Culture Club

Culture Club

In this week’s issue:
* Party Put some salsa in yr holiday
* Party Video Gilberto Alvarez & Adriana Matos of Tropical Rhythms
* Holiday Buying Guide Growing the local economy
* Youngstown Buzz Interview with Mayor Jay Williams
* Straight Outta Mansfield Trading Liberty for Safety
* Interview Nortech Innovation Award Winner Wyatt Newman of TeamCase
* BFD The CLE- crowd
* CityScape Resurrection of The Flat Iron Cafe
* Ingenious Tom Fello PLUS Betsy Burleigh
* Sounds Releases from Doug Johns and Colin Dussault
* Comment Jeffrey Bowen’s Welcome to New Orleans
* Road Trip The Henry Ford
* RoldoLINK The Audaciousness of Dennis Kucinich
* Interview Jina Gonzalezs/Student & Activist living with HIV/AIDS
* Cool Cleveland Kids podcast click here, CC podcast click here, Brewed Fresh Daily here

Join the club, scroll down, and check out this week’s e-blast. Did you know we had so much culture in Northeast Ohio? Maybe you come to us for the weekly listing of cool happenings: from business events like Creating and Sustaining Communities of Choice to the cornucopia of holiday culture like the Cleveland Play House’s A Christmas Story or convergence-continuum’s Demon Baby. But are you hip to Youngstown’s youngest and first African-American Mayor, Jay Williams? You can get the inside scoop with our profiles of Tommy Fello of Tommy’s on Coventry, conductor Betsy Burleigh, and the resurrection of the Flat Iron Cafe in the Flats, one of our cultural, and culinary landmarks. We recommend you score your tickets now for our own mini culture fest: Cool Cleveland’s Holiday Salsa party on Sat 12/15 with a hot Latin band, food from Mallorca & Brasa, and comp Salsa lessons. Check the mini-vid of Gilberto & Adriana of Tropical Rhythms straight from the dance floor. Your online discount is here. We started adding audio links to our CD reviews: check out new discs by Doug Johns and Colin Dussault’s Blues Project and click to hear samples of local culture for your ears. Roldo marvels at the audaciousness of Dennis Kucinich and Mansfield warns against trading away our liberty for a heightened sense of security. BFD debates culture in the suburban “bubble.” And we’re proud to announce the return of the useful and oh-so-clickable Cool Cleveland Holiday Buying Guide, pointing the way to holiday gifts that are locally produced and that will benefit the Northeast Ohio economy. Join the club. Your culture is just a click away. —Thomas Mulready

Celebrate your holidays Salsa style on 12/15
Hot discount online tix here until midnight 11/29!

Salsa sensation! And you’re invited! Cool Cleveland and Tropical Rhythms are putting on the holiday party of the year. When the needle drops on Sat 12/15 the groove goes something like this: 8-10PM you can enjoy unlimited beer & wine while you explore a sumptuous buffet from the best Downtown chefs at Sunset Lounge, Mallorca & Brasa. Be entertained by a live Latin band, and pose for photos for the CC party page here. But we’re just warming up. At 10PM, partake in complimentary Salsa lessons with the sexiest teachers this side of Rio. Hang out till all hours while the DJ pumps up the dance floor. Take advantage of the unbelievable low discount price if you order online here before the deadline of midnight 11/29. See map & directions here.

You get all this:

  • Sensational party produced by Tropical Rhythms & Cool Cleveland on Saturday, December 15
  • Unlimited Open Bar with beer & wine selection from 8-10PM. Cash bar available with over 40 Martinis & specialty drinks.
  • Live music with Latin band
  • A sensational buffet with Calamari from Mallorca Restaurant, Sushi Rolls from Sunset Lounge, Delicious Shrimp Salad, Antipasto Platter, Spanish sausage & chorizo from Mallorca
  • Complimentary Salsa lessons at 10PM
  • Dancing till all hours with the hottest DJs in the region

Snag discount tix online before midnight Thursday, November 29:

Gilberto Alvarez & Adriana Matos
Tropical Rhythms parties with Cool Cleveland at Sunset Lounge

When Tropical Rhythms and Cool Cleveland decided to get together and offer a holiday party for 2007, they drew on their combined experience of producing literally hundreds of events in the Northeast Ohio area over the past 5 years. Just to give a flavor of the excitement on a Saturday night at Sunset Lounge, we visited with Gilberto Alvarez and Adriana Matos on the dance floor for a quick shout out about the scene, the Latino and international crowd that Tropical Cleveland attracts, and what Cool Cleveland party goers can expect from the upcoming Salsa Sensation party at Sunset Lounge on 12/15 co-produced by both groups. If you’re thinking about attending, discount tickets are available here, and more info, including directions and a map, can be found on the Party Page here. See more great party photos at, and reserve your evening now by clicking here:

Cool Cleveland Kids Podcast Weekly roundup of cool events for kids & families from 11-year-old Cool Cleveland Kids correspondent Max.

Click here to subscribe to the Cool Cleveland Kids Podcast.

Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy will thrill audiences again, back by popular demand, at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall on Thu 11/29 at 7:30PM for one performance only. The non-stop, action-packed, 2-hour spectacle is presented in two acts, exploring the outer reaches of the jungle with seemingly impossible feats of stage, theater, music and athleticism. For more information log on to

HOT Beauty & the Beast You won’t want to miss the Beck Center’s third and final presentation of the critically acclaimed Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. This musical extravaganza of a “tale as old as time” opens Fri 11/30 at 7PM on the Mackey Main Stage and runs through the end of December. Loved by audiences and critics alike, Beauty and the Beast will return featuring the same wonderful actors in the following leading roles: Dan Folino as the Beast, Natalie Green as Belle and Josh R. Noble as Gaston.

Light Up Lakewood! A historic community event on Fri 11/30, residents are invited to gather in downtown Lakewood to kick off the holiday season with a grand lighting ceremony on Detroit Ave., along with a lighting ceremony on the Lakewood Hospital green, live street entertainment and more. And you can ride Lolly the Trolley to get there!

The Nutcracker Ohio Dance Theatre brings a twist to this classic for Lorain County starting Fri 11/30 and running through the weekend. Artistic Director Denise Gula’s breathtaking production of The Nutcracker. A little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. She encounters the frightful King Rat before embarking on a wondrous journey through the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Three performances. Showtimes and directions and details on a very special Sun 12/2 Sugarplum Brunch at

SPONSORED: All Ages Welcome: Modern Masters! It’s Modern Masters Family Day at CMA where you can be a master, too . . . at least for a day! This no charge, no-need-to-sign-up class (drop-ins welcome!) is Sun 12/9 from 1-4PM. Join us and learn about the art of the Modern Masters and create your own masterpieces in two studio workshops: “The Painter’s Craft” and “Cut, Chalk, Collage.” Enjoy a short family tour in the exhibition at 2PM. All ages are welcome! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Come and make art with us!

An Old Fashioned Holiday The merchants of the Willoughby Historic Preservation District hold their annual Holiday Stroll starting Thu 11/29 with a traditional tree lighting ceremony and the arrival of Santa in Wes Point Park in downtown Willoughby at 7PM. The three-day event runs through the weekend; downtown restaurants and merchants will hold a “Holiday Open House,” offering patrons dining specials and refreshments from 5 – 9PM, with store hours running through 9PM as well. Call 440-975-0380 for more info.

Beck Center Children’s Choirs celebrate the holidays with their 15th annual Holiday Harmonies performance Sun 12/2 at 3:30PM. This year, the Performing and Chamber Choirs are presenting an all Renaissance/Baroque program at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lakewood. Lift your hearts and spirits! No cost, open to the public.

HOT Holiday CircleFest Mark your calendars! Holiday CircleFest celebrates its 14th year on Sun 12/2 from 1 – 5:30PM. Holiday CircleFest is University Circle’s annual open house of lights, music, interactive activities, and shopping. More than 20 museums, churches, and institutions open their doors at no charge for this exciting afternoon. Join the crowd on Wade Oval for The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Winter Lights Lantern Festival.

A Christmas Story extravaganza at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel? Believe it. Read
Tri-C “Gigfest” helps students break into the music biz w/ marketable skills. Students graded on production. Read
Ohio Ctr for Broadcasting launches first Hispanic Broadcast training program. Read
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Cool Cleveland Podcast Weekly roundup of cool events.

Click here to subscribe to the Cool Cleveland Podcast.

