Below you’ll find a list – presented in no particular order – of my favorite rock and roll holiday songs. This was not an easy list to whittle down to a Top 20, so I encourage you to share the holiday songs that resonate most with you.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Come to Cleveland and visit us at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum!
Between movies such as 1977's Smokey and the Bandit and 1981's The Cannonball Run – both starring Burt Reynolds – I've long dreamt of hitting the open road with adventure at every turn. When the first film debuted in the late 70s, I was driving a 1967 Ram Air Oldsmobile 442. Of course, with that kind of equipment at my disposal, visions of cross country exploits were inevitable. Alas, it wasn't to be. Jobs, money, a switch to a Toyota Celica and a fear of going to jail derailed those fantasies for good. Or so I thought.
Lo and behold, I now have a chance to live out that dream… sort of. Come Sunday, September 23, I am embarking on the 2012 Fireball Run: Northern Exposure, along with three other teammates. The only difference between this adventure and those on-screen antics I was so captivated by is that we can't speed. The Fireball is more like a game of Trivial Pursuit for eight hours each day, for a week, in a moving automobile traveling a circuitous route from Independence, Ohio, to Bangor, Maine. It's not an exact facsimile, but I'll take it.
Anyone remember when there were so many record stores that you could bounce from one to the other, either to find exactly what you wanted or perhaps get that one album a little bit cheaper? Well, I do. Growing up in the woods in Daphne, Alabama, there was no place nearby to purchase records, so when rock and roll took off, I had a dilemma.
Fortunately, in the summer of 1957, my Mama started letting me ride the Greyhound bus to Mobile by myself to go to the movies once a week. I mowed lawns to finance these escapades, which required $5 for each trip. Expenditures were for the bus, the movies, lunch and – the pièce de résistance – my quest to find that one 45 RPM record that I couldn't live without.
My destinations on these missions were primarily Rutz Music and Jessie French. These two prominent stores sold instruments and sheet music, but, more important, they each had a record section with listening booths. Do you know how long it might take to pick out one hit single, which cost 99 cents? About two delightful hours.
This weekend, on Friday, April 6, don't miss a uniquely funky opportunity as 1997 Hall of Fame Inductee Bootsy Collins plays an intimate show at one of Cleveland's great music venues, the Beachland Ballroom. This is the first of many musical performances during the Rock Hall's 11 days of events surrounding this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions Ceremony on Saturday, April 14.
The charismatic Collins – easily identified by his singular fashion sense: star-shaped glasses, colorful suits and top hats, and glittery "space bass" – was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, alongside his mentor George Clinton (who'll headline the Free Concert for Cleveland with Kid Cudi and Kids These Days at the Q.)
Over the years, the bassist, singer, songwriter and Cincinnati, Ohio, native has released more than a dozen albums, including 2011's Tha Funk Capital Of The World, a deeply grooving history of funk as only Collins and his collaborators could curate. The musicians joining Collins at the Beachland Ballroom include P-Funk alumni and fellow Hall of Famers drummer extraordinaire Frankie "Kash" Waddy and Bernie Worrell, long recognized as a keyboard wizard ...
Many know that rock and roll was christened in Cleveland, Ohio, when DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase to describe the up-tempo R&B music he was beaming out on his popular radio show. Freed opened the doors for countless artists, and for years was the de facto king of rock and roll. But fewer know about the cadre of revolutionary Cleveland disc jockeys who shared the airwaves with Freed. Among them was Tommy Edwards.
Edwards, who owned a prominent record store, pressed records and was a disc jockey at WERE 1300 AM, was instrumental in bringing Elvis Presley to Cleveland in 1955 for his first performance north of the Mason-Dixon line. Pat Boone headlined the concert, and the supporting bill included Bill Haley and the Comets, the Four Lads, Priscilla Wright and a largely unknown Presley. It was there that Edwards snapped the famous photograph of Presley with Haley, one of the few times the two met. The show was not held in a grand concert hall or big-ticket venue, but in a suburb of Cleveland at Brooklyn High School. The now mythical performance is rumored to have been captured in vivid Technicolor, and dubbed The Pied Piper ...
This weekend, don't miss the opportunity to catch an evening of music with 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Felix Cavaliere, who long fronted the Rascals. Cavaliere is a great friend of the Museum, and has supported us with his presence and performances on numerous occasions. Cavaliere and his band will play two shows (7 pm and 9 pm) on Saturday, December 3 at the Tangier in Akron.
The Rascals were paragons of "blue-eyed soul," achieving commercial success beyond that of their peers – among them, the Righteous Brothers, Steve Winwood, Van Morrison and Joe Cocker. The group's indelible originals and energized covers were lead by Cavaliere's Hammond B-3 organ and expressive lead vocals.
These days, Cavaliere typically performs songs from a playlist of 19 chart-topping hits from his years as leader of the Rascals. Expect to hear the Rascals' famous uptempo cover of the Olympics' "Good Lovin'" (Number One in 1966), the soul-pop reverie of "Groovin'" (Number One in 1967); and the Rascals' biggest hit, "People Got to Be Free," a powerful response to the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that topped the Billboard charts for five weeks ...
The next few weeks include three don't-miss concerts:
2001 Hall of Fame inductee Paul Simon will be at the University of Akron's EJ Thomas Hall on Wednesday, November 23. Simon's latest album, So Beautiful Or So What, is his first album since Surprise in 2006, and has earned expansive critical acclaim. The album continues a tradition of delivering original songs that reflect the veteran songwriter's eclectic influences. Note that Cleveland's own award-winning world percussionist and drummer, Jamey Haddad, will be on stage in his long running role as percussionist in Simon's band, helping negotiate the varied rhythms found on So Beautiful – and beyond – for a live audience.
Paul Simon - "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" (from So Beautiful Or So What)
Falling close on the heels of Simon's show is an incredible funk lineup at PlayhouseSquare's State Theatre on Saturday, November 26: The Mary Jane Girls featuring Val Young, "Mister Cool" Morris Day and the Time ("Girl," "Jungle Love") and Cameo, whose 1986 album Word Up! produced two certified funk hits in the title track and ...
Cleveland was lucky this weekend, as it was one of only a handful of cities fortunate enough to have Booker T. Jones and his band perform in support of his latest CD, The Road From Memphis. I found the album so satisfying, I made sure every one of the Rock Hall's board members received a copy at our retreat this summer in New Orleans. I felt privileged for the opportunity to experience it live. And if that wasn't enough, it was Booker T. Jones' birthday to boot.
On November 12, Booker T. and his group played two incredible shows at Cleveland's famous jazz club, Nighttown, where owner Brendan Ring consistently books a vast array of stars, helping the cozy club garner a host of international accolades and a reputation as a destination spot for artists. Booker T.'s two performances – at 8 pm and 10 pm – were a great addition to that legacy.
The setlist for the night featured an exciting mix of material from not only Road From Memphis, but also his catalog of chart-topping and indelible hits, including "Green Onions," "Soul Limbo," "Hip Hugger" and "Time is Tight." The crowd was visibly moved, grooving and ...