Folk Rock: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 136

Mezclado - Mezclado - self-released - 12 songs - CD, cassette, digital

Here’s the debut album from Columbus punk/psych/Latin/indie band Mezclado— and it’s a good one! All that stuff stuck together could easily end up sounding gimmicky, but this band is able to make it all work. “Fed Up” kicks the record off with a solid punk track with a great vocal performance and I love the little guitar leads in the intro and through the verses. Dan (the one who sings this song) switches to Spanish at times so I’m not entirely sure what all is being said, but it sounds cool. Next is “Sick,” which starts with bass and drums and some “abstract” guitar in the style of John Morton or Mr. California then bursts into an aggressive chorus— I don’t really know what all Joe (the one who sings this song) is talking about, but it sounds cool. I really like the sort of post-punk, almost Cure-like feel to the verses of “Snake Driver” and it’s got a great, catchy chorus. “Sunday Dread” has an almost-surf (but not quite) guitar sound with an almost-reggae (but not quite) beat and the bored-sounding vocal delivery perfectly fits the mood of the song. The psychedelic vibe is very present on “Piggies,” even when Wyatt (the one who sings this song) gets louder. “Don’t Slow Down” might be my favorite on the album; a very catchy, hooky garage-punk song with a great guitar part during the chorus and sort of rambling vocals and lyrics (I think at one point he talks about smoking with his dad, which is cool), plus a part at the end where the guitars and bass do the Thin Lizzy thing and play the same part in harmony. “Stay Around” and “Tired All The Time” are both a bit more mellow— the former feels kind of “desert” to me (I don’t know what that means) and has some odd but cool gang backing vocals, the latter has a very psychedelic vocal melody, plus a part where it speeds up and then slows back down which always brings me joy. “Cara Y Piel” has the most Latin influence of any of the songs musically— I unfortunately don’t know enough about Latin music to be more specific than that, my apologies, but I do enjoy it— and then goes into a psych-noise-jam part at the end, which I believe is supposed to neatly segue into “Never Try” but has an abrupt stop before “Never Try” begins (at least on the CD; perhaps this isn’t an issue with the cassette but I’m not sure). Besides that little stumble, “Never Try” is a good jammer/rallying cry. “Pachuco” is another good straightforward punk track which works well as bookends with “Fed Up” and has a great example in the instrumental part right before the guitar solo of how easily they can slip the psychedelic stuff in and then slip right back into punk without it feeling jarring whatsoever. And there’s a saxophone on this one! The album ends with “Adios Adios” which I believe is a field recording of sorts of some more traditional sounding Latin music (acoustic guitar and trumpet, predominantly) but if I’m wrong and it’s actually the band it’s pretty impressive. Anyway, a really solid record overall. 4/5


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Volume 19, Issue 19, Posted 12:00 PM, 10.04.2023

Free Piano Concert At LUMC

Come, listen and enjoy three amazing, talented and professional pianists. On October 8th at 11:30 am at Lakewood United Methodist Church at
15700 Detroit Avenue, there will be an hour long concert.

The three pianists are professionally trained and will be playing some Broadway show tunes, classical and more. You may find yourself humming along or tapping your toes.

Attendees are encouraged to donate canned, non perishable food items. The food items will help replenish LUMC's neighborhood little pantry to help others.

Here is some information on the three pianists:

Helen Kohler studied music at Baldwin Wallace University. She continued her studies at Kent State University and obtained her master's  in Piano Performance. She is currently the musical director for Sweeney Todd in Akron. Helen is a staff accompanist at Kent State's main campus.

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Volume 19, Issue 19, Posted 11:59 AM, 10.04.2023

Lakewood To Host 36th Annual Marching Band Festival On Sept. 23rd!

Lakewood High School hosts our 36th annual marching band festival on September 23 and will feature 9 (!) of the best Cleveland area marching bands. Get your tickets now to see the Beachwood, Cuyahoga Heights, Dover, Fairview, Open Door Christian, Painesville, Westlake, Wickliffe and Lakewood High School marching bands! We will also welcome the Baldwin Wallace Marching Yellow Jackets as our specials guests. Ticket prices increase the day of the festival, so get your tickets early!
When: September 23, 6:00 PM (Gates open at 5:30PM)
* This year's festival will be online sales only. NO cash will be accepted at the gates for tickets or programs. Concessions and 50/50 raffle will accept cash. *
Tickets Prices:
The following tickets are on sale until midnight of September 22, 2023:
Presale Adults - $8.00 ($10 day of)
Presale Seniors, 55+ - $6.00 ($8 day of)
Presale Students - $3 ($5 day of)
Presale Programs on sale until September 11- sales reopen online on September 23rd. 
Full Color Festival Program - $6 before September 11 ($8 day of - limited quantities available)
This is an important fundraiser for our band program and wwwe appreciate your support. We’ll see you at the First Federal of Lakewood Stadium on the 23rd! 

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Volume 19, Issue 17, Posted 3:28 PM, 09.06.2023

Gotcha Day! Book Release Party: Adoption Tales of Remarkable Rescue Dogs

Meet Lakewoodite Greg Murray and celebrate his latest book release on Sunday, September 17th at 3pm to 6pm at the Bottlehouse Brewery located at 13368 Madison Avenue. This is a free event that is open to the public. The party will also serve as a fundraiser and pet food drive  for one of Greg's favorite non-profits, Neighborhood Pets Outreach & Resource Center. Please consider a monetary donation or something from their wish list, such as: new or clean, gently used crates, leashes, collars, and bowls or unopened food and treats. Gift cards and general office supplies are also welcome. There will be raffles and gift baskets worth upwards to $775, including a photo session and canvas print from Greg. All proceeds from the drawings will go directly to Neighborhood Pets. Visible Voice Books will be at the event selling copies of "Gotcha Day!" which features many Lakewood dogs and their people. Although this event is all about dogs, it is NOT a dog friendly event. The comfort and safety of humans and dogs are what is most important, so leave your best friends home for this one.

"Gotcha Day!" spotlights the adoption tales of over 60 adorable rescue dogs and their new forever home families. The unique personality of each pup shines through the adorable, candid photos by this animal advocate and professional pet, equine, and wildlife  photographer. Their humans let us in on their inspiring stories, funny quirks, and all the many things that make them special. Enjoy reading about Killian who is obsessed with clothes and just has to find the right outfit each morning; Jet who snores louder than a human; and Roger, who came to his family from a puppy mill and learned that people can be kind and loving.

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Volume 19, Issue 17, Posted 3:28 PM, 09.06.2023

How Does It Feel?: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 135

Butterfield 8 - Another Day In Paradise - Banana Records - 11 songs - CD, digital

The Butterfield 8 reunion (?) era continues! No new stuff since 1990 and then two in under a year— good for Jim and friends. As you may recall, I thought “Luckiest Guy In The World” had some strange elements production-wise but was actually pretty good. Some of those production eccentricities (vocals swamped in reverb, drums that sound like maybe they were overdubbed onto the basic track and never quite click in with everything) are still present on certain songs, but it is smoother. I’ve gotta tell you: I like this record. I might like it better than the previous one, even. Jim Butterfield can write pretty darn good power pop tunes, from faster ones like “Paradise” (where he tells himself “play us out, Jim” before the closing guitar solo) and “Take It Back” (which has a very catchy chorus and a great key change right before the last verse) to ballads like “Donna” (which is piano-led, setting it apart from the rest of the album) and the closing “Turn Out Well,” which starts out somber but ends on an optimistic note. But the thing that makes this record good, at least in my eyes, is that it’s never quite just a normal power pop record— there’s 

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Volume 19, Issue 16, Posted 8:38 AM, 08.17.2023

You Can See Good Knight's Rest At The Quilting Bee

The Quilting Bee is pleased to present the fiber artwork "Good Knight’s Rest" by Ellen Howard. This work combines Howard's love of sewing and art into a unique soft sculpture. Made entirely of cotton muslin, it features a knight’s tomb effigy as a full-size figure, presented atop quilted shields that resemble relief carvings. The idea first emerged in 1978 and was recorded in a sketchbook. The title preceded the actual completed artwork by 44 years and prompted some details in the quilted decoration.

After her retirement from teaching art at Cleveland Central Catholic High School in 2014, there was time to focus on the figure. After a few trips to Cleveland Museum of Art’s armor court, she determined that her own stature could be used to create proportions like those in some shorter medieval armor. Experimentation with machine quilting on her 45-year-old sewing machine resulted in a pattern to suggest chain mail.  The entire work reflects an original concept worked out with assorted interfacing and batting supports along with an eye towards three-dimensional design. An experienced seamstress, Ellen has produced mostly two-dimensional art before the knight emerged.  

The soft sculpture "Good Night’s Rest" won the People’s Choice award at The NEW NOW 2022 juried show presented by the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve at Tri-C Gallery East in the fall of 2022. You can see "Good Knight's Rest" in The Quilting Bee's window, 15709 Detroit Avenue, from Friday, August 4 through Monday, August 7. Stop in to meet the artist, Ellen Howard, on Saturday, August 5 from 12 pm to 3 pm. 

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Volume 19, Issue 15, Posted 2:44 PM, 08.02.2023

Suleman Dawood

Suleman Dawood*

Not to be forgotten, Suleman,

But what about the thousands

Drowned trying to find a better way?

Your name is in the paper

And that of your father

You look(ed) alike

So smiling warm happy

An adventure with dad

Your mom must be grieving so

Like the legions of relatives of the others


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Volume 19, Issue 13, Posted 6:16 PM, 07.05.2023

Birthday Tribute Concert By Congito Jaffe For Lyricist/Poet Lady Ives

Congito Jaffe, noted local singer/songwriter returns to the stage at the Blue Cafe, 15715 Madison Avenue in Lakewood on Saturday, June 24th at 7pm, for a FREE concert celebrating the lyrical poetic work of Lady Ives and the vocal and guitar contributions of Congito.

Congito has been at the elegant Blue Cafe several times for well-reviewed concerts and this current tour supporting his current CD. As a reviewer recently noted,"the expressive lyrics, mellow guitar, and rich vocal styling transport the listener to a warm espresso-scented environment reminiscent of a 1971 coffeehouse vibe on a beach in paradise."

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Volume 19, Issue 12, Posted 2:19 PM, 06.07.2023

WordStage Presents “Oscar Bram And Walt”

On Saturday, June 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in the Wright Chapel of the Lakewood Presbyterian Church WordStage Literary Concerts presents an intriguing program about the visits Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker made (on separate occasions) to the then controversial American Poet Walt Whitman.     

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Volume 19, Issue 11, Posted 3:10 PM, 05.17.2023

CityMusic Cleveland Concludes 19th Season With A Grand Finale Concert In Lakewood

Haydn’s elegant Cello Concerto in D soars under the bow of Edward Arron, together with orchestral works by Schubert, Mendelssohn and Chen Yi as CityMusic Cleveland's 2022-23 concert season comes to an end.

