Friday, April 30, 2010

Celluloid Bachelor #65: This is how I get work done these days

You might find the above lame or irritating or something altogether different. That's fine. I don't care. Because I swear to god, this single clip has made it possible for me to get more work done in the last 3 days than in any consecutive stretch then the heart of my dissertation writing. For those of you that need a little help concentrating right now, it has the official CB endorsement. It only lasts about 10 minutes, unfortunately, but you can download hour-long versions from a website for like 10 bucks. Let me tell you -- I'm seriously tempted.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tonight in Cleveland (4/29): Harlem & The Wooly Bullies at Now That's Class

My pal Fred turned me on to these dudes as we made our way back from a few days in grumpy New York City to Cleveland, city where people actually smile and laugh without worrying too much about cool.

Anyway, this band (Harlem) gets down pretty good, too. That's probably because they aren't from New York either.

Go to Now That's Class tonight. Watch them perform. Smile a little. Shake hands with a neighbor. Don't complain about waiting more than 15 seconds to purchase a drink. Go early for The Wooly Bullies - I saw them play an in-store at Blue Arrow a little while back and they ruled, too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BUMMER! Giant Cloud Cancels

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for those of you super-pumped about tomorrow's Giant Cloud in-store at Blue Arrow Records, read the following statement carefully:


Sucks, don't it? No one is to blame, though. Well, except for the bastard that towed the band's van, forcing it to cough up the rest of its touring budget to get the sucker out of impound. As a result, the band is cancelling the rest of its northern swing and heading back to Louisiana to lick its wounds and build back the bank account.

They'll be back, though, one day. And I promise you, we'll have a get-down.

Until then, sorry we won't be doing it in front of the Blue Arrow stage tomorrow night.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Official CB In-store Announcement: Giant Cloud @ Blue Arrow Records THIS Thursday

Dear friends,

It is my great pleasure to announce that Cleveland Bachelor has dipped a toe into the in-store promotion biz. I couldn't think of a better band to start with, either.

THIS Thursday at 6:30 PM, please welcome to the Blue Arrow Records stage, New Orleans-based rockers Giant Cloud.

I stumbled upon these guys at a Park the Van Records day party during SXSW last month. I was there to see Floating Action but came away a new and devoted Giant Cloud fan. When they played "Fingernails" I put down my iphone and stopped sending emails. When the turned to "Old Books" - the title track of their recent EP - I broke out a smile, knowing I'd found a new band I could dig. When they played "Old Soul" - man, I fell in love.

I think you'll do the same. These guys do a full-figured southern folk thing, but louder and more plugged-in than that description might lead you to think. So swing by after work, have a beer or two, peruse the stacks and gaze upon Blue Arrow's amazing album floor, all the while digging the savory sounds of one of my new fave's, Giant Cloud.

See you there,


Tonight in Cleveland (4/27): Generationals/Apples in Stereo/Laminated Cat @ Grog Shop

Generationals // The Apples in stereo // Laminated Cat from Generationals on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Celluloid Bachelor #64: Barack Obama "Vote 2010"

That's my man.

Sweet Home Chicago

I'm from Chicago. Well, not "Chicago" Chicago, but more like a south suburb of the Windy City. A more accurate way of stating it would be to say I'm from the Greater Chicagoland Area, but other than car dealership commercials, who wants to waste time on that?

Anyway, I was back in the Chi (pronounced 'shy') last week for work. I moved away from Illinois almost a decade ago and each additional time I've visited since, I've felt more and more like a tourist. Which is fine, because Chicago is a wonderful place to vacation, even if it is a 80% work vacation.

In addition to having a pretty successful work experience this time, I made a little extra time for fun stuff. I've been to the city enough in the last several years, even after moving away, that I don't ever feel the need to hit up anywhere special (other than Portillo's, which I failed to visit this time). This time, I was perfectly happy to allow others to lead the way, focusing more on the company and the fun than on specific locations.

Even so, I had one of the best pizzas of my life at Santullo's in Wicker Park, where my pal and I were kicking around, hitting up Myopic Books and other cool spots. I got to lounge for a minute in the loop location of Reckless Records and scored some cool books (including some great weird ones for Cookbook as a thank you for watching my pups while I was away) at Afterwords.

Perhaps best of all, though, was the Saturday morning/early afternoon outing with another friend to Wrigley Field for a tour of the stadium. That was awesome - nearly 2 hours long with trips to both clubhouses, the press booth, the home dugout, and even part of the field! An event to remember for this lifelong Cub fan. So much so I found myself looking up the Cubs schedule to see when they'd be playing nearby. (FYI - there are some tempting series coming up in early June in Pittsburgh and late August in Cinci.)

To make it even better, afterwards we walked a few blocks to this vintage dive bar my friend had heard about and discovered an incredibly charming little watering hole. The patrons were welcoming, the bartendress both attractive and cool and also born the same year as me, which made for some great conversation about 90s radio alt rock. There is nothing better than meeting a stranger and bonding over that old missing children Soul Asylum video. Seriously, who else is going to get how awesome it was to drink during high school at abandoned country houses code-named things like 'Soundgarden' and 'Candlebox'? Or that you want to give a high-five to when you hear their first show was a Ned's Atomic Dustbin gig?

A handful of beers and a shot from some anonymous person down the bar from us later, we stumbled over to the thoughtfully named Taco and Burrito House for some killer tacos and nachos. Then it was back to work, albeit a bit glassy-eyed and happy.

God I love that town.

Tonight in Cleveland (4/26): Horse Feathers & Cloud Nothings at the Beachland!

Tonight's show is a good one and a great way for you to get a little rock joy out of a bleary Monday when everything else is closed anyway. New local wonders Cloud Nothings are opening for Portland-based indie folk outfit Horse Feathers. Indie Folk is really a too-limiting label for these guys, though, as it doesn't take into consideration the atmospheric and haunting nature of the band's recently released record, Thistled Spring. Intrigued? So was seminal label Kill Rock Stars when they signed the band. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for each one of us. Check them out tonight. Doors open at the Beachland at 8 and the cover is $10.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CB Q/A #36: Grant Widmer of Generationals

I recently caught up with Generationals frontman Grant Widmer as he and the rest of the band cruised up the New Jersey turnpike, making their way from Philly to the Big Apple, en route to play the Bowery Ballroom in New York We started off talking about the experience of playing in NYC and then cruised through a number of topics, including the exciting cultural developments in New Orleans, from which the band hails, what they have planned for 2010 (hint: this is a huge year for the band), and their previous experiences in Cleveland.

Got any exciting plans for while you are in New York?

Man, it is always a headache – there is so much logistical stuff to deal with in New York. As a result, you do less than you want to, because you are always trying to keep everyone together. You have to cut your losses. However, we do have a lot of friends here, so it’ll be a party for sure.

How’s the rest of the tour been going?

This has seriously been the funnest tour we’ve had yet – every show been awesome. I really love the bands we are on the tour with (The Apples in Stereo and Laminated Cat). The weather has been amazing every day. It’s been a fantastic trip. I can’t wait to continue on.

You moved back to New Orleans in 2008, as did Park the Van. Fellow label mates Giant Cloud moved there about the same time. It seems like New Orleans is starting to experience a post-hurricane cultural resurgence. Does that have any kind of impact on your work?

All the people you mention are doing the things they are doing because that’s what they love doing and I think we’d be doing what we do even if we were the only ones there. But we’ve definitely benefited from folks coming down and setting up shop and building a richer community. I hope more bands think New Orleans is a good place to come down and set up.

What are you listening to these days?

We only have a tape player in the van so we buy tapes at gas stations wherever we go. We just bought an ELO Greatest Hits Live Part 2 tape. There is very little by way of liner notes, but from what I’ve gathered Jeff Lynne is not involved and so it is some other guy doing all the singing.

