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Friday, December 4, 2020

Todd Rundgren’s Localized Virtual Tour Comes to Cleveland on Feb. 22

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2020 at 10:29 AM

  • Lynn Goldsmith
Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren has just announced the dates of his 2021 Clearly Human virtual tour, which will feature 25 performances, each “geo-fenced “and tailored to a different U.S. city. The tour includes a Feb. 22 stop that will virtually take place in Cleveland, one of Rundgren's best markets.

Rundgren and band will perform from a Chicago venue (the most convenient time zone to allow for 8 p.m. show times in every market), and the shows will be “localized” to give both the band and the fans a sense of place (e.g. local landmarks will appear on the video wall, catering for the band and crew will feature dishes associated with each city, etc). Single-ticket purchases within the U.S. will be limited to fans with zip codes corresponding to that show’s greater metropolitan area, but U.S.-based fans not living in a designated tour market can also “attend" any or all dates via multi-show ticket bundles, which will exempt them from geofencing restrictions.

At the venue in Chicago, a licensed COVID compliance officer will be on hand at all times, with both the band and crew testing regularly throughout the duration of the virtual tour.

Emulating a traditional routing itinerary, the Clearly Human Tour will kick off in Buffalo and wrap up in Seattle, WA. Single tickets are priced at $35, with an array of premium add-ons and multi-date bundles available.

Each show will feature Rundgren and an expanded 10-piece band performing standouts from Rundgren's 50-year-plus catalog, as well as his entire 1989 classic album Nearly Human. Remote meet-and-greets will be available at every show as will options to select viewing from multiple camera angles and to be featured on several rows of video screens that will serve as the real-time “virtual audience” for the evening.

Subject to Chicago’s COVID policy regarding public gatherings in force at the time, there will be a handful of tickets available to attend in person and sit safely distanced amongst the virtual audience, with each attendee required to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the event.

Always the innovator, Rundgren actually conceived of the idea years ago as a solution to the growing challenges of touring amidst climate change and a way to reduce his own carbon footprint. His all-star band will feature Kasim Sulton (Bass), Prairie Prince (Drums), Eliot Lewis (Keys), Gil Assayas (Synth), Bruce McDaniel (Guitar), Bobby Strickland (Sax), Steven Stanley (Trombone), plus the “Global Girls” (Michele Rundgren, Grace Yoo, and Ashle Worrick).

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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Local Singer-Songwriter Ray Flanagan To Release EP Recorded in Quarantine

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2020 at 3:36 PM

Local singer-songwriter Ray Flanagan, a guy who loves working in professional studios, never imagined he’d release an album he recorded in his living room.

The pandemic changed his mind about that, and this week, he’ll release a new three-song EP, Our Year in Purgatory. Tomorrow, the EP will be on all major streaming platforms, including Bandcamp, which gives artists 100 percent from whatever they sell during the 24-hour period of the first Friday of each month, something the web site put in place to help artists during the pandemic.

“I don’t generally like to wear all the hats,” says Flanagan, who served as his own recording engineer on the EP, which commences with the semi-acoustic, Nick Drake-like ballad "Quarantine Song #3." “I’m a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. I generally like to get the person who’s good at the thing to do the thing. Due to losing nearly all my gigs this year, I’ve had to invest in gear in order to play some virtual events and do some remote session work.”

Flanagan wrote the EP's three songs near the beginning of the bar and restaurant shutdown, and each tune addresses "different feelings about the experience of having an entire year 'flipped on its head,'" as Flanagan puts it. They were recorded and produced solely by Flanagan in his bedroom during two days last month. Highlights include "In the Days to Come," a rootsy, optimistic rocker, and the twangy, Tom Petty-like "To the Way It Was."

“I think if it’s ever going to make sense for me to make homemade records, it’s right now when I’m stuck at home,” says Flanagan. “It’s a true reflection of where I’m at and what I’m doing, which is basically watching a lot of movies and trying not to hit the wine too hard.”

Flanagan also took on graphic design responsibilities as well.

“I am an amateur at anything that isn’t music, but I have spent time observing professional friends and colleagues, and I have passion, which counts for something," he says. "Really, I’m just enjoying making art, but I think creating all aspects of it on my own speaks to the fact I don’t have a team around me. I feel good about it though. I think I captured the true vibe of these tunes, and the cover photo is only a slight exaggeration of how cluttered my living quarters are.”

