The world's largest music promoter and venue manager just got a little bigger. After four years of having its bookings handled by House of Blues Concerts, Scene Pavilion will now be scheduled by Live Nation, formerly Belkin Productions, a locally spawned promotions company that was bought by entertainment behemoth Clear Channel in 2001.
"We've had a relationship with [Pavilion owner] Jacobs investment group," says Chris Moore, vice president of House of Blues Concerts' Midwest region. "And we had the option to terminate that agreement after last season. And we did, to concentrate on booking Blossom, the club, and arena shows. Blossom is absolutely in full swing, and the club will continue booking shows as we have been."
Once a popular venue, the 5,000-capacity outdoor pavilion has suffered in recent summers, hosting a thin schedule of sparsely attended shows, with an occasional sold-out concert by on-the-cusp artists such as Nora Jones. Michael Belkin, president of Live Nation's Midwest division, thinks it can be a major tour stop again.
"It's a nice place that people like going to," says Belkin. "We'll be enhancing what's been done, seeing how big we can make the place. We're going to try to get bigger acts, more acts. And we'll sure give it a college try."
With offices in Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh, Live Nation's Midwest division is a presence in a dozen markets across five states, from Pennsylvania to Nebraska. Live Nation (incorporated as CCE Spinco Inc.) has also signed a long-term agreement with Forest City Enterprises, which manages Tower City Amphitheater. Live Nation will now book both venues. Belkin says that Live Nation will continue booking acts at the Agora, but does not plan to replace the Odeon, the storied 900-capacity concert club in the Flats that will close at the end of February.
"That segment of the concert market is well-covered," says Belkin. "We're not looking to replace the Odeon."
· The Janis Joplin bio-play Love, Janis has extended its run at Playhouse Square's Hanna Theatre, prolonging the hiatus of lead Mary Bridget Davies' blues band.
· Akron indie-rock power trio 4 Star Radar is on hiatus until summer.
· Beyond Fear, the new power-metal band featuring Iced Earth/ex-Judas Priest singer Tim "Ripper" Owens, has inked a management deal with Niji Entertainment. The Los Angeles-based agency's clients include Ronnie James Dio.
· Northeast Ohio received a rave review in the online version of ultrahip, semi-literary journal McSweeny's, a project sponsored by author and Spin writer David Eggers. A blurb entitled "Music From the Heartland" urges the nation's intelligentsia to forget Brooklyn and Detroit in favor of Akron, Cleveland, and Youngstown. "Gil Mantera's Party Dream slips you a sexy mickey. Machine Go Boom sounds like the way Romper Room felt. Houseguest is simply the best pop band in the country. That's where you should be."
Speaking of Houseguest, the group has parted ways with drummer Jamie Stillman (ex-Party of Helicopters guitarist) and replaced him with Six Parts Seven keyboardist Steve Clements. Stillman is now playing guitar in the Marble Arches, a new trio featuring Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach on vocals and guitar and This Moment in Black History drummer Bim Thomas (with no bassist). Expect a demo by February. Stillman says the band is "kind of a Sabbathy, early ZZ Top. Much more basic than the POH, much heavier than the Black Keys."
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