Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Lineup Announced!

Since 2006, Fun Fun Fun Fest has been nothing short of fun x 3.  Every year, the music/art/food festival seems to turn it up a notch, so much, that last year I actually decided enough is enough and headed to Austin, TX, to check it out.  The result, minus Danzig acting like a little bitch, was a killer weekend with friends fueled by amazing bands.  In other words, I had fun.  A ton of fun.

The festival was well organized, and all three days of music was well worth the $200 or so bucks I dropped on a wristband.  By the want of the fest last year, I told myself and my friends I wanted to return the following year.

This year, the good people at FFF Fest have outdone themselves.  Not only did they get RUN-DMC to reform, but they also had put together almost a dream lineup for this music lover.  Refused, De La Soul, Seaweed, The Promise Ring, Bob Mould, Lucero, Lagwagon, Braid, OFF!, Against Me!, F’d Up, Superchunk, Minus The Bear…I can keep going…P.I.L., Explosions In The Sky, X, Turbonegro…

Seriously, check out all who will be playing this year:

This does not even include the FFFEST Nites, the nightly free (with wristband) concerts around the city.

I am planning on returning to Auditorium Shores in November to take in this festival.  Since I have moved, I have not seen one live band due to a lack of venues, but this festival will make up for it.  Not to mention Austin is one of my favorite cities and I am now only a 6 hour drive away…

For more info, visit FUNFUNFUNFEST.COM

Album Review: Joey Cape / Tony Sly – Acoustic Volume 2

Has it really been been 8 years since Tony Sly and Joey Cape released their first solo album collectively?  I can remember the day I heard cuts off that release and bragged to my close friends about it.  Soon they were just as hooked as I was with the acoustic renditions of Lagwagon and No Use For a Name (NUFAN) songs.

Hearing those punk rock songs acoustically was just something so new and exciting for this listener.  Keep in mind, this was before many of the punk musicians started their acoustic projects.  It was a new method of sorts and would pave a side road for punk rock music forever.  It’s save to say the revival was made possible by Cape and Sly.

Cape and Sly would continued with their solo careers separately after the release and both dropped some remarkable albums, but nothing was as memorable as their first attempt.  Over the past 8 years, Cape and Sly really built their reputation as solo artists and decided it was time again to take some of their classic songs and create acoustic renditions of them for all to head.  Needless to say when I found out via Fat Wreck Chords that Cape and Sly were releasing Acoustic Volume 2, I got a tad excited.

Once again the duo took 5 songs each from their back catalogs and turned them into acoustic masterpieces.  To keep with the idea of their original attempt, they both wrote and recorded brand new tracks to add to the mix.  The result is a sequel to an amazing release that follows the same path of awesomeness.

Cape took the first half of the album and started it with “I Must Be Hateful” taken from 2003’s Blaze. The already amazing song sounded more powerful than ever when broke down into acoustic form.  Cape loses the rasp in his voice and gently sings with assistance from soft piano.

“Know It All” was one of my favorite tracks off of 1994’s Trashed, and 18 years later it continued to impress me on a different caliber.  “Alison’s Disease”, originally found on Live Fat, Die Young, was a tearjerker to listen to.  I remember the original on the Fat Wreck compilation, but this round was almost as hard to listen to as Fat Mike’s acoustic version of “My Orphan Year”.  Amazing on how slowing down a song can unleash so much emotion.

I was so happy to hear “Resolve” on this release.  Listening to Cape play a more folky version brought a smile to my face even though the track pays homage to their drummer Derrick Piourde who passed in 2005.  “Broken Record”, Cape’s all new track, followed the same path as previous tracks with a mellow mood.  The song perked up half way through but ended just as soon as it started.

Sly took over the remainder of the album with a powerful version of “Black Box”.  Maybe it was the accordion in the background with piano and a strings section, but the new and improved version taken off the 2005 NUFAN release Keep Them Confused sounded better than ever.

“Soulmate” was my choice track off this release.  The track was already one of my favorites in the 90s on Leche con Carne! and hearing it all over again in a different way was just refreshing.  A new take on an old classic was just what I was looking to hear.  I could not help but feel the same way I did when I heard “Justified Black Eye” for the first time in acoustic form back in 2004.  It brought a smile to my face and I instantly sung along.

“Chasing Rainbows” was a fun take on the original found on More Betterness!, but overall I still preferred the 1999 original.  “Pre-Medicated Murder”sounded nothing like the version found on Hard Rock Bottom. The slowed down version was eerie in a sense to listen to and enhanced the lyrics so much more.

Sly’s original, “Liver Let Die”, was a barroom masterpiece in it’s own carried by strumming acoustic guitar.  The song was likable and held out an instant invite for me to learn the chorus and sing along.  The track ended with a crowd chanting “one more song, one more song” and to me was a perfect way to put this release to sleep.  It also provided for a taste of what Sly has in store for his listeners in future releases.

