Brothers John and Richard Shahinian

Bellacore: Big investment. - Rae  Nester
Bellacore: Big investment.

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces," wrote George Santayana. The business world, though, is not nature.

Brothers John and Richard Shahinian used to co-own the Record Exchange CD and video game shops around greater Cleveland. The two brothers, however, separated bitterly in 1997. They split the business, with John basically taking control of the West Side locations and Richard assuming sole ownership of the East Side shops.

Richard Shahinian is in the process of changing the name of his stores (he owns eight in Cleveland and thirteen outside of town) to CD/Game Exchange. And he's wondering if his brother is going to do the same.

According to Richard, the settlement called for each brother to change the names of his stores. If one couldn't have it, neither would the other. But will John pull down his Record Exchange signs? "That's the million-dollar question, sir," Richard says.

John Shahinian had no comment when asked if he had plans to drop the Record Exchange name from his stores.

The brothers' relationship is so spoiled that they don't speak to each other unless lawyers are present. Richard says he hasn't had any contact with John since they split, nor has he communicated with their mother and sister. Richard blames the breakup on "deep philosophical and business differences."

For his part, Richard sounds liberated by the name change. "That's the fun," he says, "going on without a name to rely on."

Bellacore's management is dishing out $60,000 to record an album that may never be released.

The band spent two months in Nashville recording an eleven-song CD to shop to record labels. A high-quality demo, says Bellacore singer/songwriter Zack Stein, is what's necessary to attract the interest of major labels. Stein describes the new songs as "a lot like Sugar Ray and Smashing Pumpkins with some gospel and R&B stuff." He adds that Bellacore has sharpened its sound since it released its last CD in January. "We got challenged by a few of the reviews we got," he says. "This is going to be an amazing piece of work."

To celebrate the completion of the demo, Bellacore's management is throwing an invitation-only party for the band on Saturday night at Sammy's.

Burt Bacharach is inescapable. There he is, serenading Austin Powers again. Elvis Costello comes to the Nautica Stage and serves up tinkle-winkles from his and Burt's recent collaboration, Painted from Memory.

And at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's landmark dedication of Leo's Casino, Chuck Jackson performed the Bacharach/Hal David hit "Any Day Now" and famed Bacharach stylist Dionne Warwick spoke. Graying men in tuxedoes are appearing in my dreams.

Virtually every soul and R&B act of note visited Leo's 7500 Euclid Avenue location during its heyday in the 1960s. Leo's was the site of Aretha Franklin's first Cleveland appearance and Otis Redding's last performance. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, and Martha & the Vandellas, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles all played there. The club was famous not only for great music, but also for being one of the few venues where blacks sat at tables next to whites. The Supremes performed at Leo's as the Hough riots raged nearby.

Leo's closed in 1972. The June 24 dedication ceremony recognized owners Leo Frank and the late Jules Burger.

Martha Reeves provided the dedication with a spark. She invited the Velvelettes to join her onstage as she performed "Dancing in the Street." Reeves, though, instructed the Velvelettes not to sing, "like you do when I ain't around." During the song, she implored the audience to rise to its feet. "If I was Richard Simmons, you'd get up," she said.

It's pretty useless to gripe about the current state of commercial radio in Cleveland. One thing to keep in mind is that it's not personal: Thanks to deregulation, which allowed big media companies to really gorge themselves, radio blows most everywhere.

Still, may we pose a few questions to the powers that be, here and elsewhere:

Why do stations insist on having animal mascots? We'll grant WMMS/100.7-FM the Buzzard, because it's established and distinctive. But if you've driven across the country, you know that darn near every city has a station that calls itself the "Hawk" (usually a country station) or the "Fox" (often denotes classic-rock signal). Same question asked to stations that refer to themselves as "Kiss" or "Hot."

Why must female traffic reporters (and they're almost exclusively female) be saddled with stupid on-air names, like "Holly Copter" and "Lucy in the Sky"?

Don't radio newsreaders feel the least bit squeamish about simply re-writing (and sometimes reading verbatim) stories that appear in the morning paper without crediting the work?

Did WJZM/92.3-FM, which switched to a "jammin' oldies" format, really pay someone $25,000 for coming up with a name as lame as "the Beat"?

Shouldn't there be a disclaimer when an on-air personality broadcasts live from an advertiser's store, restaurant, or drinking establishment? Imagine how refreshing it would be to hear a disc jockey say, "You know, I have no idea if the savings here at Uncle Jeb's Carpet Barn are truly unbelievable. My general manager said that I have to spend my freakin' Saturday afternoon broadcasting from this steaming parking lot, so here I am.

"The free hot dogs suck, too."

Oft-morphing Swank Motel (ten different people belonged to the band at one time or another) has broken up. Singer Jessica Skerry says that she called bass player Benjamin Daniels, Swank Motel's only original member, to tell him she wanted to leave the band, and he replied, "Good, 'cause I got a job teaching in China."

Daniels will likely be the only current member of Swank Motel you won't find in the local clubs. Skerry says that she would like to find another group. Drummer Doug Turner plays in the Buddy Love Combo. Trombonist Kris Morrin and guitarist Danny White have a jazz project.

Jimmy Spider & the Vacancies make their debut Saturday, July 3 at the Phantasy Nite Club. Former Bop Dead member K. Daniel Frye heads up the band, rounded out by Billy Crooked (Scuzmonkey), Michael Starr (the Healers), S. Patrick, and Ellis. In a press release, the band admits a fondness for larger-than-life rock stars, lipstick, and fur.

Reunion alert: S'pot gets it back together Thursday, July 1 at the Blind Lemon. The band, which broke up three years ago, features current Sultans of Bing Tim Askin, Steve Masek, and Dave Blackerby; Curtis E. Leonard of Third Wish; and Cean Carmichael.

Robert Lockwood Jr. performs "Mean Red Spider" on the recently released Tribute to Muddy Waters, King of the Blues . . . Qwasi Qwa will record its 7:30 p.m. show at Wilbert's Tuesday, July 6, for future CD release . . . Tennessee-based acoustic guitarist Doyle Dykes gives a free workshop at the Guitar Center in North Olmsted. Reserve space by calling 440-770-7900 . . . Inexhaustible pop-reggae singer B.E. Mann will release his seventh CD next week. Green Green Herb and Other Rarities is a 70-minute compilation of live and unreleased tracks.

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