The final performance will take place at 3:00 p.m., May 21st at Lakewood Congregational Church located at 1375 West Clifton Boulevard.

CityMusic is delighted to welcome guest soloist and cellist, Edward Arron, a graduate of the Juilliard School and frequent performer on American Public Media’s Performance Today. “We are thrilled to conclude our season with such a talented soloist and an exciting program,” said Eugenia Strauss, CityMusic Cleveland’s Executive Director. “Our free concerts and making classical music accessible to all has always been a cornerstone of our mission, and we look forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary by continuing to bring world-class music to Northeast Ohio's communities." This concert is free and open to the public. No advanced tickets or reservations are required.

For more information on the concert series, please visit


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Volume 19, Issue 10, Posted 3:10 PM, 05.17.2023

Lakewood Project 20th Reunion Concert

On May 28th, twenty years of Lakewood High School alumni will return to the Lakewood Civic Auditorium to perform in The Lakewood Project 20th Reunion Concert. With a theme of “Modern Rock,” the first act of the concert will be performed by the group’s current high school members. Alumni will join current students on stage in the second half of the concert, performing favorite songs chosen by alumni including “Carry On My Wayward Son,” “Don’t Stop Believin,” and “Beat It.” Previous members of The Lakewood Project will be traveling from across the country to perform together in a celebration of music, community, and Lakewood history.

The Lakewood Project Rock Orchestra was formed in 2003 as an innovative, cutting-edge approach to music education. The group features a rhythm section complete with drums, keyboard, electric guitar, and electric bass. The string section features two electric string quartets and two acoustic string quartets with double basses and harp. The group has performed at venues across the country. The Lakewood Project regularly performs three concerts a year, including at Lakewood Park on July 4th.

For twenty years, The Lakewood Project has inspired a lifelong love of music-making in its members. An impressive number of Lakewood Project alumni have established successful careers as musicians and music educators, with many others making a secondary income through music. As part of the reunion weekend, current members of The Lakewood Project will have the opportunity to attend a networking dinner, forming connections and gaining career advice with alumni working in many different fields.

The Lakewood Project 20th reunion will be an event that you do not want to miss. Come celebrate the strong and vibrant history of music in Lakewood with twenty years of Lakewood Project alumni.

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Volume 19, Issue 10, Posted 3:10 PM, 05.17.2023

Intact: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 134

The Dark - Dressing The Corpse - Scat Records - 17 songs - LP, digital

Aside from compilation appearances, this is (somewhat surprisingly) the first time The Dark has been released on vinyl. At their best, The Dark played a great hardcore/deathrock/goth mix— think Spike In Vain (also featuring guitarist Robert Griffin) if they weren’t quite so weird and a little less all over the place. The stuff here was recorded between 1981 and 1984; at the latest of those dates, at least by my calculations, drummer Dave Araca and bassist Scott Eakin were 16 years old and the other two, the aforementioned Robert Griffin and singer Tom Dark himself were not all that much older. You wouldn’t guess that this was a record by a bunch of teenagers, though: they’re very locked in, very tight, and very much know what they’re doing. It’s hard to beat songs like “Fire In The Church,” with its dissonant, spiky verses straight into the fastest chorus imaginable, or “The Voice Is Dead / Shattered Trust,” which I think best achieves the balance between goth and hardcore here (and I like the weird harmonic sweep thing the guitar does at one point, too). The second half of the album is a little weaker, both because it contains more of the shorter, faster ones (which aren’t bad but all go by so fast it’s kind of a blur) and because my biggest issue really comes up here, and that’s the source of the tracks. “I Can Wait” (which actually ends Side A and therefore isn’t really on the second half, but whatever) is one of their best songs, and there are at least three decent studio versions of it that I know of (all of which are on the “Scream Until We Die” double CD if you can still track that down anywhere)— so why did they choose a pretty lo-fi basement recording here? Same question with some of the live cuts— I know there’s a better recording of at least “You Got What You Wanted” (another great track), so why not use it? I just don’t get it, personally. (Note: I do not feel this way about the versions of “Screeching Metal” and “Put Your Hand Through The Plastic,” which sound raw but killer and I was shocked to learn were living room recordings until I saw that Matt Lindsay had a hand in mixing them for this record and thought, ‘yeah, he could probably pull that off’). There’s enough studio stuff to fill a whole LP so it seems unclear to me whether this was supposed to be “here it is, the best compilation of The Dark stuff” (which it doesn’t achieve for the aforementioned reasons) or an odds and ends collection, which it also doesn’t feel like because half of it is the studio stuff. I don’t know. I’m happy to have it and very happy that Scat seems to be heavily back in the reissue game, but I just think it could’ve been done in a less confused way and made for a better product. Even so: a solid representation of a great Cleveland band and worth hearing. 3.5/5

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Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

Spring Stroll & Arts Brunch

On Sunday, May 7, from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Downtown Lakewood Business Alliance is proud to premiere a new event to give a fresh spring twist to the concept of our ever-popular Chocolate Walk. Spring Stroll is a progressive brunch that celebrates the arts as attendees stop at 12 locations served by 14 business owners in Downtown Lakewood, each offering a brunch item and an arts component. Sip a Mimosa or a Lavender Lemonade while you enjoy a different art medium. The unique variety of artists will offer their works for sale as well as for enjoyment during the walk.

We're bringing the fun outdoors, too! Be sure to catch the high-energy performance of the St. Edward's Trash Talkers at Cotton!

Spring Strollers will also be given a Downtown Lakewood Business Alliance canvas tote containing gifts and coupons from local merchants and will be entered in a raffle to win a piece of art from Images Gallery.

Spring Stroll tickets are $35 and can be purchased at Tickets sales are limited to 200--get yours now before they sell out! 21 and over, please.

Stops on the Spring Stroll are: Aladdin's; Avenue Home; Blossom; Cotton with Veterans Logistics; Forage; Geiger's; Images Photographic Art Gallery; lion and blue; Melt Bar & Grilled; Rozi's Wine House; Sauced Taproom with Edward Jones; and Tea Lab.

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Volume 19, Issue 8, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

WordStage Presents "Diamonds - The Poetry Of Baseball"

In honor of a new season of "America's Game," WordStage is pleased to present "Diamonds" - a celebration of the Boys (and Girls!) of summer. From Ernest Thayer's iconic "Casey at the Bat" to Grantham Rice's "Casey's Revenge," baseball has inspired some of America's greatest poets and writers to create dozens of dazzling works of literature, both praising and damning this annual rite of spring.

The words of Franklin P. Adams, Marianne Moore, May Sarton, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and many more, extol the excitements, sorrows and memorable moments of this marvelous game.

"Diamonds - the Poetry of Baseball " will be performed at the Wright Chapel of the Lakewood Presbyterian Church - 14502 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, Ohio at 7: 00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29th. Tickets may be reserved by calling 440-857-0717 or by purchasing them with cash or check at the door. Tickets are $20 General Admission/$15 Seniors/$10 Students.

For more information about this and other WordStage performances throught the 2023 Season please visit

Tim Tavcar is the Producing/Artistic Director of WordStage Literary Concerts in residence at the Wright Chapel in the Lakewood Presbyterian Church.

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Volume 19, Issue 8, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

Lakewood Musician Colin Dussault Honors Memory And Legacy Of Friend And Cleveland Baseball Icon John Adams

In honor of my friend John Adams who recently passed away, I will be releasing a tribute Two-Song CD later this week. Adams was a fixture on the Cleveland sports and music scene for decades. He spent nearly 50 years attending Cleveland baseball games and played his drum at nearly 4,000 major league contests from his perch high up in the bleachers at Indians and Guardians games.

John was also a co-founder and inaugural President of the Cleveland Blues Society. Among his many accomplishments with that organization was the "Blues Cruise" which he thought of and bankrolled with his own money. I was one of the first musicians to agree to work with John on his crazy adventure on the high seas of Lake Erie. The Blues Cruise has since sold out every year since its inception back in 2013. This year, the 2023 Blues Cruise will be held in honor of John's memory and will feature some of the original bands and musicians from that first night on the water. 

I played harmonica and sang, along with guitarist Jim Tigue, bassist/vocalist Eroc Sosinski and drummer Jimmy Stamper. We recorded, mixed and mastered a cover version of John Fogerty's "Centerfield" at Suma Recording on February 15, 2023. The song, with new lyrics which I composed about my friend John, is called "Left Centerfield," and will be released on April 7, 2023 in time for Opening Day at Progressive Field. Money from the sales of the Two-Song CD will be donated to a non-profit 501(c)3 charity that John Adams created to support the arts here in Cleveland. The fund is overseen by Confiance, LLC which I  am working in direct alliance with. 

The CD titled "LEFT CENTERFIELD-A TRIBUTE to JOHN ADAMS" will feature two versions of the song "Left Centerfield" based on "Centerfield" by John Fogerty with the new lyrics. (The song was licensed for release through Lionfish Music Publishing).


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Volume 19, Issue 7, Posted 4:16 PM, 04.05.2023

County Lines: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 133

Spike In Vain - Jesus Was Born In A Mobile Home - Scat Records - ?? songs - LP, digital, cassette

Note: I’m reviewing the LP here, which contains the entirety of the cassette (with an alternate version of one song inserted in its place), but with bonus material and in a rearranged order (for an experience truer to the original, I guess just pick up the tape). This finally completes the Spike In Vain trilogy (unless there’s more unknown stuff lurking somewhere, I suppose): this was the band’s second release, following up the classic “Disease Is Relative” LP. Sort of an in-between release with some live stuff scattered in, closer to “Disease” than to the later “Death Drives A Cadillac” material. Right off the bat, this is the least essential of the three records, but it’s still definitely worth hearing. For the most part, the best stuff is what was on the original tape— it’s pretty undeniable that “Little Voice That Betrays” and “Ugly And Damaged” and “Helga At The Square Dance” are among the best Spike In Vain songs (also I’d like to mention “Love Isn’t Hollow,” the final track on the tape, which was recorded in 1981 and I think is therefore the earliest released Spike In Vain recording– it’s a great track). However, while a lot of the live stuff on here is decent but kind of too lo-fi to really stick (though with titles like “Killing Frame Of Mind” and “Michael Landon Pukes On Your TV” there’s still something there), there’s an equal amount of great bonus stuff. The alternate recording of “Rejected By No. 12” is classic Spike In Vain; an extended live version of “Opus” is incredible and makes me wish they’d done this full thing for the “Disease Is Relative” album (though the version that is on there is still very good); “Swamp Baby Blues” points towards the more Gun Club-influenced sound of “Death Drives…”; the live version of “E.K.G.” here has an absolutely insane vocal performance; and “Strangeland County,” originally released on the excellent “They Pelted Us With Rocks and Garbage” comp, might be my favorite Spike In Vain song ever— who else sounds like this? This band is hardcore, goth, death rock, no wave, art rock, blues— and somehow it all works. While this may be the Spike In Vain record to get once you’re already into the band, it’s still definitely a record to get. 4/5

