Back in Cleveland after a 2018 tour with rock band Disconnected, bassist Michael Zweig and drummer Chris Barone were looking for a venue that streamlined the performance process. “Why doesn’t Cleveland, the capital of rock ’n’ roll, have a venue where musicians can just come plug and play?” asks Zweig. So in August, the duo and partners Megan Savansky and Brent Lewanski built a professional playground for bands. Stella’s Music Club pairs state-of-the-art equipment with inventive competitions and an exciting new recording venture. Here are three things to know about the new downtown venue.
The Right Stuff: Flanked with midrange speakers, subwoofers and 40 bank lights that react to the musician’s movements, Stella’s stage also features a Ludwig drum kit and a backline for musicians to plug and play. “We have an extraordinary PA system that is enough to power Quicken Loans Arena,” says Zweig. In addition, scattered video screens broadcast the stage to the club’s more out-of-sight corners.
Take The Mic: Stella’s 10-week live band karaoke contest offers more opportunities to hit the stage. Each night of the tournament-style competition, audience members choose from a list of more than 3,000 songs to perform with a live band, either house musicians or the cover band performing that night. “This has definitely evolved from our humble beginnings when we had only a 30-song catalog,” says Zweig. The next karaoke contest kicks off March 29.
Record Deal: Impress the Stella’s gang enough, and you might nab yourself a record deal. Zweig was so inspired by the talent he saw during the performances and karaoke competitions, he started a house record label, Stella’s Records. The supporting staff is a who’s who of local music makers, from engineer Jim Stewart to producer Jim Wirt, who’s worked with Fiona Apple, Incubus and Hoobastank. The new label recently signed New York rockers Birds In The Boneyard. “It’s an opportunity to take it to the next level,” says Zweig. “This is a place built by
musicians for musicians.”