Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Shows Around Town

All of my favorite venues have some special events and shows lined up for the holiday season. If you are looking for a special music night out over the holidays you have plenty to choose from…
At Nighttown in Cleveland Heights it is their Eighth Annual Home For The Holidays series, with shows featuring national jazz artists who are from Cleveland starting with The Lewins on Thursday, Dec. 16; The Joe McBride Trio on Friday, December 17; The Musical Theater Project's "A Christmas Cabaret" featuring Jared Leal, Nancy Maier, Bill Rudman & Sandra Simon on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, December 19, 20, 21; Vanessa Rubin on Monday, December 27; Joe Lovano and Family & Friends featuring a whole bunch of special guests on Tuesday, Dec. 28; Jamey Haddad on Wednesday & Thursday December. 29-30; and New Year’s Eve with Dominick Farinacci. Most of these shows will have a high demand, check out www.nighttowncleveland.com for more information or how to make reservations.
Things will be jumping at the Beachland Ballroom in December also, amongst the highlights are Bill Kirchen’s Honky Tonk Holiday on Sunday, December 12; on Thursday, December 23, the Annual Home for the Holidays show featuring music from eight until closing in both the Tavern and the Ballroom featuring the Bears and Harriet the Spy amongst many; on Christmas Day the Blue Lunch Annual Christmas Nite Latke Party & Matzoh Ball Show with special guests Mississippi Reese
& Blues Boy Lonnie to Benefit Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America; on Sunday, December 26, the
8th Annual "Old Home" Night 
with Home & Garden (w/ Tony Maimone), the Kidney Brothers, The Heathers, and Alejandro Escovedo & Miss Melvis; and on New Year’s Eve Tropidelic's New Years Eve
East Side Bash 
featuring Echo Movement, The Royaltons, Mr. 101, and Wanyama

Price in the Ballroom and Oliver Buck & The New Madrids in the Tavern.
The House of Blues is featuring two nights of Michael Stanley and the Resonators doing their annual holiday shows on Saturdays December 11 and 18; Joe Satriani on December 17; and the Journey cover band Frontiers on New Years Eve. For more info check out www.hob.com.
The holiday highlights at the Winchester in Lakewood include on Friday, December 17, Alex Bevan; a Christmas Eve show with Anne E. Dechant and Band; and New Years Eve with Into the Blue: The Grateful Dead Revival. For more info go to www.thewinchester.net.
The Kent Stage closes out the year with shows by Donna the Buffalo on December 12; the New Riders of the Purple Sage on December 18; and a Frank Sinatra Tribute featuring Michael Sonata and the Dave Banks Big Band on December 19. For more information on those shows go to www.kentstage.org.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tommy Wiggins "A Good Wife" 2010 Chilidog Records

Tommy Wiggins
“A Good Wife”
2010 Chilidog Records

Tom Wiggins is one of the people that keeps the music world rolling along here in Northern Ohio. He is mostly known as the head of the Recording Arts and Technology program at Tri-C, and host of the award winning cable show “Crooked River Groove.” Many do not know that Wiggins is also a fine musician and songwriter in his own right, and every so often puts out a quality release. His latest endeavor is “A Good Wife,” which he is releasing this fall on his own Chilidog Records. Although a different style than his last few releases, it is another very solid effort.
The CD features twelve tracks of stripped down music, with Wiggins’ soulful, raw and honest vocals, along with his observant song lyrics, carrying the load. Behind him are a bit of guitar and piano, along with some percussion and back ground vocals. The CD is filled with sincere ballads with titles like “A Good Wife,” “Everything Girl,” and “You and Me.” I love the piano behind both “She was in a Hurry” and “On a Perfect Sunday.” “Peace on Earth” and “The Freedom Train” are throwbacks to the folk rock of the 70’s.
Everyone putting out their own release should talk to Wiggins (or Colin Dussault for that matter) about product design and packaging. Yes, it really does matter. Everything about “A Good Wife,” from the music to the packaging is top shelf. The cover features a beautiful painting by artist Catherine Wall of Wiggins’ wife Georgia. Inside features a photo of Wiggins and Georgia as a young couple, probably in their early twenties. After seeing both graphics, you know that “A Good Wife” is, above all, is a labor of love. My only complaint of the album is the lyrics are posted on Wiggins’ website instead of in the package someplace. These are songs you’d like to sing along with from the first time you listen.
For more about Tommy Wiggins and his music, including some upcoming shows in support of his new release, visit www.tommywiggins.com.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Alejandro Escovedo 10.11.2010 @ the Beachland Ballroom

I can really see why Alejandro Escovedo is having his day in the sun, finally getting some of the recognition he deserved a long time ago. He has an album that is selling and getting played on the radio, he’s signed on with Springsteen’s management company, and he’s even played the Letterman show. His moment has come because he writes good songs, he’s a solid play ahead live performer, and he appeals to the roots music crowd that is slowly getting bigger and bigger.
He is also becoming one of those Cleveland darlings, a semi-national act from another part of the country that has a loyal and growing audience here in northern Ohio. When I first got to the Beachland last Monday to check out a bit of the opening band, the place was half empty. But by the time Escovedo took the stage the room had filled almost to capacity, with the older, wiser crowd that supports bands like his, and Paul Thorn and Shelby Lynne and Raul Malo, when they hit town.
Last week’s show was better than last January’s show, and last January’s show was a good one. Although he is still touring in support of his “Street Songs of Love” release, his recent show delved more in into his past, and Escovedo seemed more at ease with the crowd. The highlights from the new album included “Down in the Bowery” and “Streetsongs,” the first one was introduced by a funny story about Escovedo and his 16 year old punk rock son. Among past favorites “Rosalie” and “Castanets” stood out, each again being introduced by some great story telling.
Alejandro Escovedo has been all over the musical map during his career. From his Mexican American childhood, to his days in the punk moment of the late 70’s, to his singer songwriting days and his band days with Rank and File, and he brings all of those experiences to what he is doing now. He is a roots rocker in every sense of the word, and they are not too many who have more roots than he does.
The highlight of the show was a guitar instrumental that he shared with his guitarist David Pulkingham “Fort Worth Blues,” that he dedicated to an old friend and collaborator Stephen Brudon who recently died of cancer. It was great stuff.
Hopefully Alejandro Escovedo will return again in nine or ten months and put on another great show. I think he’s to the point here in Northern Ohio that he will fill a venue like the Beachland almost anytime. For more about him and his music visit www.alejandroescovedo.com. As always, the Beachland has a lot of good things coming up, including Chuck Prophet on Wednesday, October 20; the Carl Palmer Band on Saturday, October 23; and Los Straightjackets on Saturday, October 30. Go to www.beachlandballroom.com for information on these shows and more.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October/November Concert Calendar

