Rock Hall CEO's Top Picks

May 13, 2015
Cleveland by Clevelanders

Cleveland by Clevelanders: The Rock Hall CEO

If you wanted to get some legit recommendations on experiencing Cleveland's rock scene, chances are you wouldn't ask the nearest CEO. That is, unless, that CEO happens to oversee the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Greg Harris was named President and CEO of the Rock Hall in December 2012. Prior to that, he'd been overseeing the museum's development, special events, membership, board relations and government affairs. That, of course, was after more than a decade of leadership at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

But, Harris is no newbie to rock and roll. In the 1980s, he and a partner founded, owned and operated a retail store that specializes in selling rare, used and independent records.

So, when it comes to talking Harris' recommendations on Cleveland's music scene, don't turn your nose up to his white-collar-CEO status. This guy definitely knows what he's talking about...

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?

"This year, I'm enjoying live music one night each month during the Rock Hall's Sonic Sessions. The series showcases great talent from around the globe along with some of the best Cleveland has to offer.

There are great live music venues for bands of all sizes and fans of all tastes - from the big halls like the Q or Blossom to the smaller intimate clubs and bars like the Beachland Ballroom, Happy Dog or the Grog Shop. If you want a venue with a view, head to Music Box Supper Club or Jacobs Pavilion."

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?

"Cleveland has many great rock and roll bands! Some favorites are the soulful Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites, blues-rockers Welshly Arms and that great amalgamation that comes together around St. Patrick's Day, The Boys from the County Hell."

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

"Cleveland's music scene rivals that of any great city. At times, the same act will play a theater in Cleveland on a Wednesday to hundreds of people, then on Friday, play a major arena in front of thousands in place like New York City."

4. Where might you recommend a visitor dine when they're in town for a music-inspired vacation? Anything special they should order on the menu there?

"Cleveland is a food city! Most of the restaurateurs participate in our Chef Jam event, held each June. The event is a great opportunity to sample some of the best the city has to offer and enjoy great music in a unique setting.

E. 4th Street boasts The Greenhouse Tavern and Lola, PlayhouseSquare has Cowell and Hubbard, Crop and Market Garden are favorites in Ohio City, and can't forget the traditional Polish fare at Sokolowski's University Inn. Other favorites are Ken Stewart's and Johnny's on Fulton.

If your evening is planned around a concert, take in an Indians day game and enjoy the new Right Field District - represented are Melt, Dynomite Burgers, Barrio, Sweet Moses, Great Lakes Brewing Company and more!

Places to eat standing up are always fun, too! I like the Happy Dog locations, Aladdin's on Carnegie, Souper Market and the food trucks all summer long."

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?

"The Foundation Room at the House of Blues, ABC Tavern in Ohio City, and the Harbor Inn on the West Bank of the Flats because it is authentic."

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

"Start with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. This year, we're celebrating our 20th anniversary with events, concerts, programming and special exhibits that engage the music fan, thanks our community of supporters, and celebrates the spirit and passion of rock and roll.

Head to the Cleveland Museum of Art and other great Cleveland museums, then take a stroll through Little Italy.

Experience the Cleveland sports pride and rich history by supporting the Indians, Cavs or Browns, or take in a show (and the chandelier) at PlayhouseSquare.

The West Side Market is a must visit, then head down to the Gordon Square Arts District for music at the Happy Dog, or enjoy an open house during the third Friday of each month at 78th Street Studios - the largest art and design complex in Northeast Ohio.

If you're headed to the Beachland Ballroom for a show (or brunch), make sure to visit the record stores on Waterloo Road.

The Cuyahoga Valley offers great scenery while skiing at Boston Mills or a motorcycle ride."

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