Behind The Scenes Of The Cleveland Music Scene

If there’s one thing the Cleveland music scene is known for it’s that, like the song that the band The Presidents Of The United States sings, Cleveland rocks. In my opinion, it’s a diverse and energetic scene that is filled with opportunity. Working in the industry has always been a dream of mine. Sometimes it can be difficult to know though, as a young adult still in college, what direction is the best pathway to take to meet this end goal. I’m always asking industry professionals for advice because everyone has a unique and interesting story of how they first got started. I especially like speaking with millennials about this topic since I’m able to relate to their struggles and successes. One millennial who’s had success in this field is Black Squirrel Radio’s general manager, Justin Graci.

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Justin Graci. Photo used from Graci’s Twitter

Aside from currently being the BSR general manager and the Marketing Director for BravoArtist as the Marking Director, Graci, a 21-year-old public relations major at Kent State University, has previously held positions within the Cleveland music scene as an intern for The Grog Shop, the Promotions Director at Black Squirrel Radio. I recently asked him for some advice about how he started working for the industry, and about some of his experiences working specifically in the Cleveland scene. Check out my interview with him below!

Q1: How were you able to break into the Cleveland scene when you first decided you wanted to work with music?

A1: “I mean obviously networking is the key to everything, but networking as in like making friends with people who are also doing stuff or are interested in the same stuff as me. Then they would advance and kind of tag me along for the ride. Meeting people who saw I was dedicated enough to the music scene, and how I promoted things to people and tried to get them to go to the things I was doing. So it was kind of like, people just noticed how into everything I was. I tried to reach out to street teams, just to get into shows for free. I interned with The Grog for my senior project in high school, and I kept a relationship with them and did stuff for them when they needed me. Then Black Squirrel Radio, I just got into for music and somebody noticed how into everything I was and how I wanted to work in the music industry, and they told me to join the staff. Then BravoArtist, same thing. They knew I was super involved with Black Squirrel Radio and super involved with the music scene, so they brought me on because they knew I would do a good job.”

Q2: What has been the most challenging part about working for the industry?

A: “It just takes a while to advance. I mean there are people who work above me who obviously have the jobs that I would prefer to have, but it’s hard to advance in something if there’s already people there because you can’t really advance unless those people move on, and a lot of people obviously aren’t going to go anywhere. So it’s hard to find your footing and what direction you want to go in. Especially in a city like Cleveland, it’s a big music-based town because there’s a ton of people who want to do the same thing, but there’s not a ton of places to do it at. So I think the hardest part is the room for advancement because it’s hard to find something.”

Q3: How would you say Cleveland’s music scene is different from another city’s music scene, so for example, Chicago, New York City or another city that’s similar?

A: “The Cleveland scene to me seems like, local band-wise, I think we have the strongest local scene. I don’t know if that’s coming off a biased standpoint or not, but I think that we have one of the strongest local scenes in all of those places. Everything in Cleveland and all the venues are tailored correctly to what bands play there, like everything works better. I’ve been to shows in Chicago where I felt like the venue didn’t fit the band playing. It’s just not over-saturated in Cleveland; I think there’s a right amount of everything. In bigger cities like in Chicago and in L.A. and New York, it’s too big of an area so they get oversaturated and there becomes too much of everything so it’s just not interesting anymore, and it’s easy to fall out of stuff. The people in Cleveland are more dedicated to certain things because it’s not oversaturated. There’s the perfect amount of everything. There’s the perfect amount of venues, the perfect amount of local bands, there’s the perfect amount of shows that come here and it’s not too much.”

Q4: So specifically working with the local Cleveland bands, what is it like working with Cleveland musicians?

A: “This is more of a stereotype I guess, but I feel like other places are more snobby. Like if you’re from New York or L.A. or something I think it’s engrained in your head that you have this chance to get big just because you’re from that area. In Cleveland it’s like people actually build up and try to work towards something… I just feel like Cleveland bands are more grateful, and they work towards something rather than in other cities. I feel like [in other cities] it’s just like, ‘I’m from New York. We’re going to go on this tour. We’ll get big.’ There’s not a lot of progress.”

Q5: What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the Cleveland music industry?

A: “You just have to do it really. You might be scared of reaching out to people because you get nervous that you’re not going to hear back or that they’re not going to like you or whatever, but there’s room for everyone in the scene…You just have to be dedicated to what you want to do and express that. If you express yourself and express what you like doing, somebody will find you. Obviously you should reach out to them, but the first step is to express yourself to the audience that you want to present yourself to. Follow people on Twitter that you look up to, respond to their tweets, favorite their tweets, and that actually works. I’ve had people that I really loom up to follow me back. It’s all about networking and expressing yourself and showcasing that you’re the most dedicated to something and you like this the most so you would be better than everybody else at this kind of thing. Not over-confident, but just the right amount.”

Do you have experiences working in the Cleveland music industry? Leave a comment below!

