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Friday, February 14, 2020

The Brite Winter 2020 Performances You Can't Miss

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2020 at 10:34 AM

  • PHoto by Nathan Rogers
Next weekend, Cleveland's 11th annual Brite Winter music and arts festival is loading up its many stages with dozens of top regional and local talent.

Taking place from 3 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Feb. 22, on the West Bank of the Flats, the indoor/outdoor event includes food trucks, themed warming tents, ice carving presentations and yard games. More than 40 bands will perform on five different stages, and Bitch, Thunder!, a female drum line, will  perform throughout the day.

As always, admission is free, although there is a suggested donation of $10 for those who want a coozie and to contribute to the Brite Winter cause. Either way, tickets are required for entrance. VIP packages, which include enhanced viewing near the outdoor stages, heated tent access, private restroom trailers and appetizers (but no free booze), start at $45.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Local AC/DC Tribute Act to Play One Last Show as Bonfire on Feb. 22 at Brothers Lounge

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:52 AM

  • Courtesy of Bon/fire
When Scott Mattocks launched Bonfire, the local AC/DC tribute band he fronts, there weren't any AC/DC tribute bands around.

The band played its first gig in 1999 at the now-shuttered Peabody’s. One year later, AC/DC put out Stiff Upper Lip, and WMMS was hosting a big release party at the Hard Rock Café that used to be located in Tower City Center.

Bonfire was called into action.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

WJCU's Annual Radiothon Begins on Friday

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 4:51 PM

WJCU’s annual Radiothon begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.

To help the cause, about 70 local bands have made videos encouraging their fans to donate to the WJCU Radiothon during the NEORocks show that airs between 8 and 10 p.m. on Monday. The program features only music from Northeast Ohio.  The videos will then be posted to the bands’ personal Instagram and Facebook pages with the hashtag #NeorocksNeedsU.

Donations may be made by calling 216-397-4438, and they may also be made at wjcu.org.

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In Advance of Next Week's Show at the Grog Shop, Singer-Songwriter JJ Wilde Talks About Making Her Acclaimed Debut EP

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 11:09 AM

  • Gavin Smith
At one point, Canadian singer-songwriter JJ Wilde thought about giving up on her aspirations of ever getting a record deal and performing outside of her southeastern Ontario hometown of Kitchener.

“I was working four jobs,” she says in a recent phone interview. Wilde opens for the Blue Stones, who perform at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Grog Shop. “They were part-time jobs. None of them were what I wanted to do. I had broken up from the band I was with and went into the solo world. I didn’t know how to navigate that very well because I just had an acoustic guitar. It was a whole different experience.”

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7 Concerts to Catch in Cleveland This Weekend

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 10:07 AM

  • Courtesy of Shore Fire

Trixie Mattel

It’s not easy being a skinny legend, but somebody’s gotta do it. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 winner Trixie Mattel (also known as Brian Michael Firkus when she’s de-dragged) has been doing the most in this industry for over a decade, and she’s only 30. A chart-topping queen, Mattel is not only a Billboard Heatseekers No. 1 recording artist, but she’s also a comedian, theater touring act, makeup business babe, and soon-to-be author. She just released her new album, Barbara, and a book with comedy partner and Drag Race alum Katya Zamolodchikova is slated to come out in early May. (Breanna Mona) 7 p.m. Agora Theatre.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Boney James Returns to Playhouse Square in October

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2020 at 3:17 PM

  • Courtesy of Playhouse Square
A Playhouse Square fan favorite, jazz musician Boney James will return to the venue on Oct. 3 to perform at the Ohio Theatre. Credited with virtually creating the genre of urban jazz, the saxman-keyboardist-producer-songwriter will be on a tour supporting his latest album, Solid. It's due out in April.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday. They can by purchased online or at the Playhouse Square box office. They can also by purchased by calling 216-241-6000.

Prices will be $69.50, $49.50 and $39.50.

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In Advance of Next Week's Beachland Ballroom Show, Echosmith Bassist Talks About the Band's Conceptual New Album

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2020 at 12:33 PM

  • Ariana Velazquez
Echosmith just might have been born in the wrong decade.

