Crash Coffin is back making rock music the year--okay, one of the years--rock music has been declared dead by the coroner. The 50-year-old Berea native gave up trying to be a country singer. Three times he went to Nashville; three times he returned with the sound of slammed doors ringing in his ears. "It was all whom you know, not who you are," he says of the Nashville scene. "Man, if you aren't a relative, forget it. It's really tough."
The Deadly Game of Rock n Roll is Crash's first album in ten years and his first CD. The record has a little bit of everything: straight-ahead rockers, piano-driven tumblers, back-porch dirges, even flutes. Crash says he wanted to get back to the music of his youth. "I always liked story songs, like Chuck Berry. Sometimes I listen to songs today and I can't hear the story. You get a little of this and little of that, but you can't hear the story."
The Deadly Game was recorded by Kidd Wicked's Billy Morris, who also played guitar. Even though he's a contemporary of Morris's father (Billy Morris Sr. of Eddie and the Edsels), Crash communicated well with Morris the Younger. Whenever Crash made a suggestion to Morris, "it goes in his head and comes out his guitar."
A grandfather of six ("Oh my God, I got ten," he says after his wife reminds him of the reach of a second family), Crash will appear on WBWC at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 8, and play a regular Wednesday night show at the Berea Cafe beginning January 15.
When a new club opens and has yet to fully realize its identity, it's always fun to gawk at the clientele. That Groovee Little Nightclub opened December 18 in the Warehouse District where Visions used to stand. On a visit last weekend, the club attracted a handsome mix of young hipsters, battle-tested clubbers, girls with pink hair, and regular joes. Four young guys wearing nearly identical plaid shirts and khaki pants slumped on one of the leather couches. It was as if they were waiting for someone to hook up the Sega.
That Groovee Little Nightclub plays light house music before darkening the mood with a heavier sound around 1 a.m. The club had planned to stay open until 4 a.m., but it found that crowds were keeping a distance (and their money) until other joints in the district closed.
We liked the attentive help (one attractive barmaid made it a point to smile at everyone) and pastel-splashed decor. We didn't like the tiny men's room (two toilets) and the way traffic backed up around the bar near the dance floor.
The club is looking for a straight, age 25 to 45 crowd. It's run by Robin Harris (formerly of Aqua) and Danny Cudnik (Cudnik's Tavern). How Groovee is it on the wallet? Saturday night, there was a $5 cover and the King of Beers sold for $3.
After a year in Los Angeles, Kristoffer Carter, formerly of the TwistOffs and Stankfut, made the 55-hour drive home last week. Carter and his six-string bass went to So Cal to generate interest in his "one-man rock assault," which frequently expanded to a three-piece with sax player Andy Stephan, another TwistOffs/Stankfut alum, and drummer Jason Woods.
"I have absolutely no interest in Nashville, and New York's too damn cold, so L.A. is the place to be," Carter says.
He gigged around Hollywood, and though he got a few nibbles from major labels, Carter says he's in no hurry to sign a deal. He plans to head back to L.A. this time next year. In the meantime, Carter and Stephan will finish work on their college degrees at Kent and hit Northeast Ohio clubs. December 27, Carter opened for Damond Moodie and Cows in the Graveyard at the Grog Shop.
When Jimmy Ley retired, he unemployed a rhythm section. Ley's former players have found work in a new band called Coalhouse Walker. (The name is taken from a character in E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime.) "It's a lot different," says guitarist Jason Green. "It's still a blue-based band, but it's a lot more eclectic--funk, jazz, soul, a little hip-hop, a little country."
Coalhouse Walker--which has Mike Ward on drums, Tony Fortuna on bass, and Jerome Freeman on guitar and vocals--plays the House of Swing Saturday, January 2. The band plans to record its January 6 show at Wilbert's.
Pollstar, a music industry magazine, listed a February 15 Cleveland concert date for Alanis Morissette on its webpage. No venue was listed. J.R. Lesniok of Belkin Productions would not confirm an appearance by the Canadian exhibitionist: "I have no idea ... It might not even happen, who knows?