Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

10Jul/140

Live From The Cleveland Agora…

Cleveland_AgoraIt's Tuesday afternoon and I'm minutes away from phoning Matthew Sweet for an interview when I happen to hit Twitter on my phone and see a breaking story that Hank LoConti, longtime owner of the Cleveland Agora has just passed away at age 85.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks because Hank was always a guy who was so full of life that it was hard to imagine that he could actually be gone. He was someone that when you met him, you would be surprised to find out how old he was, because he always looked at least a decade younger than he actually was. And yet he had been sick, battling lymphoma for some time, which I was not aware of.

There are plenty of great stories and tributes that have popped up in the past day offering a proper remembrance of LoConti and what it was that he was all about.  For me as a music fan who ended up living in Cleveland, it's hard to even begin to collect the thoughts of all of the many different ways that the Cleveland Agora has made an impact in my life. There were plenty of shows, of course, with my first visit to the Agora happening in November of 1992 to see the Spin Doctors. Say what you will about the Spin Doctors, they were a hell of a band beyond the radio singles and their live performances during that time period were great.

My next trip to the Agora was a free show (!!!) with Brian May of Queen who played a headlining gig at the venue supporting his first solo album Back To The Light. Having missed out on the chance to see Queen back in the day, it was huge getting a chance to see Brian play guitar in such an up close setting, with Cozy Powell on drums, to boot.

As my concert attendance really started to ramp up in 1993, I would spend a lot of time at the Agora starting the following year, first with a gig from Joe Satriani, then Sarah McLachlan (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy Tour), Rollins Band with Therapy, Pretenders (a special "small hall" hometown gig on the Last Of The Independents tour that quickly sold out), Joe Cocker (right after he played Woodstock 94), Crowded House (Together Alone tour, with Sheryl Crow opening), The Smithereens and so many more.

1994 was really the beginning of my music collection coming to life in front of my eyes (something which I was reminded of recently when talking with Journey's Neal Schon, when he talked about his feeling that the reason that today's kids want to see their favorite bands live is that "they don't quite believe that it's real unless they're looking at it.")  and I had been to enough gigs by that point to know that if I had the chance to see one of my favorite bands play a club like the Agora, that was where it was really at -- with the chance to get up close and personal with some of the bands that I had spent a lot of time listening to by that point.

There was an experience that came with seeing a show at a true rock club like the Agora that you just didn't get in the same way by attending an arena gig. Sure, I had seen some amazing shows at Richfield Coliseum in that same time period (Peter Gabriel, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton), but having a chance to compare the two, there was no question that the more intimate gigs were better, which is why it was such a thrill to get a chance to see bands and artists like Pretenders, Joe Cocker and Brian May -- folks who I knew had usually been playing bigger places prior to that -- in a place the size of the Cleveland Agora.

To cut to the chase, Hank LoConti was the guy who was driving all of this. He was the man behind the Cleveland Agora, a rock institution that had been around for a long time at that point -- I didn't know the specifics at that time, but when you walked into that place, you could tell that it was a building that had a lot of history. As folks will be quick to point out, the current Cleveland Agora at 5000 Euclid Avenue is not the original location -- which burned down in the mid-'80s, but the Euclid Avenue location, was certainly a worthy successor to the original, housed in a building that had its own important history.

Over the years, I started to unpack the history of the original building as a fan, listening to the various famous concert broadcasts that had been done by WMMS, most of which were from the '70s and '80s. Everybody's got their personal favorite list and many of them can tell you stories about being at the gigs -- since I moved here in 1989, I missed out on that part of things, but the tapes that were left behind certainly tell plenty of great stories. There is of course, the famous Springsteen Agora gig from 1978, a special broadcast celebrating the 10th anniversary of WMMS.

Elvis Costello's 1977 performance is another favorite and when I saw Costello just a few weeks ago, playing a solo show here in town, he had fond memories of playing the Agora, calling it a "smoke-filled den of sin," adding that "sometimes you find true love in a place like that." Costello isn't alone in his memories -- it's a frequent occurrence to hear the legacy acts offer their memories of their first gigs in Cleveland at the Agora -- while performing at Gund Arena on the All You Can't Leave Behind tour in May of 2001, Bono offered his own recollections of an early U2 gig at the Agora.

Bryan Adams played a show at the Agora in 1982 and he would be back for another gig barely a year later in 1983. Both shows were broadcast by WMMS (with the 1982 gig getting a national broadcast via the King Biscuit Flower Hour) and it's interesting to compare the two performances and hear how much Adams had progressed in such a short amount of time. The 1983 performance, which was mixed by Bob Clearmountain, is an unbelievable show from Adams that sounds like a professional live album -- it would make great bonus material for an expanded reissue of the Cuts Like A Knife album someday.

The Police, AC/DC, Bon Jovi....nearly anybody you might want to name off, they all played the Agora at some  point. Thankfully, there are so many of those concert memories that have been preserved because they were broadcast.

The Agora is approaching its 50th anniversary and I'm happy that after some rough years, the venue seems to be back on solid ground or at the very least, in a better place. They're back booking a regular schedule of shows again and the shows seem to be doing well. As someone who grew up with the Agora at a time that they had a consistent schedule of shows that made it possible for you to go see live music at the club on nearly any night of the week (and with so much great variety to choose from in those days, too), it means a lot to see the Agora alive again.

As the years went by, I had the chance on a number of occasions to stop and talk with Hank. The first time, I had been sent to the Agora to pick something up. Not knowing Hank, I figured it would be a quick stop to grab what I was supposed to pick up and then I'd be on my way. I ended up being there for a couple of hours, sitting in Hank's office, hearing amazing stories of past Agora shows. That would be the case every time that I stopped by.

He was a walking piece of Cleveland musical history, one of several key leaders who helped to build the Cleveland concert scene as we know it today and he has continuously been one of the people working tirelessly through the years to help maintain it, never afraid to fight for necessary changes. He certainly leaves behind one hell of a legacy.  I have no doubt that we'll continue to see that legacy grow in the years to come and hopefully part of that will come in the form of proper releases on audio and video for some of the shows that he was really proud of.

18Jun/130

Out On The Open Road With Willie Nile And His Great New ‘American Ride’

Willie Nile
I’ve got all of this life experience and my work has benefited from it. As a person, I’ve benefited from it, so I don’t have any regrets and fortunately, I never got a chip on my shoulder. There’s too much of that going around. So it’s been a really interesting ride, you know?