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 19, Issue 6, Posted 12:10 PM, 03.15.2023

Lots Of Water: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 132

Craig Bell - The Room In My Head - Gustav Records - 11 songs - CD, digital

Believe it or not, this is Craig Bell’s first ever solo album (there are two experimental digital-only albums, but those are by craigbell, not Craig Bell so they don’t count and they also weren’t released physically as far as I can tell and that actually is important— and “aka Darwin Layne” is a compilation so it also doesn’t count). Anyway. There’s a nice mix of stuff on here— some punk (like “Real To Me,” which sounds a lot like the Bizarros and has a hurdy-gurdy part— you don’t hear that every day!; and “2101” which I’m not sure what the significance is as a number but Craig makes it sound really cool), a psychedelic meditation (“Be Here Now”), two very different types of experimental music (the ominous “Who’s Watching The Watchers,” where Craig delivers a great vocal performance and “Careful With That Axe, Body Spray,” where he’s joined by fellow X__X members John Morton and Andrew Klimeyk for a true no wave freakout— is the title a little dumb? Maybe— I can’t really tell what he’s talking about), some genuinely great ‘60s throwback garage (“Out Of My Mind” and “Move Along,” both with some great keyboard; I especially like the former’s “everybody wants to be 007” bridge— if not for the modern production, you could tell me it was a song from “Nuggets” and I’d believe you), and some more straightforwardly pop material like “A Little Bird” and “Goodbye.” A lot of really good material to be found here. I think Craig sometimes gets overlooked amidst flashier or more out-there contemporaries/bandmates like David Thomas or John Morton, but hopefully people will hear this record. 4/5


Jenny Mae - What’s Wrong With Me? - Don Giovanni Records / Anyway Records - 14 songs - LP, digital

This is a compilation of singles and unreleased tracks by the late Jenny Mae. If you read Bela Koe-Krompecher’s "Love, Death & Photosynthesis," you know how interesting and tragic the Jenny Mae story is and if you haven’t, you should really read the book because it’s very good. Anyway (no pun intended)— I think this might be the best place to get into Jenny Mae. It’s a solid representation of her whole career and the various types of sounds she did. The first four tracks here are her earliest recordings and they immediately set the tone. “He Don’t Care About You” is a pretty solo keyboard ballad and the other three add drum machine. The keyboard hook on “Big Scary Face” will be stuck in your head, as will bits and pieces of most of these songs— Jenny Mae knew how to write a catchy melody. After that, there are a few tracks that were meant for her never-finished third album;

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Volume 19, Issue 5, Posted 8:21 PM, 03.01.2023

Meeting Lakewood Artist Victor Melaragno

Lakewood Is Art: a statement that is extremely true, and has been for a long, long, long time. Which brings me to an interesting conversation I had with Lakewood artist, husband, father, brother, naturalist and all around good guy, Victor Melaragno.

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Volume 19, Issue 4, Posted 12:20 PM, 02.15.2023

Series Of Lines: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 131

Cleveland Steamers - 10 More Steaming Piles Of Hit - Drome - 10 songs - LP, CD

Is the real news here that Drome Records is back or that Chris King (of Wild Giraffes fame) is now in this band? The Steamers’ last album prior to this was “Best Record Ever” in 2018, but they’ve had a few singles since then and now this brand new record. First thing, and it’s first because it’s what people are going to notice before anything else: the cover art and title of this record are terrible. Not only are they really dumb, but they don’t match the content here at all— you’d look at this and think it was a total novelty record, which it is not. Parts of this may have worked as a promo poster for the album or something but as artwork itself, it just does not, and I fear it may put off people who would actually enjoy the music. Anyway. This record is divided into two thematic halves (and “Love and Hate,” while basic, would’ve been a better title idea), which is pretty highbrow as far as this group goes. At first I liked the “Hate” side more, but upon repeated listening I think “Love” has the better songs. “Girl Like You,” “Water Balloon,” and “Marie” were a few highlights— good punky pop (or maybe poppy punk, I can’t decide). The style of the band’s music is pretty much unchanged from how it's always been, but the addition of Chris King certainly takes the band a step up (Cheese Borger, who usually sings, isn’t bad but delivers almost everything in a low monotone– the vocals of Meredith Rutledge-Borger are less present than usual on here but when she does appear she makes it count; there are several nice harmonies and backing vocals she provides) because he is very good– it’s been more than 40 years since the last Wild Giraffes single, but you wouldn’t know it from his voice. Side "Hate" has a slightly wider variety of stuff: the incredibly corny “Murder” (I’m sure the corniness is intentional since it’s so over the top); the bluesy “Bad Feelin’” (some good harmonica on this one); and my favorite of this side (and honestly, maybe the album), “Into The Cornfield,” which is as uptempo and punk as they get and Chris’s vocals are especially nuts. It’s a solid record and probably the most cohesive Cleveland Steamers album yet. 3.5/5

(Try a local record store or buy it on eBay from Cheese himself!)

Nick Cross - The Multiverse Waltz - Just Because Records - 9 songs - LP, digital

The text on the cover characterizes this as “guitar songs,” and while I suppose that’s somewhat accurate, it isn’t especially descriptive. This is far more laid back than Coffinberry or even Nick’s work in the Cross Brothers. Some songs fall into the indie folk/alt country genre(s), like the title track and “Turn To Blue,” whereas some stick closer to an indie rock sound, like “Azalea City” and “Darker Minds” (the latter of which was one of my favorites here). Nearly half (4 of the 9— this is mathematically true) are instrumentals, which is probably where the “guitar music” thing comes from. “On The Cosmic Telephone” and “Watch Me Disconnect” are sort of dreamy (and indeed, cosmic and disconnected); “Love You Same” almost sounds like a lullaby and I was picturing “Land Of Enchantment” as a soundtrack of sorts— I could see it (or hear it, I guess) in the background of some movie. Nick did this whole thing himself (apart from brother Tony showing up on “Doctor,” which added some nice harmony— it was another of the best ones on here, I think) and it does feel like a very solitary, homemade deal. The cover art doesn’t seem quite fitting for the music and almost feels tossed together (I was kinda wondering if it was a tribute to a different album cover perhaps) but hey: I liked the back cover, maybe it adds to the whole lo-fi charm of the thing, and anyway, you don’t play the sleeves, brother! I’ll admit I prefer the more upbeat stuff Nick has done (especially the Cross Brothers LP), but this is an interesting record with some nice songs on it. 3.5/5


Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 19, Issue 4, Posted 12:20 PM, 02.15.2023

You Gotta Make Up Your Mind: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 130 (Part 1)

V-3 - No One Speaks My Language Here - Bravecloud Records - 11 songs - LP

V-3 - Hit Dead Center With My Disease - Bravecloud Records - 10 songs - LP

V-3 - The Enemy Within - Bravecloud Records - 11 songs - LP

I was originally going to write this as three separate reviews but once I started on that endeavor I realized this way probably made more sense (especially since I think a lot of people are probably going to pick up all three as a unit anyway— and maybe that’s how they’re supposed to be heard, who can say). These three records are made up of recordings made (mostly) from 1986 to 1991 by the Jim Shepard/Nudge Squidfish/Roxanne Newman/Rudy Smith lineup of the group. I guess for context within the overall musical career of Jim Shepard this is a somewhat transitional era between the more experimental early stuff and the less experimental later stuff? I kinda think the experimental element was always present, but this material is a middle ground of sorts.

So what’s on all of these? All sorts of stuff! There’s some Shepard classics, like a pretty cool version of “4 Ever Low Man” and a killer “Photograph Burns.” There’s bizarre stuff, like “Reflector” (where Jim tells a story about a bike reflector being mistaken for something extraterrestrial over a pretty good instrumental) and “It Was Reported” (which is hard to describe but has multiple Shepard vocals while someone snaps their fingers to provide accompaniment). The liner notes (more on those later) say that they were going for “weirdo pop” but I don’t really know if I’m necessarily picking up on the pop part of that— certainly there’s a lot of very catchy and hooky material here, but is it necessarily pop? I will say that V-3 exists within Robert Pollard’s “four P’s”: pop/prog/psych/punk. They’ve got a little bit of some of those and a lot of others. Certain songs (“Inside Out Post,” “Voices In The Woods”) I wrote down in my notes as prog-punk. Definitely not a genre combo that a lot of people can pull off, but somehow V-3 makes it work. Roxanne Newman’s songs are pretty interesting, usually pretty dreamy and semi-psychedelic. “Songs Always Linger” and “Twisted Words” were my favorites of those. I especially like the tracks where both she and Jim play guitar— Jim’s style is already pretty chaotic (“Don’t Blame Me” is a good example) and, as the insert points out, Roxanne had no training in guitar, so that makes for a pretty noisy mix (see “It’s Not Easy” and “Prime Minister Keyes”). Two of these albums contain a really good song called “Go On” that’s about as close to true pop as they get (still pretty weird, though!)— they’re different but I can’t say that one or the other is superior.

 (available at your local record store or at a variety of distros: Goner, Total Punk, etc.)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 19, Issue 2, Posted 12:31 PM, 01.18.2023

All Over The Place: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 128

Joey Nix - Another Way To Do It - Just Because Records - 15 songs - LP, digital

This is my third time around with this record— I had the cassette two years ago and I had the CDr two years before that (it was called “Hardcore Bedtime” back then and was missing a song or two, as I recall). I think I’ve only reviewed it once before, but who knows. In any case, I am totally happy to review it again and elated it’s finally really out (the cassette was fine but unavailable to purchase anywhere that I could find; the CD I think Joey may have just given out to people at shows) because it is a very, very good album. Joey’s thing is a sort of lo-fi power pop with garage-y leanings, but differs from a lot of music in this category because it all seems very acoustic guitar-heavy, even when it’s with electric guitar. This is not the best way of explaining this but I hope it gets the point across that there’s something special going on here.

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Volume 18, Issue 22, Posted 1:51 PM, 11.16.2022

Final Fall Concert In Lakewood For Congito Jaffe

On Saturday, November 12th, 6pm-7:30 pm noted local singer songwriter Congito Jaffe will present his fifth performance at the Blue Cafe, 15715 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio.

Congito's fall tour has featured well received stops at Brent Kirby's 10x3 songwriters showcase at the Bop Stop, Blue Sky Brews in Cleveland and a slot performing and studying technique at John D. Lamb's retreat for songwriters in Harbor Springs Michigan.

This FREE event will feature new works by Congito and the lyrical richness of the noted poet Lady Ives, of Rocky River, Ohio principal lyricist of Congito's newest material.

