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Cleveland’s legislative body needs to change. But Tony George’s punitive proposal to cut council in half would be disastrous for the city By Sam Allard

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Dedicated to Free Times founder Richard H. Siegel (1935-1993) and Scene founder Richard Kabat Publisher Andrew Zelman Editor Vince Grzegorek Editorial Music Editor Jeff Niesel Senior Writer Sam Allard Staff Writer Brett Zelman Web Editor Laura Morrison Dining Editor Douglas Trattner Visual Arts Writer Dott von Schneider Copy Editor Elaine Cicora Interns Alice Koeninger

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Tony George’s bad moves

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Bobby George’s bad moves

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UPFRONT BOBBY GEORGE TO DEVELOP PARCEL ON WEST 25TH INTENDED TO BE PART OF IRISHTOWN BEND RIVERFRONT PARK THE LONG-ENVISIONED Irishtown Bend Riverfront Park project made significant progress in the past year. Nearly $40 million has been secured from various sources toward the project, which was granted glowing approval from the Cleveland Planning Commission in September 2017. The Port of Cleveland — which along with LAND Studio, the city of Cleveland, Ohio City Inc. and dozens of other private and nonprofit agencies, is guiding the vision and execution for the 23-acre park and attendant stabilization of the Cuyahoga River hillside, critical to some $3 billion in transportation and shipping along the corridor — has awarded a $3.4 million contract to Osborn Engineering to create the construction drawings for the stabilization work. In 18 months, contracts could begin being awarded on that front. Also, as of the end of 2019, the coalition has acquired control of 94 percent of the needed land for the park. One of the parcels it does not control is the long-dormant building on the corner of West 25th and Detroit. That structure, a former Royal Castle fast food chain location that has been vacant for nearly two decades, was purchased by restaurateurs Bobby and Tony George through their Mortgage Investments company in June of 2018 for $248,000. That was surprising news for two reasons. First, the parcel was to be included in the park, a fact that was widely shared with stakeholders in Ohio City through outreach efforts. In theory and design, that corner on the western edge of the DetroitSuperior Bridge would house a welcoming center. Second, part of the reason the building had sat vacant and for-sale for years was because of significant geotechnical issues regarding the hillside that meant any development there would be both difficult and

Photo by Upfront-GoogleMaps

expensive. Prospective buyers who inquired in recent years backed away both because of that problem and because they were made aware of its future as part of the park. Neither of those facts stopped Bobby George, who told Crain’s Cleveland in June 2018 that he had no idea the parcel was in the park’s design. “I love the property. I love the view. I have had a lot of interest from some pretty cool tenants in the building or may do something myself there,” he told Crain’s at the time. “We’re also in the billboard business and have people interested in that location as well. Or we may redevelop the site. I don’t want to be obstructionist. I hope they work with me to move the billboard or allow me to cooperatively develop the site with the park. I love what they are doing. I don’t understand why they didn’t

buy it. It was not hard to close the deal with the seller.” In the ensuing months, conversations between the Georges and the park coalition began. According to people familiar with the discussions, the Georges had offered to sell the parcel back to the park coalition for 10 times what they paid for it and, later on, proposed receiving parcels in Ohio City in a land swap in exchange for the lot. This, according to those familiar, lent great credence to the belief that Bobby George knew full well what he was doing by strategically inserting himself with the purchase. This was a flip. Around the same time, David Bowen of Richard Bowen & Associates, who also happens to be the chairman of the Cleveland Planning Commission, had made calls on behalf of the Georges. Bobby

George told Scene that Bowen, who he called a “great guy,” had called on parcels around the building the Georges had bought to see if they could increase the footprint. The problem there was twofold. For one, observers questioned why Bowen, a mayoral appointee to the planning commission that had so favorably approved of the park project — including Bowen himself, who said of the park at a planning commission meeting, “I find it very attractive, there’s no doubt about it,” — and of which the city itself was a key partner, would be working seemingly against the park’s interests. Secondly, those surrounding parcels were also slated to become part of the park, including the parking lot next to Bobby’s building, which is owned by Cuyahoga County, which has pledged to | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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UPFRONT transfer ownership to the coalition. (Incidentally, according to multiple people, Bobby George at one point allegedly leased those county-owned parking spots to the Ohio City Galley for its valet parking until it was brought to the attention of the Galley that he didn’t actually own the parking lot.) Bowen, in a brief and awkward conversation with Scene, deflected any criticism of his involvement. “I had a tenant that might be a good fit for the property,” he told Scene. “What’s good for the city is good for the city.” Asked to clarify what that meant, Bowen said if Bobby developed the parcel to complement the park, that would be good. And that, “If he did something and it came before planning commission, obviously I would recuse myself from voting. But Bobby buys lots of property. It’s a solid, good building. And I don’t think he knew about the park.” More than a year after the purchase, nothing much has changed at the building besides updates on the billboard, which is a

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revenue-producing aspect that the park coalition would likely have to account for if it attempted to buy the building back from the Georges or otherwise come to an agreement. But those conversations have ended for now, Bobby George told Scene. And that solid, good building would come down to make way for his future project. “We have development plans now, but I can’t release them or say much because the potential tenant — and we have multiple tenants, one major tenant — is under a confidentiality agreement,” he said. “But we’re finalizing our development plan. I’ve tried to reach out to [the park coalition] because I wanted to work within their plan. I don’t want to be an obstructionist. I’m not going to do anything that’s bad for the city. I’m not going to do anything, No. 1, that doesn’t make money, but second that also doesn’t represent my family. I think it will fit within the project.” And he stands by his quotes that he didn’t know about the park. And as for anyone who doesn’t believe him … “It’s one of two things. Either I’m a liar or I’m telling the truth,” George said. “What am I going to say? Call me a liar. The fact of the matter is that property had been

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

sitting there for years and when I went to buy it … actually, to be honest, when we first looked at it I was going to put a marijuana dispensary there.” That couldn’t happen because it was within 500 feet of a park or church. But he still wanted the property, and he doesn’t see the geotechnical issues as a problem like others. Instead of building a bigger footprint, he said, they’re just going higher, though he won’t say how many stories. “We’ve had engineers go out and we have to do some reinforcement, but it’s nothing compared to the scope of the project, which is a prime use of real estate,” he said. “I just don’t have a timeframe yet. But I’d be more worried about [the park coalition] starting work than me starting work.” Observers are doubtful on that last point, specifically given Osborn Engineering’s ongoing study of the hillside for the park, but also because the lot in question, separate from the geotechnical issues, is about 50 feet wide and has literally no room for parking. For now, there’s other work to be done, and down the road, if and when eminent domain takes center stage in the conversation,

courts tend to side with parks over development projects, especially when there’s a good chance the developer knew of the impending park project. The city itself, especially under Mayor Jackson, would be loathe to use eminent domain, but the port could. Even then, it’s an expensive and lengthy process. The park coalition, some think, would be better off simply upping an offer to the Georges. Because while a complement project with a cafe or some other business at the tip of the 23-acre park would be acceptable, a vacant, derelict building would not. “If they want to work with me, they gotta move,” Bobby George said. “I would always have a conversation. If you’re walking into this, my side’s the truth. I was willing to work with them, but they wanted me to essentially just hand it over. I’m not a socialist.” In response, Ohio City Inc. executive director Tom McNair said in a statement to Scene: “When we began our work there were over 20 parcels of land owned by 14 different property owners. Our coalition has been creative and worked with each individual property owner to find some value and meet their needs. Many property owners have agreed to donate their land


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not our coalition can follow through with the world class vision that we worked with so many in Northeast Ohio to create. We look forward to showing everyone that the answer to that question is unequivocally yes.” — Vince Grzegorek

Union Library Workers Vote to Authorize Strike, Call on Execs to Meet More than 400 union library workers voted last week to authorize their bargaining team to strike. If Cleveland Public Library leadership fails to demonstrate meaningful commitments to staffing and safety in ongoing negotiations, the workers may issue a 10-day notice of an intent to strike at any time. According to the library workers’ union, SEIU 1199, the bargaining committee will hold off on that decision until the next bargaining session on Jan. 17 wraps up. “Union Library workers are asking CPL executives to meet as soon as possible, and for as long as necessary, to reach an agreement that addresses the staffing and security concerns of the patrons and staff,” a statement from SEIU read. “While library staff members do not want to strike, the unwillingness of Library leaders to keep the public and employees safe may give them no other option.” The library workers’ contract expired on Dec. 31, and bargaining team members note that they had been requesting dates to meet with leadership to negotiate a new contract since March of last year. Library leadership “was resistant” to scheduling bargaining dates, they said. The library issued a statement last Wednesday evening saying that if workers did indeed strike, the system would have to temporarily close branches and suspend some services. “The Library will ensure there are branches open in strategic areas of the city with library-rich programs and services,” the statement read. “Despite this action by SEIU, the Library remains committed to negotiating in good faith at the bargaining table for a strong and sustainable future. We urge SEIU to join us at the bargaining table to work together to avoid disruption of library-rich programs and services for our community.” — Sam Allard

among the region’s colleges and universities. (University of Akron is second-largest, with 15,629 full-time students.)

