Martin Juredine, known for creating one of Cleveland’s most distinctive and welcoming music spaces, died of cancer Tuesday, February 1 at the age of 66.
He and his partner, Bruce Madorsky, acquired the old coach house off Juniper Road on the Case Western Reserve campus in 1986. There, Juredine fashioned the Barking Spider, a space that felt more like a coffeehouse than a bar. Its sequestered location and the large glass doors on each side that opened onto patios gave it a homey, low-key vibe that reflected Juredine’s own gentle, soft-spoken demeanor.
The Spider became a gathering place where people met friends, hung out between classes, dropped in after other events, or stopped by to listen to mostly acoustic and small-ensemble performers in an array of genres, including folk, bluegrass, country, jazz, and rock — with live music on tap 363 days a year.
Booked as much as a year in advance, its rotating schedule of regulars is larded with new faces and occasional touring acts, as well as special events like music workshops and poetry readings. And it became a catalyst for original musicians who didn’t play mainstream music.
Beachland Ballroom owner Cindy Barber pointed out that Juredine’s bookings allowed for the continuation of a folk/acoustic scene that had no place else to go by the mid-’80s.
“He launched and continued a lot of people’s careers,” she says. “He supported those more traditional singer-songwriters. I don’t know where some of those people would have played if not for the Barking Spider. And it allowed for collaboration.”
“That environment is what gave us permission to do that,” says Paul Kovac, whose sessions with Kevin Richards at the Spider grew into the rootsy, bluegrass-influenced band Hillbilly Idol.
“Our first gig with that name and that repertoire was in that room. Somewhere in the mid-’90s we got a regular Thursday once a month, and it meant everything. We looked at it as an opportunity to try out new songs. At the Spider, you could try out new stuff and go out on a limb, bring up people from the audience. He gave people opportunities.”
One of the distinctive things about the Spider is that musicians don’t get a guarantee, and there’s no cover charge. Instead, a hat is passed for the performers. Kovac says the vibe was all Juredine’s creation.
“Martin’s vision was to build a community of people that’s inclusive, not exclusive. The Barking Spider is like a physical manifestation of Martin’s idea, his social experiment if you will. I live 45 minutes from the place, and it’s my local bar. I’ve traveled all over the country and to Europe, and have never found a place like it. Here you are with doctors and lawyers and students and musicians and street people, and we’re all part of this club.”
Macs Backs bookstore owner Suzanne DeGaetano, who has sponsored literary events at the Spider, wrote in her newsletter, “Martin had a great sense of humor and was a friendly and steady presence at the bar. He encouraged countless musicians and writers too. Because of Martin, the Barking Spider has become another one of University Circle’s institutions — a coach house with logs on the fire in the winter, picnic tables under shady trees in the summer, and the best of live music always.”
The space Juredine created will live on. His daughter, Jenna Juredine, has been managing the club for years and will continue to run it in her father’s spirit. “She knows the ropes and has the right qualities and the right disposition,” says Kovac. — Anastasia Pantios