antigua. The lineup includes Clapton, Buddy Guy, BB King, the Allman Brothers Band, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Joao Gilberto, Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Steve Winwood, ZZ Top, Keb' Mo and many more.

Green Music Fest
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Eckhart Park; $5
Local groups like Maps and Atlases join the eclectic sounds of The Wailers, Fang Island and Cloud Cult to make this much more than your average street fest music. And an environmentally focused event where all the vendors are earth-friendly (recylced crafts and solar-powered devices will be on offer) will make you feel good about pigging out on the fest food and indulging in the craft beer tent.


Buddy Guy
7:30 p.m. Saturday at Ravinia; $22-$65
The picnic parade's in full swing over on the Ravinia lawn, with 73-years-young Buddy Guy ditching his famed purple suit and the glass of cognac he so adores at his club for a leisure get-up. Buddy loves a good special guest appearance, and he just may pop into openers JJ Grey & Mofro's set to amp up their Jacksonville, Fla., funk-swamp treatment.

Just For Laughs Chicago
Through Saturday at various locations; get tickets here
The five-day comedy show, sponsored by TBS, is back for more. This year's fest includes appearances from Aziz Ansari (Thursday at the Vic Theatre), Rob Corddry (Thursday at Park West), Cedric the Entertainer (Friday at Chicago Theatre), Patton Oswalt (Saturday at the Vic), Russell Peters (Saturday at the Rosemont Theatre), as well as a reunion of the 1979 Second City class featuring George Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky (Thursday at Second City).

Bronzeville Cultural Festival
Thursday-Saturday at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema; free
Screenings of films about African-American issues, or those made by African-Americans, which go above and beyond the stereotypical depictions found in many mainstream movies. If you prefer words to images, there's also a book fair, writer's workshops, and other literary-minded events.

Naked Girls Reading: Fang Fiction
7 p.m. Friday at Studio L'Amour; $20
If the sexual tension in the Twilight books/movies is too much for you to take, cut to the chase with this special reading from our favorite literary nudes. In addition to Twilight, the girls will read from Dracula, Nosferatu and more, all in the buff.

Highland Games and Scottish Festival
Saturday and Sunday at 31st & York Rd., Oak Brook; $10-$15 per day
The Illinois Saint Andrew Society puts on this annual festival, which features all the traditions of Scotland in one compact package: bagpipes, rugby, Scotch, Haggis, dancing and more. Take part in competitions like a Haggis Hurling Contest and Knobbly Knees Kilt Contest. And don't forget about the Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee), a traditional celebration of Celtic music and dance.

Above: 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche Devised by The New Colony; below: Spider in the Attic Devised by Jessica Hudson (Photos: Saverio Truglia)

Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.

For me, a big night equals crunchy peanut butter, threadbare leggings and season two of Lost, which I’m watching for the first time. (With the exception of that hurricane over in New Orleans, the view from 2005 is lovely, thanks for asking, and I’m sure Brad and Jen will be back together in no time.) I’m not lazy or anti-social (yes I am), but leaving the house requires shoes, the most perplexing aspect of any outfit. Flats, heels, boots dear God, my head aches, someone hand me the peanut butter.

Still, duty calls, so on Saturday, after trying on approximately 27 different pairs, I bussed to Wicker Park to check out Sketchbook X, Collabaraction’s 10th annual mixed media festival. As unenthusiastic as I am about leaving the house, I’m even less thrilled to leave my neighborhood, but Wicker Park’s Saturday night vibe seemed an extension of Sketchbook’s energetic atmosphere; impossible to imagine the event in any other setting.


Mayfest Chicago
Thursday-Sunday at Lincoln and Leland; free
We're on board for any festival that celebrates its opening by tapping a keg of beer. At this traditional German fest, you can enjoy authentic food and music, including shows by the Polkaholics and Paloma. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Beer
Guess what this Lakeview bar serves?

Weekly Treat: Sake it to yourself at Izakaya Hapa
The downtown bearer of the city's latest bar trend offers half-price rice wine tonight.