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to help be a part of the solution, in exchange for the tax benefits of the donation. Others have been acquired by grant sources secured by LAND Studio for an appraised fair market value. Today through one of our nonprofit partners, West Creek Conservancy, our coalition controls over 94 percent of the hillside. “The initial engineering report, funded by the Port of Cleveland, found that while existing buildings on the top of the hill could remain, it would be better for slope side stability if they were removed. That, along with a tremendous amount of public input, is one of the many factors that shaped the vision plan that we are working to bring to life. While the door to have their property become a part of the Irishtown Bend Riverfront Park is certainly still open, we’ve also let them know that if they feel they can redevelop their land within the limits of the law, they are welcome to do so.” As for Bobby’s worry about the park getting started, McNair said: “This park will help link together a growing network of trails that stretch from Edgewater Park to New Philadelphia, and simultaneously tie our neighborhoods to their historic riverfront. The question is not whether or not the Irishtown Bend Riverfront Park is going to become a reality. The question is whether or

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FEATURE THE CASE FOR COUNCIL Cleveland’s legislative body needs to change, but bending to the will of a toxic Westlake resident pursuing a punitive agenda won’t yield positive results for the city Sam Allard ON MAY 12, 2017, CLEVELAND City Council’s utilities committee met at city hall for a routine hearing on new legislation. Committee hearings are where the meatiest work of city council gets done. It’s where city agencies request and defend expenditures and where experts and department heads provide testimony to explain why certain pieces of legislation are advisable. The utilities committee is one of 11 council committees. It deals with the water department, Cleveland Public Power, and Water Pollution Control, which manages stormwater and sewage. (If, for example, council were to hold an investigatory hearing on the recent NAACP lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by Cleveland Water, something which Glenville councilman Kevin Conwell called for last week, the utilities committee would be the likely forum.) Among the items up for discussion on that date was an emergency ordinance authorizing the city of Cleveland to use a new vendor for its electric aggregation services. The city’s utilities and sustainability departments had solicited proposals from area organizations, hoping to cut monthly energy costs for the roughly 55,000 residential and small commercial customers who get their electricity from First Energy (i.e., the Illuminating Company). Having received five bids, an interdepartmental city team evaluated the proposals and selected NOPEC (the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council) as its vendor. Sustainability director Matt Gray told the council members in attendance that NOPEC’s program for energy aggregation was deemed the “best overall.” He mentioned NOPEC’s variable price structure, its experience in customer communication, and its support for renewable energy as top selling points of the bid. But the city’s decision did not sit well with one of the other bidders, TPI Efficiency, which had submitted its bid in partnership with First Energy Solutions. One of TPI’s agents was at the utilities committee hearing that day and had requested time to speak, a request that then-chair Terrell Pruitt granted.

Photo by Sam Allard

The agent was area restaurateur Tony George. In remarks that would have been dismissed out of hand were he anything but a wealthy business owner with substantial investments in the city, the Harry Buffalo founder disparaged NOPEC and threatened the city with removing his businesses if council didn’t go back to the drawing board and use what he called a “transparent process” for selecting a vendor. “I’m not here to throw darts,” he said, “but I don’t like what I heard.” George’s calls for transparency were absurd at face value, as Matt Gray had moments earlier explained the bidding and selection processes in detail. But George was relentless. It soon became obvious that he was not concerned about transparency in the least. What he wanted was a different outcome. He wanted his own company to win. George wasted little time before praising himself and his ventures — he employed 400 people in Cleveland, he said — and portrayed NOPEC as a cabal of criminal masterminds working out of a “Taj Mahal” in Solon. “It’s like the Jones-Day law firm on steroids,” he said, of NOPEC’s headquarters. (NOPEC executive director Chuck Keiper later said that the organization

had purchased the property at a county sheriff’s auction for approximately $200,000.) During his speech, George crudely laid out some of the same arguments that he and his surrogates are now using in their bid to reduce the size and pay of Cleveland City Council. “Just because the administration hands [a piece of legislation] to you,” he said, “it’s not beyond council’s oversight to review their work, especially something of this magnitude. If it’s not going to be council, have your consultants look at this, and let’s have an open debate about this so that we know that the community is getting the best price. If the city of Cleveland signs a deal like last time, I’m not keeping my businesses in the city of Cleveland and my colleagues won’t either.” (George makes threats of this sort on a regular basis. He used similar language when Cuyahoga County council was considering its LGBTQ protection ordinance. In public comments, George said that he and other restaurant owners would flee the county, to “right across the border,” if the legislation passed. He said that there were 403 members of his licensed business owners group in Cuyahoga County. “We’re all against it,” he said. “Pay attention to what I’m saying. If you move forward with

this legislation, my group is going to personally finance finding, fielding and funding candidates who vote against it.”) He said that he planned to be vocal about the energy aggregation issue and would get in the ears of city council members and the mayor, if he had to. “We’ve got to make decisions in a diplomatic, precise way,” he said. “I love Cleveland, but the city needs to get into the 21st century … Everybody knows me. I’m not saying give me the business because you know me. I’m saying give me the business because we earned it.” George’s meandering, bad-faith process complaints were thereby distilled into his true message: Give me the business. If TPI Efficiency had secured the bid, there’s a zero-percent chance George would have made the trek from Westlake to Cleveland City Hall to wring his hands about a lack of precision and diplomacy. In April 2018, city council passed legislation that authorized Cleveland to participate in NOPEC’s energy aggregation program. And a few months later, Scene broke the story that Tony George had begun a campaign to reduce the size and pay of city council. George told Scene at the time that he was backing the initiatives because Cleveland’s council members were overpaid relative to legislators in peer cities. More generally, he said, Cleveland needed “fresh voices” and “fresh leaders” who would “keep the mayor in check.” From the perspective of many at city hall, the entire council reduction campaign — both the initiative to reduce the body’s size from 17 members to nine, and the initiative to reduce council salaries from $83,000 to $58,000 — can be traced back to the May 2017 utilities committee hearing. Viewed through that lens, these measures are not sincere efforts to improve city services or government performance. They are petty, vindictive power moves by George — attempts to punish legislators who didn’t award him a big energy contract, attempts to show them who’s boss. | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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FEATURE Viewed through another lens, though, the current efforts are merely the latest example of George’s selfinterested political activism. This is not the first time he has backed measures to reduce the size of city council. The most recent was in 2008. To appease suburban businessmen, including George, then-council president Marty Sweeney authorized a ballot measure that linked council size to the city’s population, with one representative per approximately 25,000 residents. This has reduced the body from 21 to 17 members, and could reduce it yet again after the 2020 census. George approved of Sweeney’s plan in 2008 but considered it “just a start.” “I look at Cleveland as the heart that pumps blood into the suburbs,” he told Scene at the time. “What happens in Greater Cleveland if Cleveland dies on the vine? It doesn’t matter if you’re in Pepper Pike or Brooklyn or Westlake — the region is going to die. We need to keep the heart pumping, and to do that, we have to make it more efficient to get things done. Right now, it’s gridlock, very territorial.” “Making things more efficient” is the euphemism the wealthy and powerful use to mean getting exactly what they want with as little friction as possible. “Getting things done,” by the same token, is the euphemism they use to mean getting things done for them. Whether or not it was the utilities committee tantrum that spawned his latest endeavor, George formed the group Clevelanders First in 2019 and paid petition circulators to gather signatures for both council reduction initiatives. Because they propose changes to the city charter, the measures required authorization via legislation from city council. That came last week, and both measures are now set to appear on the March 2020 ballot. Cleveland voters should not support them. However, it’s important to note that many (perhaps even a majority of)

Cleveland residents are fed up with city council for a laundry list of very good reasons. Council knows this. After the deluge of reports about Ken Johnson’s misuse of discretionary funds in Ward 4, for example, council caucused about their “perception issues.” They know that the George measures stand a sporting chance of passage and are prepared to unleash the full might of their offices and social media accounts to discredit George — a suburbanite! — and attempt to disqualify the ballot initiatives on technicalities. Council clerk Patricia Britt sent a letter to the city’s assistant prosecutor Karrie Howard on Dec. 6, for example, to flag “serious concerns” related to the financial disclosures filed in conjunction with the petitions. One of these concerns was that the name “Clevelanders First” expired on Nov. 15, 2019, and is no longer a legal entity recognized by the state of Ohio. These tactics should be familiar. They are the same ones that council has used on its own constituents, in the local minimum wage initiative, the Q Deal referendum and the CLASH campaign to force legislation on lead poisoning. In light of these tactics and other flamboyantly anti-democratic actions over the past several years, it would be easy to argue that city council is now reaping what it has sown. Though the council reduction measures are sponsored by an unsavory restaurateur who’s gaga for Donald Trump, Cleveland voters have every right to agree with the spirit of vengeance that animates them: Council ought to be punished for its performance, the sentiment may go. But that energy would be more profitably expended on campaigns to oust individual representatives and on reforming the body in ways that will lead to positive changes for the city. Drastically downsizing council without restructuring the ward-based system of representation, however, is not one of them. The reduction would have serious ramifications on city governance. Some of these ramifications would be predictable, others wouldn’t. But guys like George will be licking their chops. The quote-unquote “wealthy suburban

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

businessmen” know — and have said as much, in response to the impertinence of council members who refused to immediately play ball during the Q Deal legislation — that a smaller body would be far easier to buy off and influence. This is a delicate case to argue. It’s important to stress that opposing the George measures is not the same thing as supporting council. Council is still largely very bad. After tentative signs of public servitude in early 2019 which might have been a bulwark against the George measures — lead legislation! right to legal counsel for the evicted! — council members have returned to business as usual: Ward 4 councilman Ken Johnson is still gainfully employed, for starters, and so is Ward 17 councilman Marty Keane, though no longer as a councilman. He resigned from his post in November, strategically timing the appointment of his successor (Charles Slife) to ensure the maximum term allowable without a special election. Slife will serve for two years and will enjoy the benefits of incumbency in 2021, having never run for the seat. In Ward 1, the major legislative campaign of councilman Joe Jones in 2019 was “bringing God back into City Council chambers.” In Ward 6, the most memorable action in 2019 from councilman Blaine Griffin, the presumptive mayoral contender, was a combative floor speech this fall. “We’ve got to set a tone that nobody should ever mess with this body,” he thundered. “These folks need us because we were duly elected and we put ourselves out there to work hard on behalf of the citizens, not them … The body of this council needs to be shown respect whenever we go anywhere. We need to send a strong message that when you mess with us, you will be dealt with.” In recent weeks, the biggest council newsmaker has been Ward 11’s Dona Brady. She’s been doing everything in her power to force people experiencing homelessness from a temporary shelter at Denison United Church of Christ. Servant leadership, indeed! The point is, these people are extremely hard to defend. Many of

