We're a Happy Family

Ramonesmania bites the Happy Dog this weekend

Concert promoter and punk aficionado Jim Lanza makes posters for Cleveland Cinemas. When he spotted Rock 'n' Roll High School — the 1979 cult classic starring the Ramones — on the Capitol Theatre's schedule, he hatched Ramonesmania, a cross-promotional event revolving around the band.

At first, he tried gathering tribute groups from around the globe to play a concert before the movie's midnight screening on Saturday. When that didn't work out, he enlisted local bands like the Pinheads, Giggitys, Missile Toe, and Violent Suburban Marriage to play the Happy Dog at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Other bands also expressed interest in getting onboard, including an all-girl outfit from London called the Ramonas. "Word has really gotten out about this," Lanza says. "I can't believe no one has done this before — at least not that I know of anyway." Lanza is planning a two-day fest featuring many of those groups this summer. He may even take it on the road. For now, he's busy with this weekend's tribute. "Kids who generally go to the Happy Dog probably never had the chance to see the Ramones," he says. "Now they have the opportunity to hear those songs live." Tickets to the concert are $5. You can find more info at happydogcleveland.com.

Cleveland Orchestra violinist Lev Polyakin brings his Russian Blue jazz group (featuring pianist Joe Hunter, guitarist Bob Fraser, bassist Marty Block, and drummer Roy King) to Nighttown at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $10.

Sax man Keith McKelley played a show in Cleveland last month to celebrate the release of his new self-titled album. It was such a hit, he's scheduled another album-release concert at Akron's Musica at 9 p.m. Friday. Singer-songwriter Robin Stone shares the bill. Tickets are $12, $8 advance, and available at akronmusica.com.

Thanks to Auburn Records owner Bill Peters, Cleveland metal bands have regularly been invited to play Germany's Wacken Open Air Festival, which typically draws 70,000 fans. This year, Venomin James will make their first appearance at the headbangers' ball. You can read more about it at auburnrecords.com.

Singer-songwriter Chris Castle and the Norwalk-based Womack Family Band teamed up for the roots-oriented Drenched Earth tour last year. Now they're back at it, bringing the show to the Winchester at 9 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $10.

Roots rockers Cats on Holiday celebrate their 15th anniversary with a special show at Brothers Lounge at 9 p.m. Friday. The band has invited its many past members to join the festivities. Tickets are $5. Go to catsonholiday.com for more info.

After taking January off, Inner Sanctum's monthly concert series returns to the Garage Bar at 10 p.m. Saturday. This week's show — sponsored by 92.3 FM's popular local music program — features These Knees, 70 Lewis, Leah Lou & the Two Left Shoes, and the Doctor Teeth. Tickets are $5.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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