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Annual Ryan Humbert Holiday Extravaganza Goes Online for 2020

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 10:31 AM

Ryan Humbert and friends performing at the 2018 Holiday Extravaganza. - AIMEE LAMBES
  • Aimee Lambes
  • Ryan Humbert and friends performing at the 2018 Holiday Extravaganza.
For more than a decade, local singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert has performed during the holidays as part an annual benefit he calls the Annual Ryan Humbert Holiday Extravaganza. The Akron Civic Theatre usually hosts the event, but this year, the pandemic has pushed the event online. It will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18.

Humbert has partnered with 16 Ohio-based venues and entertainment organizations to simultaneously stream the performance for free on their respective Facebook pages.

Longtime singing partner and fellow band member Emily Bates as well as John Anthony and Ed Davis (the Vindys), Kevin Martinez (the Speedbumps) and Clay Colley (Black Wolf, the Thief) will join him.

The performance will raise awareness and funds for the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) Emergency Relief Fund, a collaboration between patrons, businesses, organizations and funders in support of a 2,800+ membership consortium of independent venues and promoters across the nation.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, entertainment hubs across the country are forecasted to lose up to $8.9 billion of revenue in 2020,” says Humbert in a press release. “These venues are extremely critical to our local economies and tax bases as employers, tourism destinations, and revenue generators for neighboring businesses such as restaurants, hotels and retail. Sadly, entertainment venues were the first to be closed, and they will be the last to open. The economic recovery process will extend way past just reopening the front doors. Live venues and events are an important part of bringing together our communities, and NIVA is helping them survive through the coronavirus pandemic. I’m thrilled to be able to help spread this message far and wide through our generous sponsors and partners.”

This year’s show will feature a wide mix of holiday classics; Humbert will film the performances at the Weathervane Playhouse in Akron. Clear Gold Audio & Lighting will provide the sound and video.

Akron AAA Auto Club, Associated Underwriters Insurance and FirstEnergy are the official sponsors of the 2020 Holiday Extravaganza with additional support provided by Port-Summit Rotary, Sirak Financial, Clear Gold Audio & Lighting and the Weathervane Playhouse.

The show is free to stream.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Local Actor LeJon Woods Stars in New Lifetime Christmas Special

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 1:09 PM

  • Courtesy of LeJon Woods
After graduating from Shaw University in North Carolina, Cleveland native LeJon Woods returned home and took a job working for the city. While he liked the steady income, he had an epiphany one day while sitting in his cubicle.

“I was looking at the four walls around me, and I said that the 9-to-5 life wasn’t for me,” says Woods, an accomplished actor who appears in the new Lifetime show The Christmas Listing, in a recent phone interview. It airs at 8 p.m. on Monday. “It was a blessing, and I was grateful for it, but it wasn’t me. I asked, ‘What is it that I could do that I generally love doing?’ I realized being in front of a camera is home.”

As a result, Woods reached out to Cleveland State University to see if any student directors needed actors for their films. It turned out that they did.

“I did a few films, and it kept snowballing,” says Wood. “This was around the time that the state had the tax credits for movies. There was a movie that at the time was called Boot Tracks. It became Tomorrow You’re Gone. It starred Stephen Dorff and Michael Monaghan and Willem Dafoe. I auditioned and got a role. I was speaking opposite Stephen Dorff.”

Woods got an even bigger role in 2014’s romance Old Fashioned.

“It did very well in theaters, and that’s the first time I could see myself on the big screen and ever since then, I’ve been trying to do it full-time,” says Woods, who does both comedy and drama.

For Christmas Listing, Woods plays Doug, a realator vying to purchase a hot property in Isanti, MN.

“I spent a week and a half working on it in Isanti,” he says. “Man, it was cold. The great thing about this film is that a lot of these films are sometimes shot on production sets, and it’s just not the same. It was January and February, and we had the real stuff. It really snowed. The character I play is fighting for this location and is a family man. He doesn’t want to be away from his family, but he wants to give it a shot to get this property, and he’s in the midst of the battle.”

Woods has also wrapped work on Asteroid, a potential Netflix movie which he describes as his first doomsday film.

“The director is Dylan Avery, and it was an amazing experience,” he says of Asteroid, which filmed in upstate New York.

Woods, who lives in Newburgh Heights, also cohosts a podcast that’ll launch next month and has been busy starring in commercials for Chevy and Pepsi, one of which found him working with former Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders.

