Before he found the Musicians' Assistance Program, Scott Weiland had more relapses than J. Lo's had husbands. But the L.A.-based substance-abuse recovery program straightened out the Stone Temple Pilots frontman (along with some 16,000 other rockerss, among them Dr. John and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and now it hopes to do the same for Northeast Ohio: In December, the Musicians' Assistance Program (MAP) opened a Cleveland chapter to coordinate counseling and treatment for area musicians at reduced cost -- or no cost at all.
"How many musicians do you know who actually have cash?" asks Jon Epstein, volunteer head of the Cleveland chapter and bassist for local rockers Fast Chester. "MAP will actually pay for a professional musician to get into treatment -- regardless of whether they have income, regardless of whether they're currently working."
Founded in 1992 by Buddy Arnold, a once-promising sax player who nearly lost his life to drug addiction, MAP is a nonprofit organization subsidized largely by major record labels (who reap benefits in the form of clean-nosed, profitable artists), in addition to periodic fund-raisers. The program has outlets in 13 cities, from L.A. to London. (The Cleveland chapter is MAP's first in Ohio; it can be reached at 330-607-8360.)
Epstein himself is a former alcohol and drug abuser who's been sober for more than a decade. The onetime Kent State sociology professor is now the education director at Akron's Interval Brotherhood Home, a substance-abuse treatment center. He sees MAP as a means of reaching people like himself, who weren't prepared for the temptations that go with a musician's lifestyle. "Most of the folks I work with, bless their hearts, just don't have a clue about rock culture," Epstein says.
MAP, which serves musicians as well as other music-related professionals, begins with an assessment of the abuser's problem, then coordinates an appropriate course of treatment, covering all or part of the expenses.
"The music community condones a lot of behavior that other communities wouldn't tolerate," Epstein says. "It's a fine line, because I don't care what you do. I don't care if you're doing dope; I don't care if you're drinking. But if it starts interfering with your life, if it starts interfering with your art, then we should talk."
Boston-based guitar great J. Mascis will join rockers Cobra Verde for an April 19 show at the Grog Shop. The former Dinosaur Jr. frontman will perform with the Cleveland band whenever his schedule allows, says Verde singer John Petkovic, a longtime friend of Mascis's.
Cleveland modern rockers Erase the Grey have landed one of the opening slots on the Motörhead/Anthrax co-headlining tour, slated to hit the Agora on May 15. Candiria and Memento are also on the bill. We predict excruciating hangovers for the young men of Erase the Grey, thanks to the influence of whiskey-fueled Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister.