Kevin Reed Band; Euclid Tavern renovation; Sift; The Hostile Omish

Jane Reed thought she was hearing things. After sitting at her son's hospital bedside for 74 days, she could be forgiven for questioning her sanity. Her son Kevin had been in a coma since an ash tree, five inches in diameter, fell on his head in a farm accident. Plans were being made to discharge him to a nursing home, where he would be kept one step from death with tubes and pumps.

"Mom," she thought she heard the voice say.
"Kevin, did you say 'Mom'?" Jane replied.
Jane began pressing the nurse-call button like a Jeopardy! contestant.

In March of 1994, a week after his 22nd birthday, Kevin Reed was working with a friend on a commercial farm in Huron County. A line of trees needed to be cut down so a creek could be dredged. Thirty feet away, a co-worker felled one of the trees. Kevin was standing in its line. He wasn't wearing a hard hat. "It was just like a baseball bat," Jane says.

Kevin's initial emergency surgery was aborted and finished later. Given his sorry condition--skull crushed, spine fractured--time was not of the essence. Mrs. Reed says that the surgeon figured that, if Kevin didn't die on the operating table, he'd die a few days later. A pound and a half of his brain was removed. "Kevin was given up for dead so many times, I can't even remember," she says.

He survived, but wasn't given much of a chance to walk or talk again, let alone play the drums, his love. At the time of the accident, Kevin, who played his first paying gig at age thirteen, was playing in a cover band called Dixie Wrecked with his brother, Craig. Jane would play their tapes in Kevin's room at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Five years after the accident, Kevin is playing drums again. The road back to his drum kit was long and rocky. At first, he could only play with his left hand; later he could hit the bass drum with his left foot. Because his brain was injured on the left side, the movements of the right side of his body, as well as his ability to read and speak, have been difficult to recover. To use his right hand, his elbow had to be rigged to the ceiling by an Ace bandage and the drumstick attached to his palm with Velcro. "After I started therapy," Kevin says, his speech struggling with aphasia, "I wanted to do more and more."

Two weeks ago, Kevin and his band played a three-set show at O'Hara's, a sports bar in Brunswick, the Reeds' hometown. Craig played keyboards; guitarist Ray Lamarca goes back to the Dixie Wrecked days. "We're pushing the borders, seeing how far he can go," Craig says.

"We've all been in on the therapy," Lamarca says. "It's been a lot of work."
Before the show, Kevin chatted with friends and picked at a hamburger. His mother and father, Wayne, wore T-shirts bearing the name of the group, christened the Kevin Reed Band. Jane fussed over her son, untangling his long brown hair from its ponytail and holding his arm as he moved gingerly to his stool behind the drums. She quit her job as an accounting professor at Baldwin-Wallace to care for him and negotiate his mountains of paperwork. "Now I'm a practicing mom--and hell-raiser," she says.

Kevin was set off to the side of the stage, because he has trouble seeing to the right, but other than that, the Kevin Reed Band looked like any other bar band about to serve the crowd ready-made faves like "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Summer in the City." Kevin isn't able to hit the skins with much authority, but he keeps time well. No slings, no Velcro.

A few nights before the show, Mrs. Reed was incensed that the restaurant owner had advertised the night as a benefit for Kevin. "I went nuclear," she says. "I called the owner and said, 'What are you doing?'"

It's hard to blame the owner for thinking it was a charity night. The band's name suggests the emphasis is on Kevin's miracle, not a kicking live show. The news crew there to film the show was interested in the band for the same reason I was: Local man makes remarkable recovery after harrowing accident. The family, thankfully, is not in financial ruin after Kevin's accident. The Reeds settled with the farm owner for $870,000.

Just before the band began its set, Mrs. Reed had a drink in her hand and a smile on her face. Finally a chance to relax. "We're aiming for the sky," she told me a few days before the show. "He's got to start taking care of me pretty soon."

The renovated basement of the Euclid Tavern will not revert to its old name, the Bung Hole. The Euc's basement was closed in the early '80s because of code violations, and club partner John Schmidt did not sound willing to associate his handiwork with a sphincter. "We still have lots more odds and ends to do," he says, sounding like a never-satisfied fixer-upper.

Schmidt spent three months in the basement sawing, sanding, and polishing. The basement has a new ceiling, a restored bar, two televisions, two dart boards, a 1939 cash register that opens with a hand winch, and couches removed from the loges at Cleveland Stadium. Put a moose head on the wall and a stack of Playboys under the seat cushion, it's every man's dream rec-room. Schmidt is looking for a repairman handy with refrigerators built in the early '60s to get the coolers behind the bar working.

The downstairs bar is open at 4 p.m. every night. When this task is finished, Schmidt and fellow owner Steve Spellman will begin work on the back room. Say goodbye to the air hockey game.

Youngstown hard rock band Sift is saving its shekels for a cross-country drive to Roswell, New Mexico this summer. The band members aren't abduction wackos or Art Bell groupies; they've been selected to play the July 3 Habitat for Humanity Festival '99, where they will purportedly share the stage with Rage Against the Machine, Matchbox 20, and Sister Hazel. (A web search to confirm this turned up nothing on the festival, and a call to Habitat's Roswell office was not returned.)

Sift singer Jay Smith (stage name: Schmoe) says the band sent a videotape to the event's promoter. "He said he moved us two slots from Rage Against the Machine, because he liked us so much," Smith says. "I thought it was going to be one of those things where we're on a second stage, and nobody comes to see us."

The Hostile Omish has a barn raising for its new CD, One Horse Power, at Peabody's DownUnder Friday, February 26 ...Studbull's Disco Biscuit has its CD release show at the Phantasy Nite Club Saturday ...Pieces of Eight celebrates its twentieth anniversary Saturday at the American Croatian Lodge in Eastlake. Proceeds benefit the Hemophilia Foundation in the memory of Rob Vincent, who played guitar in the band from 1979 to 1996 ...Aces and Eights frontman Dave Morrison guests with Becky Boyd and Real Life at the Blind Pig Saturday ... Sweet Willy and the Solid Cats hold their annual benefit for Jackie Yafanaro--a twelve-year-old girl who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle-bone disease--Saturday at the Civic in Cleveland Heights. $30 tickets include dinner.

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