Happy Sunday, all! After a lovely night out at Visible Voice for a reading/signing with old friends, new acquaintances, and a modest measure of tequila, I’m moving a bit slower than usual, but happy to share some ideas on the culture and music scene(s) of America’s 47th biggest city: Cleveland, Ohio. (Back in the interwar years, it was #5.)
Snapshots from the past: it’s July 2000, and it’s 11th hour of our drive from Brooklyn, NY. My wife’s not much a driver, and my acuity is beginning to fade. Just west of Youngstown, we search the radio dial for something with kick, and settle on evangelical Christian talk radio, from which we learn, “A woman’s role is to hang curtains on the dreary windows of life.” Oh-my-goodness. Well, at least I’m confident my vote in Ohio, rather than New York, might have more weight in the outcome of the 2000 election.
Cut to September: it’s a Saturday night, and my wife and I don our finery, dine in Tremont, catch some Prokofiev and others at Severance Hall (below, on the left)–second only to the Gehry-designed hall in LA, in my experience, sound-wise and aesthetics-wise.
We get back in the car, I swap my dress tie for a skinny tie, and we then make our way to the Beachland Ballroom to pogo along to The English Beat. At a lad in my early 30s, I’m among the youngest people in the crowd. Dave Wakeling’s there, of course, along with the bass player from The Untouchables, and an all-star group of 20-something ska-sters round out the line-up. During “Save It for Later,” Mikey Mike (in the role once held by Ranking Roger), steps backstage, picks up his video camera, and starts taping us–and why? The roomful of 40- and 50-somethings bouncin’ up and down had made quite an impression, and I have to imagine he’d never seen that many old people have that much fun before.
And here’s why Cleveland rocks: the people who forged the scene for punk and post-punk back in the day, they’ve taken that DIY spirit, and parlayed it into bars, restaurants, vintage clothing shops, records stores, and the like–and they still come out to the Beachland, especially, and other venues, too, and the tyranny of youth that reigns in music scenes in places like New York (and in SF, too, to a lesser degree) doesn’t have much purchase here along the golden shores of Lake Erie.
I’m thinking about The Beat this week, too, because they were back in Cleveland, as you may have heard, for a benefit for Cleveland Courage, which has already raised over $500,000, which is damn awesome. I’m half-tempted to include a recent live clip of The Beat on tour, but that would only provide incentive for more people to sever their connection to an actual experience by holding up a recording device to capture that experience.
Here’s a little something for those of west of EDT to get your day started gently. Love the shout-out to Saxa!
And, for those of you with a soft spot for the previous generation of rockers, try this on for size.