BAND OF THE MONTH – 3D: Looking Across Dimensions in Time With A Stere-O-View

One of the pure joys I have as the chief archivist of the Listen Project is discovering music from NE Ohio’s past, especially from the mid-1990’s forward which was during the time I was unplugged from the local music scene. Frequently, after hearing something old that is new to me, I ask myself this simple question: “Why isn’t this band well-known?” NE Ohio has and continues to remain fertile ground for great music and yet, a number of artists and bands who, IMHO, had the songs to make it to the national stage, never even received an invitation to “the Show” (a baseball euphemism for getting called up to a Major League club and in our example, a deal with a major record label).

I’ve written about Michael Purkhiser previously. Back in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, he was part of the power pop trio, The Action. Powered mostly by his smart and crisp songwriting, The Action developed a huge following in Akron and Kent and were known for their incredible live shows and you can find a few videos of the band playing live at the Akron Sound Museum YouTube channel. The Action released three singles in a five year period with the intention of releasing a four song EP, but, as is common in rock and roll, the band dissolved leaving a lot of potential on the floor.

Flash forward a decade or so later. Michael Purkhiser is the sound engineer for the Beatles tribute band 1964 and playing in The Walking Clampetts, the successor band to Kent 1980’s rockabilly tour-de-force, Johnny Clampett and the Walkers. He’s still writing – prolifically – and the songs blend the rockabilly covers played by the Walking Clampetts with his power pop roots from the Action. Enlisting former one time member of Johnny Clampett and the Walkers, former Terrible Parade guitarist and NE Ohio’s favorite Rock and Roll Mercenary, Marky Ray (just off the road as tour manager for The Toadies), drummer John Koury (The Infidels) and bassist/keyboardist Dave “Tate” Stephenson (Kal & The Bad Dudes) in 1997, 3D is formed and the band headed into 216 Studios in Cuyahoga Falls. With Stephenson, a talented engineer, behind the mixing board, 3D spent the next three years putting Purkhiser’s songs to tape.

Over the next three years, 3D recorded approximately 30 songs in the studio and made several live appearances. Although the intention was to release several albums since they had plenty of great material, the only official release is the 1998 five song EP titled Universal Conquest and it serves smartly as the band’s”what if” as all five songs are tight and well-produced, perfectly ready for “the Show.” About the band, Marky Ray, in an April 2015 on-line interview with Tim Quine for the Rubber City Review, said this:

“The stuff we did with 3D was awesome, but like most bands from this area, we were probably ahead of our time. Perhaps a little too this or that, I don’t know. Some people might call it Americana, but we were probably 15 years ahead of this souped-up country music – which is really just rock and roll, whatever.” (1)

By the turn of the 21st century, even with the addition of new members, first Quin Wychanko and then Kip Amore on bass and Tom Pace on drums, the lack of label interested and, of course, life took its toll and another great NE Ohio band faded away.

Flash forward to earlier this year. Based on a post I made on the Listen Project Facebook page about the Action, Michael Purkhiser reached out to me and I was able to share with him my love for not only the Action but 3D as well. I had found Universal Conquest on-line (from an Australian seller, no less) and instantly fell in love with the songs, particularly a catchy tune called “There Goes My Heart Again” which, of course, has made its way into the regular rotation on Listen Project Radio as have some of the tracks Marky picked for his interview with me in April. This week, Michael reached out to me again and, long story short, I now have pretty much all of 3D’s studio output in the Listen Project archives. Many of these tracks along with the tracks from Universal Conquest, according to Michael, were going to be released as a full-length album, initially titled Radio Akron but then changed to Stere-O-View.

Now I know that you want to hear these great songs and there are a couple of ways to do so. First, of course, you can regularly tune into Listen Project Radio and hear 3D along with a lot of other cool Northeast Ohio bands. If you want to just cut to the chase, you need to go to Marky Ray’s YouTube channel on which he is continually posting some incredible videos of material from his long career and a lot of other cool stuff. You’ll find a lot of 3D songs set to some really, really creative art. Enjoy the songs of Michael Purkhiser, truly one of NE Ohio’s most talented songwriters.

