It's places like Austin, Texas and the entire state of North Carolina that are renowned for producing modern roots music -- not Cleveland. But maybe that should change. Local fellas like Clint Holley and his collective Hayshaker Jones have been preaching the alt-country gospel for over seven years. What's more, Cleveland has its very own Americana festival.
"Our goal was to bring together a critical mass of people, so bands like Hayshaker Jones could get noticed," says Holley, who has helped organize the Cleveland Americana Festival since its inception in 2005. "It was important for me to do this, because this kind of music isn't really popular in Cleveland. We are known for metal and polka, not roots music."
Of course, Hayshaker Jones and friends aren't talking about Tim McGraw and Faith Hill -- the stuff that passes for country music on mainstream radio.
"Top-40 country is what that is -- pop music," says Holley. "Midwest roots music has a bit more honesty. We're working-class people with real stories to tell. We're not poseurs with sea shells around our cowboy hats."
This celebration of twang is held at Ohio City's Parish Hall, an old church ballroom. So grab a cool brewski (or four), procure a platter of local BBQ, and dig into some local jams, including the Tabloid Twangers and the Cleveland Country Band. The Silvertones, a ripping westernbilly outfit from Canada, makes an appearance as well.
Ten bands in all will play the main stage from 5 p.m. to midnight, with the added bonus of a side stage, featuring singer-songwriters and even a belly dancer.