Friday, October 20, 2017

First Look: Boss Dog Brewing in Cleveland Heights, Opening Soon

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 5:31 PM

It’s been 15 months since Josh and Jason Sweet were handed the keys to the building that for 20 years was home to Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine in Cleveland Heights. In the meantime, the pair has completely transformed the property from a dim and dated eatery to Boss Dog Brewing (2179 Lee Rd.), a crisp new bar, brewery and pub. With the finishing touches now being applied, the owners have announced opening day as Thursday, November 2.
It was a massive undertaking that begin with a complete demolition of the 5,700-square-foot main level and 3,000-square-foot lower lever. Walls were knocked down, tile floors jack-hammered up, drop ceilings removed, basement footers added, support columns and beams installed, concrete slabs poured, and a shiny 10-barrel brewhouse prominently positioned so that it’s visible to guests and passerby alike.

The Sweets teamed up with Richardson Design to achieve a cohesive look. Attempts were made to bring the brewery into the dining room, says Josh. In addition to the large picture windows that separate brewhouse from bar, there’s a dramatic light fixture assembled out of repurposed kegs. Mini fermentation tanks will become patio accents.

Apart from opening and brightening up the entire interior, the most significant improvement was the installation of a large glass garage door panel. Not only does it introduce a ton of natural light into the dining room, in warm months it will open directly onto the patio, which is in the process of being tripled in size from its original dimensions. Guests will be able to enter the brewery from either the front or the rear of the building.

Jason, who worked for years at Fat Head’s production facility, has been busy brewing the pub’s initial offerings. By opening day, four beers – Chief Chinook Pale Ale, Buck IPA, Dog Pound Brown, and a double IPA – should be ready for consumption. The plan going forward is to have 10 house beers supplemented by another 10 guest beers from Ohio producers. In addition to onsite enjoyment, the suds can be popped into a crowler or growler for take-away.

An all new kitchen will turn out “gastropub” fare that should appeal to most tastes and budgets.

“This will be a family place where you can bring everybody,” Josh says of the brewpub.

Bar snacks like chipotle-maple nuts and garlic knots will be paired with small plates like Korean-braised beef sliders and smoked blue mac and cheese. Soups, salads and deck-oven pizzas join a short rib torta, pulled pork sandwich and beef or black bean burger. A half dozen entrees, priced in the $19-24 range, include braised short rib, cedar-plank salmon and bone-in pork chop. A build-your-own pierogi option lets diners mix and match fillings with toppings.

Boss Dog will be dinner-only to start, with weekend lunch coming online a few weeks after opening. 

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Harlow's Now Serving Up Wood-Fired Pizza in Lakewood

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 4:27 PM

  • All photos by Peter Larson
This morning, John Sweeney is kneading pizza dough while chatting about his newly-opened Lakewood restaurant, Harlow's (14319 Madison Ave., 216-712-6502). He's been here since 6:30 a.m. and, except for a lunch break with his kids, won't leave until late into the night.

Sweeney says the goal, before he and fiancee Emily Flamos even opened the spot, was to perfect the dough and menu and come up with the best product possible. So first they traveled to Italy to find out how to make traditional pies.

"It is just pizza," Sweeney admits. "But you know, we went to Naples and we went to New York and we went to Toronto, and we felt that west side was missing out on a certain style of pizza. So we’re sticking to traditional Neapolitan recipe here."

The 12-inch pies, which Sweeney makes individually himself, are made with fresh ingredients and precision. The menu only offers five of choices — Marinara, Margherita, Bianca, Salami and Leonardo — and no substitutions are allowed. Once assembled, the personal pizza is popped into the mouth of the 800-degree wood-fired oven for 60 to 90 seconds. The pizza is then meant to be eaten immediately (although the spot will do carryouts).

Harlow's, which is named after the couple's daughter, also offers a small selection of wine, beer, spirits and sodas.

Regarding the Mexican-style decor and open-air atmosphere of the small 1,000 square-foot place, Sweeney says, "We didn’t want you to walk in and hear Frank Sinatra, and we didn't want it to look like other old-school Italian shops."

After a few weeks up and running in Lakewood, Sweeney says the feedback has been positive, although some wait times have grown quite long on busy nights. But he says he's not willing to compromise quality for speed. 