Your One-Stop Source for Local Gifts, Wares and Sundries

The Holiday Season is HERE, and whether you’re prepared for it or not we here at Cool Cleveland are here to help you think outside the (Big) Box (stores). From Black Friday on, we’ll have a list of local shop owners, purveyors and proprietors to help you support NEO’s artisans, neighborhood Mom & Pop shops and crafty/creative types across the region. Buying local is a smart, equitable and sustainable business practice that helps of support your local economy. This week, we hip you to the Tower Press Holiday Art Sale, Shoparooni, Arborwear, Peace Festival & Holiday Bazaar, Asterisk Gallery’s Art Sale, a 2nd annual Mustard Seed/Ecokiss joint venture, “Sipping” with a Local Girl and soooo much more. We’ve got ya covered! New listings come each week, so bookmark the link below and check back every Wednesday for updates. And be sure to pour through the entire list; there are still plenty of other excellent purveyors you should zero in on. — Peter Chakerian, CC Managing Editor

Click here to start your holiday shopping, CC style!

Send your cool events to:

Cle Hts Housing Market Community Forum Home Repair Resource Center, the Cleveland Heights nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and strengthening the community’s houses to support its rich diversity, will host a community forum on current trends in the housing market during its Annual Meeting Wed 11/28 at 7PM. Cle Hts Community Ctr. To learn more, call 381-6100 or visit

Peter White Jazz Xmas For lovers of smooth jazz, “White Christmas” has a singular meaning… the holiday return of guitarist Peter White and his “Peter White Christmas Tour” for a Wed 11/28 8PM gig at Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre. Jazz cohorts Rick Braun on trumpet, plus sax gal Mindi Abair join White for an evening that spotlights three of contemporary jazz’s top luminaries. Performances will include jazzy versions of seasonal classics, plus original holiday songs.

Reflections Kalliope favorite singers swing into the season in style with a new jazz cabaret starting Wed 11/28. Kalliope Artistic Director Paul Gurgol showcases vocal jazz at its best with tight harmony singing, cool swing, and hot licks. Celebrate the holidays with all-new arrangements of Glen Miller, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and more! Runs through Sat 12/15. Kalliope Stage, Cle Hts — performances are Wed – Sat at 8PM, Sun at 2PM.

SPONSORED: The Importance of Marketing:: a poem from thunder::tech:: Marketing mat::ters / From small ads to large billboards / Get your name out there. Okay, so it’s not the most poetic haiku. It’s a little more.utilitarian, but it’s true. Marketing mat::ters. From your email template to your website, from your press release to your event planning. It’s all around you, and it’s all important. We know it can be overwhelming, and we want to help you out. Stop by the site, give us a call: . 216.391.2255

Creating and Sustaining Communities of Choice: Cleveland’s Strategic Investment Initiative features keynoter Ben Hecht, CEO of Living Cities, looking at national and local efforts to increase the vitality of cities and urban neighborhoods and improve the lives of people who live there. A local panel will highlight the work of Neighborhood Progress. 523-7330 or register here.

Wine In The Holidays …and Beer! Visit “Cleveland’s Suburb in the City” on Thu 11/29 from 6-9PM for a stroll through a huge assortment of holiday wreaths, poinsettias and evergreens, miniature trains, wine, beer, and loads of fun at Kamm’s Corners. Reserve now at 252-6559 X100, and view their photo gallery here.

Lynn Powell & Stephen Haven authors of The Zones of Paradise and Long Silence of the Mohawk Carpet Smokestacks, respectively, will read and sign books at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Rd. in Cle Hts on Thu 11/29 at 7PM. 321-2665

HOT Carl Pope The conceptual artist known for his public art projects, will discuss his recent work, including the engaging The Mind of Cleveland project’, on Thu 11/29 at 4:30PM. Part of the Baker-Nord Cityscape series. Wolstein Research Building (Auditorium), 2103 Cornell Rd. Visit”’ or call 368-8961 for info.

Machinal Cleveland State University’s Factory Theater presents the play by Sophie Treadwell starting Thu 11/29 at 8PM. A 1928 Broadway hit, Machinal traces the dark, downward spiral of a young woman trapped by the machine of a patriarchal society. Her life is dictated by the rituals of modern life, leading her into mindless labor, loveless marriage and unwanted motherhood. Directed by Holly Holsinger, CSU assistant professor of dramatic arts. Performances run 11/29-30, 12/1-2 and 12/6-9.

A Christmas Story Quickly becoming a Cleveland classic, live on the Bolton Stage, Philip Grecian’s stage adaptation of the cool Cleveland-centric film, complete with Red Ryder 200-Shot Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle and the “triple-dog-dare” at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Ave, opens Fri 11/30 thru 12/23. 795.7000 x236

SPONSORED: Have an Idea with High-Growth Potential? Then check out JumpStart Inc., Northeast Ohio’s venture development organization that provides funding and business assistance to high-growth potential ideas in Northeast Ohio. We are looking for entrepreneurs with the next big idea that can help grow our economy. Whatever industry you are in, if your idea has the potential to generate $30 to $50 million in revenue within 5 to 7 years we want to hear from you! Visit JumpStart to learn more about our Investment Process and submit an Advise Request to see if your idea fits our investment criteria. Visit

HOT Ascherman: Bodies 1967 – 2007 Cleveland’s premier portrait photographer is establishing himself as a major art photographer; explore the depth in his works on display starting Fri 11/30 from 6:30-9:30PM and running through mid-Feb 08. From Severance Hall musicians to Holocaust survivors, he has recorded the public face of Cleveland’s cultural and artistic world. Ascherman unveils four decades of exploring human sexuality in all its fascinating variety. Corcoran Fine Arts Gallery, 13210 Shaker Square.

Monsters of Bass The Winchester hosts this thumping show Fri 11/30 at 9:30PM. The Monsters of Bass features Doug Johns, Jo Sallins and Bill Clementes. Clementes is known as the “one armed bass player.” Johns is a local who is best known for his work with Neil Zaza. Victor Wooten guests on Doug’s current CD release, reviewed by Peter Chakerian in this week’s Cool Cleveland. 12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood.

Over the Rhine Over the Rhine is comprised of the husband-and-wife team of bassist/pianist/guitarist Linford Detweiler and vocalist/guitarist Karin Bergquist, who originally met in Canton while attending Malone College. The band’s namesake and place of origin is the Cincinnati neighborhood Over-the-Rhine. Having opened for the likes of Bob Dylan, they have toured as adjunct members of Cowboy Junkies and tour in support of their latest effort, The Trumpet Child., Check them out Fri 11/30 at 8PM. Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St., Kent.

Tinsley Ellis CD release party from this vaunted bluesman who “sings like a man possessed and wields a mean lead guitar” at 9PM on Fri 11/30 at Wilberts, 812 Huron Rd. E. 902-4663

stonecoldbikini on ice Skate to the sounds of indie rock and pop as Christine Hahn, dj of stonecoldbikini on WRUW for 7 years spins at the Cleveland Heights Community Center Ice Rink on Fri 11/30 from 9:30-11:30PM. All ages. 403-9548

Toy Drive con Salsa… a Holiday Fiesta Come out and get your groove on with national recording artist La Krema and help with a toy drive to help support the community Fri 11/30 at 9PM. Live bachata, merengue and salsa dancing are part of the fun; get half-off the cover charge if you bring a children’s toy. Bright up a local child’s holidays and get a little fun in return. Proper attire required. Club Silk, next to Shooters in the Flats. Call 443-1111 for details.

Light Up Lakewood We loooove it when cities shut down their streets, even if it’s just for a night! Stroll along Detroit Avenue from Marlowe to Arthur for the annual lighting ceremony, Santa & Friends at Lakewood Hospital, and participate in family activities, entertainment, refreshments & more on Fri 11/30 from 6-8PM

HOT Alex Ross The brilliant music critic for The New Yorker, will be in Cle on Fri 11/30 at 6:30PM to give a talk/iPod lecture at Cleveland Museum of Art. His new book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century is a nourishing book that reads like a sprawling, intense novel and should revive interest in music you might have fallen out of touch/favor with.