We also just got a copy of the brand new Dr Dog record that just came out on Tuesday. That one’s awesome. It is a little different from previous records – they became pretty well known for their sort of homemade sound and on this one the production value is very very high, but it has a bunch of good songs. I really like it.

Anything out of New Orleans you think people in the rest of the country should be hearing?

Giant Cloud – we’re fans of theirs, too. They are the cool deal in New Orleans right now. They do a lot of touring, as much as us, though, and are probably only there as often as we are, which is to say not very.

New Orleans has a lot of diversity. There are a bunch of brass bands that are really great. A bunch of instrumentalists that just killing it. Kermit Ruffins is about to get real famous.

Givers is another band from Lafayette doing really well, about to be on everyone’s radar soon.

Brass Bed is really great. Their new album is coming out on Park the Van, also. They are also from Lafayette. They’re gonna be killing it this year, doing a lot of touring.

Missing Monuments, have you heard of them yet? They are this power pop band that brings it so hard every night. Gonna be more known this year, definitely.

What’s the plan for the summer?

We’re gonna do a few one-off shows, a festival in June, a festival in Mexico in August, and between those two were gonna try to squeeze in as much recording as we can. We have a few recording projects to accomplish before the fall, when we are trying to work out some more touring, especially internationally. It’s gonna be a big summer. A great year.

How will new record be different from Con Law?

We’ll go in with another group of songs and they’ll sort of reflect what happens when we are in the studio. We don’t have a hard line thing we are going to do, it is just gonna be songs that we bring in and they’ll turn out how they turn out. The seeds will be similar to the ones we brought in when we made the last record, but what happens when we get in there is anybody’s guess. We do what we do, so you’ll know it is us when you hear it, but what it is that we are doing can be pretty different depending on what happens in the studio.

Ever been to Cleveland? Any memorable experiences to share?

Years ago, we played at a place called the Hi Fi with our old band. Generationals has never been there. The Hi-Fi time we loaded our stuff, and then decided we wanted to go down to Rock Hall. So we did, but as soon as we got to the museum, they literally shut the door and locked it. That was awesome. A funny little metaphor for getting shut out of the scene.

But Cleveland overall? I remember it being cool, remember having good weather, I thought it was a nice town. Actually, funny thing, that time the sound guy at Hi-Fi was named Poop. He was a total veteran, been doing it for years and years. Our old band had a female singer and he came up after the show and said we were great, told us about how he used to hang out with Blondie back in the day and how our singer really reminds him of “Debby Harris.” Right, Debby Harris, not Deborah Harry. Real tight friendship there, I bet.

Be sure to check out Generationals when they play the Grog Shop on Tuesday, April 27th with Apples in Stereo and Laminated Cat. Tickets are $12 and the show will commence promptly at 8:30. For real.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tonight in Cleveland (4/23): Dana Oldfather "We Are Mountains" opening at William Rupnik Gallery

We Are Mountains, a new solo exhibit by Dana Oldfather, illustrates the weight of one's natural emotional contradictions through a range of experiences; an accomplished existence can nonetheless be consumed with doubt and uncertainty. Her abstract wonderlands are skillful and balanced while her amoebic figures are on a transcendental journey from past to present. Each thoughtful piece gracefully embodies the revelation of contesting aspirations in an ambiguous arrangement of paths and shapes.

Beginning her career as a figurative realist painter, Dana has since loosened her hand and expanded into the realm of abstraction. Contrarily organized and layered, each piece is inspired by nature, culture and resolution. With a focus on innocence, individuality, and consumption, and by employing contrasting metaphorical and magnified pointillist elements, Dana connects to the world through beauty.

Dana currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, and has had her works shown across the country. In 2008, she was granted 2nd place in the 9th Annual National Young Painters Competition by renowned New York painter and art critic, Peter Plagens. Dana is currently represented at The Bonfoey Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, EO Art Lab in Chester, Connecticut, and Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York City, New York. Her paintings are also part of corporate collections such as the Cleveland Artists' Foundation and the esteemed Progressive Insurance Art Collection.

Opening reception at William Rupnik Gallery 7-10 PM, Friday, April 23, 2010.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celluloid Bachelor #63: Generationals "Angry Charlie"

Can we all agree on just one thing in this complicated, convoluted world? Can we all agree that Park the Van Records is knocking the ball out of the park lately? I'm more than willing to admit that it is my favorite label (though the efforts at Dead Oceans deserve special mention, too).

Today's video comes to us from New Orleans-based band Generationals. "Angry Charlie" is the second track off last year's Con Law album. If you dig it, you'll be particularly stoked to hear the rest of the album live when Generationals hits the Grog Shop with The Apples in Stereo and Laminated Cat next week!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coming soon ...

CB Q/A #35: Ben Jones of Giant Cloud

Giant Cloud is a band I accidentally discovered last month when I was in Austin for SXSW. I’d stopped by a bar for the Park the Van Records day party to see Floating Action, a band I’ve loved for a while but never before seen live, and got to hear a couple bands play before it was their turn. I don’t remember who the first band was, but Giant Cloud came on next and from the moment they started, I was hooked.

They play a great, raucous electric sound that reminds me of the earthy, rural south, which is sorta where they come from, though they’ve recently relocated as a band to New Orleans. Life in the Big Easy has been good for them as a band, living all together in a shotgun house. They spend most of the time on the road, which is where I caught up with them the other day.

The band was making their way through rural Colorado and the reception was spotty, which is why my conversation started with Preston (guitar and vocals) but, after a dropped call, would up with frontman Ben Jones.

How’s the tour going?

It’s going pretty well. We’ve played a lot of dates, been on the road for over a month. It has been hit or miss in some places, but the places we expected to be good were good.

How has the move to New Orleans gone? What’s the best thing?

We moved almost a year ago. It’s been great. That’s where I’m (Ben) originally from. My family’s there and Julie (Ben’s wife and also lead vocalist and Rhodes rocker) has been there for last 8-9 years.

The most exciting thing about being in New Orleans is that the music scene is starting to thrive for the first time since the hurricane. There are lots of great shows and cool bands coming out of nowhere.

Like who? What bands should we know about?

Bands to know about: Caddywhompus. There’s a great band from Lafayette called Givers. They have a pretty good daytrotter session up now.

What do you guys do there other than be in a band?

The band’s been pretty much 100% for a while. We haven’t really worked in New Orleans yet too much outside of the band. We’ve been basically on tour since October of last year, kind of in and out. Ended up touring to pay our rent so we can go back out and tour some more.

What’s the best thing about touring?

The people you meet, for sure. That and all the landscape you see. Makes for interesting memories because you are doing it so fast that it is hard to process all that information. In the course of a month, playing in 28 cities, you go a lot of places but don’t know a lot about any of them.

Actually, the best thing is the cd collection we have now of all the random bands we happened to play with that no one will ever hear of in California or Pennsylvania or Oregon or wherever. It makes for an interesting catalogue – some of it is bad, but others are really great.

You seem to embrace your southern roots a lot, in a good way. It reminds me, in some ways, of Mofro as much as it does Lynyrd Skynyrd. What does it mean to say you are a southern band?

A lot of artists grow up and leave and don’t embrace it. I don’t want to be one of those people. I’ve spent my whole life looking really hard for the beautiful things. I don’t want to leave it. People have a different mindset about Louisiana and we want to show them we are a southern band and have the sound that we do, and can be open minded and loving.

What are you listening to these days?

Caddywhompus. The Boswell Sisters. New Joanne Newsom. New Dr. Dog record.

How do you feel about covers? Play any or have any you’d love to do some day?

