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Issue Date: October 2013

Best of Cleveland 2013: Entertainment & Attractions

Pinball Games

On the third Friday of every month, a room in the 78th Street Studios rings and pings like a casino. The Superelectric Pinball Parlor doubles as the workspace for three screen-printing artists, but on this day guests can take a turn on one of 17 classic pinball machines, mostly from the '60s and '70s. It's here you'll find favorites such as Touchdown, a game where players shoot for both conventional points and gridiron yardage. The artist trio aims to collect at least one new machine every month by word of mouth and searching the Internet. The arcade vibe gets amped up thanks to bands and disc jockeys, while visitors check out Superelectric Press' poster work and pinball wizards tap the flippers and nudge the cabinets. "People are asking more questions, smiling more," says artist Ben Haehn. "We saw the kid on everybody's face again." 1300 W. 78th St., Suite 3C, Cleveland, 440-822-1011,

Indie Band

Within seconds of pressing play on "Pioneers," the first song on The Lighthouse and the Whaler's fall 2012 release, This is an Adventure, the band's lighthearted but intricately instrumented sound shines bright. Brothers Michael and Matthew LoPresti and Mark Porostosky, the trio behind the Cleveland-based folksy-pop band, may have taken their dynamic, energetic live show throughout the country this past year, but they haven't forgotten their roots. The band returned to Cleveland recently for a show at Cellar Door Records and a free Paste Magazine acoustic show at the new Aloft Cleveland Downtown. "It's the greatest feeling for us to come back to Cleveland and play," says singer Michael LoPresti. "We tell people on tour, 'Cleveland is for Cleveland.' If you are doing something awesome there, people will get behind it 100 percent of the time. There's not a lot of cities where that happens as intensely as it does in Cleveland."

Rock Gallery

Cindy Barber had an epiphany when Cleveland lost legendary music writer Jane Scott. "As people are getting older, we're losing their stories," says Barber, the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern co-owner. This April she opened Space: Rock, across the parking lot from the Beachland, to preserve our rich rock 'n' roll history. An offshoot of Barber's Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present and Future nonprofit, the cozy, single-room gallery plasters its walls with pics by local shutterbugs such as Joe Kleon, who captured Bruce Springsteen and Elton John. It recently housed the Lottery League, a project that randomly placed 169 musicians into 42 bands for a one-day free concert, in its upstairs rehearsal space. Gallery events draw diverse crowds, such as a recent live interview with local rock icon Michael Stanley that was videotaped and donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum archives. "When you see people from different scenes and generations interact, everybody becomes more aware of the scope of the local music scene," says gallery director Anastasia Pantsios. 15721 Waterloo Road, Cleveland

Karaoke Bar

Tina's Nite Club is not the prettiest place to sing karaoke. Nor is it the spot with the best sound system or the place with the biggest binder bulging with songs. It's the diviest of dive bars, with cinder-block walls and a chain-link fence around the parking lot. But this hideaway, two blocks north of the hipster-beaten path of Detroit Avenue, is the most carefree, down-to-earth bar an aspiring amateur songbird can hope for. Youthful newcomers and longtime neighbors share playlists that range from '80s pop to old rock 'n' roll. "It's rowdy, but it's a good rowdy," says Billy Wayne Martin, who's been a disc jockey at Tina's for 15 years. "Everyone has a good time." Martin himself often performs — Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is his signature — and he fosters an accepting attitude. "I try to let everyone be themselves," he says. "I always tell them they do a good job." 5400 Herman Ave., Cleveland, 216-651-8057

Recording Studio

Thomas Fox believes in blending the lines between recording and live performing. He and the four engineers at Bad Racket Recording Studio suggest musicians play like it's a live show even when recording. "It puts people at ease," says Fox. "Everything we do here is centered around making it so the musician isn't thinking about recording." The 1,700-square-foot Ohio City studio looks like your parent's basement with plush seating, area rugs and a fridge that artists can stock with their beverage of choice. Bands can record as a single unit rather than laying down separate tracks and play wherever they feel most comfortable in the studio. Bad Racket also helps artists share their music with a recent 50-band summer concert series and an online local music store and monthly music video series. "It's nice to try and connect artists with listeners," Fox says. 4507 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 440-941-6560,

Rock Cover Band

With more than 200 tunes in their utility belts, local cover band Faction can deploy any song to fit the vibe the crowd is giving them. "It's important that you observe people in the moment that you're performing," says 47-year-old lead guitarist and founder of the band, Troy Senauskas. The band crafts its sets so songs play off each other to maintain a constant energy. "We can keep the crowd going like a DJ would do at a wedding," he says. From '80s tracks such as Poison's "Talk Dirty To Me" to current hits such as Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," this four-man band knows how to pack the dance floor. It also has a few surprises in every show, including a remixed version of "Tonight I'm Lovin You" by Enrique Iglesias that integrates the '90s romper "The Bad Touch" by the Bloodhound Gang.