October/November Concert Calendar
I spent some time looking at the October and November offerings at my favorite music venues and was surprised at how many shows caught my eye. This Sunday, October 10, Raul Malo is at the Kent Stage. He is a tremendous performer, and if you have a chance to see him this time around don’t pass it up. The Kent stage has a lot of great shows coming up, including Marc Cohn on October 12 and the Max Weinberg Big Band on November 4. Check out their colander at www.kentstage.org.
The Beachland Ballroom features the return of Alejandro Escovedo, still touring in support of his “Streetsongs of Love” release on Monday, October 11; singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet on Wednesday October 20 (I have never seen him but he comes highly recommended by music aficionado Mike Sokolowski); and Josh Ritter, in support of his new release “So Goes the World Away.” His last Beachland show was terrific. All three shows should be pretty solid. For the complete Beachland music calendar visit www.beachlandballroom.com.
The Trombone Shorty show originally scheduled for the Beachland has been moved to the House of Blues on Friday, November 12, with the Rebirth Brass Band added to the bill. Also at the House of Blues in November is the annual return of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes on the 26th. Yes, it will be 1980 all over again and the crowd will love it. For all the good things going on at the House of Blues visit www.houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/Cleveland.
Over a nine day period the Winchester has three potentially great shows lined up. On Wednesday, October 27, former Byrd and founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers (not to mention his time with the Southern, Hillman, Furay Band) Chris Hillman hits the stage. Here’s a chance to see up close a real legend of rock and roll, one often credited with being the founder of country rock. Two days later on Friday, October 29, one time Cleveland favorite Andy Pratt plays here for the first time in who knows when. Remember “Avenging Annie”? Then the following Friday, November 5, Mississippi based blues pianist/vocalist Eden Brent makes her Cleveland debut. I haven’t seen her yet, but the buzz about her is that she is very good. For more information about these shows and more visit www.thewinchester.net.
On Thursday, November 4, Los Lobos returns to Cleveland with a show at the Masonic Auditorium at 36th and Euclid. This should be a good show in an under used venue. The concert is being promoted by Visible Voices Books, the great Tremont bookstore/wine bar. For more information go to www.visiblevoicesbooks.com/events.
Nighttown didn’t have their November calendar posted yet, but three shows in October jumped out at me. On Saturday, October 16, the San Francisco Jazz Collective makes an appearance; on Wednesday, October 20, Cleveland Hts. native jazz drummer Neil Smith brings in his All Star Quartet; and on Monday, October 25, 8 string guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter and his Trio perform. Visit www.nighttowncleveland.com for information on all of their shows.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 Traveling Circus Knuckleheads Football Road Trip

It Is Time To Get Back On The Bus...



December 18/19 in Cincinnati/Paul Brown Stadium


Cost is $265 per person if paid in full by September 9,

$285 after September 9

Includes all of the following:

Round Trip Motor Coach Transportation

Round Trip Road Pops

Saturday Lunch Stop

Lodging at the Embassy Suites on the River

(Within Walking Distance from the Stadium)

Happy Hour at the Hotel from 5:30-7:30 on Saturday

Awesome Breakfast Sunday Morning

A Quality Game Ticket (No Nose Bleeds)

Road Trip Give Away

Bus will leave on Saturday, December 18 from the Nice Place Café in Parma at 11:00 A.M., with a pick up in Wadsworth at 11:45 A.M., and a possible pick up in the Columbus area. We will return on Sunday evening immediately after the game.

Lodging is Four to a Suite

(for 2 to a room contact one of the Gregs)

Spots Are Limited and Will Be Reserved on a First Paid Basis

$125 Deposit Reserves Your Spot

For More Info Call Greg Cielec (216.496.8286) or

Greg Lindeman (330.697.1220)

Send Payment to: Greg Lindeman, 195 Bailey Court, Doylestown, Ohio 44230

Make Checks Out to Greg Lindeman


A note or two...We did the same trip in 2000, 2002, and 2005, and all three were outstanding. If you are thinking about seeing the Browns on the road this year, this is the trip to go on. Go with a group of people who have been running Browns road trips for over twenty-five years, including trips to Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati.

After all of our trips we often hear from people who went on other cheaper bus trips, “We should have gone with you guys.” Why? For example, when we go to Cinci…

•We stay at an all suite hotel within walking distance of the Stadium, directly across the river. You won’t be stuck twenty miles out in the suburbs in some low budget hotel. And we stay in a suite hotel, were each room is actually two full size hotel rooms.

•Our price includes a lunch stop on the road; a free Happy Hour in our hotel from 5:30-7:30 Saturday night; a great breakfast Sunday morning; and, of course, unlimited bottled and canned beverages on the way down and the way back.

•No box lunches. No draft beer.

•One of the best things about our trip is Sunday morning. You wake up within walking distance of the stadium. You aren’t herded on a bus, hungover and tired, to drive another hour or two to the game. You can sleep until noon, grab breakfast, and still get to the game on time.

•Our tickets will be in the lower bowl of the stadium. You won’t be stuck up in the upper deck, which is where almost everyone else on other bus trips usually sits.

•We don’t fill the bus to capacity, cramming someone in every seat. We always leave at least a dozen or so empty seats on the bus so there is room to stretch out, socialize, and to have plenty of coolers stocked with cold ones. And if you want to crash on the way home, there will be more than enough room.

•You even get to take home a commemorative gift, instead of a headache and a backache from an uncomfortable ride home.

If you have any questions, call one of the two Gregs listed on the front of this flyer. A deposit of $125 reserves your spot for an outstanding time.

A note about the cost...

We don’t make any money on these trips. We are in it for the good time. Our costs have gone up excessively since our last trip, especially (because of gas) the cost of the bus. But please remember, our trip has a lot of extras planted in it, and a lot of luxury also. We don’t cut corners, and we promise you will get your money’s worth. If you are on good standing with us, $125 reserves your spot and your balance isn’t due until Dec. 1.

Call or email if you have any questions:

Greg Cielec: Cielec@hotmail.com, 216.496.8286

Greg Linderman: glindeman@neo.rr.com , 330.697.1220

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two Great Shows at the Beachland, Marcia Ball Band 19 August 2010, Paul Thorn Band 21 August 2010

