Harvey Pekar Benefit, Saturday August 7th

2 08 2010

Unless you’ve been living at the semi-abandoned Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island, you probably know that one of Cleveland’s great figures, Harvey Pekar, had recently passed into immortal curmudgeondom and enlightenment.  His death triggered not only mourning, but a sense of local pride and a renewed urgency in seizing the Cleveland summer in all its warm, joyful diversity.

In a sense, his demise–and subsequent recognition–couldn’t have been timed better.  Should such a dear soul exit this plane, at very least he should make a statment.  Recognition of Pekar–and all things good, gruff, and Cleveland–ended up overshadowing the Lebron James fiasco named “The Decision”, which had even non-sports fans holding their heads shamefully as James and his marketing team nationally hung us all out to dry.  “Screw him,” we said, “at least we had Harvey.”

Certainly Pekar couldn’t average a triple double per game.  But he and his work represented our culture’s gritty resiliency, more so than one of the NBA’s ballyhooed stars who folded in the post-season and cashed out.  Harvey wouldn’t have folded; though he definitely would have appreciated a healthy pay-out, like any good Cleveland workingman should.

To that end, the Beachland’s decided to help Pekar’s payout in the afterlife. To quote Beachland co-owner Cindy Barber,

“Okay, here’s the deal. Things are complicated in the aftermath of our friend Harvey’s life. According to his wife/writing partner Joyce Brabner  he didn’t really finalize a will, and there was no burial plot. So one Coventry do-gooder went to Lakeview Cemetery and found what he thought was a perfect spot, next to an old friend, but things happened and that ended up not working out….but now Harvey’s sort of moving on up and the urn carrying his cremated remains will be laid to rest close to Eliot Ness thanks to the Lakeview folks. Some friends have talked to Joyce about creating a statue of Harvey (hands in his pockets, shoulders shrugging no doubt), but she says it will have to be inscribed with “What Do You Want From Me?” There is indeed something very poetic and Cleveland about the idea of tourists in Lolly the Trolley coming by Eliot Ness’s grave, and finding out favorite homegrown curmudgeon. So Joyce is not broke of course, but cashflow is an issue and we want to help. We have this Saturday night open and are bound and determined to celebrate Harvey’s honest down-to-earth spirit and raise a little cashflow since he just spent time at the Beachland on July 3 when his pals Brave Combo played. This is not the official send off, but just an effort to lend a hand.”

To this end, the Beachland has booked friends Cats On Holiday, Yiddishe Cup, and a very special performance by Pere Ubu’s David Thomas on Saturday, August 7th at 8 pm. It’s a late breaking event, folks, so we don’t have all the particulars yet. Let’s just say if you’re feeling charitable, come on down, and either buy a ticket to this event ($10) or make a donation.  Updates will be posted on http://www.beachlandballroom.com, or call the club at 216-383-1124.

If you haven’t heard this yet, local NPR affiliate WCPN did an excellent feature on the life and times of Harvey Pekar.  Listen up!  Here’s an interview with Pekar about his passion, avant-garde jazz; and here’s a piece that sheds light on “The Pekar Project”, which deals with Pekar’s still-unpublished works.

What You Missed:

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Friday: Zinmeister Parker at Arts Collinwood / Mountain Goats Film on Saturday

15 04 2010

Heavenly Bodies, a new show of work by Zinmeister Parker at Arts Collinwood

It’s easy to imagine the John Darnielle / Mountain Goats of 1995’s Nine Black Poppies translating into the Mountain Goats as they are now–an indisputably established musical presence that’s far outgrown the basic indie-rock label.  Darnielle still writes mini-movies, or mini-novels, if you will, that reel with emotional and metaphorical tension.  He’s kept this up with the latest Mountain Goats release, The Life of the World To Come, a series of songs based on certain verses in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible.  Accompanying this album is a performance film featuring cuts from this new album. It’s directed by Rian Johnson and features Darnielle in performance; it will be screened at the Beachland this Saturday at 1:15 pm and 2:45 pm.

As Popmatters.com writes, 

Certainly there’s more open love and affection to be found here than on We Shall All Be Healed, but one of the reasons Darnielle is the best American songwriter currently working is that he refuses to settle for the easy emotional beats in whatever story he’s telling. He uncovers the same desperation, doubt, and grace in Biblical narratives that he did in a squalid, shut-in house of meth addicts, because people in Darnielle’s songs, whether loving or hateful or outright psychotic, are always first and foremost human

And here’s a blow-by-blow analysis of The Life of The World To Come by blog Heavy Soil

This film screening is brought to us by our good friends at Music Saves. 