Congito Jaffe is a singer/songwriter of melodic mellow folk music and veteran of Lakewood forums like Winchester songwriters' events, Kelly's pub and others. In the past he was director of InfoPLace, the career resource center for adults of Cuyahoga County Public Library, and a writer for Cleveland Jewish News--my recent political and social commentaries have appeared in JEWTHINK, the UK website of social issues.

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Volume 18, Issue 21, Posted 1:41 PM, 11.02.2022

Nightmare On Merl Avenue

As the fall season begins, so comes the time for tricks and treats. How do you plan to spend the spookiest holiday of the year? If you’re looking for something fun, free, and close to home on Halloween, consider attending the scariest experience Lakewood has to offer: Nightmare on Merl Avenue!

This year, Nightmare On Merl Avenue returns for its 4th consecutive season and its 9th season overall! This group of dedicated individuals comes together each spooky season to share their passion for Halloween and create free haunted pathways for the people of Lakewood. Each past year has come with an incredible production that hundreds of people enjoyed.

The past 2 seasons of Nightmare On Merl Avenue have been condensed versions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Halloween, the performance will return to the full version including the traditional pathway through the driveway and garage. Tons of cool lighting effects, creepy scenery, and terrifying scaring techniques will be featured this year!

Nightmare On Merl Avenue will be open from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Monday, October 31st, and admission will be FREE FOR ALL! The location is 13303 Merl Avenue, near Saint Edward High School. The event is open to all ages, but we recommend that children under the age of 12 are accompanied by an adult. Candy will also be given out to trick-or-treaters.


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Volume 18, Issue 20, Posted 11:56 AM, 10.19.2022

You Can't Kill Stupid Act1: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Part 125

Butterfield 8 - Luckiest Guy In The World - Banana Records - 10 songs - CD, digital

I don’t know if this counts as a reunion as I’m not sure Butterfield 8 had a stable lineup outside of Jim Butterfield himself, but here it is: their first release since 1990’s “Euclid Avenue.” I don’t know how remembered this band is in the grand scheme of ‘80s local power pop/new wave/alternative rock bands, but I know at least one person that insists that “I Just Came To Dance” is actually the best record ever from Cleveland, so there you go. There are names on this that you’d recognize from other Banana releases and beyond: Rick Christyson, Jinni Fontana, La Farrell, etc. I’ve listened to this several times and I’m slightly baffled by it. I like it and I’m baffled by that too. It’s power pop, basically, and of course I like that kind of thing a whole lot. I hear music all over the production spectrum and I am most confused by this record— it’s bizarre. The drums are super clean and way too upfront most of the time (which draws attention to missed fills in a couple places) and the vocals are also very forward and swamped in reverb. Some of the songs are way too long— the opening “How It Goes,” which despite this is kinda really good, clocks in at five whole minutes. “Let Me Out” (another highlight) has keyboards that sound like strings AND keyboards that sound like horns. I really like “Misinformation” with its ridiculous keyboard (the line about someone thinking he’s having a breakdown despite the fact that it wasn’t in the newspaper is a good one— Jim, I’m sorry, but I have now reported this information (misinformation?) in a newspaper). Lowlight “Tropical Shuffle” is way too beachy for my tastes and also features one of the worst keyboard horns I’ve ever heard. “Fine, Fine, Fine” all of a sudden takes a turn into Alice In Wonderland references (including this line: “just like Alice, I mix love with malice”). There’s a lot here that is so weird and maybe objectively speaking shouldn’t (some would say doesn’t) work at all and yet I am so charmed by this record. Jim has a really interesting voice— sometimes it sounds like old comrade Kevin McMahon, sometimes it sounds like a more normal Doc Dart, like on Doc’s solo album. There’s over the top keyboard, there are some excellent guitar parts a few times, and, I’ve gotta say, some really good songs on here. I found myself genuinely touched by “Luckiest Guy.” I don’t know what kind of audience this is gonna reach nor what kind of audience it’s looking for, but hey, give it a chance. It’s a nice little record. 3/5


Dollar Drafts - Tres Jabronis -  - 4 songs - 7”, digital

A source of mine told me my review of this record could just be “fat guy punk rock from Cleveland” and I cannot really dispute that. Musically, these Dollar Drafts have a pretty good thing going on: punk with notable hard rock leanings, catchy riffs and tunes, tightly performed. Where it falls apart a bit for me is in the lyrics, which, while I can appreciate the intentions of a song like “Racist Fuck” or “Too Old For The Pit…”  tends a little too close to novelty for me to fully enjoy. Those with a higher tolerance for that kind of thing should check it out because if you can ignore the words or don’t mind them, it does rock, I can’t lie. 3/5


Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.


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Volume 18, Issue 19, Posted 5:33 PM, 10.05.2022

Portrait Quilts On Display At The Quilting Bee

The Quilting Bee's windows are decorated with one-of-a-kind portrait quilts by fiber artist Joanna Ellis. Joanna’s quilts have been featured in numerous publications, including the most recent edition of Quilting Arts Magazine. Her creations have been displayed at several quilt shows, including the prestigious Houston International Quilt show. Two of her recent pieces – "Fascination" and "First Bite of Summer" - will be exhibited in Houston this November.

Joanna, a member of the Lakewood High School Class of ’67, currently resides in Parma. Her fiber art journey began with needle and bobbin lace, weaving, and spinning. She discovered art quilts after creating her first quilt – a tumbling block pattern – in 2015. Her art quilt subjects include people and animals.

You can meet the artist on Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 10 a.m. at The Quilting Bee, 15709 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood. Joanna will discuss her creative process, share some additional art pieces, and answer your questions. Call 216-712-6579 to reserve a spot – space is limited. Please consider a donation at the door – which will be given to Turtle Survival Alliance, one of Joanna’s favorite charities.

Joanna’s quilts will be on display in The Quilting Bee's windows until September 30, 2022.

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Volume 18, Issue 18, Posted 12:38 PM, 09.21.2022

Strike Up The Band: Lakewood Light The Night Music Fest Fund Raiser For The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Following the great hiatus, lifelong Lakewood resident, stalwart and impressario, Billy Blatz, is back once again hosting his annual family-friendly autumn fundsaiser benfiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Northestern Ohio.

The outdoor festivities will be held Saturday, September 10th from 2:00-8:00 p.m. at the Mercury Lounge (formerly The Avenue Tap House ),18206 Detroit Avenue and will be held rain or shine. Admission is $10.

Headlining this year's celebrity bartenders is Olympic Gold Medal Pole Vaultist, Katie Nageotte, of the Lakwood Nageottes, along with perennial favorites, Jennifer Scott and Lakewood legend, Ralphie. The bands featured are Cats on Holiday and Pompous Ass.

"I've had people very close to me pass on from leukemia," says Billy, who grew up on Edwards and Detroit and still lives with his family in town. Moreover, Billy's longtime friend - see Team Hout - has been waging the battle against leukemia and lymphoma. "So the quest to find a cure has been a real personal purpose in my own life for a number of years and I've seen how it can help in saving lives."

Some two years back, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Northeastern Ohio tapped Billy on the shoulder, asking him to come out to Independence. He was welcomed to cheers of recognition for the committed and tireless work he has performed and the money raised over the past years.

"The respect for Billy from the people at the foundation is impressive and heartwarming," says Jackie Ramey, who helped host the event for five years, speaking about the recognition ceremony. "If you know him, he is very humble and unassuming. And to see people reflect that appreciation and glow is really something special."

This event happens rain or shine.

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Volume 18, Issue 17, Posted 5:29 PM, 09.07.2022

Congito Opens Fall Tour In Lakewood

Well known singer songwriter Congito Jaffe, featuring the poetic lyricism of Lady Ives and the melodic folk music of Congito will return to the Blue Cafe, 15715 Madison, Lakewood, at 6:30 pm, Saturday, September 10 for a FREE concert.

Congito has been playing frequently this summer at esteemed venues including the Arabica coffeehouse in Amherst, the Root Cafe, Working Class Brewery and playing new works featuring the lyrics of published poet Lady Ives of Rocky River as well as material from his recent CD.

This is the fourth appearance by Congito at the Blue Cafe and as he stated, "It is always an honor to share my musical vision with the Lakewood fan base--every concert is a joyful event in a vibrant community."

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Volume 18, Issue 17, Posted 5:29 PM, 09.07.2022

Young Filmmakers Academy Gives Latest Film The Red Carpet Treatment: LHS Senior Marshall Vargas In Title Role

Young Filmmakers Academy in Lakewood is at it again. The internationally recognized, award-winning film program for kids and teens, now in its sixth year will premiere its new film titled "Star Player" on August 18 at the Sari Feldman Auditorium at Cuyahoga County Public Library's Parma-Snow Branch.

The film, which was written, directed and edited by area middle and high schoolers from Lakewood and surrounding areas, is about a teenage alien who crash lands on earth in 1987, joins the local baseball team and quickly becomes an all-star. But once his secret identity is revealed the town just might turn against him.

Produced by Young Filmmakers Academy and Executive Produced by Eric Swinderman, the Emmy nominated writer and director of the film "The Enormity of Life" starring Breckin Meyer and Emily Kinney, the short film will have its red carpet premiere alongside several other short films produced by YFA this year. Other films include "With Great Power," the story of two students at a school for Super Hero kids in the making, who are having a bad day, as well as several scenes shot by the students of the after school 8 Week Film School.

Star Player features performances from Lakewood student, Marshall Vargas, who plays the title role as well as Sofia Castellanos, Jayson Skudrin Jr., Aidan Benjamin and Victoria Sequera. The cast is rounded out by professional adult actors Andrew Gordon and Angie Prohaska.

The event is open to the public which starts at 6pm and is followed by a Q&A with the teen filmmakers and cast. Tickets are on sale now at

Proceeds benefit Lakewood Young Filmmakers Academy, a nonprofit organization located on Madison Ave.


