Last week hellpellet and I went over to the Winchester, an old bar in Lakewood that has for the last several years hosted a wide array of excellent music shows. At one time in its presumably storied past, the long back room was a bowling alley, and the front room was a bar.
The front room hasn’t changed much and still has the flavor of an “old man” bar, which I love. No tchotchke all over the walls, no useless junk masquerading as a “theme”. Nope, it’s just the old bar and old trimmings with the addition of some excellent framed photographs of musicians that have performed there. And, of course, booze.
The back room has been remade into a music hall, and they’ve done a really nice job of creating a cool atmosphere for shows that include rock and jazz, national acts and local groups.
We were there last Tuesday to get tickets to see Joey DeFrancesco the following night. Tuesday nights (and Thursdays I think) the Winchester hosts an open mic night. We wound up sticking around for a little bit after we got our tickets, chatting with proprietors Jim and Rebecca about music and Twitter (find them at @www.mesmerizemedia.netTheWinchester) and other techno-geekery. We even got to catch a little of the open mic evening before we had to head out.
I returned there the following evening for the show along with my friend and band-mate Charley. Charley and I have been to the Winchester to see a handful of jazz/fusion shows (Frank Gambale, Allan Holdsworth), and we were looking forward to tonight since we would be seeing one of the best Hammond players around.
Joey and his trio did not disappoint. They wound up almost 90 minutes of wicked organ-based jazz/blues. There was a brief interlude during which guitarist Paul Bollenback played a solo piece that was really moving. Unfortunately there was some juicebag in the back of the room that was eating Fritos (loudly) and crinkling up the bag repeatedly. Why this jackass had to wait until the quietest part of the night to do that is beyond me. I guess he was really hungry.
Okay, I’m calm now.
As I was saying, it was a really enjoyable show, the kind that leaves you wanting more. They closed with a great blues number, and Joey surprised me with some really solid vocal chops. Way better blues singing than I could do.
After they were finished, they were hanging around at the far end of the room. Surprisingly not too many people were back there talking to them, so Charley and I went back to tell them how much we liked the show. Joey was very gracious and chatted for a few minutes. We could tell he was surprised at the low turnout, but he didn’t complain.
I hope they come back to Cleveland. It seems like a lot of bands that I’d like to see aren’t coming to Cleveland much anymore (if at all). I guess if the turnout is low and the show isn’t all that profitable then why would they? I’ve been in bands that have played at clubs that have been “dead”, and after a few occasions we wound up not booking that same place again. I guess the only thing to do is to try to get the word out so more people can get into different music and support it when it comes to town.