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oWOW Releases Compilation CD Featuring Local Acts

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 11:21 AM

Earlier this year, the local internet radio station announced that it was signing off the air due to financial struggles brought on by the pandemic.

And yet, the folks at the radio station have still managed to put together a compilation album of local artists.

Dubbed oWOW presents NEO – The Soundtrack, the release features local artists that wound up in heavy rotation on the station during its run.

Artists featured on the album include Carlos Jones (“Kid in a Candy Store”), Vanishing Shores (“Fix Me”), Scott Hanson (“Johan’s Song”), Brent Kirby (“Our Town”), Falling Stars (“Down and Out in Ohio”), the Chestertons (“Break the Curse”), the Alan Greene Band (“Man on a Mission”), the Vindys (“If I Want”), JD Eicher (“Evergreen”) and Marc Lee Shannon.

John Gorman, oWOW’s Chief Content Officer and principal, Steve Pappas, oWOW’s Operations Manager and afternoon drive personality and singer-songwriter-producer Scott Hanson of Wildwood Studios selected the songs that made the cut.

“In 1980, when I was with WMMS, I was involved in Pride of Cleveland, another local music compilation with Denny Sanders, which featured the most popular artists in Northeast Ohio at the time, including American Noise, Love Affair, Alex Bevan, the Generators, Wild Horses, I-Tal, Rapscallion, Jerry Busch, and Don Kriss. Ironically, 40 years later, here’s the sequel,” says Gorman in a statement. “Also, David Helton, who did the original art for the Pride of Cleveland also did the art and design for the NEO – The Soundtrack.”

The album is available exclusively on CD for $10 on eBay by searching for oWOW presents NEO – The Soundtrack.

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Alex Hall's Figurehead Returns With First New Album in Four Years

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 8:42 AM

The Northeast Ohio-based progressive rock band Alex Hall’s Figurehead has just announced that it'll release Johnny, its first new album in four years, this week on all major streaming platforms.

Pete Drivere of Youngstown Ohio’s Ampreon Recorder engineered, mixed and co-produced the album, and Adam Boose of Cauliflower Audio mastered it. Tim Wilderoder also co-produced.

The follow-up to 2016's Carrion, the new album serves as somewhat of a departure for singer-songwriter Alex Hall, known as the former bandleader of Northeast Ohio’s Aliver Hall (2009-2014) and as a member of Cincinnati’s Four Ohms (1999-2004).

Though his background is in jam bands, Hall veers toward progressive rock with the concept album Johnny. It centers on a childhood friend's trials and tribulations.

"Johnny was a friend of mine," writes Hall in the liner notes. "Our grandparents lived down the street from each other. On the weekends, we both spent with our respective grandparents as kids. We played together, had sleepovers, and played video games all night long. As teenagers, we grew apart but maintained contact and still met up occasionally, sometimes eventfully, sometimes not so much. Johnny became an alcoholic. Then a drug addict. His father died. His grandparents died. Somewhere along the line, he got married, had kids, got divorced and then lost the right to see the kids. Eventually, I moved away, and he stayed behind."

Years later, Hall ran into Johnny's grown-up kid brother, who suggested he visited him.

"He was confined to a wheelchair, the result of an unfortunate medical condition that went untreated when medical workers thought he was merely trying to connive his way into prescription drugs," writes Hall. "I visited briefly and promised to return, but he died before I ever could. This is [his] story with some of the blanks filled in. I can't know how he felt or what went on inside his head as he spiraled, but his story is all too common — and he is not the only friend I've lost to addiction."

Hall sings and plays guitar and keyboards on the album. He wrote all the songs himself.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

MidTown Cleveland Offering Free Stream of 'Leo's Legacy,' Documentary on Legendary Leo's Casino Nightclub

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 2:06 PM


MidTown Cleveland will be streaming "Leo's Legacy," a documentary the CDC commissioned to tell the story of the legendary Leo's Casino nightclub, on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., and it'll be doing so for free. (You must register, however.)

Leo's was one of Cleveland's landmark music venues, opening in 1963 and playing host to some of the biggest names in jazz, Motown and R&B, including The Supremes, Ray Charles, James Brown, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye.
  • Cleveland Press blurb/Cleveland Memory Project

Located at East 75th and Euclid, Leo's was a racially-integrated club at a time when that simply didn't exist. Though it closed just a decade after opening, the impact it left on the neighborhood, which suffered from unrest during and disinvestment after the Hough Riots of the 60s, and those that played and enjoyed shows there has lasted.

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