Gig Killers

A veteran booking manager shares his tips for getting shows

For almost five years, Ken Janssen has booked the bands you see at the Beachland. He's leaving soon to focus full time on his gig as a realtor: "I'm really interested in Cleveland's urban renewal," he says.

He admits it's hard walking away. A champion of local music, Janssen — who's also frontman for throwback rockers the Hot Rails (pictured, with Janssen in the middle) — has been instrumental in bringing some of the city's best bands, like Afternoon Naps and All Dinosaurs, to the Beachland. As he prepares to hand over booking duties, Janssen offers some advice to local bands hoping to score shows around town.

1. Don't have your manager, agent, or girlfriend book a show, especially if they have no experience. "You can't just say you're a mechanic and then go out and try to fix a car," he says. "Reach out to a club yourself. The club wants to deal with you directly."

2. Don't call yourself an up-and-coming band. "Everyone thinks it's a better way of saying, 'Nobody knows who we are.' It's not."

3. Don't send mass e-mails. "If you can't take the two minutes to go to each venue's website to see how they book, how can you be expected to spend the time to promote your show? I try to respond to everyone, no matter how bad they are. But mass e-mails? If you can't take the time, I can't take the time."

My Dad Is Dead, one of Cleveland's best bands, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. This weekend they're playing their last show ever. Mark Edwards' group — which he started as a solo project after the death of his father — is calling it quits after Saturday's show at the Beachland.

The band released more than a dozen albums and EPs between 1986 and 2009. At Saturday's farewell concert, they're playing two of them: 1988's Let's Skip the Details and the following year's The Taller You Are, the Shorter You Get. The group will expand to a quintet onstage (including Guided by Voices' Doug Gillard) for the show.

Edwards, who turned 50 last year, is retiring My Dad Is Dead to focus on his new band, Secular Joy, whose debut album should be out later this year.

Hodad's Music, one of the city's best vintage vinyl shops, closed its doors last week. Owner Jon Mack announced he was shutting down the Lakewood store a month ago, and since then he'd been unloading inventory with a bunch of price-slashing sales — even giving away stuff outside the Madison Avenue shop. Like many record stores across the country, Hodad's greeted fewer and fewer visitors each year since its opening in 2003.

But there's some good news in all this: Hodad's online business ( will stay open, so you can still buy classic jazz LPs and old garage-rock 45s. Even so, we're going to miss the heavenly musty scent of old records in that tiny shop.

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