Friday, June 23, 2017

Singer-Songwriter Daniel Romano Holed Up in an Isolated Cabin to Record His Terrific New Album

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:08 AM

Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Romano plays a variety of different instruments, but he possesses an unusual affection for drums.

Romano made his stage debut at the age of 8 while playing drums in his family’s R&B band.

“I wasn’t allowed to be in the bar when we weren’t performing, so I spent a lot of time drinking ginger ale and hanging out with the kitchen staff,” he says via phone from a Lancaster, Pennsylvania tour stop. He performs on July 1 at the Beachland Tavern. “I didn’t think much about it at the time, but it showed me the simple enjoyment of performing music and probably rhythm, to some degree.”

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Lawyers for Q Deal Opposition Ask Ohio Supreme Court to Dismiss City's "Collusive" Lawsuit

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:06 AM

  • Sam Allard / Scene
Lawyers for the Chandra Law Firm*, representing five named Cleveland taxpayers, have filed a motion in the Ohio Supreme Court asking that the court dismiss the city of Cleveland's Q Deal lawsuit against itself.

The motion, filed Friday morning, contends that the City's law department and the city council clerk are not truly "adverse parties." It says the "collusive" suit is a deliberate effort to thwart a voter referendum on the Q Deal.

From the motion:
The mayor and council—who are controlling this lawsuit—have a substantial and undeniable political interest in avoiding a referendum here. They have outspokenly supported the controversial Q deal against a vigorous public outcry, and know that a referendum will bring this issue (and their support of it) under heavy scrutiny in a cycle where they are all (the mayor and all 17 council members) up for reelection. They also know—given Clevelanders' rejection of a similar "Sin Tax" arena subsidy at the ballot in 2014 that was more defensible because taxpayers arguably had a legal obligation to fund the renovations at issue—that they are likely to lose this referendum. 
Both attorneys Subodh Chandra and Peter Pattakos were stunned when Scene reached them by phone after a joint press conference by Mayor Frank Jackson and Council President Kevin Kelley announcing the suit earlier this month.

"I have never seen a party working to orchestrate a suit against himself, telling himself to do the right thing," Chandra said at the time.

Pattakos, in a press release this morning announcing the motion, added:

"While the Supreme Court should put a stop to these shenanigans and swiftly affirm the citizens' right to a referendum, it's just as important that voters pay close attention to the way these elected officials are attempting to subvert democracy here, and hold them accountable accordingly."

By phone Friday morning, Pattakos said that "what really gave [the city] away" was its refusal to name taxpayers in their suit.

"The statute expressly contemplates allowing taxpayers to participate, and we explicitly asked them to," Pattakos said. "Why wouldn't they have named us? What reason could there possibly be if their motives were legitimate?"

Cleveland Law Director Barbara Langhenry and Council Clerk Pat Britt have both retained outside lawyers in the suit. Jackson and Kelley positioned the suit less as a legal battle and more as an impartial debate between two "equally valid" arguments. Did the clerk have legal authority to reject more than 20,000 signatures or didn't she?

*The Chandra law firm has legally represented Scene.
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Cuyahoga Falls Seeks to Remove Dam from Gorge Metro Park

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:58 AM


While there's no real time table in place, the large dam along the Cuyahoga River in Gorge Metro Park is expected to be taken down sometime in the next few years. The federal government is kicking in most of the anticipated $70-million cost.

While the dam has been a tourist attraction in its own right for years, it actually serves no real purpose any longer. Summit County and Cuyahoga Falls officials have argued that removal of the dam would lead to a stronger and healthier river and, invariably, lake. Beneath the dam, a good waterfall would once again thrive and allow more natural ecological functions to unfold. It would be much easier on the fish, too.

The Akron Beacon Journal lays out the whole plan, which includes hauling 38 football fields worth of sediment to a nearby landfill property. The federal funds, part of a broader (and threatened) Great Lakes budget, finally made these long-held aspirations a reality. The dam hasn't been used since 1991, and many stakeholders believe that a return to the waterfall will generate its own renewed sort of tourism and visitation.

Cuyahoga Falls will host a meeting from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday about clean-up efforts along the river, as WEWS reports. Beyond that, know this: Gorge Metro Park is one of the coolest hiking spots in Northeast Ohio. Check it out.


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Tonight's Best of Cleveland Party Has Been Postponed

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:56 AM


Scene's Best of Cleveland shindig at FWD this evening has been postponed due to incredibly shitty weather. A new date will be announced soon.

We're in the process of contacting all Best of Cleveland winners, ticket holders and other invitees with more information.

Our apologies for the inconvenience, but the forecast simply doesn't look like it's going to improve anytime soon. We blame Betsy Kling.

We'll update you when the make-up date is confirmed. Until then, enjoy your soggy Friday.

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Avon Lake Singer-Songwriter Callie Sullivan Participated in a Songwriting Session with John Mayer

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:33 AM

  • Kelly Davidson
One of six young songwriters chosen to perform an original song for John Mayer at Berklee College of Music (Mayer’s alma mater) in Boston last Friday, Avon Lake’s Callie Sullivan performed her tune “The Sinner” in front of a crowd of about 500 peers.

Mayer offered a mix of praise and reportedly said he liked the way she mixed “colloquial speak” with poetry as he gave her a couple of tips.