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Volume 18, Issue 16, Posted 3:16 PM, 08.17.2022

"Infamous" The Musical, Written By Lakewood Native, Debuts In Staged Concert

"Infamous," a musical about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, will debut as a staged concert this September at St. Edward High School. 
Writer and composer David Michaels grew up in Lakewood, living here for the first 30 years of his life before moving to Fairview Park with his wife Adriana and 3-year-old daughter Maddie. He’s currently the orchestra and choir director at St. Edward High School, his alma mater. “I’ve been a musician ever since I could remember," David said. "I come from a very musical family.” He said that he had long held passions for both music and theater.
“I’ve always wanted to write a musical since I was a little kid,” Michaels explained. “So I’ve always been waiting for that idea to come and kind of stick with me.”
Inspiration struck while Michaels was on a family vacation to the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan, where the chair that Lincoln was assassinated in is on display. David thought, “You know what? That would be a really interesting play.” He read the book "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O’Reilly as well as works by historian James L. Swanson about Lincoln’s assassination and the manhunt that followed. Michaels followed up with a research trip to Washington, D.C. to see Ford’s Theater in person.
Staged readings of "Infamous" began in 2021. Developmental workshops followed at Cleveland State University, and a staged concert at St. Edward High School will follow in just a few weeks with lighting, scenery, and a full pit orchestra. Michaels wrote the book, lyrics, and music of the show himself. Two-time Tony-award-winning producer Ken Davenport is the production coach for "Infamous," Beck Center’s Scott Spence directs, and most of the cast and crew are Cleveland natives.
Two members of Abraham Lincoln’s former church in Washington D.C. are in talks to bring the show there. Michaels’ dream is to have it land on Broadway, and believes the musical has the legs to get it there, though he knows that there’s a long way to go in the development of the show. “We’re hoping that the sky’s the limit, and that this thing flies as high as it can go.” Lin-Manuel Miranda himself sent the production team his well-wishes.
When asked what he’d say to critics who may think that the plot sounds reminiscent of the musical "Assassins" by Stephen Sondheim, Michaels responded, “Assassins covers every single assassin for every single president of the United States of America. Not to mention the musical stylings are highly different. This is a narrowed focus on that one singular event in history. So just because John Wilkes Booth is a character in Assassins doesn’t mean that they are equitable. They are highly different. This is a nod to history, and it really dives into the psyches of John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln, and what was going on in their minds during that chaotic time."
David feels "Infamous" is a “very timely” show. “It deals with division. It deals with a divided nation, which we currently are. It’s a parallel, a big mirror. When we look at history through the lens of today, we realize that we’re still divided.” Michaels mentioned Lincoln’s famous quote, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Of the production, he said, “It’s a show that preaches a message of unity. It seeks to show how what happened is not the answer, and that we are Americans, and that we can come together and unite.”
The show runs September 9th through 11th at St. Edward High School (13500 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, Ohio 44107). On September 9th and 10th, the curtain is at 7:00 pm, and on September 11th, the curtain is at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at There will be a limited number of tickets available at the door.

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Volume 18, Issue 16, Posted 3:16 PM, 08.17.2022

Lakewood Arts Festival Real Art, Real Music, Real Food Saturday, August 6, 10 AM-6 PM

For one shimmering summer day, Lakewood closes Detroit Avenue, between Belle and Arthur Avenues, to bring artists of all disciplines together along with 15,000 collectors and art lovers. The juried festival hosts over 160 regional and national artists and makers displaying paintings, prints, photography, art glass, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, fiber and more.  

Returning to the festival this year will be Brett Mason, a Pittsburgh native, who brings evocative landscapes in both oil and watercolor. “The Lakewood Arts Festival always gets a great crowd who are really receptive and supportive of my work. For this, I make it one of my very few shows out of Pittsburgh.”  Additional fine artists include prints by Michael Brabant, paintings by Paul Fletcher and ceramics by Mark Yasenchak. Phillippe Laine from Palm Beach, Florida, a festival favorite, offers one-of-a-kind hand-painted silk fabric. Posch and Gulyas, fine jewelers, hand fabricate original designs from sterling silver sheet and wire, often featuring gemstones, gold, and enamel for color.

Originally founded in 1978 to bring artists to the city for a street festival, in 1981 the Board of the non-profit decided to fund an annual scholarship for Lakewood seniors continuing to art school. After the Festival, the Board will present $4,000 to the 2022 recipient, Inga Wilhelmy, who will attend the Rhode Island School of Design this fall.

The event also funds grants for arts education and programming in the city. Recent awardees include the Lakewood High School Photography Club, The Barton Center (senior arts activities), The Beck Center for the Arts (Saturday programs) and Lakewood High School Art, Theater and Photography programs.


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Volume 18, Issue 15, Posted 8:09 PM, 08.03.2022

Nothing To Worry About

Nothing to Worry About

Parents, grandparents, friends:

Enjoy your children until they’re gone

Until some crazed young man

Unhappy, unhinged, with weapons close at hand

(more and more every day)

Decides that TODAY is the day of his glory

When he, till now unknown, is famous

But soon gone (usually gunned down)

Thankfully for us

(to not have to spend time on his just desserts)

Thankfully for him

(as he might some day realize the horror of his deed).

Don’t worry about it!

Pretend he is not lurking


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Volume 18, Issue 12, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.15.2022

Mellow Melodic Acoustic Concert At Blue Cafe

Congito Jaffe, local singer songwriter will present his third free concert Saturday June 18th at 6:30 pm at the Blue Cafe in Lakewood. Jaffe shares the lyrical richness of Rocky River poet Lady Ives and his melodic vocals and subtle guitar wizardry as his Spring tour of Lakewood venues continues.

Congito Jaffe is a singer songwriter of melodic mellow folk music and a veteran of Lakewood forums like Winchester songwriters events, Kelly's pub and others. In the past he was director of InfoPLace, the career resource center for adults of Cuyahoga County Public Library and a writer for Cleveland Jewish News--my recent political and social commentaries have appeared in JEWTHINK, the UK website of social issues.

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Volume 18, Issue 12, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.15.2022

Recapping A Festive Free Comic Book Day 2022

When I heard about SuperScript Comics opening up, in early 2020, I hoped they would succeed but thought it might be tough. Especially as a pandemic took hold followed by lockdowns and social distancing.

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Volume 18, Issue 10, Posted 2:00 PM, 05.18.2022

LHS Teacher Publishes Memoir

Longtime Lakewood resident and teacher and Carey, OH, native Joseph Jacoby has written a memoir of his experience growing up in the 1950’s and ‘60’s in rural, small town Ohio. The book, "Singing Around the Piano: Postwar Life in Carey, Ohio," is a portrait of his family as well as a sketch of the church, school, and community. “I just felt at this point in my life, I wanted to be honest and really say what was going on then,” Jacoby says.

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Volume 18, Issue 10, Posted 2:00 PM, 05.18.2022

Ukulele Workshop In Lakewood

Mysteries of the Ukulele Revealed!

Ukulele Magazine calls Cleveland “one of the most rockin’ ukulele scenes in the country.” The Northeast Ohio Ukulele group will be rockin’ right here in Lakewood with Peter Luongo, one of the world’s most experienced and preeminent ukulele teachers. Peter founded the internationally renowned Langley Ukulele Ensemble - a student group that under his tutelage performed for 25 years at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort. Peter also taught the amazing ukulele artist, James Hill and was also prominently featured in the award-winning film, "The Mighty Uke."

Peter will present a two-hour workshop, “Unlocking the Mysteries of the Fretboard” which will help ‘advanced beginner’ to ‘advanced’ ukulele players learn to use the full fretboard to play chords, finger pick, continue to develop ear playing, learn ‘user friendly’ music theory, and play solos by combining melody and harmony.

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Volume 18, Issue 7, Posted 11:55 AM, 03.16.2022

Quality Time Reunion: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 124

Marty Brass - Painted Glass - Just Because Records - 8 songs - cassette, digital

I was going to call this the debut solo release from Marty Brass until I remembered “On The Grass” from a couple years ago– but I don’t know, can you really count a digital-only release as a true debut? Perhaps things are going that way but I suppose I think of it as the equivalent to what a demo tape before a first album used to be. Does this make any sense? Anyway. Marty, who you may remember from The Nico Missile, Pig Flayer, and Red Devil Ryders and who you really ought to remember because he shreds, comes out with an eight song tape here. At first I was gonna call it garage rock but that would be a bit misleading because I think at its core this is actually far closer to power pop, it just has a grungy production style and freewheeling sloppiness (affected or not, I can’t decide) that begs you to call it garage but most of it just isn’t quite garage. This is in no way a slight and I hope it doesn’t read that way– I love power pop and would love to see Marty openly do that kind of thing. The first three songs here are all excellent– “Meet Me Outside” is the perfect hooky opener (and it has a dramatic “bum ba-bum” bridge that I love– you’ll know exactly what I mean when you hear it); “Someone Real” has a little bit of the ‘80s vibe melodically that’s worked so well for Marty’s contemporary and sometimes bandmate Ricky Hamilton; and people might think this is a weird comparison but something about “Crystal Clear” reminds me of “Rose Parade” by Elliott Smith. “Lori” closes out the first half here and is pretty decent garage pop with some excellent guitar work. The flip side opens with “Hot Connection,” a bit of a slower one with a great guitar solo, but it’s here that I’ll address my biggest criticism of this tape: the almost complete inaudibility of the vocals. You can pick up the melodies clearly and a phrase or two every so often, but they’re swamped in reverb and buried in the mix. I get that it’s a stylistic choice but at this point it’s almost a cliche move and I’m sure Marty has interesting things to say in his lyrics, so why not let us hear them? “Hot Connection” and “Meet Me Outside” are probably the worst offenders but it persists through the whole tape. Just my two cents. We get a cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic “Dead Flowers” transposed nicely to the Marty Brass style. It’s obviously a great song and a decent version (although I wish he’d stuck with the original harmonies) but in a way it’s the least interesting and least successful track here. “The Green Corvette” is another garage/punk/pop tune and in “Keep It Swinging, Bob” we get a dumb punk rocker to close things out and why not? So yeah, a very good and very enjoyable tape for the most part– certainly some room for improvement but definitely worth the listen. Marty Brass still shreds, some seven years on from the first time I said that in one of these reviews. 3.7/5


Richard Hamilton - Memory Palace - Tetryon Tapes - 12 songs - cassette, digital

The third release under the Richard Hamilton moniker and the hits just keep coming. I suppose the past couple years have been prolific ones for our friend Ricky. "Psychomanteum," the opening track here, is him at his best– a great lo-fi indie rock track with some hooky keyboards and a great pop melody. Other highlights include "Real Neat," with its guitar riff slightly reminiscent of "Picture Book" by the Kinks (or that Green Day song that

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Volume 18, Issue 6, Posted 11:56 AM, 03.16.2022

Make Evocative Noise: Reviews Of Recent Releases, Pt. 123

Burning Plastic Blues Band - Burning Plastic Blues Band - Metaphysical Barbecue - 6 songs - cassette, digital