Occasionally we’ll play a cover at a bar, maybe do some Beatles songs or something by The Band. We used to cover Good Vibrations, but don’t do it anymore. Occasionally, we’ll throw one out if the party needs to keep going, but we have 15 originals to choose from now.

Does living all together in your house impact the music you make?
You bet. Things are not nearly as frequent, actually, with songwriting. Actually, we’re all kinda going our separate ways when we go home – we moved out of our place before SXSW and will be going different places when this tour ends. Right now, we don’t have anywhere but our van. I think it’ll help out the songwriting success. For me, really being creative means you have to seclude yourself sometimes. And when you have none of that, it slows things down.

To meet Ben and the rest of Giant Cloud, be sure to hit Cranky's on W 25th Street (the former Matinee spot by the interstate entrance) on Thursday, April 29th. They'll be playing with CB faves The Modern Electric, too!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Proper Noun of the Week #31: Dana Oldfather

I remember when I was younger, telling people I wanted to travel a lot and see exciting places all over America and the world. Anymore, I don't feel like doing that, because nowadays every time I go somewhere "interesting" I find myself missing super cool things here in town. Case in point: Friday's opening reception for Dana Oldfather's new exhibit at William Rupnik Gallery, "We Are Mountains."

I'm doubly bummed about missing this event. First, the work that I've seen is wonderful, and that's after being sent through the digital ringer. I can only imagine what it looks like up close and personal. Second, as you'll soon learn, Dana is quite a cool person. I think we'd even be friends, at least based on her answers to my usual list of questions. Unless, of course, she hired a wordsmith to craft these great answers. In that case, I'd probably be a good platonic match for the writer.

In any case, I urge you to attend this opening, but be gentle when you bump into me next week and tell me how wonderful it was. I have horrid bouts of jealousy, and why I likely won't want to throw down and fight you, then and there, I will talk about you behind your back like you won't believe. Mean. Oh so mean. So, be gentle. Go see the Oldfather exhibit. Just don't rub it in.

1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?

I graduated from Mentor High and spent my early 20s boozing it around Willoughby. I didn’t really grow up until I was about 25 and moved downtown to the Towerpress Building where I resided for a little over 2 years. Then I moved to my apartment/studio in Tremont where I’ve been since then. I’ve lived in the city proper for about 6-7 years.

2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?

It was the 4th of July and some friends of mine were playing at The Harp with Tim Easton. It was an all day little festival in the parking lot and Tim was working a booth trying to register people to vote while the other bands played. My girlfriends and I helped out at the booth. The view from The Harp was classic Cleveland. You could see the skyline, the lake, and all the industrial wasteland in between. The day felt very Cleveland. Anyhow, the music rolled on through the afternoon. At sunset my friends’ band “The Roosevelts” took the stage. After a couple songs they started playing a cover of The Beatles “When the Rain Comes” and just like that, the sky opened up and started pouring on the crowd. It was eerie and a little bit magical. Later that evening we sat on the median of the freeway and watched fireworks over the lake. It was perfect Cleveland. I named a painting after that day.

3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?
I think mostly it effects my pallet. I started out as a realist painter. When I first moved downtown I was painting bums and kids in bus shelters. The natural blues, grays, and browns of the streets and cars and the dramatically colored skylines have stuck with me through my evolution as a painter. Also, I think a person is what they surround themselves by and I feel very much a part of the Cleveland landscape. Like a combination of tree limbs and asphalt.

4) If it was your birthday and you decided to have a Cleveland-centric blow-out bash, how would you celebrate? That is, what would you do, where would you do it, etc.?

I’d have lunch outside on a patio somewhere with my man (cause in my imaginary world my birthday happens in the summer and not November). We’d spend the afternoon at CMA and MOCA. Eat some dinner at home. Have a couple dirty martinis at Stone Mad on W 65th with a few close friends and go home early.

5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?

First and foremost the Cleveland Museum of Art. We have one of the top 5 art museums in the country and its FREE! No other city can boast that. I remember going to Chicago last year with my Mom and we hit the Institute of Art and she said “What, we have to pay to get in here?” Thanks Mr. Rockefeller for the serious hook up. I think that was the fella.

6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?
A properly functioning train system that actually connects all the good spots – Warehouse District, Tremont, Ohio City, University Circle, Little Italy, Coventry, Cedar Fairmount, Cedar by the Whole Foods, Valley View (for the movies). I love Chicago’s transit.

7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?

Fuck you. Can I say that? I bet that’s what everyone says right? I mean how do you ask someone to stop being corrupt? You either are or you aren’t. Well, after that I guess I’d ask for a grocery store that doesn’t suck cause the Wal-Mart at Steelyard Commons is the gateway to hell and I can’t stand it anymore.

To meet Dana and check out herwork yourself, stop by the William Rupnik Gallery this Friday for the opening of her solo show, "We Are Mountains." The gallery is located at 1667 E 40th Street in Cleveland. Check out the gallery's website here.

And if you found this post interesting, check out previous Proper Noun of the Week conversations about Cleveland and culture with the following interesting folks: Frank Revy, Bill Rupnik, Mina Hoyle, Brendan Walton, Leia Alligator, Arabella Proffer, Becca Riker, Greg Ruffing, Mallorie Freeman, Dave Desimone, J.R. Bennett, Jeff & Mike from CLE Clothing Co, Paulius Nasvytis, Lawrence Daniel Caswell, Curtis Thompson, John Ewing, Shannon Okey, John G, Sean Bilovecky, Dana Depew, Fred Wright, Amanda Montague, Ryan Weitzel, Garrett Komyati, Vince Slusarz, Jonah Jacobs, Jacob Wesley Lang, Kevin Neudecker & Melanie Hershberger, and R.A. Washington.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today in Cleveland (4/17): Record Store Day & the CB April Show of the Month!

So much awesomeness going down today, I'm just gonna get right to the basics.

12 - Music Saves opens. Get there early if there is a special item being released today that you want. There will be a line. There will also be coffee available, thanks to the kind generosity of, uh, me.

1:15 - The Beachland screens the new documentary about The Mountain Goats

2:45 - The Beachland screens it again. Last time, though.

3 - Hamell on Trial plays at the Beachland Tavern

4 - White Hinterland DJs Music Saves

5 - Will Rigby DJs Blue Arrow

5:30-8:30 - A bunch of bands playing every thirty minutes at Music Saves and Blue Arrow, including: The Lighthouse & the Whaler, Prisoners, The Muttering Retreats, Tasty Cakes, Cloud Nothings, and The Very Knees.

9 - White Hinterland, Dosh, and The Sleeps play the Cleveland Bachelor April Show of the Month

If all this isn't enough, just about every other institution on Waterloo Road will have something cool going on. There's the closing party for Low Life Gallery, a day-long craft show at Salty not Sweet, the new Zinsmeister Parker exhibit at Arts Collinwood, and you can get 10% off your grub at the AC Cafe on the corner of Waterloo & E 156th just by showing proof of purchase from another Waterloo business that day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tonight in Cleveland (4/16): Beachland Barn Dance

Celluloid Bachelor #62: White Hinterland "Mon Amie La Rose/Vessels"

If you are just tuning in to this here little blog now, you might be pleased to know that the Cleveland Bachelor April Show of the Month will be taking place TOMORROW night.

If you've been following around, you might start grumbling something like "Yeah, yeah, we got it. White Hinterland, The Sleeps, Dosh. Beachland Ballroom. Record Store Day. All that Jazz."

Well, stop your grumbling. If you need help, watch this little clip of White Hinterland playing a couple songs in the park. Languid and lovely, right?

I can't wait till she hits town.

