Bobby Williams & Nancy Telzerow

Singer-songwriters, "The Cleveland Song."

Some people talk about causes they believe in. Others sing. Meet Bobby Williams, 50, and 30-something Nancy Telzerow, actors for Pathway Productions. Their new ditty, “The Cleveland Song,” which Williams wrote, supports a November ballot issue to raise money for the arts through a cigarette tax. “The arts are the life of a community,” says Telzerow. “They open the world.”

Who doesn’t love to talk about sin taxes? Details, please.
B:
The proposal is for a 30-cent tax on cigarettes for six years.
N: They estimate it’ll bring $20 million to the arts in Cuyahoga County.

So why didn’t you write the “Hey, Everybody, Let’s Smoke An Extra Pack of Camels This Week” song?
B:
There’s still time to do that.

Describe “The Cleveland Song.”
B:
I’d say it has a Bruce Springsteen feel. I wanted to write something the average guy could relate to.

What’s our biggest arts problem?
N:
They’re just not accessible or exciting to everyone — especially younger people.
B: A 17-year-old Hispanic kid can’t relate to “Death of a Salesman.” We need to push the envelope.

What needs to be done?
B:
We need more of an investment in developing talent — young playwrights, things like that.

For dramatic effect, have you considered smashing your guitar?
B:
My wife would be perfectly fine with that.

What’s been the reaction so far?
B:
We’ve played at several festivals. It’s been really positive.
N: We’ve even had a few people throw money at us. Kind of funny.

It’s a start toward the $20 million.
N:
True.

The one musician you wish would go away.
B:
Kevin Federline.
N: William Hung. Does he count?

Did you ever think you’d get into politics?
B:
I’m not quite sure my private life would hold up in the long run.

Ever considered setting your guitar on fire?
B:
Jimi Hendrix had a huge influence on me, but not that much.

Sell me on passing the sin tax.
N
: The arts are so important to the growth of a city and its people. They enrich minds.

Plus, this town built stadiums for the Browns and Indians with sin taxes, and they both stink. The least people can do is help you.
B:
No comment on the first part.
N: Exactly. What he said.

 

Photo by Jesse Kramer

 

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