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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

'There would be no Grog Shop without him'

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Grog Shop co-founder Matt Mugridge died Thursday, May 7. He would have turned 42 on May 13.

5cf7/1242228065-mugridge.jpgWell-liked and well-rounded, Mugridge played hockey at Saint Ignatius, then got the music bug at the University of Cincinnati. He lived and died as a larger-than-life, infectiously fun-loving presence on the Cleveland music scene. The talkative Mugridge was one of the Grog’s initial three partners who established the venue in 1992. He remained with the concert club for three-and-a-half years. He helped lure acts like Oasis, the Offspring and the Flaming Lips early in their career.

“The music was all him,” says Grog co-founder and current owner Kathy Simkoff. “He’s the one that knew the bands and loved the bands. It was totally his passion and vision when we started. There would be no Grog Shop without him.”

After leaving the Grog, Mugridge opened the Comet Club on Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights and ran a Columbus reggae bar. He briefly lived in Las Vegas and England, then returned to Cleveland. Mugridge established Flash Films in 1999. He traveled regionally, shooting concerts by national stars like Neko Case and local bands big and small from the Black Keys to the Very Knees. His video archive is at youtube.com/mattmug13.

Even after Mugridge retreated from the bar business, he remained active in local music, pouring his paychecks into different projects. The fiercely loyal Mugridge was a champion of the ClePunk community, the Cleveland collection of old-guard lifers. Mugridge sang and played guitar in bands like the Sellouts, the Skipped and, most recently, the Drexels. Reviewing the Skipped’s 2004 Revved Up, former Scene music editor Jason Bracelin wrote, “Singer-guitarist Matt Mugridge slurs and slobbers … His guitar playing [brightens] the band’s mostly mid-paced numbers with frothing solos — instant anthems that are all curled lips and clenched fists.”

Mugridge’s family will receive friends Thursday, May 14, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., at the DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott Funeral Home (4600 Mayfield Rd.), with a tribute service following at 1. The Beachland (15711 Waterloo) will host a memorial benefit from 4-7:30 p.m. Friday. Visitors are welcome to bring a dish to the potluck dinner.

Mugridge hanged himself in the attic of his North Collinwood home. The sudden suicide surprised even those who knew him best. “He was a true rock-and-roller, a true punk rocker, always bucking the establishment,” says a close friend. “In the end, he went out with a flash. He didn’t just roll over and die. He made a statement: ‘Fuck you’ to the world.” — D.X. Ferris

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