White Hinterland "Mon Amie La Rose" & "Vessels" from Left | Right Hand on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I doubled down on the Double Down

That catchy title means exactly what you think it might mean.

That's right, I had not one, but two Double Downs the other day.

(Also, that's right, I'm fat. So what?)

The hysterical and sanctimonious coverage of the Double Down has irritated the shit out of me, to tell you the truth. I mean, it's just a fucking sandwich! But "food writers" have been in a rush to top one another with their two cents about how (a) this sandwich symbolizes a Rome-like decline of American civilization, (b) is so disgusting they can't find colorful enough phrases to describe it, and (c) they are way too refined to ever eat one themselves, unless they want to get all Brooklyn and eat one in a fit of irony, before promising how they could barely get past the first bite, much less half the sandwich, and while it is cool for them to eat - and hate - it, you are an asshole if you do and don't, respectively.

Fine, I'm an asshole. I also totally loved the Double Down.

OK, that's not completely true. In all honesty, I did enjoy the original version. It wasn't a perfect creation, mostly because I don't like bacon (gasp .. it's true) and the cheese wasn't exactly delicious, but the fried chicken was very good, unexpectedly moist and tender. The grilled chicken (or as my pals and I called it, the girl version), was not good. Not in the least. Super dry, kinda tiny, irredeemably salty, sorta besides the point.

The original, though. Yeah, it did the trick.

Best of all, though ... I had a really good time at KFC when my friends and I went. I went with my good buddy Cookbook and a couple of our mutual friends (who are, incidentally, a couple). We ate our sandwiches in a state of blissful camradarie, but then languished over our empty trays and wrappers for nearly an hour, chatting and enjoying one another's company. Did that have anything to do with KFC? Probably not, but it did have something to do with the fact that we were out to do something fun and weird.

So while everyone on the internet that considers them some kind of jag-off gourmand was patting themselves on the back for not liking something before going back to the bathroom to see how well their scowl matched their black jacket, we let loose and had fun. Listen, I can foie gras and heritage produce it up with the best of them. But sometimes - most of the time, actually - it is nice to loosen your collar and pull the stick out from your ass. Know what I mean?

Will I go to KFC to get a Double Down again? I dunno. Maybe? Not because it was awesome (the classic chicken sandwich at Burger King still owns my heart when I'm looking for a fast food white meat fix). But if one of my buddies looks at me with a mischevious glint in their eye and says, "Hey - you know what would be awesome right about now? A Double Down," well, my response will be something along the lines of, "Well, what the fuck are we waiting for?!"

Tonight in Cleveland (4/15): Pissed Jeans & This Moment in Black History @ the Grog Shop

Like your punk heavy with some humor and yowls? This is the show for you. Local heroes This Moment in Black History will be paving the way for PA's raucous Pissed Jeans. This will not - repeat NOT - be a show for the faint of heart. However, if that limitation still leaves you in the mix, I suggest you make your way to the Heights.

Bring your ass, your ear plugs, your taste for literate rawk, and your purell (the venue is getting filthier by the minute, it seems) to the Grog Shop. The show's at 9 and the surliest bounces in town will be charging $7 at the door. Get there early as both This Moment and their fellow openers Homostupids are worth seeing.

Celluloid Bachelor #61: The Mountain Goats "Ezekial 7 & the Permanent Efficacy of Grace"

Fine cinema and indie rock. Those gotta be my two favorite cultural vehicles. Heaven help me when I can get the two in one punch.

This Saturday (RECORD STORE DAY!) at the Beachland, guess who's getting punched?

That's right, it's an indie rock cinematic adventure. The Beachland will be screening the new concert documentary, The Life of the World to Come. The film is directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), and features stirring footage of The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle performing tracks from the 2009 album of the same name. Expect intensity, visual genius, and good company, as the neighborhood surrounding the Beachland will be packed with indie rock enthusiasts celebrating everyone's favorite new holiday, Record Store Day.

The film will be screening (for a mere $5) at 1:15 and 2:45, leaving you plenty of time to wander the aisles of Music Saves and Blue Arrow Records before and/or after. Be sure to check out the rundown Music Saves has for the day's events here and definitely don't forget to enter the third grade report contest that I'm one of the judges for. More info on that part here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Celluloid Bachelor #60: The Sleeps "No More"

I've been promoting these monthly shows at the Beachland for a little while now and digging every minute of it. The benefits are overwhelming, but perhaps one of the best things about doing it has been how it has gotten me to pay a little more attention to the bands at the beginning of the bill. Doing so helped me find the band who put my favorite album of 2010 to date (The Octagon) and, this month, allowed me to discover a Cleveland band I didn't previously know about.

Cleveland's own The Sleeps have a fun sound, enough rock in it to make you think about owning a t-shirt, but enough pop that you'd consider listening on your way to work in the morning. I really dig the muted neon of the video below, too. Takes me back to my youthful days of hypercolor t-shirts and Reebok pumps.

Check out The Sleeps this Saturday (RECORD STORE DAY!) when they open for White Hinterland and Dosh at the April Cleveland Bachelor Show of the Month. The bands'll be throwing down on the Tavern side of the Beachland with doors opening at 8 and the Cleveland cohort hitting the stage at 9ish. See you there!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tonight in Cleveland (4/13): The Hold Steady at the Beachland Ballroom

Everybody's favorite indie rock bar band, The Hold Steady, make their way back to Cleveland for a show tonight at the Beachland. Expect beer-drenched madness, regardless of the fact that everyone's favorite moustache owner, Franz Nicolay, won't be in the house.

The wisest among you will arrive a bit early to check out the I Rock Cleveland/Music Saves pre-game tailgate party featuring food & drink specials and the inimitable I Rock Bill manning the wheels of steel.

The get-down gets down at 6 PM, when the tailgate party kicks off in the tavern. Ballroom doors open at 8 and openers The Oranges Band are scheduled to take the stage at 9. Tickets are $20 at the door.

Celluloid Bachelor #59: Dosh "Capture the Flag" (live)

The Cleveland Bachelor April show of the month is nigh and to keep the pressure on and your interest engaged, here's a little tidbit from the show's headliner, Dosh. It is considerably more experimental and electronic than what we usually bring your way on this website, but call it a palette cleanser or something new to try, either way a dose of Dosh will be good for you, so check it out.

If this is your jam, or if you are still doting on White Hinterland, or you just want to be a pal, be sure to hit the Beachland this Saturday for the show. Doors are at 8, local openers The Sleeps start the night off at 9, and the three-band bill will only set you back $10. Plus, since it is Record Store Day, you should make plans to come early and catch all the goodness going down up and down Waterloo Road. Music Saves has the full rundown here, including information on the contest which CB will be judging.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Welcome to Earth, my new fast food friend.

Record Store Day contest

CB HQ is pleased to announce that we will be sending a representative to Cleveland's finest indie rock record store this Saturday to participate in the judging of the annual Music Saves Record Store Day customer contest.

This year, the contest vehicle takes the form of a 3rd grade report (a suitable intellectual upgrade from last year's diorama contest, we think), and CB will be joined on the panel o' experts by Brian and Kevin from Citizen Dick.

For those interested in participating, check out the store's website here for more information, and be sure to download the required template here.

See you there!

We made it! Winter is dead!

Congratulations, friends. You too, enemies. And, of course, everyone in between (though in my Manichean worldview, there are very few in that last category, but I digress).

Today is the day we've been waiting for at CB HQ for MONTHS...the 2010 Indians Home Opener. As usual, for me it marks the end of winter and the renewal of Mother Earth's promise to be good to us if only we are good to her. Naturally, we won't be, and winter will darken our hearts again.

But in the meantime, we rejoice in the warming of the climes and cheer our struggling contribution to the nation's pasttime onward toward victory ... or at least out of the cellar.