Rock Nativity An upbeat, energetic story-within-a-story by the Geauga Lyric Theater Guild, opening on Fri 11/30 at 8PM thru 12/16, 440-285-7701

Demon Baby Closing it’s 2007 season, convergence-continuum presents the regional premiere of Demon Baby, the perfect antidote for those sick of the holidays. A yuppie American couple relocates to London and while the husband becomes upwardly mobile, the wife retreats until she is visited by a demon baby in the form of a garden gnome, urging her on to comic and surreal attempts at seduction and a near-fatal game of pinata, opening Fri 11/30 at the Limnis, 2438 Scranton. 687-0074

SPONSORED: The popular national radio show From the Top is coming to Cleveland as part of the celebration of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s new Mixon Hall. A program in the series, heard on WCLV, Saturdays at 5:00 PM, will be recorded on Friday, December 14 at 8:00 PM. Host Christopher O’Riley will shine the spotlight on some of the top young musicians from the Cleveland area and beyond. Tickets for Mixon Hall are sold out, but $10 tickets are available for a live video feed in Kulas Hall. Call 216 791 5000 X411 or on line at

Building the Kin-dom: Praying the Earth Charter Allow Paula Gonzalez, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, to lead you in a day of reflection to explore the Earth Charter, a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society for the 21st century, from 9AM to noon on Sat 12/1 at River’s Edge at St. Joseph Center, 3430 Rocky River Dr. 688-1111 x251

HOT Bazaar Bizarre The fourth annual event takes place in downtown Cle Sat 12/1 from noon to 9PM. This year they’re in a new venue, the Sincere Building, located at the corner of E. 4th and Prospect (2079 E. 4th ). This handcrafted DIY wares and an offbeat entertainment extravaganza drops right near Lola, the Corner Alley and all kinds of downtown fun.

Cavani String Quartet Master Class This divine expression of inspiration takes place at the Cleveland Institute of Music on Sat 12/1 at 5PM. CIM’s Quartet-in-Residence coaches select high school string quartets.

True Value Vintage The Pop Shop Gallery in Lakewood offers its 3rd annual show dedicated to toys, video games, and childhood memories Sat 12/1 from 1 – 4PM and 6 – 9PM. Show sponsors include Big Fun, DD Design and Mullens Bar (next to the gallery) which hosts the after-party that evening.

Old River Walk Stroll Rocky River’s beautiful Shops of Old River and identify the windows with each of the 12 Days of Christmas to win prizes and raise money for Rocky River Assistance Program, providing food & clothing to those in need, on Sat 12/1 from 11AM to 5PM. 440-333-8885.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult 20th Anniversary 20 years ago, this electronic/industrial band played their first Cleveland show at the Phantasy Nite Club. The Chicago luminaries — who along with Ministry, Revolting Cocks and KMFDM revolutionized rock and paved the way for Mr. Reznor — return Sat 12/1 for what’s sure to be a high-powered set.

Colors in Movement La Cachette Gallery, a collaboration between Bo Artist Representation and Cuffs Clothing, presents its upcoming winter exhibition Maria Bertrán and Walter Sauermann: Colors in Movement starting with an Opening Reception with the artists Sat 12/1 from 4 – 8PM. Bertrán spends more than half of the year painting on location in various parts of the world, particularly the south of France; Sauermann is anchored in Normandy.

Requiem April 24 by Composer-in-Residence Loris O. Chobanian, on the Turkish massacre of Armenians, composed for voices, organ and timpani, with text sung in Armenian from a collection of poems by Haigouhi Seropian, a longtime friend of Chobanian. Also on the program: Kaddish for a Young Artist, which commemorating the Holocaust, sung in Aramaic with B-W senior voice major Benjamin Greenfield, baritone soloist. Sat 12/1 at 8PM at Baldwin-Wallace College’s Kulas Musical Arts Building, 96 Front St., Berea. 440-826-2322

SPONSORED: Attention Hockey Fans: Discount Tix Wear a mullet wig, see the Hanson Brothers (from the movie Slap Shot) in person, watch Monsters take on Phantoms (from Philadelphia, no less!), and smack a puck at the goal on the ice at the Q in United Way’s “Rink of Dreams.” Hockey heaven? Almost. Pro hockey returns to Cleveland as the Lake Erie Monsters bring American Hockey League action to town at Quicken Loans Arena. Welcome our new AHL hockey team in its inaugural season, get discount tickets and help United Way of Greater Cleveland — all at the same time. No way? Way! Click it and believe it. Download ticket order form here or order tickets online here.

Luck Be A Lady The songs of Frank Loesser are celebrated by hosts Bill Rudman and Nancy Maier with vocalists Fabio Polanco and Helen Welch Sun 12/2 at 2PM. The show reflects The Mandel JCC Arts & Culture program’s interest in presenting works included in the Great Jewish American Songbook, which was begun in the Project’s inaugural season four years ago. Tri-C East Performing Arts Center. Tickets.

HOT Journeys In December, the Panorama Film Series at The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) presents Journeys. Four new films, beginning with Daniel Gordon’s Crossing the Line on Sun 12/2 at 1:30PM, take the viewer on four journeys – from America to North Korea, from Poland to Italy, from 19th century France to 19th century Japan, and from here to eternity. Aside from Line, experience Primo Levi’s Journey, Forever and Silk. on subsequent evenings during the month of December. All four films are Cleveland premieres… and don’t forget to look into advance previews of The Kite Runner and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd this month, too!

America: Fascinatin’ Rhythms with Renowned pianist Jeffrey Siegel, joined by the Cleveland State University Wind Ensemble, performing music of American greats, from patriotic tunes of Gottschalk to jazzy blues of Gershwin to music of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Scott Joplin, at this 20th Anniversary Gala Concert on Fri 12/2 at 3PM, presented by The Center for Arts and Innovation at CSU. 687-5018

Come Out of the Cold On Sun 12/2 at 7:30PM, relish the warmth and beauty of holiday choral music at its best. Enjoy compositions by Ramirez, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Handel and Lauridsen as performed by the Kent Chorus and the Kent State University Women’s Chorus. Featured soloists include Timothy Culver and Alex May. KSU Auditorium in Carol Cartwright Hall. Proceeds benefit the Kent Choral Society Scholarship Fund.

SPONSORED: Do You Know about the Vespers? Families looking for a place to enjoy holiday cheer can visit the Lake Erie College campus Sun 12/2 at 4:30PM in the Morley Music Hall for the annual “Holiday Vespers” program. The program features student and faculty performers, presentations by various musical ensembles and a holiday sing-along. Holiday Vespers is one of the oldest traditions of the College, dating back to the early 1900s. The pageantry is still presented in its original format dating back to the programs that used to occur every Sunday on campus. There is no admission fee and the program is open to the public. Doors open at 4PM. For more information, contact Paul Gothard at 440.375.7030 or

Deck the House Providence House, Ohio’s first and only licensed crisis nursery, ushers in the holiday season with its 12th Annual “Deck the House” – a benefit auction for the babies on Tue 12/4 at 5PM. The evening includes live & silent auctions and the presentation of the NFL “Ed Block Courage Award” by Cleveland Browns 2006 recipient, Phil Dawson. Cleveland Browns Stadium/City View Lounge. call 651-5982 for more information.

Art Takes a Bough Regional artisans and Geauga Council for Arts & Culture present holiday-themed music & refreshments, and bidding on artist-crafted ornaments, plus a children’s art show on Tue 12/4 from 6:30-8:30PM at Big Creek Park, 9160 Robinson Rd., Chardon

Winchester 5th Anniversary with Wishbone Ash Check out “the west side’s premier live music venue” for this special 5th Anniversary show with Wishbone Ash, who put out 1972’s “Best British Album of the Year” according to Melody Maker, on Wed 12/5 at 9PM, with drink specials, giveaways, and a general spirit of celebration. Winchester, 12112 Madison Ave, Lakewood 226-5681

Nature Preserve at Dike 14 Come hear the Results of the Brownfields Environmental Assessment by the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District on Wed 12/5 from 5-6:30PM at Cleveland Lakefront State Park, 8701 Lakeshore Blvd NE, and on Thu 12/6 from 6:30-8PM at St. Phillip Neri Church, 799 E. 82nd St.

SPONSORED: A Red Solstice: Vivaldi Meets “A Christmas Story” on Sat 12/8 at the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Tremont and on Sun 12/9 at St. Stanislaus Church in Slavic Village. As a follow up to their critically acclaimed season opener, Red promises to dazzle and delight with this special and unusual holiday program, “A Red Solstice.” This concert features the works of two remarkable Italian composers and a special arrangement by Red Artistic Director/Conductor Jonathan Sheffer of Heinrich Schutz’s “A Christmas Story,” with soloists Soprano Jeun Eun Oh and Countertenor Andrew Lippian, and a chorus prepared by David Gooding. A special highlight will be a bracing performance of Vivaldi’s “Winter” from “The Four Seasons,” performed by local teen violin virtuoso Caroline Goulding. Tickets start at $15. Contact 261.361.1733 or

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A hot selection of tech and business news & events from around the region. Got business news? Send it to:

Interns for Entrepreneurs “Recruiting Interns for Small & High Growth Business” seminar Wed 11/28 at 7:30AM. Corp College E. feat. Keynote Speaker, Sandy Crocker. Click.
John M. Stropki Chairman, President and CEO of Lincoln Electric is Leadership B’fast spkr Fri 11/30. Visit to register or call 361-3100.
Join the Web Assoc. for food, drinks, bowling, & fun on Tue 12/4 at the private, 1st-level bar of The Winking Lizard/Lakewood.
Digital Solutions Seminar from the AAAA/AAF Tue 12/4. Act fast, slots limited! Read.
ODOD Town Hall Meeting for Minority Business Owners Wed 12/5 at 6PM. Akron MCBAP, Akron Urban League, 440 Vernon Odom Blvd., Akron. Call 800-848-1300, ext. 2-8254 to register.

