I am extremely fortunate to have access to an amazing collection of Northeast music from 1985 to 2000 thanks to my local music guru, Jim Benson. For years, you could tune into Baldwin-Wallace College’s WBWC 88.3 on Friday nights from 7:00 to 9:00 and hear Jim’s “Local Artists Show” For two hours, he would play the latest local music, interview local musicians and occasionally, have a local artist or band perform acoustically in the studio. Jim hosted my old band, North By Northwest when we were just a duo and released our single and EP in spring 1991. He interviewed us in between playing the EP and then asked us to play live in the studio (I’ll post those cuts in the future sometime). Jim put our single into rotation, but he liked the B side, “Fooled Again” better so he flipped the record and we peaked at number on the WBWC charts in May (mostly because Phil and I, our soon to be spouses, and our fraternity brothers constantly called and requested the DJs to play our record).
When I left music, I lost touch with Jim but thanks to social media, we reconnected several years ago. As I was starting this project, I knew I had to reach out to him for help. I stopped over his house a few weeks ago and as we sorted through his collection, I listened intently as we reminisced about the local music scene. I was particularly interested in his cassette collection of local music and Jim entrusted me with a number of his tapes, most rare but extremely crucial to the history of Cleveland music, so that I could digitize and catalog them.
I’m linking to three (well, four really) of my favorites from this first batch of cassettes that I have uploaded to my YouTube channel. The first link is to a combo of two demos from The Earl Rays – their “red” tape released in 1987 and their “white” tape released in 1989. Also from 1989 is “Spinning In Infinity,” the debut from Jericho Turnpike. Finally, The Dandelion People (who later morphed into Al’s Fast Freight) released their four song self-titled cassette EP in 1990. Lots more to follow as I will be returning to Casa De Benson for more history lessons (and he’ll probably make me mow his lawn, too). Until then, enjoy these three, all of which still hold up well almost thirty years later.