Cleveland Scene - May 8, 2024

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1970-2024

REWIND: 1971

Cat

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 4 COVER DESIGN BY ANA PAULA GUTIERREZ Dedicated to Free Times founder Richard H. Siegel (1935-1993) and Scene founder Richard Kabat Publisher Denise Polverine Editor Vince Grzegorek Editorial Music Editor Jeff Niesel Staff Writer Mark Oprea Dining Editor Douglas Trattner Stage Editor Christine Howey Advertising Sales Inquiries (216) 505-8199, scene@clevescene.com Senior Multimedia Account Executive Shayne Rose Creative Services Creative Services Manager Samantha Serna Creative Team Ana Paula Gutierrez Staff Photographer Emanuel Wallace Business Business & Sales Support Specialist Megan Stimac Traffic Manager Kristen Brickner Circulation Circulation Director Burt Sender ...The story continues at clevescene.com Take SCENE with you with the Issuu app! “Cleveland Scene Magazine” Upfront 7 Feature 10 Get Out 12 Eat 14 Music 18 Livewire 20 Savage Love 22 Cleveland Scene is published every other week by Omit the Magazine. Cleveland Scene is a Verified Audit Member Great Lakes Publishing President Lute Harmon Jr. Finance Director Perry Zohos accounting@glpublishing.com Operations Manager Corey Galloway www.glpublishing.com Cleveland Distribution Scene is available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader Subscriptions - $170 (1 yr); $85 (6 mos.) Email Megan - MStimac@CleveScene.com - to subscribe. Cleveland Scene 1422 Euclid Ave. STE 730 Cleveland, OH 44115 CONTENTS Copyright The entire contents of Cleveland Scene Magazine are copyright 2024 by Great Lakes Publishing. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Publisher does not assume any liability for unsolicited manuscripts, materials, or other content. Any submission must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All editorial, advertising, and business correspondence should be mailed to the address listed above. Subscriptions $170 (1 yr); $85 (6 mos.) Send name, address and zip code with check or money order to the address listed above with the title ‘Attn: Subscription Department’ MAY 8 - MAY 20, 2024 • VOL. 54 No 22
Stevens got the cover treatment along with news that Channel 43 was set to air a silent film festival, which is something the station should bring back.
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UPFRONT

‘I SAY GO FOR IT’: BROOK PARKERS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT A POTENTIAL BROWNS STADIUM IN THEIR BACKYARDS

WHEN GEORGIA PANIAN

first caught the news that Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam were showing interest in building a stadium a few blocks up the road from her house on Richard Drive, her ears perked up.

After all, the potential relocation of the team a few miles south and the possible mega development project would mean drastic changes to the city she’s long called home.

Panian has lived in Brook Park most of her life. She had worked at the Cleveland Hopkins Airport for 24 years, then for another two as a machine operator at the Ford Plant.

Then, Continental shut down their hub at Hopkins. In 2012, that Ford Plant along Snow Road was shuttered, the plot now part of what the Haslams could make a new Browns Stadium village.

But, “My whole thing when I first saw it was, ‘This could be wrong’,” Panian, a mother in her sixties, told Scene from the parking lot of a Giant Eagle off Snow Road. “[The Haslams] just want more out of Cleveland, and this is just what they’re telling people. You know what I mean?”

The news divided Panian. A stadium in Brook Park, especially one that would cost $2.4 billion, could help revive a flailing local economy, both hit hard by the depleted manufacturing industry and aging residents. But then, the expected traffic. The impact on the neighboring airport, Panian thought.

“It would be a major tax hike, I’m sure,” Panian said. It’s the cost factor that mostly has her a skeptic: “I love the idea,” she said, “but it’s not going to happen.”

On Wednesday, the Haslams announced at a meeting with stakeholders that half of that $2.4 billion projected cost for a domed stadium outside Cleveland’s city limits, in their plan, would be split amongst Ohio, Cuyahoga County and the city of residence—Brook Park. (Any Stadium Village built around it would be Haslam-funded.

The billionaires would also like to see taxpayers pick up half the tab — amounting to about $600 million — for a renovated stadium on the lakefront.)

Such a weighty price tag would make that dome the third costliest stadium in the world, a matter that’s only amplified the wonders and anxieties of those that, if the Haslams are serious, would be Cleveland Browns Stadium 3.0’s neighbors. That which adds only more concerns: How much they would pay being the most imminent.

“I say go for it,” Cathy Riva, a resident on Engle Road, said in the parking lot of the Brookgate Shopping Center. “We’re going to pay either way. They put it downtown—they’re still going to charge us Cuyahoga County people.”

“And we’ll take the tax revenue it’ll generate,” she added. “Because you know it’s going to generate.”

Although the trend in the past decade bends towards building pricey stadiums in the suburbs— from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Cali., to AT&T Stadium outside Dallas—there’s no guarantee that the glittering ROIs in the minds of billionaire investors will pan out, and in fact, economists have long agreed that such projects don’t bring the promised economic impact.

And there’s no certainty with Brook Park dollars, too. As several members of Brook Park City Council reiterated to Scene, the city would most likely hold a special election for its 15,000 or so of voting age if it were to put up funds.

Jim Mencini, Brook Park’s councilman covering Ward 2, just south of where the new stadium would sit, shares the same kind of pros-cons list as his constituents. On one end, a Stadium Village could easily be an employment magnet. (Mencini’s nicknamed it, optimistically, “Super Bowl City.”) On the other, it could lead to a traffic congestion quagmire, leading to necessary road widening.

That is, of course, if Brook

Parkers are sold on the forest for the trees.

“I mean, look: interest rates are 7.2 percent. The average ranch in Brook Park is selling for $200,000. A half gallon of orange juice is $4.50. Things are expensive,” Mencini told Scene in a call. “You know, I think it’d be tough to get a tax passed, don’t you?”

“If it’s going to cost us an arm and a leg,” he added, “then that’s that.

With the Ford Plant, and its tax revenue, merely mounds of dirt today, Brook Park isn’t necessarily swimming in amenities. NASA Glenn is its glorious pride— Hopkins is on Cleveland land— which leaves mostly strips of hotels (including a failed Howard Johnson), big box outlet stores, a Giant Eagle and the Brook Park Rec Center.

Its Brookgate Shopping Center, off Smith Road, is used often by residents as a metaphor for the city’s struggling economy. Roughly 20 percent of its main plaza sits empty.

“All of us are kind of disgusted that Middleburg Heights is booming,” Linda Riedel, a resident on nearby Muskingum Blvd., told Scene from her front door. “It’s frustrating for us because we wanted to breathe new life into our city, too.

“And Brookgate’s been a series of failed businesses over and over and over.” she said.

Because the Haslams would

own the entirety of their Brook Park Stadium Village, they would control the parking and its retail components, from the hotel tenants to bill for parking your car. (Or one’s orange Dawg Pound RV.)

High parking rates, for one, could lead to fans exploring options around the area.

Another reality Wiedel’s considering. “That’s a good question,” she said. “Would our streets be filled up with cars? I can see people trying to avoid, I don’t know, that $50 per game.”

Which might not bother Wiedel, who sports a Browns sticker on the back of her Ford Escape, if she’s at the game.

Though when you start throwing around a $2.4 billion pricetag and questions about taxpayers’ wallets opening up, some things start to change.

“Wait,” Wiedel said, “how much?” - Mark Oprea

Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Agrees to Coat Glass to Prevent Bird Collisions

Birders can rejoice: one of the most lethal buildings to our feathered friends will not be as deadly anymore.

Well, at least come this fall, when Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse plans to coat the majority of its surrounding glass facade with a

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Photo by Mark Oprea The site of the former Ford Plan, and possible future stadium
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bird-protective film, which would save tens of thousands from smacking into it in the first place.

As Signal Cleveland first reported Wednesday, the Gateway Economic Development Corporation signed off on a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers to pay $845,975 to wrap the Cavs’ home in Bird Divert, a thin film that acts as a caution light to birds while remaining relatively invisible to the human eye.

That expenditure, following two years searching for a workaround, comes as a gigantic win for Lights Out and other bird advocacy groups who work to prevent collisions. Delisting the FieldHouse as a building-ofconcern that is, several sources said, a direct result of advocacy work in the past year.

“That’s by large the biggest offender in terms of bird collisions,” Matthew Schumar, a program coordinator at the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative, told Scene on Thursday. “On a busy day you can stand there on Huron and watch as birds fall all around you.”

“This is great,” he added, “this is a huge step forward.”

