Jam Sessions

October 5, 2015
Jam Sessions

5 reasons Cleveland's music revolution continues to roar today

By Annie Zaleski

Rock History
Stodgy museums, step to the side: The glass-enclosed Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a hip-shaking, guitar-flinging reminder of why Cleveland is ground zero for world famous music. Memorabilia immortalizes the radio DJs and recording artists that invented the genre - including plenty from the Forest City (that's us, BTW) - while there's plenty of nods to inductees Springsteen, Bowie, and Rush, all of whom first broke out of Cleveland. And like rock and roll itself, the multi-level museum (which turned 20 years young in 2015) keeps on evolving. The memento-packed exhibit about locally founded and based music magazine Alternative Press is powered by colorful photos of rock and punk icons, as well as a video history of the publication and a cover gallery. Meanwhile, the displays honoring this year's talented class of new Hall of Famers - including Green Day, Joan Jett, and Stevie Ray Vaughan - are a multimedia bonanza featuring interactive content and exclusive interviews. No matter what music tickles your ears, the Rock Hall delivers a riotous and informative good time.

That's Cool
Think polka is for your grandparents? Think again: The Happy Dog's monthly Polka Happy Hour with DJ Kishka is a beer-drinking bacchanal full of boisterous accordions and couples of all ages dancing merrily in the aisles. Or else drop some coins at Hingetown's Jukebox, a neighborhood bar boasting stellar craft beer and an ever-evolving juke catalog mixing classics old and new.

The Scene
Waterloo staple the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern (two different stages) is easily one of the best venues in the nation to enjoy indie acts experimenting with rock, alt-country, rap, and jam. Stylish Cleveland Heights staple Nighttown brings local and national jazz and classical acts to the east side, while Flats West Bank's sleek, two-story Music Box Supper Club hosts everything from classic rock and Zydeco to bluegrass and soul. Even in the shadow of the Q and Progressive Field, downtown mainstay Wilbert's Food & Music serves up a diverse array of blues, jazz, roots, and world music acts.

Play List  
Think Northeast Ohio's music scene begins and ends with retro-garage vets the Black Keys? Well, listen up: There's no shortage of amazing local sounds to add to your playlist and concert schedule - from quirky indie-noise duo Mr. Gnome and folkie-turned-rocker Jessica Lea Mayfield to bluesy bashers Welshly Arms and dreamy indie-pop act The Lighthouse and The Whaler.

Festive Vibes
Neither snow nor ice nor sub-freezing temperatures keep Clevelanders down - or indoors. Exhibit A: The booming popularity of the annual arts and music festival Brite Winter. This year's model, taking place in the Flats West Bank on Feb. 20, features dozens of local bands across multiple indoor and outdoor stages, as well as frosty beer and belly-warming food trucks. Throw on a hat and scarf and revel with 20,000 of your coolest friends.

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