Nov 13 – 14 International Pop Overthrow festival featuring Bill Fox and Paranoid Lovesick

12 11 2009
Bill Fox @ West Side Market, from his Shelter From the Smoke album

Remember delightfully crappy 70s kids show Land of the Lost?  We’re not talking the remake featuring the lumbering buffoonery of Will Farrell; we’re talking the one with a feather-haired family hiding from creaky, stop-motion dinosaurs (Ray Harryhausen winced loudly), befriending apelike jungle pals, and dueling with perma-stoned reptile dudes known as Sleestaks. 

Throughout much of its late 20th century history, Cleveland has very much been a rusted-and-busted Land of the Lost; economic woes have torn up the land like hungry carnosaurs, while folks walk ’round like Sleestaks wearing Browns jerseys.  Others are trying to find Land of the Lost’s magic stones, the ones that offer passage to a groovier place devoid of bad special effects and duff plotlines.  Now where exactly would that place be?

Meanwhile, back in 2009, a new generation of do-gooders and pundits are dilligently working to turn our low-budget dino-park into a digitally-enhanced New Jerusalem.  We applaud their efforts while sifting through the debris of Cleveland’s past.  Look closely enough, and you’ll find a Lawson’s sign, an empty bottle of POC, Ralph Perk, and musicians like Bill Fox (of The Mice) and Bill Stone of Paranoid Lovesick.

This weekend’s bounty of pop–the two-night travelling International Pop Overthrow–brings to light Messrs. Fox and Stone.  Much ado has been made of Fox’s hidden treasure status, based on his output with 80’s punks The Mice, his solo career, and a slew of articles written that corresponds to one of rock’s Good Standard Plotlines: “Whatever Happened To…?”

Which, in turn, dovetails with the “Influential Underdog” plotline.  The Bill Fox version of it goes thusly:  The Mice were a great rock band, made some cool records, kicked ass, and split up.  Singer/songwriter/guitarist Fox leaves and cranks out equally killer solo albums.   Somewhere down the line, he got a case of the willies, and just didn’t want to play in public.  Fast forward to the present day, where writers get a hold of the goodies, and start looking for the mythical musician.

Those pieces can be written about here, to an extent:  read cleveland.com‘s piece and blog Beat For Two. Culturespill.com gets downright definitive, and if you think this blog entry is long–buddy, put your feet up and get cozy in your chair.  But it’s a killer piece.

Your best bet, friends, is just to check out Mr. Fox in vivo at the Beachland’s International Pop Overthrow festival on FRIDAY  night.  As your guide, check out the following Bill Fox songs on Myspace.com. Caveat: If you don’t like Bob Dylan in any way, shape or form, Fox might not appeal to you.  But if you don’t mind the lean vocal rasp, the romantic lyrical rambles through Catholic mythology, and a dying Cleveland populated with poets, politicians and drunks, you’ll love this stuff.

Far less weighty but also forgotten is Paranoid Lovesick, who hail from the ‘alterna-rock’ 90s while foresaking grunge groanings, or the clonification of whatever the hell was on the radio at the time.  In fact, PL sowed song-seeds gathered from the Raspberries, Big Star, Badfinger, and such melodically-minded groups.  That aspect, coupled with a super-fine production sheen, got Paranoid Lovesick on CLE station “The End” while propelling them through the Northeast Ohio rock circuit.  Though the denizens of underground Cleveland rock and the radio-friendly masses couldn’t figure the band out–too clean-cut, or not angry enough–this four-piece won over ears and hearts with their debut CD, a true gem called Molly.

Yet here’s where another Good Standard Plotline comes into play: “…And Then Tragedy Struck”.  PL’s friend and lead guitarist Rick McBrien tragically passed away, and the band fizzled.  Thankfully, the good people at International Pop Overthrow kept tabs on Paranoid Lovesick, and were able to get them on Saturday night.   Thrilled by the process of going forward while closing the book on Paranoid Lovesick, singer/guitarist Bill Stone and his comrades have released two lost PL gems: Suburban Pop Allegro and Tuxedo Avenue Breakdown.  After that, Paranoid Lovesick will fling its own ashes to the Collinwood wind, and another set of legends will sprout forth.

Cleveland music blog Addcited To Vinyl hashes things out in wond’rous detail, with the help of Mr. Stone.  If ATV doesn’t convince you, perhaps some lo-fi but ass-kickin’ vids will help:

Paranoid Lovesick, “Carried Away”

Paranoid Lovesick, “Big Star” (note the presence of people TOTALLY STOKED about the ’95 Indians)

So perhaps with this year’s International Pop Overthrow, our Land will be a little less Lost, and Good Standard Rock conventions will be ditched…well, maybe for two nights, at least.

To find out who else is playing the International Pop Overthrow (folks like The Afternoon Naps, Good Touch Bad Touch, and others) get at www.beachlandballroom.com. Or call one of their friendly operators at 216-2383-1124.

EAS

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