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Get Froggy Wit' It 

The East Side has a new concert venue.

The Pontani Sisters conquer their stage fright, June 30 at the Beachland. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • The Pontani Sisters conquer their stage fright, June 30 at the Beachland.
The space that housed the Backstreet Café in Mentor has been remodeled into the Funky Frog, giving Lake County a much-needed midsized concert venue. Partner Leonard Merriman says that opening far away from Cleveland's rock clubs wasn't a hard decision.

"It is more economical for people out east," says Merriman, a former Neil ZaZa roadie who also owns Willoughby's Boulevard Grille & Sports Bar. "There are no parking issues or having to go one place to eat and to another for a show. Downtown is a great place, but the people here need more choices of things to do in their own backyards."

Looking at the area's glut of DJ and dance nights, the Frog's new owners gave the club a raised 26-by-20-foot stage, adding new sound and light systems. They plan to host three or four national acts a month, with local bands on weekends and comedy on Sunday nights. The club sold out its first major show, drawing nearly 500 to a two-and-half-hour Tubes concert. Since then, it's hosted Seven Mary Three and put country favorites Tracy Byrd and Bombshel on its schedule. This week, the Frog will present Eric Church (Thursday, July 6) and Donnie Iris & the Cruisers (Friday, July 7).

"I love the thought of going and seeing a concert in a smaller venue, getting a good meal, and having the chance to meet the acts after the show," says Merriman.

· Multimedia rock figure Fred Wright is curating the F Independent Literary Festival (FILF), a series of readings celebrating regional independent, underground, and 'zine literature. The festival culminates Saturday, July 8, at Pat's in the Flats (West Third and Literary streets, Tremont), with a series of joint performances by artists and musicians, including playwright Christopher Johnston, poet C. Allen Rearick, and rockers Derek DePrator and Kill the Hippies. A full schedule is available at www.wredfright.com.

· Bandaloop Records, the Cleveland-friendly Columbus label, has stopped releasing new material. The move prompted Cleveland's American Rockstar to sign with FlipSide Records, a new label from former Bandaloop A&R head Jason McMahon. After releasing one disc of a two-disc deal, roots troubadour Roger Hoover also left the label. While the Bandaloop development looks like the final nail in the coffin for a second LP from metalcore phenom 13 Faces (the label's bestselling act), guitarist John Comprix says the band plans to continue playing live.

· Cleveland's Rust Records has cracked the Billboard Top 200 for the first time, with the PovertyNeck Hillbillies debuting at no. 159; it's 31 on the country chart.

· Akron punk-rock stalwart Dropgun has split with singer-rhythm guitarist Tim, who left the band to concentrate on family and work. Bassist Billy has moved to rhythm guitar and lead vocals, and the band is now auditioning bassists. Drummer Chris' recent motorcycle wreck has caused the cancellation of this weekend's live debut of Dropgun's new side band, You Have Have Ten Seconds. Ten Seconds features the Dropgun players and Jeff Lamm (former frontman of Half Life, Pittsburgh's flagship hardcore band in the '80s). Its sets will include early Half Life material and covers of the Dead Boys, Negative Approach, and Eddie Cochran. The new group has enlisted artist-author Mitch O'Connell to design its logo.

Ten Seconds' resident artist, Lamm, will display poster-sized reproductions of flier artwork from his 20-plus-year side career at Akron's Square Records (824 West Market Street, Akron) through August 12. Featuring fliers from G.B.H. to Don Austin, the show opens Saturday, July 8, with a reception -- there'll be music and free food, stickers, and buttons.

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