Music and Mocha

An Akron coffeehouse grows into a club.

Gore Gore Girls drummer Mayuko Morris, August 31 at the Beachland. - Walter  Novak
Gore Gore Girls drummer Mayuko Morris, August 31 at the Beachland.
Tucked away at the edge of downtown Akron, the new Musica (19 Maiden Lane, off Market Street between South Main and High streets) is a smokefree music club with a thoroughly cosmopolitan feel.

"It's a pretty progressive art scene in this neighborhood," says Musica host, master of ceremonies, and partner Tony Troppe, a developer who has helped renovate the entire block, creating sleek renovations to match the nearby Akron Art Museum and library. "It's a nice, diverse, mature audience -- not mature as in age, necessarily, but as in people who appreciate good music. We're building the local arts base."

The club holds an audience of more than 150, with excellent sight lines, a small dance floor, booths, a bar, and high-top tables. Cool black and earth tones offset exposed brick walls and ductwork hanging from the high ceilings.

The club is an expansion of the immediately adjacent Mocha Maiden, a coffee shop with an attached art gallery. In May, the java shop's live shows spilled into the open room next door. Since then, shows featuring local artists such as Anne E. DeChant have become increasingly popular, and the venue has added a liquor license. Its biggest show to date featured singer-songwriter Todd Snider ("Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues"), in a fund-raiser for Summit County's adult-alternative radio station 91.3, whose listeners have adopted the club.

This weekend, Musica showcases some of the area's finer local talent at a show organized by songsmith Zach Friedhof to commemorate his father, Chuck, a veteran soundman who passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. Starting at 1 p.m., the fund-raiser includes sets by Zach, Tracey Thomas, Ryan Humbert, Jaded Era's Kira and Jeff, and others.

"It reminds me of the great clubs like the Bitter End in New York or Eddie's Attic in Atlanta -- great listening-room venues that really foster and produce great talent," says Zach. "It has helped to solidify a scene in the Akron arts. Not just music, but more like an arts community, which I have never felt anywhere in Northeast Ohio before."

· Ripper Watch: Tim "Ripper" Owens' Beyond Fear has scheduled two local shows (at Peabody's and Voodoo; see listings) to warm up for a headlining European tour that kicks off in Budapest October 31. The group finally has merchandise available at Owens says he'll start work on the next Iced Earth album following the tour.

· Boatzz won an online contest sponsored by the promotion company and was chosen as part of a package tour to visit Holland in October. The indie band's release party for the new Uzi EP has been bumped back from this weekend to Saturday, September 30, at the Grog Shop.

· California Speedbag, the rough-and-tumble alt-country group that disbanded when singer Gary Lupico passed away in 2004, will play a reunion show Friday, September 8, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road). Rhythm guitarist Brian Cox will sing.

· Tie Dye Harvest will play a reunion show Saturday, September 9, at the Winchester (12112 Madison Avenue).

· The Knockouts will play a reunion show Friday, September 8, at the Maple Grove (14832 Old Granger Road). The '90s punkers feature the Velvematics' Jonnie Vincenzo (formerly Jonnie Jail) on guitar and Marky Ramone singer David Divine on vocals.

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