them should be voted out at the first opportunity. And it’s tempting to shrug and give in to the George measures, to treat them as overdue comeuppances. Might not a massacre be cathartic for city hall? Might it not yield a clean slate? Sure, but that’s Thanos logic. Cleveland voters should not let Tony George snap his fingers and turn half of council to dust. Moreover, Northeast Ohio has shown a dangerous proclivity for misapprehending the nature of leadership problems. It is often not systems that need overhauling, merely leaders themselves. Mayor Frank Jackson’s embarrassing fourth term and the stagnancy of his administration, for example, should not be construed as evidence that the city must abandon a mayoral system. It just means we need a new mayor. Armond Budish and the few chiefs he’s got left should be proof positive that a county executive system is not inherently less corrupt or more effective than a county commissioner system. Maybe we just needed new commissioners? Similarly, having council members who are subservient to corporate interests and the mayor, and who demonstrate contempt for the will of the people, does not necessarily mean we need to create a smaller council. It probably just means we need new council people. That said, a new system of representation that includes at-large seats should be seriously explored. In 2008, then-councilman Brian Cummins proposed a mix of ward and at-large seats, but his plan was summarily dismissed. (Scene theorized at the time that the at-large representatives would have posed a threat to the legislative supremacy of the mayor and council president). For now, council members represent wards, not the entire city. That’s the main reason why there’s so few ambitious pieces of legislation. As we wrote when we inducted city council into our inaugural Worst of Cleveland class, council members “care largely (if not exclusively) for their individual wards and, with limited exception, have abandoned the progress of the city to pursue a warped sense of ward


equality.” This is what people mean when they talk about “fiefdoms.” In the current system, each council member represents about 22,000 to 25,000 people. Reducing the body to nine members would mean each council member would then represent nearly 43,000. That would correspond to an enormous increase in the time they and their assistants spend answering calls about cracked sidewalks, trash pickup, noisy neighbors, etc. Council members are already not doing a whole lot of policy work. They mostly serve as advocates for their neighborhoods, dealing with individual constituent needs. (And

while we ream council for their antidemocratic behavior, we recognize that many of them are committed and responsive in this regard.) Nearly doubling the size of their constituencies would mean even less concern for the sort of bold citywide legislation that’s urgently needed. The appropriate pay for council, incidentally, should also be debated. It’s possible that $83,000 is too high (or that it rose too quickly, via sneaky automatic annual raises). On the other hand, $58,000 may be too low. The biggest issue with George’s salary reduction measure is not the number itself — we actually dispute

the argument that all qualified candidates would disappear at a lower salary — but that cleaving it by nearly 30 percent while also substantially increasing the workload seems especially punitive and illogical. But it is true that council members are paid more — in some cases, a good deal more — than legislators in peer cities. That fact, along with much of what Tony George has argued about council, is absolutely correct. And calling him a “suburbanite” over and over won’t change that. City council is largely a rubber stamp for Mayor Frank Jackson and his administration. Many council people do shirk their

committee responsibilities. The city’s legislature does need fresh voices and fresh leaders. But correctly identifying problems does not give Tony George license to dictate solutions. Whether or not the measures were crafted out of spite, they were crafted in George’s interest, not ours. For residents, the ongoing problems of a disengaged, antidemocratic, rubber-stamp legislative body will be made far worse with fewer members. These measures should be voted down.

sallard@clevescene.com t@scenesallard

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020


GET OUT everything you should do this week

The Cleveland Museum of Art hosts a special MLK Day celebration. See: Monday. | Photo by Emanuel Wallace

WED

01/15

CATEGORY

Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties Cleveland Stories Dinner Party is a weekly series that pairs fine food with storytelling. Through it, the folks at Music Box Supper Club hope to raise awareness of the mission of the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center. The goal is to “bring to life some of the fun, interesting stories about Cleveland’s past — from sports, to rock ’n’ roll, to Millionaires’ Row,” as it’s put in a press release. Admission is free, with no cover charge, although a prix fixe dinner, designed to complement the night’s theme, is $20. Tonight, David Spero, a guy who’s represented artists like Michael Stanley, Joe Walsh, the Raspberries, Billy Bob Thornton, Dickey Betts and Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) over the course of his career, will speak. Doors open at 5 p.m., dinner is served at 6, and the storytelling starts at 7. (Jeff Niesel) 1148 Main Ave., 216-242-1250, musicboxcle.com.

COMEDY

Katie Hannigan New York-based comedian, actress and writer, Katie Hannigan admits she was “the crazy girl” in college and is now “just living the epilogue.” Hannigan, who’s appeared on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, Comedy Central, The Travel Channel and MTV, brings a manic energy to the stage. She performs tonight at 7 at Hilarities. Tickets start at $10. (Niesel) 2035 East Fourth St., 216-241-7425, pickwickandfrolic.com.

THU

01/16

FAMILY FUN

Disney on Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures In what’s become a tradition for this time of year, Disney on Ice storms into town to take over the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for a 10-day period, sending the Cavs and Lake Erie Monsters out on long road trips so parents can bring their toddlers and tweens to the arena for some family entertainment. Expect to see familiar figures such as Mickey

Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Disney princesses. There will be singalongs to songs from films such as Finding Dory, Frozen, Toy Story and more. Tonight’s performance begins at 7, and shows continue through Sunday, Jan. 19. Tickets start at $15. (Niesel) 1 Center Court, 216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com. MUSIC

Midwinter Blues and Other Tunes In an attempt to beat back the wintertime blues, the Akron Art Museum launches a new winter concert series tonight, dubbed Midwinter Blues and Other Tunes. Each week, the museum will present an evening of local music along with art activities, live artist demos and additional musical performances in the galleries. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the headliners take the stage at 7 p.m. Tonight, Cory Grinder Band headlines; advance tickets are $8 for museum members and $10 for non-members. (Admission at the door is $9 for members and $12 for non-members.) However, admission to the museum galleries and lobby is free and open

to all. (Niesel) 1 South High St., Akron, 330-376-9185, akronartmuseum.org.

FRI

01/17

ART

78th Street Studios Third Friday Art Walk Tonight, the Third Friday Art Walk returns to the cavernous 78th Street Studios. More than 50 studios and galleries will participate in this popular indoor art walk; be sure to check out spots like the Derek Hess Gallery, Tregoning & Company and Hilary Gent Studio. Look for food trucks out front and live music on the first floor. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. and admission is free. (Niesel) 1300 West 78th St., 78thstreetstudios.com. THEATER

Flanagan’s Wake No one knows grief and mourning like a Catholic, let alone an Irish Catholic. Flanagan’s Wake transports the audience to an Irish wake where villagers tell tales and sing songs for their dearly departed | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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GET OUT Flanagan. Finding the humor in life and death, the wake acts as a dark backdrop to an otherwise hilarious show in which alcohol fuels the humorous reminiscing. Sort of like a tragic Tony ’n’ Tina’s Wedding, the interactive and improvised show engages the entire audience as the guests are treated as the friends and family of the deceased. Tonight’s show starts at 8 and repeats tomorrow night at 8 at Kennedy’s Theatre. Performances continue weekends through April 25. Tickets are $27. (Patrick Stoops) 1501 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

suggesting the way in which the film will examine how he comes to terms with his past in order to proceed into the future. Anchored by a compelling performance by Banderas, who won the Best Actor award last year when the movie made its international debut at the Cannes Film Festival, Pain and Glory makes for a riveting character

a fast-talking friend of Larry David’s on the HBO hit Curb Your Enthusiasm, comedian JB Smoove was born in North Carolina and grew up in New York. He started his career back in 1999, when he moved to Los Angeles and landed a recurring role on MTV’s The Lyricist Lounge Show. He also starred opposite Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds.

PRINCE Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images

FILM

Gift Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s 1983 bestseller about precious things that can’t be bought and sold, this 2018 documentary film examines Lee Mingwei’s Sonic Blossom (performed at the Cleveland Museum of Art this past July) and three other gift-based artist installations. The movie makes its Cleveland premiere tonight at 7 at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Morley Lecture Hall. Tickets cost $10 or $7 for CMA members. (Niesel) 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

Play It Loud celebrates instruments that are as iconic as the musicians who played them. Explore how they defined the artist’s sound & elevated their identity, and witness the wild aftermath of the ultimate rock gesture, smashing guitars. Co-organized with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

MUSIC

The Mozart Effect: Live! A Symphony for the Senses The Mozart Effect: Live! A Symphony for the Senses promises to “take the presentation of the live symphony orchestra to an entirely new place.” The event features the 40-piece Cleveland Pops Orchestra conducted by Charles Cozens. There will be high-definition large format immersive video and visual effects timed to the orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s music. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Connor Palace on Playhouse Square. Tickets cost $38.50 to $93.50. (Niesel) 1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org. FILM

Pain and Glory Pain and Glory, the latest film from writer-director Pedro Almodóvar, finds the veteran Spanish director looking inward for inspiration. The movie centers on Salvador (Antonio Banderas), a filmmaker and writer who has decided to retire. “What will you do?” a friend asks him when she hears of his decision. “Live,” he dryly retorts,

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FEATURING INSTRUMENTS FROM:

SAT

01/18

MUSIC

Aretha: The Queen of Soul Singer Charity Lockhart stars in this homage to Aretha Franklin, one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Franklin’s iconic career spanned six decades, and she received 18 Grammy Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom during that time. Rolling Stone magazine also put her atop its list of the Greatest Singers of All Time. A 10-piece band will accompany Lockhart at this show that takes place at 4 and 7:30 p.m. at the Hanna Theatre. Tickets cost $47.50. (Niesel) 2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org. FILM

Greener Grass This film centers on two soccer moms who live in a pastel-colored suburban Neverland. Things begin to go awry when one of them gives the other her newborn daughter for keeps. Two veteran female improv comics direct and star in the movie, a hit at last year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. It screens at 9:50 tonight at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Tickets cost $10, or $8 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel) 11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia.edu.

