CLE Music Marketer's Top Picks

May 12, 2015
Cleveland by Clevelanders

Cleveland by Clevelanders: The Music Marketer

If you wanted the guidebook version of Cleveland's music scene, well, you'd go look in the guidebook. But, if you want the real nuts-and-bolts, behind-the-scenes advice on who to hear and where to go in Cleveland, you'd best turn to the experts.

Carrie Samek is the marketing manager at the House of Blues in Cleveland. She's spent the last decade in the music biz and has pretty much become a fixture at any great live music show that's worth boasting. But when she's not jamming out to her favorite band, she's inside her Ohio City home with her dog and cat fittingly named Yoko and Lenny.

Check out this musically-minded marketer's guide to CLE's music scene...

1. Cleveland's got a lot of places to check out live music. The options can seem somewhat limitless to a visitor. What are one or two of your favorite places to see a live show?

The House of Blues would be my first choice because it's in the heart of the city, in a thriving downtown neighborhood where you can just have a great time and hear great music. I also really like that the House of Blues is the largest curator of ‘outsider art' in the world.

I also really like Jacob's Pavilion at Nautica. There's not a bad seat in the whole venue! I've sat at the top of the bleachers where you can get this incredible view of the whole city while still getting some great sound. I've seen a bunch of really great shows there."

2. If you're the city where the term "rock and roll" was made popular, you'd better have a great music scene. What are one or two of your favorite Cleveland bands you'd recommend to a visitor?

"My favorite Cleveland band right now is Ohio Sky. Their live show gets better every time I see them. It's a really cool visual show, too. They always have projector screens and bring in great lighting. Their sound just gets better and better every time I hear them. In fact, they just came out with a new album called "The Big Distraction." The CD release show was amazing.

Another Cleveland band that I really like is called Shitbox Jimmy.  They're more of a party band. They're like a twangy, mean-muggin' 70's rock and roll band. They're super fun and definitely more of a party band."

3. What's something most people probably don't know about Cleveland's music scene?

"There's a whole new generation of hustlers in the music business in this town. There are so many recording engineers like Jim Stewart who are doing local band recordings. There are all these up-and-coming producers and promoters like Cellar Door and Cleveland Music City.

Everyone is working together to make sure the best talent is coming to Cleveland. And, we're all working together to really promote the local music scene, too.

Right now, the House of Blues is working closely with local venues like the Beachland Ballroom and the Grog Shop to work together on some shows. There's more of a unity now than there ever has been."

4. Where might you recommend a visitor dine when they're in town for a music-inspired vacation?

"My new favorite place is Jukebox in Hingetown. They specialize in pierogies and sauerkraut. Every month, they rotate through their jukebox, offer free tokens and you can hear all different kinds of music.

My favorite drink there, by far, is the Cleveland Mule, which is made with Cleveland Whiskey, lime and ginger beer. My favorite dish at Jukebox is the mushroom and onion pierogi."

5. It wouldn't be a proper visit to Cleveland without grabbing a couple of post-show drinks. What are one or two of your favorite watering holes?

"My favorite is ABC the Tavern in Ohio City. Their bartenders are the main reason I go because they're all huge music fanatics themselves and some of them even play in local bands. One of the bartenders is in a band called Nowhere. They're all into the music scene. You see them all the time at shows.  I've always had a good time every time I go there."

6. What's a non-music-related attraction that you think visitors should definitely check out while in town?

"Definitely check out the Super Electric Pinball Parlor, a pinball parlor located inside the West 78th Street Studios. Three guys operate this studio where there are 20 pinball machines you can play for free. It's cool. You can play for free and bring your own beer. You feel like you're in this crazy, secret apartment from the movie Big."

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