In an effort to make his workload as punishing as the music he prefers, Cleveland artist/gallery owner Derek Hess is launching his own label, Strhess Records. Joining Hess in the venture are video director Darren Doane and Hess's manager/co-head of the 1300 Gallery, Marty Geramita. Initially the new label will focus on releasing a series of DVDs, each containing three videos. Strhess's first offering will feature Atlanta hardcore favorites Norma Jean and fiery rockers Me Without You, and should be available shortly at www.derekhess.com.
In related news, Hessfest, Derek's annual hard-rock blowout, is undergoing a name change. It'll now be dubbed Strhessfest, and will make its debut in March at SXSW. Once again, Hess hopes to take the show on the road this year, but even if that doesn't come to fruition, Clevelanders can expect another installment this summer.
Cobra Verde, Cleveland's finest rock band, has found a home for its long-awaited follow-up to 1999's Nightlife. The group's latest, Easy Listening, will be issued through Wayne Kramer's Muscletone Records. According to Cobra Verde's website, the band selected Muscletone over three other labels that had offers on the table. "We realized we didn't want to do the typical record-label deal anymore," says band frontman John Petkovic. "Wayne understood that. And we're all MC5 fans." Easy Listening hits stores April 15.
The biggest thing to hit a local amphitheater since Steven Tyler's lips, Blossom's massive $15 million redevelopment project is nearing completion. The first major set of renovations in the venue's 35-year history, the project boasts a bevy of upgrades. Among them: new lobbies, an enhanced sound system, new lighting in the pavilion, a new pavilion roof, increased seating, better roadways, and new landscaping.
Cleveland rapper Not will be filming the oft-delayed video for "Mama," the first single off his new disc, Twisted Answers, at the newly opened club Eve (formerly That Groovee Little Nightclub). The shoot will take place Sunday, February 2, beginning at 8 p.m.
Looks as if the final chapter may have been written in Akron native Tim "Ripper" Owens's storybook union with Judas Priest. In an article in Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles, Priest drummer Scott Travis hinted that the current incarnation of the group was most likely through. "We hope [former singer] Rob [Halford] rejoins the band so we can go out this summer, but part of the ball's in his court, so he's going to have to make a decision," Travis said. This comes after the disappointing sales of Priest's last effort, Demolition, which was indeed demolished by critics.
Two members of the Tri-C JazzFest High School All-Stars have been chosen to appear with the 2003 Grammy High School Jazz Band. Curtis Taylor, a trumpet player from Bedford High School, and Michael Watson, a trombonist from Jackson High in Massillon, have been selected to appear with the prestigious troupe, which performs in venues around New York City during the week of the Grammys, and also plays the award show itself. This marks the fifth year in a row that students from the Tri-C jazz-studies program have been invited to join the All-Stars. Now that's something for Tri-C to toot its own horn about.