Singer/songwriter Willie Nile has a cabinet of stories about things that should have been great and could have made him the next big thing, but due to one circumstance or another, it didn’t happen.

But even after walking away from the business side of music twice out of frustration, Nile kept himself engaged in the basic craft of just being a songwriter. He kept writing songs and on the tail end of the ‘90s, he reemerged as an independent artist, a path which has brought him his greatest success in a story that now spans nearly four decades.

His new album American Ride (which hits stores on 6/25) is his third studio release since 2009 and as he tells us during the course of the conversation, he’s already got a full album’s worth of songs written and ready to go for a follow-up. But first, there’s the matter of promoting and spreading the message of the new one worldwide and there are certainly plenty of stories to tell about his latest recorded adventure.

Fan-funded by a PledgeMusic campaign, American Ride is arguably Nile’s finest album to date, co-produced by longtime associate Stewart Lerman with songwriting collaborations featuring Mike Peters of the Alarm and also Eric Bazilian of the Hooters among others. With a running time of barely 40 minutes, it is tightly constructed in a way that as soon as it concludes, you find yourself wanting to hear it all over again.

Nile steps out this week for a short run of shows which will bring him to Cleveland on Saturday, June 22nd for a date at The Winchester. We had the opportunity to converse with Willie to get a preview of what lies ahead.

I think your journey to get to where you are today, it’s pretty inspiring that you were able to walk away for your own purposes that you knew made the most sense at the time and eventually put it back together and enjoy what you’re doing now. Because as you know, there’s a lot of folks that don’t have that second or third chance to take another run at it and you’ve certainly had a good run.

I’m having a great run right now. I’ll write songs no matter what I am. If I was a plumber in Alaska, I would just get home from work and probably write some songs. It’s just what I like to do. I really like it and I’ve gotten so much nice great feedback from people like Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, Ian Hunter, Graham Parker, Jim Jarmusch --- there are so many people that have been supportive, giving me quotes. Bono gave me a quote for the new album. I sent him a copy of the album back in February and I asked him if he had time to listen and if he could give me a quote to help get the word out. Sure enough, I get an email from Bono and his quote was in there. He’s a busy guy and [it means a lot] that he would take the time -- he’s a fan, you know? I met him a number of times and he’s always been very nice. He gave me this amazing quote about the album. In the press releases, they abbreviate it, but I like the full thing that he wrote -- it’s poetry.

He wrote “It’s a ride alright: on foot, on horseback, with the occasional roller coaster thrown in. There are a few Americas here to discover. The mythic, the magic, the very real. One of the great guides to unraveling the mystery that is the troubled beauty of America -- Bono.” When I read that, I went “man.”

My journey, it’s part persistence, part stubbornness, part too dumb to do anything else, but I always believed. I always thought there was something [and] that I could make a contribution and have fun doing it. I love doing it -- I would be making music anyway, but I walked away -- twice I walked away when I thought “eh, this business is shit.” But then when I started putting out my own records in 1999, [with] Beautiful Wreck of the World, that put me back on the map. It made money, it was fun and I was proud of it.

2006, I put out Streets of New York and that really put me back on the map and since then I’ve put out House of a Thousand Guitars in 2009 and The Innocent Ones in 2010. House of a Thousand Guitars got great, great press and it did really well and [it was released] on my own label. The Innocent Ones, David Fricke at Rolling Stone had it on his top ten best albums of the year and that was amazing and that was just me -- there was no money behind it. The one song on it, “One Guitar,” USA Today, every Tuesday they’d have their top 11 songs in the country and it was number one on USA Today. I remember seeing that and thinking “you know what, this is nuts.”

We didn’t take one advertisement out anywhere. I hired a publicist and a radio guy, but it was not a big operation to say the least. So I’ve been inspired for a long, long time and nothing that I’ve come across has quelled that. There have been times when you get down, no question about it. But I still feel the same passion and the same fire. I’m enjoying the hell out of this. It’s so much fun. I get to make records the way I want -- [and] I always was able to do that.

I was on Arista and Columbia and the major labels -- they never interfered -- I was able to make the records I wanted to make and so I’m grateful for that. You keep learning. I’m still learning and normally with music, many people as they get older, their writing pales [to what they used to do] and in my case it seems to be the other way around. It seems to be getting better, so whatever. It’s a great day and I’m enjoying it.

I’ve already got another record written to follow up American Ride. I think when I go in, I have a pretty good sense of what the collection is going to be like and it’s going to be really strong. I’ve been putting out a bunch of strong records and that’s really been my [focus]. I just want to make little masterpieces and have them be uplifting and not downers for people. Life is tough enough as it is. I write about all kinds of stuff about people living, dying....you know, "The Innocent Ones" is a song about the innocent victims of man and humanity around the world and yet it’s an uplifting, foot stomping, fist raising anthem, so it can be done. I believe that music can inspire and anybody who comes to one of my shows clearly sees that and leaves going “damn, why have I never heard of you?” [It happens] again and again.

I spent a month in Europe from the middle of April through the middle of May, three weeks in the UK and 10 days in Spain and it was just amazing. From the BBC to a two page spread in the London Times -- the people were coming out and there’s great, huge support from the audiences now, because I go there a lot. I’m in Europe four months a year and I’ve developed a really good following over there, which is so much fun. I’m looking to build that here in the States as well. We’re looking to branch out more from the east coast and play other cities and start building it.

I spent an hour signing CDs in Madrid [and] I’m signing this guy’s CD and he said “it’s for Ramon, he was a huge fan of yours -- he died six months ago” and tears were coming down his face. So I put my hand on his shoulder and said “it’s alright -- I’ll make it out for him and I wish he could be here. Maybe he is here. Keep the faith and stay strong.” I gave him a big hug and then he said [something] and so many people have [also] said this, “these shows make me feel so much better.” People do it all of the time, [saying things like] “I haven’t been out in months -- someone died and I just haven’t wanted to do anything, but this is the best I’ve felt in some time.”

I’m not out there preaching anything -- I’m just out there playing music that means something to me and it seems to be connecting, which is why I’m really encouraged. The record business may be in shambles, but the music’s not, you know? There’s great music being made by many people. Things always change. I kind of wish they would teach that in early grade school that “you know what, things change and it’s okay,” so that it’s not a big shock. Things change and they’ll continue to change. So these are my glory days -- I’m having a great time and I’m having a lot of success. I get Bono to email me this beautiful, beautiful sentiment -- a quote about the album, you know? I’m lucky....I’m really lucky.

