Commercial radio sucks, and since the Sirius-XM merger, satellite radio's only drawing card is The Howard Stern Show. Worry not, music fans: College radio is still here for you. WJCU 88.7 FM, a showcase for underground rock for 40 years, has some of the liveliest fundraising events in the business. Five hard-and-heavy bands will headline the WJCU 2009 Radiothon Benefit Concert at the Jigsaw (5324 State Rd., Parma) Saturday, February 20. "Cleveland has the best college radio in the world," says Metal on Metal host Bill Peters, a volunteer DJ at the station for 27 years. "College radio lets you hear things you can't hear anywhere else, even with the Internet. [DJs] do all the work for you. There's no rules in college radio."
Spanning old-school power metal to hard rock, the concert is headlined by Destructor, with sets by H.A.T.E., Venomin James and Shades of Remembrance. Tribute band Metalhead will perform '80s college-radio classics by Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Accept and others. Doors open at 6 p.m.; all-ages admission is $6.
Rocket to Return: Cleveland '70s punk forerunners Rocket From the Tombs recently recorded their first new material in more than 30 years at Painesville's Suma Recording in January. Frontman David Thomas (best known for his work with Pere Ubu) will issue "I Sell Soul" and "Romeo & Juliet" this year on Hearpen.com, his digital label. No release date is set. The label will also release a live Pere Ubu recording from 1987, featuring its two-drummer lineup of Chris Cutler and Scott Kraus. Already available is the re-release of the 1980 single "The Incredible Truth"/"Long Walk Home" by Foreign Bodies, a project by Pere Ubu guitarist Jim Jones, who died a year ago this week.
Rockstar Cleveland (2045 E. 21st St.) will host an official listening party for the new Lamb of God record, Wrath, at 9 p.m. Saturday, February 21. Admission is free with pre-order from FYE. Expect door prizes and a live set by Cleveland's Malice 213.
Ripper Watch: Beyond Fear frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens has a new all-star cover band Hail, which just wrapped up a tour of Chile. The group features Megadeth alums Jimmy DeGrasso and Dave Ellefson, and Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser. Their set list includes Judas Priest's "Grinder," Pantera's "Fucking Hostile" and Accept's "Balls to the Wall."
"Just playing some classic metal tunes and having fun," says Owens. "Sold-out shows, and the fans are crazy. I don't think there will be shows in the U.S., but you never know." Beyond Fear will play two rare live shows in Texas and Mexico on February 19 and 21.