Celtic rockers Flogging Molly have always been a working man's band. With the group's new record, Speed of Darkness, founder Dave King and mates have taken that motif to a new level, writing the album during a three-month stay in Detroit and focusing on the nation's economic struggles through the eyes of those in the Motor City.

Celtic rockers Flogging Molly have always been a working man's band. With the group's new record, Speed of Darkness, founder Dave King and mates have taken that motif to a new level, writing the album during a three-month stay in Detroit and focusing on the nation's economic struggles through the eyes of those in the Motor City.

Plan to get sweaty, pump a fist and raise a wrist with Flogging Molly at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion Friday, July 29. Maryland rock quartet Clutch opens.

Tickets are $27.50/$30. Call 1-800-745-3000.

Late July has been sweltering, but the first signs of fall are already here, starting with the annual appearance of The Ohio State University Marching Band at Picnic With the Pops and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

The dual (if not dueling) batons of Albert-George Schram and Dr. Jon Woods will again lead the festivities for the first tailgate party of the year - Friday and Saturday, July 29-30, on the lawn at Chemical Abstracts Service. Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-14. For tickets or other information, call (614) 228-8600.

Oh, it's been a long time since Michael Fracasso called Ohio home (born in Steubenville, schooled at OSU), but once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye.

Fracasso's latest CD, Saint Monday, is another collection of masterfully penned and performed tunes from the singer-songwriter, the release of which he will rightly celebrate with a Saturday, July 30, show at the Columbus Maennerchor.

The gig also marks the final in a seven-year run for Zeppelin Productions at the Maennerchor.

John Fulbright opens. Tickets are $20. Call (614) 565-6130.

When assessing shows for inclusion in the Fab Five, The Beat takes into account a variety of factors, not the least of which is our core demographic, by which we mean, more than just our family and friends.

For example, there are shows like rollicking piano-based blues-rocker J. Roddy Ralston and The Business Thursday, Aug. 4, at The Basement ($10/$12; 1-800-745-3000), which could be cool for folks looking for something off the beaten path. Or We The Kings, a formulaic power-pop band from Florida that might just fit the bill for the 'tween daughters of our readers that plays the Newport Music Hall Saturday, July 30 ($15; 1-800-745-3000). Or something for our fellow college kids of the '80s, as Motley Crue and Poison rock the Schottenstein Center Tuesday, Aug. 2 ($125/$27.50; 1-800-745-3000).

And then what often happens is, we come up with a way to cheat and put in more than five.

BONUS: As a Critic Crony once said (and we paraphrase), "It's the biggest gol-durn fair in the world."

The reference was to the Ohio State Fair, which gets under way this week. KE$HA gets the entertainment slate under way today (Thursday, July 28) and the rest of the schedule has, as always, a little something for everyone, highlighted by: Seether, July 31; David Crowder Band, Aug. 1; Loretta Lynn and the Oak Ridge Boys, Aug. 2; Journey/Foreigner/ Night Ranger, Aug. 5; and Melissa Etheridge, Aug. 6. Brad Paisley headlines the final-night show at Crew Stadium Sunday, Aug. 7.

And we're especially excited to see Meat Loaf on the schedule for our birthday - not a reference to our obsession with fair food.