The California indie pop trio known for its smash hit “Cool Kids” comes to the Beachland Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 18, on a tour in support of its hard-hitting sophomore album, Lonely Generation. The album chronicles the plight of the youngest ’90s kids, walking the line between millennial and Generation Z, and trying to find their place in the dizzying social media age.

“We’re part of this generation that kind of has had an understanding of a life before being able to connect through nine different social media platforms on your phone,” says bassist Noah Sierota in a recent phone interview. “I was able to go outside, play with my friends in the cul de sac, kick soccer balls around, and not even think about what people were liking on Instagram.”

The 24-year-old mastermind behind the up-tempo title track wrestles with how quickly social media changed his childhood and the way we view ourselves and others.

“I’m still part of the generation that got social media quite early. I was in middle school when I had Facebook,” says Sierota. “So, it’s like that weird transitional generation where we know what life was like before, but we don’t necessarily remember how to live that way.”

The eldest member of the band of siblings finds solace in exploring whatever city Echosmith has set up camp in for the day, meeting new people face to face.

In his free moments on tour, he bounces around from coffee shops to restaurants, looking for a nook that catches his eye. It’s his way of combatting the lack of tangible interactions his generation has grown accustomed to.

“At least if we know that something’s wrong, then we know that we can
at least try to solve it,” says Sierota. “Scared to be Alone” is the track that Sierota is most proud of on Lonely Generation. Much like the title track, it delves into how uncomfortable we have become with ourselves in the digital age. Lead singer Sydney Sierota brought the chorus concept to the studio, and things took off from there.

“[Sydney] and I started talking about what it’s like to experience loneliness, but also to experience a necessary side of being alone,” says Sierota. “Knowing that we can’t always be around people or always be filling our minds with things. We need to be able to be alone and just sit with ourselves and that can be a very terrifying feeling.”

Sierota worked with his father to produce the record and threw in some new techniques this time around. The signature sound on “Scared to be Alone” was achieved with a slide guitar line and “funky rhythmic, but mid-tempo drums.”

The tight-knit trio created nearly the entirety of Lonely Generation with only the aid of its father. “Shut Up and Kiss Me” is the only track with the stamp of an outside producer on it. “We keep it in the family,” says Sierota. “It’s really cool to be able to self-position, and it’s a really great story for us, as a family.”

In studio sessions, each band member brings in concepts, but ideas don’t progress without approval from all members.

“We’re very democratic, which I think is a very smart way to go,” says Sierota. “Especially as a family. But I think in general for bands, if there’s one ruling member you can get yourself in trouble.”

The album’s most personal and simultaneously most optimistic track is a soft, stripped-down, acoustic ballad that Sydney Sierota drafted last year in the middle of the night for her and her husband’s first dance.

“Follow You” finds Sydney Sierota so blissfully in love that nothing can take priority over her relationship.

“I saw a glimmer of hope in it. And it’s really cool to have that story for the fans to get to hear,” says Sierota.

The female perspective that Sydney gives the band is what sets Echosmith apart from other alternative acts, but it doesn’t come without obstacles.

“When you have a girl leading the band, especially a band that leans more alternative like we do, the industry side has trouble knowing where you stand. Generally, the industry will think of a girl on stage being pop star, only pop star,” says Sierota. “It’s hard to break past that mold that’s expected of us. We are that weird in-between. We have that indie and alternative capability, but we still love pop punk.”

As a brother, Sierota also finds himself wrestling with “creepy dudes” that message his sister on Instagram.

“I’m watching out for that at all times. That’s what family does. Our family is very much ready to protect Sydney at all costs. And that’s good cause there are some terrifying people out there,” says Sierota. “A lot of bands that only have dudes in it don’t really know what that’s like.”

But for all the negatives, the positives carry much more weight. One of the most fulfilling parts of his career, Sierota says, has been supporting Sydney and cheering on other female-led acts.

“Most of the great music that is being put out now is being put out by girls,” says Sierota. “So, even to be a part of that, to be in a band led by a girl is a really cool deal.”

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