The second day of our press tour (click here to jump back to day one) included the obligatory everything-in-excess theme of any rock and roll tour, but instead of drugs and loose women, we engaged in food and booze. Well, at least I did.
Our first stop was the West Side Café which is attached to the West Side Market in the Ohio City neighborhood located just west of Downtown. Although I am sure drinking a beer at 9am would have complimented the scrumptious frittata, hash browns, and wheat toast I happily consumed, I stuck with my normal morning of three cups of coffee.
After breakfast we walked around the West Side Market which can be described as Columbus’ North Market, but so much better. It’s bigger and has left its doors open for over 100 years. It is well organized with the bigger part of the market devoted to meats, specialty foods and prepared foods, and fresh produce and flowers are separated into another building.
Next on the agenda was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I will preface this experience with the following; I don’t consider myself to be sensitive and have on occasion considered myself to be cold. But I cried as if I was a diaper-filled toddler at this museum. I hid it as best as I possibly could, running to the bathroom twice during our visit.
Until recently, I never realized how much of an impact music has on my life. I stared in awe at a guitar Kurt Cobain played, the sweater Andre 3000 wore in the Outkast video “Roses“, ZZ Top’s bearded drum set, and most notably, James Brown’s jumpsuits with “SEX” bedazzled on them. My only complaint was the Bon Iver poster hung proudly in a display case for visitors to see. Yuck.
I gazed upon videos of evangelists describing rock and roll as a tool of promotion for the devil, drugs, alcohol, and risky behavior. One of the coolest quotations from Patti Smith came from a video the Rock Hall put together. In it, she said, “I always hope people will have some kind of orgasm from my work.” After walking around the museum on our own, we had the opportunity to speak with head curator, Howard Kramer. He is full of knowledge and gave a lot of insight into the goings-on of the Rock Hall. Thank you, Howard Kramer.
Our rock van then left for Happy Dog. Happy Dog is a place owned by a former lawyer, which features hot dogs and veggie sausage dogs with the customer’s choice of toppings. This restaurant/bar did have pre-made choices of dogs one could try, but I opted for a veggie sausage dog with pepperjack cheese, carmelized onions, and a fried egg, because, why not? To compliment my meal, as well as pay homage to Dirty Frank’s, I ordered tater tots, which had by far the best bean chili I have tasted in my life.
The garbanzo bean chili seems simple, but was spicy, and honestly I could easily swim/eat my way out of a vat of it. The “racetrack” bar was well stocked with booze and patrons along the side. In the basement of the Happy Dog is a place, soon to be opened called The Underdog. In the Underdog were pinball machines, a smaller bar as well as a screen mounted on the wall for which I am sure will be used for football games or even the broadcast of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction on May 5th.
Gotta Groove Records was our the next gig in our press tour, and this place is amazing. Former lawyer (weird, right?) Vince Slusarz, owns the place and is one of 14 vinyl pressing plants in America. There are only 28 of them in the world. We toured the factory and listened to Vince speak about how his business has steadily grown since he opened the doors in 2009. Slusarz is an extremely cool guy and gave us all free vinyl. I walked away with a Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s record, which was pressed in his shop, a SXSW 45, and an electronic record of the one people who work there. Thank you, Vince.
We then rode in our rock van to Peabody’s, which I’m sure would my place to tap my arm to get my metal fix. The venue is made up of three separate venues wrapped into one tight little gift of rock. The Pirate’s Cove (my personal favorite) and Rockstar (where Wiz Khalifa has apparently filmed a music video), and of course Peabody’s.
The Pirate’s Cove looks as if a serial killer resided there, but cleaned up because he knew there was company coming. The windows are black with etchings of band names, graphic images and the occasional profane word. Of course, I felt right at home.
I am already planning a return trip to Peabody’s in June to see Detroit-based band Wilson.
Our next eating experience actually came from a hotel we were not staying in. The Marriott near the Cleveland airport has a top restaurant called AMP 150. Unfortunately, this was a low-point for the trip for me. We again had some appetizers, most of them meat-based. We were presented with a weird texture of potato chip with a recognizable onion dip and another that was for lack of a better word, tasteless. I then tried my entrée, Pasta al Ceppo, which was one of two or three vegetarian options I could choose from the menu. I wasn’t impressed with that dish either, and did not finish more than half of it. We did have ice cream afterwards and I did drink beer during my meal, and sadly… those were the best parts.
We then moseyed down to The Beachland Ballroom to watch bands cover songs from this year’s inductees. The Ballroom as a venue is fantastic. So much so, that the Black Keys gave them and owner Cindy a shout-out at their concert in Cleveland a few weeks ago. In the basement of this amazing place is a small vintage vinyl shop, where I happily picked up a live Cream record for a dollar.
We went to the bar, which is separate from the actual place where the bands play. After shots of Jack with another member of our press tour, we watched a Donovan cover band that was perfect. Although I knew Donovan was an inductee, I did not know he was the man who wrote songs such as “Season of the Witch” and “Mellow Yellow”.
The next band was atrocious. They covered Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and quite honestly, ruined them. At one point, during the band’s rendition of “Breaking the Girl”, I stepped out to the bar to escape the lead singer’s off key and his self-proclaimed inability to handle the one shot he took onstage. We unfortunately left after yet-another low point in the night, just missing the Beastie Boys cover band.
We went back to the hotel where I promptly looked up Donovan songs and sang in my hotel room. I blame the Jack.
Tomorrow, the induction.
Disclaimer: This travel excursion to Cleveland was provided by Positively Cleveland and included travel accommodations, complimentary meals and entertainment and other all-inclusive provisions.