People say to me, “do you ever get disillusioned that you’re not as rich as this guy or as famous as that guy” and I say “well, no.” I’ve really enjoyed my anonymity, [because] I’ve been able to grow as an artist and as a person without the nonsense of fame. Fame is nothing. That really will not get you to a place that is good to get to. Fame didn’t do a lot for Michael Jackson [and] fame didn’t do a lot for Whitney Houston and it’s a shame, but fame is ridiculous. I’m in it for the music. I’d love to be stinkin’ rich -- make no mistake, because I could do good stuff with it. But maybe that’s why I’ve kept my edge all of these years. But I’m having a great time -- I’m a lucky guy, I really am. We’re making music. Anybody who comes to the show and doesn’t get blown away, I’ll give them their money back. I’ll come right out after the show and I’ll give your money back -- it’s so much fun.

My band -- my guys, they’re a killer band. If anybody goes to WillieNile.com, there’s a clip of [Bruce] Springsteen joining us for my song “One Guitar” and you can just see the fun we’re having. We play for the right reasons. We get up there and we play -- we’re not showing off and we’re not looking to be big shots or be idols -- fuck that! That’s nonsense! We’re playing music that we love and we’re rockin’ and we appreciate it -- we have a great time. So I’m excited about it and as charged up as ever. I’ve always been pretty enthusiastic, but never more than now. There’s real reason to be encouraged -- the last few records that I’ve made have just really resonated with people.

That’s why we did the PledgeMusic thing. You know, we made some money to pay for the album and help promote it in four days. Four days! I was shocked. And then we got to over 300 percent of what we were looking for and it’s all being used -- it’s not going in my pocket, it’s for promoting the record [which] I paid for with my own money, you know, I took money out of savings and paid for it -- it came out great. I’m so happy with it. I got to where I always wanted to be. I wanted to be able to go in and make great records and write great songs and I couldn’t be happier with what we’re doing. I’m psyched.

I think that one thing that sticks out about this album and the past few albums that you’ve done is that you’re still constructing albums that are collections that hang together as “albums” as opposed to “here’s some songs.” There’s a real feeling of connection with each one of these records that you’re making.

Thank you. I grew up with albums, you know? In the early days, it was singles and stuff, but once the Beatles hit, they were [putting out] collections that I thought were great. I wouldn’t put a song on there if I didn’t really feel it was something special. I wouldn’t walk on a stage if I didn’t think it was going to be special. It’s not about me when I walk up there -- it’s about the songs. I’m there to sing the songs -- they’re the ones who are the focus and I love the way they hang together. This new one, American Ride, you can listen top to bottom and it takes left turns and right turns. There’s different moods and it totally rocks at least to my sensibilities. Thanks for saying that -- I love when the collection really feels like it hangs together. That’s fun.

It’s a really tight collection of songs, with 12 songs in 40 minutes. Did you record more than that?

Only one more. When I go in I don’t have 25 songs and pick from them -- I just pretty much know and I wasn’t sure how long it was going to be, so I recorded one extra song. [But] I loved how it came out and I thought “this feels right” so I left it as is [without the extra song].

It turns out now that because we have a really good record company [Loud & Proud] putting it out -- because of the noise that the PledgeMusic campaign made -- people pay attention to that, [and the fact] that we did so well so quickly.

So the label is putting it out and they’re going to put out a special edition the same day that they put out the regular one and there’s three bonus tracks, so “Occupy” is the first bonus track and then there’s a song called “The Motel Life” that’s just a song that I wrote and recorded in my apartment. I’m not an engineer -- it’s a live take and it started as a demo, but it came out sounding real. We [also] re-recorded “One Guitar” to close it out, because my manager said “people don’t know this song -- a lot of people do, but there’s a ton of people that don’t. With this new label, they could maybe help introduce it to more people.” So we went in and we tweaked it a bit and it came out really, really good. So yeah, I only had 13 songs when I went in.

“One Guitar” seems like that has kind of become another one of your signature songs. What did you want to achieve when you went into record version 2.0 of this song?

Well, the band had been playing it...and the reason I thought to do it, what occurred to me once he mentioned it -- I wasn’t going to do it. But the band had been playing it really great. When you record something, usually the band is learning the song for the first time. In this instance, we’d been playing the song for the past year and it’s [developed] a life of it’s own -- it’s really powerful and we sped it up just a little bit. We recut it and it just rocks more. Right before we went in, I [also] thought “well, maybe I’ll put a little guitar thing at the beginning.” So because the band was playing the lights out of it -- it has a life of it’s own -- I go through airports and people come up to me [singing it]. It was fun to record and like the whole album, it really got recorded quickly. We went in just a couple of months ago actually in April just before I went to Europe and we spent one day, set it up and in a few takes, boom!, there it was. It came out quick -- I just wanted it to be alive and feel electric and it does.

When did this new album really start to take shape for you?

Well, about a year and half ago or two years ago, I wrote “American Ride.” I wrote it in about 45 minutes and I really liked it. I wrote it for a project that Mike Peters of the Alarm -- I was about to tour with them and he had a side project where he sometimes tours with a drummer, Slim Jim [Phantom] from the Stray Cats and Captain Sensible, the bass player of the Damned and I guess the other chair is a revolving chair of different people. So they were making a record and he was interested in having me take the fourth chair and I said “that sounds like fun -- I’d be interested in that” and he said “well, write something” and so I wrote something.

When I was on a tour bus with him, I didn’t have a guitar, so I showed him the lyrics and told him what the music was and he said he had an idea. So he went in the other room and changed a couple of chords and I really liked it. It just worked. Also, I wrote “Life on Bleecker Street” -- I live in New York, where I’ve lived on and off for 40 years -- and Bleecker Street is outside my window. I know it like the back of my hand and so I had this song I really dug and I thought that “American Ride” and “Life on Bleecker Street” could be the core of an album. So that’s really where it started.

It was never written as a concept piece, it was just a collection of songs that fit together. There are some themes that echo a journey, like “The Crossing,” initially that song was written about the Irish coming across the ocean to America, but when I was writing it I thought of any travelers, coming from China, Africa, Eastern Europe or wherever, for a better life. Also, I had my own ancestors in mind, which is of Irish descent, but it’s also a personal journey, you know, getting over a broken heart, getting over a personal bridge and climbing your own mountain. I think [the album] means all of those things and it ends with “No Place LIke Home,” so there’s themes in there, but I didn’t conceive it when I was working on it as a concept album.