Roughly 1.7 billion to 2 billion birds collide with buildings in America every year, according to the Audubon Society, mostly with glass-heavy, low-rise structures that blind eyes mid-flight. Most collisions happen just after dawn, and during the high migratory months in spring and early fall.

In Downtown Cleveland, one of the urban areas most prone to collisions in the Midwest, a handful of volunteers at Lights Out has been patrolling streets in the wee hours to rescue stunned birds, and preserve dead ones. Yet, due to the high amount of walking, lack of pay and early start time, the patrol group is hard pressed to fill its ranks.

“This should help though,” Tim Jasinski, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, said regarding the FieldHouse’s purchase. “What I’ve learned [with glass protection], is that there’s a really low chance a bird will smack that window— unless they’re being chased by a hawk and trying to get away.” Lights Out, which Jasinski helps manage, will still monitor the FieldHouse after Bird Divert is installed. Since March 15, the usual start of the spring migration, Jasinski said Lights Out’s catalogued “probably over 300” birds thus far, which was fewer than those collected in 2023.

And not just due to a skewed pattern. “A lot of it is just not having enough people,” he said.

Despite the short staff, Jasinski and his colleagues have worked in the past few years to put pressure on downtown property owners to consider making their windows less deadly. Those with high amounts of reflective, blinding glass, and near to open green spaces with trees to nestle in.

It was sometime in 2022 when, according to Schumar, he and others began talks with FieldHouse staff regarding the deadliness of their exterior. Schumar cited the Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, found to kill 100 birds a year, as good enough reason to reshape the arena.

Due to the costliness of installing Bird Divert—or Feather Friendly, its commonly-used competitor—Schumar said that FieldHouse’s team, lead by Michael Lathrop, the FieldHouse’s lead architect, tried to find cheaper workarounds. Turn their lights on earlier. Play a “predator-type” of sound, “like a raptor,” to scare birds away from collision.

“Anything they could try,” Schumar said, “before the step of having to treat the glass.”

In an interview with Scene, Susan Oguche, a spokesperson for the Cavs and the FieldHouse, admitted that Jasinski, Schumar and others at Lights Out played a part in the Bird Divert expenditure.

“I think when we realized it was an issue, we sought a community organization to partner with on a solution,” Oguche said. “The team is so relieved that we’ve been able to find a solution.”

Schumar sees it a different way. “It’s a PR move,” he said. “They can use it to their advantage.”

Manufactured in New Jersey, Bird Divert is a thin film that reflects ultraviolet light via a matrix pattern of hollow glass spheres about the size of dimes. It’s different than the light-diffusing stuff installed on the Cuyahoga County building or the Huntington Convention Center.

Bird Divert, Oguche confirmed, is planned to be installed this summer. - Mark Oprea

Broadview Heights Pride Fest Moves Forward in Spite of Resident Hostility

On April 15, about 60 or so Broadview Heights residents showed up to their City Council

chambers, some heated, some empathetic.

All were focused on what they perceived to be a subject of prime importance: whether or not the town’s second Pride Fest should or should not happen on city property.

Most present, the Plain Dealer reported, were against the festival. “We are Broadview Heights,” Robert Kilo, an organizer with the Center for Christian Virtue policy group, told Council. “We are not Lakewood. We are not Cleveland.” Citing religious beliefs, Kilo warned, “You try to cram this down our throats, we the people will have something to say.

“And tonight is just the beginning,” he added.

That festival, slated to go on from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on June 8, is being hosted by Broadview-Brecksville Heights Pride, an area nonprofit that formed in May 2022 as an antidiscrimination advocacy group for LGBTQ+ folk. Pride Fest, as the group advertises, is one its prime events to showcase its uniting mission.

But not without its difficulty. Though long threatened by religious extremists and hate groups, LGBTQ organizations have had to ramp up security plans and insurance policies in light of a more vocal opposition, from Proud Boys protesting drag in Chardon, to tension with evangelists at Cleveland’s own festival last June

In Broadview Heights, a majority white suburb of 19,936, such vocal opposition to a Pride Fest has driven public confusion as to how some in such a seemingly peaceful town could reject such festival. Just as it has, for BBH Pride, for the underlying laws that have led to tension in the first place.

“You know, some organizations reached out to city council to kind of explain to them, ‘Hey, let’s understand the line between free speech and hate speech, and it’s fine that residents say, oh, I have a concern, or I don’t care for Pride Fest,” BBH Pride director Jennifer Speer told Scene.

“But the fact that they want to influence policy over this, and they are coming after the mayor?” she said. “That’s really bad.”

Speer is talking about a 97-yearold statue that gives the Broadview Heights mayor—in this case, Mayor Sam Alai—the ability alone to say whether or not an event is hosted on city grounds. Because the city is co-sponsoring Pride Fest, Speer said, Mayor Alai was allowed to bypass any necessary council greenlight.

It seems to be why Vince Ruffa,

the law director for Broadview Heights, expressed confusion at the April 15 meeting, as to why Pride Fest sparked a revisit to the longstanding laws.

“When it is a city sponsored or co-sponsored event it is an administrative function good, bad or indifferent, Council doesn’t vote on that,” Ruffa said, according to the minutes. “I have been the law director or almost 21 years we have never used that process for a city sponsored or co-sponsored event.”

On Thursday night, half of Broadview Heights City Council will be gathering at council chambers to entertain a possible change to that law, thus requiring council approval for future events held on city property.

As for BBH’s seminal Pride Fest last June, Speer recalled similar tones of opposition, mostly regarding the group’s choice to host it at Broadview Heights Middle School. (On a Saturday though, Speer said.) Despite one protestor, Speer said the event surpassed its mission. Six hundred showed up. It was rated seventh best Pride Fest in Northeast Ohio.

“We’re talking dozens upon dozens of people have approached us since the last Pride Fest, and saying, ‘This has changed my outlook. This has changed my perspective,’” Speer said. “’I now believe I might be able to stay in this town.’”

BBH’s festival on June 8, Speer said, will host a range of activities, from a feminist choir to flowerpot making and karaoke. There will also be vendors touting crochet or dog rescuing, along with four churches and one voter registration agency.

It all goes swimmingly as planned, Speer believes that this year’s Pride will help the nonprofit segue nicely into finishing, and distributing to City Hall, a city action plan that would act like a blueprint for how to train city employees, or teachers in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights School District, to better accommodate the LGBTQ population.

“If people would just come and meet their neighbors,” Speer said. “These lovely people work around you, they raise children around you.

“And guess what?” she added. “They attend church, too.” - Mark Oprea

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scene@clevescene.com t@clevelandscene

FEATURE

COMING SOON

17 new restaurant openings to look forward to this year

YOUR SUMMER DINING

dance card is about to get a whole lot busier as more than a dozen joints are set to debut across town. From familiar names to newcomers, casual neighborhood joints to dazzling destinations, fresh concepts to reborn and retooled favorites, here’s what to look forward to this year.

Tied House + Kitchen

Partners John Bikis and Dave Sutula launched Royal Docks Brewing in Stark County nearly 10 years ago. Next up for them is Tied House + Kitchen, which is taking over the North High Brewing space in Ohio City. This will be the brewery’s fourth location overall and first in Cuyahoga County. When it opens in the coming weeks, the brewery will sport white subway tile, high ceilings painted black, concrete floors, exposed brick, reclaimed wood, and corrugated metal. There will be 16 handles, a full bar and a menu filled with beerfriendly fare.

Wine Dive

El Carnicero served its last meal on Cinco de Mayo, but the space will soon have new life thanks to Dan Deagan and Jackie Ramey. The couple will open Wine Dive in early July, which combines the come-asyou-are appeal of the neighborhood dive with some actually decent wine and cocktails. Guests can expect 20 wines by the glass, twice that in bottles, plus classic cocktails and beer, all dished up alongside dive-bar vibes. The plan is to offer killer happy hours, a full roster of fun nightly promotions, and betterthan-expected pub fare – including late-night brunch.

A.J. Rocco’s

A. Brendan Walton closed A. J. Rocco’s, his convivial Gateway District café, at the tail end of 2019, but within months he was planning to reinvent the spot a few doors down. After a gut renovation of the former Huron Point Tavern (and

Alesci’s Downtown) space, Rocco’s 2.0 is ready to welcome its first guests. At full bore, the two-level, three-bar eatery can serve 170 guests, but cozy nooks and private areas provide the flexibility to use the space as needed. Walton plans to ease into things with respect to food. Chef Devin Cerjan will offer approachable food that aims to fill the niche between basic fast-casual and pricy fine-dining. Diners can expect wings, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and mac and cheese, plus nightly specials like pastas, steaks and seafood.

