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.


Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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."

Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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


Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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

Read Full Story
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

Read Full Story
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

Read Full Story
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. 


Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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!



Read Full Story
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.  


Read Full Story
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

Read Full Story
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


Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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


Read Full Story
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. 


Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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


Read Full Story
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.  

Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
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.


Read Full Story
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.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 12, Posted 1:55 PM, 06.16.2021

One Reporter's Stance: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 116

Part-Time Lover - Living In The Past - Just Because Records - 17 songs - cassette, digital

"Living In The Past" collects the complete recordings of Part-Time Lover– that's two cassette EPs, two 7"s, one digital single, and one entirely unheard song. I've reviewed almost all of this before, but it's actually really interesting to revisit it in this context. Speaking of living in the past, a lot of this came out when I was in high school and it does kinda take me back. By and large, I would call Part-Time Lover a psychedelic pop band. Their songs are catchy and sunshiny but with a sense of haziness and some fuzz guitar leads courtesy of Mandy Look. I think probably a lot of this material has grown on me over the years– I really enjoy most of this tape. I'm not saying every song is completely fantastic, but there are a lot of genuinely good tunes collected here. Within their sound, they also cover a decent amount of ground–- sometimes it's the pure laid back psych (the title track, "Everything In Season"), sometimes (particularly, in two different ways, on the driving (no pun intended) "Motorist" or the semi-soulful "What's So Good About His Love") singer/guitarist Jason Look ends up in full Greg Cartwright/Reigning Sound territory. "Kelly Cruise Kelly" is Beatlesque (particularly with its "around round round" part right out of "Dear Prudence"), "Magic Child" sounds like Neil Young, and weirdly enough, something about "It Stresses My Beast" reminds me pretty strongly of "Don't Tell A Soul"-era Replacements. My favorite Part-Time Lover song, though, would have to be "Day Glow Lemon Yellow Colored Tongue." I don't know what it is about it, but I once played it for a local record guy known for being…particular about his tastes and even he thought it was really good, so there you go. Pat O'Connor and Roseanna Safos are a great rhythm section and Aaron Terkel's keys always provide a nice layer on the songs–- a good band all around is what I'm saying. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the final statement from Part-Time Lover based on some vague things I've heard. That would be pretty sad if it's true, but this is a darn solid legacy to leave if it is. 4/5


Spike In Vain - Death Drives A Cadillac - Scat Records - 13 songs - LP, digital

This is the famous third album by Spike In Vain, following the classic debut LP "Disease Is Relative" and the cassette-only "Jesus Was Born In A Mobile Home." The difference between this one and the previous two is that this one has never actually been released (I'm not exactly sure of why it ended up getting scrapped other than I think the band broke up sometime relatively shortly after it was recorded, maybe?) There's a definite change in style on this one: while most of the weirder elements are still around, they've left behind most of the hardcore sound and dug deeper into the post-punk and deathrock styles. The opening "Too Cool" particularly shows off the deathrock influence. They also seem to have gotten very into the Gun Club and other sort of swampy bands like that– "Rattlesnake's Wedding" could be the Gun Club if not for the fact that it has an abrupt intense and dissonant part that could only be Spike In Vain. "Big Black Locomotive" and the closing "Gospel Motel" (which, indeed, has a gospel-style interlude where the band chants "Jesus is the man that I've been looking for–- can't you tell me where he's gone?" while Robert Griffin (the singer on this song) rants and occasionally joins in) both also have that kind of feel. The songs that have the most in common with the earlier stuff are probably "Abysmal Child" (an excellent song) and "Escape From The Zoo." I've thought before that in these songs it's evident that this band will splinter, half into Prisonshake and half into Soul Vandals, and I'll stand by that–- you can hear nascent versions of both of those bands present here. I don't say that as a bad thing, either– I quite like both of those bands. My favorite song on here is probably "Party In The Ground," which might be the most un-Spike In Vain sounding song they ever did. I might almost call it jangly, although Chris Marec's unique vocal stylings set it well apart from anything else you'd describe that way (listen to how quickly he spits out that line about the military recruiter). Here's my conclusion: maybe it isn't as good as "Disease Is Relative," but taken on its own it is still a very good album. "Disease" may be one of the most unique, insane punk albums I've ever heard, but this one's pretty out there (in a good way) too. So when is "Jesus Was Born In A Mobile Home" finally gonna get released on vinyl? 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.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 12, Posted 3:01 PM, 06.02.2021

Northeast Ohio’s Largest LGBTQ+ Choir Coming To Lakewood’s Madison Park

The North Coast Men’s Chorus, the largest LGBTQ+ choral arts society in Northeast Ohio, is bringing their talents to Madison Park in Lakewood this Sunday, May 23rd. They will be holding rehearsals that are open to the public from 2:30pm and 4:30pm.