Off the Beaten Path: Cafe 787
Mouth-watering surprises await at this Puerto Rican cafe on the West Side.

Man We're Crazy About: Anteprima
Outstanding octopus and perfect pasta dishes are on the menu at this friendly Andersonville eatery.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Dee’s Place
Wicker Park joint offers soul food, live music and much more.

Off the Beaten Path: Laurel Mediterranean Grill
Turkish, Greek and Lebanese fare in Naperville.

Weekly Treat: Cheap beer at Kelly’s Pub
Bottles of Bud and Bud Light are just $1.50 tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: Aripos
Top-notch Venezuelan food – including specialty arepas.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.


Manifest Urban Arts Festival
All day Friday at Columbia College; free
As the Columbia school year winds down, the college takes this opportunity to showcase student projects including art, music, film screenings, readings and more. Dozens of performances will take place throughout the South Loop campus, and local hip-hop duo The Cool Kids will perform (time and place TBA, learn more here).

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Accanto
Italian fine dining in Logan Square.

Off the Beaten Path: Petra Inn
Middle Eastern eatery in Lincoln Square serves up more than just hummus.

Weekly Treat: Cheap beer night at Tilli’s
Bud Light bottles are just two bucks tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: Cuna
Quality food and swanky drinks that don’t break the bank in Lakeview.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.


Through Sunday at Bank of America Theatre; $20-$65; get tickets here
The famous dance rhythm show in which found objects become percussion instruments tours to Chicago. The eight-member troupe uses everything – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, lighters, you name it – and promises some new surprises this time around. Hedy Weiss recommends.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Aldino’s
Italian-themed restaurant and market focuses on local flavors.

Off the Beaten Path: Nicksons Eatery
Regional American fare in downtown La Grange.

Weekly Treat: Half-price wine tonight at 42n Latitude
Lincoln Square bar has cheap bottles of vino after 5 p.m.

Man We're Crazy About: The Purple Pig
Wine and cheese (and pork) for the Michigan Avenue tourist -- and foodie -- crowd.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Benny’s Chop House
River North steak house is a cut above the rest.

Off the Beaten Path: Basils Greek Dining
Aurora gets an authentic Greek restaurant in a building that looks like a Greco-Roman temple.

Weekly Treat: Wednesday is vino night at Lincoln Station
Popular Lincoln Park bar takes half off all wines tomorrow night.

Man We're Crazy About: Kitchen Sink Cafe
The old Pause Café finds new life as this comfy Edgewater coffee shop.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

3 Things To Do Today

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thumb_12faghag.jpg1, 2, 3...Fag! performs at IO Theater tonight.

Chicago Improv Festival
You've got several funny options to choose from tonight. The sentimentalist in us recommends "1 World on 1 Stage" (8 p.m. at ComedySportz Theatre; $12); though there's a good chance some of the international acts scheduled for this special event won't actually make it to the stage due to travel delays caused by that pesky Icelandic volcano, the ones that do deserve to perform to a packed house. If you prefer to support local acts, 1, 2, 3...Fag! brings together strong character work and a wacky, campy sense of humor at IO Theater (8 p.m.; $12). Visit Centerstage for the top picks of the week.

9 p.m. at Wild Hare; $25-$65
On his 1995 solo debut, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx," the rapper continued a strong series of Wu-Tang Clan-related projects that essentially flipped hip-hop inside-out with blunted street philosophies, obscure martial arts references and bugged-out narratives. After a few less than impressive follow-ups, last year's long-awaited sequel was just what Raekwon needed. He'll be celebrating 420, a major contributor to his career -- and you can celebrate with him backstage while noshing on some chicken wings if you pay the $65 VIP price.

Whisky Throwdown
7 p.m. at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro; $10
If you didn't know, this week is Whisky Week in Chicago, culminating in Friday's Whiskyfest at the Hyatt Regency. Can't wait 'til then? Head to this North Center bar for this party filled with events like "Name That Dram" and "Whisky Bingo." Prizes include tickets to Whiskyfest and more.

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