Oliva, Downtown

Oliva, an Italian-themed steakhouse, is opening this week. The new Warehouse District restaurant is owned by Lola Jacaj, formerly Sema, who also operates Acqua di Dea (formerly Acqua di Luca) and Casa La Luna (formerly Luca Italian Cuisine). A year-long renovation project has transformed the former Osteria space from a close-quartered trattoria to an elegant Tuscan-style ristorante. A blend of materials, textures, colors and artwork combine to create a contemporary and elegant dining room that feels much larger than its predecessor. The previously enclosed kitchen and private dining room in the rear of the space has been reconfigured into a dramatic open kitchen and chef’s counter. Overall, the seating in the restaurant has nearly doubled from 50 to 100, including the 14-seat quartzitetopped bar. Jacaj describes Oliva as a nose-to-tail restaurant that goes well beyond steaks and chops.

Batuqui, Cleveland

After nine years in their present home, Carla Batista and Gustavo Nogueira are relocating their beloved Brazilian restaurant. But they aren’t traveling far: the new eatery will be located 130 feet west in the former St. Paul’s Evangelical Church. The attractive Craftsmanstyle building on Larchmere was constructed in 1922 and features

stained glass windows, soaring ceilings and rich wood accents. The ambitious project began this past fall and is expected to last until next fall. The owners will continue to operate from the original location throughout summer. (A second location in Chagrin Falls, which opened in 2021, is also running.) Seating will climb to a “comfortable” 110, including a stunning bar. There will be a small front patio and spacious lower level, which will be used for private events and live entertainment.

Julia’s 1902, Willoughby

Brothers Paul and Michael Neundorfer spent two years converting a former country estate in Willoughby into a posh 10-room inn and full-service restaurant called Julia’s 1902. Built at the turn-of-the-century by Charles Schweinfurth, who designed many of the houses on Cleveland’s famed “Millionaire’s Row,” the Neo-Gothic mansion boasts original oak wood flooring, coffered ceilings, pocket doors, leaded-glass windows, stained-glass door panels and richly tiled fireplace surrounds. Chef José Coronado showcases his flair for fusing Latin American, Asian and American flavors into approachable, appealing dishes. The menu features starters like harissa-roasted carrots, tempura-fried cauliflower, and hamachi aguachile. Whole branzino is topped with ginger gremolata, duck confit gets the mole treatment, and a big bowl of pozole is capped with seared halibut.

Moxie, Chagrin Falls

Just as he recently did with Lopez, Brad Friedlander is dusting off an old brand and bringing it out of retirement. Moxie closed in 2019 after a laudable 22 years. Since opening in the late-1990s, the Beachwood bistro produced

many of the region’s top chefs, including Doug Katz, Karen Small, Tim Bando, Eric Williams, Jonathan Bennett, John Kolar and others. Friedlander and partner Michael DuBois purchased Aurelia in Chagrin Falls, which closed after six years. Following a refresh of the property, Moxie will open in June, with Aurelia chef James Balchak staying on. The through lines connecting Moxie past and present, says management, will be the seasonal menus, from-scratch cooking, high-quality ingredients and elevated guest experience.

Cozumel, Cleveland Heights

Soon after Michael Herschman closed Mojo in Cleveland Heights, the owners of Cozumel came knocking. With eight locations across Northeast Ohio, Cozumel is one of the largest and best known local Mexican restaurant chains –but none of them are on the east side of town. The “essentially turnkey” property will open quickly – as soon as July. The owners will redo the restrooms and the bar, swap out all the furniture, paint the walls and a few more cosmetic tweaks. Down the road they will undertake some more significant renovations. When it does open, Cozumel fans can look forward to the same approachable, affordable and delicious Mexican and Tex-Mex-style fare, including quesadillas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and combination platters. Larger plates such as carne asada, crab and shrimp stuffed chimichangas, and camarones al mojo de ajo (garlic shrimp) are also on offer. There’s a full bar with beer, wine, margaritas and top-shelf spirits.

Kiln, Shaker Heights

After four years of instability –beginning with Sawyer’s and ending with Shake It – one of Van Aken

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Oliva| Doug Trattner

District’s most prominent restaurant spaces landed one of Cleveland’s most bankable chef-operators. This winter, Doug Katz announced his plans to open Kiln, which the team describe as a “modern take on a classic European bistro.” Along with managing partner Todd Thompson and executive chef Cameron Pishnery, the team will create a “beautiful and comfortable interior with warm and friendly service.” The menu, still in the planning phase, will offer a broad range of sharable dishes served in the classic bistro style, which is to say on their own rather than as part of composed plates with starch and vegetables. When it opens in fall, Kiln will join Zhug and Amba in the Katz portfolio.

Boom’s Pizza, Shaker Heights

Last fall, Ben Bebenroth announced that he and his team had signed a lease for the former Michael’s Genuine space at Van Aken District. When it opens this summer, Boom’s Pizza in Shaker will join the original shop in Lakewood, which opened in early 2023. Once again, Bebenroth is working with Richardson Design to rework the space to better align it with their service approach, which blends the efficiency of a fast-casual operation with the comfort of a sit-down eatery. Guests order, pay and grab beverages from coolers filled with beer, wine by the can, split and bottle and soft drinks. For this location, they plan to dial back the self-serve beverage options in favor of a streamlined bar program featuring draft beers and draft cocktails.

Fiamma, Woodmere

Early last year, Mendel Segal opened Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ in Shaker Heights, one of only a handful of kosher barbecue restaurants in the country. The gregarious “rabbi pitmaster” will attempt to duplicate the success of that operation at Eton Chagrin Boulevard, where he will open Fiamma, a kosher Italian restaurant. When it opens in the coming months, the “modern Tuscan” restaurant will offer a full menu of salads, wood-fired pizzas, housemade pastas and fish. But keeping the place kosher means making the choice between dairy or meat – and dairy it will be, says Segal. The centerpiece of the restaurant will be a unique woodburning pizza oven with a rotating hearth with an opening on the kitchen side, where the pies will be loaded, and a second opening on the

dining room side, where the pies will be removed and plated. The former Mabel’s BBQ space will be reworked into what Segal promises will be “the nicest kosher place between New York and Chicago.”

STEAK, Tremont

Fresh on the heels of their recent success with Geraci’s Slice Shop in downtown Cleveland, the trio of Terry Francona, Jason Beudert and Chelsea Williams staked a claim on the former Parallax space in Tremont. The owners hope to “disrupt the steakhouse category” by delivering an affordable steakhouse experience in a cool, hip environment. The owners also plan to diverge from convention by offering diners a single choice of beef: the underappreciated coulotte. That cut will be sold as part of an all-inclusive meal that includes a fresh salad, house-made rolls and bottomless hand-cut fries, all for the low, low price of approximately $30. Also on the menu will be six to eight shareable sides. A dessert cart will make the rounds of the dining room. And there will be plenty of craft cocktails, wine and beer.

Untitled (former Bell & Flower), Chagrin Falls

For those keeping count, Rick Doody currently operates Bar Italia, Cedar Creek Grille, Lindey’s Lake House, JoJo’s Bar and 17 River Grille, the last two of which are situated in Chagrin Falls. Late last year, Doody quietly added a third Chagrin Falls property to his portfolio: Bell & Flower. For now, it’s business as usual by the falls. But soon, Doody will launch a major restoration and renovation project on the 150-year-old building to “bring the building back to its historic roots,” he says. Plans call for swapping the current industrial vibe for a more classic bistro décor with tin ceilings, wood floors, exposed brick walls and a long bar along one side. Doody also wants to swap the front windows for ones that slide open while creating more of a connection with the alley patio. For design inspiration, Doody is looking to one of Columbus’ most enduring gems: Lindey’s in German Village, which his mother opened 40-plus years ago. For culinary inspiration, he’s eyeing great New York bistros like Pastis and Balthazar. Look for the dust to settle by late summer.