SUN

01/19

FILM

NANCY WILSON OF HEART

KIRK HAMMETT OF METALLICA Cleveland Rocks! Northeast Ohio residents receive exclusive offers on admission with a valid ID at the box office. Go to rockhall.com/visit and start planning your tour today.

study. The movie shows at 7 tonight and at 7:40 tomorrow night at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Tickets cost $10, or $7 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel) 11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia.edu. COMEDY

JB Smoove Famous for his portrayal of Leon,

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

After a season as a cast member on the sketch comedy program Cedric the Entertainer Presents, he worked as a writer on Saturday Night Live before landing the Curb Your Enthusiasm gig. Smoove returns to the Improv tonight at 7:30 and 10 and tomorrow night at 7 and 9:30. Tickets cost $30. (Niesel) 1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV, clevelandimprov.com.

Barry Lyndon As part of a special series devoted to the films of director Stanley Kubrick, the Cinematheque will show his 1975 film Barry Lyndon tonight at 6:30. Set in England in the 18th century, the film centers on an Irish rogue (Ryan O’Neal) who wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband’s position. Admission is $12, or $9 for all Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel) 11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia.edu. FILM

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché Directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodie Foster, this documentary film examines the life of forgotten French-American film pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché, history’s first female film director and perhaps the first moviemaker


COMEDY

Nelsin Davis Shop local. Eat local. Laugh local. That’s what Cleveland-native Nelsin Davis hopes you’ll do tonight when he performs at the Improv. Davis has been making his rounds throughout the state for the last few years, leaving a trail of side-split Ohioans in his wake. The situational comic focuses on storytelling in his routine, so expect more of a clever audiobook than a standup performance. Davis takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. (Brittany Rees) 1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV, clevelandimprov.com.

MON

01/20

SPORTS

Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks The Cavaliers have a good chance of notching a win today as the New York Knicks come to town. Like the Cavs, the Knicks are rebuilding. And while they likely have a superstar in guard/forward Rowan Alexander “RJ” Barrett Jr., they’re a long way from becoming the kind of competitive team that the storied franchise deserves. Part of the NBA’s special MLK Day celebration, the game commences at 5 p.m. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Check the website for ticket prices. (Niesel) 1 Center Court, 216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com. MLK DAY

Free Programs at the Maltz Museum The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an all-day free event. Cleveland’s own Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. will give a sermon at 10:30 a.m., the Evelyn Wright Quartet will perform at 1 p.m., and the documentary film Soundtrack for a Revolution: Freedom Songs from the Civil Rights Era, with talk-back by Kyle Kidd, will screen at 3 p.m. Guests are invited to tour the galleries and participate in family friendly hands-on crafts and activities at no cost. The museum

opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. (Niesel) 2929 Richmond Rd., Beachwood, 216-593-0575, maltzmuseum.org. MLK DAY

Open House at Severance Hall Today from noon to 5 p.m., Severance Hall hosts a free day of music and community engagement. The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus will perform, and there will be a special presentation of Dr. Mark Lomax II’s 400: An African Epic, a “journey through music that chronologically represents the Afrikan experience, past, present and future.” A discussion led by Joy Bostic, interim VP of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at CWRU, will follow the performance. There will also be line dancing in the BogomolnyKozerefski Grand Foyer. Admission is free, and tickets aren’t required. (Niesel) 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra Saturday, February 1 at 8pm Maltz Performing Arts Center JoAnn Falletta, guest conductor

HINDEMITH Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber RESPIGHI Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome) RESPIGHI Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome)

Reserve FREE tickets at cim.edu/maltz or call 216.368.6062

MLK DAY

MLK Day at the Rock Hall Today’s special MLK Day celebration at the Rock Hall begins at 10:30 a.m. with a screening of the film Let Freedom Ring in the Foster Theatre and a performance by the Rainey Institute Dance Team on the Klipsch Audio Main Stage. Throughout the day, there will be more film screenings and live performances as well as family activities and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech will screen on a 22-minute film loop. Admission is free. (Niesel) 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216-515-8444, rockhall.com.

Photograph by Ruddy Roye

to direct a narrative film. During her career, she experimented with color, synchronized sound, closeups and minority casting. She even started her own company before disappearing from filmmaking. The movie screens at 1:30 p.m. today at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tickets cost $10 or $7 for CMA members. (Niesel) 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

MLK DAY

MLK Day at the Art Museum Normally closed on Mondays, the Cleveland Museum of Art will be open today for a special MLK Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be youth performances, gallery talks, art activities, and educational programs about King’s legacy. Admission is free. (Niesel) 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org. MLK DAY

MLK Day at the Aquarium The Greater Cleveland Aquarium will team up with the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc. (UBF) for a community fund- and friend-raiser that takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the aquarium. Every guest who donates $1 or more to UBF today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will receive discounted same-

January 20 through November 2020 A photographic celebration of everyday Cleveland in honor of CPL’s 150th anniversary. Cleveland Public Library, Main Library, Brett Hall • 325 Superior Avenue, Cleveland OH, 44114

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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GET OUT day $10 admission to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. In addition to regularly scheduled Sharks & Scuba talks and animal encounters, the aquarium will highlight AfricanAmericans who played prominent roles in the fields of marine science and scuba diving. There will also be a MLK Day Search for Greatness scavenger hunt and the chance to win an annual family pass. UBF volunteers will be stationed in the aquarium lobby to take donations and provide discounted admission vouchers. Both adults and children will receive the general admission rate of $10 when donating at least $1. No presales are available. (Niesel) 2000 Sycamore St., 216-862-8803, greaterclevelandaquarium.com.

encouraged to “be as bad as you want.” Fueled by drink and shot specials, it all goes down tonight at 10 p.m. (Niesel) 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-1966, bsideliquorlounge.com.

TUE

01/21

THEATER MUSIC

Classical Revolution Cleveland Today, and the third Tuesday of every month, Classical Revolution Cleveland brings chamber music to the Happy Dog. Performers like the Trepanning Trio, students of Cleveland Institute of Music, and even Cleveland Orchestra members grace the stage in these exciting, free concerts. Tonight’s performance starts at 8. (Stoops) 5801 Detroit Ave., 216-651-9474, happydogcleveland.com.

NIGHTLIFE

Shit Show Karaoke Local rapper/promoter Dirty Jones and Scene’s own Manny Wallace host Shit Show Karaoke, a weekly event at the B-Side Liquor Lounge wherein patrons choose from “an unlimited selection of jams from hip-hop to hard rock,” and are

an up-close and personal guided tour of The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Gauguin Portraits at London’s National Gallery. The film screens at 1:45 p.m. today at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tickets cost $15, or $11 for CMA members. (Niesel) 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

FILM

Gauguin from the National Gallery, London This documentary film about the life and work of Paul Gauguin examines the artist’s legacy through the lenses of art history, gender and postcolonial politics. It also provides

Jersey Boys This hit musical tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and chronicles how the group went from the streets of New Jersey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Expect to hear hits such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “December 1963 (Oh What A Night).” Tonight’s opening-night performance takes place at 7:30 at Connor Palace. Performances continue through Jan. 26. Tickets cost $39 to $119. (Niesel) 1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org. MUSIC

Open Turntable Tuesday Tonight from 6 to 9, the Winchester hosts its weekly Open Turntable Tuesday. Jason Gokorsch will book guest DJs and offer slots to people

The Ultimate Whodunit! JANUARY 25 – FEBRUARY 23 ALLEN THEATRE based on the Paramount Pictures film written by JONATHAN LYNN written by SANDY RUSTIN | directed by CASEY HUSHION additional material by HUNTER FOSTER & ERIC PRICE adapted from the board game from Hasbro, Inc. produced in association with Work Light Productions, The Araca Group and Michael Barra/Lively McCabe Entertainment

216.241.6000 clevelandplayhouse.com TICKETS START AT $20! 16

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

who want to bring their own vinyl and spin their favorite songs or deep tracks. First time DJs are encouraged, and equipment is provided. Patrons can also bring records for the night’s DJ to add to their set. Sign up on Northeast Ohio Vinyl Club’s Facebook page. (Niesel) 12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-600-5338, facebook.com/ TheWinchesterMusicTavern. MUSIC

Vinyl Night Jukebox owner Alex Budin has described his 1,350-square-foot music-focused bar in the Hingetown ’hood as “a place where people can expect to hear and learn about music of multiple genres, all of which is concentrated in a constantly evolving jukebox.” The club hosts a vinyl night every Tuesday that serves as a listening party for new releases, partnering with Loop in Tremont, so patrons can hear a new album on vinyl. You can bring your own vinyl and spin it too. It all starts at 5 p.m. (Niesel) 1404 West 29th St., 216-206-7699, jukeboxcle.com.

scene@clevescene.com t@clevelandscene


MOVIES FANTASTIC VOYAGE Dolittle captures the charm of its source material By Jeff Niesel SHORTLY AFTER BRITISH AUTHOR Hugh Lofting published The Story of Doctor Dolittle in 1920, adaptations for radio and film followed. They never stopped. An animated series came out in the ’70s, a stage musical made its debut in 1998 and Eddie Murphy starred in a comedy released that same year. Now, Robert Downey Jr. portrays the doctor who can talk to animals in a new film simply dubbed Dolittle. Loosely based on The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, the second Dolittle book, it opens area-wide on Friday. Though the storyline stumbles mid-film when the flick turns into a stereotypical fantasy adventure, Downey makes for a decent title character, and he’s surrounded by some terrific actors to voice the various animals too. When we first encounter Dr. John Dolittle (Downey) in the film, he’s grown an enormous beard and holed himself up in the Dolittle Manor, where he’s mourning the death of his wife Lily (Kasia Smutniak). After young Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) shows up with a surly squirrel (Craig Robinson) that he’s accidentally shot, Dolittle springs to action and performs emergency surgery to save the little guy. At the same time that Tommy shows up at the manor, Lady Rose