That title track is a good example of some of the nostalgic imagery that’s triggered really by the feeling of many of these songs and the things that you’re writing about, the mentions of like Elvis Presley and Reverend Green. As you alluded to, there are really some cool visuals on this albums that are generated by the songs and the lyrics within the songs.

Thank you. Our country’s rich....a conversation that’s fun to have is “what can we bring up that could only come from this country?” You know, what’s particular to our country? And it could be any country. Like in England, there’s things that only could have come from here. But in our case, living in this country, things like jazz, Louis Armstrong, Woody Guthrie, Babe Ruth, Abe Lincoln, Delta blues -- things that are just particular to this country. There’s lots of them -- Elvis Presley...I mean, what planet did he come from? He came from this country and a mixture of styles. His grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee Indian.

There’s a lot of magic still in this country and I still believe in the dream that is this country, of a place where people can live and follow their dreams and not be tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs. That’s a great thing, you know? [When] I grew up, Jack Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, they were heroes of mine. Bobby Kennedy used to say that we’re good people and we’re compassionate people and we can do better. I believe that. Let’s help each other. Woody Guthrie was great at that and Pete Seeger, [Bob] Dylan and Bruce -- there’s a good line of people who have made the most of music and helped make it a better world in some small way. “One Guitar” is one of those songs [for me] as is “The Innocent Ones.”

A song like “People Who Died,” the great Jim Carroll masterpiece, is one of the great hidden treasures in rock and roll, I think. I played it a couple of years ago at a St. Patrick’s Day thing. Jim had just died and they were honoring people who had passed in the previous year and they asked me to sing “People Who Died” and I was happy to do that -- I always loved that song. It to me has all of the things that a great rock and roll song has. It’s totally fun and rockin’ with some really deep edgy....it had some real meat on its bones. It’s kind of unique -- one of the great songs of rock and roll. After doing it at that St. Paddy’s Day event, I thought “I want to do this at my shows,” so we started doing it.

The guitarist who is playing with me is a buddy and was going to Europe [with me] and said “do you think that we should maybe not do that because it’s such a heavy subject” and I said “you know, I know what you mean, but there’s something about it that offers a bit of redemption.” You’re standing at the abyss and yet you’re looking into the abyss with a smile and you’re dancing and it’s like you know what? Let’s honor our friends who are gone and let’s raise hell. That’s rock and roll for me, it’s something meaningful and it’s a whale of a party song. I’m so happy I put that on the record and I love the version that we did. It just rocks. I think Jim would be happy if he heard it.

There’s a lot of rockin’ material on this album, as you’ve mentioned. But specifically, there’s also a great rockabilly feel to “Say Hey.”

I like that there’s different things happening. That song, “Say Hey,” I just wrote that on guitar one day, I think on the road. I came up with the lick and then wrote it pretty effortlessly. I always loved rockabilly. Rockabilly will always be good and it just has a different character and then at the end of it, the last verse says “what do you say when the world blows up/ I say hey/ who do you call when you’ve had enough/ I call hey/ What do you think about the rights of men/ I think hey/What do you say we do all we can/ I say hey.” I’m just tickled with the way things are going. Songs are coming to me all of the time and I’m digging them.

I’ve been able to learn over all of these years and I’m still learning, [whether I’m] writing, in the studio [or] onstage. I never toured, you know in the ‘80s when I came out, I’d never had a high school band. I was a poet in college and high school. I was writing songs by the time I was in college, but I never played publicly. I moved to New York and I had no band experience. I was signed as an acoustic [artist] playing solo, because I couldn’t afford a band and literally rehearsed for about four or five days before making the first record and the next thing you know I’m opening up for the Who across the U.S. and I was a shadow of a kid and what a riot. I thought, “oh this is a piece of cake!” [Laughs]

The Who are one of the greatest bands ever and I got to play with them and see them play night after night and it was wonderful. I’m still friends with Roger [Daltrey] and Pete [Townshend] to this day. Roger came out to see me in the UK last year and I saw Pete when he was doing his book reading and I love them. I made two records in ‘80 and ‘81 and toured with the Who and [besides that] did a little touring in those two years -- not much, [only] a few weeks and then walked away and didn’t play again until I did a benefit show for a writer in ‘87.

This writer in Norway, I never met him, Torre Olsen, he was apparently the godfather of writers in Norway and he was a big champion of mine back in the day. I got a call from someone and they called me up and invited me over to play and I went. They got me signed to Columbia, [because of the performance which was filmed]. So I rarely played in the ‘80s and not a lot in the ‘90s besides going to Europe just a little bit here and there and the next decade, I started going there on a regular basis and played a little bit more but not a ton. Now in the past three or four years, I’ve been playing [an amount of shows] like I never did. I never burned out on the road, you know and [as a result], I’m enjoying it now more than ever.

This new album, was there any of this stuff that had been hanging around in your chest of songs or was it all pretty fresh?

It’s all pretty fresh. I think “The Crossing” was in a drawer. That’s one that was written some years back. The rest of it is all brand new. “The Crossing” was always a song that I loved. I wrote that with my good friend Frankie Lee, a great songwriter. I’m a piano player -- that’s my main instrument and when I sat at the piano, I’d play it very often and I thought “this might fit on this record” and it fit. It does fit really well within American Ride.

That one was written some years ago, but the rest are all new. Two of them were just written -- we had been recording and a couple of months later I wrote “If I Ever See The Light” and “She’s Got My Heart” and so we went and [also] recorded those and I thought they would fit [ on the album] and I liked them a lot.

You mentioned that you’ve got almost another album’s worth of material written on the heels of this one. Finishing up this album, where did the songwriting process take you from that point, as far as how it relates to what we’re hearing on this new album?

I think that I’m just on a serious roll writing -- I totally have it written. By the time I record it, I’ll write more and they’ll all really solidly fit together. It’s an assortment of things and maybe it’s a little bit greasier. The subject matter is wide-ranging and the palette is pretty rockin’. I’ve just been writing up a storm and it’s just a continuation really of what I’ve been writing, I mean from Streets of New York and House of a Thousand Guitars to The Innocent Ones and American Ride and it’s picking up.

I’ve been writing more and more and it’s just observations, things I see in life and the things I feel, past, present and future. It feels like a continuous thing, just rolling out. I’m not sure what I’m going to call it -- I don’t’ know that yet. Once I get around to recording, [I’ll figure that out]. I’m busy now touring and supporting American Ride and will be for some time and [then] let’s see if we’ve got the money to make it. It’s a pisser. [Laughs]

With this current streak of productivity, is there any part of that which relates to you looking at your discography? It’s not necessarily deep as far as number of albums. Are you trying to make up for that now?

