CLE Music Promoter’s Top Picks

March 11, 2015
Meeting Jam Sessions

Cleveland by Clevelanders: The Promoter

Sure - people here in Cleveland love the live music scene. But some folks just know it better than others.

Twenty-eight-year-old James Carol was born and raised in Cleveland. He started off in advertising and marketing, but later started his own music promotion business. Today, Carol successfully owns and operates CLE Music City where he sets up events, produces the music aspect for Cleveland festivals and even hosts the Best Albums of the Year celebration that recognizes all of the great music in Cleveland.

So, if you're looking for the some of the most knowledgeable recommendations on Cleveland's music scene, talk to this local promoter...

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 Beachland Ballroom is always one of my favorites for bigger shows. The atmosphere has a great vibe. At the same time, it's more intimate than so many other venues - even in other cities. The Beachland just has something much more personal to it.

I also have a great working relationship with Mahall's in Lakewood. It's a great place to meet rising stars. These bands really give you the personal touch because they're typically not as big yet. You really get to know them."

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?

"I could recommend one or two great bands, but for me, it would be a great disservice. Luckily, there are so many that fit and with so many styles and feelings.

We have the rock bands like Welshly Arms, Herzog and Midnight Passenger. The epic, indie/alternative bands like Seafair, The Modern Electric, Cities and Coasts and The Lighthouse & The Whalers. The old-school soul in Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites and too new age soul in Marcus Alan Ward. We have hip-hop from MUAMIN Collective, Common Ave, Smoke Screen and so many others. We've got great pop, folk, country, reggae and punk artists.

The list goes on and on. So to name drop one or two is hard. But I'm happy to say, any band from Cleveland is a treasure and worth checking out."

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

"Cleveland's music scene is very unique. I was a stranger to the music scene when I first got started. I thought local bands just play at the Grog Shop and the Beachland Ballroom and that's it. I didn't see the growth or the big idea behind it.

Now I've been thrust into it, I can see that Cleveland's music scene is on par with any other city. We might be smaller in terms of demographics, but in terms of product you get a little bit of everything (rock, EDM, folk). Cleveland has tons of live music.

There is local talent that's really doing it. I've always been impressed with the growing background of the music scene. Over the last five or six years there's been this really huge wave of great ideas and people coming up with their own unique ways to put shows together."

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

"The first place I would always say is the Happy Dog. The new location at the Euclid Tavern is beautifully designed. It gives you a great idea of the city's music and food culture. They offer more than just hot dogs, too. Your creativity already starts going when you look at the menu. After all, you can put fruit loops on a hot dog if you want!"

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?

"Right now, I really like the Jukebox. They've been really smart about how they do things. They give you discounts if you come back from a show with your ticket stub. It's just a really great place for a pre- or post-show party.

For personal fun, there's 16 Bit in Lakewood. Basically they have free video games, like old-school arcade games. They also have a bar where you can order a pretty good variety of drinks. It's my personal stress reliever to play video games after a long night. It's just a really cool place to hang out."

6. Music venues and attractions aside, what's an attraction that you think visitors should definitely check out while in town?

"You should go to the Cleveland Museum of Art. It's an amazing, amazing place. Over the last few years, they've really upgraded. You feel like you're walking into a futuristic space zone that's also filled with high-quality art. It also doesn't hurt that it's mostly free. It's just a great way to spend a few hours."

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