Episode 2, 1/19/12. Just one of my new favorite Podcasts, from Kevin Seconds.
$1,005.25, raised Friday night at the Happy dog. I could go on and on about the actual show. It was amazing minus a Johnny Cash incident but rather than that I want to thank the following people for making it happen through their generous donations.
The Happy Dog, Eric, Sean, Sean and the entire staff as a matter of fact
The Misery Jackals
The Estate of Johnny Cash
The Cleveland Yo Yo Club
The Cleveland Cupcake Company
Budapest Blonde Cocktail Mixes
Stylemutt Dog Boutique
The Cleveland Handmade Markets
kimberly monaco designs jewelry
Jungle Bob Tuma
Please sweet Lord above don’t let me have forgotten anyone. I feel like I’m getting an Oscar and they are red lighting me.
So I have become a regular at a lot of these DJ Kishka shows at The Happy Dog. Mostly because it is a great time hanging out at a great bar. I mean come on DJ Kishka was recently voted the Best Club DJ by the readers in the Cleveland Scene Magazine poll. However part of the Polock in me really likes that music. It reminds me of my heritage, and takes me back to growing up in Cleveland in the 70′s. Ahhhh the memories. Cleveland is not only home to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but don’t forget we are also home to the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame. After all South Euclid was the true home of America’s Polka King, Frankie Yankovic. Hell, Frankie is even buried at Calvary Cemetery if you want to leave a Kishka on his grave.
If you ever went to a wedding in the 70′s or 80′s the Polka was not only a couple songs here and there but it dominated wedding halls across this great city. Songs like Just Because and Somewhere My Love allowed the Bride and Groom to waltz and slow dance cheek to cheek along side mothers and fathers and even their grandparents. While the upbeat numbers like In Heaven There Is No Beer and Roll Out The Barrel became singalongs at the local tavern others danced the night away to songs like Drew Carey favorite Too Fat Polka and Hoop De Doo. This was a different time in Cleveland. It was a time when the Polish and Slovenian Halls would pack them in to dance the night away for dinner and dancing. Sundays were days for family and you would normally find us at Grandma’s in Parma and from 1-2pm you bet your ass the TV was tuned to Channel 5. Because every Sunday for 27 years Paul Wilcox until 1983 brought live polka bands and dancing right into your living room.
The death of Polka Varieties was the beginning of the end for a lot of quality local programming. A thing called cable TV was starting to make its rounds and things called infomercials were turning out to be more profitable than local shows. No more tweaking the rabbit ears on top of the set to get channel 43 all you had to do was flip a switch on the cable box. For years folks like Linn Sheldon would tell me I was the nicest person in the world, just me as his straw hat wearing character Barnaby. Marty Sullivan would throw on his cape and transform himself into Superhost. He would start off with Laurel and Hardy and Three Stooges shorts throwing in corny skits through the show and ease us into whatever terrible film WUAB paid $5 for. Even radio morning jock John Lanigan was host of the Prize Movie during the week getting in on the action. Son of Ghoul and The Ghoul parodied the original Ghoulardi, Ernie Anderson carrying on the torch still to this day. Guests like Jungle Bob Tuma still makes his rounds of the circuit with his amazing animals. It was local family programming at it’s best peppered with ethnic humor, inside jokes made for Clevelanders, and pure family fun.
A name you probably never heard of before today unless you are a Cleveland TV über-geek, Jay Lawrence, was the final touch on every single skit of Big Chuck and Lil’ John…HaaaaHaaaaaaaaaaa! Each and every year you can still see Charles “Big Chuck” Schodowski and “Lil’ John” Rinaldi at Ghoulardifest. Yep, they are very much still around and while some of you have no idea what I was talking about the paragraph above you know Chuck and John. This was another local pair that got dicked around by the local stations in favor of infomercials and syndicated (ie cheaper) programs. I watched them as a kid where the format was a cheesy monster movie, some corny skits, and a huge dose of Cleveland humor. They moved all over in time slots from late night to afternoon, back to late night. The station changed the movie format on them which went from scary monster movies to whatever the corporate tight asses could get for a nickle. Eventually Chuck and John fizzled out to just doing Three Stooges and some skits to a show called Just the Skits.
Local TV, fuck you. You managed over time to kill everything original and local and truly Cleveland about Cleveland television. I hate that we live in such a corporate money hungry society that we can’t have our own identity for just 2 hours a week. There are tons of people that miss this sort of thing and that my friends is why I love going to see DJ Kishka. That is why I think The Happy Dog is the best damn bar in Cleveland. They don’t try to deny our past of white socks and black shoes. You can embrace pierogies because Bill Clinton went to Parma Pierogies like 2 decades ago but you can’t embrace Polka Music? Is it really that bad? Is it really that embarrassing to have a good time and goof on yourself a little bit? Yes I go see a DJ play polka records. I am not ashamed to admit it either because you know why? Because this is Cleveland and we never did, and never will give a fuck what you think. So come out and see Kishka Friday night. As a matter of fact wear white socks and black shoes because that shit is sexy. He will be spinning polkas from 6-9pm and playing Chuck and John skits. If you can’t get behind that you are still in the Cleveland closet. We’re never going to be Los Angeles we’re never going to be New York City. We are Cleveland and we need to wear that shit like a badge of honor.
