Fistful of Fests

Annabell's rings in spring with a pair of multiday music shows.

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Gusto! 12022 Mayfield Road, 216-791-9900. 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Slipknot, getting ugly at the Tower City Amphitheater, - April 17. - Walter  Novak
Slipknot, getting ugly at the Tower City Amphitheater, April 17.
Nestled halfway between downtown and Route 77 on Akron's endless West Market Street, Annabell's Lounge might be the coolest little dive you've never been to. In a basement room beneath the neighborhood bar, quality off-the-Cleveland-radar bands play every weekend night, usually for free. In the coming weeks, Annabell's will host a pair of promising festivals: Akron Music MultiFest (Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24) and Dirty Filthy Punkfest II (May 7-8), both of which will highlight relatively unheralded musicians from around Ohio.

"The idea is to bring together a bunch of bands from Dayton, Akron, Columbus, all in one place," says Annabell's booker Leila Topper. "There are a lot of genres here. It's all about the music."

Spanning two nights, MultiFest features the Bosstones-style ska-punk of the Rubber City Rat Pack, the death metal of Toe Cutter, and the female-fronted alt-rock of Concrete Swell. Dirty Filthy Punkfest II (version I was earlier this month) features five bands each night, including Cleveland's the Standing 69's and Amps II Eleven, Pittsburgh's the Cheats, and Akron's Dropgun.

"It's not your mainstream crowd," Topper says of Annabell's. "I think it's always going to be this fabulous hole in the wall, where you can go see something that's a little off the norm."

· Cleveland artist Derek Hess is no stranger to promotions or the big time, having produced artwork for Pearl Jam and organized some of the city's bigger underground shows. The hardcore impresario just stepped it up a notch, launching the Strhess Tour. Named after Hess's clothing line, the trek features the dreadlocked thrash of Shadows Fall in addition to three permutations of metal and -core from As I Lay Dying, Remembering Never, and Himsa. The nationwide trek will consist of about 30 dates around August. Stay tuned to for details. Also, on Thursday, April 22, Hess will give away free prints of his piece "Horrible That Ate Cleveland" to the first 150 people to arrive at Repros, Inc. (3001 Superior Ave. ) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

· Cleveland singer-songwriter Anne E. DeChant has played the Lilith Fair and the dingy clubs of New York City. Now she's joined Avon Lake's United Church of Christ (32801 Electric Blvd.) as a music team leader of its contemporary alternative multimedia church service. DeChant will preside on the second and fourth Saturday of each month at 5:05 p.m.

· DJ Mick Boogie is featured in this month's Complex magazine. Cleveland's great white hope is in "Style Recon," a section of the cultural journal bearing the slugline "global trend intelligence from our Complex style operatives." According to Boogie, Jay-Z's The Black Album is hot, as are throwbacks and LeBron James. You heard it here second.

· Little Steven Van Zandt will take a break from watching Tony Soprano's back this summer, hosting the Underground Garage Battle of the Bands, a national competition to seek out emerging bands. Finalists will compete in 10 contests. The battle will make a three-night stop at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom, from June 17-19. Bands interested in submitting demos can visit

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