This is the latest project from longtime friend of the column Noah Depew. It’s not, despite what the name might have you believe, a blues band (although I suppose that could depend on your definition of blues– it’s blues if you’re very openminded about that kind of thing) but experimental, largely synth-based instrumental music– sometimes closer to noise, sometimes closer to new age. We’ve seen this kind of thing from Noah before here, but I’ve gotta say I think this might be his best work in this field yet. Each of the six tracks here has something going for it, they all stand out from one another, and sure, maybe you’ve gotta be in the right zone to appreciate it, but when you’re in that zone it is quite good. A recurring thought that came to mind while listening is that Burning Plastic Blues Band could do excellent things if tasked with soundtracking a movie– clearly Noah understands how to make evocative noise. We’ve got hypnotic tracks like “Drug Mart Blues”– sometimes wandering through Drug Mart does feel quite a lot like this sounds. You can kinda lose yourself in it. I don’t know if I’m talking about Drug Mart or the song. Maybe both. On “Vaporize Skin And Hair” we get some pretty groovy guitar– it’s still not exactly your traditional blues but it might be the closest thing here (honestly, I wouldn’t have even been surprised if this tape turned out to be more like what we think of as blues; Noah is proficient enough as a musician that it would probably be great). “Bastard Posture I & II” does indeed form a kind of semi-suite. There’s a great part here where the track has descended into a slow, eerie kind of rumble and then some twinkling, chirpy synth comes back in like bluebirds flying through a haunted forest, kicking off a kind of war of moods that continues through the rest of the track. In my book (and I’m no expert on the experimental, to be fair and honest), this is a solid example of this kind of jam. Or kosmiche. Or whatever. 3.7/5


Spike Pit - Bastard Of No Future - Big Spike Says Fuck You - 12 songs - LP, digital, cassette

Local animals, maniacs, and now bastards Spike Pit return with their third album, and since this actually came out in 2021, they probably already have the next one ready to go. They may be maniacs, but they're prolific maniacs. You oughta know the Spike Pit sound by now, I've been writing about them long enough– too punk for heavy metal, but probably not too heavy metal for punk. I don't know, I'm no authority on hardcore scene politics these days. They have their usual diverse array of lyrical inspiration here– their fans ("Bitch Like Pit"), addictions ("Resin Hell," "Made That Way," and maybe "Hot Milf"), murder ("Devil's Son," "Tarrare," 6 Feet Deep"), misanthropy ("People Stink"), and other personal issues ("Hungry"). A

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Volume 18, Issue 6, Posted 12:27 PM, 03.02.2022

Really: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 122

Napsack - Put You First - Just Because Records - 7 songs - cassette, digital

Another debut release from Just Because, which seems to be on a roll with "discoveries" lately. Napsack plays catchy, mostly laid back indie rock of a poppy sort. Somehow I could tell they were a trio even before I looked it up and discovered I was correct if that tells you anything about their sound. A pretty decent seven songs here and some ascending to be even better than decent. My picks for favorites would be the opening "Hair" (bad whistling at the end and all), "Be There" (which has some quality that reminds me a lot of Snail Mail– I would be willing to bet they share some influences), and "Old Things," which of the two slow and somber ones here is definitely the winner. The singer's voice reminds me a lot of the singer from Trampoline Team and a bit of the singer from Cruel, Cruel Moon, although their sound is definitely much closer to CCM. Not a bad debut at all, certainly a band I'll be keeping an eye on in the future. 3.5/5


Sept Le Charme - The Seven - Say-Tan Records - 2 songs - 7", digital

I am sometimes, with a certain type of metal band, unable to tell whether it should be taken seriously or not. Like, how much does a band buy into their own doom and gloom and evil and scariness and all that kind of thing, you know? I find it particularly difficult to tell with this one. Some signs point to yes, some to no. The main reason for this as far as the record here is concerned is singer/lyricist Randy Rosko– the press release I was sent for this tells me "he takes very little influence from the music world" and that he is "truly like no other." I will back both of these claims up. He doesn't really sing, but he also doesn't exactly talk– he delivers, I don't know how else to put it. Said delivery is very over the top, but it's hard to say whether it's intentionally comical in a sort of B-horror movie way (which is mentioned as an influence, so there's that, but so is the decidedly unfunny realm of 19th century British romantic poetry) or he's taking himself entirely seriously. The aforementioned press release also uses the words "mystical" and "genius" to describe two of the members, two things that should never be used in a completely straight way when referring to oneself. The name of the label is "Say-Tan." But you know what, they've got some genuine cred here in that their guitarist is Siki Spacek of Cleveland l

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Volume 18, Issue 4, Posted 8:36 AM, 02.16.2022

Richard Hawkins, Clarinet, And Faculty Friends From Oberlin College

With great excitement the Rocky River Chamber Music Society announces that it will be returning to its home at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church for its third concert on February 28 at 7:30 p.m. There will be both a live audience and live streaming.  Masks will be required as soon as there is entry into the building. 

Clarinetist and educator from Oberlin College Conservatory, Richard Hawkins, will be setting the scene for the evening.  He and faculty friends from Oberlin will showcase the contrasting styles of wind music with piano and strings.  Altogether seven musicians will be involved including the shorter works of Franz Schreker and Valerie Colman, and the longer work, Sextet in C major, by Hungarian composer Ernὄ Dohnányi.  The Sextet is well known in Cleveland’s musical circles since Ernὄ Dohnányi was the grandfather of The Cleveland Orchestra’s sixth music director, Christoph von Dohnányi.  As one might surmise, all six players will take part in the Sextet in C major.  

The seven artists that will be performing at the concert on February 28 all have a connection with Oberlin College Conservatory.  All have been having extraordinary careers.  The Icelandic violinist, Sibbi Bernhardsson, joined the Oberlin Conservatory in 2017, after spending the past 17 years with the Pacifica Quartet.  He appeared on 16 recordings with the Pacifica Quartet, and has appeared world-wide with many well-known artists including the Guarneri and Cleveland Quartets.  Kirsten Doctor, viola, is currently Associate Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at Oberlin Conservatory.  For 23 years before that, she was an award-winning member of the Cavani String Quartet, which performed on such stages as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.  In 1992, clarinetist Richard Hawkins made his debut with the Kennedy Center and the National Symphony Orchestra and Mstislav Rostropovich.  Hawkins is known for his work in teaching, contemporary, chamber, and orchestral music.  He joined the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory in 2001, and in addition to his performance career pursues his passion for advancing the history of woodwind instrument design. 


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Volume 18, Issue 4, Posted 7:12 PM, 02.02.2022

The Music Settlement And West Shore UU Church Offer Special Black History Month Concert At West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church

On Sunday, February 27 at 4 pm, you are invited to attend a special concert in honor of Black History Month to be held in the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church Sanctuary, located at 20401 Hilliard Boulevard in Rocky River. The concert is free and open to the public. Masks are required to be worn in the church at all times.

The concert features Oberlin Conservatory’s Associate Dean Christopher Jenkins on viola with soloist, accompanist and educator Dianna White-Gould on piano. The music will focus on African-American composers, particularly those with significant relations to Cleveland and Ohio.

According to David Blazer, West Shore’s Director of Music, the concert is being paid for through a grant by the Music Settlement, located in University Circle, that offers a wide variety of music instruction. “This special concert marks the return of a long-standing pre-Covid era collaboration between West Shore and The Music Settlement, which is underwriting the cost of the concert.”

Founded in 1912, The Music Settlement is a centuries-old community music school forged out of the Settlement Movement as a way to welcome immigrants to Cleveland and unite them through the common language of music. Today it offers music therapy, early childhood education, and music instruction to people of all ages and levels of experience in Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The school is located in The Burke Estate in University Circle as its main campus, which now encompasses five buildings across more than 56,000 square feet.

Per Blazer, “We are proud to co-sponsor this amazing concert, which features high caliber musicians offering a unique musical perspective to the public.”

Violist Christopher Jenkins is the Associate Dean for Academic Support at Oberlin Conservatory. He is currently earning a DMA in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Ph.D. in musicology from Case Western Reserve University, where his performance and research focuses on the music of African-American composers. The American Society for Aesthetics awarded him a curriculum diversification grant for his annotated bibliography on sources related to the aesthetics of African-American classical music, and the Irene H. Chayes “New Voices” award for his paper reimagining the practice of classical music through the lens of Black aesthetics. Mr. Jenkins was a 2003 laureate of the Sphinx Competition, and was Dean of the Sphinx Performance Academy for seven years prior to coming to Oberlin. His alma maters include Harvard University, Columbia University, New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music.


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Volume 18, Issue 3, Posted 7:12 PM, 02.02.2022

I Yell Oi! And I Punch You: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 121

Machine Go Boom - When We're Ghosts - Just Because Records - 10 songs - cassette, digital

The unexpected return of Machine Go Boom, a whopping fourteen years since their previous album "Music For Parents." Avid MGB fans will be thrilled to learn that they sound largely the same as ever, perhaps older and wiser, perhaps not. In any case, the opening track here, "Oh, The Cold," immediately proves that they haven't lost it– it certainly shows the band at the height of their powers as a catchy, scrappy indie rock group (and plus, it's got the classic acoustic start to full band after first chorus bit; you can never go wrong with that). Other highlights here for me were the hooky lo-fi "You're An Adult," the big fast electric number (i.e. the "Madeline Isn't Coming Home" of this record) that is "Situation Comedy," the beachy feel of "Ape Sounds," and the quiet acoustic ballads "Chop Chop" (which repeats the quiet front half into full band big ending trick, but I don't mind at all) and "On A Sovereign Coast." The other songs here, however, have their good parts and definitely have the Machine Go Boom signature sound, but in some way or another just don't have enough going on. Several songs are driven by the same uninspired drum beat played with absolutely no change throughout the whole song, and you'd be astonished how something as simple as that can doom an otherwise decent song like "It's Funny" or "Body Costume"– or, even worse, when the rote drums collide with a song where there's not enough happening melodically or musically and the lyrics are basically inaudible so there's really nothing to grab onto. I think on the whole the album's worth hearing, especially if you like nice sloppy '90s-inspired poppy rock music, or especially especially if you're already a fan– if you can look past the parts where it gets, forgive me for using such a strong negative word, boring, there are a lot of good songs here. Also, I think I mentioned this in the Suitor review as well, but big props to Just Because Records for putting out tapes that look so good and have matching download codes and all that; it's clear a lot of love goes into these releases and that's always good to see. 3.5/5


The Toughskins - Q: Are We Not Skins? A: We Are Dev-Oi! - My Mind's Eye - 10 songs - LP

Yes, this is exactly what you think it is. Everyone's favorite oi! group, Kent, Ohio's own Toughskins, play the songs of everyone's favorite new wave group, Kent, Ohio's own Devo. Musically they're pretty straight punk covers of the Devo songs (i.e. sped up and played with distorted guitars, no keyboards on here that I heard) with the lyrics changed so they appeal to the skins: from the obvious ("Mongol Oi! d"; "Freedom Of Ch Oi! ce") to the stupidly genius ("Mr. B's Moshpit," a favorite here for me; "Black Eye Express"; "Skinhead"). "Social Fools" retains its title, which is honestly funnier than any change made. Not everything is so blatant: one of my favorite moments here is when Dave– I mean Food– I mean Jimmy Mustang yells "that's pep!" during "Uncontrollable Oi!" instead of "that's right!"– not because it's an oi! thing but because it's a reference to a Devo song in a different Devo song. These are some true fans, these Toughskins. Actually most of the funniest moments come from the subtler changes as opposed to the yelling of "oi!" (though I'll never object to a well-placed "oi!" myself), like when instead of "he had a job" in "Mongoloid," it becomes "he had a WORKING CLASS JOB!" Also, every time Jimmy Mustang pronounces a long O sound, it sounds like he might slip into saying "oi!" I don't know if he's doing that on purpose or he's just conditioned that way from years of beating up hippies and having skinhead picnics. If all this sounds obnoxious to you, it probably will be, but if you're the target audience (Toughskins fan, Devo fan with a sense of humor) here I'm pretty sure you'll get at least a couple laughs from it. That's all for now. That's all we know. This is the end. Oi!