“There’s something about A minor that’s really nice to write in...but there can be real emo feel to it,” he said. “It’s strange to resolve back to the minor…it doesn’t pay off as much as it should.”

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Update: Swensons is Officially Expanding to University Heights, Could Open This Year

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 4:47 PM

  • Photo via kryden_ on/Instagram
Update: After much speculation, Swensons Drive-In is coming to University Heights, and could be open within the year.

In April, Scene broke the news that Swensons had plans to open an eighth location, this one in the Cleveland area. Now, with the approval of the University Heights City Council earlier this week, LeBron James' favorite burger joint is officially coming to the east side.

The soon-to-be-built retro-inspired building will sit next to Jack's Deli, at 14510 Cedar Road.

(Original Post 4/6/2017):“Service” isn’t often a concept that comes up when discussing fast food restaurants. In fact, the entire foundation of the category is based on reducing labor costs by eliminating servers.

But park your car at any of the Swensons Drive-In locations and you actually will feel appreciated – important even. Quicker than you can roll down the window, a zealous, dutiful and genuinely cheery waiter – here called “curb server” – is at your beck and call, handy with a menu for the rare customer who doesn’t already know what he or she wants.

“White tablecloth-level service,” CEO Jeff Flowers calls it without a trace of hyperbole, despite the fact that customers dine in parked cars.

That level of service, coupled with the quality and freshness of its product, is how this Akron-born institution has managed to survive and grow alongside behemoths like McDonald’s and Burger King. Since Wesley "Pop" Swenson opened his first drive-in, in 1934, the regional chain has grown to seven locations.

But unlike those zippy curb servers – whose official rallying cry is “Sprint and smile!” – the organization does not move quickly. In fact, Swensons has not added a new location since the Seven Hills shop opened in 2001, and there has been zero desire to breach the I-480 boundary.

Until now.

“We’re definitely working hard to get some new sites open in Cleveland,” says Flowers, a former curb server himself. “We’re slow, we’re methodical, and we’re going to make sure we do things right.”

Flowers says that until very recently, he and Steve Thompson, owner since 1974, frankly didn’t believe that a market for their product existed outside of the Greater Akron area. That changed in July of 2013, when the Swensons food truck first rolled onto the scene.

“We’ve always looked at ourselves as an Akron organization,” notes Flowers. “But when we first put the food truck out, it really became apparent that there’s a strong market for us up there – coming up and doing the Walnut Wednesdays, not to mention the Cavs, Indians and Monsters playoff games.”

If the truck managed to unearth a heretofore silent fan base, it also reinforced the fact that the Galley Boy is by far the most popular menu item – both on the truck’s streamlined menu and the restaurant’s standard one. The twin 3-ounce patties, which are house-ground and hand-formed daily at the company’s commissary, come topped with cheese and a pair of “top secret” sauces. Each bundle of love is swaddled in wax paper and garnished with a toothpick-stabbed olive.

But Swensons’ menu goes well past the Galley Boy. In addition to single, double and triple burgers, there are hot dogs, Sloppy Joe, fried bologna and fish sandwiches. There is also pulled pork, grilled cheese, egg salad and a shrimp dinner, believe it or not, paired with sides like onion rings, fried mushrooms and “potato teezers.” All of the above gets washed down with one of literally dozens of phosphates, milkshakes and soft drinks, including the odd but loveable California and Florida concoctions. The mile-long menu is the antithesis of the modern, succinct fast food roster.

“Quite frankly, the menu might be slightly bigger than it needs to be,” admits Flowers, who adds that having something for everyone has been essential to the brand’s success.

Flowers reports that the organization is actively looking at locations on both sides of town, and it hopes to have something in the works – if not open and serving Galley Boys – before the end of the year. But given the unique nature of the operation, finding ideal spots is more challenging than the typical strip-mall eatery. Unlike most fast food joints, Swensons shuns soulless drive-through windows in favor of the more relaxed drive-in format. And unlike contemporary drive-in chains like Sonic that utilize faceless squawk boxes, they employ living, breathing human beings to do the job. And because every one of those curb servers is a full-time college student, proximity to universities is key.

Thanks to schools like Cleveland State, John Carroll, Baldwin Wallace and Case, Cleveland is ideally situated for multiple locations, Flowers admits, but given the company’s history of measured expansion, we shouldn’t expect a spate of openings.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to show more than Akron what Swensons is all about,” says Flowers. “Hopefully we can get another couple restaurants open in Cleveland, but we’re not going to damage the brand. There’s too much that is important and that has allowed Swensons to be around for the last 83 years to duplicate like wildfire.”
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6 Concerts to Catch This Weekend in Cleveland

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 4:30 PM


Xenia Rubinos/Punch Drunk Tagalongs/Fake Species

When recording her latest effort, Black Terry Cat, singer-songwriter Xenia Rubinos and longtime drummer Marco Buccelli, who produced the album, put in some long hours. Working with engineer Jeremy Loucas, they logged an average of 16 to 17 hours a day for five months to complete the disc. Named after “a giant black scraggly cat” that surprised Rubinos one night at her Brooklyn home, the album allows Rubinos to show how capably she can embrace different genres. She effortlessly shifts from R&B to hip-hop and jazz. The lively album opener, "Romeo," features electronic bleeps and blips along with soulful vocals, making it sound like a cross between Macy Gray and Aphex Twin. (Jeff Niesel), 9 p.m., $10 ADV, $12 DOS. Grog Shop.

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