- Walter Novak
- Open wide: Avril Lavigne at the CSU Convocation Center, November 5.
House of Blues Cleveland, slated to open November 19 with a performance by Cheap Trick, recently offered a sneak peek at its Euclid Avenue venue. Despite the lingering construction projects, the place already gleams.
The club, the newest in a nationwide chain of concert halls, greets guests with an ornate main lobby lined with a purplish mural of blues greats like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, as well as a tribute to pioneering Cleveland DJ Alan Freed. Inside, the two-tiered main concert hall feels more intimate than its 1,240 capacity would suggest, with two bars on each level, a massive sound system (which was used for the Rolling Stones' latest tour), and a million-dollar lighting rig. There's also a nightclub, restaurant, and merchandise store, in addition to several smaller rooms designed for high rollers and private events. Iron handrails and fixtures provide a nod to Cleveland's steel industry.
It's a lavish spread, and it doesn't end with the furnishings. The House will open with a full schedule, at a time of year when concert activity wanes.
"The money we spend on a band is well above the normal standards," says Kevin Morrow, a senior VP for House of Blues, the country's second-largest concert promoter. Backstage amenities include large, brightly painted dressing rooms for both headliners and opening acts, as well as limitless food from the adjacent kitchen. It's a marked contrast to the lived-in look of comparable Cleveland venues.
"Every single market we've gone into, we've been told we're going to go out of business," says Morrow. "But we've embraced the artists and embraced the locals. We pay attention to everything, from the sight lines to the sound to the way the door people treat you. We try to do it right. Hopefully, we'll do well."
· 15 60 75, aka the Numbers Band, has signed a national distribution deal with Morphius for the reissue of Jimmy Bell's Still in Town, the band's 1976 live debut. It became the favorite album of Dave Thomas (singer of Pere Ubu and Rocket From the Tombs), who remixed it a year ago, adding liner notes and rereleasing it in Europe on his Hearpen Records label. The Numbers Band plays Saturday, November 13, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road) and Saturday, November 27, at the Tangiers Cabaret (532 West Market Street, Akron).
· Alternative acoustic trio the Hours will film the Friday, November 12, release party for their new CD, Our Sadness Will Save Us, at the Phantasy Nite Club (11802 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood). Members of the Zachary Walker Band and Bronwen's Gift will perform.
· Hip-hop DJ Mick Boogie has assembled a best of Game mixtape and recruited the hip-hop star himself to host it. Visit www.mickboogie.com for more information.
· Drummer Jeff Ottenbacher's last show with the New Lou Reeds will be Sunday, November 14, at the Parkview (1261 West 58th Street). Ottenbacher is leaving town; no replacement has been announced.