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

(Carmel Laniado) also arrives with news from Buckingham Palace. The queen (Jessie Buckley) has taken ill, and Lady Rose thinks Dolittle can help. She convinces him to trim his out-of-control facial hair and go with her to London to diagnose the

queen’s illness. Dolittle decides that the queen needs an antidote that can only be found on a mythical island, so he and a motley crew of his favorite animals set off on a boat. Little do they realize that there’s a conspiracy

afoot, and his rival and arch nemesis Dr. Blair Müdfly (Michael Sheen) follows him with a crew of British soldiers intent on stealing the cure from Dolittle once he finds it. Predictably enough, the doctor and his pals encounter a number of exotic creatures on their trip, and they have a particularly bad run-in with Rassoulim (Antonio Banderas), leader of a band of pirates, and Barry (Ralph Fiennes), a fierce tiger with golden fangs. They also meet some new friends, including James (Jason Mantzoukas), a smart aleck dragonfly who helps them deal with Rassoulim and Barry. Other actors such as Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard and Frances de la Tour lend their voices to the movie too and make notable contributions. Given its history (the movie was bumped from last year’s release schedule after testing poorly with audiences), Dolittle isn’t likely to be a smash hit; but it retains the charm of the source material, something that can’t be said for several of the previous adaptations.

jniesel@clevescene.com t@jniesel

SPOTLIGHT: CHAGRIN DOCUMENTARY FILM FEST ENCORES THE FOLKS AT THE CHAGRIN Documentary Film Fest announced last week that they’ll present an encore screening of some of the most talked about films from the 10th iteration of the festival, which took place last fall. That festival broke attendance and growth records As part of its growing yearround programming, CDFF will present eight award-winning films in January, February and March during the CDFF Encore Series. “We like to give our audience another chance to see some of the most buzzed about films and to continue to have a discussion around these important topics. We are excited to offer more year-round and educational programming and

the CDFF Encore Series will be a continuation of this focus,” said festival director Mary Ann Ponce in a statement. The series kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Chagrin Cinemas in Chagrin Falls with screenings of The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, Woman in Motion and Armstrong. The series continues on Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Mandel Jewish Community Center with a screening of CDFF’s Audience Choice Award winner You Only Die Twice, a film that follows documentarian Yair Lev as he follows the path to find the man who stole his grandfather’s identity during World War II. That screening takes place at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 online or at the door.

At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, there will be a screening of Degas, Cassatt, the Terrible Children of Impressionism at Hamlet Village in Chagrin Falls. The film chronicles the relationship between Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt who influenced one another’s work and shared a friendship that lasted 30 years. Reservations can be made with Karen at Hamlet Village by calling 440-247-4676. Donations will be accepted at the door to benefit CDFF. Co-director Felicia Zavarella Stadelman will be on hand to introduce the film. On Thursday, Feb. 20, CDFF will celebrate Black History Month with a screening of two short films, and there will be a panel discussion with

local organizations referencing how the topics in the films are being addressed in Northeast Ohio. And finally, there will be a family day at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, at the Chagrin Falls Intermediate School Auditorium in Chagrin Falls. The schedule for Family Day includes screenings of Amazing Grace Lemonade Race, a film about 10-year-old Grace McCunn who raised money for charity with her lemonade stand, and The Biggest Little Farm, a film that made the Oscar short list for Best Feature Documentary. — Niesel

jniesel@clevescene.com t@jniesel | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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EAT KEEPING IT SIMPLE Salted Dough delivers dynamite pies and non-red-sauce-Italian fare By Douglas Trattner AS LARGE AS THE TEXAS-SIZE tabletop happened to be, it was nearly obscured from view by the trio of pizza pans that descended like spaceships from above. Everything’s bigger at Salted Dough and though they’re billed as 18-inchers, the massive pies slicing through the air at this Broadview Heights restaurant appear to be cheese-topped flying saucers out to colonize the solar system. It’s another weekend night in the suburbs and this two-monthold pizzeria is absolutely jumping. There’s a slight bottleneck at the front door, where small groups and outsized families vie for the next available table. As stools free up at the generously proportioned bar, they quickly are snatched up by couples, who eagerly swap a little comfort in exchange for speed. Meanwhile, in the 80-seat dining room, guests giddily lap up those slices alongside decidedly non-redsauce-Italian fare built around pasta, fish, chicken and beef. It seems that owner Jeff Fisher knew what he was doing when he decided to open Salted Dough 13 miles south of places like Crust and Touch Supper Club, eateries indelibly marked by the veteran chef’s culinary aptitude. Down here, Fisher offers large portions of agreeable food at sensible prices, along with enough cold beer and easy-drinking wine to melt away the stresses of the day. “We’re not reinventing wheel,” he admits, “just paying attention to the details that make a simple dish special.” It bears repeating that good pizza starts at the bottom. Fisher knows dough, and the pizzas that relentlessly exit the industrial-size brick ovens in the open kitchen look, smell and taste divine. They possess the most sought-after attributes in a crust: simultaneously thin and airy; pocked, blistered and crisp but chewy; aromatic and meticulously topped. Nearly flawless in design, the Breakfast for Dinner ($14, 10-inch) combines pecorino, spinach and crispy thin-sliced pancetta. A justcooked egg boasts a set white and a runny yolk, which coincidentally makes a fine dipping sauce for the

Photo by Emanuel Wallace

rims. A scant spritz of truffle oil pairs harmoniously with the ham and eggs. Diners can select from three sizes and more than a dozen builds ranging from the austere margarita, with little more than crushed Italian tomatoes and fresh mozz, on up to the autumnal squash pie with roasted butternut, thickcut bacon, Danish blue cheese and

hand, is anything but typical. Fisher manages to finesse whole squid bodies into tender grilled filets, which he then pairs with butter beans, poached tomatoes and blanched green beans in a cool, refreshing and lemony Mediterranean-style salad. Salted Dough takes an interesting approach to entrees as well. There are just two housemade

SALTED DOUGH 9174 BROADVIEW RD., BROADVIEW HEIGHTS 440-587-1098 SALTEDDOUGH.COM

fresh sage. Go rogue and design your own from a roster of gourmet toppers. Fisher’s pizza is like a gateway drug that leads, inevitably, to the procurement of other foods. The panzanella salad ($6) puts yesterday’s bread to good use by tossing it, along with fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and thumbsize dollops of goat cheese, in a zippy red wine vinaigrette. While the meatball ($10) appetizer is conventional, it’s also flavorful and robust given the size and quantity of the balls resting in marinara. The calamari ($13), on the other

pastas — ravioli and gnocchi — but the ravioli changes almost daily and the gnocchi comes in five different trims. The top seller is the one that marries those plump dumplings with peas, prosciutto, cream and cheese. It’s a bit of a belly-buster to be sure. All models come in at $16. A small chalkboard by the open kitchen (and, hopefully, your server) indicates the day’s fish, chicken and beef specials. A salmon Oscar ($26) stars a meaty flank of pan-seared fish that is capped with a crab cake, perched atop a pool of rich, cheesy risotto, ringed by sauteed Brussels sprouts, and gilded with a lava flow

of creamy bearnaise. Like the sweet pea gnocchi, it’s an over-the-top indulgence that’s nearly impossible to finish. If you do manage to “save room,” consider a sweet finisher like the tiramisu or gelato, which are made from scratch like pretty much everything at Salted Dough. Those weekend crowds are great for the bottom line, but they can and do exert pressure on the bartenders, servers and kitchen staffers who struggle to keep up. Despite this fact, it’s not uncommon to watch a flour-dusted Fisher make an appearance in the dining room to perform slight-of-hand tricks for tiny tots. If you want to know what pure joy looks like, make a ball of dough seemingly appear out of thin air and present it to a wee one. The team did an adequate job of taking a bland strip mall space and imparting it with some color and life. Sporting a sort of DIY farmhouse-chic vibe, the cavernous room is bright, loud and boxy. A second entrance is designed to accommodate take-out orders and future grab-and-go foods like salads, sandwiches and giant slices.

dtrattner@clevescene.com t@dougtrattner | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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EAT BITES Cleveland-born chef to import popular Chicago restaurant to Little Italy By Douglas Trattner LAST SUMMER, VICTOR MORENZ and Emily Gilbert closed their popular Chicago restaurant Home Bistro, which was a Boystown neighborhood staple for nearly 15 years. But Chicago’s loss will be Cleveland’s gain as the owners attempt to recreate the charm and personality of that beloved spot back home. They recently got the keys to the old Gusto space in Little Italy and hope to open Home Bistro sometime this spring. For the past few years Gusto did not operate as a restaurant, but rather a once-ayear pop-up during the Feast. “Little Italy was always my first choice,” says Morenz, who grew up in Mentor. “We looked in all the other neighborhoods that you would expect, but we persisted and got a space.” Home Bistro has a somewhat unique backstory. The restaurant was opened in 2005 by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, aka the Hearty Boys, who were Season 1 winners of the Food Network show Next Food Network Star. The restaurant was passed on to longtime chef Joncarl Lachman, who later sold it to Morenz, who worked with Lachman for years. Reading past reviews of the place, it’s clear that the bistro earned a special spot in the esteem of its neighborhood, enduring ownership changes

because the ethos, if not the food, held steady. “When you go to a restaurant, it’s a given that the food should be good,” explains Morenz. “But what makes a difference is how you’re treated and how you feel while you’re there. That’s where the ‘home’ aspect comes in. Hospitality is the key word.” Described broadly as a New American bistro, Home serves gutsy, ingredient-driven fare with roots in American, Italian and even Dutch cooking. The menu changes frequently, sometimes three or four times within a season, notes the chef. “We’re a neighborhood restaurant,” he says. “That way, you keep people coming back because they know that they

off-the-cobb salad, beer-steamed mussels, rabbit and spaetzle, and rainbow trout with pickled cabbage and a fried egg. The two-room space will be reworked to accommodate a bar/ lounge on one side and dining room on the other. Morenz estimates a total occupancy of 80 seats, not counting outdoor seating. When it opens sometime this spring, Home Bistro will serve dinner and weekend brunch.

Angie’s Soul Cafe Now Open at New Home on Carnegie in Midtown It’s been nearly two years since we first learned of

“Little Italy was always my first choice,” says Morenz, who grew up in Mentor. “We looked in all the other neighborhoods that you would expect, but we persisted and got a space.” can always try something new when they return.” Popular past dishes include bacon-wrapped, almond-stuffed dates, artichoke and Edam cheese fritters, crispy fried oysters with creamy grits, corn-

plans to renovate the former Hot Sauce Williams building on Carnegie into a splashy new Angie’s Soul Cafe (7815 Carnegie Ave., 216-426-8890). Well, now diners finally get to see what took so long.