The Kraken Room, Willoughby Earlier this year, the Vergara family streamlined the offerings at its Willoughby property, jettisoning

Hola Tacos and Barroco Arepa Bar to focus solely on Pulpo Beer Co. The rearrangement freed up the second floor for something new: a cocktail lounge called The Kraken Room. Juan Vergara says that the success of Amazonia in Lakewood, the restaurant group’s first foray into craft cocktails, inspired them to double down by adding an east-side lounge. As with Amazonia, the bar will be under the guidance of beverage director Gabrielle Swafford. With names like A Watery Grave, Siren’s Song, Harbinger of Doom and, natch, Release the Kraken, the beverages adhere to a maritime theme. Those creations are joined by some tiki classics, Prohibition-era blends, mocktails, beer and wine. To eat, there are small plates like cotija fries, shrimp cocktail, soups and salads, and larger plates such as smash burgers and a flame-grilled steak.

Scorpaciatta Italian Restaurant, Shaker Heights

Peter Reuter had a five-year plan to take Scorpacciata from a food stall concept to a brick-and-mortar restaurant – and he’ll come close to hitting that goal when Scorpaciatta Italian Restaurant opens this month. Reuter, who launched his pasta stand at Van Aken District in 2018, quickly followed that up with a pizza shop. For the past year, the Johnson and Wales graduate has been hard at work converting the former Larchmere Tavern into the new fullservice home of Scorpaciatta. The bar and restaurant will offer pizza and pasta, naturally, but also a wide variety of appetizers, charcuterie, and entrees. There will be seating for about 75 in the dining room, with room for another dozen at the bar.

Tricky Tortoise, Willoughby Willoughby Brewing Company had a remarkable run stretching back to 1998. After closing for good in 2020, the massive property sat

idle for about four years. That’s when Bobby Ehasz grabbed the keys. Ehasz, a career military guy, is a partner in Pompatus Brewing, a nano brewery in Bainbridge. Ehasz’ first major hire was Caleb Brown, a brewer who worked at Platform/ AB and Thirsty Dog. Craft beer fans can look forward to a lineup of clean, drinkable and broadly appealing styles. The new owner has done considerable work to brighten up the cavernous space and make it more comfortable. A second bar was built in the dining room to take some pressure off the main bar by the brewhouse. In preparation for the return of live music, the stage is getting a facelift and the sound and lighting systems are being updated. To eat, there will be straightforward pub menu with wings, pizza, pierogies and pie. And that model train that circles above? It’s still there.

BBQ Joint from Quagliata and Ladner, Mayfield

Carl Quagliata and Zack Ladner opened The Village Butcher in Mayfield nearly two years ago. When the adjacent storefront came on the market, the owners decided to grab it, not knowing what they would ultimately do with it. Those plans came into focus after Quagliata and Ladner decided to close Smokin’ Q’s BBQ in Mayfield (replacing it with Cuoco Bello). Given the high cost of food and labor, a full-service barbecue restaurant no longer made financial sense, Ladner explained. But a fast-casual version just might. When it opens this summer, the new BBQ joint will sell Texas-style barbecue by the pound and serve it with sliced white bread, pickles and onions. Guests can expect a roster of wood-smoked meats like brisket, pulled pork, ribs, burnt ends, turkey, sausage and chicken.

May 8 - May 20, 2024 | clevescene.com | 11
scene@clevescene.com t@clevelandscene
Julia’s 1902| Courtesy Photo

GET OUT Everything to do in Cleveland for the next two weeks

WED 05/08

Always... Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline’s friendship with fan Louise Seger started in 1961 and continued until Cline’s death. This humorous and heartfelt tribute features 27 songs and many of Cline’s unforgettable hits such as “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Walking After Midnight.” Tonight’s performance takes place at 7:30 at the Hanna Theatre, where performances continue through May 19.

2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Company

Directed by three-time Tony Awardwinning director Marianne Elliott ( War Horse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Angels in America) this new production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical comedy centers on a 35-year-old single woman who struggles to find a stable relationship. Tonight’s performance takes place at 7:30 at Connor Palace, where performances continue through May 19.

1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

THU 05/09

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School

Founded in 2005 in a dive bar in Brooklyn, Dr. Sketchy’s has now spread to more than 100 cities around the world. Dr. Sketchy Akron, a monthly drink and draw event that takes place on the second Thursday of each month at Jilly’s Music Room in Akron, gives patrons the opportunity to “draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality.” The fun begins at 7 p.m.; it costs $10 to draw.

111 N Main St., Akron, 330-576-3757, jillysmusicroom.com.

FRI 05/10

Live Poetry: Philip Metres, John James, Zach Savich, Bridget Lowe, Dave Lucas

Five established poets will read at this event that takes place at 7 p.m. at Visible Voice Books. Virginia Konchan will host and moderate the event. It’s free.

2258 Professor Ave., 216-961-0084, visiblevoicebooks.com.

Marc Maron

Famous for his WTF podcast that finds

him interviewing actors, politicians and comedians, veteran comedian and aspiring actor Marc Maron performs tonight at 8 at the Mimi Ohio Theatre. 1501 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

SAT 05/11

C.S. Lewis on Stage

Actor Max McLean portrays C.S. Lewis in this show about Lewis’s belief in Christ and his famous wartime talks on the BBC. McLean will be available for a post-show discussion as well. Performances take place at 4 and 8 p.m. today at the Ohio Theatre. 1501 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Finale

Cleveland Orchestra musicians team up with composer and curator Allison Loggins-Hull for this program that includes the world debut of a new chamber commission. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at Mandel Concert Hall. It’s free, but tickets are required. 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

Kathy Griffin

The comedian brings her cheekily named My Life on the PTSD List tour to the Agora tonight at 7. In the past few years, Griffin, who famously posted a picture of Trump that got her put on the no-fly list, has also dealt with cancer and divorce during the past few years, so you can expect those topics to find their way into her set. 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221, agoracleveland.com.

In the Heights

The hard-working residents of Washington Heights grapple with love and lust, identity and racism, all while the prospect of a winning lottery ticket hangs in the air. The musical pairs Latin rhythms and dance with hip-hop lyrics to tell the story about what it means to chase your dreams as you cling to your roots. Tonight’s performance takes place at 7:30 at the Allen Theatre, where performances continue through June 9. 1407 Euclid Ave., 216-521-2540, playhousesquare.org.

Wonderland Vintage Bazaar

More than 30 vendors will be on hand for this special vintage bazaar that’ll feature clothing, accessories, records and housewares. There will be a brunch cocktail bar, a coffee truck and a food truck. The event occurs today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ingenuity Labs. Parking is free; admission is $5. 5401 Hamilton Ave., 216-589-9444, events.humanitix.com/wonderlandvintage-bazaar.

TUE 05/14

Lyrical Rhythms Open Mic and Chill

This long-running open mic night at the B Side allows some of the city’s best rappers and poets to strut their stuff. The event begins at 8 with a comedy session dubbed 2 Drinks & a Joke with host Ant Morrow. The open mic performances begin at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $5 in advance, $10 at the door.

2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-1966, bsideliquorlounge.com.

WED 05/15

The 10 X 3 Songwriter Band Showcase

Hosted by Brent Kirby

The concept of 10x3 is a pre-arranged line up with 10 songwriters/bands performing three songs each. Two of the them required to be original, and the third can be the artist’s choice. Local singer-songwriter Brent Kirby hosts the event, which runs from 7 to 9 tonight at the Bop Stop. Admission is free. 2920 Detroit Ave., 216-771-6551, themusicsettlement.org.

Beck Center for the Arts’ Youth Theater 75th Anniversary Fundraiser

This celebration of the critical impact of the arts on young people’s lives in the past 75 years. The fundraiser will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Beck Center’s Lakewood campus. Proceeds of this event will advance Beck Center’s mission to provide arts education, performances, exhibitions, creative arts therapies, and community programs to people of all ages, skills and abilities. 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-5212540, beckcenter.org.

An Evening with Kai Bird

Keynote speaker Kai Bird, a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and journalist who’s written The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter and The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames and American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin), comes to Mandel Concert Hall as part of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival. The event

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 12
The Cleveland Asian Festival returns. See: Saturday, May 18. | Emanuel Wallace

begins at 7 p.m.

11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

Midnight Rental presents Secret Movie Night

Hosted by Lenora from the internet hit-series Midnight Rental, this movie night features what it deems to be the best in VHS horror, thriller and campy classics. The event begins tonight at 8 at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, and the club will feature a special movie night menu for the event. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588, grogshop.gs.

