"While the CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest actually made us a couple bucks, the resources [it required] were high, and we felt that in the context of what we're trying to do, they were better allocated somewhere else," explains Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall's vice president of marketing and communications.
The new festival builds on the international reputation of Tri-C's Jazz Fest. It will feature fusion, blues, rock, and gospel acts. Experimental combo Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood and guitarist Stanley Clarke will headline. Supporting acts include Red Wanting Blue, Freekbass, and Dead Cat Bounce. (See Scene's concert listings for a full lineup.)
The CMJ Rock Hall Fest launched in 2005 and aspired to become a national draw like Austin's South by Southwest and New York City's CMJ Music Marathon. The Pixies and Spoon headlined the 2005 edition, but the talent quickly dwindled to B- and C-list groups like the Futureheads and Orgy. Even at its best, the fest wasn't much different from an average-busy weekend in the city.
"We're not a concert promoter," says Mesek. "We did [the CMJ Fest] as an experiment to use the Rock Hall to build some visibility for Cleveland. We will support the Tri-C Fest any way we can and continue to support live music in Cleveland."
· The Rock Hall is, however, taking its best show on the road. Its excellent From Songwriters to Soundmen: The People Behind the Hits interview/ Q&A sessions are expanding into The Craft, a combination performance and interview series to take place nationwide in coming months. Warren Zanes, the Rock Hall education adviser and former Del Fuego, will host sessions with rock notables, including Patty Griffin and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard.
· Cleveland's Sappy Bell will play three stops on the Vans Warped Tour: July 31 in Milwaukee, August 1 in Cincinnati, and August 2 in Cleveland. Look for the hard-rock band on the Kevin Says stage.
· The '90s alt-rockers of Picadilly Circus will play a reunion show Saturday, July 28 at Fat Jimmy's (244 North Water Street, Kent). The band released four albums. Guitarist Kevin Brawley went on to play with cover band Superband before relocating to North Carolina.
· Johnny Cash's tour bus is now permanently parked at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1 Key Plaza). Cash bought the bus, called JC Unit One, in 1980 and toured in it through 2003. Over the years, it carried the entire Cash family. In 1991, it was used for a tour by country supergroup the Highwaymen, which featured Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. Tickets for the artifact-filled bus are $2 with Rock Hall tickets and $3 without.
· Wish You Were Here, the city's top-drawing band, will return to the Plain Dealer Pavilion at Nautica (200 Sycamore Street) on Saturday, July 28. The Pink Floyd tribute will stage a massive reenactment of Floyd's 1977 Cleveland Stadium show, including Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, plus additional material. Visit www.clevescene.com/blogs for an interview with Wish leader Eroc Sosinski and other online exclusives.