"We wanted to expand and get into another market," says the band's Paul "Paulie Rhyme" Richardson. "San Francisco wound up being a good place. [Guitarist] Paco's girlfriend goes to school here. It's within reach of L.A., Vegas, and Portland. And the population is a little more progressive. It's more Latino and Asian. We're not going to become a San Francisco band. We're still from Cleveland."
Formed in 2002, the soul-steeped sextet features a DJ and two MCs. Richardson's wife, Moto, delivers half her lines in Japanese, creating a sound that's like a fusion of the Roots and Cibo Matto. Richardson's connections as a hip-hop promoter helped to quickly establish the band as a fixture on the scene and a steady draw in its monthly gigs at the Grog Shop. Finless played shows from Columbus to New York City, but openly questioned its prospects in the rock-hungry Rust Belt.
Bassist Huge and DJ Tron will stay in Cleveland; Tron plans to rejoin the band to tour and record.
Finless has finished its next album, The Next Caper, and hopes to release it in July, pending label interest. Richardson describes it as "a lot more progressive" than Browntown. "Not different," he says. "But building on the first EP."
· Blues on Purpose is no more. The soul-jazz-blues phenom-in-the-making has rechristened itself the Mary Bridget Davies Group. "We didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves by having blues in the title," says frontwoman Mary Bridget Davies. MBDG plays Smedley's (17004 Lorain Avenue) Wednesday, June 23. So much for branding.
· Cleveland Ain't It Fun has posted the fourth volume of its eponymous, ongoing series of online local-music compilations at www.cleveland-aintitfun.com. Volume Four comprises 13 free songs from bands that include Kent's bracing Party of Helicopters and Cleveland bruisers Amps II Eleven.
· "Need," a high-octane track from Cleveland rockers Dirt, is featured in the opening cut of Step Up or Step Back, a new motocross DVD from On the Gas International, a California company whose roster includes riders Clifford Adoptante and Chuck Carothers.
· Ripper Watch: Northeast Ohio native and Iced Earth frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens made VH1's 100 Most Metal Moments. Dubbed "Impersonating Priest," Owens's two-album tenure as the frontman for heavy metal legends Judas Priest landed at No. 97 on the countdown -- making it slightly more metal than Faster Pussycat guitarist Brent Muscat accidentally removing a fan's prosthetic arm and Poison using a database to keep track of groupies across the nation.
Despite his dismissal upon legendary screamer Rob Halford's return to the group, Owens hasn't been whitewashed from Priest history. Its new boxed set, Metalogy, concludes with two tracks from each Ripper-era album.