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Fest Fix-Up 

Cleveland Music Festival gets an upgrade for '06.

Lucero's Ben Nichols, performing at the Grog Shop April 13. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Lucero's Ben Nichols, performing at the Grog Shop April 13.
The annual Cleveland Music Festival returns for a fifth time Thursday, May 11, through Saturday, May 13, boasting an improved format and featuring sets by 200 local bands at 10 Cleveland venues. Organizer Dan Cull says that this year's edition -- which will reappear next year as the American Music Festival -- will be a marked improvement from previous festivals, which verged on chaos.

"We changed our system completely this year," says Cull. "Our improvements are: one, ticket price. Tickets are just $10 for passes to the entire festival. And two, the way we do our showcasing now: We have a better chance to get bands signed from Cleveland. And three, the educational aspect: We have more panels, and they're more organized. Four: For the bands, there are more time slots and better time slots available, without the national bands on the bill."

During previous Cleveland Music Festivals, prime slots went to the bands that moved the most tickets. Cull acknowledges that the system had loopholes that led to showcases by inferior bands, while some of the most promising local acts were relegated to side stages and bad time slots. The CMF will now kick off with a main showcase Thursday, May 18. It will feature 24 bands, including 10 that moved the most tickets, 2 lottery groups, and a dozen bands nominated by sponsors and participating clubs.

This year the afternoon concerts have been eliminated. The seminars on Saturday, May 20, will include six sessions of lectures and Q&A with entertainment professionals from Metal Edge magazine, Psychopathic Records, the TKO booking agency (Korn, Mudvayne), and others.

The festival's full schedule of bands and venues won't be released until the Tuesday before the shows -- a glitch that Cull vows to rectify with next year's AMF. (He also plans to reach out to the area's major indie-rock bands, which have generally shunned the event.)

This year's festival will also feature punk and hip-hop showcases. Headliners include American Werewolves, Audiblethread, and Dave's Planet.

"As promoters, we want to pack the rooms," says Cull. "We want to get bands record deals, and we want to educate bands about the business."

· This Moment in Black History singer Christopher Kulcsar is not dead. Kulcsar's recent art project at Cleveland State University included a self-penned fake obituary, and news of the alleged demise made it into write-ups in Scene and CSU's Cauldron. The group plays the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road) Sunday, April 23.

· Disengage and the A-10s will headline a benefit for the family of Phil Fulkerson, guitarist for '90s punks the TKOs, who passed away in December. The show is set for Saturday, April 22, at Peabody's (2083 East 21st Street).

· Former Team Fright commander Fred "Wred Fright" Wright will read poetry as part of the Poetry Not in the Woods Series at Shaker Heights Public Library (16500 Van Aken Boulevard), 7 p.m. Monday, April 24.

· After three albums, Cleveland metal stars Chimaira have parted ways with Roadrunner Records. "We asked to be let out of the contract and they graciously agreed to our request," said a statement on the band's website. "We had not been seeing eye to eye on some key issues and came to a mutual agreement to end our relationship -- and we are leaving on good terms with everyone there." The band is still set to headline the European Sounds of the Underground tour in May.

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