THU 05/16

Divine Dialogues with Earth Angels Earth Angels, a local holistic health center, will provide the readings at today’s special event that takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Visible Voice Books. 2258 Professor Ave., 216-961-0084, visiblevoicebooks.com.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute

The Cleveland Orchestra takes on what is arguably one of the greatest operas ever written. Performed as part of the 2024 Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival. the staged production will be sung in German with projected supertitles. Performances take place tonight and Saturday night at Mandel Concert Hall. 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

FRI 05/17

Guardians vs. Minnesota Twins

The Guardians take on the Minnesota Twins, their division rivals, tonight at 7:10 at Progressive Field as a threegame series gets underway. Fans receive a free shirt tonight as part of a Free Shirt Friday promotion, and tomorrow night’s promotion is a Jose Ramirez bobblehead giveaway. 2401 Ontario St., 216-420-4487, mlb. com/guardians.

Conrad Tao in Recital: Power and Influence Pianist Conrad Tao and cellist Dane Johansen explore Sergei Rachmaninoff’s life with this program of music that addresses old and new world traditions and innovations. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at Reinberger Chamber Hall. 11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

Third Friday

From 5 to 9 p.m., many of the 78th Street Studios resident artist studios and galleries will be open as part of this monthly event. There will be

live music, and Local West, a Gordon Square sandwich shop, will serve food. BARneo will have a selection of adult beverages as well. Admission is free. 1300 West 78th St., 78thstreetstudios. com.

SAT 05/18

Cleveland Asian Festival 2024

The annual two-day festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow at Asia Plaza. Vendors serving up Asian or Pacific Islander cuisine and beverages will be on hand, and there will be an Asian pop cover dance competition in addition to other music- and art-related performances. Clevelandasianfestival.org

Sex N’ the City: A (Super Unauthorized) Musical Parody

This parody of the popular HBO show from the ‘90s follows Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha as they struggle to find true love as single women living in Manhattan. Tonight’s performance takes place at 7 at the Ohio Theatre.

1501 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

SUN

05/19

American Narcissus Book Launch

Chandler Morrison will appear at Bookhouse Brewing today at 2 p.m. to celebrate the launch of his new book, American Narcissus. Local actress Monika Bialoglowicz will lead the conversation.

1526 W. 25th St., 216-862-4048, bookhouse.beer.

MON 05/20

Guardians vs. New York Mets

The New York Mets, an MLB team with one of the highest payrolls and not many wins to show for it, come to town tonight for a three-game series against the Guardians. Tonight’s first pitch is at 6:10.

2401 Ontario St., 216-420-4487, mlb. com/guardians.

TUE 05/21

Chamber Music in the Atrium

This monthly concert series at the Cleveland Museum of Art begins at noon. It’s free. 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

May 8 - May 20, 2024 | clevescene.com | 13 scene@clevescene.com t@clevelandscene

FRIENDS, FAMILY, FOOD

YYTime delivers endless options and endless fun

THERE’S NO SUCH THING as “a simple cup of bubble tea” at YYTime. The available selections occupy their own massive menu, with more than 60 different blends of milk tea and fruit tea combined. Choosing drinks like Thai milk tea ($6.49) and jasmine green tea ($6.25) is just the start of the process. Boba fans can add chewy crystal pearls, amber pearls or fruitfilled popping pearls. Then it’s on to the toppings, including various foams, puddings and jellies. Finally, sippers choose their sugar levels, which can be dialed in from 0 to 100 percent, and ice levels, ranging from none to plenty.

In our case, at least, it takes less time to prepare the drinks than it did for us to order them. Like most items at this breezy new Asiatown eatery, the colorful beverages land on the table with surprising speed. If the bubble tea menu gives diners pause, the food menu – a two-sided affair – might stop them in their tracks altogether. Dozens and dozens of items are spread across categories of cold appetizers, hot appetizers, vegetable skewers, seafood skewers, meat skewers, whole roasted fish and large-format noodle soups.

The best way to attack a menu like this one is to just dive in. YYTime’s digital ordering system, via QR codes, makes it easy to go at one’s own pace. We punch in orders for pork belly skewers ($7.99) and grilled eggplant ($5.99) while we ponder next moves. Almost immediately, a server comes to the table to confirm our order, a pattern repeated with each additional selection. A trio of skewers threaded with belly arrives straight off the grill, hot, crisp and dusted with tingly spices. The eggplant is lush and pudding-soft, heaped with garlic, scallions and spices. It took Sheng Long Yu nearly two years to convert the former National

Tire & Battery property at E. 30th and Payne into a sun-soaked dining room filled with blonde wood furniture, Chinese decorations, and an open kitchen. Yu’s original plans for the property called for turning the space into a food hall featuring a handful of independent operators slinging things like buns, dumplings, noodle soups, kebabs and bubble tea. In the end, the owner opted to run the operation himself. What didn’t change was Yu’s commitment to building something completely unique to the bustling neighborhood.

“A lot of Asiatown restaurants are pretty much outdated,” Yu explains. “What I want to create is a place with a fun atmosphere where friends can hang out and have a good time.” Over the course of two visits, fun was indeed on the menu. Thanks to the efficient ordering process and lightning-quick preparation and delivery, we sampled tons of dishes, while barely making a dent in the overall offerings. Those melt-inyour-mouth pork belly skewers were followed by grilled pork intestines ($7.99), jumbo head-on shrimp ($5.99) and mussels ($5.99) cooked on the half shell with garlic sauce.

YYTIME

3004 Payne Ave, Cleveland 216-291-7533 yytimecle.com

Meaty king oyster mushrooms ($5.99) and bone-in lamb chops ($10.99), both hot off the flames, illustrate the range of the grilled items on offer. The only thing missing was cold beer, a gap that Yu intends to close in the coming months.

More familiar Chinese starters like spring rolls, Sichuan beef tripe and spicy cucumbers ($6.99) are joined by snacks like a thin, crispy fried chicken cutlet cut into fingers ($6.99). When we visited, the equipment needed to prepare the buns and dumplings had not yet arrived, but likely will have by the time you read this.

YYTime is the new home of Dagu Rice Noodle, the noodle shop that Yu opened down the road in 2019. The famous “crossing the bridge” soups made the journey, arriving in the same super-hot earthenware bowls. Alongside the crock is a collection of small plates containing ingredients like tofu, corn kernels, scallions, ham, bean curd, lettuce and hardcooked quail egg. Those items get

tossed into the soup along with the rice noodles, which also arrive on the side. Broth varieties include the pork, spicy pork spicy ($12.99), tomato and kim chi. Other soups, like the aromatic coconut red curry with chicken and noodles ($14.99), arrive fully assembled.

Yu is one of those restaurant operators who is unable to stand still. Since opening Shinto Japanese Steakhouse in Strongsville 20 years ago, the Chinese-born entrepreneur has opened two Kenko Sushi locations, Hell’s Fried Chicken, a second Shinto location in Westlake, Dagu Rice Noodle and Lao Sze Chuan at Pinecrest. At YYTime (which translates into quality time spent with friends and family), Yu has room to expand. His plans include launching a production and distribution facility for wholesale foods like buns and dumplings.

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 14
EAT
Photo by Doug Trattner
dtrattner@clevescene.com t@dougtrattner
May 8 - May 20, 2024 | clevescene.com | 15

BITES

Old Brooklyn Mustard, Fuego Fermentations take top prizes in prestigious Good Food Awards

AS OF LAST WEEK, ONE production kitchen in Old Brooklyn has become home to three Good Food Award-winning products. Now in its 14th year, the Good Food Awards – the “Oscars of the food movement” – were held yesterday in Portland, Oregon, and both Old Brooklyn Mustards and Fuego Fermentations walked away with top honors.

“It shows the quality of products coming out of one location on Broadview Road in Cleveland,” says Ian Barrett of Fuego.

Old Brooklyn Mustards snagged ribbons for its Preserved Lemon Mustard and Deli Style Mustard products while Fuego’s Fermented Pineapple Habanero Hot Sauce earned top honors as well.

Winners are selected through a blind-tasting process that whittles approximately 2,000 products from across the country down to 215 winners in 18 different categories such as coffee, honey, preserves and pickles. Old Brooklyn Mustards and Fuego Fermentations swept the Best Pantry category for the 10-state Midwest Region.

“Winning two Good Food Awards for Best Pantry Midwest means the world to us,” says Old Brooklyn’s Michael Januska. “It’s a testament to the dedication and passion we pour into crafting high-quality, delicious products that bring joy to people’s homes and elevate the culinary experience in all kitchens.”

Those aren’t the only Good Food Awards claimed by local food entrepreneurs: Cleveland’s own bean-to-bar chocolate maker, The Cleveland Chocolate Co., won for its 72% Dark Chocolate with Coffee. A little further afield, Seldom Seen Farm in Montville, Ohio won for its Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.