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6 Albums You Need To Wish Happy 10th Birthday To

Pop culture was very different/cringe-worthy one decade ago. In the year 2006, I was 10-years-old, but I can remember the year all too well. During this time, Heelys could be found on the feet of every pre-teen gliding into Hot Topic, American Idol and Pirates of the Carrabin were on every T.V, and MySpace was on the screen of every computer. Within this completely different era though, emerged a set of alternative and indie albums that would eventually shape the 00’s generation and still be relevant today. This year, many of these albums are celebrating their 10-year-anniversary. To make it through 2006 successfully was quite an accomplishment within itself. To celebrate, I made a list of six different albums that are turning 10 this year along with some details of their legacy.

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What albums from 2006 played on your MySpace page? Let me know in the comments below.

Citations:
Boys Like Girls Facts:
-Billboard
-RIAA

The Killers Facts:
-MTV

Regina Spektor Facts:
-Billboard
-Rolling Stone Magazine
-RIAA

All Time Low Facts:
-Google Books
-AbsolutePunk

The Strokes Facts:
-StereoGum
-JamCanoe

Taking Back Sunday Facts:
-Kerrang! Magazine
Absolute Punk

 

Why You Need To Have A Ra Ra Riot

This week I decided to take a quick hop, skip and jump outside of my lovely city of Cleveland to New York City for a media conference. While I was there, I had the opportunity to see indie rock band Ra Ra Riot at their sold out Webster Hall show. This was the first time I’d ever seen a concert in NYC, the first time I’d seen Ra Ra Riot and I had no idea what to expect. I can easily say though that this concert was one of my favorite parts of my trip. I would highly recommend seeing Ra Ra Riot to any music lover because they definitely put on a performance and had great interactions with the crowd. I actually ended up grabbing the set list once the show was over, and happened to run into the lead singer, Wes, as I was leaving Webster Hall!

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My friends and I meeting Wes, the lead singer of Ra Ra Riot.

It was such a cool experience meeting Wes, and of course I had to tell him about this blog. In my last blog post I mentioned that Ra Ra Riot actually released a new album, Need Your Light, on February 19. It was a really refreshing hearing their energetic sound through songs like Suckers and Absolutely played live, and I loved every moment of the show. Lucky for Cleveland readers, you can experience this awesome show first hand since the band will be performing at LaureLive 2016 on June 11. You can purchase tickets online, or check out what other cool bands will be performing at this event from LaureLive’s website. Not able to see Ra Ra Riot live? Purchase their album and pretend you’re jamming out in Cleveland at the festival. Watch my video below to see more of my experience with my friend Bella at the concert.

Have you seen Ra Ra Riot live? What did you think of their live show? Let me know in the comments below.

*Song in video – Absolutely by Ra Ra Riot.*

 

6 Albums Released in 2016 You Need To Listen To

As of right now, we are currently on day 57 of the year 2016. According to my math, that means we’re about 15 percent of the way through the year. With each year that passes, a countless number of inspiring and beautiful alternative and indie albums are released into the world that will grace our ears for years to come. This year is no exception. Personally, I’ve already found six new albums that will continue to shape my 2016, and should shape yours as well. Here are the six best alternative and indie albums that have been released thus far. (Listed from most to least recent)

Artist: The 1975
Album: I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
Release date: February 26
Where you can buy the album: Find it on The 1975’s website 

This past summer I visited London, England, and happened to find a The 1975 sweatshirt at a street vendor for 15 pounds (about 30 USD). This album makes me so happy that I bought the sweatshirt because I know this is a band that is making an impact in the music world, and is here to stay. Once you get past the extremely long album title, each song is a pure work of art. I am in awe of Matty Healy’s bold/Bowie influenced voice. I wasn’t sure if the band would be able to top their last album, The 1975, but I am glad to say that I have been proved wrong. If you listen to one song today, make sure it’s the band’s newest hit, Love Me.

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Bryce Avery and I at a The Rocket Summer concert in 2012

Artist: The Rocket Summer
Album: Zoetic
Release date: February 26
Where you can buy the album: Check out The Rocket Summer’s website

I have been anticipating the release of The Rocket Summer’s new album since Bryce Avery released his last album, Of Men and Angels, in 2010. One of the things I love most about The Rocket Summer is that Avery makes every single album distinct from one another, and gives each album it’s own personality. This one happens to be filled with passion, charisma, energy and a hint of audacity. It’s been a long six years, but I can eagerly say welcome back, Bryce. Make sure to listen to my favorite song from the album, Cold Air.

Artist: Ra Ra Riot
Album: Need Your Light
Release date: February 19
Where you can buy the album: Find it on Ra Ra Riot’s website

Every time I listen to Ra Ra Riot the only thing I want to do is dance, and frankly it’s hard to prevent myself from doing just that while listening to Need Your Light. Although I wasn’t alive during the 1980’s, the synthesizers, guitar and overall beat in this album reminds me of the music from this era. If you’re in the mood to dance, make sure you check out Suckers.

