From 1987 to 1993, the Janglers were a staple on the local alt-country scene. But after they broke up, frontman Jason White needed a change of scenery. So he and guitarist Jack Silverman moved to Nashville and recorded some demos at Bradley's Barn, the studio run by legendary country producer Owen Bradley. "It just seemed like a good move at the time," says White. "It was either move to Nashville or move to New York, and I figured I could live in a much bigger apartment [in Nashville]."
It paid off: In 2003, Tim McGraw made White's "Red Ragtop" a country hit that's still reaping dividends for the former Clevelander. White's latest album, The Longing, comes out this summer, and he says fans can expect some new sounds. "It's a little bit jazzy, and there are a few more ballads and love songs on it," he says. "It was a phase I was going through, hanging out with guys who write that kind of stuff. The first two solo albums I did had a lot of guy-rock, with crunchy guitar solos and angry political stuff. I felt I had taken that stuff as far as I wanted to go. I wanted to write some sweet stuff for the ladies."
Since moving to Nashville, White hasn't been back to Cleveland much, but the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy has lured him to town to play a benefit concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets are $15 advance, $20 day of show. The Swamp Rattlers and Pete McDonald open.
While Blossom Music Center snags bigger bands, the promoters behind Cuyahoga Falls' annual Rockin' on the River concert series boast that their event is "the longest-running and highest-attended concert series in Northeast Ohio." The free Friday concerts run for 13 weeks during the summer.
"You come to our event one time, you'll come back," says organizer Bob Early. "In 24 years, no liquor violations, no fights, no arrests. We run a good, clean ship."
The series is set to launch on May 21 with a concert by AC/DC cover band Thunderstruck, with Stranglehold opening with a set of Ted Nugent tunes. The summer lineup is filled with a mix of local and cover bands: Zoso/Lock 4 (May 28), Blue Moon Swamp/7T7 (June 4), Almost Queen/Jackie (June 18), Frontiers/Blood, Sweat and Beers (June 25), Fins to the Left/the Uptown Cats (July 2), Draw the Line/Skinny Moo (July 9), Dave Matthews Tribute/Hey Monea! (July 16), 7 Bridges/Lawless (July 30), Full Moon Fever/Kerosene (Aug. 6), Jersey/Evil Ways (Aug. 13), Armstrong Bearcat Band/Colin Dussault Band (Aug. 20), and Vicious Cycle/Big House (Aug. 27). All concerts take place from 5 to 11:30 p.m. at the Falls River Square in Cuyahoga Falls. Go to rockinontheriver.com for more info.
Local shredder Neil Zaza will judge the first Burning River Guitar Competition, which takes place at Lux Nightclub (1 West Exchange St., Akron, 330-253-7777) from May 21 to 23. It costs $45 to apply, and there are cash prizes for first, second, and third place. Amps will be provided. Find more info at brguitarcomp.com.
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