8 Concerts to Catch This Weekend


Mickey Avalon

These lines, from his 2006 song “Dipped in Vaseline,” pretty much sum up what Mickey Avalon is all about: “In the Hollywood Hills, swallowing pills, tipsy off Scotch whiskey, sniffin’ blow through hundred-dollar bills.” The 36-year-old Hollywood MC mostly raps about things you’d read about in Nikki Sixx’s autobiography. And the dude looks the part, shirtless and covered in tats. While his rhymes and flow aren’t exactly A (or even C) list, Avalon knows how to grab your attention. His back story is thick with tragedy. At one point, he became a prostitute to feed his heroin habit. His father, also a drug addict, died in a drunk-driving accident, and his sister died of a heroin overdose. Avalon eventually got clean and launched a music career with his pal Simon Rex, the former MTV VJ, and his self-titled 2006 debut album attracted lots of buzz when it came out. The 2012 follow-up LP, Loaded, is filled with trash can beats and sleazy rhymes about sex, drugs, and good times. (Eddie Fleisher), 10:30 p.m., $12 ADV, $14 DOS. Grog Shop.

2015 Tri-C High School Rock Off Semifinals

As a way of nurturing and supporting the talent native to Northeast Ohio, the folks at the concert promotions behemoth Live Nation devote what is traditionally a slow time of the year to this annual event, a battle of the bands that pits high-school bands against one another in a competition to crown one final winner. Held lately at House of Blues, the event returns to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where bands will battle it out each weekend before one winner is crowned in the Final Exam that takes place on Feb.7. (Jeff Niesel), 5:30 p.m. today and tomorrow, $10. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Tragically Hip

Longevity doesn’t guarantee anything in the world of rock ’n’ roll. Plenty of classic rockers continue to plug away on the touring circuit, trotting out their hits and going through the motions. Thankfully, Kingston, Ontario’s Tragically Hip, which has 30 years under its belt, is not one of those bands. These guys have such terrific chemistry and camaraderie, they seem to operate on auto-pilot. In reality, they’re a well-oiled machine, something that’s apparent every time the group comes through town to play a sold-out show at House of Blues. As a special treat, the guys will play their 1993 album Fully Completely in its entirety. The album features some of the band’s best tunes including anthems “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)” and “At the Hundredth Meridian.” (Niesel), 8 p.m., $50. House of Blues.


Ekoostik Hookah

The grandfathers of Ohio’s expansive jam band scene — culturally and musically — have always maintained close ties to the Cleveland area. From 1991’s Under Full Sail to the sweetly groovin’ Brij, Ekoostik Hookah have kept their fire burning across time. Check out “Whiskey Woman” for a fine example of the hookah-laden chops still hooked around each of the band’s compositional outings. Given the band’s personal history, rife with small shows and Hookahville festivals alike, every chance to be a part of the fun is a necessary diversion from life out there. The band isn’t working on a new studio album but will play a few new songs at the show. “We never know what we’re going to play,” says band leader Dave Katz. “We could play the same venue four nights in a row and you’d never hear the same song.” (Eric Sandy), 7 p.m., $12. Roc Bar.


This local rock band features a couple members from the Sign-Offs, the now-defunct post-punk act that always seemed to be on the verge of breaking big. On their debut (the album comes on a pill-shaped USB drive), Free Medicine picks up where the Sign-Offs left off. The opening track, “ReEvolution” draws heavily from industrial rock but retains a clear melody, and “Leave Me for Dead” has Foo Fighters-like energy but sounds nastier, guitars distorted to the point that they sound like chainsaws. “Bless You with Gasoline” also offers up industrial strength rock with a twist as the band carries on the legacy of Filter and Nine Inch Nails. The band has just recorded a new song, the trippy “Stand in the Fire,” that it plans to release digitally and on 7-inch vinyl. The song will also be automatically released to owners of TH3 P1LL ( the band’s pill-shaped USB that links to all its catalog and future releases via the web site). (Niesel), 9 p.m., $5. Grog Shop.

The Hesitations

Back in 2006, then-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Terry Stewart asked the Hesitations, a terrific old Cleveland soul group, to reunite for a gig at the museum. The band’s been playing steadily ever since and sounds as sharp as ever. The Hesitations’ roots go back to the mid-’60s, when they recorded R&B hits like “Soul Superman,” “Born Free,” and “Climb Every Mountain.” In their heyday, they mixed up R&B, gospel and soul and they still take that approach. They don’t play out much anymore so catching this show at Nighttown should be a real treat. (Niesel), 8:30 p.m., $20. Nighttown.

Rusted Root

Years removed from their residency in dorm rooms across the U.S., Rusted Root is still writing and performing really great music. The band’s latest album, 2012’s The Movement, displays their penchant for catchy world melodies and often silly lyrical wanderings. Case in point: “Monkey Pants” will get stuck in your head, and you’ll freely admit that that’s not a bad thing at all. Scene spoke with lead singer and guitarist Michael Glabicki when the band rolled through town in 2013. He said that their collective focus is heavily bent toward the stage these days. “We had in mind the live show and what we felt the live show needed,” Glabicki says of the writing process behind The Movement. Each song begins as a seedling of sorts, and eventually grows into a mighty redwood or a wise conifer. Mindful evolution is not only the band’s modus operandi — it’s also the natural state of affairs for the music. No worries, though: They’ll probably bust out “Send Me On My Way” too. (Sandy), 8 p.m., $20. Hard Rock Rocksino.

Aaron Weinstein and Matt Munisteri's Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt

Violinist Aaron Weinstein and guitarist Matt Munisteri qualify as virtuosos on their respective instruments — much like, oh, say, Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. These guys have been teaming up to perform tributes to the aforementioned greats. It’s a night of strings and excellence, showcasing the terrific combination of violin and guitar. Munisteri has proven himself something of a Renaissance Man guitarist, weaving Americana threads into his jazz albums. Weinstein similarly touches on a number of different subgenres in writing and recording. Hey, Tony Bennett once called him “the Groucho of the violin,” and that sounds pretty darned cool. Weinstein himself, meantime, takes up the moniker “bow-tie activist,” so there’s that too. There are two shows tonight, so there are even fewer excuses not to get out and hear some great jazz. (Sandy), 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., $25. BLU Jazz+.
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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