by Frank Lewis
Michael Stanley Band alumnus and co-founder Jonah Koslen (pictured, in bandana) and friends have assembled a show called Stage Pass Now that’s an expanded, complete recreation of the MSB double-live album Stage Pass. They’re playing the two-hour show at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood) Saturday, April 18 and the Tangier (532 W. Market St., Akron) Saturday the 25th.
It’s one of the Michael Stanley Band’s signature records, though its title player won’t be onstage. The Stage Pass Now lineup comprises Northeast Ohio veterans Donny Thompson (Easy Street Band), Bill March (Beau Coup and Koslen’s Heroes), Rik Williger (the Short Circuits), and Van Eidom (Kooch, ESB).
“I told Michael what I intended to do, and he liked it,” says Koslen, the lead guitarist who co-wrote and performed many classics with the bandleader from 1974 to ’77. Koslen says he didn’t ask Stanley to participate, because Stanley didn’t seem interesting in revisiting past glories. “He was more interested in [playing] his new material.”
Koslen says the two remain close friends. The guitarist performed two songs with Stanley’s Resonators at the Tangier last month. And Stanley’s label, Line Level, has issued Koslen’s last two releases.
The band will recreate the arrangements from the record, plus songs from the era. An expanded take on the acoustic segment will include four extra tunes: “Ladies’ Choice,” Blue Jean Boy,” “Gypsy Eyes,” and “Among My Friends Again.”
Culled from four October 1976 sets at the old Agora Ballroom, the disc was released by Epic, and is the group’s only gold album. “It shows how great the band was,” says Koslen. “It’s a recording that holds together as a whole piece of music. I think it could be pointed to as a milestone in Cleveland music. I’m told all the time by people that it’s their favorite live album.” — D.X. Ferris