After closing for nearly three years, the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave.) on Cleveland's near West Side is ready to resume hosting one of the area's more eclectic music scenes.
Co-owner Billy Scanlon bought the building in 1997 and opened its floor to jam bands, bluegrass combos, and avant-garde jazz groups, regularly hosting acts like the Recipe, Larry Keel, and Birth.
"It's a happy place," says Scanlon, throwing the word "man" in the conversation whenever he gets the chance. "What does all the music have in common? Happy groove."
The small, authentically retro club was built in 1948 and -- aside from a big Phish poster -- looks like it hasn't been touched since. Its maple bar is ringed with 46 stool posts. An Elvis bust lamp -- the quintessential totem of kitsch-chic -- looks out from behind the bar, gazing at earth-toned booths attached to wood-lined walls.
Zoned by the city as an alcohol-free establishment since 1988, the Dog kept afloat as a restaurant and concert venue before closing in 2002. It reopened in January, after precinct residents overwhelmingly voted to let the Dog and nearby Cleveland Public Theatre serve alcohol in November. Live bands will play three nights a week, including a Friday polka happy hour.
"It's a really awesome bar," says Rosavelt singer-guitarist Chris Allen, whose band used the club as rehearsal space while it was closed. "It's got great lighting, great woodwork. And that makes it a great place to listen to music."
· Satellite Records recording artist Chiwawa needs extras to appear in its video, to be shot at the Velvet Dog (1280 W. 6th St.) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, February 24. The Canadian duo cites Garbage, the Clash, and U2 as influences.
· Cleveland Americana troupe Hayshaker Jones is hosting weekly jam sessions for fellow roots-based musicians at the Town Fryer (3859 Superior Ave.). "The idea is to create a small scene and give roots musicians a chance to play and be heard regularly," says singer Clint Holley. "It's not a Hayshaker Jones open-mic night. It's an opportunity to give Northeast Ohio roots music a home." Sessions run from 7 to 10 p.m. on Sundays.
· Recovering Professional Musicians (RPM, the nonprofit support group for musicians seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction) has changed its meeting day and place to 7:30 p.m. Mondays at the Voodoo/AMP Productions offices (1666 Merriman Rd., in Akron's Merriman Valley).
· Power trio Fast Chester has added drummer Nick Petti. It's Petti's first major gig, but singer-guitarist Angelo Incorvia promises he's "a monster." After two EPs, the band is recording its first full-length with former Cyde frontman Shawn Hackel (Jani Lane, C.D. Truth).
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