 This Friday, Arts Collinwood has a special exhibit by artist Zinmeister Parker entitled Heavenly Bodies.  This opening runs from 6 – 9 pm. Parker writes,

As a woman, as a  painter and educator,  my perspective is colored by my experiences in the world of academia and in the art world at large.  Some of the figures have dismembered or missing various body parts, which symbolize a sense of alienation or an  awareness of gender bias, an intransigent status quo  which has  existed in the art world historically and even today —certainly in terms of the number of exhibitions for women artists versus male artists in the major museums in the United States. The good news is that women artists will always pursue their commitment to making art and eventually with the passage of time and a little luck, we’ll have achieved an even playing field.


Storm Is Comin’ Through: Cleveland Lottery League 2010, Drive By Truckers, and The Hold Steady

9 04 2010

The Drive By Truckers AND The Hold Steady

Over the next few days, the Beachland will have big shows the way Cleveland’s got potholes.  We mean BIG.

If you haven’t seen all the Facebook ballyhoo, the local musical extravaganza known as the Cleveland Lottery League.  (Full disclosure here: the author of this here blog is also one of the zookeepers in the animal house known as the Lottery League.) So why should you go? It’s a reflection of musical civic pride, not unlike The Rock Hall’s “Summer In The City” events; or even the DIY fests Horriblefest and Compound Fest.  The Lottery League attempts to sum the sensation of these and many other musical gatherings that make our city’s scene one of the most vibrant around.   The Lottery League aspires, much like many of the fests and gatherings in this city, to be an incubator and generator of critical mass whose objective is to make Cleveland a bigger and better musical hub than ever before.  Even our very own Rock Hall has taken note of this special event!

On top of that, you have 140 musicians, 33 bands, 3 stages (!) a lot of beer. Read what Scene magazine’s Lottery League Blog has been saying, and follow these bands as they journey together towards Saturday night’s BIG SHOW. Tickets are $15 adv / $20 DOS.

Here’s footage of merely one of the highly anticipated Lottery League 2010 bands, Beat Vikings:

Speaking of musical celebrations, we’ve got two whoppers coming up within mere days of each other at the Beachland.  The Drive-By Truckers arrive on Sunday, and if you snoozed, you lost, pal.  This show’s sold out.   And on Tuesday, mighty Midwesterners (never mind the Brooklyn) The Hold Steady arrive.  To quote Thin Lizzy: “the drinks will flow and the blood will spill”. 

To make you feel even worse (or better), here’s a real cool find:  The Hold Steady join the Drive By Truckers to perform a raucous version of The Band’s “Look Out Cleveland”. One of the best jams EVER, and hey, isn’t it appropriate?

Tickets to these events and more are available at www.beachlandballroom.com.


Got Funk If You Want It – Trombone Shorty, this Friday

1 04 2010

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, this Friday

Hailing from New Orleans’ 6th Ward Tremé district comes Trombone Shorty aka Troy Andrews and a hornful of funk.  And what says summertime more than some hot, wave-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care grooves?

Let’s drop back a bit time-wise, 2001, where we can see a very young Andrews choppin’ it up on an Armstrong number alongside Cleveland native Dominick Farinacci.  Andrews kills this one on trumpet:

Fast forward many years, where Shorty is sharing the spotlight with one of his NOLA musical kinsmen, Wynton Marsalis:

And here’s Mr. Shorty and his totally dope group, Orleans Avenue. Don’t bump this too loud at work–or maybe you should, depending on who really needs a pick-me-up: 

Who Dat? Trombone Shorty. This Friday, at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern.


Judgement Day Is Upon Us – This Wednesday

29 03 2010

Listen to Judgement Day and fight THIS guy.

Craving the power of metal riffery without the monster Marshall stacks and facepaint? Looking for a new interpretation of the term ‘shred’? Look no further than prog trio Judgement Day.    Take a cello, a violin, drums, and in this case…zombies. 

We’d say that was kinda metal, huh? Here’s a short piece this trio dubbed “Pitfires of Hell”:

In case you’re wondering how these rather mild-seeming fellows got into the metal business, we actually don’t have an answer to that.  We do know, however, that Lewis Patzner (cello) spent a great deal of time in conservatory; his brother, Anton (violin) not only completed his own studies, but also toured and recorded with the band Bright Eyes.

Now, the idea of combining metal’s dexterous prowess with the breathtaking technique involved in classical music is nothing new.  Hell, it’s been around since the birth of that rock compositional approach many call “symphonic metal” (and probably even before that).  Everyone from famed guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen to dudes like Emperor have smeared the legacy of classical music to come up with a most unholy musical brood.  There are even guys like Apocalyptica, from Finland:

There’s a reason that heads wanna bang with the hallowed sounds of the ancient masters: it’s fun.  Might even make you wanna jump on a horse and slay some Orcs, even.