I don’t know. I waited, like I walked away from the business twice, actually, after the Columbia Records [deal]. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time and the record [1991's Places I Have Never Been] has Richard Thompson, Roger McGuinn, Loudon Wainwright, Robbie McIntosh, etc. It’s a really good record and it was just the wrong place. I knew that could happen and that it was more common than not. The guy who signed me, my champion there, was on the way out when that record came out so it didn’t really have a chance and I understood that. It’s the way it goes and you continue on.

So I just went back to writing and I wasn’t sure what I was doing. Waiting for major record companies was the mistake that I made. Once I realized that there was this whole other kind of world out there, some friends said you should really put something out yourself -- that’s what people are doing now and it works. And does it ever -- it’s complete freedom and I’m enjoying immensely what I’m doing and what I’ve learned and what I’m still learning.

So yeah, I don’t think I’m trying to make up for lost time I think it’s just that I was so comfortable with the craft of recording that they’re just flowing out of me. There’s so much life experience added to that and studio and writing experience, I just feel like I have more to say these days maybe. But I love it...I could go next week and record this record, you know? I could put out a few years. So I’m very grateful that I’ve had this opportunity and that I didn’t give up and I stayed with it. It’s really rewarding.

The other day I got an email from my manager that I had won an Independent Music Award for a song of social action, which was “One Guitar.” I don’t measure success by awards or by records sold - there’s quantity and quality. I’d love to sell millions of CDs so that I could make more records and afford to do that and live comfortably, but the work will never change. I will always be driven and inspired and enjoy the work.

It seems like your head’s always been in the right place, just listening to the records that you do put out. Obviously, you’re more concerned about the quality of the actual album as opposed to the number of albums. The quantity becomes irrelevant if the content is spotty and you’ve always been able to keep it focused where it needs to be.

I think that I’m a perfectionist of sorts and I want it to be strong. I don’t want to put anything that I don’t think is really good out there, I want it to be as high quality as it can be. That’s why I’m enjoying this so much is because I feel the quality is pretty strong these days and with what I’m writing now, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be changing anytime soon. So I’m chomping at the bit to keep making records. Not as a reaction to having put so few out. Sometimes less is more.

Totally. Your buddy Bruce is legendary for not being afraid to scrap an entire album if he doesn’t believe in it. Have you ever gone down that road where you’ve scrapped an entire album of material?

No. But I respect him for that. If it’s not good and you have the luxury of being able to do that, that’s a great luxury to have. It’s tough for artists. I remember Doc Pomus, a friend of mine and the great legendary hall of fame songwriter, you know, “Save The Last Dance For Me” and “This Magic Moment,” he wrote songs for Elvis Presley. I knew him and used to go see him play all of the time in the Village and in ‘78 when I got signed, he said to me “go to Europe, Willie, they know how to treat a songwriter.” I’m just enjoying the heck out of it and people make me feel like I’m doing a good thing. They’re very, very supportive and enthusiastic, big time, as evidenced by the Pledge thing.

It’s been a while since you’ve been to Cleveland for a show. I think a lot of folks are excited that you’re coming back to town for this gig.

Well hopefully people come out. I haven’t played there much and I don’t think I get any radio play there, so I don’t know how they would know about me. But if people come out, I promise them they won’t be sorry if they come out to the show. Come join the party because we’re throwing a big party and it’s going to be fun, no matter how many people are there. We give everything we’ve got and I think people will have a blast. The thing I hear more often than not is that people come up to me and say “you know, some people told me I should see you -- I never heard of you and man, this is great.” They buy a bunch of CDs and we’re making friends every place we play.

Cleveland’s a rock and roll city and there’s a great history of rockin’. I grew up in Buffalo, so it’s not far. I’d come in there to see baseball games when I was a kid. I didn’t drive, but I’d travel with a buddy to the old Stadium and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a place that I should be going to a regular basis and I’m hoping that if enough people come back, that they’ll want to have us back. Because we don’t leave any stone unturned. We don’t leave anything in the dressing room. We bring it. I’m proud of the band -- they’re great musicians. So come on out and see some roof rattling and some wall shaking music.

Willie Nile plays The Winchester on Saturday, June 22nd. Visit The Winchester's website for ticket details. Don't forget to pick up Willie's new album American Ride, which will be available at Saturday's show!

1Apr/111

Further Conversation: More Stuff From My Chat With Everest

I spoke with Everest bassist Elijah Thomson on Monday for the Riverfront Times. There was more stuff than I could use for the piece, so of course you get to enjoy the tasty leftovers here. I always have to give credit to my good friend Rob Evanoff (who at the time, was their publicist) for "showing me the light" regarding Everest.  I had seen Everest in December of 2008 opening for Neil Young and Wilco and was not impressed and shared it with Rob, knowing that he was cool with the honesty. He insisted on sending me a copy of their debut album Ghost Notes anyway and I listened (as I always do) with an open mind.

That did the trick - I was officially an Everest fan and they've since become one of my favorite bands and as we discuss bands with staying power, I have good reason to believe that these guys have the goods to make great music for a long time. Fingers are crossed that many people on this planet will have the pleasure as I have to hear that great music.

I know that you yourself are a big Richard Swift fan, so it must be a thrill to have him working on this new Everest album.

Yeah, I actually used to play with him, we've been great friends for over a decade. It's funny too, because I never really thought about him as a producer for this band until relatively recently. There were certain things that I felt that we needed in a producer. One of those things was just a little bit of an authoritarian vibe with us – I think there's a lot of creative ideas in this band and sometimes it's hard...the squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know what I mean? A lot of times that can cause some political conflict internally, so it's good to have a head coach, somebody who's with us who has sort of the same record collection, is into the same ideas, has the same goals as we do and is able to be an objective outsider opinion. Richard is a great singer, great songwriter and incredible musician on multiple instruments and also he already has the respect of everyone in the band and he's our friends. All of those things seem to make him somewhat of a prime candidate for us – I think we really could have gone in a lot of different directions – maybe celebrity producers or really famous guys, but I really think that some of those guys might have too much of an intimidation factor.