“This is a group of incredibly gifted singers whose passion, joy, and authenticity light up a room,” said Susannah Selnick, a member of Friends of Madison Park and a volunteer of the North Coast Men’s Chorus. “I love listening to this amazing group sing, and I am so excited they are coming to our community. This is a huge win for our residents as we will enjoy these talented entertainers and their encouraging message that extends well beyond the gay community. I cannot think of a better fit for Lakewood and a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than listening to North Coast Men’s Chorus in our park.”


Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 11, Posted 11:34 AM, 05.19.2021

Got Scurvy?: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 115

Bad Batch - Bad Batch - self-released - 6 songs - cassette, digital

Like most Cleveland hardcore bands, this new group features members of other Cleveland hardcore bands. This time, however, they're all under assumed names (except Twisted Tim, which I believe is actually what's on his birth certificate). I know there's at least one member of Spike Pit, at least one member of Rat Fucker, and at least two members of Weed Whacker here, though where those intersect I cannot be certain. As you'd expect from the collective pedigree here, Bad Batch play pretty decent hardcore. This isn't a bad tape by any means, and certainly recommended if you like bands from Fried Egg to Prison Moan (who had a record with similar looking artwork to this tape, so there's another possible connection), but is a largely indistinctive one. The lyrics are appropriately angry but rather joyless across the board, and while the music is good, it could be a lot of other bands– but hey, this is a first demo, that's what these things are for. What is most identifiable about the group at this point in time, and how I would pick them out of a lineup, is the lead guitar. It's pretty dumb but also pretty good, sometimes there's some wah-wah on it (particularly noticeable on the lead track, "I Know They're Watching")– it's enjoyable. A likable enough addition to your local hardcore collection, if that's your bag. That's where I'm filing it. 3/5


Richard Hamilton - My Perfect World - self-released / Tetryon Tapes - 10 songs - CD, cassette, digital

It's been a while since the name R. Hamilton graced these pages. I think the last time may have been with that Ricky Hell and the Voidboys LP in 2019. I'm not sure whether Ricky considers this his (I think) 4th solo record or whether this is the debut from an entirely new project under his proper name, but in any case, here it is. It doesn't seem to have the Quality Time name or logo on it, so that's an interesting change from previous RH product. Joining the now-based-in-LA Ricky on here is fellow Cleveland transplant John Alberty (whose work with The Roobydocks and Bulsch is in no way similar to the music here) on drums and Jared Javier on bass (who isn't from Cleveland at all unless I've really missed something). More than anything else he's done so far, this feels like Ricky/Richard's fullest embrace of pop music– which, granted, he's never been too far from, but still. "My Perfect World" sets the stage for the album right

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 11, Posted 11:34 AM, 05.19.2021

Grace Family Players' Redux

The Grace Family Players, of Grace Presbyterian Church, are offering an original play called, “The Arrival: The Story of Pentecost.”  Written by Nancy Sander, former script writer for WKYC’s “Hickory Hideout,” the play takes the audience back to the Upper Room where twenty followers await the resurrected Jesus and the Power. After forty days of waiting, frustrations run high, giving a real human and comedic touch to the people who awaited the arrival.

     The performance takes place at Grace Presbyterian Church, 1659 Rosewood Avenue (on the corner of Madison and Hilliard), on May 20th at 7:00 P.M. Because of COVID reservations are being taken.  If there are vacancies last minute persons can also be admitted at the door on a first come, first served basis.  There are three ways to make a reservation: 1) e-mail the church at; 2) log onto and follow the link; and 3) call the church at 216-221-6060 to leave a message. Masks are required and there is no charge for this production.For more information call: Nancy Sander: 216-571-3611.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 10, Posted 11:40 AM, 05.19.2021

I Was Already Motorized: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 115