"I can see people, it’s the head nod when they take that first bite. That's everything," he says.


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In Advance of Their Cleveland Museum of Art Performance, Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan Talk About Their Experimental Duo, SQÜRL

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 4:13 PM

  • Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art
An Akron native, director Jim Jarmusch has helmed a handful of significant films over the course of a career that stretches back three decades. His filmmaking alone attests to his significant talent.

In 2009, Jarmusch, who plays electric guitar, added to his remarkable resume as he and drummer Carter Logan formed the experimental duo SQÜRL. They describe the group as an "enthusiastically marginal rock band from New York City."

You can hear SQÜRL's atmospheric music in two of Jarmusch's latest films, 2013's Only Lovers Left Alive and 2016's Paterson.

At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, the duo makes its Northeast Ohio debut at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The program features scores by Jarmusch and Logan for four silent films by dada and surrealist artist Man Ray. Relying heavily on loops, synthesizers, and effected guitars, the semi-improvised scores emphasize the band's more experimental, ambient, and drone-like tendencies.

Reto Thüring, curator of contemporary art, will host an onstage conversation with the duo after the performance. In a recent conference call, Jarmusch and Logan spoke about the band and the program they’ll present at the art museum.

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Tickets for the Eighth Annual Winter Wine & Ale Fest Go on Sale Today

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 2:43 PM

Given the unseasonably warm weather, it’s hard to believe winter is just around the corner. But temperatures will drop soon enough for upcoming events such as the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s eighth annual Winter Wine & Ale Fest.

Organizers offer a variety of ticket options (prices range from $40 to $250) for the event, which takes place from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Global Center for Health Innovation.

Guests can sample ales, ciders, mead and boutique wines from Ohio based establishments such as the Brew Kettle, BrewDog, Columbus Brewing Company, Crafted Artisan Meadery and Goldhorn Brewery.

Tickets go on sale today.

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Composer John Corigliano Visits Cleveland as CityMusic Commemorates His 80th Birthday Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 1:12 PM

  • Photo by J. Henry Fair

It’s been about three decades since a major work by American composer John Corigliano has been heard in Cleveland.

Corigliano will be in town Friday evening to hear CityMusic Cleveland perform his “Red Violin Concerto” with soloist Tessa Lark and conductor Avner Dorman at Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus in Slavic Village. The concerto is based on material from his score for “The Red Violin,” which earned him an Academy Award in 2000. He was nominated almost 20 years earlier for Best Original Score after scoring the cult psychodrama Altered States, which starred actor William Hurt in his first major role.

The concerto’s main material was written before any of “The Red Violin” was shot. The idea was that the actors should have music to pantomime-play on camera. When shooting began in the summer of 1997, Corigliano adapted the material into a standalone piece which Joshua Bell — who played on the film’s soundtrack — premiered with the San Francisco Symphony. From there, the original single-movement “Red Violin Chaconne” evolved into a full-fledged, three-movement concerto.

“I always felt (the Chaconne) was incomplete because it only showed one side of me,” Corigliano said. “I have a wilder side I wanted to demonstrate.”

Corigliano, whose honors also include five Grammys and a Grawemeyer award, is turning 80 years old in February. Among groups like the New York City Ballet and Juilliard Orchestra planning concerts to honor the composer, The Cleveland Orchestra is a notable exception.

“They don’t play my music,” Corigliano said. “I’m sorry about that because they really are a great orchestra.”

The concerto is perhaps the culmination of Corigliano’s long and at times complicated history with the violin. Corigliano’s father was the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony (as it was called back then) for 23 years. Far from encouraging his son to pursue music, Corigliano, Sr. actively tried to deter him.

“He thought I would starve to death, first of all,” Corigliano said.

Modernism in music was at its height when Corigliano was studying with Otto Luening at Columbia in the ‘50s.

“(Otto) said to me, ‘Why are you writing this kind of music in this time? It’s so out of date, and it’s so wrong.’”

Corigliano replied, “Because I think it’s beautiful.”

As Corigliano’s father saw it, audiences and musicians alike were being increasingly alienated by the prevailing expressionist style. Commission checks, if one got paid at all, were typically meager.