KARAOKE NIGHT! EVERY THURSDAY!

dtrattner@clevescene.com t@dougtrattner Visit Website for Menu!

GREAT FOOD, GREAT FOLKS, & GOOD TIMES! LARGEST BEER & BOURBON SELECTION IN THE AREA

Over the past 18 months, the exterior has come alive with all new siding, windows and doors. Inside, the building was stripped to the studs and completely rebuilt with new flooring, new kitchen, new equipment, new bathrooms, new furniture and pretty much everything else. Recently, the brown paper that covered the windows has come down and the doors have opened. Angie’s Soul Cafe offers soul food classics like crispy fried chicken, freshly fried fish, daily specials like meatloaf, Salisbury steak and liver and onions, and those irresistible sides like blackeyed peas, collards greens and macaroni and cheese. What it does not offer is the option to pay in cash. Bring credit cards, debit cards, Apple pay or any other form of digital payment, management advises. The decision to go cashless was made by owner Akin Alafin, who says that the move is intended to thwart would-be criminals. Alafin survived a robbery and shooting at one of his other properties. Now that this Angie’s has opened, the store on St. Clair has permanently closed. Hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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4 1 2 9 E 4 9 T H S T R E E T | C U YA H O G A H E I G H T S , O H 2 1 6 . 4 1 7 . 3 1 0 2 | 4 9 S T R E E T TAV E R N . C O M

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

clevescene.com


Scene is Bringing Together NE Ohio’s Best Restaurants to Celebrate Your Favorite Meal of the Week!

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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O-PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN with Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’, G. Love’s latest album, The Juice, features special guests such as Robert Randolph, Marcus King and Roosevelt Collier. On the album’s opening track, “The Juice,” G. Love masterfully slurs his way through the song and emphatically sings, “Time’s up.” His former label mate Keb’ Mo’ produced the album. He helps create a unique sound and gets G. Love to delve into blues, jazz, rock, funk and soul even more than he usually does. In this recent phone interview, G. Love speaks about each track on the album. The disc comes out on Friday, and G. Love performs at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday at House of Blues.

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“The Juice” “It features [singer-guitarist] Marcus King, who is on fire now and he’s crushing. It’s just a reaction to living in a time when I tune into the news and every fuckin’ day is something about the Trump Administration. The first line of the song is ‘no more lies about this and no more lies about that.’ It was a kneejerk reaction. I had written these verses and then had a different chorus. Keb [Mo’] came up with a different chord progression, and it was one of the most magical things that happened. It’s a perfect example of a successful collaboration. I’ve been playing it live for a minute now and it’s really a wonderful thing because of that call-and-response thing. It’s political and can be polarizing, but it’s more about love and unity and bringing people together and trying to make this world a better place.” “Soul-B-Que,” featuring Roosevelt Collier “Keb said, ‘Play the guitar the natural way you play when you pick up your guitar and don’t even think about it.’ It was a driving rhythm in the key of E. Then, he said, ‘What do you want to the song to be about?’ I said, ‘I want to write the kind of song that I can play when the show is starting and everyone is walking into the room. I want to invite people into my world.’

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

We went from there and made it into this party song. I like to use phrases that no one has ever thought of before. That’s why I called it a ‘soul-b-que.’ It’s the best thing I can do as a songwriter.” “Go Crazy” “It’s kind of an old-school throwback hip-hop thing. This is a funny one too because I think it was the same day we did ‘Soul -B-Que,’ and we didn’t know what we were going to do. Gary Nicholson had an idea. Gary said, ‘I got an idea, chief. What about this: If I don’t go crazy/I’ll lose my mind.’ Keb liked it. He sang the chorus, and it was pretty good. The last verse is more syncopated and a different kind of flow. That was my shit. For the background vocals, I had an idea for an ’80s-style riff on ‘Jam on It.’” “Shake Your Hair” “I wanted to write a song along the lines of R.E.M.’s ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It,’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire.’ The whole song is lifting stuff from Western pop culture that people will recognize. Of course, the political divisiveness is there too.” “Fix Your Face” “A lot of times I’m reading, and I jot things down. I had this note, ‘Fix your face; all you need is a smile.’ Gary [Nicholson] said, ‘I like that. I think Keb will like that sentiment.’ It’s fun to play that live. As a songwriter, you try to be empathetic. You have to respect women. If you think of Peloton commercials, this is just the opposite of that. It’s like, ‘You don’t need any makeup. It’s your inner beauty that matters.’” “She’s the Rock” “I wrote that for my wife. A friend of mine kept writing on his Instagram, “She’s the rock that makes me roll.” I thought that was so sweet, and I wanted to make it into the song. That

thing just wrote it itself. There are a million different things I had to leave on the table. The sentiment is, ‘I’m not worthy.’ I’m just celebrating how great my wife is. That’s a heartfelt song, and it’s awesome to perform live. I’ve written a lot of breakup songs over the years, and now I’m happily married, and it’s nice to write songs about that.” “Diggin’ Roots” “That was trying to paint the picture of our house and our yard. We had this place in Cape Cod. We would have barbecues and bonfires. People come over and cook and jam and smoke a little weed. It’s really nice. It’s about that. It’s about this phase I’m in in my life. I’m starting a new family and laying roots and digging in.” “Shine on Moon” “It’s that notion about being in that old house with a full moon comin’ over the water and shinin’ into the living room. It’s the simple notion of being home with your wife and celebrating your love.” “Birmingham” “It was the only song written outside of our session. It was written with Sam Hollander. He just had a career year and wrote with Panic! at the Disco. We write together often and he often stays in Cape Cod where we live. ‘Birmingham’ is the notion of a tired, wornout musician feeling like it’s the end and throwing his hands up. He’s burnt to a crisp, and he’s going to get one more chance. You can either die or put your head down and keep going.” “Drinkin’ Wine” “It’s the oldest song on the album. You have the melody and a rhythm thing on the verses. There’s a lot of old blues songs about drinking wine, and this has that notion of ‘let’s have some fun before the sun goes down.’ I like to start the show with that a lot.”


G. Love & Special Sauce DJ Williams’ Shots Fired 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583 Tickets: $25 ADV, $30 DOS, houseofblues.com

jniesel@clevescene.com | t@jniesel

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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Beartooth & Motionless In White w/ Stick To Your Guns, LIMBS SOLD OUT Jan. 24 Snoop Dogg SOLD OUT Jan. 28 Tori Kelly w/ Audrey MiKa CANCELLED Jan. 28 Nightly w/ Sawyer, THE WLDLFE Cambridge Room Feb. 4 iann dior w/ Landon Cube, POORSTACY Feb. 6 Stephen Lynch Feb. 8 SiriusXM presents Totally 80’s w/ The Motels, Bow Wow Wow, When In Rome II Feb. 9 Allman Betts Band w/ JD Simo, Jackson Stokes Feb. 11 Tall Heights w/ Victoria Canal Cambridge Room Feb. 11 NGHTMRE w/ KOMPANY, EFFIN, BLACK A.M. – In Association w/ Cumulus

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Badfish w/ Tropidelic, The Quasi Kings JJ Grey & Mofro w/ Neal Francis Boy Band Review - Denim Valentine Formal Dance Paul Fayrewether Falling In Reverse w/ Escape The Fate, The Word Alive LOW TICKET ALERT Chris Lane LOW TICKET ALERT Iration w/ Ballyhoo!, Iya Terra, The Ries Brothers flor w/ Winnetka Bowling League Cambridge Room G Herbo Nicole Bus w/ Tone Stith Cambridge Room Gaelic Storm Allen Stone w/ Samm Henshaw

March 7 SiriusXM Hip Hop Nation pres. Young Dolph and Key Glock: No Rules Tour March 7 Elohim w/ Bahari, Mehro Cambridge Room March 10 JAUZ w/ DREZO, HOUSELOADZ – In Association with Cumulus March 11 Chippendales March 12 Bad Omens w/ Bloodline, Betraying The Martyrs, Oh Sleeper Cambridge Room March 12 Fit For A King w/ Chelsea Grin, Crustal Lake, Alpha Wolf March 13 Mod Sun March 14 Mr. Speed – Tribute to Kiss w/ Theatre of Crüe Tribute to Motley Crüe March 15 Devin Townsend w/ Haken, The Contortionist

Buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com or 216-523-BLUE

HOUSE OF BLUES: 308 Euclid Ave, Cleveland OH 44114 masoniccleveland.com / houseofblues.com

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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WEDNESDAY 1.15 B SIDE MUG NITE (7pm) WITH TRIVIA B.A.R.S. (9pm) BANGIN’ OUT REAL SHIT Underground Hip Hop with DJ Walk and DJ Knyce THURSDAY 1.16 THE HOOK UP (10pm) Top 40 Club Night w/DJ MIKE FILLY FRIDAY 1.17 HAPPY HOUR COMEDY (7pm) Hosted by GREG SUMMERS ‘90s NIGHT (10pm) DJ QUEEN CZR birthday celebration! SATURDAY 1.18 THE BASEMENT (10pm) ALL R&B EXPERIENCE SUNDAY 1.19 SERVICE INDUSTRY SUNDAY (7pm) with ROCK BAND! MONDAY 1.20 SHITSHOW KRAROKE (9pm) w/WALLACE + MANNY TUESDAY 1.21 LYRICAL RHYTHMS (9pm) Live Band Open Mic Poetry Hip-Hop Soul Experience THE GROG SHOP PRESENTS AT

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Tickets can be purchased for all shows at the club without a service fee, by phone 216.321.5588 for a $1.00 surcharge, or at any of the following locations:

BRITTANY’S RECORD SHOP (Cleveland) LOOP (Tremont) MY MIND’S EYE RECORDS (Lakewood) RECORD REVOLUTION (Cleveland Heights) RECORD SHOP (Willowick) SQUARE RECORDS (Akron) THE VINYL GROOVE (Bedford)

| clev clevescene.com l ves e ce cene nee.c .com m | January Januuar a y 15 1 - 221, 1, 20200