Lucky Pierre - Give It All You Got - no label - 9 songs - LP

One look at this record tells you that it's an unofficial release (a glovearm, if you will)– the black sleeve with the paper cover glued on, the crappy title, the bizarre track choices– but hey, if a boot is what it takes to get Lucky Pierre stuff out, I'm happy with it. This collects sort of the best of the original singles (the 1979-1983 stuff) and three outtakes from that era. Like I said, I'm a little bit baffled by some of what was excluded here (why leave "Match" off of here when the other two singles on the first side got to keep their b-sides?), but maybe (hopefully) the mysterious benefactor who has provided the world this release is just saving some of the good stuff for "Give It All You Got Vol. 2." As for what is here, it's all pretty great. Like some of the best early "punk" bands, Lucky Pierre could barely be called that except perhaps in attitude. "Fans And Cameras," their first single and the song that kicks this comp off, is as punk as they get (it is pretty punk, but it's sorta new wave too)– it certainly does rock. Kevin McMahon's snotty glam rock vocals on this one are particularly great, and the guitar solo (I think played by John Guciardo) totally shreds. Its b-side, "Idlewood" (perhaps named after the street in Lakewood, I'm not certain) immediately displays the other side of the band, in that it starts with a slow piano-driven intro that's sort of glam and maybe even a bit prog, then moves into a Gilbert & Sullivan kind of thing before going full glam. It's very reminiscent of Sparks, actually, and not just in that it's a little bit insane. Then there's a guitar solo that again is pretty great even though it's almost the same one as the previous song. The second single (track three on here) is "Into My Arms," absolutely one of the best Cleveland punk/new wave/power pop/anything songs of all time. The two guitars (played by Mr. McMahon and Denis DeVito, Guciardo having left at this point) play off each other very well and frankly, Denis kinda tears it up on the solo. Kevin's vocals throughout this whole album are perfectly theatrical– he's very into it, but never in a way that comes off as corny. The "Stetson's" and "Once A Child" twofer that closes out the first side again has the band's strange dichotomy at play, with the pretty straightforward "Stetson's" backed with the multifaceted movements of "Once A Child" (a lot of Sparks influence on this one too). The other half of this album has one more singles track, "Cool Summer Nights," and then three that have never been on vinyl before. "Summer Friends" reminds me a bit of the late '70s/early '80s Kinks material. "Cool Summer Nights" gets even more poppy but no less excellent– everybody loves power pop songs about the summer and here are two great ones right in a row! The final two tracks are from the "Fans And Cameras" lineup of the band with John Guciardo on lead guitar (none of this is mentioned on the release, by the way, I did my own research– you can't say I don't care about my work). They're both good tracks but they have more in common with "Idlewood" than anything else: they start slow, they have a lot of different pieces and parts, it's arty, it's punk, it's glam, "Pi Squared" has some vaguely baroque piano, "Don't Say Maybe" has an instrumental passage that I would've compared to Big Star had it not immediately gone into some kind of hard rock thing, it's all very intense, and I'm quite a big fan. Like most releases of its dubious ilk, it's not a perfect release, but it's pretty darn good. Really hoping there are some further releases of Lucky Pierre material soon. 4/5

(try a local record store)

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.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 10, Posted 12:15 PM, 05.05.2021

Praise Bob Petric: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 114

Ley Lines - This Rock In My Kitchen Used To Have A Purpose - Sonnedecker Records - 3 songs - cassette, digital

As I've openly admitted before, I'm not a huge fan of freeform improvisational music for the most part (a category which Ley Lines definitely falls under), but I can appreciate it when it's well done and has some evidence of care put into it (see my review of Leaking from about a month ago– a group which also features Ley Lines' guitarist Noah Depew). This is not that. "Screen Damage" is aimless noodling for an aimless amount of time and goes absolutely nowhere. I would say that "Non-Essential" lives up to its title other than that would be the kind of tired joke people probably expect of me and that it's actually the most interesting track here. It's a very quiet one, with a vaguely eerie vibe provided by a far away noise that kind of sounds like a church bell but eventually turns out to be a guitar. There's a brief moment as well where there's a metallic rattling noise that sounds like a pull chain being dragged around a bowl. Those mildly interesting details aside, it also goes on far too long and nothing happens in it. "Peer-to-Peer Performance" is more undefined wandering that takes forever to start and even then you can barely call it a start. Eventually, something resembling music creeps in, with Noah playing a repetitive two-chord progression accented by Jayson Gerycz rolling the cymbals. Before this can build into anything cool, however, Jayson goes off into his own world again with little regard for any kind of structure or even interplay between musicians and the whole thing just devolves again– and that's the real problem here. For something like this to work well, there really has to be some aural evidence to the listener that the musicians are working together towards something, even if it is free improvisation. I don't hear it here. Both Noah and Jayson come up with some interesting things here and there on this tape, but instead of playing off one another it largely sounds like they're each only listening to themselves. I don't question either of their skills as musicians–- as show-offy as I may find Jayson's playing to be, I would never deny that he's a very good drummer. And Noah is an excellent musician as well–- given what I've seen and heard him play on a variety of instruments and in a variety of contexts over the years, I think that's absolutely unquestionable. He's really, really good. However, none of that comes through in this project. And maybe what's most weird about it to me is that both of them are definitely capable of making interesting music in the freeform improvisational context– I've seen both of them do it (and again, read my Leaking review for recent evidence that I do genuinely believe Noah knows what he's doing and also that he hasn't just lost his touch or something). That can't be found here, however. This sounds like a warmup rather than the actual content. And another thing: I looked up 'Ley Lines Bandcamp' to get the correct URL to put here and I couldn't even find it because too many other things came up with that or a similar name; I actually had to type out the title of this thing to find the right page. There's a saxophonist credited on here but I couldn't make out any saxophone on here. What gives? 1/5



Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 9, Posted 12:42 PM, 04.21.2021

City Public Art Funding Available

The City of Lakewood is providing up to $5,000 for artists to be matched with businesses and building owners to install permanent murals and up to $2,500 for temporary lighting installations that help activate spaces. Applications are due no later than April 29.