“My father said, ‘Why do you want to go into a world where nobody likes what you do and you don’t make any money?’”

Corigliano’s father went so far as to enlist the help of composers Vittorio Giannini and Paul Creston to turn his son away from a career in music. Fortunately, the plan backfired.

“He had them give me a lesson and wanted a report back that I should stop composing,” Corigliano said. “Neither of them said that.”

The discouragement didn’t end there. Corigliano’s first major hit was a violin sonata he composed in his 20s. It earned an award at the Spoleto festival in Italy and was championed in Boston by the renowned Roman Totenberg (the late father of National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg). Corigliano dedicated the sonata to his parents, hoping they would play it.

“My father didn’t look at it,” Corigliano said. “It was very sad for me.”

Corigliano stopped writing for a while. In fact, he’s stopped several times since then.

“Now is another one of those times where I just don’t think I’m going to write any more music,” Corigliano said.

But Corigliano has managed to keep himself busy whether he’s writing or not. Long before “entrepreneurship” became a tedious cliché at music schools, Corigliano kept himself busy producing for television and radio, starting his own business, and doing music festivals all over the world. He spent 13 years working with Leonard Bernstein on the popular “Young People’s Concerts.”

“I did lots of things to earn a living,” Corigliano said.

Years after the initial rejection, his father finally picked up the piece and learned it.

“His friends were saying to him, ‘Aren’t you going to play your son’s sonata?’” Corigliano said.

Corigliano’s father eventually gave the sonata’s New York premiere and recorded it with pianist Ralph Votapek for the CRI label.

“It wasn’t a happy experience until he finally saw the music for what it was,” Corigliano said. “He played it really for the rest of his life.”

By the time Corigliano’s father died in 1975, he had impressed on his son the seemingly endless potential of the violin as a solo instrument.

“He would practice a lot and I would hear him doing things, feeling what feels good on the violin and what doesn’t,” Corigliano said. “I feel like I have a knack for it, and I owe that to him.”

As part of his composing philosophy, Corigliano typically steers clear of writing for instruments that already have seemingly too much repertoire to choose from. He feels his music is more useful to players who need it.

“My other concerti are for flute, oboe, clarinet, guitar, percussion,” Corigliano said. “They’re all for more unusual solo instruments.”

He even blushes at having written a piano concerto, even though it was an early commission. And Corigliano says he never would have made a violin concerto if he hadn’t had to write music for “The Red Violin.”

That’s not to say the result was a typical violin concerto.

“I’m melodic and lyrical, but I’m also kind of sonoric and adventurous,” Corigliano said. “Very often that involves new notations, new ways of playing to get different sounds.”

For example, the soloist in the concerto executes what’s called a “crunch,” in which the bow is pressed firmly against the string and drawn about an inch to create a scratching, percussive noise. Or, Corigliano will draw a box around a pair of notes, indicating that the violinist should play a kind of fast tremolo.

Corigliano’s violin concerto acts as a point at the end of a through line that extends back to his violin sonata.

“I noticed in the last movement a gesture that I used at the end of the violin sonata,” Corigliano said. “There are things I do because they’re part of my natural style, the way I compose.”

Corigliano dedicated the concerto to his father’s memory.

“It’s the kind of concerto I hope he would play,” Corigliano said.

Yet Corigliano also stays true to his adventurous, wild side.

“I know he would rebel about the ‘crunches.’ He’d probably say, ‘I’m not going to do that,’” Corigliano said.

“The rest of it he would like a lot.”
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Been There, Done That with Cleveland Public Theatre's 'The Family Claxon'

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 12:51 PM

  • Steve Wagner
When it comes to encouraging and nurturing new work in theater, no other organization comes close to matching the track record of Cleveland Public Theatre. Over the years, they have used multiple formats to help playwrights develop their plays from raw beginnings to the finished product.

And now, they are presenting the first work from their Catapult New Play Development project, which is intended to move works from early or mid-development phase to being production ready. This script, by the much-produced local playwright Eric Coble, is titled The Family Claxon. And it is a fast-paced, high energy mess from start to finish.