Last week I was a very happy music fan as two of my favorite touring acts played at the Beachland Ballroom. On Thursday blues diva Marcia Ball brought her band in, and on Saturday singer songwriter Paul Thorn did the same. Both are Beachland favorites, and both bands gave outstanding performances that were well received by the close to capacity crowds.
Marcia Ball has been stopping in Cleveland almost yearly for close to twenty years and has developed a loyal Northern Ohio following. She is truly one of the greats in today’s blues and roots music worlds. She is a very good singer and songwriter, and a great piano player. She is backed by a four piece band of solid music veterans, lead by her long time bass player Don Bennett. Over the last several years she has let her band share a bit more of the spotlight, especially guitar player Mike Schermer and saxophonist Thad Scott. Schermer is the writer of the song “Big Sister’s Radio,” which has been covered by several country and blues artists over the last few years.
Last Thursday’s show featured songs from all parts of Ball’s career, including some New Orleans favorites, songs from her last release “Peace, Love, and Bar B Que,” and a few new songs from an upcoming project. Amongst the highlights from the “Peace, Love and Bar B Que” CD were “Partytown,” a tribute to New Orleans; “Married Life,” about life on the road; the title tune; and the beautiful ballads “Fallin’ Back I Love with You” and “I Wish You Well.” The best new tune was a ballad dedicated to Ms. Ball’s father “This Use to be Paradise,” about what the Louisiana coast has gone through over the last few years, especially this past summer.
As always, I can’t wait until next summer when Marcia Ball and her band travel north from their Austin, Texas home once again. For more about her and her music visit www.marciaball.com.
Paul Thorn has only been traveling north from his Tupelo, Mississippi home to perform for several years but he too has a solid Cleveland following. Last Saturday’s show was his best Cleveland show yet, filled with great music and story telling. He played old favorites like “Mood Ring” and “I Have a Good Day (every now and then)”, and featured songs from his recent release “Pimps and Preachers,” including the title track, “Tequila is Good for the Heart,” and his dedication to his mother “That’s Life.” Paul and his band gave their A performance at the Beachland last Saturday, and the audience ate it up. For more information about Paul Thorn and his music visit www.paulthorn.com.
This was another great weekend of music at the Beachland, and, like always, they have a lot of great shows coming up, including The Breeders on September 2; Donna the Buffalo on September 8; and a benefit for the Roots of American Music program featuring Glass Harp on October 9. Check out the Beachland’s full calendar at www.beachlandballroom.com.
Photo by Rick Perk

Friday, August 13, 2010

McGuffey Lane “10” 2010 Lick Records, Distributed by E1 Entertainment

McGuffey Lane’s new CD “10” is the best thing they have recorded in a long time. Out of the ten songs that are on it, more than half of them would have fit nicely in either of their first two albums they made back in the early eighties. Although they have made several CD’s since they have reformed ten years ago, it wasn’t until original bass player Steve George Reis rejoined the band several years ago that the old McGuffey Lane sound really started to come back, both in concert and in recordings. With Reis on bass, that has allowed multi-talented Molly Pauken to play mandolin and other assorted string instruments. That has brought back that little touch of blue grass that has been a part of McGuffey Lane’s country rock sound.
The new CD has ten songs on it and amongst the highlights are “I Am Who I Am,” “It’s a Good Day,” and “Nobody But a Fool,” all penned and sung by lead guitarist John Schwab. The best cut on the album, from a sentimental point of view, is Reis’s great traveling tune “Song for the Road,” which the band has been doing in concert since back in the day but had never recorded before. Two songs that will be concert favorites off the disk are a duet between Schwab and Reis about refusing to grow old “I Ain’t Given’ in to Getting’ Old,” and “Bartender,” a vacation song which sounds like the sequel to “I’m in Jamaica,” which was on their 1984 album “Day by Day.”
McGuffey Lane will be traveling throughout Ohio and the Midwest in support of “10” through the fall. They headlined the Lorain International Festival this past June and hopefully will return to Northern Ohio soon. For more information on their shows visit www.mcguffeylane.com.
McGuffey Lane’s “10” is on Lick Records and distributed nationally by E1 Entertainment. You can pick it up at your favorite CD store, your local Wal Mart, as well as ordering it online at the band’s website.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coryell, Auger, Sample Trio, Nighttown, 8 August 2010

Attending a lot of shows in venues like the Beachland, the House of Blues, and Nighttown, I have seen many acts hailed as the “next big thing.” I also get a lot of emails from publicists and managers hailing their latest acts as “the next big thing.” And, yes, occasionally I have even hopped on a bandwagon or two. If you asked me today who I have seen recently who might be on their way to big things, the first thing that would pop in my head would be the Coryell, Auger, Sample Trio that played Nighttown last Sunday.
This was their second time through Nighttown and they were quite impressive. Playing original music they call “funky lounge rock,” these three talented musicians put on a terrific show. They are unique for several reasons, the first obviously because they are the sons of three of the legends of that wonderful time back in the seventies when jazz and rock actually collided for awhile. Second, this is currently a side project for all three of them, but it is taking up more of their time as their popularity is spreading.
Both Carmen Auger and Nick Sample are current members of Auger’s father Brian’s band the Oblivion Express. Julian Coryell is a studio musician in Los Angeles, who does a lot of time working in Japan. But when these three musicians get together wonderful things happen. Last Monday they played 15 selections that featured Coryell’s guitar work, Auger’s drumming, and Sample on bass. New this time around were several songs that also featured Coryell on vocals. They featured songs from their first album “Cooley Returns,” as well as songs from an upcoming release. Amongst the highlights were the new songs “Song for our Fathers,” and three that featured Coryell’s vocals: “Saint Bad,” “School Boy Crush,” and “My Funky Business.”
The Trio’s sound is a mix of seventies fusion rock/jazz, with a bit of power trio rock thrown in, topped off with a touch of both surf rock and lounge music. The musicianship is outstanding, their stage presence is very professional, and the song writing is top shelf. These guys are really good. Yes, they really could be the next big thing.
Auger and Sample will be back at Nighttown next month when Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express does their annual Nighttown shows on September 2 and 3. They will hook back up with Coryell sometime in the late fall for more Trio shows. They recently spent time in the recording studio with their fathers working on a projection that they will call Coryell Auger Sample Generations. A spring CD release is planned, and hopefully some shows with the Trio and their fathers next summer. For more info about the Coryell, Auger, Sample Trio visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/CORYELL-AUGER-SAMPLE-TRIO/373282267852.
As always there are a lot of great shows coming up at Nighttown including Cleveland born NYC jazz guitarist Rick Stone on Sunday, August 22, the above-mentioned Brian Auger shows on Thursday and Friday September 2 & 3, and the Freddy Cole Quartet on Saturday, September 4. Check out Nighttown’s complete music schedule at www.nighttowncleveland.com.

Photos by Dave Hostetler

Monday, July 26, 2010

Four for August 2010

Four for August

Recently I have received several emails complimenting me on concert reviews for CoolCleveland, but also asking me what upcoming shows would I recommend. Several of the emails came from readers whom haven’t yet attended a show at a venue like the Beachland or Nighttown or the House of Blues, but would like to. I looked at the concert calendar for Greater Cleveland and over the next four weeks four shows at three different venues highlight a busy August concert scene. They represent four different genres of popular music, all three acts were outstanding on their last visits to Cleveland, and all would be good reasons to also check out the venues.

