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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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Local Indie Rockers Zip-Zapp! To Release Second Album

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 1:02 PM

  • Courtesy of Zip-Zapp
Hot on the heels of last year’s debut album, the local psychedelic rock band Zip-Zapp! will issue its second album, The Hand of God, this week.

Inspired by acts such as Cream, Can and the Who, the band has expanded on the ideas of its first album and refined the processes to produce a "cohesive set of '60s- and '70s-influenced material."

Produced and recorded by Sam Daly and Travis Paluch, the album was made much in the same fashion as the first. Specifically, the band recorded both at its home studio and in a "dilapidated factory turned practice space."

Built on guitar-based rock, the album finds the group expanding its sound to "fill out the sonic spectrum with more layers of synthesizers, keyboards, horns, woodwinds and lap steel guitar."

A woozy saxophone drives the album's opening tune, "The Charade," and "Brain for Sale" sounds like a lysergic cross between the Byrds and Frank Zappa as the band updates '60s psychedelia for the modern age. It's good stuff.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

Panza Foundation Announces Plans to Assist Struggling Cleveland Music Clubs

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 12:11 PM

  • Jake Kelly
In the wake of his recovery from cancer five years ago, local musician and scholar John Panza formed the Panza Foundation five years ago with his wife Jane and local musicians Lauren Voss, Ed Sotelo and Fred Gunn.

The foundation gives money to local acts for recording and touring purposes.

Because of the way the coronavirus pandemic has impacted local music venues, the Panza Foundation has just announced that it’ll aim to support local music venues rather than local bands in 2021.

“In 2021, Panza Foundation will be throwing its financial support behind the clubs that support the bands we love,” reads an Instagram post from Panza foundation founder John Panza. “Thus far, this includes @thegrogshop , @mahalls20lanes, @happydogcleveland and @beachlandcle. We are excited to work with [Grog Shop owner] Kathy [Blackman], [Mahall’s owner] Kelly [Flamos], [Happy Dog owner] Sean [Watterson] and [Beachland owner] Cindy [Barber] to support their venues in this complex time.”

Usually at this time of year, the Panza Foundation hosts a benefit concert, but the pandemic has knocked out its annual event that usually draws a throng to the Happy Dog.

“We hope by shifting our allocations for one year to clubs, we can assist these venues to stay open and continue their support for our awesome local music scene,” says Panza on Instagram.

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Local Rappers Minus the Alien and La Butterfly Team Up For New Mixtape

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 9:12 AM

  • Courtesy of Ameer Williamson
A hip-hop recording artist and songwriter from Akron, Minus the Alien has a strong passion for mentoring youth and community outreach.

A recipient of the 2018 Men of Champions Award presented by Mayor Dan Horrigan and the Joy Park Neighborhood Federation and an alumnus of the Neighborhood Leadership Institute of Summit County, he also founded a grassroots non-profit organization called Alien Arts, Inc. and has developed an in-person/virtual hip-hop boot camp that teaches the history of hip-hop culture and how it can be used a tool for positive change.

His music can currently be heard in regular rotation on 91.3 FM The Summit.

La Butterfly is a neo-soul/hip-hop artist from Kent. A member of hip-hop/soul group Mid-Flight, she has her own clothing line and is currently recording her first solo project.

The duo recently teamed up for a new mixtape dubbed The Evolution Will Be Televised, a self-described “journey through social injustice, current events, love and life” that finds the two effectively rapping back on forth on tracks such as “Talkdat” and “Unidentified.”

Both artists are also at work on solo albums.

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