The application is very simple and the city already has artists signed up and ready to work with businesses and building owners . All you have to do is take a photo of the wall on your building that you'd like to see a mural, fill out a few questions on page 3 of the application app and send that with the photo to City Architect Allison Hennie at You can also call Allison with questions at 216-529-7679. If you are do not own your building, you can still apply! You simply need permission from the building owner.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 9, Posted 12:32 PM, 04.21.2021

Giant Inflatable Flowers To Take Over Lakewood

Hope Blooms Ohio is a creative marketing campaign developed by the Beachwood High School Marketing/Junior Achievement students to inspire hope and uplift our local and global communities through a pop art installation featuring five 20-30’ inflatable flowers that encourages visitors to walk through the inflatable garden.

In addition to the inflatable flowers, a 10'H x 15'W inflatable backdrop provides a colorful backdrop for photographs. Each location will have 200 die-cut signs that represent each flower and visitors are encouraged to take the yard signs home with them to continue to spread HOPE.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 8, Posted 12:32 PM, 04.21.2021

Betty Rozakis Brings “Fire and Ice” To The Beck

Betty Rozakis, Lakewood writer, artist, and Graphology scholar is best known to Lakewood Observer readers as our Handwriting Expert. Betty studied Graphology at the British Academy of Graphology where she graduated in 2004.

Many know her as wife, mother and grandmother to a great family located in the far north west corner of Lakewood. One the past 4 or five years we have seen her emerge, or a better term would be re-emerge as an artist, now mastering many different mediums. 

While there is not much good on social media these days, watching artists as they perfect their craft is one of the bright spots. Watching kids emerge as writers, musicians, artists and photographers always makes me smile. Nothing better than fresh new talent with a pedigree. The other fabulous aspect of social media is watching others rediscover their passions. Betty falls into this camp. Online you can see her blossom in the not so easy world of glass art. In this new field Betty has handled all different complexities of working with glass, much of it learned at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she graduated in May.

This piece was developed especially for the Beck Center. In it she used drawings from art Life Drawing classes at the Beck Center. “Because of my classes in art and creativity at the Beck I was able to build my portfolio and finally get into Cleveland Institute of Art, a lifelong dream.” Without the Beck, none of this would have been possible. 

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 7:31 PM, 03.03.2021

A Figment Of Your Imagination: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 113

Bill Fox - Transit Byzantium - Scat Records - 18 songs - LP, CD

I've heard that this has been coming out for many years now– it's been on my list of "upcoming releases to possibly review" since around the time I started this column. "Transit Byzantium" is Bill Fox's second solo LP (following up "Shelter From The Smoke"), originally released on CD only in 1998. I've had that CD for a while, so I was familiar with the music here, but this is a new remaster and a nice new package and of course I wanted it on LP because I'm an annoying snob, so here we go. Bill Fox is basically a folk singer– these songs are mostly acoustic and most of them feature just him on vocals and guitar (and sometimes some kind of bass or percussion– on one song he plays piano too); however, that doesn't do his songs justice. I've described the music of Bill Fox with this complex analogy: it's like "Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds Sing The Everly Brothers" except it's "The Beatles Sing Bob Dylan." It's sort of like an inverse folk rock: instead of Bob Dylan style songs but with Beatles style arrangement, it's Beatles style songs with Bob Dylan style arrangements. There are the obvious folk elements (particularly prominent on "From A Dark Night," "Quartermaster's Wintertime," and "Dixie Darling," for a few examples), but with very melodic tunes that are far more pop ("I'll Give It Away" (featuring Tom Fallon and Tommy Fox) and "My Baby Crying" being the most overtly Beatles-influenced, I'd say). Of course, there's also nice harmonies, interesting guitar interplay, and simply beautiful songs that are a hallmark of all of Bill's best work. One weird digression is the brief and especially lo-fi "Sycamore," which must've either been recorded when Bill was a teenager or sped up, because his voice is very high on this one. Anyway, the man knows how to write very, very good songs and there are a lot of them on this record. Honestly, there are too many highlights to point them all out, but some particular favorites are the aforementioned "I'll Give It Away," "Thinking Of You," "Bonded To You," and all three tracks that make up the final side ("Portland Town," "For Anyone That You Love," and "When I Blow"). Very nearly as good or maybe even just as good as "Shelter" (which, by the way, is also back in print and you also definitely need) and definitely worth checking out. I'm very happy this is back in print. 4.5/5


Leaking - Inborn / Suture - self-released - 2 songs - cassette, digital

This is the second release from Leaking, the trio of Depew, MacCluskie, and Taylor. I know the first two more from punk and punk-adjacent bands and don't know the last one at all, but together they make long form instrumental experimental music. When I picked up this tape from Depew himself, he used the magic words to get me to dislike something before I've even heard it: "Grateful Dead." That one's gonna get me a lot of hate mail, I'm sure. That said, I tried to go in with a pretty open mind because I have a lot of respect