(1) https://rubbercityreview.com/2015/04/marky-ray-rock-and-roll-mercenary/

Quick Update

Just a quick update on the project’s progress.  May was a busy month both personally and professionally for me, so I did not have a great deal of time to spare.  However, I was able to convert several more cassettes to digital files and hopefully, I can continue with the You Tube releases soon (and there is some really, really cool music on my “to do” list).

We have 233 members in the Listen: A History of Cleveland Music 1985-2000 Facebook group and 74 likes for it’s associated page.  If you haven’t stopped by and “liked” the page, please go here and do so.

As always, if you have any music, memorabilia, flyers, photos, etc. that you want to share, please contact me at chris@listenclevelandmusic.com. Enjoy the beginning of summer and support local music wherever you are.

The (Start Of A) “Listen” Soundtrack

I spend a lot of time listening to music related to this project. It’s kind of necessary when one is trying to chronicle this period in NE Ohio music. My main means of listening is via my Apple Music account (which is @Chris_Noga if you have an Apple Music account and want to listen to the playlist) that allows me to upload my collection and play it from just about anywhere on a PC or my iPhone. Very convenient. The playlist I created is below. The only rule I had for this particular list was only ONE song per artist/band which made it particularly challenging in some cases. Read through my playlist (it runs chronologically from 1985 to 2000) and tell me who I missed and should be added or what song better represents a band already in this playlist (meaning this list will be fluid and subject to changes):
Death of Samantha – Stories For Children
The Mice – Not Proud Of The USA
My Dad Is Dead – The Quiet Man
The French Lenards – Little Dreams
Snyders Of Berlin – Come Over To My Coffin
The Adults – Yes I Do
The 14th Floor – Monster
California Speedbag – Shit List
Les Black’s Amazing Pink Holes – Crazy Slut
The Chimes – Fear And Tenderness
Home And Garden – Greenland
The Uninspired Five – Don’t Give Me Away
Youth In Asia – Dead Dogs Tell No Tails
Mr. Sensible – Mr. Sensible
Sosumi – Dr. Sosumi
Knifedance – Driven
The Vivians – Black Widow
Nick Riff – Tripping Over Clouds
Gypsy Moths – Run Away
Floydband – Killed Myself Last Night
The Outcasts – Glory
Three-Legged Poets – She Goes Down To The Lake At Night
The Walk-Ins – Winter Still
New Salem Witch Hunters – Last Patrol
Exotic Birds – Day After Day
Indian Rope Burn – Stupid For You
Modzilla – Angel In Red
Hot Tin Roof – Warm Jets
Max Crucial And The Krushers – Turnin’ Brown
Gunnblue – Something Fishy
North By Northwest – Fooled Again
In Fear Of Roses – When I Was Young
Sleazy Jesus And The Splatter Pigs – Beer
Beatnik Termites – Circles
The Earl Rays – Phil
Rotary Ten – Highway Houses
Odd Girl Out – Leavin’
Golgotha – Mask
The Dandelion People – Nine Reasons Why
Owen Boogy Trio – If…
Jay Bentoff – Jane Tells Me
terrible parade – Ed McMahon Says
Jehova Waitresses – Clean And Simple
Medicine Men – Be Wanna Be
Tie Dye Harvest – By The Waterside
The Cowslingers – Tattoed Blue
Bluto’s Revenge – Sometimes I’d Rather Be Alone
The Twist-Offs – Have Mercy
Lake Effect – Elijah
Anna Nausea – Don’t Wake Me Up
Prisonshake – Kick Up Yer Heels
Two Fingers Shy – World Without You
Rotary Ten – Winona
Coltrane Wreck – Lover’s Chains
Greenhouse 27 – Somedays
Grain – Hickory
The Waynes – This Moving Train
The Frans – And It’s So…
Jehova Waitresses – Perfect Impossible
Hostile Amish – Lizard Up My Butthole
Paranoid Lovesick – Big Star
Public Library – Candle Garden
The Fifth Wheel – It’s As Close As I Can Get
Dink – USA Sex
World In A Room – Ocean
Gem – Suburban Girl
Tracey Thomas – Stand Alone
Slackjaw – Not Guilty
Blue Taxi – Sweet Young Thing
Rasch – DNA
Azure Blue – Another Place
Melissa’s Green Thumb – Fish Market
Throckmorton – Peacemeal
Sons Of Elvis – Formaldehyde
The Palindromes – Here We Go Again
The Simpletons – Back In The Day
Greenhouse 27 – God
The Heathers – Hitchhiker
The Unknown – Annie Mae
Anne E. Dechant – Effort Of The Spin
The Spudmonsters – Isolation
Jericho Turnpike – Bitter End
Third Wish – Just Enough
Queue Up – Velvet
Delicate Balance – Tower
Joe Bell And The Swing Lizards – Break Out
Al’s Fast Freight – Interstate 90
Superkreme – Swerve
Alexis Antes – Stronger
The Revelers – Lost Again
Cats On Holiday – King Kong
Viva Caramel – Bits And Pieces
Five Minutes Fast – Lovely
Hillbilly Idol – Mind To Change