Evelyn Restaurant Project from Jill Vedaa and Jessica Parkison is Not

Happening

Two years ago, partners Jill Vedaa and Jessica Parkison announced that they were taking over the former Spice Kitchen property at the corner of Detroit and W. 58th Street in Gordon Square. A few months later they had a name and concept for the property: Evelyn, named after Vedaa’s mother, would offer an “elevated tapas” experience.

Today, the Salt owners have announced publicly for the first time that the project is dead.

“As some of you know, we were planning on opening our third restaurant, Evelyn,” the partners stated. “After countless discussions, sleepless nights, and hours of trying to make it work, we have decided to sell the property.”

Reached for additional comment, Vedda added, “Ultimately, it was an incredibly hard decision, but in order for Salt and Poppy to continue to do well we had to make this sacrifice. It’s heartbreaking because we had such amazing plans for the space. We definitely wanted to sell to someone that understood the legacy and beauty of the build and I think we accomplished that.”

Vedaa and Parkison have sold the property to Revifi Properties.

“[They have] amazing plans for the future. We support their endeavor and wish them the absolute best,” Vedaa added.

David Glenny of Bricco Fame to Open Stirling, a Fine-Dining Restaurant in the Merriman Valley

David Glenny, who founded the Bricco restaurant group in 2003, is opening his first new restaurant in

decades. (He no longer operates any of the Bricco locations.) Before the end of the month he will open Stirling, a fine-dining eatery at Liberty Commons in the Merriman Valley.

“I’ve always wanted to get back to my fine-dining roots,” says Glenny. “I was the manager of Inn at Turner’s Mill in the `90s when that restaurant was the standard.”

Glenny says that he was contacted by the developers of the project, who heard that he was eager to get back into the game. He loves the location, which is across the street from the beloved Weathervane Playhouse Theater and down the road from Stan Hywet Hall, and has fond memories of the area’s heyday.

“Back in the day, Liberty Commons was all high-end shops and restaurants,” Glenny explains. “Over the years it got a little rundown and was college bars and stuff. But now the whole complex is being redeveloped to bring it back to its old days of glory.”

He describes Stirling as high-end and intimate, with just 10 tables and a max of about 60 guests when the bar and lounge are included.

“I’m going for simple elegance – a return to old-school fine-dining.”

Glenny tapped Amy Wanek to run the kitchen, a chef with stints at Michelin-starred restaurants like Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and Eleven Madison Park in New York. Wanek will oversee a compact menu that will turn more frequently than the pages of a calendar.

“The menu will change every two weeks and there will be a different theme to each menu,” Glenny explains. “The themes can be anything, like a particular farm we are featuring, a country, a cuisine, a color.”

Stirling, a Glenny family name – and David’s middle name – was selected for its valuable connotation.

“The word stirling, if you look it up in the dictionary, the definition is

photo

of the finest quality,” adds Glenny. “I like the play on words there.”

Food Truck Lunch Events Arrive in Downtown Cleveland Every Weekday for the Summer

Walnut Wednesday, the popular food truck roundup, has been rolling into downtown Cleveland for more than a dozen years. The weekly event at Perk Plaza (E. 12th & Chester Ave.) offers a diverse lineup of cuisines, live entertainment and a pleasant environment in which to enjoy an alfresco lunch.

Walnut Wednesday — which kicked off for the season on May 1st — may be the brightest star in the food truck galaxy, but it’s got some new and not-so-new competition.

Filling out the weekly dance card are events such as Memorial Monday at Fort Huntington Park (W. 3rd & Lakeside), Food Truck Tuesday at KeyBank Plaza (Rockwell & W. Mall Dr.), Truck Stop Thursday at One Cleveland Center Plaza (E. 9th St. & St. Clair Ave.) and Free Stamp Friday at Willard Park (E. 9th St. & Lakeside Ave.).

The hours run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through Sept. 30th.

“This daily programming throughout Downtown’s streets and public spaces elevates the already vibrant culture of the core,” says Michael Deemer, Downtown Cleveland President and CEO. “This is all part of our strategy to create a lively and engaging 15-minute, 18hour city. It showcases Cleveland’s diversity and unique attributes while creating opportunities for people to get out of the office and enjoy Downtown.”

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 16
EAT dtrattner@clevescene.com t@dougtrattner
Courtesy
May 8 - May 20, 2024 | clevescene.com | 17

MUSIC

WORTH THE WAIT

Better Than Ezra sounds invigorated on its first new studio album in nearly ten years

FOR SOME BANDS, HAVING

a monster hit song becomes an albatross around their necks that they just can’t shake.

That’s not the case with Better Than Ezra. When “Good,” a song with nasally vocals that alternates between loud and quiet moments like so many of those ‘90s alt-rock hits (think Gin Blossoms or Toad the Wet Sprocket), became a smash in 1993, singer-guitarist Kevin Griffin embraced it.

“When ‘Good’ became a hit, it was super-affirming,” says Griffin via phone from Nashville. Better Than Ezra performs on May 16 at House of Blues. “I knew that when we played it live, fans loved it. It was the first song that caught people’s ears. Sometimes, that never translates to radio and bigger success. When it did happen with ‘Good,’ we were super blown away and excited. It’s something as simple as a melody written on an acoustic guitar with a chorus that goes ‘wo-uh.’ That’s become the blueprint for everything I do. I know that a great idea followed through can be something really awesome. It’s a great testament to pursuing an idea.”

Since “Good,” Better Than Ezra has remained an active band and regularly toured and released new music. Acts such as Taylor Swift, Train, James Blunt, the Struts and the Record Company have performed Griffin’s songs. Griffin also co-founded the annual Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival that launched in 2015.

But it’s been ten years since Better Than Ezra’s last studio album, something that Griffin says the group wants to rectify going forward.

“I don’t know why we waited so long to make a new album,” he says when asked about the new album,

Live a Little. “It’s crazy. When you’ve been around a long time, you become a touring act. Maybe you put out a single now and then. Some bands don’t even do that. The reason for putting out new music has changed. It used to be that we could have another double or triple platinum album. That would be nice, but for a band like us, we want to make new music for our fans and to enjoy it and so we can play new songs.”

Once the band came to terms with the fact that it needed to record a new album and not just another single Griffin says they “got it done.”

“It’s been really fun,” he says. “We’ve been putting singles out but we’ll be putting out more new music now. They’re ones that have been kicking around. There’s some new songs and one song called ‘This Time’ was written in 2009. I loved it forever. I wrote it in 2009, and it was cut by an Italian opera trio called Il Volo. It’s a hit in Chile. People sing it with tears in their eyes. It wasn’t meant to be a histrionic song. It was meant to be more like we’ve done it.”

One song, the twangy “Contact High,” purposefully evokes the Rolling Stones with its woozy vocals and barroom piano riffs.

“I wanted it to sound like Flying Burrito Brothers mixed with a song like the Stones’ ‘Faraway Eyes,’” says Griffin. “You can also hear we were influenced by this band called Babe Magnet. They’re an Australian stoner rock band.”

The group recorded the album at Pink Gear, Griffin’s studio in Franklin, TN. Emery Dobyns (Jewel, Sia) assisted with the production.

“[Dobyns and I] produced all the songs except one, ‘From the Ground Up,’” says Griffin. “He provided keyboard on some cool intros. You listen to the beginning of ‘Contact High,’ and he sets a great mood. The best producers are the ones who become a new member of the band, and you really trust them. They bring in a point of view and become a sounding board that you normally

don’t have.”

Griffin says “it’s insane” to think that Better Than Ezra has lasted 36 years now, but he’s pleased the group has endured.

“We dreamed big,” he says. “I was very invested in school and a career, but I loved music. I had done music since third grade. Back then, bands around you like REM and the Pixies and Soul Asylum were having platinum albums. You could have a big career. We were dreaming big. I always wanted to have a career in music. It’s been great. It’s been awesome to do music with Ezra. I’m super grateful and really humbled by it.”