What happens when punk musicians age?  They grow up, maybe have a family, live life, but never put down the guitar.  If you are thinking that this album is “just another punk rock side project” you are wrong.  This album is a celebration by two men and their career featuring some classic songs.  I am glad I only had to wait 8 years for this because honestly, 10 years might have been too long.

If you like NUFAN and Lagwagon, chances are you already know about Acoustic Volume 2.  If you dig acoustic music, check it out, you will not be disappointed.  Punk rock or not, this duo make for some amazing renditions of classic cuts I feel many can appreciate regardless of what genre of music is preferred.

Album Review: Mixtapes – Even On The Worst Nights

I remember a while back when I went to the It’s A Kling Thing house to check out a band from Cincinnati called Mixtapes.  Yeah yeah, call me that guy, but it is only fair.  You see, a bunch of my friends who were well aware of what Mixtapes were about early on told me told me I needed to see them live and I am glad I listened to their advice.

The pop-punk foursome impressed me immediately with their ever so likable songs that clearly were written on the pure basis of fun and personal events.  I remember everyone crammed in that tiny basement singing along and rocking out to some of the catchiest songs I had heard in a long time.  I told myself back then that they were going to be going places soon and meant it 100%.

Mixtapes have always had songs that were written to be witty and as close to their hearts as possible making for a very personal listen.  To top that, they are super best pals with bands like Direct Hit!, Wonder Years, House Boat, and countless others.  They are friendly folk too and never seem to have mosh shorts to sell when I visit them at their merch booths.  Quick to crack a joke and incite a smile, this band is always fun to listen to and hang around.

Fast forward to present day and here I sit typing out a review of their new release on No Sleep Records and I have to admit, I excited to be able to talk about it.  Even On The Worst Nights is not their first release, but has shaped up to be their most important release to date.  The band, who started writing tunes in 2010, has released a bunch of songs that can be found on various 7″s as well as for free download on the Internet. (Don’t believe me?  CLICK HERE.)

Starting off Even On The Worst Nights was “Seven Mile”, a 54 second song that pretty much defined what the band surrounds themselves with: lack of friends, long days, small town life, and not a care in life.  “Something Better” followed kicking things into gear with a pop-punk anthem of sorts.  This song without a doubt will be a sing-a-long.  I loved the lyrics “we sat outside talking about movies and music we hate cause there’s not much left to life.”  Seriously, it is almost as if this band gets me.

The album title track really sounded like it was aimed at all the punkers out there that have been there and done that.   Upon listening to it more though, it is clear the song recalls many of the issues the band has gone through getting to where they are today.

“You & I” was a slow starting ode to a special friendship that ended with a bang in less than a minute.  “I’m Wearing The Device (Bridge, Water)” carried the typical personable Mixtapes lyrics I was hoping to hear with the band questioning themselves if they are good enough to continue.

My favorite track on the album easily was “Russian House DJ”.  Perhaps it was because of Maura and Ryan’s back-and-forth-vocals throughout or maybe just because it reminded me of all the pop-punk I listened to over 10 years ago.  Call it poppy or maybe even emo, all I know is that it was good and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

“Anyways”, featuring Grath Madden of House Boat, threw in jabs to nameless opponents (aka bands) for the sake of hilarity.  The group vocals helped make for a good listen as well as lyrics that threw out Mixtapes’s definition of life.  “I represent my city but not my scene” was sung with complete honesty proving that this band is all about the music and nothing more than that.

The drum-pounding intro to “One For The Ozarks” was perfect for the high energy track that was almost like a confession from the band admitting to change.  Change or not, the song was likable with high and low points as well as a clever ending.  “Just When You Thought It Was Over” was a punk rock jam that grabbed my attention in a good way.  This song really showcased how much the band has matured as musicians in the past 2 years.

The duet “Golden Sometimes” had Ryan and Maura singing together with help from acoustic guitars and piano.  It was a track that really brought back bad memories of relationships of my past that never went to plan.  Once again, a certain level of emo-ness could be heard making for a very memorable song.

During “Basement Manners”, Maura took over on most of the vocal duties making for a great track to rock out to.  “Mt. Hope” ended the album with the song sounding more like a conversation between good friends.  Soupy from The Wonder Years actually contributed some guest vocals during the final track of the album.

I really enjoyed Even On The Worst Nights and know I will be adding this album to my daily playlist for some time to come.  The songs overall on the album carried a Mixtapes standard sound I was expecting, but my only vice was that it seemed like Ryan got more attention vocally than Maura did sans “Basement Manners”.  I would have preferred both vocalists to be on the same level, but it was not the end of the world.  Mixtapes have definitely released a solid album that is going to be getting a lot of attention in a short amount of time.

The band that used to place basements and small stages better get used to some wiggle room, I know these guys (and gal) are going to blow up this year.  If you have not heard of Mixtapes yet you really need to fix that and if you have not seen them live yet, boy are you missing out.  They tour non-stop and chances are good for them hitting your town sometime this year.  First things first though…they are playing the UK in August.  Not too shabby for a band that just passed the 2 year mark.