A Conversation with Y-town Mayor Jay Williams
On Regionalism, Cleveland Plus and more…

A Youngstown native, Jay Williams produced a watershed political event in November 2005, becoming the city’s first African American mayor, and youngest, elected at age 34. He’s also the first Independent candidate to win the Mayoral seat in 80 years. Williams is a modest man, eagerly sharing the spotlight when discussing the city’s continual, international accolades for its visionary Youngstown 2010 Plan. The city was the recipient of the 2007 National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach from the American Planning Association (APA). At its height in the 20th century, Youngstown was a thriving population of 170,000, and third largest Steel-producing region in the country. Now a town of 80,000 people, the city is embracing its smaller size, and reinventing itself with Creative Shrinkage methods. Earlier this month, Mayor Williams was in Boston, to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award. The honor acknowledges one civilian and one elected official, under the age of 40, who are changing their communities and country with their commitment to public service. As a Gen Xer, he’s attuned to Social Networking media and blogs to communicate with his constituents, adding to his 21st century leadership approach.

Cool Cleveland: Can true regionalism be achieved without racial harmony?

Mayor Williams: No. Racial “harmony” may be the wrong word. Racial Unity opponents will always exist, opting instead for their extreme positions. There will always be a need for cross-pollination of empathic perspectives. “Mutual understanding” might be a better descriptive term.

What do you consider to be Youngstown’s three biggest assets?

For a city of our scope and size, we have a competitive Arts and Cultural community. Whether it’s the Butler Institute of American Art, the McDonough Museum, or Powers Auditorium, etc., we offer accessible, affordable arts and culture. We also have authentic Italian cuisine, equaling that of Italy. Our Mill Creek Metro Park System rivals the size of New York City’s Central Park. It’s a lifeline through the city of Youngstown and many of the suburban communities. You won’t find a harder working group of people than here in Youngstown. Sure, we have our quirks and idiosyncracies like anyone else, but we’re authentic. When people from Youngstown and Mahoning Valley migrate elsewhere, they always seem to find one another. This is a city with a rich, proud past, who’s experienced some difficult times. In my mind, there isn’t a more exciting place to be, than in a city re-establishing and refining itself…
Read more from Tim Zaun here

Trading Liberty for Safety

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” — Benjamin Franklin

Boston police — in a program called “Safe Homes” (that someone is sure to suggest be tried in cities that have been plagued by violence like Cleveland) — have launched an initiative that will ask parents in high-crime neighborhoods to allow police to come into their homes and search their children’s bedrooms for guns… without warrants.

The logic behind the program is that these parents are so afraid of their children getting caught up in gun violence they’ll temporarily trade their liberty — their protection under the Constitution against searches of their homes without a warrant — for perceived security. Before even getting to the question of the loss of civil liberties, the question of “why don’t parents just search their children’s rooms themselves?” has to be answered. This was the “Duh!” response I got from a high-ranking officer on the Cleveland Police Department when I asked him what he thought about the Boston program…

Read more from Mansfield Frazier here

Wyatt Newman

Wyatt Newman, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Case Western Reserve University, and studied mechatronics, robotics, and computational intelligence, making him the perfect scientist to build the perfect beast. He is the team leader from TeamCase, partnering with area corporations like Goodyear, Roadway, NASA and National Instruments, along and with a multi-disciplinary crew from Case, including folks in computer science, aerospace, physics, biology, and neuroscience to build DEXTER, a bio-inspired full-scale robotic self-driving vehicle. Not a remote control car like you buy at Radio Shack, this baby competed in the DARPA Urban Challenge (, where unmanned vehicles that are totally unplugged get a mission: the car must drive itself to five different locations, all by itself. In the end, TeamCase ranked in the Top 20 against teams like Honeywell and Ford. They’ll be on the Discovery Channel in February, but Cool Cleveland’s Thomas Mulready stopped Newman long enough to talk for a bit after his team won a NorTech Innovation Award. They discuss the current challenge: much of the hardware, sensors and vehicle construction for robot cars are mature and fairly standardized; the hard part is endowing a computer brain with some common sense and decision making ability. How can biologists help? Newman and Mulready talk about what TeamCase is learning from everything from birds and reptiles to cockroaches, moths and sea slugs.

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This week’s most active post on, run by Cool Cleveland’s George Nemeth,

A preview of Jennifer Keirn’s column gets the discussion going. Here’s an excerpt:

Let’s call this the Cleveland Minus crowd, the suburbanite family that has allowed their world to narrow and a bubble to grow around them, staying safe and content inside a 10-mile radius of their home. It’s a nasty little side effect of suburban parenting. One day you’re a hip, happening single or DINK, clued in on all the city’s hot spots and the next you’re knee deep in diapers and barely able to make it out of the house to get to the grocery store in any given week…

A few of the 40+ comments:

* I think it is silly to bash the ‘bubble.’ In my younger days used to be guilty of regularly deriding my suburban comrades from my commanding urban heights. It was very arrogant of me to believe my no television, Coltrane sound tracked, gallery walking, NPR’ed lifestyle was superior to the burbs. It took a gay couple I know adopting a child and moving to .8 acers of track housing to be humbled… comment by Adam Brandon

* I didn’t interpret her piece as an urb vs. burb thing…just that when you have kids, your world gets a little smaller because it’s more of a hassle to pack up the kids and haul them around. I don’t have kids but most of my friends do, and I remember too that my sister and I *hated* riding in the car for more than 5 minutes (especially together!) comment by Christine Borne

* I thought she did a good job showing how hard it is to maintain connections to the vitality of cities when you opt for the burbs. I think it’s a reality. People should live where they want but I also think a sprawling suburbia affects Cleveland. comment by Carole Cohen

* I just don’t think that you can or should lump everyone into the same box. Alexis was at GLBC sitting in the new patio at 3 weeks old, her first venture out (and then to the Bier Markt). She has been walked up and down Tremont, even when there isn’t an Art Walk. Was at the Dew Games and then Ingenuity Fest. She attended her first fundraiser in Slavic Village (not an NHSGC event) at 3 months. Oh, and we were really bad parents for taking her to the annual Zone aids awareness fundraiser at the Parkview in the car seat. Sure we walk a ton in the confines of Rocky River, eat at Herb’s way too often, and have breakfast almost every Sunday at First Watch, but this little girl (now 15 months) is going to know about a lot of things outside and inside of the bubble. comment by Lou Tisler

* It’s not about where you live. It’s a matter of choice. I grew up in the West Park area, bought my first home there, and sold it four years later to take advantage of a too-good-to-pass-up deal on a home in Bay Village. But I have worked in or near downtown for nearly 30 years, and when my kids were young they were no strangers to downtown or the various resources in University Circle. There are indeed people in ‘burbs all around town who are simply unaware of what’s available, or are unwilling to travel beyond a self-imposed comfort zone. That’s their choice. It’s a bad choice, but it’s a choice. Still, while hauling kids around is indeed a hassle, I don’t buy that as an excuse for not exposing kids to the Circle or anything else in the city. The Circle’s just not far away. comment by Bob Rhubart

Got something to say about it? Do that here

SPONSORED: We know that today, like every day, 6,000 children worldwide will lose their parents to HIV/AIDS. We know that HIV/AIDS is pandemic-it is in Africa, but it is also here in Cleveland, affecting our friends, families, and community. This year, you can make a difference for individuals living with HIV/AIDS right here in Northeast Ohio. Help the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland offer a holiday meal and presents to 300 low-income families who are living with HIV/AIDS. A gift of $25 helps one individual with HIV/AIDS; $100 helps a family of four. Make a difference at

Resurrection of The Flat Iron Cafe

Saturday November 17 stands as a day of resurrection, so to speak. The grand reopening of the upstairs bar and restaurant area of the old Flat Iron Café was reopened after it was nearly destroyed by fire. Spirits and voices were raised in celebration of the event, like welcoming an old friend back from the dead. It could just as easily been a wake.

On Labor Day weekend this year, fire broke out in the restaurant’s main office. Investigation proved that the fire was electrical in nature and was confined to the second floor. Quick work by the Cleveland Fire Department saved the landmark from total destruction. Current owner Dan Brennan, vowed to rebuild and reopen as soon as possible and made good on his promise, reopening the first floor in just ten days, the upstairs just last Saturday night. The old café has proved to be as tough as its Irish heritage…

Read more from Ernie Papp here

Links to interesting NEO blogs

Sounding like a cranky old man Christine Borne compiles a list of career advice for her future-children.
Mittal Steel decorates their toxin-belching smokestacks with a star.
Cleveland has the highest proportion of children under 6 with elevated blood lead levels, according to a recent article in USA Today.
The Thanksgiving holiday is ruined by the revolting attention that the media pays to the retail industry.
Wal-Mart rejects 5,700+ job seekers in Cleveland.
OneCommunity lands $11.2M FCC grant to extend community network coverage for health care services.

The Incomparable “Tommy” Fello

Tommy’s Restaurant, the anchor of Coventry Village which has dishes named after some of the customers, exists in no small part because people wanted it. Tom Fello, owner of Tommy’s and the so-called “mayor of Coventry Village,” will give an in-person anecdote-packed history of Coventry Village on Saturday December 1. The event is part of the ongoing “Celebration of Coventry” held by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland at 2728 Lancashire Road, around the corner from the restaurant; starting at 8 p.m. Admission is $15 for one person, $25 for two.

In 1967, when he was 16-years-old, Tommy started working as a soda jerk at Ace’s Drug Store in Coventryard at Coventry Rd. and Euclid Heights Blvd. Soon the establishment became the Fine Arts Confectionary who’s only dining was done at a 7-stool soda counter.

When he started on the street, Coventry wasn’t known as a village. Its crumbling apartment houses were filled with DPs, displaced persons who came to the United States after World War II. Instead of stylish tattoos on skin that one can encounter going to the Grog Shop in today’s Coventryard, many residents sported concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms in Europe.

The neighborhood had wholesale outlets, cobblers, upholsters, kosher butchers, kosher eggs, a stand for Yiddish newspapers, antique stores and Coventry Poultry, where you could purchase your choice of chicken that was hand-slaughtered for you. And shlogn kapores (aka kaparot) was performed in the parking lot out back during the Jewish high holy days. (Kaparot is a ritual practiced by some orthodox Jews where a chicken is waved over the head of someone to help atone for any sins they may have committed.)

The Fine Arts Confectionary was owned by a Lebanese family and Fello, of Italian descent, became proficient at making falafel and other Middle Eastern dishes. The customers, who by 1968 included many hippies, called it Tommy’s.

In 1972, with the help of his family, Tommy purchased the confectionary and the establishment officially became Tommy’s Restaurant. In 1977, the lease ran out on the restaurant and there was difficulty with the landlord. “The neighborhood rallied around us,” said Fello.

A party was held at the Heights Art Theatre, (now a sports bar with “Ohio’s Largest (projection) Screen”), where 700 people signed a petition advocating to save Tommy’s and a march was held in September 1977 to Cleveland Heights City Hall (then located on the north side of Mayfield Rd. where Motorcars International now stands).

A parking variance was needed for Tommy’s to reopen. The city council chamber was packed with loyal Tommy’s customers at a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. Coventry Beverage and Pizza, a competitor located on the east side of Coventry Rd. collected 12 signatures on a petition against Tommy’s reopening.

In early 1978, while the new Tommy’s was being built, Coventryard burned down in a terrific fire. In April 1978 Tommy’s reopened where Mac’s Backs Paperback Books is now. Fello was asked if he would open more than one restaurant. He affirmed his allegiance to the neighborhood by replying, “I told my staff to hit me over the head with a baseball bat if I tried to open a second location.”

In November 1988 fire burned out two merchants north of Tommy’s and part of the restaurant. For several years, Coventry Cats, High Tide Rock Bottom and Tommy’s all shared the space of the current-day restaurant, *the former Coventry Books), and the unburned part of Tommy’s. “It was so tight that the customers shared tables with each other. To my knowledge three couples that later married met while sharing tables,” he said.

Unknown to Tommy, vagrants moved into burned out parts of the building. On Christmas Eve 1989 a burglar alarm went off and police called Tommy. They found all the outside doors locked and no apparent place of entry. Then they discovered the vagrants living in burned out squallier upstairs. They were stealing food from Tommy’s.

With help from the City of Cleveland Heights and some Federal financing, several merchants purchased the building in 1992. The building needed extensive rehabilitation from the foundation to the roof. In May 1993 Tommy’s, once again reopened—this time at the current location. On opening day someone quipped, “It looks like a wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art.”

In 1997, Tommy’s, known for its healthy offering start using non-hydrogenated canola oil made from the Rapeseed. And it is among the first restaurants in the Cleveland area to supply cooking oil used for bio-diesel. “We use to pay for the used cooking oil to be taken away,” he said. Now every week diesel-powered Mercedes pull up to the used oil tank in the back and pump up.

The merchants no longer own the building, which was purchased by an east-coast concern a couple years ago. Because of this Fello is no long a property owner and can no longer be president of the Coventry Village Special Improvement District.

Have you ever wondered who your favorite salad or sandwich was named after? How the eclectic community that is Coventry came to be? Tommy watched it all happen. Tommy Fello started out as a 15 year old soda jerk who learned to make falafel from his Lebanese boss. In 1972 he started his own restaurant, the heartbeat of the neighborhood. He named his unique concoctions after neighborhood heroes and, for one rare night only, he’ll take off his apron and come out from behind the grill to tell stories. Come and meet the man who made the scene in “Tommy! Can We Hear You?” on Saturday, December 1 at 8PM at the UUSC, 2728 Lancashire, Cleveland Hts. Email for additional details. Tickets are available at Mac’s Backs Paperback Books, 1820 Coventry Rd. Call 321-2665 for details.

From Cool Cleveland contributor Lee Batdorff

Photo by Janet Century

A Conversation with Betsy Burleigh, Conductor

“It was such an eerie feeling, really. I felt like I was coming home to a place I’d never lived before, when I moved to Cleveland.” Betsy Burleigh had lived in many places but never Northeast Ohio before she came here in 1994 as a professor at Cleveland State University. “My Mom grew up in Euclid, and went to Baldwin-Wallace. But it’s been a real home for me. I love living by the Lake (n.b. curiously enough named Erie) on the Cleveland side of the Cleveland/Euclid border.”

Cleveland is indeed a mecca for music people, no doubt about it. So, there’s another connection. Asked when she first thought of becoming a musician, she smiles and says, “There was never a moment in my life that I didn’t think I’d be a musician. Never. Not one.” She nods her head for emphasis.

“Mom was a singer, in fact, she gave a recital while she was carrying me,” Betsy says with a grin. “We had a piano in our home, and my family was always very encouraging and supportive. Nobody ever asked, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to do something else? I’m so grateful to have been so clear on my wants and wishes in that regard.” Family was Mom and Dad (who worked for Goodyear) and a younger brother who is now a businessman, plus Dad to Betsy’s five nieces and nephews. In addition to piano, she played oboe, but was not unhappy to give it up in favor of choral conducting. “Reeds.” She shakes her head sadly. “Making reeds. They’re the bane of every oboist’s life.”

One of the advantages (?) to Dad’s career was that Goodyear shipped him and family here, there and everywhere for a number of years, when Betsy and her brother were younger. “We lived in many places. I was born in Vermont, and then, a few years later, we moved back to New England again. Vermont still feels a bit like home. Probably the most interesting place we lived was New Delhi, India. We were there for two years, and after that came my second time in Ohio. It was a small town in the western part – St. Mary’s – where the entire high school was maybe 900 students. I was principal oboe in the school band, but there really weren’t too many opportunities, considering.”

“From there, we went to the other end of the spectrum. My last two years in high school were at Homewood-Flossmoor, in a suburb of Chicago. Here, each class had 900 students. The arts were really strong at H-F, which was more than a little bit intimidating for a new student at age 16.”

“But it was great! The choir was wonderful. Every year, it was divided into two groups, and each of these groups would then choose two student conductors. All four would compete against each other in a friendly competition.” Even though she was chosen for each of her two years there, she didn’t win, “but the experience was the important thing.”

It was a logical path then, to attend the Indiana University at Bloomington, where Betsy was allowed to sit in on master’s or doctoral level classes. Her teachers comprise a ‘who’s who?’ of world-renowned choral conductors: Margaret Hillis, Robert Shaw (each of whom also once conducted The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus), Helmut Rilling. “There were seminars on score study with Julius Herford, who was Shaw’s teacher!” Betsy is still a tad incredulous at that bit of good fortune. “It was such great exposure to just watch all of them, and I learned so much by observation,” she adds.

She decided to take some time to gain more experience before going on for higher degrees, so she taught at a high school in Indianapolis for a year, taking on four choruses. Then it was on to the New England Conservatory for her Masters. All told, she stayed in Boston for nine years, conducting a very small choir there, the Cambridge Madrigal Singers. “It was a volunteer choir, including me — no pay — but we’re all still going strong.,” Betsy adds, with a smile. “There was Tufts, and MIT, and the Mastersingers, a 40 voice volunteer choir which I conducted in the huge B Minor Mass of J. S. Bach.” And then it was back to IU for her doctorate, and even more teaching experience.

Of course, in the middle of all this, Cleveland called. There was a position available at Cleveland State University, and she could still continue her own studies for her Doctorate. In addition to the post at CSU, when she first came here, she assisted (then assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus) Gareth Morell with a chamber choir at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. Between then and now, she’s also been director of the Choral Arts Society in Cleveland Heights; the Choruses for both the Akron and Canton Symphonies, the Cleveland Opera Chorus. In 1999 or so, she became an Assistant Director of Choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra, which led into the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus.

Of course, that’s not all!

In 2000, Betsy received the Northern Ohio Live Achievement Award in the category of Classical Music/Opera for conducting Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis at Cleveland Public Theater. “It was,” she says, “a ‘meant-to-be’ project. Everything worked the way it was supposed to, and it was truly a pleasure to be part of it. Another item in that category is this past summer’s production of A Little Night Music for Opera Cleveland. Stage Director Paul Gurgol and I were there for all the auditions, and we each had an equal voice.”

“But then,” she goes on to add, “I love the music of Steven Sondheim. I’d do anything of his in a heart-beat!” She readily admits to having somewhat mixed emotions about opera conducting on a regular basis. “I’d really like to do more of it, but it’s sometimes hard enough to get people to sound good just standing still, in concert. But on stage – when you add in movement and costumes and all that . . .”

Her voice dwindles away. “Still, having fallen in love with the magic of theater I would like to do more of it. The 20th century repertoire – maybe some chamber things, or one acts.” She grins. “After all, I’ve not really been in the opera world long enough to be able to command bigger, older standards. I have to wait for my turn at it. But, since I’m relatively new to the opera world, I’d like to think that newer works would make a logical pairing.”

All in all, living in Cleveland has been a fabulous experience. “To live by a lake—” She gazes out her office window. “I have truly great respect for my colleagues here at CSU. It’s small enough to be personal. All the classes are faculty taught. We have such a great faculty, including Cleveland Orchestra members and busy professionals from other organizations and genres as well. The faculty is nurturing for students and it has been for me, as well. This kind of ‘non-threatening place’ atmosphere is really important for undergrads. There is so much great music in the area, it’s truly a wonderful place to work.”

Last year saw another upward movement in Betsy’s career. The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh is an independent chorus that also sings with the Pittsburgh Symphony. It had been directed by former Cleveland Orchestra Chorus leader Robert Page for nearly a quarter of a century. When he announced his impending retirement, Betsy—by now Dr. Burleigh, having achieved her Doctorate from IU-B in 2003—auditioned, and was awarded the position.

Once a week (other than concert weeks) she drives the 2¼ hours to Pittsburgh for rehearsals. “I like the driving,” she says, “but concert weekends can be tough. I lose valuable time I could be doing something else. I can make phone calls, but of course, no writing or detailed listening. It’s such pretty scenery – altogether a terrific experience. It’s a great chorus, with a strong tradition. After all, there’s only one Bob Page. But they were very open and welcoming to me.” In 2008, the Mendelssohn will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary with a special concert. Betsy adds, “I once heard Bob Page do Elijah, (a great oratorio composed by Felix Mendelssohn) when he was here in Cleveland, and adding that to his great 23-year history there, it seemed only fitting to have him conduct this special concert next April.

There are also four CSU choral concerts each school year, featuring the two groups she leads there. The Chorale is for more advanced singers, who are selected through auditions. The CSU Chorus is more open, with less stringent requirements for membership. The last concert of each school year also features the CSU orchestra, when Betsy shares conducting duties with Victor Liva of the conducting faculty. This year’s concert on April 24, features Grammy winner, pianist Angelin Chang.

Our conversation comes back to American Musical Theater. “I think,” she says, reflectively, “that 150 years from now, music historians and teachers will say the music of Broadway and ‘Tin Pan Alley’ of the 30s, 40s and 50s were ‘the great additions’ to the repertoire. They’re very operatic—for instance, the overture and Billy Bigelow’s Soliloquy in Carousel. These are really great classics of American Musical Theater. I’d love to do almost anything by Gershwin, Kern, Rogers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Sondheim . . .” Not particularly athletic, still she’d leap at the chance to do any of them!

Next week Monday, December 3, at 7:30 pm in Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State, a program of Seasonal Repertoire will be presented by the CSU Chorus and Chorale, conducted by Betsy Burleigh and the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus prepared by its conductor, Frank Bianchi, with accompanist/organist William Shaffer assisting. The featured work will be Rejoice in the Lamb by Benjamin Britten for choral forces and organ. There is no admission charge, and parking is free in the adjacent garage.

For information about the music program at Cleveland State University, visit the web-site. Nearly all performances are listed on their performance calendar ( and many are free and open to the public, as is the parking. Amazing value. Call 687-5010 for further information.

From Cool Cleveland contributor Kelly Ferjutz

Doug Johns
Doug Johns

Cleveland bassist Doug Johns is an absolute monster at his craft. With a foot stompin’ combination of funk, jazz, R&B and fusion styles, Johns has taken the prototypical funk genre to levels beyond expectation – both with a queue of recent live dates and with his self-titled release as well. Sporting shades of everything from Tower of Power and George Duke, to the Brecker Brothers, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, and Bootsy Collins, Johns’ 17 expertly conceived cuts are as masterful as they are a delight to listen to.

Johns is a true virtuoso, with a flashy technique of “circular phrasings” and buoyant rolling and slapping is at once overly caffeinated, fluid and chock full of overt sexual swagger. Flashy horn arrangements, Hammond B-3 organ and syncopated drumming back up Johns’ diverse tuneful oeuvre. And if the set opener “Pimpasaurus Rex” doesn’t instantly win you over – inspiring head bopping, that blissful overbite, etc. – then you’ve probably assumed room temperature. Johns, drummer Chris Ceja and Buddy Miles’ B-3 player Mark Leach all contribute to the party vibes with focused instrumental prowess.

Other notable songs on the disc include “Gig Shirt,” a duet with Bela Fleck bassist Victor Wooten (on a maniacal “The Claw”), “Frog On My Face” and an inspired reading of Led Zeppelin’s classic, “Stairway To Heaven.” Only the wistful “Indian Summer” changes the tone of the disc, the lone ballad on an otherwise fanciful disc. Not just for guitar wanks (although they’re sure to thrill by it as well) Doug Johns is an outstanding outing from beginning to end. He and the flamboyant Chris “Freekbass” Sherman (of Cincinnati) are arguably the best funk bassists in the entire state, if not all of the Midwest.

The last time this reviewer was truly awed by a bass player, Stuart Hamm sat about 20 feet in front of him and performed the harmony and melody lines of Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus & Lucy” simultaneously, without a third hand or backing band. Johns put that experience out of my head almost entirely. Check this mad hatter out!

Listen to Doug Johns’ “Pimpasaurus Rex” here.

Don’t miss Doug Johns during the “Monsters of Bass” gig at the Winchester in Lakewood this Friday, November 30 at 8PM. The evening features Johns, Jo Sallins & Bill Clementes (believe it or not, a one-armed bass player). The Winchester, 12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood. Visit Johns online at Visit the Winchester online at Buy Doug Johns at CDBABY here.

From Cool Cleveland Managing Editor Peter Chakerian

Colin Dussault’s Blues Project
Erica Records

This is the first album in a long time from Colin and his band that you can say is a blues album. There are no party songs about chicken wings and, um, “healthy” women, and most of the songs that they cover here fall on the blues side of the street. The birth of Dussault’s first child, and the unexpected death of drummer Fredo Perez-Stable’s spouse, bring a maturity to the music for this long time Northern Ohio band, and produced an album more about the music than having a good time.

This is a tight band, both live and in the studio. Guitarist Jim Feeney has been with Dussault since the 80’s, Keyboardist Greg Hurd since the 90’s, bass player Fred Tobey has been full time for more than a few years. And the new guy, drummer Perez-Stable, has been on board for more than a year. These guys play out 4-6 times a week, and it really carries over in the studio. These guys can play and it really shows on this record.