Play Ball!

(Note: for CYA reasons, I'd like to point out I got the preceding image here. Worth checking out, actually. I like the way Mr. Macek provides a behinds the scenes view on local news media.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Celluloid Bachelor #58: Langhorne Slim "I Love You But Goodbye" (live and acoustic)

It has been almost exactly two months since I posted the last edition of the Celluloid Bachelor series (a wonderful video by Small Black I totally encourage you to scope - click here to do so), so I figured I'd swing for the fences, thus covering all the bases and managing to pile on as many metaphors as possible, with this selection.

For the reinauguration of the series, I'm going with some recently released live videos from Langhorne Slim, who incidentally is playing the Beachland tonight with Drive-By Truckers. Not a bad show, eh? Check the video out, then take a shower and do something about your hair and go to the show this evening.

(Note: that last comment, at least the part about the shower and hair, was really directed internally. I'm sure your hair is just fine and your hygienic practices are up to snuff.)

Langhorne Slim "I Love You But Goodbye" from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Tonight's show is sold out, so if I were you, I'd be posting something desperate on facebook about now, seeking out extras from anyone who might have one. Someone you know recently broke up with their significant other but still wants to go to the show, right? Find that person!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

CB Q/A #34: Casey Dienel of White Hinterland

Yesterday I had the good fortune to have a chat with Casey Dienel, the mega-talented woman behind Portland-based band White Hinterland, as she in the middle of Montana, en route to a gig in Billings. She told me how pretty the scenery was, before warning me that the reception might be bad. It wasn’t great, but our call only disconnected once, and the rest of the time we had a lovely chat about everything from Lake Erie religious resorts to her love of Britney Spears, with a whole lot of rich discussion about White Hinterland’s last album and how it got so damn awesome (it totally is) in between.

I began as I usually do, telling her how I do a blog in Cleveland and was, uh, going to be writing about her show in, uh, Cleveland. Figuring that saying our beloved city’s name a third time just might be the charm (to what, I don’t know), I asked her if she’d been up here before. I usually save that question for last, but this time I led with it, and I’m happy that I did. It got the conversation off to a fun, if weird, start and we rolled onward for the better part of a half hour after that. Take a gander at most of what we talked about below – what you won’t see is the part my hunt and peck typing skills prohibited from jotting down as I attempted to transcribe in real time.

1) Ever been to Cleveland before?

Not to play a show, but I do have a lot of family in Ohio. I spent a lot of summers as a kid close to there, in this religious summer camp town called Lakeside, with my grandparents. I remember this one donut shop I really liked and a movie theater. It also had a very good symphony. The weirdest thing was being woken up every morning by church bells playing kumbaya.

2) I read somewhere that you relocated to the Pacific Northwest. What was the experience like?

I’ve been in Portland for about two years, and had been moving back in forth between Boston and New York for a while before that, I guess I couldn’t decide which one to live in.

I didn’t have the west coast growing pains a lot of east coasters feel like they are going to have. Portland is very similar in climate and in some ways closer to New England than you’d expect. In fact, the only thing I was irked by and now kind of like was how frequently astrology comes up in conversation. If you said to someone on the east coast that it seemed like they were an Aries, the east coast dude would say fuck off, but if you said that on the west coast, the west coast guy would be like “well, I can see why you might say that …”

Really, though, the adjustment was pretty easy because I’d been there a lot before, done work there with another label, and because it really reminds me of small New England cities like Portland (Maine), Jamaica Plain, and Brookline. So it wasn’t as big of a culture shock. Really, it was a test move to see how it would be like far away from extended family. I didn’t have a job or housing in place when I went and it took a while to dig my heels in, but culturally I was pretty happy right away.

3) I was asking some friends of mine, who happen to own the record store you’ll be DJing at on the afternoon of Record Store Day, what they’d want me to ask you and one of them immediately responded with a request for an explanation about what made the this last record so very different from its predecessor. So ... what happened?

Oh boy. How about I give you the Cliffs Notes version… You are lucky you aren’t the first interviewer in this cycle – that poor guy, I was just working through my thoughts as I said them out loud. Seriously - Oregon Music News – big love.

A couple things had to take traction for everything else to fall in place. First, I spent a really long time learning to sing all over again. I didn’t feel like I was using my voice right. I came to singing really late in the game and had a different experience than I did when I studied piano (starting when I was 4 years old) and composition (which I studied in college). I didn’t have that kind of discipline coming to singing and don’t think it is something you can do without confidence. Went through a period where I wondered how it would sound if I really knew how to use my voice, if I trained it as a muscle, and so when I decided to get serious about that, I went to the shed and I sang.

The second piece was my friendship with Shawn. Very early on in the process for this album I had a second pair of ears in the room. I’m still the editor, filtering through the minutia, but having teammate makes me more comfortable and confident and makes it a whole lot more fun in the room. Shawn made an indelible imprint in the way the record sound, and I think you can hear parts where Shawn’s personality is rubbing up with my personality.

Records are something that happen to me. We didn’t really conceptualize this one as much as others. I feel like we set up a trap on the side of the road and just waited till things came and got caught in it. At the same time, I spent more time on this album than any other in terms of working on it since we were recording it and I was producing it myself. It is like the difference between spending 5 minutes or a couple weeks on a piece for your blog. You would notice, or at least I hope, there would be a difference in how well it was written.
4) We always hear about how artists do their best work, regardless of the medium, when they are in particular situations that inspire them. What does it take for you to get in your best creative space?

Having an open mind. Sometimes I don’t, and that’s usually when I have writers block. A lot of it is unlocking parts of your brain. Any time I feel like I’m clinging to an idea too much it is usually a sign I need to do an about face. If I’m depending on words, next time I’m gonna go back and see if I can reduce that dependency by writing a song that has like 6 words total in it.

Sometimes listening to other kinds of music helps. I like hip hop and r&b, I like to dance. It isn’t just music, either. Watching a Kieślowski film or a Brothers Quay short, reading a fantastic book, or when I see a ballet dance – oh my god – when I see ballet I turn in to a four year old girl.

When I see something with its own strong unique voice it makes me want to do my own thing. Like seeing people in their own space like David Lynch where he is creating his own space to do what he wants to do to be him makes me want to do something the most like me.

5) Say it was your birthday and you could headline your dream bill. Who would open for you?

Tune-yards, though I don’t know if I’d have her open for me. Or Dirty Projectors, if Tune-yards was incapacitated. Or maybe all three of us could play in a round.

6) I like that you embrace the idea of covering songs by other artists and think you picked some particularly interesting figures to cover. What drew you to Justin Timberlake and Arthur Russell?

They are kind of schizophrenic choices.

Usually it is the singing, a voice. The human voice is probably my favorite instrument; next would probably be drums. I’m usually really drawn in by a singer and if a good melody is there … it doesn’t just make me wish I’d written it, but that I want to sing it and play it and live in it. Those songs, I could literally spend all day singing them over and over.

Also, I think doing covers are really fun. There can be a worry that you overexpose or hypercontextualize yourself or what you do by picking a certain song done by someone else. I think it is crazy when people haven’t heard some songs. It makes me want to buy them World of Echo so they can take it home with them and have it forever.

Shawn and I both come to music the same way, I think, what we care about is if it is interesting melodically. We decide what we think the best thing is about a song and that’s what we keep, and the rest we change up.

I like doing these kinds of songs because I’m not somebody who thinks its healthy for me to be writing music all the time. My level of devotion is so intensified when I’m doing it. It is nice to be able to engage with music that isn’t mine, to work with it in a way that is completely different, without getting as focused and obsessive as I can get when I’m working on a record. It is just nice to lighten up.