Cobra Verde – One Step Away From Myself

DELETIONS ARE STRUCKTHROUGH
ADDITIONS ARE IN GREEN

From The Eerie Shore

As I work my way through my ever growing pile of Northeast Ohio music from between 1985 and 2000, I am going to use the blog to highlight the releases.  In order to share this music (most of which has been long out-of-print or hard to find), I’ve posted numerous albums from the era to my YouTube channel.  I’m not intending on following a chronological order and there’s no significance to publication order.  I grab a CD or album, listen to it and write.  If you have ownership and/or copyright interest and want a video taken down, please email my at chris@listenclevelandmusic.com and I will delete it.  Hopefully, though, you will want to share your music with family, friends, fans and perhaps a brand new generation of listeners.

This first CD is significant to me personally because it was the first compilation of Cleveland music that I ever heard thanks to Chris Keffer.  My cover band, Free For All had been recording a promo cassette at Magnetic North Studio when Chris’ band, Atomic Café, broke up and The Walk-Ins formed out of the ashes.  We were in for a tracking session and during a break, Chris played us the two cuts from the Walk-Ins that were going to be featured on a brand new compilation CD called From The Eerie Shore.   When I listened to the whole “Eerie Shore” for the first time, as a 19 year old musician and budding songwriter I was struck hard.  Playing covers quickly became a thing of the past and I knew that writing and playing original music was not just where I wanted to be, but where I NEEDED to be.

Co-produced by Sosumi’s Malcom Ryder and John Walsh for Synthetic Records and Jim Clevo for Jim Clevo Presentations, this was Clevo’s first co-produced compilation not specifically targeting the College Music Journal’s (CMJ) Music Marathon. Earlier in 1988, Synthetic Records (Sosumi’s label) released “Crash Course in Cleveland Life” (Synthetic Records 001) as a vinyl LP and four of the six bands featured on that release, Sosumi, The 14th Floor, The Floyd Band and The Vivians, appear on “From The Eerie Shore” each with two cuts except for The Vivians who contributed only one track. The switch to the CD format allowed for 14 bands to showcase their talents and most of these new contributors were markedly different from the hardcore, punk sounds found on “Crash Course” including two synth driven cuts, “Greenland” from Home & Garden and “By Any Other Name” from Gunnblue; the jangle rock “Fear And Tenderness” from The Chimes; and Max Crucial & The Krushers’ tight punk/power pop number, “Color Of Your Eyes.” The CD also features two unique cuts from the embryonic Walk-Ins featuring their original lead vocalist, Bonnie Bowers: the ethereal “The Rain Came Down” and the guitar rocker “Comfort and Joy” featuring a blistering guitar solo. With a change in lead singers and the addition of violinist Ed Caner shortly after the release of “From The Eerie Shore,” The Walk-Ins would never release a song with a sound remotely close to these two tracks.  This disk is significant to understanding the evolution of the Cleveland music scene as the 80s were drawing to a close.  Take a listen!

Postscript:  Can anyone name the models for the cover and the program?  If so, leave a comment.  I’m really interested to know who they are.

 

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Live For The Music

Just a quick post.  First, thank you, thank you, thank you!  There are now over 100 150 members of the Facebook Group less than a week after it’s formation.  I’m incredibly excited about the names I’ve seen in the group’s members list.  I hope that each of you finds merit in this project and are willing to share your memories.  Keep adding people who you think would be interested in this project.

