Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jonah Koslen at Brothers Lounge 30 May 2008

Last Friday night I checked out the first set of the Jonah Koslen album release party, which also gave me an opportunity to look over the newly remodeled and reopened Brothers Lounge on Detroit Avenue near West 117th Street.
Koslen‘s new CD Telling on Myself features eleven tunes, all originals written by him, including new versions of a couple of old MSB songs, “Ladies Choice”and “Waste a Little Time on Me.” Both songs were featured in the first set, one done solo by Jonah and the other backed by a three piece band. The slightly reggae beat he has given to both of them, a by product of his summer job entertaining up in the Lake Erie Islands, put a fresh spin on each. The rest of the first set featured several old Breathless tunes (“Walk Right In,” “Wild Weekend,” “Heart is in Hiding”); a couple of covers (including Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard”); several lost gems out of the past (“Blue Jean Boy” from MSB’s Ladies Choice album and “Two Hearts Beating as One” from the Ghost Poets album); and several very good new tunes from his new CD, especially “When Did All My Good Times become Heart Aches.”
The new Brothers Lounge really looks good. In front is both a long bar and a wine/martini bar, each with its own entrance. Down a long hallway in the back is the music hall, with a stage, another bar, and seating for maybe eighty or so. There is also a patio out back. All of the remodeling looks first class. I even checked out the kitchen and had a very good chicken sandwich, definitely a cut above usual bar fair.
The opening act was Aphrodite’s Heroes, and they did a good job with some classic rock covers (“Statesboro Blues”and “Into the Mystic”), and threw in a couple of good originals.
O.K., with all of that going for it, and a night of music featuring one of the icons of Cleveland rock, why did I stay for only the first set? There was one very large negative to the evening and that was the bar noise that kept most of the small but enthusiastic audience, as well as the band, from enjoying the show. I don’t know if it was because it was a Friday night or what, but when people are paying ten bucks to hear live music, they should be able to hear it. I moved my seat twice and still couldn’t enjoy it. If there was no cover, or even an inexpensive cover, I could’ve lived with it. But I paid ten bucks to see one of my favorite singer/songwriters do a night of his own music, something you get a chance to do once a year if we are lucky, and I just couldn’t handle it. I know it also upset Koslen, and he deserved better. He is as classy and affable as a person as I have ever met in the creative arts.
I hope it was just an off night at Brothers, because I really like the venue and think it has a ton of potential.

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