Cool Cleveland Sounds

Perk up your ears

It's good business to sound good.

Nashville, Tenn., calls itself "Music City, USA," because the Grand Ole Opry emanated from WSM radio starting in the 1920s and the city gave birth to country music's commercially oriented "Nashville Sound" in the 1950s. Now, the city pushes its world-class attractions, hotels and restaurants, while Forbes and Fortune magazines tout Nashville for its job growth and hot real estate market.

Austin, Texas, meanwhile, recently started calling itself the "Live Music Capital of the World," because of its wealth of music clubs and its annual South by Southwest music (and now interactive) conference and festival.

Cleveland, of course, has an opportunity to live up to its own musical nickname: the Rock 'n' Roll capital — the place where the term "rock 'n' roll" was coined by disc jockey Alan Freed in the 1950s, and now home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. But Cleveland has always been more than just rock 'n' roll. Besides being a center for Cleveland-style polka, the home of blues legend Robert Lockwood Jr. and the home base of the peerless Cleveland Orchestra, our city has always been one of the best locations for music of all sorts.

This month, enjoy music from far and near, most of it having nothing to do with rock 'n' roll. And let's create our own mythology about cool Cleveland sounds.

Chaka Kahn This diva has managed to remain a music scene staple for more than 30 years. A member of the pre-eminent funk group Rufus, her dynamic vocals propelled Kahn into a successful solo career. Many hip-hop artists have sampled her songs and she has collaborated with artists such as Kanye West. Enjoy an evening of classic hits, such as "Tell Me Something Good," "I'm Every Woman" and "Ain't Nobody" Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. State Theatre, Playhouse Square Center, 1519 Euclid Ave.

Infinite Number of Sounds Looking for something different? Hear Infinite Number of Sounds perform at its CD release party Aug. 12 at 9 p.m. Machine Go Boom and 20goto10 will join this electro-rock/media-art performance group for a full night of music that will cost you less than the price of an extra-value meal. Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, 15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland, (216) 383-1124,

The Four Freshmen Hugely influential, the Four Freshman's complex, four-part vocal harmonies influenced everyone from the Beach Boys to Stan Kenton. They were the first male vocal group to put the lead voice at the top of the chord and their sound is as distinctive as a fingerprint. Catch them at Nighttown Aug. 13 at 6 and 8 p.m. and Aug. 14 at 5 and 7 p.m. 12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, (216) 795-0550,

Smooth Jazz Holiday An evening of mellow jazz from some of the genre's premier artists is just a short drive down I-77. Head to Akron for an intimate evening of jazz with Forecast, Pieces of a Dream and Richard Elliot Aug. 27 4 to 10 p.m. Lock 3 Live, Main Street, Akron, (330) 945-9400.  

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