On Sunday, August 8 at 7:00 P.M., at NightTown in Cleveland Heights, the jazz outfit Trio, a next generation All-Star group from Los Angeles featuring Julian Coryell on guitar, Karma Auger on drums, & Nick Sample on bass, will be performing. This is a side project for all three performers who currently tour with their more famous fathers. The last time through town they brought a younger than usual crowd to Nighttown and gave a great performance of jazz in the rock-influenced style pioneered by their fathers back in the Seventies.
It can be such a hit or miss proposition when dealing with the offspring of established musicians. For every Rosanne Cash, some one who succeeds despite being in a parent's shadow, there are many who don't. The members of Trio are already seasoned veterans of the music world, and are all talented musicians in their own rights.
My notes from their last Nighttown show describe their music as George Benson meets Rare Earth meets Funkadelic meets Dicky Betts. And, of course, you couldn't help but notice the influences of the elder Auger, Coryell, and Sample. The trio did a great job of keeping the audience's attention with instrumentals with catchy titles like "Nadine," "Beautiful," "The Purple Panther," and "Walking the Dragon." Most of the songs left room for solos and improvisation from all three members. Both the songs and the performance were very good. For more info about Trio visit www.myspace.com/coryellaugersampletrio. To check out other great shows coming to NightTown visit www.ClevelandNightTown.com.

On Friday, August 13 at 8:00 at the House of Blues is the return of all original members of the early eighties super group Asia. During their last show at the House of Blues two years ago, Guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Carl Palmer, bassist/vocalist John Wetton, and keyboardist Geoff Downes put on an outstanding show that included the hits from their landmark early eighties albums; fresh new material from their 2008 CD Phoenix, including “An Extraordinary Life”; and they even went back into the past with a some songs from their original bands (Yes, ELP, King Crimson, the Buggles). They are currently touring in support of their 2010 release “Omega.” Tickets are $35 in advance. For more information about Asia visit www.originalasia.com. To check out all the great stuff going on at the House of Blues go to www.hob.com/Cleveland.

On Thursday, August 19, at 8:00 P.M. at the Beachland Ballroom blues and boogie-woogie legend Marcia Ball and her band return. The Louisiana born, Texas based Ms. Ball is a multiple winner of W.C. Handy awards, and is considered by many the finest blues pianist performing today. This is a chance to see one of the greats of today’s blues and roots music scene. Tickets are $25 in advance and will go fast. For more info about Marcia Ball visit www.marciaball.com. At her last Beachland show the full house in attendance loved every minute of it, whether it was sitting still listening to a beautiful ballad or up on their feet dancing to a boogie number.
Often praised for her piano playing, she is just as good of a singer, whether it’s a New Orleans dancing in the street number or a soulful version of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927." Marcia Ball is truly one of the living legends of American roots music.

And closing out the month, also at the Beachland, is the August 21 return of the Paul Thorn Band. A Paul Thorn show is part old time revival, part roots music, part blues show, part rock and roll concert. He is becoming another one of those Cleveland darlings, a regional artist from somewhere else who comes through town once a year or so, and solely by word of mouth each time the crowd gets a little bigger. He is from Tupelo, Mississippi, and is a great songwriter, a solid performer, and an American musical original. His observations of the world around him are priceless. If there was any justice in the world, he'd be sitting on the top of the music industry. For more about Paul Thorn and his music visit www.paulthorn.com. As always, there are a lot of great shows coming up at the Beachland, visit www.beachlandballroom.com for more information.

I highly recommend each of these shows for a great night out of live music. All three clubs have pretty extensive websites with directions, places to park, and lists of upcoming events.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Desiree Boardwine "Wonderland" 2010

Desiree Boardwine “Wonderland”
2010 Gateway City Records

Over the last several years singer/songwriter Desiree Boardwine has been a pretty busy young lady. Besides graduating high school in the spring of 2009, and attending college full time this past year, she has taken bands to the Tri-C Rock Off Finals twice at the House of Blues; lead her family onto national television by making the finals of the CBS Morning Show Best Family Band in America contest; and just recently won the Grand Prize in the Time Warner Cable Random Acts of Music Songwriting Contest.

She has also just finished her first CD release, a five song EP titled “Wonderland.” On all five tracks she is joined by a group of young but seasoned area musicians, lead by guitar virtuoso Brian Poston and her brother Brett on keyboards. She is a very talented songwriter, and her music shows a lot of originality as well as influences from Pat Benatar to Janet Jackson.

On Saturday, July 24, at the Arena in Streetsboro she will be headlining a release party for both her CD and the professionally done video which was one of the prizes in the Random Acts of Music contest. Doors open at 7:00, with music starting at 8:00. Special guest will be Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Amy Kuney, who has had her music featured on MTV, One Tree Hill, and the Gilmore Girls. Opening act will be The Crazed. The Arena is located in the Streetsboro Plaza, at the intersection of Route 14 and 303 East in downtown Streetsboro.

Tickets for the evening are only $12 at the door, and if you bring a copy of this article you will get in for half price.

For more about Desiree Boardwine and her music visit www.ourstage.com/profile/desireeboardwine. For more about Amy Kuney and her music visit http://www.myspace.com/amykuney. For more information about The Arena Sports and Entertainment Complex in Streetsboro visit www.myspace.com/arenaniteclub.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"Midwest Coast" (2009) and "Baroque Music for Trumpet" (2010) both by Josh Rzepka

Josh Rzepka has had a busy last couple of years. Besides finishing his Masters at Boston University in musical performance (after a degree in music from Oberlin), he has released two solid CDs of music. The first "Midwest Coast" is filled with ten original compositions of various jazz styles, while the second "Baroque Music for Trumpet" is made up of 17 tracks of traditional classical music. Quite a contrast, but this young man from the Akron is talented enough to pull both of them off.
"Midwest Coast" finds Rzepka fronting a talented quartet with local keyboard legend Jackie Warren on piano, Peter Dominguez on bass, and Ron Godale on drums. The music on the disc ranges in influences from Latin America to Harlem. "Boroque Music for Trumpet" finds Rzepka playing melodies written by Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, and Telemann amongst others. He gets a little help from soprano Rebecca Freshwater on a beautiful version of Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim."
On Thursday, July 8, Rzepka will be performing selections from both CD's at NightTown in Cleveland Heights. He will be backed by the band who recorded "Midwest Coast" with him. If you want to see one of Northern Ohio's most promising up and coming talents I'd check out this show.
Photo by Robert J. Saferstein.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Getting Caught Up on Some CD Reviews

