Cleveland Still Rocks

Posted By on June 12, 2007

It’s June 9 and I’m hanging out with my friend, Tom Lash, a rock bassist turned technology entrepreneur. We’re going to the House of Blues to hear Fountains of Wayne, a great pop band mounting a rare tour behind Traffic and Weather, perhaps their best album. It’s a cool, clear evening, and downtown Cleveland is buzzing. At this point, the Cavs have only lost one game to the Spurs in their first NBA Finals appearance, and the mood seems upbeat. Lots of people are out, and the city, all torn up for months for multiple highway and construction projects, seems full of potential. And just to show that it ain’t dead yet as a rock ‘n’ roll town, Ian Hunter (who has had something positive to say about Cleveland) is playing at the Beachland Ballroom, the region’s most authentic joint. Fountains of Wayne or Ian Hunter? Tough choice. But you have to make one.

Before the show, we eat at House of Blues. The food’s pretty good; Tom had catfish nuggets, I had voodoo shrimp. The drinks were fine, the service more than adequate, the atmosphere comfortably funky and unexpectedly idiosyncratic.

The show was very good: about an hour an 15 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll, featuring tunes old (“Mexican Wine” and that smash, “Stacy’s Mom”) and new, like “Someone To Love” (the first T&W single), the funny, pulp fiction “Strapped for Cash” and my favorite, that homage to Department of Motor Vehicles hotties, “Yolanda Hayes.” The Wayne boys didn’t say much; Chris Collingwood, the stringbean, geekily charismatic lead singer, drank O’Doul’s like he was wearing a badge, and the occasional backup singers added the requisite cheesiness. Too bad Collingwood’s voice was a little thin; sounded like he was fighting a cold. But the tunes were great: smartass, witty, sociologically acute, they suggested there’s plenty of life left in what used to be known as power pop.

The scene was cool, too. Not only did Tom and I run into several friends, we discovered that R. Scott Krauss, the great, original drummer for Pere Ubu, Cleveland’s legendary underground band, is working in the House of Blues store, and liking it. Nice to see downtown types have a downtown to enjoy. One can only hope the city begins to leverage the House of Blues vibe.


One Response to “Cleveland Still Rocks”

  1. Rick Rocker says:

    Oh no.. Cleveland no longer rocks. Rock’s new HQ is Austin Tx.

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About the author

I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: