New Album Featuring Chris Butler and the Late Ralph Carney Due Out in September


  • Beth Becker
An Akron native, the late Ralph Carney left behind a remarkable legacy prior to passing away earlier this year.

The saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist played with local proto-punks Tin Huey and performed with the likes of Elvis Costello, the B-52's, Les Claypool and They Might Be Giants.

Most famously, he was Tom Waits' sax man on classic albums like Rain Dogs, Bone Machine and Mule Variations.

Now, Smog Veil Records has announced it'll release Songs for Unsung Holidays, an album Carney recorded with Northeast Ohio native Chris Butler.

According to the press release announcing the Sept. 7 release of the album, the songs are “deliberately silly and absurd about goof ball/off-the-wall holidays.” The disc includes tracks such as "Polka Day," a tune loaded with Northeast Ohio references, and "Gorilla Suit Day."

In the press release, Butler says the project came together with a call from Carney, who asked, “How come there are no more silly bands? Let’s do a project!” As a result, they brainstormed and wrote songs about obscure holidays.

"We'd pass tracks back and forth, and bingo…we soon had enough material for a whole record!" says Butler. "I had the good fortune of writing 'Christmas Wrapping' while in the Waitresses, and folks have always urged me to write other holiday songs for Easter or Thanksgiving. Nah. No fun in that. But National Salami Appreciation Day? Or National Polka Day? That’s more like it!"

All songs were written and produced by Butler and Carney and were recorded in their respective home studios. The record was mastered by Gary Hobish at Armin Hammer Productions.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.