7) Any other artists/songs out there you are itching to play but just haven’t had the chance to yet?

Oh, so many. I would really like to do any song off of Black Out or maybe a Kylie Minogue song. I like that music. I understand it is supposed to be a guilty pleasure but I don’t feel guilty about it. Maybe a Lil Wayne cover. Take on one of those guitar solos. That’s it, my next project is to redo Rebirth.

No, I’m not really going to do that.

8) Finally, as I was prepping for this conversation, I looked at your Wikipedia page. There is a section in it, about an unreleased EP called Vessels, that reads like the end text to a conspiracy theory movie. When I read it the first time, I think I sat back in my chair and quietly said, “Wild.” I guess that isn’t really a question, so much as something I thought was cool and wanted you to know about.

Wow. That’s like the end of Goodfellas … and then they all died. Couldn’t see that one coming.

There is tons of erroneous information on that page, like how I have pigeon toes (well that’s true, but other than that …) – there’s just a bunch of shit on there that I don’t really know how I got there, I think people are putting stuff up as a funny joke, stuff like a band I was in for a week, what college I was accepted to and didn’t attend. The internet is an interesting place, man.

Amsterdam from Michaela Copikova on Vimeo.

Are you as charmed as I was? If not, it is because my typist skills failed all of us. Do yourself a huge favor and check out White Hinterland on Saturday, April 17th. Not only are they playing the April Cleveland Bachelor Show of the Month (with Dosh and The Sleeps; doors @ 8, show @ 9) in the evening, they will be DJing a special set at Music Saves at 4 PM that afternoon. I got a sneak preview of what Casey has up her sleeve for the playlist but I've been sworn to secrecy. Just trust me that you'll be tickled.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tonight in Cleveland (4/9): Repition/Correspondence opening at Asterisk Gallery

repetition/correspondence04/09/2010 - 05/01/2010
repetition - 1. the act of repeating; repeated action, performance, production, or presentation.
2. repeated utterance; reiteration.
3. something made by or resulting from repeating.
4. a reproduction, copy, or replica.

correspondence - 1. written communication: communication by means of exchanged written messages such as letters or e-mail
2. written messages: written messages, especially letters
3. conformity: conformity, consistency, or agreement between two or more things

Ann Bralliar, Bob Bucklew, Stephe DK, Mallorie Freeman, Jake Kelly, Jim Lanza, Joan of Art, JS Makkos, Christine Mauersberger, Liz Maugans, Loren Naji, Melissa Olson, Joyce Porcelli, Marshall Rumbaugh, Meghann Snow, Laila Voss, Bob Walls, and Chris Zahner.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Belated thoughts on SXSW

Continuing my annual tradition, I took a mini-vacation to Austin TX last month for some indie rock goodness by way of south by southwest. As usual, I heard some great music, met some awesome new people, and hung out with old pals, digging the good weather and chill company.

As the cliche yet true conversation frequently goes these last several years, SXSW was even bigger and more frenetic than before and, methinks, has long since past that tipping point where things are less cool and more corporate than justifies the vacation time.

Having spent several years in Texas before moving up here to Cleveland, I know Austin quite well and, thus, am able to take advantage of the cooler stuff in non-traditional quarters, but god help you if you try to make it in the downtown mess. From inconsistent access policies to an utter clusterfuck of traffic (vehicular, human, and otherwise), I found my blood pressure skyrocketing the two times I attempted (and failed, ridiculously) to attend something I'd had my heart set on. Rather than try to catch 20 bands in a day like you used to be able to do, I found myself picking cool spots where I could here a run of good bands for a chunk of the afternoon or evening. South Austin and, especially, the east side of town made for the best times.

That isn't to say I don't endorse a trip to sxsw or, for that matter, Austin. Just like every kid should go to Disneyland, you better know what you are in for if you go on the 4th of July or Labor Day weekend. That's pretty much what 6th Street in Austin is gonna be like, but hipsters in skinny jeans instead of toddlers with Mickey hats.

When you do go, however, you are likely to see some awesome stuff and, if you are smart and focus on stuff you don't get to see very often rather than the buzz bands of the moment, you'll often be able to get pretty good access. For example, rather than go all sardine and cram into a Surfer Blood show, I hit up a funky little cafe many blocks from the main stretch and caught shows by Golden Triangle, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, and Everyone Was In The French Resistance ... Now! with a cats eye perch.

Rather than craft a dear diary post telling you what I did and where, let me give you some memorable bullet points:

-- The Piano's party, sponsored by the same name NYC club, was killer, particularly since I got to see my 2010 faves The Octagon in a small and spartan space and because I found out about Spirit Family Reunion.

-- Eddie Argos still has the best comic timing in indie rock. I already knew that, but now I also know that he's one of the most generous guys in the game, too, having bought me a beer as we stood in line at Spider House and chatted about music.

-- If you are nice to people and think good thoughts, good things happen even when you think they won't. For example, having given up on any hope of catching Floating Action play that weekend, I randomly walked past a bar on my way to somewhere else and realized I'd come across a Park the Van Records party I'd somehow not made a note of. I got to see Floating Action but, even cooler, was turned on to Giant Cloud, who blew me away and, thanks to their lady on the keys, got a new little indie rock crush.

-- Slim Cessna puts on one of the finest shows and Oh No Ono rocked more in the 10 minutes I got to hear them play than most bands do in a week. I hope/dream/pray that both bands make their way to the Beachland ... soon!

-- The Whip In is my new favorite Austin bar.

-- Gotta Groove Records is a cool ass business and I'm very proud of their Cleveland roots. Even better, so are they. And they put up a hell of a party at a funky out-of-the-way record store. Totally dirtleg, totally rad.

-- God damn it I love Mexican food and BBQ in Texas. Someone please convince me that the advantage we have of eastern/central European cuisine up here makes up for the terrible deficiency we suffer in those cuisines.

-- No matter what, every band that Jason Lytle plays in sounds basically the same. Which is awesome. So when/if Admiral Radley comes to town, you should definitely go see them.

-- Jessie Torrisi is amazing tolerant of her crushed-out, mouth-breathing male fans. I should know - I am one! Also, playing the kazoo onstage during her set is quite probably my sxsw highlight of the year.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Are you ready for the CB April show of the month?

After an inexcusable slacking off on promoting the March show (which was, by all accounts, totally awesome), I'm quite pleased to be as back in the saddle as I'll ever be and announcing this month's Cleveland Bachelor approved Beachland gig: Dosh, White Hinterland, and The Sleeps in the Beachland Tavern on April 17th.

As usual, John G knocked the ball out of the park with the poster design. It looks pretty awesome on its own, but particularly so once you realize it is actually 1/3 of a Waterloo Road/Record Store Day triptych.

If you aren't already aware, there is a TON of stuff going on up and down Waterloo Road on the 17th, from rockumentary screenings at the Beachland to in-stores at Blue Arrow and Music Saves to a Record Store Day themed essay contest judged by, among others, yours truly. I'll be blogging about all these things in further detail over the next 10 days or so, but for the time being be sure to put "Record Store Day - Waterloo Road" on your day-planner for April 17th.

Cleveland International Film Festival review

If I wasn't certain before (though I was), the Cleveland International Film Festival is without a doubt my favorite cultural event in the city. It is done so well, from programming to organization to public relations, that you'd be hard pressed to make a counter argument, unless you wanted to draft Cavs basketball into the conversation.

This year the event was particularly meaningful to me as I had the wonderful opportunity to be more involved in the effort, from being on the festival's selection committee to working with the amazing film slam program where local scholars and media/film practitioners engage in post-film q&a sessions with visiting high school students. Both were an absolute treat and if someone from the Film Society happens to read this one day, I'm keeping my fingers doubly crossed that I'll get to do both again for the 2011 festival.

