Live music warms up the winter nights, plus memories of David Crosby and Jeff Beck: Malcolm X Abrams

Live music warms up the winter nights, plus memories of David Crosby and Jeff Beck: Malcolm X Abrams

CLEVELAND, Ohio — We’re nearly a full month into the new year, so things are picking up on the national and regional bands blowing through town on their late winter tours. So, we’ve got a mixture of local cats you may find interesting and a few touring bands to satiate your live-music-listening-while-paying-too-much-for-booze jones.

Victoria Victoria

Saturday night in the Cle (that’s called branding, folks!), the Beachland Ballroom will play host to a groovy band called Victoria Victoria, the creative brainchild of singer-songwriter, Southern Ohio native, and North Carolina transplant Tori Elliot. The group already has one album under its belt, and in 2022, released a second album, the breezy, lightly soulful “To The Wayside,” co-written and produced by eight-string hybrid guitarist Charlie Hunter. The album is a svelte and tasteful nine-song, 35-minute affair, and it goes down your earholes real smooth and easy.

Elliot’s voice is a relaxed, nimble, and velvety contralto with a hint of jazz and soul augmented by lovely stacked harmonies. Elliot, Hunter, and the band provide soft, toe-tapping, and unfussy arrangements for Elliot’s brand of soul-pop and lyrics, which often touch on self-actualization, learning to be OK with and appreciating yourself, the vagaries of relationships, both romantic and interpersonal.

The Beachland is located at 15711 Waterloo Rd. in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood.

Check out Elliot, Hunter, and the rest of Victoria Victoria’s track “Over My Shoulder.”

Thelma & The Sleeze

A few miles down south in downtown Akron (it’s not that far, folks), at Musica will hos the Nashville-based punk band Thelma & The Sleaze on Thursday, Feb. 2. The LGBTQ-championing quartet led by singer-songwriter-guitarist and force-of-nature known as LG is a rugged, mostly guitar-driven rock and roll band infused with a punk attitude, garage, and classic rock fixings, with LG’s intense vocals.

The band’s shows can be wild, high-energy affairs, and the stage is honestly the best way to first experience them. That being said, their 2021 album with the unprintable name, let’s call it “Fornicate. Marry. Kill.” is a fine intro to their eclectic bag of sonic goods with big, rocking, and occasionally funky grooves at various tempos.

LG oozes a confident and old-school punk attitude through her southern drawl, with the rock guitars augmented with nimble and melodic old-school rock organ ‘80s style synths or rollicking piano, depending on what the tune needs. Despite the different elements and stylistic mashups, the result is that Thelma and the Sleaze make matriarch-fornicating rock and roll.

The Cave

One more Akron experience for you, the D.I.Y. spot, The Center for Audio/Visual Experimentation, a.k.a The Cave, sits in the basement of a historical building at 15 Broad St. in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood. Full disclosure, I used to work with the guys that run the place, but I knew them long before we were co-workers, and the current CAVE is the second physical manifestation of their D.I.Y. dreams as they had the old Akron Noize Cave in a few spots back in the 2010s.

The new site is the best iteration of their concept, a cool basement spot with a few classic free video games and an AFX-style race track that actually works! It’s BYOB, so come prepared with your favorite concert beverage. When many folks think of D.I.Y. music spots, they tend to think of angry, screaming punks or wildly experimental artists who don’t believe in recognizable chord progressions or traditional melodies, and sure those artists can usually be found in such places.

But that’s a bit reductive and what makes D.I.Y. places so cool is that you can see damn near anything, from the aforementioned screamers to ambient synth mavens, to acoustic folkies, to traditional indie rock bands, performances artists, and even (as I witnessed last year) Brazilian puppet masters with anatomically correct human and animal puppets.

All that being said, this Saturday’s show will be one of the noisy ones. You’ve got Akron experimental metal band Griphook, whose recent album “From Under The Camp Bunks” is an engaging and uneasy listen, with growling vocals, eerie synth textures, touches of electronica, and death metal riffs and blast beats all rolled up into a big scary ball of sound.