Judgement Day

And if none of this is your bag, hit the Ballroom on Wednesday night for the Black Lips / Box Elders / Cobra Verde show.  Regardless of which path you take at the Beachland, stick around for our Cleveland-famous DOWNTOWN SOULVILLE DANCE PARTY, free at 10 pm in the Tavern.  All of this goodness resides at http://www.beachlandballroom.com.


From Africa By Way of Asheville: Toubab Krewe at Beachland, 3/16

15 03 2010

compliments of johnpatrickgatta.com

The beauty of this ever-shrinking world is that a group of talented dudes from Ashville, North Carolina, bring the sounds of Mali and other African nations to American soil with seeming ease.  The beauty of this ever-expansive world is that those rhythms and melodies seem so wonderfully foreign to our Western ears and bodies.  Despite the miles between Cleveland, Asheville, and Africa, we can bounce joyfully to the sounds of Toubab Krewe and their afro-rock sound hybrid.

Toubab Krewe plays “51 Foot Ladder” at the studios of Paste Magazine:

So while we’re on the subject of Toubab Krewe, who are coming to the Beachland on March 16th, let’s check out other African hybrids and influences.  Get inspired by wonderous sounds with ancient sources.

Here are Nigerians Etran Finatawa with “Surbajo”

Kenyan-American electric benga rockers, Extra Golden:

Touareg nomads Tinariwen, “Cler Achel”

Congolese master guitarist Diblo Dibala, from the band Loketo, playing a sweet soukous groove:

Ali Farka Toure, one of the greatest Malian guitarists ever, and one of the guys who got this whole thing started:

..and Senegalese legends Orchestra Baobab, from a few years ago:

Check these out and pass them along. Then, get tickets for Tuesday’s show with Toubab Krewe at www.beachlandballroom.com.


Wednesday, March 10th: Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Beachland

9 03 2010

Carolina Chocolate Drops, tonight

(also subtitled, Folk Music Isn’t Just For White Folks. As if you didn’t know that.)

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a group of young African-American string band musicians that have come to together to play the rich tradition of fiddle and banjo music from the Carolinas’ piedmont region. Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson both hail from the green hills of the North Carolina Piedmont while Dom Flemons is native to sunny Arizona.  They have been under the tutelage of Joe Thompson, said to be the last black traditional string band player, whose  musical heritage runs as deeply and fluidly as the many rivers and streams that traverse the North Carolina landscape. They carry on the tradition of black musicians like Odell and Nate Thompson, Dink Roberts, John Snipes, Libba Cotten, Emp White, and countless others who have passed beyond memory and recognition.

When most of people think of fiddle and banjo music, they think of the southern Appalachian Mountains as the source of this music. While the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina are great strongholds of traditional music today, they are certainly not the source. The nuances of piedmont stringband music stem from the demographics of the piedmont and thereby its focus on the banjo as the lead instrument. Among black ensembles, the banjo often set the pace and if a fiddle was present and it often was not, it served as accompaniment and not as the lead instrument as is more common in the Appalachian tradition. A guitar or mandolin would have been rare, but unheard of, in these bands but the foundation of this tradition lies rooted in the antebellum combination of fiddle and banjo. (adapted from the band’s website)

Carolina Chocolate Drops are three young black musicians revisiting, with a joyful vengeance, black strong-band and jug-band music of the Twenties and Thirties – the dirt-floor dance electricity of Mississippi Sheiks and Cannon’s Jug Stompers. Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind (Music Maker) is dazzling in its velocity and virtuosity, while the a capella lament “Another Man Done Gone” and waltz “Short Life of Trouble” ensure that you don’t miss the blues that drove those pioneers to make such defiantly ecstatic music. (ROLLING STONE CD Reviews: Fricke’s Picks)

LISTEN to what NPR’s said about the Carolina Chocolate Drops; Wired offers an insight into this trio from a technological standpoint; Bitch magazine offers an academic analysis of the band; Paste reviews their album, Genuine Negro Jig; and because we’d be remiss otherwise, read what the Cleveland Scene says.

Listen to their music at Nonesuch, find them on Lala.com, or check out the following vids:

“Hit ‘Em Up Style”

Live in Chapel Hill

and from their label, Nonesuch:

For tickets to this show, head to www.beachlandballroom.com. We’re very pleased to have our good friends, educators and preservers of American musical heritage, Roots of American Music, involved with this show.