December 3, 2012 by Jay Minkin
I’m sorry my friends. I didn’t realize that I’d taken such a lengthy break between stories. So thank you for being patient and welcome back. Before I offer up my annual “Best of” list of album releases in the next issue of liner notes, I want to tell you about some very special shows taking place in Northeast Ohio over the next few weeks.
One of the nice traditions of the holidays is the performances by The Ohio City Singers. A collection of musicians and friends, the ensemble sings very unique and personally created Christmas carols. The musicians that make up The Ohio City Singers come from every walk of musical life in Cleveland from rock, to folk, to blues, bluegrass, soul, country and Irish. The All-star cast includes Chris Allen, Doug McKean, Molly Allen, Austin “Walkin” Cane, Tom Prebish, Brent Kirby, Kelly Wright, Matt Sobule, Don Dixon, and Marti Jones along witha choral group that sometimes includes over 30 family and friends. You can catch one of their shows on December 14th at PJ McIntyre’s (7 pm to 9 pm), December 16th at The Treehouse Christmas Party (8 pm), December 17th at Stone Mad Chestnut Roasting Party (7 pm), December 20th at The Nauti Mermaid Christmas Party (6 pm), December 21st at The Greenville Tavern (9:30 pm), and December 22nd at The Happy Dog (9:30 pm).
Another holiday tradition takes place on the big stage of the Akron Civic Theatre as local singer/songwriter Ryan Humbert will be hosting his 4th annual Holiday Extravaganza & Variety Show on Friday, December 14th at 8:00pm. This year, a portion of the proceeds will be going to the Akron based charity Mobile Meals. A different twist from previous events, the 9 piece Ryan Humbert Band will be sharing the stage this year with The Strange Familiar, Tracey Thomas, The Juke Hounds, The Blue Ribbon Bluegrass Band, and Yankee Bravo presenting more of a musical variety show. Tickets are available through the Akron Civic Theatre box office (330-253-2488) along with Ticketmaster locations and online at www.ticketmaster.com. With the release of Sometimes The Game Plays You, the Rock Ridge Music recording artist has been reaching a national audience with the song “I Will Find My Own Way” in rotation on the Sirius/XM channel 31 “The Coffee House”. Since 2009, Humbert has raised over $15,000 for local charities with his holiday shows.
Headlining at The Beachland Tavern on December 9th will be Michigan based Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys that offers a unique blend bluegrass and torch song jazz. Strong vocals from band leader Lindsay Lou Rilko on guitar and harmonies offered up by husband Joshua Rilko on mandolin are the core of the five piece band. Touring behind their critically acclaimed new album Release Your Shrouds, The Flatbellys are rounded out by Mark Lavengood on dobro, Keith Billik on banjo, and Spencer Cain on the upright bass. Many of the songs are crafted stories based on real life experiences with lovely hooks and choruses.
The holidays will be a homecoming for Clevelander Suzanne Santo, who along with Ben Jaffee comprises the duo HONEYHONEY. Before preparing to hit the road with Trampled By Turtles, Suzanne (vocals/banjo/violin)and Ben (vocals/guitar)have squeezed in a performing in the ultra-cool intimate Cambridge Room of The House of Blues on December 26th. Formally based in Los Angeles, but recently relocated to Nashville, I caught their showcase set opening for Buddy Miller, Lee Ann Womack, and Tift Merritt while attending the Americana Music Association festivities in September. Their second release which came out in the fall of 2011 Billy Jack on Lost Highway Records is high octane rock/country/folk that just explodes during their live performances. They are in the process of working out some new material for their eagerly awaited third record, so this concert lends itself to be a very special evening of entertainment.
As the holidays approach, music fills the air with the spirit of the season and touches your soul. So take a moment to soak up the magic and may it bring you comfort and joy today and throughout the upcoming year.