(you can contact My Mind's Eye at 216-521-666-0)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 18, Issue 3, Posted 1:56 PM, 01.19.2022

African Talent, In Chimoio

Hello People! My name is Fernanda. You may have seen me around town or read my story in the previous issue of The Lakewood Observer. In the last article, I told you that I arrived in Chimoio, Mozambique in Africa, and I started working on different projects with the community, children and teenagers. With the sun setting very early these days here in Lakewood I’ve been thinking of Chimoio and remembering the fun I had with the projects. The one that I’m going to share today was my favorite project for sure.

After spending a couple of weeks in the school in Chimoio, I started to feel less like the new person and more comfortable to offering my help with whatever they needed. One day I was talking with Teacher Carlos, he teaches culture, history and arts. He asked me if I had any experience in theater or in art, so I could help him in that area and do something new. I, of course said YES! I was so excited because I thought I could teach dance or theater, which are my favorite things to do! So, I proposed to him the idea of a Theater Club.

When I told the students about the idea to start a Theater Club, they got so excited and immediately asked me if they could show me a play they had. After they finished the play, I told them that it was amazing!!! and we should do a new play, and I’ll find a new option. Then I remembered that while I was in Brazil, I saw some teenagers learning the play “The Little Prince,” and they ended up giving me the script which was Portuguese. The situation couldn’t have been more perfect, because everyone in Chimoio speaks Portuguese, so I didn’t have to make any changes to it. When students read the script, they were so happy and came up with the idea to show the play at graduation as an artist number for everybody. I started to help them figure out and assign the roles that I thought were best for them. When we started to rehearse, I was so impressed with how talented they were! Unbelievably good!



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Volume 18, Issue 2, Posted 1:56 PM, 01.19.2022

December Art At Root Cafe

The Root cafe is happy to welcome and announce Wanda and Erika whose paintings and drawings will be showing at the Root Cafe through December.  

We are proud to offer a space for introducing to the public these creative talents which have been nurtured in one family through generations. Wanda can always remember her parents actively painting and sketching. Yet somehow, she felt as if this talent did not belong to her until her daughter Erica encouraged her and inspired her to pick up a pencil and to get to work being herself. How does one be an artist? How does one create? She attempted it and then joy and talent began to color her heart, bringing up emotions which she hadn’t even known before. Painting and art became Wanda’s escape in the hard times and a surface on which to map out the heart’s traffic in the good times. 

But what about young Erica? She has inspiration from parents and grandparents both. And Larry also. Some of her earliest memories were studying color with Grandapa, learning that there are words for colors like feelings, words like warm/cool or primary/ secondary. She remembers Grandma painting landscapes together with Uncle Larry. Always fearless, Erica found a natural wellspring of emotion when she hit charcoal. Finally Erica’s perfect clarity of raw emotion, lovingly developed in her family since childhood, has a natural home. It’s a shade of black or a strong line on a variously white or tinted canvas.  Come see black and white compositions in the hands of an expert colorist. Color gives you names for feelings. A black and white drawing can provoke different emotions in different viewers or various emotions in sequence as it is encountered by an individual viewer.  


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Volume 17, Issue 24, Posted 2:26 PM, 12.15.2021

Hours And Hours And Ours And Yours: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 120

Richard Hamilton - Kiss Touch 2000 - Tetryon Tapes - 9 songs - cassette, digital

This is now the second album from the ever-prolific Ricky/Richard Hamilton (stay tuned, a review of the third album will be in these pages soon). As I mentioned in my review of his previous work, "My Perfect World," I'm not sure whether you'd count this as his second, third, or fifth solo album, but I consider Richard Hamilton to be a separate project from works released as Ricky Hamilton, so I'm calling it his second. It definitely continues the general sound of "My Perfect World," although this one finds R.H. back to recording by himself without any extra musicians (supposedly– more on the credits of this thing in a minute). With these records under the Richard name, he's really gone wholeheartedly into ultra-hooky pop rock and once again he pulls it off on this tape. "My Very Own (Brooke Davis)" is a great opener (Brooke Davis is a character from One Tree Hill, I'm told, so if that grabs your attention maybe you'll know what he's talking about more than I do) and he's really elevated the already decent tune with some excellent little attention-grabbers: the synth line that sometimes seems completely dissonant (but in a good way) and sometimes sounds like a harmonica; the guitar lead towards the end that comes in with some mandolin-like tremolo picking. As bad as a song called "Kissing And Dreaming" should rightfully be, our friend Ricky somehow pulls it off and turns it into a good track. While "Playing The Fool Again" feels like it goes on forever, it's a good melancholy one and so it earns its place on here. I like the sorta backhanded lyrics of "Miss Ventura Country"; while it's undoubtedly an ode to the title character, there are a few rather snippy lines that are kinda reminiscent of "Bye Bye Love" by The Cars (a band I know Ricky is a fan of). There's a few covers on here as well: the Lee Hazlewood classic "Houston" (made famous by Dean Martin), which R.H. changes the beat of and in doing so alters it from country pop to his dreamy, jangly alternative pop sound in a way that works surprisingly well; Squeeze's classic tragedy "Up The Junction," which gets renamed "Up The Pavement" for some reason even though the lyrics remain unchanged (and we get a return of the classic Richard Hamilton faux-British accent); and "Go Ask Your Man," which I think is a Bob Lind song and finds Richard Hamilton at his most nasal, albeit in a way that kinda works for the song. Strangely enough, the credits on here say "all songs written by Richard Hamilton." I'm gonna assume this was an oversight as I certainly don't think Ricky is dishonest enough (or obtuse enough) that he would try to take credit for songs as popular as the ones he covers on here. I mean, there's not even a track list on this thing (I had to get it from Bandcamp), so I'm assuming it was just kinda hastily thrown together and that slipped through. In any case, another success for Richard Hamilton with this one. 4/5

( for digital, for the tape)

Suitor - Communion - Just Because Records - 10 songs - cassette, digital

I'm not entirely sure what the background is with this band (research is dead), but it's a new group and this is their debut release. Suitor's music is a very '80s-inspired mix of post-punk, new wave, and synthpop (with little hints of goth and what I believe the kids call dance punk sprinkled in). Usually I think bands that do this kind of thing are pretty dull, but I ended up liking this tape quite a bit. The

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Volume 17, Issue 23, Posted 2:04 PM, 11.17.2021

Shred It Again: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 119

Screaming Human Scum - Metally Ill - My Mind's Eye - 3 songs - 7"

S.H.S. is the (relatively) new solo project of Shaun Filley, who you might know from Wetbrain, Midnight, Puncture Wound, or many other pretty great bands. The title track is an excellent metal-punk track with appropriately ridiculous lyrics and a great guitar solo from Graham Clise of Annihilation Time. Both "Fright Night" and "Homicidal Tendencies" are very Motörhead inspired– there's one vocal trick that he does in "Fright Night" in particular that is incredibly Lemmy-inspired. Hey, if you're gonna borrow from anyone, it might as well be Lemmy. All three tracks are excellent example of this kind of music–- Shaun knows what he's doing and he's very good at it. Nice cover, too, which consists of the actual cover and then, by my count, three different stickers layered on top of it. Good stuff. 4/5

(My Mind's Eye is at 16010 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood)

Tracy Marie - A Dark Place - self-released - 12 songs - CD, digital

I believe Tracy Marie is known more as a folk/singer-songwriter type, but on her new album here, she goes in a much heavier direction. It's very '90s influenced alternative rock, very reminiscent of the poppier side of grunge. Some songs are pretty good (the title track, "Stick For The Cure" (which has a great transition into a pretty good chorus), "Soul Lost"), others, particularly on the second half and a couple that sound like what I imagine Metallica sounded like in the '90s, are a little weaker, but it's a consistent sounding album. We also get "When It's Over," an acoustic waltz that despite standing out in the track listing doesn't feel misplaced. Ed Stephens (better known as Dead Stephens of Queen Of Hell infamy) plays bass on here, so it has some legitimate credentials as well. And it's cool to hear someone do something entirely different from what they're known for, so hey, good for Tracy Marie. 3/5


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Volume 17, Issue 21, Posted 3:04 PM, 11.03.2021

WordStage Literary Concerts Presents An Evening Of Mystery Romance and Murder

On Friday, October 29th at 7:30 p.m. - just in time for the Halloween season, WordStage Literary Concerts presents a double bill of mystery, romance, and murder adapted from literary masterpieces written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.

The program will feature dramatic treatments of Hawthorne’s romantic and tragic short story, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Christopher P. Nolan and Jeffrey Hatcher’s masterful mélange of many excerpts from the Poe canon in his one-act play, “Murder by Poe”, performed by ten of the talented WordStage Company Members.

These chilling tales will be accompanied by poignant and malevolent music from the pens of Erik Satie, Camille Saint-Saens, and Edvard Grieg, played on the Wright Chapel’s Steinway grand Piano by Patrick Wickliffe.

WordStage performances are in the Wright Chapel of the Lakewood Presbyterian Church – 14502 Detroit Ave. in Downtown Lakewood, OH.  The Church and Chapel are fully accessible and ADA compliant.   We request that all our audience members come with a masked unless medical reasons prevent them from doing so.  We will have free masks available at our Box Office for anyone who needs them.


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Volume 17, Issue 20, Posted 1:25 PM, 10.20.2021

WordStage Literary Concerts Announces The Opening Of 2021-22 Season

WordStage Literary Concerts announces the opening of its 2021-22 Season with the riotous Victorian farce "BOX and COX" by John Maddison Morton on Friday, September 24, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.

"Box and Cox" was first produced at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 1 November 1847, billed as a "romance of real life." The play became very popular and was revived frequently through the end of the nineteenth century, with occasional productions in the twentieth century. It was adapted as a one-act comic opera in 1866 by the dramatist F. C. Burnand and the composer Arthur Sullivan, prior to his association with W.S. Gilbert.

Featuring Agnes Herrman, Paul Slimak and Tim Tavcar with musical interludes from the Burnand and Sullivan Operetta "Cox and Box" performed by violinist Mary Beth Ions and pianist Patrick Wickliffe, this effervescent entertainment is sure to provide our audience with a laugh-filled evening of merry mayhem and melodious music.