“Ohio I’m leaving, Ohio I’m gone …”

Never thought I would actually be able to sing the following Avett Brothers lyrics and have them actually hold true to my heart:

“Cleveland, I ain’t never felt nothing so strong
Been believing the words to my songs
Ohio I’m leaving, Ohio I’m gone”

For those of you who may not have heard yet, I have taken a job promotion within my company and will be relocating from Cleveland to Las Cruces, New Mexico, within the next 3 weeks.  This decision was the most difficult thing I have ever made in my life and it just killed me to come to a decision with such little time.

I weighed all the pros and the cons over and over and realized that I needed this adventure even if it meant leaving everything I love behind.  I feel terrible about moving on, but I do not want to not go on with life and one day wonder  “what if”.  I want to just take that huge risk and see what happens and say that I did it.

For 35 years, Cleveland and Akron have been my life.  Raised in a suburb in the middle of both cities, I was privileged enough to meet a ton of people who I have the pleasure of calling friend.  From the days of sitting curbside at a Dunkin Donuts to the warm nights in the Coventry courtyard, I really was lucky to be surrounded by such cool and remarkable people.  I loved going to the Metros daily and will never forget the times I had at “The Office”.  I could not have had a better childhood.

Throughout the years, we all grew up, some  of us took our own journeys and risks, but I stayed put and called Cleveland and Akron home.  To be honest, I was so ok with that.  I am Cleveland blood, this is my town.

As I continued growing up, I met more people and became involved in the ever important Cleveland / Akron music scene, not as a band performer, but as someone who fully appreciated it.  I loved my involvement with everything I did and cherished all of the memories that were created on a nightly basis.  I am so lucky to say that I had that.

Without going into too much detail, I will just say this: The Cleveland/Akron music scene rules right now and is it better than ever was.  I am so sad to leave it all behind, but you all know you I will be doing all I can to stick around, even if I need to do it via the Internet.  No way in hell am I going to not keep updated, some of these local bands are too important to not continue to keep tabs on.

The people…my friends.  Cleveland and Akron are full of the greatest people I will ever meet.  I know you will all welcome me back with open arms if and when I make it back on Ohio soil.  Trust me on this, I will be thinking about Ohio on a daily basis for the rest of my life.  Thank you to everyone out there who I have met for being so damn cool.

Obviously I am going to miss the locally owned shops and restaurants.  I just hit up Square Records last night and know nothing like that store will exist where I am moving to.  Music Saves and Blue Arrow, I seriously am going to miss the shit out of as well as the greatest comfort food on Earth, Melt.  Pizza will never even compare to Luigi’s.  I drool at the thought of one of their salads right now…  There are so many other places I can talk about, but I am getting sad just thinking about it.  I just hope I can score some Great Lakes beers out in the desert.

Sure, there will be plenty of new places for me to experience in my move to a new city, but it will not be the same.  Anyone from Cleveland and Akron who reads this knows exactly what I am talking about.  Cleveland and Akron are not that bad and I question why so many people hate it and say they are stuck in it.  I’m glad I was born and raised here.

Do I even dare get into Cleveland sports???  I will miss that so much and you can bet your ass I will remain a fan of Cleveland teams until the day I die.  That is a promise.  Browns for life.

I really should wrap this thing up.  Before I finish though, I just wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you out there who has spoken to me one way or another, shared a beer or a smile, rocked out along with, or just stopped here on this blog to see what was on my mind.  Without you all, I know I would not be the man I am today, and this site would not be going on 4 years.  Being surrounded in so many amazing people just adds fuel to my amazing life.

Special love to my greatest friends ever who rock out in bands like The Facials, Worship This!, Signals Midwest, Beat Kids, Harvey Pekar, Annabel, All Dinosaurs, Sidekicks, and of course Narcoleptics X5 (RIP).  These bands that I surrounded me around with are full of some of the most amazing people I will ever know in my life and I will miss the shit out of all of you.

Props to places like It’s A Kling Thing House, Dag House, Now That’s Class, Grog Shop, Agora (I hope you make a sweet come back), Odeon (you too), and all the other places I have seen a show at., aka Matt, and his amazing new fiancé Annie (congrats!!!!), thank you for everything you have ever done for me.  The same love goes to all the good people who used to slave away at 92.3 including Patt The Producer and Nard.

I plan on continuing my blog, that is for sure, but it will never be the same.  I will be sure to try and visit and who knows, maybe one day I will plant my feet back in northeastern Ohio.  Only time can tell.

I leave June 8th and hope I get to see many of you before I pack up and drive cross county.  I know Las Cruces will be good to me, but nothing like the cities I grew up in.

I am scared as hell but excited to see what happens in the next chapter of my life.  Thank you people of Cleveland for all you have done for me.  I can not help but say “Cleveland Rocks” and mean it with all of my heart.  Akron, you rule too.