The Misery Jackals hailing from Akron Ohio formed early in 2008, and have since performed numerous shows across Northeast Ohio, opening for acts such as The Pine Box Boys (San Fransisco, CA), and Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival (Cleveland, OH). The Misery Jackals have a sound like no other, blending Punk and Bluegrass, with elements of Gypsy and Zydeco. Call it what you like, they call it Pillbilly Browngrass. Their live sound is infectious and strikes a chord with fans of multiple genres. You have this traditional bluegrass sound mixed in with so many different elements that it is hard to place. When old punks grow up and mature this is the kind of sound you get.
I am pretty sure the first time I saw The Misery Jackals was in 2009 at the Beachland along with East Cleveland mainstays Heelsplitter. It was that something different I hadn’t heard before that kicked me in the ass to say I need to get out more often. Somewhere shortly thereafter I started this whole 52 Weeks of Cleveland thing. I knew I had to get out more often and discover this world of the Cleveland brand of bluegrass and truly alternative country. In 2010 they toured with some heavy hitters and headlined more than a couple shows including one of the very first Beachland Barn Dance series. They even pulled me into the underbelly of Akron for a show earlier this year to leave my Cleveland post. I think one of my personal favorites was seeing them busking in front of the Grog Shop before the Legendary Shack Shakers show.
Over the last couple years I have witnessed a couple different drummers, a substitute front man, and a very banged up and bruised Pirate lady. Poor Pirate Jenny was banged up in a subway accident a while back and more recently she took a header off a stage at an Akron show. Despite what might come off as a revolving door it really isn’t. The band is comprised of Sweet Willy C. on the Banjo, Pirate Jenny on the Accordion, Doghouse Tim on upright Bass, The Consultant on the skins, and Beaner playing the Guitar. I should point out they all share the vocal duties with Beaner taking most of the honors. Right now with Pirate Jenny out Accordion duties will be taken over by a giant accordion playing cock. No kidding, Ben Shuber dressed as a giant chicken will be playing in place of Pirate Jenny. They have three shows coming up this week. Thursday at Bud & Tooties in New Philadelphia, Friday at the Happy Dog with Scoliosis Jones and Sunday at the Beachland with Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn band. While I am partial to the Friday show please check these guys out. You will not be disappointed.
I think the Food Network never realized how big of rock stars their celebrity Chefs were 5 years ago when they first started doing their now famous tour. I went to the first one and it was an absolute zoo. Sadly I have not went back until this year, and boy did I miss out obviously. However I think I made up for my absence on Sunday when I made my way back to the IX center to check it out.
This show is not only good for fans of the Chefs but also for novice “foodies” in training, weekend BBQ Warriors and even families. It seriously has a little something for everyone from high end cutlery and utensils to local mom and pop staples. You had everyone there from the big guns like Giant Eagle to old school specialty meat shops like State Road Meats.
You want samples? This is like Costco on steroids. Everyone has samples out and most of it comes from these small little guys you never heard of. I know they don’t really discriminate too much on who the vendors are so you have some junk that doesn’t belong. You have your scam-esque fill this out for a chance to win this and that, and some home improvement stuff as well, but for the most part this was all about food. Get rid of the annoyances and you have a really fun event.
One of my favorites was Great Lakes Smoked Meats, and they seriously make one hell of a smokie. Their other stuff wasn’t half bad at all either, but if I want real Cleveland sausage I am hitting one of my regular shops. For smokies though these things were awesome. Their stand was well organized with a small line that moved pretty quick. The folks were very knowledgeable about their products as well. Make sure to be on the look out for this gems. They are even carried at Marc’s which I was kind of surprised by. When I think of Marc’s I seriously never thing of this high of a quality of product.
The lines for the book signings were nutso crazy and located next to the Food Network book shop. The book shop was just OK as they really only carried the stuff of who was signing. I would have liked to have seen more variety there. In the main auditorium we got to see Clevelands own Michael Symon create a nice rib roast with a simple pumpkin puree. The guy is hilarious. The laugh absolutely priceless. It was incredible to see him doing a live show to this packed house. He is animated, funny, intelligent and there is no wonder why he is on top of his game nationally. So pretty much across the board this show had a little bit of everything for everyone.
The IX center is such a great place for this and hopefully the tour will keep coming back for years to come. I can’t say enough about just how incredible the IX Center is when they put on a show. They have this ability to transform this giant empty building into a thing of beauty. It could be rows and rows of cars for the auto show, amusement rides for the indoor amusement park or the amazing Home and Garden show they are always spot on when it comes to entertainment value for the entire family.