WordStage performances are in the Wright Chapel of the Lakewood Presbyterian Church – 14502 Detroit Ave. in Downtown Lakewood, OH. The Church and Chapel are fully accessible and ADA compliant. We request that all our audience members come with a mask unless medical reasons prevent them from doing so. We will have free masks available at our Box Office for anyone who needs them.


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Volume 17, Issue 18, Posted 2:53 PM, 09.15.2021

The Auryn String Quartet Comes To Lakewood

 With a Live Audience and a Live Streamed Concert

 The four players of the Auryn Quartet have been performing together since the founding of the Quartet in 1981. Amazingly this ensemble has not changed its personnel since 1981. During this season the Quartet from Germany will be celebrating its fortieth and final season. Rocky River Chamber Music Society is honored to have the Auryn String Quartet as part of its roster this season. The members of the Quartet are Matthias Lingenfelder, violin; Jens Oppermann, violin; Stewart Eaton, viola; and Andreas Arndt, cello. They will perform works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn.

The Quartet has won many prizes, received numerous invitations to international music festivals, and encouraged fruitful musical partnerships. The Auryn Quartet has also led an active recording life including Franz Joseph Haydn’s complete sixty-eight string quartets. Their vast catalog of CDs also includes Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and the complete Mozart viola quintets with Nobuko Imal. Recent tours taken by the Quartet comprise visits to Lincoln Center in New York, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, to Wigmore Hall in London, the Beethoven Fest in Bonn, and the Philharmonie in Cologne.     

Normally our venue is the outstanding acoustical environment of West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church. Due to difficulties related to the ongoing pandemic, the first concert of the season will be held at the lovely Lakewood Congregational Church in Lakewood, 1375 West Clifton Boulevard. MASKS ARE REQUIRED REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS. As always, the Rocky River Chamber Music Society has no admission charge. If you’re listening and watching from home, here are two ways to access the concert:

Streaming will be available at and at YouTube.RRCMS

Lakewood Congregational Church, 1375 West Clifton Boulevard


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Volume 17, Issue 18, Posted 2:53 PM, 09.15.2021

Everything's Stupid Anyway: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 118

Hawkbaby - Stupid Music For Stupid People - My Mind's Eye - 8 songs - 12"

Hawkbaby finally follow up their demo tape from a few years ago with their debut vinyl outing. A true supergroup here, even if you wouldn't know it from the personnel listed on the back: members of The Darvocets, Magic City, Sockeye, a Perverts Again fill-in…the list goes on! Musically, the band is somewhere between The Darvocets and Magic City– the late '70s/early '80s punk stuff, Dead Kennedys, Dangerhouse, that kind of thing, but also leaning more towards hard rock and some more out there stuff a lot of the time, especially given the keyboards. Paul (guitarist) is a big Wall Of Voodoo fan, I've been told. Some of these, I am almost completely certain, are repurposed Magic City songs. I know "Cazadores" is and something about "Hologram" sounds awfully familiar too. I won't hold it against Paul or anything, in fact I like when people steal their own riffs, but it's worth noting. Of course, it's always a delight to hear Larry Alien sing, which we've been lacking since the demise of Wetbrain and the disappearance of Drum Machine– no one does it quite like him! My favorite Larry moments here were at the coda (following a fake ending) of the opening "He Said She Said" where he's almost making dolphin sounds (Larry? Dolphins?) and on "Shovin It," which might be my favorite song on here– it's got an intro with what I am pretty sure is an acoustic guitar and some tasteful keys. I'm as shocked as you are. Lyrically, it's a continuation of the Doctor's (professor of alienology) work in the Darvocets and Wetbrain– though I think the best moment is when he drops the fake-deep classic "real eyes realize real lies." I didn't know Larry was on Tumblr. (I've looked this up and apparently it's a Tupac quote– my point stands: didn't know Larry was into Tupac!). "Pop Punk Saved My Life" is not a pop punk song, but is another highlight for being a pure dumb rock song with a nice outro where we're informed all the things the narrator is no longer, including hardcore, metal, straight edge, and a skateboarder. Paul plays some hot leads on here (the guitar solo on "Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy" is a highlight) and the rest of the band is pretty good too. Matt, or Hairy, or Rick, or whatever the drummer is called is very good at what he does. It's not my favorite work by any means of most of the people involved, but that said, it would be hard to top some of their past musical achievements. I'll also add that I didn't really like it at all at first, but it grew on me with repeated listens, so bear that in mind, I suppose. 


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Volume 17, Issue 18, Posted 2:41 PM, 09.01.2021

Take A Walk Through The Morgan: Continuing To Fill Our Galleries After The Pandemic

When all hope seemed lost and our gallery walls screamed for something new, we were ecstatic to begin our exhibition season this February with "Navigation: Lake Erie – Great Lakes," and have continued with the 2019 Artists in Residence exhibition, "This Moment." The pandemic put a halt to our operations, not too long ago our staff were furloughed, we paused our residency program, and paused our gallery season for 2020. However, with perseverance and faith in the mission of the Morgan, we have officially reopened our gallery doors for in-person tours. Our in-person workshops have resumed, our Artists in Residence are hard at work as well. We are restructuring our staff department and have added many new faces here at the Morgan. They include Destyni Green, Anna Rouston, Belle Mercurio, Seneca Kuchar, and Hannah Ayers. We are excited to see what they will bring to our organization within their respective roles!

In conjunction with the Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA), the Morgan Conservatory will be housing "Cross Generations; bridging the gap of artists" now through September 17th. MOCHA sets its intentions on intergenerational connection as it plans to deliver (curate) a show that brings multidisciplinary artists of different generations under one roof. MOCHA states, “Relationships are the critical ingredient in well-being, particularly as we age.” Combining the voices of older and younger generations, this show is a testament of the best work from these artists at this moment in time, creating an artist network and celebrating cameraderie. Amplifying our artists of color, this exhibition is our collaborative way to shift our focus, bridge the gap, and continue to highlight our artists in our community.


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Volume 17, Issue 15, Posted 1:01 PM, 08.04.2021

Nutcracker Auditons For New Lakewood-Based Dance Company

Dance is back!

Ballet Legato is excited to host is first annual production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Executive Artistic Director, Jennifer Muselin. This is a holiday classic and every child remembers their first Nutcracker performance and the beauty and wonderment of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her brave Cavalier. All performers, regardless of studio, ages 5 & up are welcome to audition. Please email to reserve your spot and arrive 30 min prior to audition time to fill out audition information.

Sunday, August 22: North Ridgeville JAM Dance Academy. 35100 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville

Saturday, August 28: Lakewood Ballet Legato 13000 Athens Ave., #203, Lakewood

Students Ages 5-7 10am-10:45am. Students Ages 8-10 11am-11:30pm. Intermediate Dancers Ages 11 and Up 11:45am-12:45pm Advanced Dancers 16 & up 1:00pm-2:00pm


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Volume 17, Issue 15, Posted 2:16 PM, 07.21.2021

Lakewood Arts Festival Real Art, Real Music, Real Food Saturday, August 7th, 10AM - 6PM

For one glistening summer day, Lakewood closes Detroit Avenue, between Belle to Arthur Avenues, to bring artists of all disciplines together along with 15,000 collectors and art lovers. The juried festival hosts over 130 regional and national artists and makers displaying paintings, prints, photography, art glass, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, fiber and more.  

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Volume 17, Issue 14, Posted 2:16 PM, 07.21.2021

Local Photographer's Paris Pictures Selected For Book Benefiting Notre Dame Cathedral

The Leica Historical Society (LHSA) selected three photos that I took of Cathedral Notre Dame for inclusion in a book LHSA is printing to help raise funds to restore the cathe- dral. LHSA is a group of photographers who use Leica cameras and lenses.

I have been documenting the Pari- sian joie de vivre since 2007 and have worked exclusively with Leica cameras since 1989 due to the superb sharpness and contrast that Leica lenses provide.

Master Framer John Rehner of Lakewood encouraged me to print some of my pictures of Notre Dame the first time I came into the gallery, even though I thought they might be cliché. Turns out John was right in more ways than one. The LHSA selected the pho- tos for its book. Since the fire, those pictures are a way to see a part of Paris we won’t have access to for who knows how long.

I made the third photo as I walked home from dinner at the Quasimodo Café the week before Christmas. White lights in trees along each side of the rue d’Arcole framed the Cathedral’s North Tower. Since I always wear my camera, I made a photo on Ilford Delta 3200 film.

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Volume 17, Issue 13, Posted 3:01 PM, 07.07.2021

Lakewood Native And Creative, Cassie Bishop Is Hemorrhaging Music This Year

Lakewood native and creative, Cassie Bishop has music and art in her veins. Musically, she describes her original songs and sound as a dark ambient folk.  You can decide when you hear her music while you read this article. She has released her most recent recordings under the name “Origami Moon” found on Bandcamp or Spotify.

Bishop’s creative ways have translated into her current full-time gig as a personal designer with Stitch Fix, where she helps create custom wardrobe options for individuals that she has never met. This career path took a front row seat at the start of the pandemic. She had prior been managing an art studio, which required an in-person component.

It was during the pandemic that she started working solely from home. This gave her the time and space to conceive and gestate her latest solo EP release, “My Raw Heart” out on July 2. “Writing songs is part of me,” says Bishop, “…even if no one ever listened, it is a way to release emotions and to express my truth in a tangible way.”  

Cassie started writing songs and playing in bands during her time in high school at age 17, but she confesses to having taken an occasional hiatus. “I would join bands and then stop playing for periods of time,” says Bishop. During those times however, she accomplished quite a bit. She did some travelling before coming back home to earn her bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education from Cleveland State University. Not to mention, she also wrote and published a children’s book.


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Volume 17, Issue 13, Posted 1:56 PM, 06.16.2021

La Loca Chica

Crazy Girl! This wonderful work is by the Chilean artist Carola Guerra, who a few years ago decided to venture on a trip that could help her to grow personally and professionally.

In California she found love, and the motivation to retake art in all its colors ... but the adventure did not end there because that gave way to traveling together to different places and expanding her creativity, that is how La Loca Chica was born, which represents the journey towards fantasy, the dreamlike, the simple and infinite in an image ... everything can happen when you dream, they represent imagination and fantasy on a physical plane, it makes it feel real.

For 20 years she worked in the glass trade in different disciplines: Vitrofusion, Vitreaux, Flame working and she enjoyed it but in being reunited with painting, acrylic, watercolor and means of expression in crafts, she discovered the connection with herself and its essence.

Now she is here, showing her art at The Root Cafe for all of June and she also will be showing in December.

Fernanda Quiroga is a traveler from Chile.

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Volume 17, Issue 12, Posted 1:55 PM, 06.16.2021