Not in the sense that we couldn't handle it but it might not be something that we're doing together. It might be a situation where someone is lording over us a little too much and we might be somewhat doe-eyed because of his fame or discography. In this situation with Swift, it's a much more contemporaries working together [thing]. He's challenging us sonically, energy-wise, ideas, arrangements, lyrics and that's what we need. We feel like we're bringing a lot to the table on our own, but we want to push ourselves beyond what's comfortable for us and what's easily accessible and get to the next level of our creativity. And that's really the tallest order for this record, I think and also to continue on with broadening our fanbase and our appeal. You know, that's part of playing live too, you see what works and audiences respond and it sub-consciously changes your idea about who you are and your own band.

When you go back to the drawing board and you go back to the studio, all of those things are in your mind, sub-consciously and sometimes even consciously and that's part of the development of a band. I think that any good band is on that upward trajectory. Most of my favorite bands progressively get better and better over time and that's the kind of band that we want to be. But that's not as easy as it sounds, because you're never content, never really satisfied [and] always raising the bar higher and higher. So that's where we're at and I think where we'll stay, pretty much.

As you said, the first two albums were in a sense, self-produced, so it's probably helpful to have the different perspective that a neutral party, in this case Richard Swift, brings to the table.

Yeah, I think we had some objective opinions, either from engineers – Mike Terry and Fritz Michaud, who were both people that we respect a great deal. I just think we needed to up the ante. Sometimes, certain kinds of friends can be a little too nice to you in the studio. Not that Richard isn't nice, but he understands that we need to be held accountable a little bit to our own creativity and pushed a little further. And you know, it's funny because even though I wasn't in the band, I was actually hanging out during the Ghost Notes sessions, so I kind of know the way that record went as well, just as a friend and a contemporary who produces and engineers records. So they had invited me down, even though I wasn't in the band.

So I've kind of always felt like I was at least associated with Everest in some way shape or form – I've always been a fan and I've always been a big supporter. Even with On Approach, I don't know if I had really taken over ownership of the role – it took time for me to go from thinking “oh, I'm filling in since they don't have a bass player on these tours.” The first tour I did with them was the first Neil Young tour, which is a pretty awesome way to start with a band. [Laughs]

I've been sort of finding my own way in this band not just as a bass player but as a creative person too and when we're not in the studio, pushing a certain kind of creative philosophy and work ethic that I've learned over the years. Without seeming like an outsider producing, more of an internal point guard, the coach on the floor so to speak. I think everything is coalescing almost for the first time really as a full band on this next record, because I was there for On Approach and involved, but I was simultaneously recording a record for this band called Delta Spirit. So it was a little tough – I had to sort of come and go and I was spread really thin. Even still, the touring that I did before On Approach was mostly Neil Young, some festivals and little things and since On Approach was released, we've done a lot of what I would call traditional band touring where we're in a van, we're playing small venues and sometimes they're packed, sometimes they're empty – you're just hustling. You're all participating in the driving, the loading and all of that stuff.

I think that has a bonding effect with bands at least it has with our band in the last year. That kind of emotional and mutual sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears has an effect on the music, the live show and our creative output as well. Now that I am taking ownership over my own place in this band – and I think Davey, the drummer is as well, everybody is moving more as a cohesive unit rather than five creative guys trying to find common ground – it's much more of a team effort at this point. And that doesn't mean we're all writing the songs simultaneously, but somebody might come in with this seed of an idea that's brought into the public forum and different people will add in somewhat of an editing effect [on the material] in little tiny ways – arrangements, adding a bridge, or tweaking a chorus or lyrics. That's great in a band, I think, no matter who the writer is – it somewhat becomes community property, no matter who comes in with the seed of an idea. It does become somewhat of a group creative project within our little rehearsals and the period of time where we're pre-producing these songs. And you know, to be honest with you, I've never been in a band like that and I've been in quite a few.

This band has more of a balanced creative output from everyone and people holding one another accountable. It's pretty rare or it's difficult to do without killing each other. I think that we're super-excited about the progress, where we're going and what's coming next. And not even just this record, but records beyond – like I said, it's an upward trajectory and we know that every record, every show and every tour is just making us stronger and stronger. It's a good place to be – feels great.

I feel like I've seen Everest become a band over the past few years. The first time I saw the band was on that Neil Young tour with Wilco in December of 2008 and honestly, I didn't dig it. But I heard the Ghost Notes album later after that show and definitely enjoyed what Everest was doing on album. When I saw the band again this past fall, it was evident to me that your live show had really come together and the band had really become a band, which was something I also picked up comparing Ghost Notes to On Approach when that was released.

That's really good to hear that kind of feedback and I know what you mean, I think a lot of times when somebody's watching the show and they perceive that about a band, it's possible that the band feels that way about themselves. I think one of the things that was going on on that tour was the progression of a band who had really only had to fill a club or hit a back wall that's 100 feet away as opposed to filling an arena. And that's not something you can just know or have intuition about. It's something that you just have to go through and experience. And what was awesome is by the end of that whole experience, which was three separate legs, the final leg where we were the only opener, we really had to step up. By the end of those tours, we would go back into a club and bring arena energy into a club which is seemingly to me when Everest really started coming together.

It was like we had this wild somewhat unprecedented experience for us and [we were] really a fish out of water, relatively unknown band playing an arena tour in front of two legendary bands, Wilco and Neil. [Laughs] So that process just changes things in your brain – I can't really explain it but now you're going into a club and you're not fearful in maybe a way that the band might have been early on. Now it's kind of like nothing – we can bring this energy to these people with relative ease now, because we've figured out how to fill an arena. Now, bringing that kind of intensity into a club and people feel it in a totally different way, including us. I think a lot of times, bands want to act like they have all of their shit together, all of the time, but we certainly recognize our weaknesses and our strengths.

That is the full point, to exaggerate our strengths and diminish our weaknesses, find out what the best of each person is and bring that together. It doesn't happen from just thinking about it or being logical, it happens only from trial by fire. I think Everest is somewhat of a rare case in the sense, because we'd all been in other bands and we're not necessarily spring chickens, we had connections in the record industry and Everest was able to get a record deal relatively quickly without spending three or four years honing these things in the clubs. Which is somewhat of a disadvantage for Everest if you think about it in the fact that everybody is aware of our progress, going from weakness to strength.

But at the same time, I look at a band like Radiohead and I look at the difference between Pablo Honey and In Rainbows and it's a very, very different band. They had to do the same thing – they had to grow. Or the difference between U2 with War and Achtung Baby, which are light years away. Or the Beatles between early Beatles and the end of it – this is just not an easy road – we really are climbing this mountain, sometimes sliding backwards and sometimes making progress. We're just sort of moving forward and I like that you've seen that progress and that others have seen that progress. That it starts out with something intriguing and builds and I think that it adds anticipation for a record and naturally builds a fanbase.

