- Walter Novak
- Mini-Kiss -- complete with mini-fans -- rocked McCarthy's downtown last week.
After 35 years, the last Quonset Hut closed this week, ending an era for one of Northeast Ohio's most venerable independent music chains. At the Canton record store's last Tuesday night, foot traffic was still brisk. For once, no new releases arrived, but DVDs, music, and plenty else were on sale for as much as 40 percent off.
Quonset Hut opened in 1969 as a boutique. Stocked with bell-bottoms and fringed leather coats, it was the place to go if you wanted to look like you were in Easy Rider. Music started as an offering on the side, but $2.99 LPs made the store a popular destination that eventually grew into five stores in Akron, Massillon, and Parma. Founder-principal owner Pete Olson says downloading and lower prices at big chain stores caused a precipitous decline in business over the last five years. Last year, Olson decided to retire and close the stores one at a time. He's sold the Canton location to the Exchange, the Cleveland-based new-and-used-music chain with 24 stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"Quonset Hut has been an institution in Canton," says Tom Weigand, who's been shopping there since 1974. Wearing a faded Rolling Stones T-shirt, he came one last time to browse and talk. "A lot of great, knowledgeable people work here. You need to be able to talk about music. You can't get that on the internet."
When the digital age came, Q-Hut stayed afloat by carrying more specialty music, from jazz group Groove Collective to metal cult band Acid Bath. Downloading and loss-leader pricing still couldn't hurt the market for T-shirts, exotic tobacco pipes, and Osbournes dolls. Partner Mark Kratzer has purchased the name and will continue business next door as a gift shop, without music.
"We have customers that come in every week and stay for hours," says Olson. "We have customers who have been coming here for 30 years. Ohio's been good to us. We've done better than most. It's been way too much fun."
· Led by former WBWC DJ Tony Webster, Cleveland power-metal band Mo Rage is putting together an internet heavy metal radio station. Interested bands can visit www.magmametal.com for details. Submissions are welcome at MagmaMetal.com, P.O. Box 609147, Cleveland, OH 44109.
· Electronic-minded music collective SynthCleveland will improvise a new live soundtrack to a presentation of The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Theodor Dreyer's classic 1928 silent film, at Rain Nightclub (4142 Lorain Ave.), Wednesday, March 9, at 8 p.m.
· Roots rockers Rosavelt are finishing up the writing for their next record. Since 2004's The Story of Gasoline, the band has split with Gaff Music and is looking for a new label. They plan to record the disc in April, again working with producer Don Dixon (R.E.M. , Anne E. DeChant).
· Cleveland modern rockers Dirt will be featured in Swept Away, a music-pop culture show seen in syndication in 42 markets. The program is also available through Comcast on Demand Service and www.myvtv.com.