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Amps Unplugged

Scene's Best Hard Rock Band blows to pieces.

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Sharon Jones at the Dap-Kings' December 29 Beachland show. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Sharon Jones at the Dap-Kings' December 29 Beachland show.

Amps to 11, the band Scene readers voted Best Hard Rock act of 2005, has broken up.

"The original guitarist and drummer quit, and with all respect to the guys who replaced them, it was never really the same," says guitarist Aaron Dowell. "The band meant too much to us to just go through the motions."

The Parma veterans cranked out high-octane rawk, coming up with such colorfully gritty song titles as "Bourbon Sprawl" and "Denim and Daggers." In 2002, Dowell, bassist Tony Erba, and original guitarist Attila Csapo formed the group from the ashes of Stepsister, one of Cleveland's signature underground rock bands of the '90s. Dowell had previously played in hair-metal favorites Kidd Wicked, and Erba is renowned for reckless performances in numerous punk bands, including 9 Shocks Terror.

Issued on Chicago's Smog Veil Records, Amps' self-titled LP from 2004 was well received. The group supported it with short regional and weekend tours. And when serving as Cleveland's designated openers, Amps often blew touring bands like Nashville Pussy off the stage. Csapo and drummer Steve Callahan left the group in 2005 to form the popular Welcome to Bangkok. Amps' subsequent lineups had written songs for a second album, but Dowell says they have no recorded material to release and no plans for a farewell show. Dowell and Erba plan to form another group at some point; until then, he's concentrating on the punkier Nick Wolff Band.

"For five idiot dudes writing songs, we took it as far as we could take it," says Dowell. "Anytime we played with a national band, they were like Dude, you guys rocked."

· Nick Wolff and the Homosexual Mannerismz have changed their name to simply the Nick Wolff Band. According to Dowell, the name "was never an anti-gay thing. We want to offend everybody -- not just one group in particular." The band has finished recording its debut with Ryan Foltz, the former Dropkick Murphys mandolinist and current Rancid soundman. The group will release the disc Friday, January 19, at the Jigsaw Stage and Saloon (5324 State Road, Parma).

· The annual High School Rock Off is now the Mountain Dew MDC High School Rock Off and has moved from the defunct Odeon to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1 Key Plaza). The contest runs Fridays and Saturdays through January 27. Visit Cleveland.com/rockoff for this year's lineup.

· Two Akron stoner and hardcore bands will be featured on For the Stick, Emetic Records' tribute to sludge icons Eyehategod. Rue will cover "Blank," and two other tunes are performed by the Unholy Three, the precursor to Akron hardcore kings Don Austin. The disc is slated for a March release.

· 92.3 FM K-Rock has dumped The Metal Show, which ran for 10 years. "We did some shuffling with the weekend schedule, and unfortunately, The Metal Show lost its time slot," explains Program Director Dominic Nardella. "We have no plans to replace it." In recent months, the show had hosted exclusive performances by big-name bands, including Trivium, Hatebreed, and Helmet. Co-host Matt Wardlaw is still on staff at the station and says he and co-host Chris Akin may continue it in some form.

· Scene's C-Notes blog now features an ever-expanding selection of photo galleries from the area's hottest concerts, the work of Action Rock Photographer Walter Novak. Find them at clevescene.com/blogs.

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