We get so many CDs at CoolCleveland to review, sometimes we get backed up on them. We try to do at least one review a week, usually tying it in with a performance of some sort. A lot of great stuff gets lost in the shuffle, and we feel bad when we miss out on reviewing a good piece of music.
Cleveland is filled with talented musicians, no matter what the style or genre. From jazz to hip hop to polka to ethnic to classic rock to grunge to show tunes and what ever else can be put on a disk, someone in Northern Ohio can do it well. So instead of doing an in depth review of one CD this week, I thought I'd go through the stacks of CDs that have arrived over the last year or two, pick out a few of the better ones, and make a comment about each. Here we go…
Ki Allen has been doing jazz and blues around Cleveland for years. The talented singer did a CD with veteran guitarist Bob Fraser called "Calling Card" and it is filled with great versions of some jazz and show standards. She will be playing around town all summer, check out her schedule at www.kiallen.net.
Jaclyn Bradley will be doing everything this summer from giving voice lessons to singing the national anthem at Lake Erie Crusher games. The very talented vocalist has a CD out "Hollywood Be Thy Name," which she recorded in Los Angeles before returning to her hometown of Cleveland. Check more out about Jaclyn at www.jaclynbradley.com.
Unsparing Sea, a group consisting of cellos, accordion, and harp, as well as guitars, keyboards, and drums, have gotten some good regional press for "In Diamond Caverns," which they released late last year on Broke.Tusk.Collective, a local indie label. A lot of talent in this band, check them out at www.unsparingsea.com.
Motter Flynn is a group of college age kids from the southwest suburbs who have out a CD titled "Rigate Pitygraphs." They are good singer songwriters, with a touch of everyone from Dave Matthews to Tom Petty in their music. Check them out at www.motterflynn.com.
Joshua Smith, a flutist with the Cleveland Orchestra, has released "J.S. Bach Flute Sonatas," a solo project along with harpsichordist Jory Vinikour. Smith is very talented, and this disk would make great dinner time music in anyone's home. It is a national release on California classic label Delos Productions.
One of the more unique CDs we received is "Russian Duo," which features traditional Russian chamber and folk music played by Oleg Kruglyakov on the balalaika (a Siberian version of an acoustical guitar), and Terry Boyarsky on piano. Check them out at www.russianduo.com. They will be playing all over the place this summer and fall.
Joe's Garage is a North Ridgeville quartet whose CD "Lost in Overdale" is filled with strong ballads and musicianship. Check them out at myspace.com/joe39sgarage.
Dan Miraldi will be playing the Winchester on July 3 in support of his CD "Thirsty." He's a recent college grad who has been a part of the Cleveland music scene since high school. Watch out for this guy, this CD is really good, at times he sounds like a 70's folk rocker, other times like a young Elvis Costello. Check him out at www.danmiraldi.com.
Josh Rzepka is a very talented, classically trained trumpeter from Akron, via Oberlin College and Boston University. His first CD is "Midwest Coast," features local legend Jackie Warren on keyboards, and has 10 original tunes covering jazz styles from Latin America to Harlem. Another great CD from a very talented young man with a great future.
Frigid Touch is the latest project of techno singer/songwriter Christopher Foldi. Recorded on his Macintosh Powerbook, the disk features ten original tracks and a great cover of the Classic IV's "Spooky." Yet another talented guy who has a bright future, check Christopher Foldi and his various musical projects out at www.frigidtouch.com.

Kris Kristofferson at Kent Stage 8 June 2010

Over the last several years there have been more than a few outstanding solo shows put on by icons of popular music in a variety of local venues. Nils Lofgren was outstanding at the Winchester; Karla Bonoff was just as good at both the Winchester and the Kent Stage. Three of the best were Nick Lowe at the Beachland; J.D. Souther at Nighttown; and Ray Davies this past winter at the Palace Theater in downtown Lorain. To that list of very enjoyable shows you could add Kris Kristofferson's solo performance last Wednesday at the Kent Stage in downtown Kent.
The 73 year old singer songwriter took the stage for two sets, 37 songs in all including encores. Dressed in simple black and accompanying himself on a guitar and harmonica, Kristofferson sang songs from all eras of his career, rock hits and country hits, and songs off recent albums that are just as good but do not get any radio airplay.
He took each song on its own, ad-libbing a lyric or two, occasionally making a comment. He forgot a lyric or two and made fun of himself for doing it, and the guitar playing was far from slick, but the songs and the singing was sincere and honest. The songs from his 2006 release "Closer to the Bone" stood out, including the title song and "From Here to Forever." But the audience came to hear the great songs that make up the Kristofferson song book, and he delivered soulful versions of them all, including "Me and Bobby McGee," "Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends," "Sunday Morning Coming Down," "For the Good Times," and at least a dozen others that were hits for mostly other performers.
The Kent Stage has really picked up their bookings and have a lot of good shows coming up including Mary Chapin Carpenter on July 10, and Brandi Carlile on July 25. For information or to buy tickets for all Kent stage shows visit www.kentstage.org. (photo courtesy of Google images)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

70Lewis "East Coast Sunday Morning" 2010

70 Lewis, a four piece band from Lakewood who has been making a name for itself on the local music scene, have recently released their first CD “East Coast Sunday Morning.” Recorded at Lava Room Recording and featuring 12 original songs, the CD has a very professional feel to it, and features the band’s sound of guitars, piano, a bit of a horn, and some pretty good vocals and harmonies.
70 Lewis is Mike Gray (vocals, piano), Scott Young (guitars, vocals), Chris Hoffman (drums) and Kenny Kerns (bass, keyboards, and horns).
Amongst the highlights are “Hurricane” that shows off Gray’s vocal range; “Winter,” that shows off both his vocals and piano skills; and “Underwater and Divided” which has a British Invasion beat to it. I really enjoyed the tracks that featured Kerns’ horn playing; maybe my only criticism of this fine album is that they didn’t use it enough.
After listening to this CD several times, I got more impressed by it each time. This band has got some potential, I’m anxious to see them play live some place this summer. This Friday, May 28, they will be playing at the House of Blues at 8:00. On Friday, June 18, they will be at Fat Fish Blue. For more about 70 Lewis and their music visit www.myspace.com/70lewis.
A special nod to the band for thanking in the liner notes, amongst many, the Lakewood City Schools music program. So many of Cleveland’s working musicians have come out of that program, with Colin Dussault and Denis DeVito immediately coming to mind. It’s good to see successful people credit their teachers, it doesn’t happen enough.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Shelby Lynne at the Beachland Ballroom 5.5.10

Shelby Lynne had to compete with something huge last Wednesday at the Beachland, herself and the last show she did there. At the time she was supporting her Dusty Springfield tribute album “Just a Little Lovin’,” and that show was one of the best I have ever seen at the Beachland. This time around she’s touring in support of her new album of original songs “Tears, Lies, and Alibis,” and I was worried that show would be a bit of a letdown.
Fortunately, for the most part, it wasn’t. Lost in all the good publicity and vibe she got from the Springfield tribute album was the fact that Shelby Lynne is a great singer/songwriter whose own work stands very well on its own. Last Wednesday’s show featured songs from the new album, the best of her older original music, and one song from the Dusty album. Backed by only a guitar and bass, each one was slightly stripped down and that suited the almost capacity crowd fine. The new songs sounded very good, including a couple of heartbreaking ballads “Alibi” and “Like a Fool”; a tribute to mobile homes “Airstream”; and a nod to whiskey drinkers “Old #7.” The highlights of her older tunes were “Where I’m From” (“I’m never far away from an Alabama state of mind”), and “When Johnny met June.” She closed the show with the only song she did from the Springfield album, her haunting version of “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” with her doing the first verse acappella. All of it was wonderful.
After years of bouncing around record labels, she put the new album out on her own. I wish her good luck with it, she definitely deserves it. The only negative of the evening where the self centered jerks in the audience who thought they had a personal one on one relationship with Shelby Lynne, yelling out “I Love You’s” and requests, even while she was telling a story between songs. Where do these idiots come from? Haven’t they ever been to a concert before?
For more about Shelby Lynne and her music visit www.shelbylynne.com. As always, there is a number of great show coming to the Beachland, especially over the next few weeks, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson on May 13; the Reverend Horton Heat with Cracker on May 16; Crash Test Dummies on May 18; and Wayne “The Train” Hancock on May 19. Looking ahead to the summer, they just announced blues diva Marcia Ball on August 19.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Skitzki CD by Matthew Skitzki 2009

