Makin' the Scene

Jericho Turnpike singer Jim Morrison looked around a vacant Peabody's DownUnder and let out a grim chuckle. The band's opening gig for Rosavelt would be an intimate set as Saturday's snow and ice storm kept all but the hardiest music fans at home with their cable providers. "Another natural disaster," Morrison said. "Thunderstorms, hurricanes ..."

He could have included the less-organic disasters that have plagued the band. One of the area's longest-running rock outfits, Jericho Turnpike has had to weather a change in management, Morrison's painfully slow recovery from an automobile accident, and a case of the music industry blahs.

"We've gotten an introduction into the slimy side of the business," Morrison says. "Now we're jaded, motivated, and bitter."

Morrison, guitarists Nik Sormaz and Tommy Hayes, drummer Dave Bromier, and bass player Mike Allen have been together since 1990. Unlike most bands, Jericho survived the transition from college (three attended Bowling Green) to the real world. But the band's dream of a major-label deal wasn't realized, and Morrison wondered if he'd ever perform after a car crash two years ago. Though he had surgery in March to relieve the pain in his lower back and neck, he still moves gingerly. "Every day is a different day."

The band, however, is encouraged by two developments: new manager Kevin Raleigh, who played keys with the Michael Stanley Band, and the conversion of part of its rehearsal space into a studio.

Jericho is somewhat evasive about the breakdown with its last manager. Said Sormaz: "It was kind of like a boyfriend-girlfriend thing ... The bad girlfriend didn't believe it was over."

"Burning rabbits in a stove," added Morrison.
At a slowly evolving home studio, Jericho has recorded five songs for an upcoming CD. Kid Rock producer Al Sutton, who did Jericho's last record, will assist on a few new tracks. Discouraged by a record business that appears to be swallowing itself with mergers and acquisitions, Jericho will likely self-release the record when it's done. (The band likes to take its time, so don't beat a path to your favorite record merchant just yet.)

Before Saturday night's show, the guys sounded wistful for the days of unhomogenized radio and clubs packed by the lower drinking age. "I can't imagine being an eighteen-year-old trying to start a band today," Morrison said.

What started as friends goofing around is now a new band. Thirteen days before the 12 Bands of Christmas Show at Cleveland Public Theatre, Lisa Ellis and Rob Cooperider of Gift got together with Ed Sotelo of Viva Caramel and Stefan Diego Ravello of the Conservatives. They worked on a few songs and called themselves Daddy-O. At the Christmas show, they were overwhelmed with the crowd's response to their set. Gift had done well, "but this was like a thousand times better, and that's a good thing," says Cooperider.

So Gift is done, a victim of those pesky "creative differences," and Ellis, Cooperider, Sotelo, and Ravello have a new band. Cooperider says some Gift material will carry over, but this project will feature "better players, better songs, more fun."

Daddy-O was just a temporary name, so they'll search for a new one. (After Gift, how about Thank You Note?) No gigs for now; they hope to record in February.

Panini's/Wet in Akron is looking to expand its live music. The club formerly known as the Daily Double has bands Thursday through Saturday. Haji Hajjar, who handles the booking, says he'd like to add a jazz night on Sundays and an open mic on Wednesdays.

FreeBass's set at Peabody's New Year's Eve was interrupted briefly by a marriage proposal. Local DJ and FreeBass pal Jodin Trocheck asked for the hand of Marlee Rouse. She accepted, saving all parties involved from ringing in 1999 with a real bummer.

Two Northeast Ohio bands joined big, bad Universal Records without lifting a finger. December 31, 1998, Superkreme and Zero Parade became the property of Fast Eddie Bronfman Jr. when Universal closed a three-year deal with the bands' Chicago-based label Acme Entertainment.

What does it mean? "Bigger distribution, bigger radio support, bigger everything," says Howard Horowitz of Magus Entertainment, the bands' New York-based management company. "It's a steal for Universal: a low-budget album that's already done."

"We're pretty happy with it," Superkreme's Matt Sobol says of the deal. One promising sign the band won't fall off the face of the Universal globe is that it still has the same A&R man. Horowitz says the Universal folks have assured him Superkreme and Zero Parade will be priorities, "but I can't tell you how often I've heard that before."

After enjoying a break for the holidays (Sobol was weatherproofing his windows when we called), Superkreme plays Wilbert's Friday, January 15, with Sultans of Bing, and will tour with the Why Store.

Orange Lazarus, Amara, Revlis, and Stubborn Me advanced through the first round of the third annual, soda-pop sponsored High School Rock Off.

There are four more shows at the Odeon (January 10, 16, 17, 24) before the January 31 finals. The winning band receives cash, the chance to open for a national act, and permission to walk around, thinking it's cool.

Fans of award-winning guitar playing and laser shows will find a cloud in heaven Saturday, January 9, at Wilbert's, when Charlie Christopherson screens his new video. Christopherson teamed up with Centrak Laser to make Midnight Lightning Live, a 49-minute music-and-laser show at the Highland Theatre.

Christopherson says he didn't mind sharing the stage with lasers, though it did get a little toasty onstage. He is pleased with the finished product, which sells for $15, and his band's performance. "And I, fortunately, was playing well that night."

Christopherson and his band, drummer Charley Newcomer and bassist Richie Green, open for guitarist Eric Gales. Leave those really annoying pocket laser pointers at home.

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