More than 250 people turned out to the Rock Hall this week for the simulcast of the inductions from the Waldorf in New York. The ceremony itself was serviceable, although not quite as enjoyable as past inductions. The Ventures, the Dave Clark Five, Leonard Cohen, Madonna, and John Mellencamp were enshrined this year. The highlights included Damien Rice’s performance of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (above); Cohen’s self-deprecating and funny acceptance speech—quoting Jon Landau at one point, “I have seen the face of rock and roll, and it is not Leonard Cohen”; Billy Joel’s expletive-laced introduction of Johnny Cougar; and the shirtless Iggy Pop sitting on the lap of some dapper gentleman in a suit during his performance of Madonna songs. ...
The general feeling among the Cleveland audience was excitement for next year, when the induction comes to Cleveland for the first time since 1997, and where it will return once every three years. Thank the Lord. Just thinking about the Waldorf’s nine-dollar Tecates is making my wallet hurt.
When the ceremony does make it home, Cleveland has to be careful not to be all New York about it. Here are some simple tips to make the ceremonies not only something the VIPs and celebrities will enjoy, but also something that Average Joe from Parma can tell his nine kids about:
1. Make it affordable. This shouldn’t be a problem. The inductions will probably be at The Q, the Wolstein Center, or Public Hall. Cater to the rich and famous, but make sure plenty of regular folks get a chance to attend and participate.
2. Concerts, concerts, concerts. Take the visibility, cash, and prestige of the induction ceremony to bring back the CMJ/Rock Hall Music Fest, which was shut down due to operating costs in 2007 after just two years. Organizers have talked about making a three-day event out of the ceremonies, which would ostensibly include talks, fundraisers, some shows, and other rock themed festivities.
If they staggered the induction so it doesn’t overlap with SXSW, the Hall might be able to use the cachet of the ceremonies to draw some great acts to Cleveland. Get all the local venues involved, showcase Cleveland artists, have some of the inductees perform around town, and give fans something music-related to do every night. It’s a no-brainer, even if they shelved the festival during years that the induction’s in New York. Not to mention that it would help to give the Hall some credibility among those that think the museum is out of touch with what fans listen to.
3. Involve Iggy Pop in some way. Seriously. I don’t care if he’s just walking around the streets of Cleveland. We deserve this shirtless outlaw.
4. Free sausages. This is more of a personal request, and it’s probably a long shot, but it never hurts to ask, eh? -- Vince Grzegorek