SUN 3/29

PUSSY RIOT


MUSIC A TEAM EFFORT Greensky Bluegrass continues to build on last year’s momentum By Jeff Niesel Photo by Dylan Langille

WHEN WE SPOKE TO GREENSKY Bluegrass dobro player Anders Beck at the end of last year, the group had just wrapped up one of its best years ever. Early in 2019, it released its latest studio album, All for Money, and while on a tour in support of the disc, it played three shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. “Honestly, it feels like there have been a ton of highlights, which is a good sign,” says Beck in a phone interview, when asked to reflect on the past year. Greensky Bluegrass performs with Town Mountain at 8 p.m. on Friday at the Agora. “Those Red Rocks shows are always a pinnacle for me every year. That venue has always been really important for me. It’s a magical place, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t believe too much in magical places. That blows my mind each year. Getting to play three nights made me wonder who the hell I am.” Last year also saw the second year of the band’s summer festival, Camp Greensky. Acts such as Del & Dawg (Del McCoury and David Grisman), Stephen Marley, Billy Strings, Hiss Golden Messenger and Circles Around the Sun performed at the event, and the group has

announced dates for this year’s festival too. “It’s cool to facilitate our own thing and build our own festival after playing millions of other festivals,” says Beck. “To do it the second year and have it grow was really great for us. As cheesy as it might sound, the highlights are just great nights of good music. I’m lucky enough to play music with

“I see us as two bands in one,” says Beck. “There’s the live band, which is an improvisational jam band. We rock and take chances, and songs might be 20 minutes long. There’s the studio side of the band. I think we’re strong on both sides. There’s great songwriters in the band. Creating albums is really fun, and with our last album, that’s the closest we’ve come to merging

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four of my best friends. Every night is good, but being an improvisational band, we take chances every night. Sometimes, it really clicks, and it’s hard to describe. It could be a random night. It can happen anywhere at any time, and that’s the stuff I live for. It sounds cliche, but it’s true.” While the band didn’t necessarily improvise while recording All for Money, it did take that improvisational approach to the studio.

the live side with the studio side. It’s almost like we were writing a set list for a show.” The band worked off what Beck describes as “frameworks” as it assembled the tunes. “[Singer-mandolin player] Paul [Hoffman] or [singer-guitarist] Dave [Bruzza] will bring a song to the band,” says Beck. “At that point, it’s just a guy and a guitar. The band together turns it into a Greensky song. All of us tweak it a little bit. We finish them up in the studio and

work on them that way. We don’t go in with nothing, that’s for sure. I know some people do. That sounds stressful to me. When someone tells me, ‘Check out this song. I just wrote it today,’ my immediate reaction is, ‘Keep working on it.’ Songs don’t get written in a day, in my opinion.” They cut the album with producer Dominic John Davis, a guy they’ve known for years. He played bass in Steppin’ In It, a Michigan band from “days long ago,” as Beck puts it. “[Davis] grew up with [singerguitarist] Jack White and when Jack needed a musical director for the last project, he called Dominic,” says Beck. “It’s funny because everyone asks us, ‘How’d you get Jack White’s bass player to producer your record?’ We respond by saying, ‘How’d Jack White get our friend Dominic to be in his band?’ We knew him as our buddy. He was doing musical director stuff in Nashville and has a great ear. He’s a voice of reason, and he can tell us when to stop and is someone we can listen to and trust. He won’t tell us what to do. He’s more of an advisor. He’s known our music for so long that it’s not some outside influence. It’s an extra guy on the team.” The album opens with the moody “Do It Alone,” a song that benefits from its bellowing vocals and atmospheric interludes. It might just be the strongest single in the band’s catalog. “It started as a strumming guitar song,” Beck says when asked about the track. “Paul [Hoffman] wanted to write an arena rock-like anthem, which is hard to do. The premise is that we can’t do it alone. A lot of the album is about our experience with our lives and our fans. I think of that one as being about if things had gone a different way. We could be sitting on our couches playing music for our friends; but instead, we’re playing for 10,000 people at Red Rocks. It involves so many more people than the five of us. We’re so lucky to be in the position we are, and we’re so grateful for it.”

jniesel@clevescene.com t@jniesel | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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| clevescene.com m | January 15 - 21, 2020


LIVEWIRE

all the live music you should see this week Photo by David McCandless Photography

WED

01/15

Chris Barron and Glen Phillips: 7:30 p.m., $28 ADV, $35 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. Beachland Fam Jam: 8 p.m., free. Beachland Tavern. Blac Youngsta: 6 p.m. Agora Theatre. Pete Cavano and Joe Hunter: 7 p.m., $15. Bop Stop. The Deals/Child Princess/Sunday Pills: 8:30 p.m., $7. Grog Shop. Led Zeppelin 2: 8 p.m., $15 ADV, $18 DOS. House of Blues. Scott Reynolds/Blue Antidote/ Madame: 9 p.m., $7. The Winchester. Morgan Wallen: At the end of last year, country singer Morgan Wallen hit the arena circuit as the opener on Luke Combs’ massive tour. This summer, he’ll hit the sheds and amphitheaters with Jason Aldean. This month, however, he’s headlining his own gigs and holds down a two-night stand this week at MGM Northfield Park – Center Stage. Recently named to People’s “Ones to Watch” list, Wallen scored a CMA nomination for New Artist of the Year and is a top contender for the 2020 Grammy for Best New Artist. Wallen takes a rock ’n’ roll approach to his live sets. A ZZ Top-like guitar riff kicked off “Happy Hour,” when he opened for Combs here last year. And the rousing “Whiskey Glasses” came off well too during the polished performance. Expect tonight’s show to deliver as well. (Jeff Niesel) 7:30 p.m., $55-$57.50. MGM Northfield Park.

THU

01/16

Cave Twins (in the Supper Club): 7:30 p.m., $8 ADV, $10 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. Hannah Cohen/Edwin Augustin Jr.: 8:30 p.m., $10 ADV, $12 DOS. Mahall’s 20 Lanes. An Evening With Luca Mundaca: 7 p.m., $15. Bop Stop. Hollin Kings/Astral Radio: 8 p.m., $7. CODA. Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio/paris_ monster: 8 p.m., $15 ADV, $18 DOS. Beachland Ballroom. Moody Blues Tribute by Time Traveller: 7:30 p.m., $18 ADV, $22 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. Toth/Mal Devisa/Holden Laurence: 8 p.m., $12 ADV, $14 DOS. Beachland Tavern.

String Machine plays a record reissue party at CODA. See: Friday.

Morgan Wallen: 7:30 p.m., $55$57.50. MGM Northfield Park.

FRI

01/17

The Almost/All Get Out/Ghost Atlas/ Rowdy: 7:30 p.m., $18 ADV, $20 DOS. Grog Shop. Apostle Jones/Funny Business/ Astral Radio/Hengst/Sarah Arafat: 9 p.m., $5. The Winchester. Beartooth/Motionless In White/ Stick To Your Guns/LIMBS: 7 p.m., $29.50 ADV, $35 DOS. House of Blues. Camille Bertault & Vitor Goncalves: 8:30 p.m., $30. Nighttown. Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute by Let’s Groove Tonight: 8 p.m. Music Box Supper Club. Greensky Bluegrass: 7 p.m. Agora Theatre. Jazz Jam Session: 11 p.m., free. Bop Stop. Kai Wachi & Sam Lamar/Lord Swanex/Bownser & Smash/ Jimmy Mac/Uprewt/Fitz: 8:30 p.m. Beachland Ballroom. Mike St. Jude & the Valentines/ Meg & the Magnetospheres/Bad Garfunkels: 9 p.m., $6. Happy Dog. Nah/Tiger Village/Khaki Blazer: 8 p.m., $8. Now That’s Class. No Exit With Special Guest Zeitgeist: 8 p.m., free. Bop Stop. The Razz – A Tribute to the Raspberries (in the Neon Room): 8 p.m. MGM Northfield Park. The Shootouts (in the Supper Club): 7:30 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. String Machine/Drag Dave/Learning Curve: Originally a solo project for David Beck, the Pittsburgh-based indie rock act String Machine came to fruition after Beck enlisted a number of friends to help him perform, turning the band into a

collective. The group released its debut, Threads from the Youth Fossil, in 2017 and followed it up this year with Death of the Neon. The band, which includes Cleveland-based cellist Katie Morrow, has just signed with the indie label Know Hope Records, which just reissued Death of the Neon today. The group has also released a series of live studio sessions to help promote the vinyl release and tour. Tonight’s show serves as a reissue release party. (Niesel) 8 p.m., $7. CODA. Jackie Warren: 10:30 p.m., free. Nighttown.

SAT

01/18

Absinthe Father/Punchdrunk Tagalongs/She/Her/Hers/ Equipment: 5 p.m., $12. Mahall’s 20 Lanes. C-Level CD Release Show: 9 p.m., $10. The Winchester. An Evening with Moises Borges: 8 p.m., $10. CODA. G. Love & Special Sauce/D.J. Williams’ Shots Fired: 8:30 p.m., $25 ADV, $30 DOS. House of Blues. Hot Club of Cowtown: 7 p.m., $30. Nighttown. JiMiller Band (in the Supper Club): 8 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. Karen’s Birthday Bash! with Frayle/The Great Iron Snake/ The Librarians/We Live By Night /Happy Hour w/ DJ Ron K: 8:30 p.m., $10 ADV. Grog Shop. Les Delices: 11 a.m., free. Bop Stop. One: A Celebration of U2 (in the Neon Room): 8 p.m., $15. MGM Northfield Park. Public Squares/Black Static Eye/ Dollar Drafts/Bar Trash: 9 p.m., $6. Happy Dog.