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 7:31 PM, 03.03.2021

Increasingly Curmudgeonly: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 112

Cloud Nothings - Turning On - Carpark Records - 9 songs - LP, CD, digital

Note: the CD and digital versions have more than 9 tracks, but I just have the LP so that's what I'm reviewing here. This was the first record by the pride of Westlake, originally released 11 years ago. It is really interesting to hear these tracks (and the second, self-titled LP) in comparison to the music Cloud Nothings has made since– it's kinda like two different bands, though it must be said that both of those bands are very good. This record is all Dylan Baldi doing everything I'm pretty sure, which is also probably the reason for the big change in sound later. This record is basically a lo-fi power pop/indie rock record from what I would guess were the glory days of bedroom indie rock. Don't ask me, I wasn't there. I've never been too into that sound, but Cloud Nothings on this record are a cut above almost all of those bands. Dylan could (and still can) write really catchy, hooky tunes. Most of the ones here are somewhere in the range between Matador-era Jay Reatard and Car Seat Headrest, though I don't know if either comparison is quite right. The title track and "Strummin" are both very reminiscent of the Strokes at their catchiest and best– on the latter, the "my baby's been gone…" part almost sounds like he's doing a Julian Casablancas impression. My favorite tracks here are "Can't Stay Awake" (where Dylan's screaming guitar solo and falling apart drumming are almost a precursor of things to come), the funky-riffed "You Are Opening," and "Hey Cool Kid," which besides being a very melancholy but very hooky tune with dark lyrics (from what I can make out) and vaguely ominous harmonies holds a special place in my heart because it was the second Cloud Nothings song I ever heard (after "Stay Useless"), sometime in probably 2013. That said, every song on here is pretty good and it's easy to hear why this record caught people's attention. 4/5


Various - Killed By Meth #5 - It's Trash! Records - 14 songs - LP, digital

I always check out these Killed By Meth comps because they usually have at least a couple Cleveland bands on them. That said, they don't usually feel like good documents of the best of the current punk scene but instead a bunch of also-rans, bands that weren't good enough to get a Total Punk single (even though there are a couple 'bigger names' on here, like Erik Nervous and Archaeas, both of whom actually do have Total Punk singles of their own and who have two of the better songs on here-- our pal Erik seems to be covering a song from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and that's the kind of thing that I also find funny, so props to him there) (Also, this is not to say that I consider Mr. Rich Totally Punk an arbiter of good taste-- he's put out a lot of really great punk singles but also quite a few pretty crappy ones). Apart from that, most of the rest of the tracks on this thing are either painfully generic or have something that makes the song a non-starter ("Spinners" from The Smart Shoppers is a particular groaner– the aforementioned Whose Line song might be for some people too, I wouldn't hold it against them if they thought it was horribly corny). Maybe it's the comp nature that leads to these bands sending in tracks that are sorta throwaways– I've seen Alpha Hopper before and I know they're a decent band, but "Yardbird" is really not their best. Ohio is represented here by Columbus's Phlox (not good), Cincinnati's Black Planet (actually a highlight, a pretty catchy garage-y post-punk kind of song– I would be willing to check out more from them, and that's more than I can

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 4:13 PM, 02.17.2021

Knows Nose Nos: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 111

Brain Cave - Stuck In The Mud - Tiny God Inc. - 10 songs - cassette, digital

I believe this is my second review of Brain Cave– I know I reviewed their first tape a couple years ago. They've released a few things since then, but we'll catch back up with them here. The familiar face here is singer/guitarist Mike Bellis, who was also the bassist and then the guitarist of The Roobydocks and was the guitarist in Bulsch at some point too. Brain Cave does not sound like either of those bands. Generally speaking, I'd call it alternative rock– some of it is post-hardcore, some of it has some definite emo characteristics, there are some grunge moments, and at times they even work in some gothy moves. This kind of thing isn't generally my kind of thing, but after a few listens, this started to grow on me. My favorites were probably "Bar Seat No. 1," "Salt Lick," and "Moved Obstacle." People for whom this is more their cup of tea will probably find a lot to like here, but even I (an idiot) enjoyed it. 3/5