Such a cool little shop. I stopped in here Saturday while running around like a wild man running errands and whatnot. Located towards the end of hustle and bustle of the main drag but not too far Lily’s is an oasis of chocolates. I didn’t get a chance to actually meet Lilly, who isn’t really named Lilly at all mind you as you would think. Her name is Amanda Montague and she makes absolutely decadent sweets. The storefront is small and unassuming with walls lined with beers and wines for your chocolate pairing pleasure.
A case and confectionery of various chocolate delights acts as the showroom for these sweets. The presentation is nothing short of art. The store is absolutely clean, like as in wow these folks here pay close attention to detail almost to the point of OCD. The chocolates are quite expensive. However chocolates are kind of meant to be an indulgence item. Way back in the old days getting a candy bar was a big deal but with the onslaught of mini this and mini that, not so much anymore. Stores like Lilly’s are not the reason we struggle so much as a city with weight issues and health disease. Giant bags of the stuff are the reason for that. So in moderation I am all for chocolate, look at me, I am pretty much all for everything who am I kidding? However this is the way confections like this are made to be served, in small portions with the utmost attention to detail and loaded with unique flavors.
That being said, I indulged. I got a 12 piece box for $22.00 and a couple of the $5 bars. Everything was spectacular. I had lime flavored chocolate, chocolate flavored with Maker’s Mark, and even one spiked with Cayenne pepper. One I didn’t care for was the Nine Lives which was a dark chocolate and espresso offering. If asked why I didn’t like it I would say stupidly well I don’t like coffee. Then why did I order it? No idea, well it was more for my wife who is a coffee addict. I guess the lesson here is if you don’t like a certain flavor opt for something else because the flavors are complex and if you think it is just going to be a hint it’s not going to be. These tiny little squares are packed with flavor. If you are a chocolate fan you need to come check this place out as a splurge item. If you are a guy and did something stupid or maybe trying to impress a lady you come here. That is a no brainer right there. If you want to make her smile, or your lady friend is easily impressed any box of chocolates will do. If you want to knock her socks off among other clothing items you need to come to Lilly’s.
What a kick off for what is to come tonight at the Palace. Rebirth comes out to the stage around 9pm to the packed room at the House of the Blues with an incredible energy that got everyone moving from note one of Walking to New Orleans to the last note of a heavy handed funk fest. The thing about the music of New Orleans is that it is one of the most recognizable sounds in the entire world. It’s that dirty funky jazz that makes you shake, makes you move and takes you to another place.
Simply put, The Rebirth Brass Band is a New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by the now infamous Frazier brothers, the band has evolved from playing the streets of the French Quarter to playing festivals and stages all over the world. Rebirth is committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands while at the same time incorporating modern music into their show. Their signature brand of heavy funk has not only won over several generations of music lovers, it has become the soundtrack to an entire city. In the wake of the sometimes-stringent competition amongst brass bands, Rebirth is the undisputed leader of the pack, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Trombone Shorty is nothing short of a prodigy. An amazing talent. He is also one of those guys that is so under the radar that unless you are in the know of the genre you probably never heard of him. However the guy has played with some serious heavy hitters and Shorty is not even 25 years old. He is rock star but not with a guitar, his axe is a trombone. His mix of funk, jazz and hiphop can get you moving and grooving and that’s exactly what he did at the House of Blues last night. The guy is a nonstop touring machine and has already appeared in Cleveland once this year. Chances are this might be the last chance to ever see a player this good in a venue this small. To say he is on the verge of stardom is an understatement and those in the crowd were jaw dropped amazed at what he brought to the table.
House of Blues was great last night. Quick entry, friendly door, in control bouncers. They just were spot on. The crowd itself was a bit weird but that’s the kind of eclectic group of folks fans of the New Orleans sound will bring out. You had kids with their folks to AARP card carrying members. Everyone young, old and in between was feeling this music dancing and hand clapping and having a good time. I still have to admit my African America sisters can seriously move it and groove it. I was standing in front of one dark princess that could serious vibe to that music. It was funny watching her get down and then looking two girls right of her and watching the white girl wedding shuffle going down full force. It makes me wonder why most dance studios are run by white people. Oh well man I totally digressed there didn’t I?
One odd thing about the crowd though that annoyed me? Drunk people, and lots of them. The thing about a show like this is you have a bunch of people who don’t get out much and when they do they tend to overindulge a bit. I was standing to the side of the stage near the stairs from the restaurant and you would swear those few stairs were an obstacle course for some. Weird sighting of the night? Former disgraced Cleveland golden boy politician Benny Bonanno. It’s just a weird mix of folks and goes to speak on the idea that Cleveland is this full on melting pot of diversity. I am not saying Bonanno is some rock star celebrity or anything but you never know who you are going to bump into out and about in Cleveland. And yes his hair does still look like something crawled on his head and fell asleep.