Back in the late '80s and early '90s, the Cleveland music scene was teeming with folk-flavored pop/rock bands whose primary appeal was smart, tuneful songs and strong vocals — both lead and harmonies. If you ever run across a CD in a used-record bin on the local Sound of the Sea label, pick it up and see for yourself.
One of the most intriguing of the batch was the Jehova Waitresses who made their debut in 1989. More than most of their peers, they introduced offbeat subject matter and quirky musical elements into their diverse repertoire, embellishing their dense yet translucent tunes with fleet violin runs and chiming Rickenbacker guitar. They went their separate ways in 1996; the Roys moved to the East Coast where Kevin had originally come from (Linda is a native Clevelander).
But there’s clearly a bout of nostalgia going around among bands who were part of their scene. Their contemporaries World in a Room reunited in May, and the Waynes have a reunion show next week. The Waitresses are performing at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Grog Shop. Tickets are $10.
Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarists Linda and Kevin Roy, the Waitresses brought together Kevin’s taste for punk rockers like the Clash, the Ramones and Husker Du, and Linda’s penchant for rootsier rockers like R.E.M. and Lone Justice.
They released their debut Hard Up for Innocence in 1990 and then shook up their lineup, adding bassist Alan Grandy — who gave the band a third singer-songwriter — and violinist Janice Fields. Jeff Harmon played drums throughout their tenure. They released their second CD Shake Your Buddha in 1994 on Grandy’s Sounds of the Sea label and their final CD, Perfect Impossible, in 1994 on New Jersey’s Shimmy Disc/Shimmy Boot.
During its time together, the group performed extensively throughout the eastern half of the country and at major music-industry festivals such as Austin’s South by Southwest and Cleveland’s Undercurrents.
Even if you don’t remember the band from back in the day, if you’re a fan of bands like Keane and Travis, there’s a good chance you’ll like the Waitresses. —Anastasia Pantsios