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 18
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BETTER THAN EZRA, 7 P.M., THURSDAY, MAY 16. HOUSE OF BLUES, 308 EUCLID AVE. 216-523-2583. TICKETS: $43.50+, HOUSEOFBLUES.COM. BETTER THAN EZRA.| Robby Klein
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LIVEWIRE Real music in the real world

THU 05/09

Los Straitjackets

This wild and zany garage rock act whose members wear Mexican wrestling masks when the band performs initially formed back in 1988 but then quickly broke up. It would reform in 1994 and release its debut album, the aptly titled The Utterly Fantastic and Totally Unbelievable Sound of Los Straitjackets, in 1995. A great collection of surf rock instrumentals with some garage rock bite to them, the album established the group an underground sensation. The band brings its 30th anniversary tour to Beachland Ballroom. The show begins at 8 p.m. Televisionaries open. 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

FRI 05/10

Our Day Will Come

Chrissy Strong, The Crones, Eaten By Kittens, Elliott Carter, Jinni Fontana of Rubber Heads, Moon Echo Garden, Patty No!, Alison Garrigan with Queue Up, The Super Babes and Vanity Crash will perform at this special concert acknowledging women rock artists from Cleveland and Akron. It begins at 8 p.m. at Jilly’s Music Room in Akron. 111 N Main St., Akron, 330-576-3757, jillysmusicroom.com.

Our Last Night

As if to prove there is an audience for just about any band with a gimmick, this group has made a name for itself by playing hardcore versions of popular tunes. In 2022, it continued that tradition with Disney Goes Heavy, a release featuring 23 cover songs from popular Disney movies such as Encanto, The Lion King and The Nightmare Before Christmas. It turns “When You Wish Upon a Star” into a Trans-Siberian Orchestra-like rocker, and it cranks up the guitars for “Let It Go.” The group brings its the Covers Only Tour to the Agora at 6:30 p.m. Broadside and Normandie open. 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221, agoracleveland.com.

Chris Young

Nearly 20 years into his career, this country singer-songwriter continues to refine his songwriting. His latest effort, Young Love & Saturday Nights, features carefully curated tunes. The album veers from sentimental ballads (“All Dogs Go to Heaven”) to gutsy

rockers (“Young Love & Saturday Nights”). Young performs tonight at 6:30 at Jacobs Pavilion. Singersongwriter Bryan Martin opens. 2014 Sycamore St., 216-861-4080, jacobspavilion.com.

SAT 05/11

Ghost-Note

Led by Snarky Puppy’s multi-Grammywinning duo of drummer-keyboardist Robert Sput Searight and percussionist Nate Werth, this group contains members who’ve played with the likes of Prince, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, Herbie Hancock and Kendrick Lamar. The current tour that brings them to the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights supports Mustard n’Onions, their first new LP in six years. The Labra Brothers and Apostle Jones open. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588, grogshop.gs.

Our Day Will Come

Local acts such as Charity Cunningham, Girl Cologne, Jinni Fontana, Kristine Jackson, Lilieae, Moon Echo Garden, Queue Up with Alison Garrigan, The Super Babes and Vanity Crash will play this special show that celebrates women musicians from Cleveland and Akron. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern.

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

Shadows of the ’60s: A Tribute to Motown’s Super Group

Dave Revels, the Creative Director of Shadows of the’ 60s, is a former member of The Drifters, and the current lead singer, record producer and vocal arranger of the a cappella group, The Persuasion. With his

backing, this tribute appears legit. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Goodyear Theater in Akron. 1201 East Market St., Akron, 330-6597118, goodyeartheater.com.

Uriah Heep and Saxon

Led by guitarist Mick Box, Brit rockers Uriah Heap enjoyed commercial success in the ‘70s and ‘80s when its style of heavy metal and progressive rock became popular. Not willing to just rest on its laurels, the group returned last year with Chaos & Colour, an album of wailing vocals and heavy guitars with a progressive bent. Like Uriah Heap, Saxon also enjoyed a certain amount of commercial success in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and singer-bassist Peter “Biff” Byford has somehow kept the band going all these years. The two veteran acts play tonight at 8 at TempleLive at the Cleveland Masonic. 3615 Euclid Ave., 216-881-6350, masoniccleveland.com.

Young Rising Sons

Thanks to the popularity of their new single, “(Un)Happy Hour,” a song with a great pop hook and snotty punk rock vocals, Young Rising Sons have generated a buzz for themselves. Inthe past, the group has toured with acts such as Halsey, Weezer, Bleachers, Kongos and the 1975. The current headlining tour brings them to 20 Lanes in Lakewood, where they perform tonight at 7. 13200 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216521-3280, mahalls20lanes.com.

SUN 05/12

Axis: Sova

Recorded it with indie rocker Ty Segall at Harmonizer Studios in Los Angeles,

Blinded by Oblivion, the latest effort from the psych-pop trio Axis: Sova features Gang of Four-like tunes that possess a real sense of urgency. The group performs tonight at 8 at the Beachland Tavern. Burning Plastic Blues Band opens.

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

Portugal. The Man

Although Portugal. The Man was originally formed as a side project for lead vocalist and guitarist John Baldwin Gourley, the band has risen to prominence in the experimental rock scene. The band has built a reputation as “one of the most exciting and sought-after live bands on the touring and festival circuit,” as it’s put in a press release, and has sold out venues around the world and held main stage slots at festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, and many more. The group performs tonight at 7 at the Agora Theatre. Ryna Tropical opens the show.

5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221, agoracleveland.com.

MON 05/13

Chest Fever — The Official Revival of the Band

This San Diego-based act pays tribute to the Band and will honor the 55th anniversary of the Band’s self-titled debut with tonight’s show at the Beachland Ballroom. The Band’s Robbie Robertson reportedly gave the group his blessing, and the band has even played Massey Hall, the Toronto venue where the Band played in 1970. The concert begins at 8. 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 20
High on Fire returns to the Grog Shop. See: Thursday, May 16. | James Rexroad

TUE 05/14

The Furious Bongos

The members of Furious Bongos, a tribute act to the late, great Frank Zappa, have some serious musical credentials. A self-proclaimed “freak of nature,” drummer Filip Fjellstrom can play just about anything, including a toilet seat. Keyboardist Kevin Bents toured with Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil Zappa and worked as Jewel’s musical director at the height of her career. Bassist and band leader Conrad St. Clair has worked with people like Mick Fleetwood and Yo Yo Ma, and singer Jenna Paulus has a Master’s from Boston Conservatory. They’re well-poised to bring Zappa’s complex compositions to life. The tribute act performs tonight at 8 at the Beachland Ballroom.

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com.

WED 05/15

The Alarm

The ‘80s British New Wave group led by singer-songwriter Mike Peters comes to TempleLive at the Cleveland Masonic tonight at 8. Back in the ‘80s, the group toured with U2, and that righteous approach to writing inspiration rock anthems can be heard in tunes such as “Sixty Eight Guns,” the group’s biggest hit. 3615 Euclid Ave., 216-881-6350, masoniccleveland.com.

Trey Anastasio and Classic Tab

The Phish guitarist comes to the Agora tonight with the “classic” version (Dezron Douglas, Russ Lawton, Ray Paczkowski) of the Trey Anastasio Band. If the shows the group played last year are any indication, you can expect to hear a mix of Anastasio solo tunes as well as Phish songs. The show begins at 6:30. 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221, agoracleveland.com.

THU 05/16

High on Fire

Led by singer-guitarist Matt Pike, a founding member of sludge rock icons SLEEP, High on Fire represents the rare metal band that has actually won a Grammy. The group rightly joins the ranks of Black Sabbath, Motorhead and Metallica in that respect. On tour in support of its new album, Cometh the Storm, the veteran stoner rock act returns to the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights for a show that starts tonight at 7:30. 2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., 216-321-5588, grogshop.gs.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

A formative moment in this singerguitarist’s life took place when he was only 13. Blues musician Bryan Lee invited him on stage to jam. He was hooked and got to work on what would become his debut, 1995’s Ledbetter Heights. He comes to town tonight as part of a tour in support of last year’s hard rocking Dirt on My Diamonds Vol. 1. The show begins at 7:30 at MGM Northfield Park — Center Stage. 10705 Northfield Rd., Northfield, 330-908-7793, mgmnorthfieldpark. mgmresorts.com/en.html.

SAT 05/18

Kamelot

This symphonic metal band formed in Florida in the 1980s but its predilection for over-the-top arrangements makes it sound European. The group comes to House of Blues as part of a tour in support of its latest album, The Awakening. Cinematic tunes such as “The Great Divide” sound as if they could be on the soundtrack for any fantasy film or TV series. The show begins tonight at 7. 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583, houseofblues.com.