School of Rock: 12 p.m., free. Beachland Ballroom. Moss Stanley Trio Featuring Norine: 8 p.m., $15. Bop Stop. Tom Petty Tribute by Shadow of a Doubt: 7:30 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. Jackie Warren: 10:30 p.m., free. Nighttown. Charlie Wilson: Still touring in support of 2017’s In It to Win It, Gap Band founder and solo artist Charlie Wilson continues to be relevant. Last year, he received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Made For Love,” a duet with Lalah Hathaway. In 2018, he was nominated for three NAACP Image Awards. That same year, he became the first artist to have two different No. 1 songs on Adult R&B Songs and the Hot Gospel Songs charts at the same time. Expect him to emphasize his many hits at tonight’s show. (Niesel) 8 p.m., $79-$159. MGM Northfield Park.

SUN

01/19

40 Oz. To Freedom: 8 p.m., $10. The Winchester. Chubby & the Gang/Royal Hounds: 9 p.m., $7. Now That’s Class. Flatfoot 56/Heart & Lung/CRAIC: 8:30 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. Grog Shop. Levin Brothers/The Jazz Cats: 7:30 p.m., $20 ADV, $22 DOS. Beachland Ballroom. Masters of Hawaiian Music with George Kahumoku Jr., Led Kaapana, Kawika Kahiapo (in the Supper Club): 7 p.m., $20 ADV, $25 DOS. Music Box Supper Club. Temple of Passions Spoken Word: 4 p.m. Bop Stop. Charlie Wilson: 8 p.m., $79-$159. MGM Northfield Park.

TUE

01/21

Outlab: Experiments In Improvised Music: 9 p.m., free. Bop Stop. Slow Crush/Grivo/Niights: 8:30 p.m., $10 ADV, $12 DOS. Mahall’s 20 Lanes.

scene@clevescene.com t@clevelandscene

| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020


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BAND OF THE WEEK C-LEVEL By Jeff Niesel MEET THE BAND: Dave Deitke (guitar, vocals), Coda Crose (bass), Pat Boland (drums) AN OPEN MIC NIGHT THING: Deitke started playing open mic nights when he was still in high school. “My dad would take me to open mic nights all over town,” he says. “I would learn from the local guys like George Hartwig and Frankie Starr. I was going to a mic night a week.” At one of the open mic nights in the mid-’00s in North Olmsted, he met bassist Coda Crose. Shortly after meeting, the two would launch the funk/soul/rock act C-Level. Initially, the band put out an album that Deitke refers to as “basement tapes.” Late last year, it issued Rights, and

“a weird way to pay homage to all our influences. We have set up an acoustic stage for artists who rarely or have never played solo,” he explains. “We have also arranged a visual art angle, in which multiple artists from [the local gallery] Negative Space will display their work on and off the stage. We want to make it this big immersive thing.” WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM:

c-levelmusic.bandcamp.com. WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The

song “For Some Account” has a Sublime-like vibe to it; “Easy For” benefits from grunge-y guitars and cooing backing vocals; and Photo courtesy of C-Level

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| clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

at this week’s show at the Winchester Music Tavern, it celebrates the release of Burn Your Own Gasoline.

“Rights” features an extended opening that consists of a bluesy guitar solo and plodding drums.

A BRAND NEW SOUND: “This is a coming-into-our-own record,” says Deitke, who also works as a music teacher during the day, teaching adapted music lessons to kids with autism in grades pre-K to 12. “It’s not just us hashing out old songs we haven’t recorded yet. It’s a sound we’ve only recently developed. We’ve had several different drummers, but Pat [Boland] has redefined everything we do as a band.”

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: C-Level

A NOVEL RELEASE PARTY: Deitke refers to the upcoming release party as

performs with Rubix Groove, Green City Soul Machine, Mike Miller of Vibe and Direct, Charlie Wilson of Wanyama, Uncle Gnarley, Lea Marra of Lea Marra and the Dream Catchers, and Braxton Taylor of Sam Fox at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Winchester Music Tavern in Lakewood.

jniesel@clevescene.com t@jniesel


SAVAGE LOVE SUB SPACE by Dan Savage I’m a 26-year-old bisexual woman with a history of self-harm. It hasn’t been much of an issue for the last few years, but my sex life has improved a lot in that time. I realized that I am quite submissive and masochistic, and I have found a wonderful Dominant partner who I’ve gotten to explore that kink with in a positive and healthy way. Last night, I watched the movie Secretary, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character is someone who self-harms but stops when she begins a Dom/sub relationship with her boss. Obviously this film is flawed and not exactly a great guideline for healthy BDSM relationships. (The power dynamic! The lack of consent! That weird come scene!) However, I did find myself relating to her character and am now questioning my motives for pursuing this kind of sexual relationship. I worry that I may be unintentionally using the pain that I lovingly experience from my partner as a replacement for the pain I used to experience from my bad habits. Or am I using BDSM as a form of harm reduction? Is it rational to even compare these two things? — Seeking Careful Advice Regarding Recent Emotional Discovery “I completely get where SCARRED is coming from,” said Lina Dune, the creator of Ask a Sub (askasub.com). “You’re discovering your kinks, and then the culture comes in with a not-entirelyaccurate film or hot take, and it can taint your self-discovery.” Dune is known as a “fairy submother” to her thousands of followers on Instagram, where she regularly posts about the D/s lifestyle and frequently highlights red flags that newbies to the kink scene may miss. (A Dom who insists he “doesn’t negotiate” with subs? Run away.) While still relatively young herself, Dune has been active in the kink scene for many years and identifies as a 24/7 lifestyle sub. “There’s a difference between self-harm and what SCARRED is doing with her Dom in a consensual, rational, measured environment with safe words in place,” said Dune. “And it’s telling

that she didn’t write in to say, ‘Oh my god, I’m using D/s to self-harm!’ Rather, she’s worried she might be unintentionally or unknowingly engaging in some form of selfharm.” While the fictional character played by Maggie Gyllenhaal stops engaging in acts of self-harm after entering into a D/s relationship with the fictional character played by James Spader, SCARRED, you don’t want to overinterpret that fictional narrative. Meaning, while the film suggested there was causal relationship between Gyllenhaal’s character entering into a D/s relationship and no longer engaging in acts of self-harm, that doesn’t mean the same is true for you. “The culture infantilizes us all when it comes to owning our sexual desires — and that’s especially the case for women,” said Dune. “The message is: ‘You don’t know what you’re getting into’ or ‘You don’t realize the effect this is having.’ But if there’s one thing SCARRED is an expert on, it’s herself. It’s not like she’s in a trance when she’s with her Dom — no matter what the movies want us to believe about D/s relationships — which means she’s consciously choosing this for herself, and it feels healthy and good. Our bodies don’t usually lie, and I’d be willing to bet that selfharm did not feel that way.” But even if it turns out you’re right — even if, worst-case scenario, joyful consensual kink in the context of an intimate connection with another person is somehow a replacement for solo acts of self-harm that isolated you — it could still be a good thing. Dune suggests that you explore your feelings with a kink-positive therapist, and I want to second that. “From my perspective, it looks like SCARRED may have been manufacturing her own version of exposure therapy, which some somatic-based psychologists have suggested is exactly what negotiated, consent-based kink play can provide,” said Dune. “For example, a person with a fear of being powerless may find it helpful to experiment with powerlessness in small, controlled doses in the

context of a structured, negotiated BDSM situation. Looking a fear in the eye, and then being able to back away from it at will, and end with a cuddle and a check-in with your play partner, can make you feel more powerful, not less. So if SCARRED can consciously work through this with a therapist and her Dom, this BDSM relationship has the potential to be very healing, just as long as she maintains her autonomy within it.” Follow Lina Dune on Twitter and Instagram @AskASub.

*** I’m a 26-year-old straight man, and I haven’t gotten laid in a while. I never actually got much to begin with. I lost my virginity late (age 23, also my first kiss) and had bottled up quite a bit of frustration until then (still got a lot of that left over). I also suffer from crippling social anxiety — so crippling, in fact, that I can’t even get to know people online, which rules out online dating. I have recently come to the realization that the only way for me to ever get better is to stop wanting to get laid so much. Which. Is. Hard. The first step is learning to be okay with things as they are, which I am making progress with. But sex is everywhere: TV, movies, magazines. On the few occasions I do get to spend time with people, sex comes up a lot. People seriously complain to me about not having “gotten any” for two months, and that’s not enough for them. I’ve heard people describe themselves as “late bloomers” because they had their first time at 17 or 19. I feel like such a freak. I have a male roommate who frequently has women over. I hear them going at it through the wall and get panic attacks because of it. I need some advice on how to be okay with not getting any, not really having gotten much to begin with, and just generally being nervous and inexperienced and self-conscious and lonely. I know that’s a lot, but perhaps you have some valuable thoughts for me. — After-School Special Since there’s no way to strip the sex scenes and sexual references

from every TV show you watch, magazine you read, or conversation you have, ASS, working on yourself is going to be a far better use of your time than demanding a remade/desexed world. And by “working on yourself,” of course I mean “getting your ass into therapy.” Whether or not you ever get laid again, getting professional help to address your frustrations and social anxiety is going to improve your life. (It will up the chances that you’ll get laid again, ASS, but no promises.) And take heart: For every letter likes yours I get from a straight guy, ASS, I get an identical letter from a straight woman. Which means there are a lot of women out there who are just as inexperienced, self-conscious, and lonely. Once you’re in good working order — not perfect, just functional — you might be able to connect with one of those women or some other woman. (But no one wants to connect with a guy who gives off a rage-y vibe, so please stay away from incel forums.) And your inexperience makes you less freakish these days than you seem to realize. While 54 percent of high-school students had had sex by age 18 in 1991, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, today only 41 percent of highschool students have had sex by age 18. Which means there are a lot of “late bloomers” out there, ASS. And while you’ve doubtless heard that confidence is attractive, you most likely haven’t been told that a person doesn’t have to be experienced to be confident. A guy just has to be comfortable enough in his own skin to be open about who he is, where he’s at, and what he’s looking for. But first things first: Get yourself a good therapist … and maybe a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

On the Lovecast, John Moe of The Hilarious World of Depression: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net t@fakedansavage | clevescene.com | January 15 - 21, 2020

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