Likewise, Columbus’ Unchipped creates an in-your-face-and-ears buzzsaw mix of shouted vocals, swirling guitar riffs, and avalanche-inducing punk and metal rhythms. The quartet is not very happy with society’s current state and has issues with authority, as evidenced in the song “Big Man.” “Puffing your chest, Out like a big man, Pushing your weight around, Hiding behind your badge, Blood of the innocent, Their blood’s on your hands,” vocalist Pat Snyder intensely declares on the band’s 2020 album, “Debut Album.”

Lastly, Murderous Vision, the experimental creative outlet for Painesville-based Stephen Petrus, rounds out the evening’s festivities. Remember that thing I said a few paragraphs ago about eschewing chord progressions and melodies? Yeah, this is one of those guys. He’s got a deep catalog on his Bandcamp page featuring some profoundly dark and seemingly disturbed and disturbing death-industrial collages of insistent static and buzz and inorganic sounds that are not toe-tappers for most folks.

But the pieces are powerful if your ears and mind are open to non-traditional forms of music. His most recent release is a three-track EP inspired by the late poet Sylvia Plath called, umm… “The Stovepipe Companion.”


Been a lot of this lately, and there will be a lot more across the next few years as Boomer and, increasingly, Gen-X icons join the Divine Band up in rock and roll and pop music heaven (I’m guessing they all hang out on the same incorporeal plane in your preferred version of the Great Hereafter).

David Crosby a.k.a “Croz,” died Jan. 18. He is obviously best known for his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But he also made some pretty interestingly pleasant albums as a solo artist both before his time with CSNY/CSN, including 1971s “If I Could Only Remember My Name.” He also remained active late into life and created some great music recently. I’m partial to the vaguely jazzy “Sky Trails” from 2017. Crosby survived a spectacular, decade-plus-long drug-induced crash-and-burn beat hepatitis C with a liver transplant. In his semi-retirement Croz’ became a social media presence on Twitter, issuing sometimes gracious and thoughtful — occasionally old-hippie-cranky — advice, particularly about himself and his foibles.

Jeff Beck, who passed away Jan. 10, was a singular, innovative guitarist in a music world riddled with imitators, regurgitators, and other innovators. Beck always seemed to zig when expected by fans or critics to zag, and it was seldom uninteresting.

Even when following musical trends, it always sounded like Jeff Beck Music. That was true in his early, fuzz-rock guitar years with the Yardbirds years and his subsequent solo recordings, which built on the late ‘60s slice of British Blues of his 1968 Jeff Beck Group album, “Truth.” He gave us more conventional rock with a dash of soul a few years later with 1972′s “Jeff Beck Group” and then delivered a game-changing dip into funky jazz-fusion with impeccably produced albums such as “Blow By Blow” (1975) and “Wired” (1976).

In the ‘80s, his solo output slowed, but he again redefined his sound with 1989′s Grammy-winning instrumental rock record, “Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop.”

In the ‘90s, he added current electronic sounds and grooves to his recorded repertoire, such as on 1999′s “Who Else.” His solo album, “Loud Hailer,” was written and recorded with Carmen Vandenberg and Rosie Bones of the English rock band Bones U.K., keeping with Beck’s quiet tradition of working with female musicians. He had a string of women bassists in his touring bands, including former Prince bassist Rhonda Smith and helped to elevate the then-young career of singer-songwriter-bassist Tal Wilkenfeld.

His final album apparently will be last year’s “18,” a duo album made with Johnny Depp. Beck’s late-era, single-line melodicism, patented volume swells, and unique tremolo arm work are all present and in fine form, as can be heard on a pretty reverent take on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” mixed with “What’s Happening, Brother.”

Also, Johnny Depp is there. For some prime, Depp-less Beck here’s a clip from the awesome “Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scotts”

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