The disc includes guest appearances by a who’s who of the Cleveland blues scene. Becky Boyd, Irma McQueen, Sharron McPherson-Foxx, and the Prayer Warriors Gospel Choir all lend back up vocals. Guitarists Butch Armstrong, “Walking Cane” Charanghat, and Frankie Starr all appear on several tracks. Bill Miller, the legendary “Mr. Stress,” shares harmonica solos, and does the lead vocals on the Sonny Boy Williams standard “Help Me.” Saxaphonist Tony Koussa, Jr., leads a horn section on four of the tracks.

Amongst the highlights are Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You” with the Prayer Warriors sounding great in the background and Dusault giving several outstanding harmonica solos. Bill Miller doing the vocals on “Help Me” gave me a flashback to the old days at the Euclid Tavern. Also included are great versions of Taj Mahal’s “She Caught the Katy,” Hank Williams’ “Jambalya,” Leadbelly’s “Good Night Irene,” and Jimmy Liggins, “I Ain’t Drunk.” Thirteen tracks all together, and not a weak one amongst them.

This album is really good, and it could be the one to get Dussault and the boys a little air play farther from home on Adult Alternative radio and satellite blues stations. For more about Colin and his band, or to purchase copy of any of his CD’s, visit

From Cool Cleveland contributor Greg Cielec

Wanna get reviewed? Send your band’s CD (less than 1 year old) to: Cool Cleveland, 14837 Detroit Avenue, #105, Lakewood, OH 44107

Welcome to New Orleans

Two nights ago, I hung out with my good friend from Cleveland, who took me to play congas on the front porch of a house on St. Claude Avenue, just past the tracks that run along Montegut Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. Two years after the storm that renamed “The Big Easy” as “Crescent City” and replaced the famous multi-booze tourist treat, “Hurricane” with a similar concoction called “Hand Grenade”, the houses that remain in the Ninth are all still painted with the cryptic graffiti system that rescue workers used to identify the hungry, the stranded, and the dead.

These days, things around the newly paved blacktop ribbon that runs along the river are more or less back to normal, which means that most of the repairs are being done by tenants who know that investing their own time and materials beats waiting forever; and the local Police Cruisers are joined by Military Hummers and DEA Vans in a statement of presence that consists of racing up and down the road every 20 minutes or so like drunken teenagers…
Read more from Jeffrey Bowen here

The Henry Ford
Cool American history

At Cool Cleveland, we honor entrepreneurialism. Henry Ford, on the other hand, enshrines it. Call it Greenfield Village, call it the Henry Ford Museum, call it the Rouge Factory Tour, or call it like the locals do: The Henry Ford, and leave yourself a day for each. Because it is geared around education and not spectacle, the attractions never get old, you never stop learning, and it is a joy for kids of all ages. The Village is 90 well laid-out acres with the Wright Brothers’ actual workshop, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, George Washington Carver’s log cabin and unexpected treats: porches and parlors of period families, Ford’s first vehicle, the Quadricycle (pictured), working steam-powered trains, a 1913 carousel. You can even get rides in historic vehicles, which putter up and down the (unfortunately paved) streets, adding to the effect. The working farm would be more lively in the summer but the glass blowing demonstration was fun. Their upcoming Holiday Nights (11/30-12/1, 12/7-8, 12/14-16 & 12/19-23) are famous in the Detroit area for outstanding lighting and visual displays, lantern-lit paths, 4 performance stages, shops, food, strolling costumed performers, artisan demonstrations, Santa, bonfires, skating rink, Model T rides, holiday vignettes, fireworks and a sing-along. Corny as it sounds, everyone who’s experienced it raves. The Henry Ford Museum has a world-class collection of autos, planes, trains, and a cool model train set-up for the holidays. Plus Lincoln’s assassination chair, Kennedy’s assassination limo, and not to be missed: the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Mind-blowing is Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House, designed for returning GIs, on the principle of an umbrella, with a center mast for all utilities and support, a round aluminum spaceship shape, with ingenious features that could be assembled by 10 men in 2 days, was affordable and could be built in a post-war airplane factory. We know Bucky’s work from his massive geodesic dome over the HQ of ASM International, just outside of Cleveland, but he collaborated intensively with sculptor Isamu Nogucki and the current exhibition, Best of Friends, with rare documents, models and artifacts of their work together, plus an actual Dymaxion 3-wheeled car they collaborated on. We didn’t visit the Rouge Factory Tour, with it’s multi-sensory theatre and elevated walkway over a working auto plant where the Ford F-150 is built. But the IMAX Theatre is showing Polar Express in 3-D, pointing the way to the future of film. A stay at the charming Dearborn Inn, tucked between the museums and the factory, will delight with exceptional customer service from the staff, many of whom have worked there for 10+ years. Bonus: the IKEA store is 20 minutes away, allow half a day, and don’t miss the Swedish meatballs.

The Audaciousness of Dennis Kucinich

It is hard to believe that it was 30 years ago this month that Dennis Kucinich realized his dream of becoming mayor of Cleveland.

Kucinich toiled 10 years to become mayor. Yet he kicked it away in a very short time.

Now, he is spending a decade fighting to realize another dream, – to be President of the United States of America.

I’ve known Dennis for many years. Been a fan and been a critic.

As I’ve written before, he was running copy when I was at the Plain Dealer in the mid-1960s and he was the copyboy, as they were called in those days, at the Wall Street Journal bureau when I was with the Journal. (I am likely wrong about the copyboy label at the Wall Street Journal. Dennis, in his new book, “The Courage to Survive” about his first 22 years of life, says his job was as a copy reader.)

I walked the streets of the Tremont area with him in 1967 on his first run for office. As we left one house, Dennis said, “If I win this one, I can go all the way.” I remember stopping and asking Dennis what he meant by “all the way.” Of course, I knew what he meant. I wanted to hear him say it. He brushed it off, saying that I didn’t have to print that…

Read more from Roldo Bartimole here

Jina Gonzalezs
Student & Activist, living with HIV/AIDS

Jina Gonzalez, although only 18, is articulate beyond her years. She’s been living with HIV/AIDS her whole life, and has known about her condition since the age of 10 when her mother started telling her. A year later, her mom passed away, and Jina began a remarkable journey of passion and courage that has resulted in her receiving the AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland’s Voices Against the Silence Award for 2007, and a recent award from the National Association of People Living With HIV/AIDS. She has been exceptionally active in Northeast Ohio and throughout the state as a vocal advocate and a community educator. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jina speaks with Thomas Mulready of Cool Cleveland about her life as a student of social work at Cleveland State University, her plans for the future, and her love of Camp Sunrise, for kids affected by AIDS, which she has attended annually for 7 years, the last year as a counselor. In honor of World AIDS Day this Sat 12/1, please consider making a donation to the AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland at their site:

Quick reviews of recent events
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Cleveland Orchestra @ Severance Hall 11/24 So, what were you doing when you were fourteen? We know that a fair portion of Mozart’s total output was already created by time he’d reached that age, but we don’t really know all that much about some of the other musical prodigies. Listening to Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Strings in D minor is one thing, but knowing that he played the piano part in the premiere performance is another. Realizing that he would also have been capable of playing the violin part, as well, had he wished to, is layering one astonishing fact on top of another. All this, accomplished so easily at the age of fourteen! Another astonishing fact is that even though the piece was lost, not resurfacing again until 1957 (some 134 years after the premiere) this is the first time the Cleveland Orchestra has performed the work!

So maybe it doesn’t have the overall heft or maturity of his truly adult compositions. How could it have? He was only fourteen! Nevertheless, the excellent soloists were Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster/violinist William Preucil and Jon Kimura Parker, pianist. Guest conductor Pinchas Steinberg kept the captivating, graceful and occasionally muscular work proceeding smoothly throughout.

There were moments when it seemed more like a sonata for violin and piano, considering the give-and-take dialogue between the two soloists. Mr. Parker easily managed the work’s musical demands, whether delicate or rampaging octaves. On rare occasions, Mr. Preucil’s violin seemed to suffer a bit from laryngitis, but that’s a minor niggle. There were also moments when the music harkened back to the composer’s predecessors: Bach, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, at the very least.

Opening the concert was the Overture to Oberon by Carl Maria von Weber. Loosely based on characters created by Shakespeare, the opera is seldom performed these days, however, the overture has a life of its own. This performance should have answered any questions as to why that should be. Mr. Steinberg’s meticulous attention to details of dynamics and tonal shading allowed the music to be expressive, rich, and thoroughly enjoyable. Hornist Michael Mayhew distinguished himself with his gorgeous playing of the treacherous opening measures.

A total change of pace and philosophy emerged in the second half of the program, which featured the mighty Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93 of Dmitri Shostakovich. Much of this composer’s music is autobiographical and this symphony is especially so.

