Music » Makin' the Scene

Musicians band together to fight pay-to-play

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Ghandi SS preps for Lottery League 2008 at Rock and Roll City on March 6. - WALTER NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Ghandi SS preps for Lottery League 2008 at Rock and Roll City on March 6.

Cleveland rockers are uniting in Musicians' Local 00, an informal alliance of groups opposed to the pay-to-play practices that make most local shows an unpredictable, overcrowded clusterfuck.

In the pay-to-play economic model, promoters regularly load concerts up with more than a dozen local opening bands. Most openers are obligated to sell tickets. Often, the number of tickets sold determines when bands will play. Performing acts usually don't know when they'll take the stage until just before a show starts. Most of the time, promoters don't even provide a complete list of bands appearing on a bill.

Nick Wolff Band frontman Nick Wolff, who's organizing Local 00 with other scene veterans, was inspired to start the group when a band sold tickets to a recent Peabody's show that was run by an outside promoter. After turning in their ticket money, the group wasn't allowed to play.

"If musicians realize they can put their foot down, they really can make a difference," says Wolff. "It's basically a way for bands to set up shows for each other. We're going to cater to the punk-rock bands and rock and roll bands that get stepped on a lot."

The Local is hosting its first show, the Rock Against the Bullshit Festival, on Sunday, March 16. The Nick Wolff Band, the GT-40s, the Cheats, the Struttin' Cocks, and Switchblade Saints will headline the low-dough showcase at the Jigsaw (5324 State Road, Parma). Wolff says Local 00's MySpace page (www.myspace.com/unionlocal00cle) picked up more than 100 friends in its first few days. Its next show is scheduled for April 24, also at the Jigsaw.

"A scene needs to be organic to be healthy," explains Jon Epstein of Last Stone Cast, a member of the organization. "Bands need to draw audiences and play based on their ability as performers and their ability to draw crowds. Hence, a scene develops around a grassroots fan base. In the current Cleveland scene, this doesn't happen. For the promoters, this is a gold mine. For the rest of the community, it's largely destructive."

15 60 75 the Numbers Band founder, frontman, and lyricist Robert Kidney has started two books. The first is a novel, loosely based on personal experiences; the second is a self-illustrated collection of his lyrics. No release date is set for either. The Numbers Band plays the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road) on Saturday, March 15. "They are the only legitimate blues band of the last 30 years," Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas told Scene previously.

• The retro-rock phenoms of Suede Brothers have posted "Jolly Rodger," a track from their self-titled debut, as a free download at Reverbnation.com.

Pitch Black Forecast has finished recording its first record and will make its live debut on May 10 at Peabody's (2083 East 21st Street). The metal project features former Mushroomhead frontman Jason "J. Mann" Popson and drummer Gene Hoglan, the California percussion legend who's played with Strapping Young Lad, Dark Angel, and Death. The record features guest appearances by Lamb of God's Randy Blythe and Ringworm singer Human Furnace.

• A Continuum International Publishing editor says the book about Nine Inch Nails' locally recorded debut, Pretty Hate Machine, has been indefinitely delayed. Formerly scheduled for April 15 release, the book was being written by Daphne Carr, a Youngstown native and editor of De Capo Press' Best Music Writing series. A description at Amazon.com says the book was to flesh out the story of Trent Reznor's life before his move to Cleveland and link the album to the mall-goth movement.

• LaMafia Records will reschedule the March 8 showcase that was canceled due to snow, but no date is available yet.

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