Pianist Matthew Skitzki’s self titled 2009 solo release features ragtime, 60’s jazz, several standards, and some very good originals. Amongst the highlights are his ragtime original “Gnarled River Rage”; a good interpretation of Thelonias Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser”; and solid versions of “Moonlight in Vermont” and “Love for Sale” backed with Roger Hines on bass and Elijah Vazquez on drums. Skitzki, who is a graduate student in music at Cleveland State, can be seen around town doing a variety of gigs, whether as a solo jazz pianist at a wedding to a recent recital of classical standards as part of his Masters program. He is a part of the Tower PressFest! Cleveland Summer Music Series, which takes place the first Friday of every summer month at Café Artefino in the Tower Press Building, 1900 Superior Ave. He will be performing from 6 p.m.-7p.m. on both May 7 and June 4. For more about Matthew Skitzki and his music visit www.MatthewSkitzki.com. For more about the Tower PressFest! visit www.TowerPress.com, and for more info on events at Café Artefino visit www.cafeartefino.com.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Gay Marshall Sings Piaf: La Vie L'Amour" 2009

Gay Marshall is, amongst many things, a Cleveland original, even though she hasn't lived here for years. She is a much of a product of the arts scene in our city as anyone who has gone on to big things. She started taking acting classes at the Cleveland Playhouse when she was nine, went away to boarding school and college, then returned to start her singing career at various venues around town before leaving for Paris, where she lived for twenty years.

She has done Broadway, cabaret, the French production of "Cats," one-woman shows, and recordings including a cast recording of a revival of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well.

After discovering Edith Piaf years ago in a book while on vacation, after doing her music on stage on and off for years, late last year Marshall released "Gay Marshall Sings Piaf: La Vie L'Amour," and it is a wonderful piece of music. The disk includes nineteen Piaf standards, some in French, some in English, some switching back and forth between the two languages. Marshall is very talented; she doesn't have to try to sound like Piaf, her own voice and her phrasing ability get the job done. The band behind her is almost perfect for the material, with piano and accordions, a touch of violin and clarinet, and cello, bass and drums. The album has gotten great revues, and has spent time on Billboard's World Music Chart.

Gay Marshall will be in Cleveland on Friday, May 7, to record a live album of New Orleans style jazz and blues at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights. It should be a great night of music from a wonderful singer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Becky Boyd & Tim Matson, Self-Titled CD, 2010

Amongst the surprises in a recent stack of new CD releases is a disk from two of the old pros of the local music scene, blues diva Becky Boyd and guitarist Tim Matson. Both of them go back a long way, and have played with a who’s who of local and national musicians over the years. Becky Boyd fronts the blues band Real Life, while Tim Matson goes back to the glory days of Mr. Stress’s Blues Band. The self-titled release features Boyd’s terrific vocals set against Matson’s tender acoustic blues guitar. It is a very entertaining disk with only one problem; it is too short with only seven tracks. Amongst the highlights are the Boyd original “Girls Night Out” (complete with a tribute to the Big Egg!); the Matson standard “Fridgedaire Man”; and a soulful acoustic version of the Motown classic “Baby I Need Your Lovin’.” The duo has been doing shows all over town in support of the CD, for a complete schedule check them out on MySpace at myspace.com/beckyboydtimmatson.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Paul Thorn Band at the Beachland Ballroom 25 March 2010

He is becoming another one of those Cleveland darlings, a regional artist from somewhere else who comes through town once a year or so, and solely by word of mouth each time the crowd gets a little bigger. Paul Thorn is becoming the latest in the long line of semi-unknowns who has gathered a solid fan base here in Northern Ohio, even though his music isn't played on the radio here (hear that 107.3!), and he lives 1200 miles away in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Last Thursday before a good crowd in the ballroom at the Beachland, Thorn and his band put on another well-received show, featuring Thorns blend of blues, rock, and small town humor and wisdom. He played crowd favorites including "Long Time from Tupelo," "I Have a Good Day (every now and then)," "Mood Ring," and his Elvis Presley tribute "Even Heroes Die." He has a new album coming out in June, and the songs from it also sounded good, including a tribute to Tequila ("there's no sure fire remedy when love tears you apart/but tequila is good for the heart"), and a song filled with things his mother told him titled "Enjoy the Journey that is Life."
Paul Thorn is a great songwriter, a solid performer, and an American musical original. His observations of the world around him are priceless. If there was any justice in the world, he'd be sitting on the top of the music industry. His show last Thursday was part old time revival, part roots music, part blues show, part old time rock and roll concert.
For more about Paul Thorn and his music visit www.paulthorn.com. As always, there are a lot of great shows coming up at the Beachland, including Fred Eaglesmith April 8; Drive-By Truckers on April 11; The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue featuring Tommy Castro on April 12; the Deadstring Brothers with California Speedbag on April 17; and Shelby Lynne on May 5. I'm really looking forward to the Shelby Lynne show; her last time around at the Beachland in support of her Dusty Springfield tribute album was one of the best Beachland shows ever.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Burning River Roller Girls at the Wolstein Center at CSU on March 13

OK, I was a little skeptical about attending roller derby. I did spend a couple of days getting reacquainted with the sport, watching old clips of Joanie Weston on YouTube. But I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by many things while seeing it live at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State on March 13. The crowd of over three thousand was really into it, knowing the rules for the most part, and cheering for their favorite players. The girls themselves were more organized and athletic than I thought, and both bouts of the night were enjoyable to watch. There was a lot of action, and I think most people in attendance thought they got their money’s worth.
The Cleveland league is made up of four teams, with the best players on each team making up a traveling squad the Burning River Roller Girls who play in national tournaments. The local teams, the Hellbombers, the Rolling Pin-Ups, the Hard Knockers, and the Cleveland Steamers, play a round robin schedule with a championship bout set for June 10.
This is the fourth season for roller derby in Cleveland and it started with a bang, with a record setting crowd for the first of five nights of action at the their new home at Cleveland State. The next night of bouts is on Saturday, April 3. Visit www.burning riverrollergirls.com for more information.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