My first task for this project has been reconnecting with the music.  I dusted off a number of releases that I’ve kept all of these years plus scoured eBay, Amazon and Discogs in order to purchase the one’s that I didn’t have but I feel are vital to this project.  I’m amazed at what I found.  I attached the list as a PDF file to this post.  These are the releases I physically own.  I’ve also found a number of release through my Apple Music subscription including albums from Prisonshake, Knifedance, My Dad Is Dead, Chump and Rainy Day Saints as well as finding some rarities posted on YouTube.  These are not included in my list at this time.

The music and the artists are so important to this project so if you review my list and you have a 7″ or album (LP or CD) that is missing from this list, please let me know at chris@listenclevelandmusic.com.  If you have mp3 files that you would like to contribute, I would be most grateful.

Local Music Collection 1985-2000 No Label Or Year

It’s All About the CLE, the JCP and the CMG

One of my favorite books is “Rock N’ Roll And The Cleveland Connection” by Deanna R. Adams.  Published in 2002 by the Kent State University Press, at over 600 pages  it is THE definitive account of the Cleveland music scene from the 1950s through the end of the 20th century.  I am the proud owner of a copy autographed by the author a few years ago after a presentation on the history of local music at the Twinsburg Public Library.  If you are a hardcore fan of any era of the Northcoast music scene, it really is a must read, but especially if you want a brief introduction to the period that this blog and project will cover.  Deanna highlights several of the most prominent bands that existed at some point between 1985 to the early 2000s including The Adults, Breaker, Shok Paris, Death of Samantha, New Salem Witch Hunters, Hostile Amish, Jehova Waitresses and Odd Girl Out.

For the most part, my intention is to not spend much time on ground already covered by Deanna’s book with the exception of Jehova Waitresses and Odd Girl Out (two of my favs of the 90s so I’m calling author’s prerogative).  Instead, the starting point for this project is twofold.  The first strategy is to focus on many of the bands and artists featured on the Jim Clevo Presentations and Cleveland Music Group compilations CDs released from 1987 through 1997.  While there were a number of other compilations of Cleveland music released in the late 80s and 90s, I am fortunate to have all of the JCP and CMG releases in my collection as well as many of the LPs, cassettes and CDs released by a number of those bands.  This means (hopefully) some really great artists and bands that didn’t have the prominence that the bands Deanna wrote about did will get their place in the sun here.

The second strategy relies on a modern resource.  Thanks to the power of social media, I have been able to reconnect with many of the musicians I know, admire and consider friends from those fun days.  I hope many of them will be willing to sit down with me and tell their stories as well as put me in contact with other musicians from that time in order for me to develop an even more accurate and detailed history.  I’m sure that adhering to both of these strategies will take me down several rabbit holes, but then again, that’s what’s fun about projects like this – you can write the beginning without exactly knowing where you’ll stick the landing.  As always, if you are reading this and have a suggestion or something to contribute, please feel free to email me with it at twincop746@gmail.com.

Getting Off The Ground

I have it all up in my head, charted out neatly.  I know where I want to start and where I want to stop.  It’s all the stuff in between that I have to organize and put down on paper so that I can cover all the bases in this project.  I hope you’ll bear with me.  Let’s set the stage for the start.

Cleveland, Ohio in 1985 was finally coming out of decades of economic doldrums. For what seemed like an eternity, northeast Ohio, once a center of manufacturing, strongly felt the results of a recession which included high interest rates for home mortgages, the loss of good paying jobs in the crucial steel and automotive industries and white flight into the far suburbs such as Solon, Brunswick and Westlake. The local music scene in the mid to late 1970s/early 1980s reflected the tough times felt by those who stayed the course and stayed true to their blue collar Cleveland roots. The punk/protopunk scene was one of the few bright moments during that time. Those who lived through that time and were part of it still speak of those years with reverence. Legendary bands like Rocket From The Tombs, The Dead Boys and Pere Ubu formed by musicians such as Peter Laughner, Stiv Bators and David Thomas took their angst out through loud, messy, angry and sometimes, strange music. Attitude ruled over musical proficiency in most cases and image ruled more than anything else.  A DIY approach in promoting bands (purely out of necessity) helped spread the word at a time when the Internet was the exclusive playground for academics.