Artist: St. Lucia
Album: Matter
Release date: January 29
Where you can buy the album: Check out St. Lucia’s website 

If you’re a fan of Walk The Moon, you’ll definitely be a fan of St. Lucia and their newest album, Matter. Their song, Dancing on Glass, is currently a top hit on the indie music charts, and I couldn’t be happier. I love the funky/upbeat energy from this entire album, and almost every song has such a catchy chorus. If you want to listen to the best song from Matter, check out The Winds of Change. 

Artist: Panic! At the Disco
Album: Death Of A Bachelor
Release date: January 15
Where you can buy the album: Panic! At the Disco’s Website

This album takes me back to my middle school days. Panic! At the Disco definitely has a signature type of energetic/alternative/dynamic sound, and it’s nice to hear that the group is still able to portray that signature sound through five albums. Instead of the poor groom’s bride, it’s the bachelor’s time to shine with this album. Check out my favorite song from this album, Crazy = Genius.

Artist: Daughter
Album: Not To Disappear
Release date: January 15
Where you can buy the album: Check out Daughter’s website

Listening to daughter on a regular basis makes me feel like I’m floating above clouds, and this new album is no exception. Elena Tonra’s voice is filled with dreamy and haunting lyrics that make me want to fall asleep, but in a good way. You’ll want to listen to this album all the way through to truly appreciate the beautiful sounds. If you only give one song a listen, make sure it’s Numbers.

With approximately 85 percent of this year left before 2017, I can’t wait to see what other alternative and indie musicians have in store! Think I’ve missed a great album that’s been released this year? Let me know in the comments below!

The Top 7 Upcoming Cleveland Concerts You Must See

Stuck in the winter woes? Going to a concert always makes me feel better, and will make you feel better too! Check out the top seven best alternative and indie concerts coming to the Cleveland area within the next few months. All concerts are listed in order by date. Feel like I missed one? Let me know in the comments below.

1.) The Mowgli’s
Venue: Brite Winter
Date: February 20
Cost: Free
You can find the full festival schedule here.

Since 2013, The Mowgli’s have made their mark in the up-and-coming indie scene. Their messages of positivity and love throughout their songs are ones that can expectedly be seen in their live shows. The energy created by the band is an experience you won’t want to miss. Check out their best song, San Francisico, here.

2.) The Moxies
Venue: Beachland Ballroom
Date: February 27
Cost: $10
You can purchase tickets here.

Moxie is definitely something you can expect to see when watching The Moxies live. The energy of the lead guitar along with lead singer Marco Ciofani’s voice really drives their music, and makes it almost impossible not to at least nod to the beat. Their old school sound is something you have to hear in person. Check out their best song, Main Street Drive-In, here.

3.) Beach House
Venue: The House Of Blues
Date: February 29
Cost: $25
Click here to purchase tickets.

What better way to spend leap day than with Beach House? The band’s dreamy music will give you all the feels as you float away on an imaginary California coast. You’ll never want to leave the House Of Blues once Victoria Legrand starts singing their best song, Zebra. Listen to it here.

4.) The Arkells
Venue: The Grog Shop
Date: March 30
Cost: $16
Click here to purchase tickets.

I’ve loved The Arkells since I was in 10th grade, and they were actually a part of the first ‘real’ alternative concert I saw. Their shows are always charged and electric, and I couldn’t be more excited to see this band if I tried. Although watching The Arkells will bring me back to my glory high school days, the band’s newest album, High Noon, shows their progression from my personal favorite Arkells album, Michigan Left. Check out the song that made me fall in love with them, Michigan Left, here.

5.) The Rocket Summer
Venue: Musica
Date: March 31
Cost: $15
Purchase tickets to this show here.

The Rocket Summer has held a special place in my heart since middle school, and will continue to do so until the day I die. Bryce Avery is one of the most talented and inspirational musicians I have ever met, and I will forever be amazed at the pure energy found at his performances. It’s easy to see how much he truly loves his talent and his fans at each show. If you see one show this upcoming spring, make sure it’s The Rocket Summer’s. Listen to one of my all time favorite songs, So Much Love, here.

6.) The Griswolds
Venue: Beachland Ballroom
Date: April 20
Cost: $20
Find tickets to the show here.

If you like high energy, sweaty, Australian men, this is the show for you. The Griswolds put on a performance, and love to engage the crowd. Their catchy and chill sound will keep you entertained and wanting more. I promise the song, Beware The Dog, will get stuck in your head in a good way once you listen to it here.

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(From left to right) Me, Laura Wester, The Griswolds lead singer Christopher Whitehall and Amanda Beck at The Griswolds concert at the Cleveland House Of Blues.

7.) Twenty One Pilots
Venue: The Wolstein Center
Date: June 8
Cost: $45, $35 or $25
Purchase tickets here.

Native to Ohio, Twenty One Pilots are sure to put on a great show for their home state. Their rise to popularity has been well earned with their multiple hit singles. It’s almost impossible to listen to the radio and not hear one of their tunes. I can’t wait for these musicians to come to Cleveland and play one of my current favorite songs, Tear In My Heart. You can hear it yourself here.