In his program notes, the estimable executive creative director of CPT, Raymond Bobgan, suggests that this play is an example of “cutting edge theater” and is “edgy and cool.” Although I have enormous respect for Bobgan and his remarkable achievements as a leader of theater in Cleveland and beyond, I beg to differ.

This play is about as entertaining as the loud, blaring car horn referenced in the title, and like an old-time claxon it is just as hard to listen to for 90 uninterrupted minutes. Coble’s work attempts to be fierce and over-the-top but then trots out well-worn jokes and lots of oh-aren’t-they-wacky! characters. In addition, there is non-stop running, and tripping as performers take pratfalls on scenic designer Ryan T. Patterson’s two-story set. In other words, we’ve seen all this before.

And it is all strung together with a noticeable lack of wit. The plot revolves around Andrew Claxon, a middle-age dad who is trying to throw a party for his way-past-elderly granddad on the old guy’s 150th birthday. Meanwhile, the house and the surrounding neighborhood are collapsing all around them. Granddad (Kayla Gray) sits slumped in a wheelchair for the entire show, aside from a few spasms and medical emergencies, while Andrew (Abraham McNeil Adams) dashes about the house, most of the time without his pants on, mugging continuously. Are you laughing yet?

The Claxon clan also includes mom Evette (Colleen Longshaw) who works for a big corporation as a C.I.M (Chief Inspiration Officer). Coble sets his sights on mocking corporate America, but his popgun references don’t even make a dent. Nor do his attempts at being current by having Claxon daughter Catie (Hillary Wheelock) and neighbor guy Zhang Sallerendos (JP Peralta) appear as “revolutionaries” who are fighting the system.

One reason that none of this lands effectively is that the accomplished director Craig J. George drives his cast to shout their lines while spouting them at maximum speed. As a result, any chance of being amused by some of Coble’s more nuanced comedic phrasings is bulldozed, and the cartoonish dystopian world he attempts to convey just seems boring and irritating.

Of course, the instinct to get through all of this as fast as possible is understandable given the tired ideas that are dragged out. For example, there are foreign people with funny names who talk weird, and they wander through the Claxon house in tried-and-true sitcom style. These people are played with varying degrees of understandable desperation by Victoria Zajac, Ananias J. Dixon, Maryann Elder and Olivia Scicolone.

Plus, there are many poop and pee jokes since the neighborhood is evidently sinking and toilets are exploding. Indeed, Andrew’s slacks are soaked with the stuff for a while, before he doffs them, while other actors wave their hands in front of their noses and make frowny faces, to remind us that poop smells bad. Hilarious. Noel Coward (and Joe Orton), eat your heart out.

There is also a lot of gunplay, with Andrew brandishing his “fully loaded” gun in various people’s faces and SWAT teams firing machine guns outside. Nothing funnier these days than guns, right?

Actually, there are a couple amusing micro-moments, when they reboot granddad like a frozen Dell computer, and when the coot finally liquefies as he takes his last breath. But they are overwhelmed by way too many banal gags and overacting.

Okay, what we have here is a dead horse, so I will lay down my cudgel. Suffice to say that CPT deserves our thanks for encouraging and staging new work. And that The Family Claxon should be taken out behind the barn and quietly interred. Cause of death: Terminal creative exhaustion.

The Family Claxon
Through October 28 at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727,

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Watch Cleveland Writers Poetically Bombard RTA Passengers With Words

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 11:12 AM

  • "Land-Poetry" screenshot
Last month, pop-up readings took over RTA routes and stops.

In celebration of Cleveland Book Week, local writers read to commuters with conviction and passion. They read their own poems and stories, as well as selections from Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners' work (the annual awards took place Sept. 7).

Many walked on, ignoring the spoken words. Other stopped and listened. Some cried.

New Departure Films, in collaboration with LAND Studio, Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator, caught the moments on camera. What transpired is a 4-minute video full of Cleveland art, architecture, light rail and choice sentences.

"Greetings, Earthlings. My name is Slow And Stumbling. I come from planet Trouble. I am here to love you uncomfortable," we hear in the video. It's a piece of Jericho Brown's Heart Condition.

Later, from a Marilyn Chin poem, "We are staring at the void, at the edge of Americaness, the Begonia is too beautiful. We must love and be loved."

Watch the whole thing right here:

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