Clevelander Mark Edwards, who has been performing as My Dad Is Dad for more than 25 years, relocated to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, many years ago. But he still returns to Cleveland every once in a while to play a show.
He was last here to play the Halloween Masquerade Ball at Cleveland Public Theatre in October. He’s back tonight at the Beachland Tavern at 9 p.m. All Comers and the Lawton Brothers open. Tickets are $7.
Edwards was a mainstay of Cleveland’s ’80s alternative/college rock scene, releasing his first album My Dad Is Dead … and He’s Not Going to Take It Anymore on local co-op label St. Valentine in 1985.
Last fall, he released his 13th album, A New Clear Route, with ubiquitous Cleveland drummer Scott Pickering and bassist Billy Buckley backing him up, and Brian Paulson (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Beck, Dinosaur Jr.) handling production and engineering.
Edwards offers 11 new songs in a style that will be familiar to longtime MDID fans — tense, dry, sinewy instrumentals topped by his aching, unvarnished vocals with lyrics that make it sound like he’s working out his thoughts for the first time while he’s singing.
Opening track “Carolina Blue” addresses his relocation. “I’ve had good friends in Cleveland town but I never felt quite right/I miss them now but then the sun comes laughing out of night/Cleveland, good old Cleveland,” he sings. "Cleveland, city of struggle and decay, Cleveland/I still think of you every day.”
In “Manifest,” he sings, “America’s rising up from its slumber,” and it sounds like he’s grappling to identify the current national zeitgeist, as he picks his way through thickets of wiry guitar chords. In “Walls” and “Map in a Box” he gropes in the same way to define his own motivations — familiar territory for him.
New Clear Route makes the most of the directness and lack of affectation, coupled with a keen sense of rock dynamics, that MDID has always been known for. —Anastasia Pantsios