SUN 05/19

Brit Floyd

The British rock group Pink Floyd made several classic albums before splintering. Since the group doesn’t tour anymore, tribute acts such as Brit Floyd travel the globe recreating the band’s music for its diehard fans. Tonight at 7, Brit Floyd brings its latest tour to Jacobs Pavilion. 2014 Sycamore St., 216-861-4080, jacobspavilion.com.

City and Colour

This indie rock act serves as a side project for singer-songwriter Dallas Green, who also plays in the posthardcore group Alexisonfire. A collection of highly personal tunes, City and Colour’s latest album, The Love Still Held Me Near, shows off Green’s soulful side. He evocatively croons on album opener “Meant to Be” and adopts a near-falsetto for “A Little Mercy.” The group performs at 7 tonight at House of Blues.

308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583, houseofblues.com.

May 8 - May 20, 2024 | clevescene.com | 21 scene@clevescene.com t@clevelandscene

SAVAGE LOVE

MESSED UP

I recently discovered that my on-again/offagain boyfriend of ten years has been using online classifieds to schedule encounters with men. He creates posts when he’s out of town for work and he’s very specific about what he’s looking for. The acts are punitive in nature (but consensual) and he is always on the receiving end of these punitive activities. I wish to note that I am not someone who snoops. Rather, I am the sort of person who notices patterns of behavior and things suddenly come to me when I’m cooking or on a walk. Based on the secular community my boyfriend grew up in, I suspect that his anonymous activities are the result of some early childhood trauma. Based on the activities involved, I believe he was either abused or witnessed abuse while his brain was still developing and these activities — along with his chronic use of pot (on top painkillers and a couple of drinks each day) are an unhealthy coping mechanism. I don’t judge him for the acts themselves, nor do I judge him for his sexuality. But I am not okay with his lying and cheating and I very much resent his haphazard attitude towards my sexual health. He refuses to talk with me about this and the silence is further eroding my trust, to say nothing of the plans we made for our future together. Since he won’t discuss it, I have no way of knowing if he’s sought help, as he has in the past with other issues. I’ve spoken with one trusted friend about this, but I have otherwise kept it to myself. I love him and that will never change. But now what?

Boyfriend Troubling Secrets

Here’s what you know: something about punitive (“inflicting, involving, or aiming at punishment”) theatrics makes your boyfriend’s dick hard and he’s been seeking out other men who share his kink for consensual encounters. And here’s what you don’t know: why these punitive activities, whatever they are (spanking? flogging? flossing?), make your boyfriend’s dick hard. Backing up for a second: While you claim to have intuited these facts about your boyfriend — the realization came to you while you were making soup or something the details you shared are too specific for this to be a mere hunch. It sounds like you suspected something was up and snooped on his computer or his phone. So, while you may not like to think of yourself as the kind of person who snoops, BTS, you are the kind of person who snoops. (The proof is in the snooping.) And snooping is always wrong… except when the person who snooped finds something they had a right to know about, e.g., massive debts, a secret second family, sexual risk taking that puts the snooper at

risk, etc.

So, if your boyfriend is engaging in sex acts that place your health at risk and/ or doing things that violate the spirit of your on-again monogamous commitment, you were right to snoop and you have grounds for going off-again. But was he doing anything that put your health at risk? If spanking and/or flogging and/or some other mystery punishment is all he’s been doing with other men — no sexual activities, just punitive ones — he wasn’t putting you at risk, BTS, and your boyfriend may have rationalized his deceit for that reason. He may also have been reluctant to tell you because he thought you wouldn’t understand… and it’s clear from your reaction that you don’t. You’ve made a huge, pathologizing leap from, “My boyfriend likes being spanked by other men,” to, “My boyfriend must have been sexually abused before his brain was fully formed.” Your boyfriend might have a history of childhood sexual abuse many men sadly do — but not all kinky men were abused and not all men who were abused are kinky. And while his use of substances is concerning, his substance abuse and his kinks aren’t necessarily linked.

You have a legitimate beef with your boyfriend: He’s been lying to you, BTS, and if his meetups with other men involved more than punitive activities — if spanking and/ or flogging was followed up by sucking and/ or fucking — he put your health at risk and he owes you an explanation, an apology, and some lab work. If you can keep the conversation focused on what he was doing, BTS, and stop making up shit up about why, he’s likelier to open up to you about the what and the why.

I broke up with my ex in February after four years together and he didn’t take it very well even though I was as caring about it as possible. It had just become clear to me that we had totally different goals and visions for how we wanted to live our lives. He is coming back to town next week for work — his boss told me —and he’ll be here a week. I want to see him. Should I ask if he would be willing to meet for coffee or something? I want to know how he is doing and what his plans for the future are. I want to know he’s okay. But he refuses to talk to me. Maybe it’s still too soon? What do you think, Dan? Should I reach out or let him be?

Wishing Him Well

It doesn’t matter what I think, WHW, and it doesn’t matter what you want. If your ex-boyfriend doesn’t want to see you right now, you don’t get to have coffee with him. And since I’m guessing your ex-boyfriend’s refusal to see you wasn’t unprompted — you reached out to him already, he told you to fuck off already — you already know how he feels about seeing you: he’s not into the idea. He might be devastated right now, he might be doing okay — either way, your ex-boyfriend is under no obligation to make you feel better about your decision to end this relationship. If he changes his mind

and wants to meet up and talk, you’ll hear from him. In the meantime, WHW, you’re gonna have to respect his expressed wants and needs: he wants you to fuck off, he needs you to leave him alone.

P.S. What the fuck was his boss thinking when he told you your ex was coming to town? That’s not information any employer should be sharing with the exes of their employees!

I’m a 33-year-old gay man emailing you because I have a kink that I enjoy but have always felt ashamed about. Earthshattering, right? My kink is called “wet and messy” (WAM) and it involves getting covered head to toe in messy, gloopy substances. People who are into this usually have preferred substances; in no specific order my preferred substances are paint, mud, and pies. People enjoy WAM for a variety of reasons; some people like the humiliation aspect, but I just love the feeling of losing myself in the mess. It’s very primal and very freeing. I’ve done this with a couple of men I met through a website that caters to people who are interested in this, and I’ve even told my long-term boyfriend about it. He took it well and even offered to do it with me, but I shot him down. The problem is I feel ashamed about this on some level. I know it’s harmless, if a little weird, but I can’t shake the feeling of shame that keeps me from enjoying this part of my sexuality. I feel like I’ll be branded a freak forever if my boyfriend sees how much I enjoy this. This feels like as much of a struggle as coming out of the closet was. Any sage words?

Getting Off On Pies

I’ve talked with a lot of kinky gay men over the years — ahem — and more than one has described kink as a second coming out. That said, gay people who wanna come out to lovers and friends about kink have an advantage over straight people who wanna do the same: experience and perspective. Because telling lovers you’re kinky is a lot less scary than telling parents you’re gay; lovers that shame can be replaced, parents who shame are forever. But just as coming out as gay has the power to improve lives and relationships, coming out as kinky has the power to improve love lives and romantic relationships. And speaking of romantic relationships… Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of exploring your kink with someone who cares about you and don’t deny your

boyfriend the pleasure of giving you this pleasure. It doesn’t sound like he offered to indulge you because he doesn’t want you doing this with other guys — he’s not offering to grimly go through the motions to control you — but that he offered because he’s sincerely invested in your pleasure. And if your boyfriend is one of those guys who gets off on getting people off, letting him get you off will get him off too. And sometimes kinks are contagious, GOOP, even the weirder ones: a guy gives his partner’s kink a try and something clicks and before you know it’s his weird kink too.

And your kink isn’t really that weird. While WAM, aka “gunging” and “sploshing,” isn’t my thing, it’s not that hard to wrap my head around it. You find the sensation of paint, mud, and pies running down your skin arousing. Not for me! But easily understood! Additionally, you like being covered in gooey substances because it relieves you — temporarily — from the burden of being yourself. Like a drone covered head-to-toe in rubber or a furry in a mascot costume or woman in Lycra a superhero, you enjoy — from time to time erasing and/or transforming yourself. In that, you are far from alone.

Look, GOOP, if getting covered in slime gives you joy and doesn’t hurt anyone, take your boyfriend’s yes for an answer! If you could learn to let go of the shame of being a cocksucker, you can let go of the shame of being a wet-and-messy player. Get some tarp, bake some pies, and invite the boyfriend over to play.

Got problems? Yes, you do. Email your a question for the column to mailbox@savage. love!

Or record your question for the Savage Lovecast right now at savage.love/askdan! Podcasts, columns and more at Savage. Love

| clevescene.com | May 8 - May 20, 2024 22
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