In the six years that Steve Hackett played guitar with Genesis, the band grew from a cult favorite to an international music machine. Which was exactly when he bailed. "If I don't love it, I don't do it," says Hackett, who left the band in 1977 because of its growing reliance on "songwriting by committee."
Hackett has found his niche since then, drawing inspiration from childhood music, books, and poems, and settling for relative obscurity in America. On his latest album, To Watch the Storms, he refers to his grandmother's aphorisms, places he visited as a kid, and literary classics he read. "I have found that, as I get older, I am writing from the inside out," he says. "[I'm] expressing myself in terms of things which I maybe wouldn't have written about in the old days."
As a practice run before his fall European tour, Hackett is hitting several Borders stores with an acoustic set centered on To Watch the Storms, a disc that includes jazz, folk, and even a mazurka waltz. "I like to think that it is seriously alternative," he says. "I like to work in the areas that most people don't touch." Hackett performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Borders, 3466 Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights. Admission is free; call 216-921-8605. -- Michael Gallucci
Michael Stanley and friends stick to the ribs.
In his kinda-big hit "My Town," Michael Stanley sings of his love for Cleveland. But his allegiance is switching to Lorain for a night, when he headlines the Summer Music Slam & National Rib Cook-Off. Stanley and his band, the Resonators, swing into Black River Landing for a 9 p.m. concert Saturday, and they're bringing along some of Stanley's old bandmates (including Lorain native Michael Pelander). Non-rock performances are also on tap: Texas's Rushlow plays country music Thursday night, local Irish pickers Brigid's Cross play Friday, and the Drifters shut things down at 6 p.m. Sunday. Throughout the weekend, eight rib vendors from as far away as Florida will compete for top honors, and a Friday fireworks show salutes the troops. The slab-slathering takes place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at Black River Landing, on the corner of Broadway and East Erie Avenue in Lorain. Admission is $3. Call 440-245-3700 for more information. -- Cris Glaser
Joan Armatrading brings her best music to town.
Joan Armatrading has made some lovely albums -- Me Myself I and Walk Under Ladders, particularly. Lovers Speak, her first CD in eight years, is an eloquent and restrained collection of romantic songs. She composed, arranged, produced, and played almost every instrument on it. The results are intimate and comforting -- her best work in nearly two decades. Armatrading's U.S. tour a few years ago didn't get to Cleveland, making her appearance Thursday at Cain Park (Superior Avenue and Lee Road in Cleveland Heights) all the more notable. Show time is at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $19.50 to $28.50, available by calling 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci
The heartland rock of Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise obscures the fact that leader Bradley's deep Alabama roots are blues-based. Gritty yet tuneful, Bradley and his four-piece band play meaty rock and roll that teems with pleasure, pain, and pride. Their latest album, New Ground, is blue-collar bliss, ringing with anthems about America and its everyday people. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise is at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $15; call 216-383-1124. -- Michael Gallucci