You know, people are like “I heard this band a while back but now you should hear them,” and that's a provocation as well, to invite people out or to come back to shows. It's not just getting people to come to one show, it's getting them to come back and back and back again as we've been building a following and a fanbase. To be able to pull that off, there has to be some kind of impact and some sort of reaction that the listener had that makes them go home and look up our band on the internet, look at reviews or articles or see where we're playing next, because they want to come see us. That's kind of forever in our minds as we're going through this, not so much the tail wagging the dog, but always, every time we step on stage whether it's in a music store, radio station, club or arena, that at least some people are being impacted in a way that's going to be long standing and in a way that increases our fanbase one person at a time, almost. That's the way you do it, I guess – that's the way we're doing it.

Read the rest of our conversation here and if you'd like some music, I'd urge you to check out and download a live show, which you can do for free from the Everest website. Of course, you should also buy the albums to get the complete picture of what it's all about!

Photo via the official Everest Facebook page.

5Apr/1019

Happy 30th Birthday, R.E.M.!

REMold
Dear R.E.M.:

Happy birthday! Today, you turn 30 years young -- a milestone birthday that might make your car insurance a wee bit cheaper and keep you from being carded as often. On April 5, 1980, you played your first show at a church in Athens, Georgia. Back in those days, you were a ragged garage act with surf-rock undertones and jangle-thrash overtones. The gig began what would become a long, successful career full of Grammy wins, arena tours and global superstardom.

The eras of your career are pretty well-defined at this point. 1983's Murmur, 1984's Reckoning and 1985's Fables of the Reconstruction mark your college-rock-darling phase. Thanks to Byrds-like Rickenbacker strums, brisk repetition borrowed from the Feelies and cryptic vocal mumbles -- all poetic, mysterious and dreamy -- you were faves of music nerds and earnest English majors alike. 1986's Life's Rich Pageant through 1988's Green ushered in your ability to fill arenas, on the strength of clearer lyrical messages, staunch political activism and accessible rock singles such as "The One I Love," "Stand" and "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." 1991's melancholic orchestral love-song cycle Out of Time sent you into the stratosphere; 1992's ruminative Automatic for the People and 1994's glam-trash Monster kept you in heavy rotation on MTV and in the upper echelon of American rock bands.

14Mar/1024

Great interview with producer Steve Lillywhite

I always enjoy when somebody nails down a really great producer for an interview that dissects their entire career.  These are the guys that you don't read about nearly enough, for all of the cool things that they've done, and all of the legendary albums that they've been a part of.

This interview with producer Steve Lillywhite (Dave Matthews Band, U2, Peter Gabriel, etc) is certainly one of those interviews.  I learned quite a bit of "oh wow, I didn't know that" kind of things - stuff like the fact that Lillywhite produced Dirty Work by the Stones - I had no idea!

AVC: Speaking of working with artists in the latter part of the career, you worked with The Rolling Stones on Dirty Work.

SL: Yes, I produced the worst-ever Rolling Stones album. Until the one after, that is. [Laughs.] But basically, I couldn’t turn down The Rolling Stones. A real man would never turn down the chance of working with legends like them. But that doesn’t mean I knew it was going to be any good whatsoever. You need a good tailwind to make a great record, and there wasn’t a great tailwind with the Stones at that point. There was too much bitterness. It was the bad end of the drug-taking. It was just messy, but I had to do it. I learned a lot more from them than they learned from me, that’s all I can say about that experience. Maybe “Harlem Shuffle” was okay. That was sort of a hit. They didn’t tour the album or anything. I enjoyed working with them and it was great fun hanging out with Keith Richards.

Check out the whole (massive) interview here.  Thanks to Annie for sharing this with me!

13Jan/101

Contest: Win an Elvis Costello “Spectacle” Prize Pack

The uber-fantastic Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... is back for another season on The Sundance Channel, and continues to be one of my favorite musical programs on television.  The series is produced in conjunction with Elton John's Rocket Pictures and features Costello in conversation with a unique assortment of musical contemporaries each week.

Spectacle

23Oct/096

The King of the Blues and the Pied Piper of Prog-Rock

Hey there music lovers, it’s time for some video to go with our audio.  Today, we’ll look at two recent DVD releases: B.B. King Live at Montreux 1993 and Jethro Tull: Living With The Past.

Smilin BB King

For those of you whose only reference to B.B. King is his appearance in the U2 film Rattle and Hum, it’s time for some education.  King is one of the finest American blues guitarists, living or dead, whose distinctive soloing and soulful vocals influenced such rock legends as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck in addition to anyone who has ever played the blues.  His Grammy award-winning version of Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins’ “The Thrill Is Gone” cemented his place as a star and a true crossover artist in the late sixties.

He reached out to rock audiences for the first of several times as the opening act for the Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. tour. His list of later collaborators is long and features Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert King, Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Katie Webster, Gary Moore, Clapton and many others.

19Jul/096

A night with U2 in Berlin

As much as I remain unimpressed with the current U2 album, this setlist from last night's show in Berlin looks awfully tasty!

An audience recording of the show is available via Dimeadozen (free registration required.)

u2360berlin.jpg

Berlin photo by Webtonic_ch

U2
Olympiastadion, Berlin (Germany) July 18, 2009

01. Intro
02. Breathe
03. No Line On The Horizon
04. Get On Your Boots
05. Magnificient
06. Beautiful Day
07. Mysterious ways
08. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
09. Angel Of Harlem (w/ guest-musicians from the audience)
10. Faraway So Close
11. Unknown Caller
12. The Unforgettable Fire
13. City Of Blinding Lights
14. Vertigo
15. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday >
17. Pride (In The Name Of Love) >
18. MLK >
19. Walk On
20. Desmond Tutu speech >
21. Where The Streets Have No Name
22. One

23. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
24. With Or Without You
25. happy birthday to Nelson Mandela
26. Moment Of Surrender

18May/095

The Monday Morning Mix – The “Eat Your Heart Out” John Cusack Mix – 5/18/09

What It Is: A weekly mix tape posted on Mondays, created by the fans of Addicted to Vinyl, posted for all to enjoy!

Be A Part Of It: I want you to make me/us a mix CD. I want to hear the tunes that you are into, new or old. And I want to feature your mix on this site!

