It's not often that a lyricist — a guy whose only role in a group is to write words to go along with the music somebody else composes — is given full band status. Hell, not even the Grateful Dead — who had, like, a couple hundred different people drift through the band over three decades — considered lyric writer Robert Hunter a full-time member. But lyricist Tony Vorell is listed right up there — in bios, album credits, and other things that matter — with the four other guys in Herzog, just like he's one of them. Which prompts the question: What exactly does he do at the band's concerts? "I drink," he laughs. "They're all fantastic musicians. I'm not going to ruin it by getting up there."
But Vorell's role is a crucial one. He's the guy who adds bite to singer Nick Tolar's punchy melodies. "I'm sure they've said, 'I can't believe that idiot is writing those words to my song,'" says Vorell. The Cleveland indie rockers' second album, Cartoon Violence, comes out next week, and — with its ringing hooks disguising the everyday cynicism in songs like "Fuck This Year" and "Rock and Roll Monster" — it sounds just like something that would've sprung from hipster-heavy Brooklyn. "There's lots to talk about: the economy, joblessness," Vorell says of their Cleveland environs. "The aggravation of those experiences lends itself very well to the sound that Herzog is making nowadays."
IRISH EYES ARE BLEARY: With no pesky job duties getting in the way of St. Patrick's Day festivities for most of us this year, there's really no reason you shouldn't have downed a couple pints of Guinness by 9 a.m. on Saturday. That's when House of Blues kicks off its daylong celebration of all things beer (and green) with a pair of shows: the Boys From the County Hell in the Cambridge Room and the Endorsements in the main Music Hall. Irish music — courtesy of Plaid Sabbath, the Prodigals, and, um, DJ Sparky B — will play in both rooms until you're ready to puke up that corned beef and cabbage.
Or you could head to the Savannah for one last night under its old banner. After several changes to the music menu over the past year (many of them implemented to draw a younger crowd to the Westlake club), owner Doug Lufkin is scrapping the Savannah name altogether and will relaunch the live-music venue as Rock West sometime early next month. Morrison & McCarthy and the Feedbacks bring the Celtic jams for the celebration.
Finally, the indie-pop/hip-hop group iPhonic will play at 11 a.m at Peabody's, while noted Irishman Bizzy Bone will headline there St. Pat's night. 10,000 Cadillacs, featuring Jason Popson and Skinny from Mushroomhead — will open, presumably with some St. Paddy's-style rap-metal to get your Erin Go Bragh on.
CAT SHRED FEVER: Still reeling from selling out the Hanna Theatre with his shredtastic holiday show One Silent Night, Cleveland guitarist Neil Zaza will unveil his new album, Clyde the Cat, at a Kent Stage concert on Friday. The 11-track album kicks off with Zaza's scorching take on Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend," the highlight of his 10th solo LP, which we'd like to believe was recorded using that flaming-red, two-neck electric guitar we always see him strangling in photos. You can hear that song and other fresh cuts at neilzaza.bandcamp.com. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.