Sunday, April 27, 2008

Down in the Valley

I went to Coachella this weekend but I don’t have much to say about it. Read into that what you may. It was not awful but it sure wasn’t all that good either, just hot. I do not understand the direction that the music industry is headed. All this dancing and lack of vital shit, like instruments. Too many keyboards and not enough everything else. But this isn’t about all that, it’s about being homesick.

I worked at a party over the weekend where I checked ID’s for an hour. It was during this time that I held another persons Ohio drivers license in my hand, some dude from Lakewood. We got stoked when we found out that we were both born in Fairview Hospital. A little thing like that and it made my night. After that I got on a shuttle bus that had puke all over the floor which reminded me of the bars in Lakewood.

The drive home today further pounded some homesick blues into me. I saw what looked like a grey cloud and I seriously pined for a little spring shower. Then I got the text messages about the Cavalier win, one after another, each asking if I had watched the game. This made me pine not for the showers but those Lakewood bars I mentioned.

I’m a rambling man today and this post means nothing of music but I just paced my apartment for an hour thinking about how if I was back in the Midwest it would be entirely appropriate for me to be real, real drunk at BW3 all day long. I don’t know what it is but even a supposed musical mecca can not take the Cleveland snide out of me. I think we own the right to feel above anything and everything. Oh and I really dislike Portishead and any and all DJs. I found this out the hard way by going to the valley of death.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reunite the Dead and Let Them Walk Among Us

It’s really hot in Los Angeles. April heat is something the people out here know about but how am I supposed to deal with it other than putting beer in the freezer and pressing their soft, wet glass bottles to my forehead? Well, that’s the only way to deal with it really, so it’s exactly what I’m doing. There's weird Mexican music playing as the little kids across the street play musical chairs and yell, scream and... growl. Ninety degrees? How do they function yet alone growl? Fuck me I’d rather be in Columbus for the Killed in Action reunion.

Speaking of reunions (there has to be a reason to write, right?) there are a slew of them coming together. The Spitfire is playing host to that band that used to be young, fashionable and good-looking, The A-10’s. In case you didn’t know, their hopelessly awesome guitar player Adam lives out here (I just got back from hanging out at a Muay Thai fight with him). Every year he finds the time to fly out to Cle and play a reunion show. Not that the world is begging for it but it’s cool all the same. So mark down the date, May 30th 2008. It’ll be soaked with booze and will remind you of the Five O’clock in 2002.

I already told you about the big Face Value reunion booked at Now That’s Class a few posts back. Well it just got radder. Upstab is on the bill now. In case you didn’t know, their hopelessly bad ass singer Chris lives in Arizona which is not too far from here. His big brother Tony is turning forty on July 5th 2008 and he’s doing the right thing by flying home and getting Upstab together to celebrate with blood shed and swear words. Upstab was one of the better hardcore bands to come out of the post Nine Shocks/Puncture Wound/H-100s world of Cleveland pummelage. Chris is a maniac and I can’t wait to see these guys again.

My old band Amps II Eleven is going to be there too. You’re friends only get old once and I want to be there for it, so I am boarding an airplane and we’re collectively getting the band back together. It’s the original lineup too. Not to discredit all the amazing people who joined Amps after Steve and Attila left but nothing could ever match the synergy that was there when the first five dudes were together. I don’t want to self promote too much but it’s going to be killer. A zombie band, maybe, but everyone loves the living dead if only for a night.

What other bands should (could) reunite? In Cleveland the answer is too many. The life span of a band in Cle is short and, usually, it’s only the people who live there that take any notice. Right now I know I can rattle off a laundry list of bands I’d like to see play again and I wouldn’t have to go back more than a year or two. Giant Eagle, GC5 (honorary Clevelanders), Stepsister, Disengage. That lineup alone would keep me in good spirits for the rest of the year.

The band I would most like to reanimate from the Cleveland underground is a strange one. It is not the Dead Boys, Rocket from the Tombs or Death of Samantha. Far from it, dude. I, in my great wisdom, would get the Mormons back together, in all of their snotty teenage selves, for one more show and one more stuffed animal. Weird choice, I admit, but I ask you, who would you choose?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cleveland Book Club


I dream of a lot of things that I want in this life. Another shot at becoming a professional wrestler, an active sex life with Jewel Kilcher, lots of money. None of that stuff is really reasonable anymore; I’m twenty-eight with weak knees… Jewel dates a cowboy. But I would also like some small stuff, like a big library of books about Cleveland. This I think I can afford and I can take time nurturing it and laughing at my friends who know little to nothing about the evolution of WMMS or the history of Brecksville. I started the library about a year ago with Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories by Carlo Wolff and I have been putting off writing a review of it ever since. I even wrote a very vulgar note telling myself to do so but it didn’t work. So, I’m doing it now, from Los Angeles.

The cover of this book alone should have your coffee table salivating, it’s yellow and kinda ugly with images of Stiv Bators, the Agora, and Daffy Dan. Throw in a few celebs like Big Chuck and Little John and this would have been worthy of framing. Speaking of that old man with a beard, Daffy Dan wrote the foreword recounting how rock and t-shirts changed his life and that’s a story of a true Cleveland miracle. The DD is synonymous with drug and rock culture in 1970s/1980s Cleveland so who better to start a book that walks us through a hazy couple of decades?

Memories starts at the beginning with WHK radio and gets us to the mushroom logo days of ‘MMS, Beatlemania and Springsteenia quickly. It’s done in the same style as Please Kill Me and American Hardcore; the book is arranged with clusters of quotes and memories from the people who lived the rock scene in Cleveland. Fans, musicians and journalists, everyone who can chip in does.

The logos and ticket stubs that Wolff unearthed are even more powerful than a lot of the stories; CCR and Booker T at Public Hall, James Taylor opening for the Who, T Rex at the Yorktown Theatre in scenic Parma. Cue Archie Bunker with his wise words about 'the days.'

The punk stuff is pretty great too. I can only image what it was like to walk into Melody Lane or the Drome to pick up a Pagans record but now I can at least look at the ads those places used to run. There are flyers from shows at places like The Mistake and a benefit for Cle magazine with Pere Ubu playing in a spot called Real World Nite Club on Detroit in 'Lako' (amazing). There could be more about the 70s punk scene but, more over, there could have been anything at all about the eighties scene, it’s all together forgotten. But I guess Wolff had to mention the Agora, Jane Scott and Wild Horses (which he does and that’s fine). The price of the book is almost paid in full by the ticket stub from a December 26, 1977 show at the Agora; Dead Boys and Devo.

Cleveland’s Christ child, Michael Stanley, gives his ten cents through out. Cyrus Erie are his 8th most fave northeast Ohio band. Did you know that? Michael Norman of the PD chimes in with a somewhat hipper opinion; in a list of his favorite songs from the area “It’s Cold Outside” by the Choir comes in at number three (right behind “Ain’t it Fun”).

You’re probably bound to learn something about Cleveland’s musical history here. If not, the pictures are fun and maybe you don’t even need to read the whole thing if that’s what brings you to the party. I'm just glad that my library has begun. I have six or seven other books about the city scattered around my apartment. Maybe some day I will get around to reading all of them but writing about them is probably a lost cause.