You can mail your CD to the following address:

Addicted to Vinyl
P.O. Box 771685
Lakewood, OH 44107

What To Include: Include track listing, album that the song comes from, song notes (if you want to) and any particular notes that you want to share about the mix. Save a digital copy of your notes that you can send me via email, so I don't get carpal tunnel retyping them! Include a printed copy of the notes, and an email address that I can use to contact you for the digital version of the notes. For the real mix tape feel, feel free to hand write your song titles, draw artistic drawings on the "label," etc - I can scan them in using my handy dandy color scanner. Go nuts!

And if you're feeling particularly daring, give your mix a clever title!

What You'll Get: I'll feature your mixes and stories here on the site, and send you something cool from the Addicted to Vinyl prize closet, so please include your address (legibly please!) with your mix notes.

This week's mix was submitted by longtime ATV reader Craig, who sent an extremely worthy submission that opened my eyes to about 4 or 5 albums/artists that I needed to buy. I would guess that the name is a clever reference to High Fidelity, and I think it's safe to say that Rob Gordon would approve of this mix. On paper, you'll look at this mix and find some of the artist-to-artist transitions to be a bit odd, until you listen to it. Once you're playing Craig's mix, you'll very quickly find that the man knows how to make a mix. How else could you explain Craig's ability to drop my most hated Michael Stanley Band track in the midst of his mix, and he found a way to make me enjoy it! My good friend Pat was as stunned as I was, by Craig's inclusion of "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" by Phil Collins in the track listing. Great stuff!!

Craig's mix is just one of a number of great submissions that we've been getting lately, and Pat is promising that a "Deep End" homage to his days at 107.9 The End will be in my hands soon. If you haven't submitted your mix yet, what are you waiting for?

Cheers, and enjoy!

john-cusack-mix-001.jpg

The "Eat Your Heart Out" John Cusack Mix (download)

The track listing:

1. Ghostland Observatory - "Midnight Voyage" - from the album Paparazzi Lightning.

2. Rachael Yamagata - "Faster" - from the album Elephants....

3. U2 - "Love and Peace or Else" - from the album How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

4. Big Pig - "Breakaway" - from the album Bonk.

5. David Bowie - "I'm Afraid of Americans" - from the album Earthling.

6. Rolling Stones - "Might As Well Get Juiced" - from the album Bridges to Babylon.

7. Cranberries - "Zombie" - from the album No Need To Argue.

8. Depeche Mode - "Wrong" from the album Sounds of the Universe.

9. Mr. Mister - "Uniform of Youth" from the album Welcome To The Real World.

10. Phil Collins - "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" - from the album ...But Seriously.

11. Prince - "Tambourine" - from the album Around The World In A Day.

12. The Power Station - "Still In Your Heart" - from The Power Station album.

13. The Michael Stanley Band - "Lover" - from the album Heartland.

14. Peter Wolf - "Growin' Pain" - from the album Sleepless.

15. Tom Petty - "Cabin Down Below" - from the album Wildflowers.

16. Rush - "The Seeker" - from the EP Feedback.

17. R.E.M. - "Crush with Eyeliner" - from the album Monster.

18. Robert Plant / Allison Krauss - "Fortune Teller" - from the album Raising Sand.

19. Lucinda Williams - "It's A Long Way To The Top" - from the album Little Honey.

Download the complete mix

Well done!

I've got a care package of rock and roll goods on its way to Craig as we speak - Now is your chance to get your mix in the mail!

11Mar/092

Record Store Day in Cleveland and beyond….

Getting stoked for Record Store Day? We're barely a month away from RSD09, and news continues to stream in regarding all sorts of exclusive releases that are planned for April 18th.

Make sure that you're following the official Twitter feed which recently had news regarding vinyl exclusives including a Beck/Sonic Youth split 7", and exclusive 7" releases from Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and our man Bruce Springsteen.

Esquire Magazine has a list of "75 albums that every guy should own."

What about the girls? Who cares about the girls! Just kidding, Mel - please don't hit me!

Among those 75 albums, it looks like our man Bruce nabbed a well-deserved spot with Darkness On The Edge of Town....just in case you don't own that one, for some strange reason.

Esquire also has your bitching about the list covered with an additional list of "Glaring Omissions" - 30 Records You Probably Want On This List.

What the hell? Bring me the head of the bastard that left The Joshua Tree off the main list. And Purple Rain. And Thriller. We really need to talk about this.

Backstreets has more info on the Bruce 7" (Thanks to Blogness for the tip!)

A new Springsteen seven-inch is being pressed for Record Store Day, featuring "What Love Can Do" as the A-side and "A Night With the Jersey Devil" as the B-side. It'll be available exclusively not from Wal-Mart, not from Amazon, but from indie stores.

So if you're here in Cleveland....where can you go to be a part of Record Store Day on April 18th?

C'mon, you know that Music Saves is at the top of the list, with additional retailers including Record Den in Mentor, Spin-More Records and Turnup Records in Kent, The Joy of Music on Lee Road, and Ultrasound in Willoughby. Find more participating stores in your neck of the woods using the store locator.

Here in Cleveland, we'll have team coverage for Record Store Day. "CB" aka the Cleveland Bachelor will be at his home away from home, Music Saves. I'll be making a midday visit to bring him food from Melt to tide him over during the long shift. Truthfully, Record Store Day falls on the normal day that CB visits Music Saves anyway...but you don't know that!

After I drop off the care package to CB, I'll head out to Mentor and lose myself in the stacks at Record Den for a minimum of 8 hours during my quest to become the first person to get thrown out of Record Den on Record Store Day. Use the PayPal button on the right hand side to donate to the "get Matt out of Jail" fund. All donations are appreciated.

Jose and Kelly will be working crowd control at Music Saves to help make sure that CB's rare appearance doesn't cause public pandemonium.

CB at Music Saves

The above picture was taken during CB's appearance at Music Saves during last year's Record Store Day.

Brian from Broken Headphones already told me that he has the stores in Kent covered, where he will be live-blogging the event from both record stores simultaneously. Which sounds complicated.

The best part about it all, is that our good friend Burgo will be coming in from Australia to capture the entire day of Cleveland events on video.

Our comrade Mel will enjoy pre-game at an undisclosed bar where we will all wind up to celebrate a victoriously successful Record Store Day.

There are portions of the above Cleveland information that might be exaggerated just a tad. But all of the venues mentioned above are participating in Record Store Day.

No matter what zip code you're in, get out there and support your favorite local indie retailer....and buy me something while you're at it!