Reading Series

The conversations we have at bars are often not the most intellectual. It's safe to say there's a greater chance we'll be recapping The Bachelor than the latest New York Times best-seller. Thanks to Brews & Prose, a reading series held the first Tuesday of every month at Market Garden Brewery, bar patrons are now buzzing about literature. "We want it to be fun," says Dave Lucas, curator of the series, "and something you can do with a drink in your hand, in the same way that you want to go to the bar and watch a football game." Since its creation in July 2012, the mix of booze and unlikely author pairings, such as food writer Michael Ruhlman and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Connie Schultz, has been consistently drawing 100 lit fans and newbies each month. "People are willing to stand to listen to authors," Lucas says. 1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland,

Top 40 Cover Band

It's no small feat covering a range of music from modern Top 40 lists, but RadioActive performs hits such as Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and "Starships" by Nicki Minaj with ease. After a typical gig at the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls or a wedding reception, RadioActive hears audience members say they couldn't tell where the cover band began and tracks, such as Britney Spears' "... Baby One More Time" or "California Love" by 2Pac, ended. "This is the ultimate compliment to us," says Jon Blair, vocalist and bass player. The four-member band includes lead singer Brittany, a powerhouse whose vocals are muscular and flexible enough to hit any note from Rihanna to Carrie Underwood. When not performing, the group keeps track of the hottest, most current sounds in pop music. It's all about "finding that signature facet that defines each artist's style," says Blair.

Art Movement

Like many of the artists within its walls who have colored outside the lines, the Cleveland Museum of Art is consistently finding ways to turn the notion of a stuffy museum on its head. Our favorite way is Mix, a happy hour celebration of art, music, dancing and cocktails, held the first Friday of every month. October marks the first anniversary of the event, which regularly draws more than 1,000 people to the museum's breathtaking atrium. Highlights from past parties include a fashion show in collaboration with Virginia Marti College, one with local craft beers and indie band Bethesda, and another held outdoors incorporating salsa dancing to live music. "We realized that we were tapping in to something that was very local and relevant," says Aaron Petersal, director of membership and visitor experience. "You're going to see world-class art, but you are also going to be able to celebrate Cleveland and Northeast Ohio." 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, 216-421-7350,

Street Art

The artist's creative process is no longer an isolated venture. Rust Belt Monster Collective allows onlookers to see their every sketch and brushstroke with its whimsical live murals — improvised by its six members — forging a palpable connection between the artist and the viewer. "We are pleasantly surprised people enjoy watching," says member Erin Schechtman. "Usually you're alone in your studio wondering if something is good or not." She feeds off the crowd's energy at events such as IngenuityFest, where in 2012 the group created a 24-foot mural that melds graffiti-, comic- and storybook-styles in less than 16 hours. "We are hoping to get other people to draw," Schechtman says. Do just that — while throwing back a few — at the group's Drink and Draws, held monthly on the third Thursday at Lava Lounge and starting this month, also the first Wednesday at Great Lakes Brewing Co. Chill, there's no audience — just some potential drinking buddies.

Horror Bar

If you want to know what the inside of Stephen King's mind looks like, visit The Dark Room Bar. The Broadview Heights spot is the brainchild of Ralph Weber, who opened it in 2009 as an homage to his favorite movie genres: classic sci-fi and horror. "We didn't want to do just a sports bar," he says. "And we definitely weren't going to be a neighborhood corner bar. Classic sci-fi and horror films just made sense." The dark walls are lined with movie posters such as War of the Worlds, The Shining and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It serves up all the libations you'd expect, and even mixes in some specialty drinks and shots, such as the Crystal Lake, a vodka-and-Blue-Pucker-nod to the setting for the Friday the 13th movies. On Oct. 25, the bar will hold its annual Halloween party, with costume contests and a disc jockey. "Everyone dresses the part," Weber says. "It's like if you were having a Halloween party at your house, but it's at our bar." 1100 Royalton Road, Broadview Heights, 440-457-2011,

Use of Quarters

You may not have enough change for the parking meter or the laundromat after hanging out at the B Side Liquor Lounge & Arcade. Located underneath the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, the barcade lets us check out the 28 games and pinball machines lining the walls with a fistful of quarters in one hand and a Pabst Blue Ribbon in the other. Recent additions include a new Metallica pinball game, one of only a few available for public play in Ohio, and the rare beat-em-up game, Ninja Baseball Bat Man — a video showing its frenetic game play has more than 1 million views on YouTube. "It's basically just like every crazy thing that could go on in a video game all in one," describes general manager Brad Petty. The bar also has 10 taps for craft brews and regularly features seasonal beers. A menu of bar snacks, including soft pretzels, hot dogs and walking tacos, make it easy for us to chow down while zapping aliens, saving princesses or just kicking butt. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-1966,

Vaudeville Duo

He plays the accordion, she a banjolele — yep, a cross between ukulele and banjo. His handlebar moustache evokes the 1890s, while her frilly, busty outfit recalls the 1930s glory days of burlesque. His influences include Rodney Dangerfield; she's got a sort of Liza Minnelli thing going on. Pinch and Squeal — the husband-and-wife duo of Jason and Danielle Tilk — revive vaudeville, the variety shows that dominated American stages a century ago. "We pride ourselves on singing songs you wish you didn't know and jokes you wish you didn't laugh at, and doing really bad magic," says Pinch. That includes "Brand New Key," Melanie's early-'70s novelty hit, and the wink-and-nudge '20s number "Every Night I Bring Her Frankfurter Sandwiches." After three years as a duo, Pinch and Squeal are organizing bigger shows in their Voix de Ville project — a wordplay on vaudeville that's also French for "voice of the city." Their portable, Kickstarter-funded big top will feature their friends from neovaudeville and neocircus circles: aerial silk dancers, singers, a strongman and a yo-yo champion.

Monday, October 28, 2013 3:15:42 AM by Anonymous
Thanks for including two separate cover band categories! You're really on the cutting edge!

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