“Emma” at the Cleveland Play House’s Drury Theater Now through March 21

Poor Jane Austen, if she only knew how popular her stories would become and how fascinated book lovers would become of her life she might have written a few more of them. During her short life, she died of an unknown illness at forty one, Ms. Austin wrote a handful of gossipy novels set amongst the upper crust of English society in the early 1800’s. Almost two hundred years later they keep getting more popular, especially on stage and screen.
The Cleveland Play House is currently presenting a stage version of “Emma” now through March 21 in the Drury Theater. The Play House has had a string of good literary adaptations over the last few years, and “Emma” is as good as any of them. Native Californian Sarah Nealis stars in the title role, the witty, matchmaking lady who lives in a beautiful country house and takes care of her wealthy father. Patrick Clear steals several scenes, and has some of the best lines of the play, as her father. The rather large cast of sixteen players has characters coming and going, with some of the best moments provided by Lindsay Iuen as the self-centered Mrs. Elton. Director Peter Amster keeps everyone on task, especially through several dance scenes. Costume Designer Kristine Kearney does a great job with nineteenth century dress.
I see the Drury Theater filled with Austin fans the next few weeks, and I doubt any of them will be disappointed. It is a wonderful night of theater, whether an Austin fan or not.
The Cleveland Play House is nearing the end of its second last season in its Euclid Avenue complex. Still to come is “Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” a play about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, and FusionFest, their annual presentation of new works and collaborations in music, dance, and theater. Visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com for more information.
The Play House has also announced their schedule for next season, and will feature several literary adaptions including the Midwest stage premier of “The Kite Runner”; an all African American cast version of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful”; and a dance musical biography of Ginger Rogers titled “Backwards in High Heels: the Ginger Musical.” Check their website for more information, or give them a call at 216.795.7000.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

“Out of a Dream” by Trisha O’Brien

Trisha O’Brien was a mainstay on the local jazz scene before she took the big steps and moved on to New York City and Florida five years ago. Her new release “Out of a Dream” on Azica Records features fourteen mostly romantic standards, backed with a four piece band of jazz pros including Shellly Berg on piano, Peter Washington on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, and Ken Peplowski on tenor sax. Both Berg and Peplowski are long time Cleveland players and Nighttown regulars. Another Cleveland connection on the album is producer Elaine Morton, who has done many things at Telarc Records in Beachwood.
The disk has a great feel to it, with the band giving just enough support to allow O’Brien’s voice to carry each tune. The disk opens with a great version of Nat King Cole’s “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup,” and ends with the Sinatra standard "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” In between is nothing but good things, including wonderful versions of “Taking a Chance on Love,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” and "Everybody Loves My Baby.”
Trisha O’Brien will be appearing on television and radio on Tuesday, March 2, on both the Fox Morning Show on Channel 8 and on “Around Noon” on WCPN. A Cleveland concert is in the works for this June. For more about Trisha O’Brien and her music visit www.trishaobrien.com.

"Candy Store" by Kristine Jackson

For those of us who first saw her back in her days in Blues on Purpose as a horn player behind Mary Bridget Davis, Kristine Jackson’s first CD of mostly original material “Candy Store” is just another step in the evolution of someone on her way to big things. From horn player to guitarist to vocalist to songwriter to performer of her own material to fronting several different versions of her own band, each step she has taken has been in the right direction.
“Candy Store” features nine Jackson originals along with Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole,” acoustic blues numbers she has been playing in her shows for the last several years. The album is dedicated to her cousin Liz Bohman Szczepanski, who died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year at the age of 27. Kristine will be playing a bunch of CD release dates this weekend in support of “Candy Store,” including Thursday, February 25 at Fat Fish Blue from 7-9, then at the Parkview from 10-12; Seekers Coffee Shop in Middleburg Heights on Friday, February 26; and at West Park Station on Saturday, February 27 from 6-9.
Jackson has always worn her emotions on her sleeve and in her songs, and “Candy Store” is filled with songs of hurt, forgiveness, and recovery. Amongst the highlights on the disk are the title tune, “Baby Girl,” “Hammer Mill 5,”“Wishing Well,” and “What Moves You.” She has really grown into a very good singer/songwriter.
Hopefully the next project in her growth as an artist will be done with a full blues band behind her. For more about Kristine Jackson, her music, and her work with the Kicking the Cancer Blues Foundation, visit www.kjblues.com.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Ain't Misbehavin'" at the Cleveland Play House

Watching the Cleveland Play house's adaptation of the Fats Waller musical "Ain't Misbehavin'" last Wednesday at the Bolton Theater was like watching this year's version of the Cleveland Cavaliers, too much talent on the floor. From the five leads in the company to the players in the band to the songs in the musical review, this production of this enjoyable musical was nothing but top shelf.
Featuring over thirty numbers mostly from the black jazz era of 20's, 30's, and 40's, not to be confused with the Bing Crosby lead white jazz of the same time period, the play was filled with great dancing, outstanding vocals, and very good costumes and staging. As the company and the band went through not only Waller's greatest hits but those by composers such as George Marion, Jr., Andy Razaf, and others, the audience loved every moment of it, and broke into spontaneous applause often.
The five members of the company that did all the singing and dancing, with more than a healthy dose of humor, are all young regional theater veterans from around the country. Rebecca E. Covington, Angela Grovey, Christopher L. Morgan, Ken Robinson, and Aurelia Williams each showed great skill and talent. Musical Director and pianist Darryl G. Ivey lead a solid band of local musicians that featured trombonist Chris Anderson and drummer Thomas A. Fries.
"Ain't Misbehavin'" is running at the Bolton Theater until February 21, and I highly recommend it. This is the third year in a row the Play House has hit a home run with a musical biography, two years ago it was Ella Fitzgerald and last year it was Mahalia Jackson. This version of "Ain't Misbehavin'" might be the best of the bunch.
The Play House has two productions left in their season. An adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is running from February 26 to March 21, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a drama about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous set in Akron, from April 9 until May 2. Also upcoming is their FusionFest 2010, their annual multi-arts festival. Visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com for more information on any of these events.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

14th Annual Cleveland Rock Off

Below is my article about the Tri C Rock Off, Cleveland's annual battle of the bands for high school musicians, that first appeared in the January 20 edition of CoolCleveland.com. Pictured here is Streetsboro High guitar virtuoso Brian Poston who played in four bands at this year's Rock Off.