As great as that was, however, the best part of the festival is the opportunity to see wonderful films and see wonderful films I did. Even though I missed the first weekend of films because I was in Austin attending sxsw (a post on that is hopefully forthcoming soon, too), I still managed to see 30 films during the last week of CIFF. Add to that the films I'd previously screened as a member of the selection committee that made the final program, and I caught a solid three dozen full-length movies.

Some of those were excellent, some a little disappointing, but all were good enough to sit through and many (far more than I expected) moved me in ways that I'd not expected. I like to think about the "best" things I see or do or experience, so before I go on with my wrap-up, here are some Cleveland Bachelor award winners:

Best Documentary: Marwencol, though special consideration also goes out to Cooking History, No. 4 Street of Our Lady, and Louder Than A Bomb. The following are also definitely worth putting on your netflix queue: Fire in the Heartland, Garbo: The Spy, and The Desert of Forbidden Art.

Best Narrative Feature: Will Not Stop There, though special consideration also goes out to Alive!, A Call Girl, December Heat, The Other Bank, Ordinary People, Protektor, and Vincere.

Best Film with a local connection: Fire in the Heartland, though The Taqwacores deserves special consideration for its beautiful visual dimension.

I knew I wouldn't have much access to my computer during the week of full film immersion, so I made an effort to keep a mini journal of sorts via facebook status updates. At the end, I had 40 micro-posts marking moments from my arrival on the first day to my immediate post-festival plans on the last. I can only guess how many of my facebook friends "hid" me after being inundated with such an obnoxious number of updates, but as the wise man once said, whatever. In all their unabashed and unedited glory, here is my real-time documentation of my film festival experience:

CIFFinally (3/22 @ 8:21 AM)

Film Fest Update #1:Dear Lemon Lima's cutesy graphics belie its focus on much darker themes of alienation and disaffection. Closer in spirit to Saved than to Juno. (3/22 @ 2:33 PM)

Film Fest update #2: I missed the first two minutes of Black Box. 78 minutes later, I'm pretty sure that was a mistake. (3/22 @ 2:35 PM)

Film Fest update #3: The little sandwiches in the hospitality suite are tasty! (3/22 @ 2:37 PM)

Film Fest update #4: I'm torn over Out Of Place. Interesting footage and people, but I think the filmmakers underserved their audience in the narrative dimension, ignoring some richer opportunities and settling for variations on the Cleveland sucks joke again and again ... and again. Also, it convinced me to never EVER... eat at Johnny's Downtown. The dude in charge of the operation is the epitome of douche! (3/22 @ 6:44 PM)

Film Fest Update #5: Closed out the night with Inside Hana's Suitcase and Van Diemen's Land. The former was moving and impressive in its geographic scope, though I didn't much care for the dramatization or the stylized photo manipulation, while the latter was basically Aguirre, Pt 2: The Wrath of God comes to Australia.... Good, though perhaps not as deliberate as Herzog. (3/23 @ 12:14 AM)

Film Fest update #6: I am far more willing to wake up early for a morning trip to the film festival than for any other reason. Spanish shorts and filmslam q&a with high school students, here I come! (3/23 @ 8:04 AM)

Film Fest update #7: Survived French shorts (last minute switch from Spanish) with the high school set and took a surprisingly lovely stroll downtown to drop off a few tickets and say hi to Cleveland's finest coffee purveyor, Brendan Walton of Cleveland Coffee Company/AJ Rocco's. Now killing time before a stretch of fo...ur straight films: December Heat, Fire in the Heartland, Cooking History, and Enemies of the People! (3/23 @ 1:03 PM)

Film Fest update #8: Ooooh, December Heat was good! My first excellent vote of the festival! (3/23 @ 3:32 PM)

Film Fest update #9: Just got out of Fire in the Heartlands, a brilliant doc about the Kent State massacre. Woah. My eyebrows kept going up and up. (3/23 @ 6:39 PM)

Film Fest update #10: Cooking History was at moments cringe-inducing, at others hilarious, and often sad. Totally brilliant throughout. Not at all what I expected, but having now seen it, I couldn't imagine it ant different. (3/23 @ 9 PM)

Film Fest update #11: Calling it quits a film early. I'm tired and for some reason don't think a doc on the Khmer Rouge will be fodder for sweet dreams. (3/23 @ 9:26 PM)

Film Fest update #12: Lots of darkness and conflict at the festival today ... in a good way! After doing a q&a with students following the Spanish shorts, I'm slated for a Norwegian film about war time trauma set to a backdrop of that country's WW II resistance effort (Max Manus), a Hungarian revenge feature (Lost Times), and a Georgian/Kazak film about a little boy's trek across war-torn Abkhazia in search of his missing father (The Other Bank). And, of course, some actual work. (3/24 @ 8:52 AM)

Film Festival update #13: Shit! I got to talking and missed the first 25 minutes of Max Manus. That was in my top 5 too. Damn my big mouth. (3/24 @ 12:07 PM)

Film Fest update #14: Lost Times was less about revenge than it was rural alienation and post-adolescent restlessness and anomie. A little pondering but thoughtful, and if it was an American film the actress playing Ezther, the central character's autistic, rape-suffering sister, would get nominated for an Oscar. (3/24 @ 4:14 PM)

Film Fest update #15: After 3 days of having free samples foisted up me, I finally submitted and ordered some sesame chicken from one of the Tower City stands. I still don't like Chinese food. (3/24 @ 8:12 PM)

Film Fest update #16: Just broke the hearts of a group of festival volunteers who saw me walk into a theater and thought I was Zach Galifianakis. I heard them talking about him and then put two and two together when they sent one of their group in to introduce himself. True story. I don't know if I should feel more sorry for him or myself. (3/24 @ 9:15 PM)

Film Fest update #17: After finishing yesterday strong with the abrupt and thought provoking ending of The Other Bank, I'm determined to finally complete a day of seeing a film at every slot. So far, work, ticket deliveries, and general chattiness have thwarted this accomplishment, but I shall not be deterred today! After starting off with a replay of yesterday's Spanish shorts/film slam q&a, it is trip around Europe, with films from Spain (x2), Serbia, Slovenia, and Cypress on the docket. (3/25 @ 9:06 AM)

Film Fest update #18: Garbo the Spy was really good, a totally amazing true story that I wish they'd gone into further detail about. The killer soundtrack (Brian Eno, lots of Sparklehorse) made up for that in spades, though. (3/25 @ 1:42 PM)

Film Fest update #19: Ordinary People is most definitely the heaviest film I've Seen thus far. About capital punishment on wartime from the perspective of a crew of ambivalent would-be executioners. The lengthy quiet shots added gravity to a theme already grave. (3/25 @ 3:31 PM)

Film Fest update #20: I liked Small Crime well enough, especially for a dark rom-com (though it has nothing on So I Married An Axe Murderer), but not nearly as much as the woman sitting next to me who guffawed great belly laughs with the slightest provocation. By the end of the film, I was laughing a lot to, as much in anticipation of what she would do as in reference to anything from the screenplay. (3/25 @ 8 PM)

Film Fest update #21: If I ever was going to reverse my ongoing trend of missed funerals, Three Days With The Family negated that possibility. Though more bougie than my own clan, there were so many parallels it was frightening, if not a little angst-inducing. (3/25 @ 10 PM)

Film Fest update #22: Finished the day super strong with A Call Girl. Top notch film, and a major contender for my own "best CIFF narrative film" sweepstakes (along with Ordinary People and, a few paces behind, December Heat). If you have a chance to see this film, I definitely endorse it. If you can't make it to the festival, I believe it's playing at the Rocky River library some time in early April. Don't miss out! (3/26 @ 12:13 AM)

