Music » Music Lead

Makin' the Scene

Whenever a big show rolls through town, radio stations jostle to attach their call letters to the event. They park their love vans outside the venue, play the visiting artist into the ground, offer loge seats to the caller who knows the name of the singer's cat, etc.

So when Aerosmith comes to Cleveland, as the band did December 15, bet your big lips area rock stations wanted us to think they were sitting in Steven Tyler's living room when he first tinkled "Dream On" on the piano. Sho'nuff, 100.7-FM/WMMS and 97.5-FM/WONE each aired concert replays after Tuesday's show, and 98.5-FM/WNCX played a previously recorded Aerosmith show.

The crush to be identified with Aerosmith apparently led to a shortage of tickets for stations to give away. Dan Workman won a pair of Aerosmith tix from WMMS. But when he found his seats at Gund Arena, he discovered he was sitting behind the stage. He was not pleased with the vantage point. "You couldn't see anything," he says. "They had inflatable snakes and fireworks and smoke effects going off."

Workman understands ninth callers can't be choosers, but "I've gotten tickets from the station in years gone by, and they've never been like this." He says other winners in his section were grumbling about the Buzzard. "Every once in a while, the band would pop their heads back, but you couldn't see anything."

Workman called the station to complain. He wasn't the only one. 'MMS promotions coordinator Charlotte DiFranco fielded a handful of irate calls the next day. "Unfortunately, we didn't know where the seats were either," she says. "We got them from Belkin [the concert's promoter], and we've spoken to Belkin about that."

DiFranco says the station gave away fifty pairs of tickets. Some snagged seats in the first ten rows; some were seated in director's chairs on the soundboard platform; others, like Watson, stared at Brad Whitford's sagging ass all night.

DiFranco says the station will try to make peace with annoyed concertgoers. "Hopefully, we'll try and do something for them, but we're not sure what yet." Head Buzzard promo man Mark "Munch" Bishop echoed her apology: "I probably won't cut their lawn or shovel snow, but I'll do something."

Chad Ely has a price--it's just very cheap. The Mentor carpenter recently recorded the band Qwasi Qwa at his home studio; in return he got a bottle of Dewar's.

Ely insists he's not a budding indie mogul. But he's recorded fourteen bands in the last four months, and his label, Dok Rok Records, is distributing CDs by Vyne, Cabalist Lot, Withersoul, Latex, Dumpster Chameleon, and Qwasi Qwa, which features Jesse Bryson, teenage son of Raspberries' guitarist Wally Bryson.

"I've bought $150,000 worth of crap," Ely says, "but it's not a real record company."

Ely, who plays in a blues act under the name Petie Wheatstroh, often lets bands record for nothing more than an old power amp or a bottle of his favorite hooch. He doesn't even bother with contracts. "It's a neat thing," he says. "Everybody's real happy with it."

Ekoostik Hookah, the Columbus band that resents--but cannot escape--comparisons to the Grateful Dead, had a busy 1998. Hookah played 200 shows, traveled 100,000 miles, threw two more Hookahville festivals, and released six discs under three titles.

The latest, Sharp in the Flats, is a live double album recorded this spring at the Odeon. Eleven of the fifteen songs have not been previously released, three are from earlier records, and one is a cover of Billy Preston's "Sister Sugar."

Another new release, Hookahville Spring '98, is a band-issued "bootleg" of Hookah's set at the Frontier Ranch. The three-disc release is low-budget, in limited supply, and available only through the band.

Let's see: Festivals, lengthy live recordings, band-sanctioned bootlegs, the whiff of patchouli in the air ... And they wonder why allusions to the Dead come so easily.

Hookah plays the Odeon Saturday, December 26.

Ex-Oroboros frontman Jim Miller is bypassing the middleman. Intimidated by the cost of studio time, his JiMiller Band will record its show Saturday, December 26, at the Rhythm Room for a live CD release.

If all goes well, the album will be a replica of the live show. Miller doesn't want to fuss with overdubs or cutting and pasting. "If it doesn't work out, we'll do it again," he says. And he likes the idea of the crowd contributing. "It gets people involved. Our fans are the most important people."

Pepper Acton is heading into the studio to record one song: the Four Tops' "Standing in the Shadows of Love."

What gives?
A Gothic label in Chicago is putting together a compilation of various artists performing guilty pleasures. Acton hopes hers makes the cut. "Somebody's doing a Debbie Gibson song, so I can't be that bad," she says.

NewsRadio star Andy Dick has canceled his New Year's Eve "autobiographical comedic rock opera" performance at the Palace Theatre. A scheduling conflict was blamed; no makeup date has been announced.

A Scene writer talked to Dick on the phone before the show was nixed. He reports that Dick sounded incoherent when he wasn't distracted.

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