It is January and that means it is time for one of the great annual musical events here in Northern Ohio, the Tri-C Rock Off. Now in it's fourteenth year, the event lets local high school musicians and their bands have a moment of glory or two on the big stage at the House of Blues.
It is a three-step process to win the Rock Off. First, hundreds of bands submit videos and CDs to be picked to perform at the HOB. Sixty-six bands are then selected to perform twenty-minute sets over three weekends. Three bands from each night are invited back on February 6 to perform again, with a champion and several runner-ups chosen.
The bands that get selected to play at the House of Blues are good. They show talent, imagination, and the results of a lot of hard work and practice. During their sets most bands perform several original songs and one cover. Even with 10-13 bands playing a night, things run pretty smoothly as the HOB sound and stage crews keep things moving, with very little down time.
I've been to the Rock Off on and off for years, and I think for most of the bands it’s the chance to perform on a big stage in front of their families and friends which is a bigger deal than actually winning the whole thing.
The first nights of performances were January 8 and 9, with more sets coming on Saturday, January 23; Sunday, January 24; Friday, January 29; and Saturday, January 30. The finals will be at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, February 6. For more information and a performance schedule of bands visit the website www.cleveland.com/rockoff.
For some of the performers it's a once in a lifetime thing, but for others it's hopefully a stepping-stone to greater things. Brain Poston, an 18-year-old senior at Streetsboro High School, is in his second Rock Off, this year playing with four different bands (Project Rock Star, Steffani Reeder, Maddie Finn, and Shane Stokes). "Last year it was awesome, the best experience of my life. But I was really nervous," he says. This year it's different for the lead guitarist. "I'm a vet, last year we made it to the finals. I'm not nearly as nervous, I'm going to have fun."
Brian is one of those who is looking for a future in music. "Very soon I travel to the Berkeley School of music in Boston to audition. Just me and my guitar and a round trip plain ticket," he says with a confident smile. "If that doesn't work out I'll study music at a local college. As for now, I'm playing out somewhere every weekend, and practicing with someone every weeknight."
I checked out some of the opening night bands, and as always, the talent was impressive. I saw a band from Chagrin Falls and Kenston called Kid Brother who had a great 90's indie rock sound to them. They did a song called "She's Hot" that had a great opening bass line from Amph Fritz and got the audience up and jumping. Yield on Mars hails from Bay Village, and they were definitely influenced by their parents Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd albums, and featured some great guitar work and drummer Jeremy Guffin on vocals. Project Pop Star is a coed project from Streetsboro High School that had a bit of theatrics and a lot of jump to them. There was plenty of big beats and some slick guitar work from Brian Poston. Near Forget Tomorrow features kids from Lake Catholic and Painesville Riverside, and had a sound reminiscent of Pat Benatar and the GoGo's. ESD returned for the second year in a row, and featured almost all instrumentals, and some great guitar work led by Tim Vopat. Selling You short was another guitar driven band with players from St. Ignatius and St. Ed's, who gave a very polished set.
Who's going to be the next Raspberries? MSB? Mushroomhead? Black Keys? You have a chance to check that out over the next several weekends at the House of Blues for the 14th Annual Tri C Rock Off.

"Sideswiped" by Blue Lunch on Wilberts Records 001

The guys in Blue Lunch have been playing the blues so long, either individually or as group, that their live shows almost become a lesson in blues music, showing influences from Chicago, New Orleans, Soul, 50's Rock and Roll, and everything in between. Their fifth release on Wilberts Records Sideswiped does the same thing, with fifteen solid tracks featuring Blue Lunch's many styles and talents.
The disc includes seven originals and eight covers. Bob Frank, Pete London and company have you up and dancing on almost every track. The best of the originals include the title track, a great Memphis sound number; "All Things to Come," one of their favorite live tunes; and "Don't Point that Thing at Me." Amongst the covers are the R & B classic "Everyday will be Like a Holiday," with great four part harmony on the chorus; and the album's closer, a rowdy version of Doc Pomus's "Too Much Boogie."
Blue Lunch is Frank on guitar and vocals, London on harmonica and vocals, Raymond DeForest on bass, Scott Flowers on drums, Mike Sands on piano, Keith McKelley on tenor, Bob Michael on trombone, and Mike Rubin on trumpet. The guest list for Sideswiped is a who's who of the blues, including a couple of great sax solos by Boston's "Sax" Gordon Beadle.
Blue Lunch is going to be quite busy in the next several months, including a trip January 20-24 to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. They come home to play the House of Swing on January 29 and Fat Fish Blue on January 30. For a complete schedule of show dates, and for more information about Blue Lunch, go to www.bluelunch.com.
I highly recommend Blue Lunch's new release Sideswiped, it’s a great piece of music from some local guys who really know how to do it.

Alejandro Escovedo at the Beachland Ballroom 13 Jan 2010

Alejandro Escovedo
Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland
13 January 2010

Alejandro Escovedo is one of those recording artists I have always heard great things about from friends whose musical tastes I respect. He's one of those singer/songwriters who has been around forever crossing over into several genres, but has never reached what the general public would call superstar status. Often compared to everyone from Santana to Springsteen to the Rolling Stones, he brought a four-piece band to the Beachland last Wednesday. It was my first chance to see him, and I will probably never miss him when he comes through town again.
He and his band performed a twelve-song set followed by an encore of four songs. Most of the songs were autobiographical upbeat rockers, and featured some terrific guitar work. Songs with titles like "Wasn't I Always a Friend to You," "The Bed is Getting Crowded," "Sister of Lost Soul," touched on the themes of romance, family, and traveling the road. He wears his emotions on his shirtsleeve and in the songs that he writes and performs. It was wonderful stuff. One of the new songs "After the Meteor Shower" opened with this line, "She was pretty as a star/take a photo please." He is a very good songwriter.
The show's closer "Castanets" had more than a little Chuck Berry beat and guitar to it. His final two encores where the only covers of the evening, rowdy versions of "All the Young Dudes" and "Beast of Burden." The Beachland was almost filled to capacity with both Escovedo and serious music fans, most seemed to enjoy the show tremendously.
For more about Alejandro Escovedo and his music, including his new release "Real Animal," which is available on CD and vinyl, go to www.alejandroescovedo.com. As always, there are a lot of great shows coming up at the Beachland including Ronnie Spector on June 22; local rockers Cats on holiday doing a benefit on January 23; the Deanna Bogart Band on February 4; the subdudes on March 19; and the Paul Thorn Band on March 25. Fore information on these shows and more visit www.beachlandballroom.com.

Lost in Yonkers at the Cleveland Play House

A terrific story and near perfect casting make for a wonderful night of theater at the Cleveland Play House with their current production of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers. Directed by the Play House's Artistic Director Michael Bloom, the play is running until January 31 in the Drury Theater.
Simon's autobiographical play was first performed in 1991 and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The story revolves around a young widower; his two sons; and their uncle, aunt, and grandmother facing the hardships of World War II at home. The father is forced to go on the road to work to help pay off his deceased wife's hospital bills. The boys are forced to live with their strict German immigrant grandmother and their mentally impaired Aunt Bella. Also showing up is their Uncle Louie, a shady character who also has some issues of his own.
The whole play takes place in the living room of their home in Yonkers, above the candy store that is the family's source of income. There are many humorous and touching moments, as the young boys survive ten months living without their father.
Alex Wyse and Maxwell Beer are very good as the two young boys Jay and Arty. Sara Surrey does an outstanding job as Bella their aunt. Broadway performer and star of television's As the World Turns Rosemary Prinz steals almost every scene she is in as the elderly German Jewish grandmother.
Coming up next at the Play House is Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' from January 29 to February 21; An adaptation of the Jane Austin novel Emma from February 26 to March 21; and Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a drama based on the lives of the two men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous, from April 9 to May 2. For information on these shows, and all the other great things happening at the Cleveland Play House visit www.ClevelandPlayhouse.com.