Smart Bets: ABSfest

Americana Burlesque & Sideshow Festival returns for the seventh year and, as press for the event boasts, "neo-Burlesque is only getting bigger." The Friday-Sunday, May 24-26 weekend-long extravaganza is dedicated to empowerment, innovation and information. There are also shopping opportunities, sideshow acts and a Friday Night Speakeasy (at The Grey Eagle, 8 and 10:30 p.m., $15 or $25 for both shows). There are workshops (Saturday and Sunday at the Movement and Learning Center above the French Broad Food Co-op) and a Sunday Brunch cabaret (12:30 p.m. at The LAB, $7). And, of course, there's the Saturday Night Spectacular, hosted by Armitage Shanks of Circus Contraption, the Poet Laureate of Carny Suavity (pictured), at The Orange Peel (8 p.m., $25 or $45 for VIP seating). Info at schedules at http://www.absfest.com.

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