Rubella - Barn Burners - Landfill Records - 12 songs - cassette, digital

Here's the latest from prolific local group Rubella. The email I got regarding this tape described it as 'dystopian synth pop' or something to that effect and yeah, that works for me. I think the only instruments on here are drums and synths– or perhaps I've been fooled and the drums are actually synths too. It's pretty dark stuff, I wouldn't say moody or melancholic necessarily but more edgy, sometimes menacing ("Blood Bucket" is a good example), and…I don't know. Volatile, maybe. Parts of this really remind me of Lost Sounds, other parts I don't find dissimilar to Brainiac. Someone more into the Dark Entries kind of stuff could probably make closer comparisons, but yeah, it's a lot of synths and it's pretty heavy stuff. The lyrics are generally unhappy (a reminder that Rubella's motto is 'life in general is suffering,' which tells you all you need to know about the tone here) and the vocals, even when there's some energy behind them, sound resigned. "Razor's Edge" namedrops the Hilliard Bridge which sounded so familiar that I went and checked the lyric sheet from the last Rubella release I reviewed to see if they were repeating a song and nope, they just have multiple songs where they talk about the Hilliard Bridge. Actually, come to think of it, I think I caught the phrase 'razor's edge' somewhere on that lyric sheet as well. I guess it's good to have some themes you go back to. On the first half, my favorite was probably "Bad Energy" and on the second half, I really liked the closing three tracks: "Flash Flood," an eerie industrial instrumental with, indeed, a flash flood warning playing over it, which genuinely did work as a scary track; "Kill Grid" continues the spooky musical theme and I have to assume Gregory (Rubella's lead member) saw those 5G kill grid posters all over Lakewood a year or two ago; and closing along the same pretty chilling lines with "Devil's Tower." Rubella have their zone that they basically keep making consistent music in, and I've gotta respect them for that. 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.

Read Full Story
Volume 17, Issue 2, Posted 12:59 PM, 01.06.2021

A Scope Into The Sacred: On Display At The Root

As a human in Western society, I have observed my tendency to fall into the superiority-inferiority trap. The notion that some beings are inferior or superior to other beings ignores the universal intelligence that animates all life. It is a notion that has caused humans and all sentient beings harm and continues to do so. 

Heather Hansen’s art is a beautiful reminder of how all beings possess a sacred intelligence. Her paintings entitled "Bugs Can Fall in Love," "Everyone Was a Baby Once," and "Bugs Can Believe in God" encourage viewers to  reflect on how life force, no matter its shape or form, is able to perceive and feel.

Heather uses found materials, such as recycled canvases, paint from garage sales, driftwood, and forest gifts, for her creations. Her inspiration comes from nature and her work invites us to recognize the sacredness of all things. Her art is being displayed and sold at the Root Cafe during the month of December. I welcome you to visit, explore, and experience how these creations speak to you. 

Nicole Nazario is a fellow human. 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 24, Posted 12:20 PM, 12.16.2020

Twenty Twenty Twenty: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 110

Red Devil Ryders - Pour Me Another One - Just Because Records - 11 songs - LP, digital

In a time when shows were a thing people could go to, I think I probably brought more of my friends to see Red Devil Ryders than maybe any other band. Sure, that's partially because for a while they seemed to be on every show, but also they're a reliably decent and fun live band. I think this album brings that sense of fun and decency to the recorded medium. I wasn't quite sold on first listen (other than to sigh with relief that there weren't any songs like "Spicy Boys" on this one, which, sure, is a good first song of the live set, but not something I ever wanna listen to outside of that context), but a few listens in and I kinda started picking up on some themes and you know what? I think this is a really good album. It kicks off with the glammy power pop stomp of "Canadian Nights" (which I believe finds Adam Spektor and Carter Luckfield trading off verses on lead vocals and also features the excellent descriptive phrase "lookin' murdered out") and keeps up from there. Perhaps I'm reading into this too much as reviewers sometimes do (I once read that "Blood Visions" is a concept album about a murderer, which I'll believe when Jay Reatard comes back from the dead to tell me so), but this, to my ears, is an album about touring and about life in the immediate aftermath on touring, which has a poignant place in a world where no one is touring. The first two tracks definitely have a vibe of "the excitement of the tour." I wanted to hate "Mullet Song" on principle, but it's funny enough that it works. Perhaps it's really about tour-induced paranoia. "Sad Day For BBQ" is a tribute to someone named Melvin, who the album is also dedicated to, and is appropriately somber without losing the plot. Side 1 ends with "Little Green Cross," a two-part suite (Spektor's country rock is the first half, Luckfield's power pop is the second) that's probably the best song about legal weed that I've ever heard. It also ends with some backwards guitar, a nice nod to the "Crowley 666" days. Side 2 is mostly devoted to the


Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 24, Posted 12:20 PM, 12.16.2020

Rosy, Won't You Please Stay Home: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 109

Marty Brass - On The Grass - self-released - 6 songs - digital

Marty Brass: you might know him from Ma Holos, The Nico Missile, JuJu Shrine, Pig Flayer, and many other bands. If you read this column regularly, you might know that he shreds. "On The Grass" is his solo debut and while it has elements of some of those bands, it definitely is its own thing. I suppose what you'd call it would be lo-fi power pop-- catchy, guitar-driven pop rock songs with pretty poor recording quality. I'm not sure whether the fidelity was a stylistic choice or just a result of equipment constraints-- I'm a fan of a rawer production, but even I would've liked certain parts of this to be a little more clear-- but I suppose it does fit with the quarantined nature of this project. Some songs are slightly more mellow, like "Do Whatever We Want" and "Trip Up North," some have more of a garage rock feel, like "Morning Girls" and "Spaulding Street." "Ready To Pop" reminded me of a Parquet Courts song. If you liked that Joey Nix tape from last year (and I definitely did), this has that kind of vibe-- also, I think Joey himself plays drums on one of these songs, so there's a further connection. The weakest track here is "Clean Freak." I have nothing against an instrumental interlude, but this goes on for six minutes and, while it is sorta meditative in its way and there is a time and place for that kind of thing, it did not work for me stuck in the middle of the record like it is here. That said, the remaining five songs are all pretty good to really good. I hope this one comes out physically at some point (at least as a tape, come on) and I hope to hear more from Marty real soon. He shreds! 3.5/5



Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 23, Posted 11:39 AM, 11.18.2020

Ray Rodrîguez Show At Root Cafe Through November

Looking for a short break from the day? Some good art, conversation and coffee? Stop by the Root Cafe on Detroit Ave. and check out the art of part-time Root Barrissta Ray Rodriegrez. Ray is having a small show selling prints and stickers of his work. This small grouping is in the surreal vein.

Ray is one of those people you cross paths with in life, and as you see more bits and pieces about the person and their work your appreciation only builds. This has been my experience with Ray.

Passionate about life, science, art and his beloved Puerto Rico. At the tender age of 28, you can add him to your artist/people to watch list. I think you will be pleasantly entertained.

This show is up through the end of the month. 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 22, Posted 11:35 AM, 11.18.2020

Something Everyone Could Use, Especially Bike Riders

Cycling RIGHTS Bicycles, E-Bikes & Micro-Mobility Devices

As many of you know all of the Observers have been huge supporters of bikers, riders and cycling. At one time we started Bike Lakewood, and had a biking column that became the “Great Lakes Courier” cycling paper. So when I saw Kenneth Knabe’s new book “Cycling RIGHTS Bicycles, E-Bikes & Micro-Mobility Devices” I wanted to get a copy and find out what it was all about. All of us, riders and drivers, cannot know enough about the laws on the streets for all of us.

Lakewood resident and Lawyer Kenneth Knabe has earned the title “Greater Cleveland’s Bike Attorney” not just in the courts, but in decades of riding and service to the Greater Cleveland community. He is a Bike Cleveland Corporate Sponsor, He serves on the boards of Ohio Bicycle Federation and the Ohio to Erie Trail. He also co-chairs a sub committee of the City of Cleveland’s Vision Zero Taskforce, whose goal is to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries to all road users.

Back to the book. It contains common sense rules of the road that can benefit and educate everyone from the beginners to experienced riders, and yes even those who have never ridden a bike, will never ride a bike but drive. Simple questions answered and explained. Like the simple question that everyone on the roads ask, “Can a cyclist go through a stale red light with no cross traffic?” Well only if it is a “dead light.” Which is explained in one section with subnotes noted and put elsewhere. The book is that thorough.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 22, Posted 11:35 AM, 11.18.2020

...And Other Hits: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 108

Jeff Curtis - Summertime Stridulations - Coffee-Hut Records - 7 songs - CD, download

You may know Jeff Curtis from bands as varied as My Dad Is Dead, Gem, and Satan's Satellites- the press release I have here tells me so– which, of course, are all absolutely great bands, though this one-sheet inexcusably leaves off J'accuse, one of the best area post-punk bands of the early '80s if you ask me. This does not sound anything like any of those bands. "Summertime Stridulations" finds Jeff with a new instrument: the banjo. However, this ain't no hillbilly pickin'. (Not that I would mind that, and in fact now that I've said it I kinda would like to hear Mr. Curtis do some Grand Ole Opry-style tunes). Some of this is based in traditional folk, like "Bat Sky" or, indeed, the traditional song "Dinah," but more often these songs are hypnotic instrumentals, with the banjo carrying the "tune" as it were with backing from a droning chord organ (or, in a couple cases, earth music: the sounds of rain and wind or the occasional car passing by). It's actually pretty cool stuff. I personally don't love the sound of the banjo, generally speaking ("Stop Stop Stop" by the Hollies is an obvious exception), but what Jeff does here is so unlike typical banjo playing that it almost feels like some other instrument. And yeah, maybe sometimes his playing isn't note-perfect or it's a little amateurish (he says as much in the liner notes), but what he does with the sound of it is far more important here. My favorite might be "Sweet Corn," which has a feel not unlike George Harrison's excursions into Indian music. "Birthday Raga" is indeed a raga, but its title brings to mind Bert Jansch ("Birthday Blues," ya see) and I certainly think Bert (or, at least, other artists who were inspired by him) was an influence here. A cool little experimental collection here. 3.5/5


The Roobydocks - I Am Going To Kill Yourself - Cultural / Tiny God Inc. - 5 songs - cassette, download