Attacked by the Soviet regime in 1936 and again in 1948, the composing life of Shostakovich was uneven at best, although his music is generally full of passion and musicality. After Stalin’s death early in 1953, the composer began his tenth symphony. Due perhaps to a general light-heartedness, he turned the third movement allegretto into a coded love letter to a woman he loved innocently—Elmira Nazirova of Baku, Azerbaijan. They exchanged passionate love letters, but little else. He incorporated his own four-note signature, (DSCH) and the five-note motif for Elmira throughout this section.

This comes as a relief after the first movement, which is somber by nature. The clarinet (Franklin Cohen) sounds plaintively as a voice in the wilderness over the cellos, basses and low brass which began the piece. This is followed by what can only be anguished cries after the murky beginning. A duet by two clarinets is followed a bit later by two piccolos. Although he might not have stated it officially, the second movement (mercifully short) Allegro is thought to be a description of Stalin and his unleashed power. It surely sounds like him—filled as it is with brutal, loud and militaristic sounds. Thankfully, the symphony closes on a more positive note.

The principal wind players were especially inspired. Franklin Cohen, clarinet; John Clouser, bassoon; Richard King, horn; Frank Rosenwein, oboe and Marisela Sager, flute, were all given extra bows to great applause from the audience as well as their fellow musicians.

This week Guest Conductor James Conlon conducts music of Ravel, Debussy and Beethoven, with pianist Jonathan Biss as soloist in the 4th piano concerto of Beethoven. Next week, there are three performances of Bugs Bunny on Broadway, featuring conductor George Daugherty. For tickets or other information, call 231-1111, or visit the orchestra’s website:

From Cool Cleveland contributor Kelly Ferjutz

We Gotta Bingo @ Playhouse Square 11/24 Don’t go to see Bingo, now on stage at the 14th Street Theatre in Playhouse Square, expecting to see a great theatre epic. What you’ll participating in is a free-wheeling, interactive, mostly ad-libbed experience, filled with playing Bingo, polka music (what else?), dancing, being dragged up on stage to participate in shenanigans, and winning prizes such as a fake stuffed turkey or a used sweater or sitting on a throne if you are lucky enough to actually achieve a bingo.

The “plot,” and I’m using the word in the broadest sense, centers on the decision to combine an Italian Catholic parish with an Irish one (let the bickering and insults begin).

By mistake, the wrong church is destroyed by the wrecking company, so a fund-raiser has to be held to get the money to redo the building. Sound far fetched? Of course, that’s what leads to the ridiculousness of the double sexual inuendos, the entrance of the archbishop (who was sitting next to you just two minutes ago in normal clothing), and the mad racing around by the cast. It’s also what caused one of my tablemates to fake a leg injury so he didn’t have to do the Chicken Dance.

Performed in the vein of the long running Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding, We Gotta Bingo, which is being performed both here and in St. Paul, places you in a German beer garden. The “meal” consists of Bruschetta San Dominica, Insalata del Lotto, homemade lasagna, warmed garlic bread and an assortment of Wunderbars. Now, don’t get the idea this is gourmet food. It’s served on paper plates, you eat with plastic forks, and the bread comes wrapped in aluminum foil. Think, Ladies Auxiliary food served in a church basement!

Many names familiar to local audiences are in the cast including Eileen Burns (who sings up a storm), Liz Conway, Paul Floriano (as his usual ill-tempered curmudgeon), Patrick Carroll, Lissy Gulick (the lady can actually play the bass), June Lang (who portrayed Mrs. Vitale in Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding) and Dan Marshall (who looked fetching at the conclusion in a fishnet off-the-shoulder outfit). And, Paul Hupalowsky, from where else than Parma, playing the accordion. The affair is guided by Resident Director Jacqi Loewy and Director Ross Young.

”Capsule judgment: The cast seems to be having a good time. The audience, depending on an individual’s possessing the ability to let loose and just let things happen, including being a willing or unwilling participant in the shenanigans, leaves smiling. (This would make a great holiday party occasion. Groups of 16 or more get priority seating and special ticket prices.)”

By the way, I was told by a member of the production crew that the show, which was intended to close later this month, has been extended until mid-February at the 14th Street Theatre in Playhouse Square. For tickets, call 241-6000, 800-766-6048 or go online to Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30PM, Saturdays at 5PM and 8:30PM and Sundays at 5PM.

From Cool Cleveland contributor Roy Berko

Roy Berko’s blog, which contains theatre and dance reviews from 2001 through 2007, as well as his consulting and publications information, can be found at

The Nutcracker @ Playhouse Square On December 12, 1979, The Cleveland Ballet premiered its version of The Nutcracker. Twenty-three hundred people attended the production at Cleveland Public Music Hall. Much has happened to the ballet scene on the north coast since that momentous day.

In 1986 a group of California Silicon Valley benefactors offered a partnership to the Cleveland Ballet. Productions would be staged both in San Jose and Cleveland. With this new arrangement the local ballet company, which was co-founded by Ernie Horvath and Dennis Nahat, was able to offer the dancers added performing exposure and would provide each community a great company for a moderate, shared investment.

Much to the chagrin of Clevelanders, Nahat, much like Art Modell, the owner of the Cleveland Browns, took “our” creation and left town. Thus, in 2000 Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley was born. The reasons for the “failure” of the local company are numerous, and lots of finger-pointing followed. Over-spending and lack of constraint by Nahat, the exodus of large corporations from the Cleveland area which eliminated funders, and poor management by the ballet’s board, have all been blamed.

Whatever the past, a sold out house was present for the opening night of The Nutcracker at the State Theatre. In contrast to the negative greetings given even the mention of Modell’s name, the audience gave loud applause to Nahat’s initial appearance as Godfather Drosselmeyer (a part which he trades off with local favorite Raymond Rodriguez).

The Nutcracker is a fairy tale ballet in two acts with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It is based on The Nutcracker and the King of Mice, a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann. It was first presented in 1891. The story concerns a young girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince, a fierce battle against a Mouse King and the romantic adventure in which she is taken on a journey by a handsome prince. In their travels they experience a snowstorm, and journeys to Muscovy, The Land of the Shifting Sands, and the Land of the Ivory Pagoda.

Production highlights include the Dance of the Snowflakes and The Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy (actually a performance by the Trsarina and Tsar).

Since the story is set around the holidays, productions usually are staged during the Christmas season.

Except for the overly long opening scene, which contains a lot of walking and little dancing, the choreography is excellent. Nahat uses that exposition scene to add some of his signature attempts at humor. Because the production has seven alternating principal casts, who you see in the lead roles of Maria, the Nutcracker/Prince Alexis and the Tsarina Tatianna and Tsar Nikolai is a matter of chance.

Fortunately, on opening night Karen Gabay, a long time local favorite and artistic director of Point of Departure, which is in local residence during the summers, danced the Tsarina. As always, she was radiant and commanded the stage. Maykel Solas (Tsar) partnered Gabay well.

Maria Jacobs was our Maria. She is petite, lovely and moved with ease. Her point work was excellent and she floated in her leaps. Her Prince was danced by Ramon Moreno whose small stature was a perfect match for Jacobs. His circle turns and partnering were well done and elicited much applause.

The sets were beautiful as were the costumes, though I prefer the snowflakes in tutus rather than long skirts.

”Capsule judgment: Ballet San Jose’s production is one of the better stagings of the ballet. It is nice to see classical ballet in a local venue. It can only be hoped that Gabay and Rodriquez will be able to develop their Pointe of Departure into an all year company and allow us to get the bad taste of the departure of The Cleveland Ballet out of our psyche.”

The Nutcracker runs through December 2 at the State Theatre in Playhouse Square. For tickets call 241-6000, 800-766-6048 or go online to

From Cool Cleveland contributor Roy Berko

Roy Berko’s blog, which contains theatre and dance reviews from 2001 through 2007, as well as his consulting and publications information, can be found at

Most clicked

Here are the Top 5 most clicked links from last week’s issue, with one more chance for you to click.

1) Holiday Buying Guide Buying local is a smart, equitable and sustainable business practice that helps of support your local economy.

2) Cle Clinic gets a windfall with a foreign donation.

3) Dan Gilbert moves ops to downtown Detroit from suburban Livonia.

4) Five projects get $30M in historic tax credits.

5) Straight Outta Mansfield Frank Jackson: Hitting His Stride

We’ll Tumble 4 Ya Nods and winks to Peter Chakerian, T.L. Champion, George Nemeth, Kelly Ferjutz, Roy Berko, Tim Zaun, Mansfield B. Frazier, Roldo Bartimole, Susan Schaul, Jeffrey Bowen, Ernie Papp and Greg Cielec. And lastly, though certainly not least, thanks to our readers and everyone who partners with us. Want to volunteer and contribute your writing to Cool Cleveland? Send your reviews, articles, or story ideas to:

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