Film Fest update #23: Almost forgot - during the last q&a, some punk kid raised his hand and asked if I was the guy from The Hangover? WTF?! Kids these days! I'll admit, it did make me laugh. (3/26 @ 11:55 AM)

Film Fest update #24: The director of The Fire Keeper, a hallucinatory fugue about one man's decision to get a vasectomy, may well be the Persian answer to Woody Allen. (3/26 @ 3:50 PM)

Film Fest update #25: Louder Than A Bomb has got to be the best edited film I've seen in ages. An excellent movie but in the prestigious Cleveland Bachelor Award sweepstakes, it stills falls short of Cooking History. Still, kudos to the dudes behind it for pulling off a stunner. (3/26 @ 7:02 PM)

Film Fest update #26: Having just watched the failed Kinks reunion crusade doc Do It Again, I know one thing without a doubt: If a narrative film is ever made about the band, Bill Nighy should play the roles of both Ray and Dave. (3/26 @ 8:37 PM)

Film Fest update #27: Pulled a last minute audible and decided to see The Good Heart. Definitely the right move. I totally loved it, though the raucous and decidedly non-pc development through most of the film does not prepare you for the end. (3/27 @ midnight)

Film Fest update #28: Racing the clock (and losing) to catch the day's first screening (Alive!). (3/27 @ 9:16 AM)

Film Fest update #29: Alive! = Albanian blood feuds, a gender-bending would-be hitman, and one unexpected shipwreck. I think it sets the stage perfectly for round two, which features Croatian snipers, widowed Serbian porn stars, the redemptive power of romantic love, and, of course, a sheep. I have seriously high hopes for this one! (3/27 @ 10:59 AM)

Film Fest update #30: Will Not Stop There = Best.Feature.Yet. Can it be topped in the next day and a half? I don't know, but I sure hope it is cause that would take a truly awesome movie! (3/27 @ 1:22 PM)

Film Fest update #31: Gyro Time! (3/27 @ 1:28 PM)

Film Fest update #32: After three central European films in a row, it is time to spin the atlas over to Australia for a hopefully brilliant horror/suspense flick from down under (Storage). (3/27 @ 4:11 PM)

Film Fest update #33: Torn over what to see during tomorrow's closing slot, Looking for Eric or Paper Man. Any advice? (3/27 @ 4:28 PM)

Film Fest update #34: If for some reason you aren't already convinced that Mussolini was a total asshole, a viewing of Vincere is in order. Also, how do you say "incredible" in Italian? (3/27 @ 9:01 PM)

Film Fest update #35: Taqwacores was ... ok. I think the director has a pretty bright future though. (3/27 @ 11:31 PM)

Film Fest update #36: On the final day of the festival Marwencol shoots past Cooking History as not only the best doc of the festival but also one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. (3/28 @ 11:35 AM)

Film Fest update #37: The Desert of Forbidden Art = inspirationally shocking. One man's effort to combat Stalin's purge on non/anti-Soviet art. I don't think I've seen a documentary about art previously that photographed the images so beautifully. (3/28 @ 1:13 PM)

Film Fest update #38: Finished the final night strong with two solid films (Protektor & Paper Man) but the final highlight would have to be realizing I was seated next to Toby from American Splendor at the closing reception. (3/28 @ 9:23 PM)

Film Fest update #39: Bummer! Neither of my picks to click won (or even placed) in the eastern/central European competition; however, the judges totally got it right with the best documentary choice. Viva Marwencol! Ooh, and Louder Than A Bomb pulls down the social justice prize. Nice! Followed by a win for best picture overall! Not bad for a film that was finished on Tuesday! (3/28 @ 9:32 PM)

Film Festival update #40: It is finished. Thanks to all involved for putting on an absolutely wonderful festival! Now for two things I've been craving all week: buffalo wings and an early bedtime! (3/28 @ 10:01 PM)

All things considered, it was a whirlwind week, one that I entered fatigued from a long and exciting vacation in Texas and which I exited utterly exhausted. Here I am, more than a week after the closing ceremonies and I am only now feeling fully rejuvenated. Well, physically, at least. Mentally, emotionally, and absolutely culturally the film festival does the trick like nothing else I've experienced to enrich and excite your internal life. I cannot wait for next year.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April Live Music Radness

I've already screwed the pooch on a few good shows so far this month (i.e., Henry Rollins @ Kent, Seabear @ the Grog, Shearwater @ Beachland, Electric 6/Hot Rails @ Grog, etc.) but there are still a bunch of good ones left in the month to celebrate, beginning with tomorrow's Japandroids/Avi Buffalo/Jaguar Love show @ the Grog. The month stays solid with shows by bands like Megafaun, The Dan Band (famous as the hilarious wedding band in Old School and (I think) Wedding Crashers), The Hold Steady, Apples in Stereo, and a month-ending Yeasayer show at the Grog.

As good as that sounds, May is stacking up to be even better, with a run of must-see shows at the Beachland in the middle of the month, and that doesn't even count can't miss gigs like Frightened Rabbit, Deer Tick, The Besnard Lakes, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

6 - Japandroids/Avi Buffalo/Jaguar Love @ Grog Shop
7 - Megafaun/Charlie Parr @ Beachland
OR John the Savage @ Now That's Class
9 - The Dan Band @ House of Blues OR The Floor Walkers/The Modern Electric @ Beachland
10 - Lottery League show @ Beachland
11 - Drive-by Truckers/Langhorne Slim @ Beachland
13 - The Hold Steady @ Beachland
15 - Pissed Jeans (w/ This Moment in Black History) @ Grog Shop
16 - Blue Grass Barn Dance (w/ Heelsplitter, Hoots and Hellmouth, Hiram Rapids Stumblers) @ Beachland
17 - Dosh/White Hinterland @ Beachland AND Record Store Day gigs all day long at Music Saves & Blue Arrow Records including The Muttering Retreats, Tastycakes, and Cloud Nothings!
20 - El Ten Eleven @ Beachland
24 - Aloha/Pomegranates @ Grog Shop
26 - Horse Feathers/Cloud Nothings @ Beachland
27 - Apples in Stereo/Generationals/Laminated Cat @ Grog Shop
29 - Captured! By Robots/Beardo Bandini @ Grog OR Harlem @ Now That's Class
30 - Yeasayer (w/ Sleigh Bells) @ Grog Shop OR The Schwartz Bros @ Beachland

1 - Backyard Tire Fire @ Beachland
4 - An Horse/Kaki King @ Beachland
5 - Frightened Rabbit @ Grog Shop
7 - Grant-Lee Phillips @ Beachland
8 - Deer Tick/The Magpies @ Beachland OR Murder by Death/Ha Ha Tonka @ Grog Shop
11 - Local Natives/Suckers @ Beachland (sponsored by Music Saves)
15 - Paleface/Todd Snider @ Beachland
16 - Reverend Horton Heat/Cracker @ Beachland
19 - Jessica Lea Mayfield @ Beachland
21 - Mumford & Sons/The Middle East @ Beachland
22 - Prisoners/Rainy Day Saints @ Beachland (North Collinwood Cat Project benefit)
26 - Besnard Lakes @ Beachland
31 - Brian Jonestown Massacre @ Beachland


2 - Morningbell @ Now That's Class
6 - Pains of Being Pure at Heart/Surfer Blood @ Beachland
8 - Stars @ Beachland
9 - Caribou/Toro y Moi @ Grog Shop
10 - She & Him @ House of Blues
17 - Beach House @ Beachland
21 - Tortoise @ Grog Shop
23 - Melvins @ Grog Shop

15 - Wolf Parade @ Beachland