Since opening the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
in Collinwood some 15 years ago, co-owners Mark Leddy and Cindy Barber have brought a number of terrific national acts to town. Bands like the White Stripes played the Tavern before graduating to bigger venues. The garage-blues duo the Black Keys
played their first-ever show in the club's tavern. Next week, they celebrate their anniversary with a series of special shows that range from indie pop sensation Echosmith
to veteran roots rock act Dave
& Phil Alvin & the Guilty Hearts. We recently sat down with Leddy and Barber (and assistant talent buyer Shaun Malone) to talk about the club's history and the weekend's lineup.
Wednesday, March 4
Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils (8 p.m. in the Tavern)
Leddy: It’s a good alt-country show to kick things off. Her guitarist is from Whitey Morgan and the 78s
, a band that has played here before.
Barber: And it's GS Harper's homecoming show. He's an alt-country fixture who has relocated to Colorado.
Thursday, March 5
Tab Benoit (8 p.m. in the Ballroom)
Leddy: He’s played here about ten times. He’s a veteran here. He’s in the bluesy vein but that just touches on it. It’s Cajun country. I think he has a power trio with him. It’s bluesy but it has the whole Louisiana vibe. Yes, some New Orleans, but it also that Cajun culture in there too. He does some songs that are Cajun standards.
Barber: He’s just a sassy performer. He has a lot of flair and groove. His music has a party funk that I associate with New Orleans.
Sub:Merged with Headphone Activist (9:30 p.m. in the Tavern)
Leddy: Over the past few months, the Beachland has moved extensively into electronic dance music and drum and bass. We brought in Shaun Malone, who also works with [the local promoter] Cumulus Entertainment. He’s one of our primary bookers.
Malone: Headphone Activist is a regional dance music producer getting national popularity right now. He’s from Pittsburgh. His music is technically called trap music but it’s all over the place. He’s never played in Cleveland. The promoter Sub:Merged is nationally recognized as well. It’ll be a good fun party.
Friday, March 6
Echosmith (8 p.m. in the Ballroom)
Leddy: They’re just exploding. Their “Cool Kids” song is everywhere. I hear it when I’m working out in the morning listening to sports radio. It’s on Tony Rizzo's show
. They’re young and fun. It’s good pop music and the show is totally sold out.
Absolutely Free & Wild (9 p.m. in the Tavern)
Leddy: The Secret Soul Club DJs have become a huge draw at the 5 O’Clock in Lakewood, though the soul DJ thing really started at the Beachland with Downtown Soulville. They are more adept at promotion and made it bigger and better than we ever did. It feels like a continuation of getting people to dance to old school soul. I might guest DJ. It hasn’t been determined. Often, they ask me to sit in. I’m an occasional guest. It’s a trio with two guys who work here. It’s totally free and wild.
Saturday, March 7
Record Riot (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Ballroom and Tavern)
Barber: Mark started this record show. He’s been talking about this for five years and is doing a high quality vinyl record show that we’ll try to do twice a year. Get Hip from Pittsburgh is coming in. We’re hoping to showcase the street as the vinyl district and hope people shop at Blue Arrow and Music Saves and our vintage store This Way Out too.
Leddy: There are lots of out of town dealers and local dealers. It’s free but there’s a cover for the first hour if you want to be a total record geek and beat your friends in.
Dave & Phil Alvin & the Guilty Ones (8:30 p.m. in the Ballroom)
Leddy: We made a special effort to get that show. They were due to play Cleveland later in March. It was fortuitous that their booking agent was here in town, and we got to talking about our anniversary. He liked the idea of getting them in here on the anniversary weekend. Both those guys have a lot of history here. We did the original Blasters reunion a decade ago. That was one of my absolute favorite shows when they had the whole original band. Phil still takes a version of the Blasters out which we’ve done here and Dave Alvin plays here too. He’s played here with his Guilty Men and Women and now it’s the Guilty Ones. He’s been a fixture here. Dave and Phil have put out an album out together, and the record was up for a Grammy award in the blues category. They’ll touch on the record but also the Blasters catalog and the Dave Alvin material. You’ll hear all your old favorites, not just the new record.
Barber: I’ve been a big fan of those guys back to when Dave started putting out those solo records in the ’90s on Hightone records. I used to write about all the Americana stuff when I worked at the Free Times
in the ‘90s.
All Dinosaurs/Lives of the Saints (8 p.m. in the Tavern)
Leddy: We try to mix it up style wise. Lots of current and ex-employees are in those bands. Members of All Dinosaurs used to work here and members of Lives of the Saints used to work here too.
Barber: A few years ago, we did the All Dinosaurs CD release party. It was one of the most amazing local shows we ever did. They have that wall of sound. It’s so uniquely Cleveland and edgy. Lives of the Saints just did play a Mahall’s show and they have been talking about getting back together and recording new material. I think they’re starting to take this seriously.
Sunday, March 8
The Mastersons (8 p.m. in the Tavern)
Barber: I really pushed for that. Chris Masterson became a friend when [Steve Earle drummer] Will Rigby used to live here. He’s kind of like that younger Kenny Vaughan
because he has that look and has that really interesting guitar style. It’s a country guitar style that I love. He and his wife Eleanor [Whitmore] are really sweet people. They were at Alejandro Escovedo
’s 60th birthday party in Austin that I went to. They're part of the whole Americana/alt-country circle. We paired them with the Womacks
because that’s a local band that we really believe in and we want to showcase as many local bands as we could.
Beachland Ballroom and Anniversary 15th Anniversary, March 4-8, 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-114, beachlandballroom.com.