A great snapshot of the Cleveland punk era is found on two releases.  First, the Soul Jazz Records 2015 release, “Punk 45: Extermination Nights In The Sixth City! Cleveland, Ohio : Punk And The Decline Of The Mid West 1975 – 82” contains songs from some very legendary and highly influential bands like The Pagans, Pere Ubu, The Electric Eels, and Rocket From The Tombs. The second important release is the groundbreaking compilation LP, “They Pelted Us With Rocks And Garbage” from 1985.  This album bridged the two eras and served as the prototype for the compilations that were to come over the next ten years.

As the economy began to strengthen and Cleveland began to reinvent itself, the punk scene gradually gave way to something new, something different. While one could still find the loud angry punks playing dive bars on either side of the Cuyahoga River, variety was stubbornly but successfully making itself known. By 1985, it was evident that something was happening as power poppers, post new wavers, metal heads, avant-garde disciples and the synth riders were becoming just as prominent as the punks in the bars and clubs.  The door to something great was opening…….

 

Arguably The Golden Age of Cleveland Music

My name is Chris Noga.  From 1988 until 1993, I played guitar and wrote songs for the incredibly obscure Cleveland Ohio band, North By Northwest.  We released one 7″ single, one five song EP, one cassette single and appeared on one compilation CD.  We spent about a hundred hours in the recording studio trying to find our sound (almost did, too) and we played less than a dozen live gigs.  We were, however, proud to be an extremely small part of what was arguably the golden age of Cleveland music when a number of immensely talented musicians and bands wrote and performed their own music on their terms.  From power pop, straight ahead rock and folk to post punk, electronic, avant-garde, the Cleveland music scene from 1985 to 2000 thrived and while there were varying levels of “success,” what really developed was a very cool sense of community.

The “Godfather” of the scene at the time was Jim Clevo (Chlebo), a lifelong resident of Cleveland and a proud graduate of John Marshall High School. Jim graduated from the Ohio School of Broadcasting and DJ’d at radio stations WCSB, WOXY and WFUN.  Beginning around 1985, Jim began to actively support and promote the local music scene and in 1987 under the “Jim Clevo Presentations” moniker, he released a compilation cassette titled “Listen.”  Jim took that tape to New York City containing original songs from sixteen local bands and he distributed it during the 7th annual College Music Journal Music Marathon.  He would release four additional compilations (on CD) until becoming the president of the Cleveland Music Group.  Jim then spearheaded additional compilations of Cleveland music as well as led the Cleveland contingent to the South By Southwest Music Festival in the early and mid 90s.  Jim knew there was a wealth of great music in Cleveland and when he passed away in March 2015, he willed his papers and media to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum Library in order to preserve the music he promoted so fiercely.

Recently, I learned that both North By Northwest cassette releases were actually part of the collection of tapes that were part of Jim’s donation to the RRHOF.  I realized that while it’s cool that Jim’s life work is safely preserved, in order to truly “live,” the stories behind the bands, cassettes, CDs, flyers and other documents contained in that collection have to be put into context by those who were there.  As a history major, while my career field the past 25 plus years had nothing to do with my degree, I think I’ve always unconsciously been looking for a historical research project to keep my skills sharp.  It’s been said, “write what you know” and so my mission is to catalog the era of Cleveland music of which I was a part.  I think the best way for me is to start with this blog.  I’ve compiled almost fifty LPs and CDs released by Cleveland bands in the late 80s and 90s.  I’ll spend the next few months blogging about those releases.  I’ll also be reaching out to friends and musicians from that era in an attempt to preserve their stories through oral histories.  Finally, I plan to peruse the Jim Clevo papers personally as well as the papers donated by legendary Cleveland rock photographer and writer, Anastasia Pantsios to the Western Reserve Historical Society.

There are stories to be told and I want to preserve them.  If you were a part of the Cleveland music scene from 1985 to 2000, if you are inspired to assist me with this project, please email me at chris@listenclevelandmusic.com.  I’m looking for personal recollections, photos, music, flyers and anything else that you feel would add to my research.  Who knows where this will end up but my sincere hope is that the final result will be a fun chronicle of the most fruitful era of Cleveland music.

Cheers!

Want to learn a little about my old band, North By Northwest?  Click on the hyperlink which will take you to our Facebook page.  We’ve got photos, music from our cassettes and videos from our final performance as a band.  While you’re there, please give us a “like,” too.  Thanks in advance.