I think this tape may have come out over a year ago, but I didn't manage to get a copy until now, so here's my (I'm sure hotly awaited) review of the final release by the now (very sadly) defunct Roobydocks. The mastering is terrible and maybe the songs aren't really the band's best, but you know what? I really like this tape. The Roobydocks were a great band and if you like their stuff, you'll like this. "The Roobydock Death Cult" epitomizes their sound: John spewing anger over mostly clean guitar and a

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 22, Posted 8:02 PM, 11.04.2020

Lakewood Kid Filmmakers Walk The Red Carpet

That's a wrap! Lakewood Young Filmmakers Academy hosted the premiere of the latest film produced by their students on August 22 at Harding Middle School. The gala event featured all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood premiere, complete with a red carpet, paparazzi, SWAG bags and, due to COVID-19, and outdoor screening of their new film "The Other Side of the Line," an allegory about racism and prejuduce.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 20, Posted 10:23 AM, 10.22.2020

When Will They Learn: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 107

Gills - Dried Clothes - self-released - 4 songs - 7"

I don't know anything about this band other than I've seen their name on shows for a couple years and they're from Youngstown, I'm pretty sure. This record is a really good hardcore record. Nice garagey production and pretty straightforward, no frills stuff. There's a bit of the Cruelster sound here, though less weird both musically and lyrically. The singer kinda reminds me of the guy from Fried Egg. There's a part on "Bird Rage" where I'm not certain whether the drummer skips a couple beats for dramatic effect…or he just missed the beats. Dropped a stick or something? Either way, it sounds cool. "TUFF/M.B.T" reminds me of a Cider song, though I cannot quite remember which one. The no frills thing carries over to the packaging here: hand-stamped labels, not even a full folded cover, hardly any information about the band or anything. Maybe it's all best left a mystery. One other thing definitely done right by Gills here: Nathan Ward cover artwork (another thing in common with Fried Egg, now that I think about it). Worth seeking out. 4/5

(try a local record store)

Rat Fucker - Rat Fucker - self-released - 7 songs - cassette, digital

Here's the first studio release from Rat Fucker, following up on their live tape from last year. I guess this one is a cassette "for now" with plans of pressing it as a 7" at some point in the future. It's pretty ripping hardcore. I can't quite remember what other bands these guys are in– Spike Pit and Weed Whacker are at least two of them, I'm pretty sure. It's good stuff. Topic-wise, this i

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 20, Posted 10:13 AM, 10.22.2020

Filling Up The Streets Is The Only Thing That Works: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 106

Knowso - Psychological Garden - self-released - 5 songs - digital

The first of two digital-only (for now?) Knowso EPs released in the past few months. They're down to a two-piece here, with Jayson Gerycz on drums and Nathan Ward on everything else. In that way, it's kinda similar to the first Knowso tape, which I think was just Nathan and Jo Coone. They actually redo a track off of that original tape, "Into A Bug," which already has pretty funny lyrics but is improved even further by Nathan's deadpan delivery. "Isn't it funny how things work out…My life is done now," or the brilliant couplet "My brain's on overdrive / I'm on news channel 5." (A quick digression here, but you know what song from that tape they should bring back out? "Chemical Drink." What a ripper.) This is a slightly more herky-jerky version than the original, as I recall, but still good. Herky-jerky is something of an essential element of the current Knowso sound, after all. The songs on this EP in particular are comprised of a clean guitar and a distorted bass playing the same thing (which actually makes for a pretty cool sound), with the same thing usually being a staccato, pretty rhythmic punk tune in a weird time signature-- not in a math rock kind of way because I don't think they're doing this for those reasons, but more in the way that that's just how Nathan writes, kinda like Spike In Vain. I mean, "Staring At The Spiral" sounds like Neo Neos and that's about as far from math rock as you can be. Certainly less aggressive than past material as well, particularly in comparison to, for example, "Look At The Chart," but again, it's a closer sound to that original demo in a lot of ways. Also, there's more of a lean towards post-punk here, while still being, I'd say, punk. The lyrics on this EP are generally kinda out there, a little bit sci-fi but not quite in a Darvocets way. Sometimes they're about completely normal things, but seen through a filter where it's just a bit off. Like a photo where the color balance is wrong but you can't quite say how. There, that's a poetic description for you. My favorite here, particularly lyrically, is probably "Turning Planet." I really like the lines about "skipping cinderblocks in a cemetery" and "stepping on the names of the dead and dying." Cool stuff. 3.5/5



Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 18, Posted 4:58 PM, 09.02.2020

Annual LHS Alumni Ranger Marching Band Celebration - Canceled Due To C19

The Lakewood High School Alumni Ranger Marching band forfeits the privilege of marching with the current Lakewood Ranger Marching Band at Homecoming due to Covid-19. While this decision saddens us greatly, we are most concerned with the health and well-being of the students, their famillies, the staff, and the alumni who regularly attend. We do, however, look forward to any and all future opportunities to perform with the band.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 17, Posted 4:54 PM, 09.02.2020