The year is almost done but there's plenty of music coming
We’re in the home stretch for 2018, but there’s still plenty of live music coming for your entertainment dollar (this year and next). One of the more unusual stops on the horizon in 2019 will be Northeast Ohio favorite Todd Rundgren’s Individualist Tour.
I know, Runt’s been to Ohio quite a bit in the past five years and has played enough area shows in a single year that even a hardcore fan might think, “Eh, I’ll skip this one and catch him when he comes back in six months.” But his Cleveland shows, a two-night stand at the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square in May, will be a bit different and should be a fun, interesting evening spent with a veteran artist.
On Dec. 21, Rundgren and Cleopatra Press will release his autobiography “The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams and Dissertations.” The book covers Rundgren from his earliest memories up through his 50th birthday. To celebrate and promote the book, the now-70-year-old Rundgren’s concert next spring will cover his career up through 1996 when the multimedia album that gives the book its title was released.
Rundgren will play music with many of his usual cohorts, including Prairie Prince, Kasim Sulton, Jesse Gress and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Greg Hawkes, and tell stories about many of the songs and albums from the era. With services such as ITunes, Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify coming pre-installed on many phones now, folks might forget that artists such as Rundgren and Prince were way ahead of the online music curve, to varying degrees of success.
Rundgren has always been a techie and was the first artist to attempt a music download service in the early '90s through CompuServe. (You remember CompuServe, right?) It was slightly more reliable than Prodigy but less versatile than AOL. His PatroNet, launched in 1998, was also the first direct artist subscription service and he also pioneered the first interactive CD with “No World Order,” and the interactive “The Individualist,” which had interactive videos for each song. Take that, Beyonce!
I’ve talked to Rundgren several times over the past decade or so and he’s always got good stories, so this should be a cool and different kind of show and you don’t even need to listen to his latest album — the guest-heavy, weirdly digital “White Knight,” from 2017. Tickets for the shows go on sale Monday at playhousesquare.org
The Akron Civic Theatre has a slew of holiday-related shows coming as well as a few new shows announced for 2019. Upcoming opportunities to celebrate the season with music include “Christmas Under The Stars” featuring Northeast Ohio native and singer Connor Bogart O’Brien.
Many, many moons ago, I remember O’Brien being another scrappy, up-and-coming musician on the local scene, and somewhere buried under one of the many piles on my desk, I still have a CD single he released. Since the early aughts, O’Brien has studied opera in New York, starred on stages in musicals such as “Miss Saigon” and “Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and traveled the world performing with Mariah Carey, Hall & Oates and fellow Northeast Ohio pianist Jim Brickman. O’Brien also directed the All-City Musical’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
For the Akron show on Saturday, O’Brien will be in crooner mode, probably with a loosened bow tie, a tumbler half-filled with ice and a perfect 5 o’clock shadow as he, a nine-piece brass band and other guests sing a slate of expected holiday classics, tunes from “Frozen” and more.
If you’d like to double up on local cats performing holiday music, next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be Ryan Humbert’s 10th annual Holiday Extravaganza with a big band.
In the new shows category, the Civic Theatre recently announced Michael Stanley and the Resonators will return there on March 2. Stanley sold the Civic out quickly for his last show and will likely sell this one out, too. All Hail the King of Cleveland Heartland Rock.
Valentine’s Day 2019 will bring us yacht rock stalwarts America. The band of soft-rockers will be celebrating 50 years of muskrat sex, seeing alligator lizards in the air, and singing about places where there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.
Another cool show that recently went on sale is Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets coming April 8. Mason is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer for the officially laid-to-rest Pink Floyd, and he’s hitting the road with a group of veterans to perform the music and, as he has said, to “capture the spirit” of early, Syd Barrett-led psychedelic Pink Floyd.
The band has been touring Europe in recent months and has received good notices from fans and press for its takes on Pre-”Dark Side of the Moon” Floyd classics such as “Set The Controls For the Heart of the Sun” and “Lucifer Sam.” (Tickets are $51.50-$101.50; more info: www.akroncivic.com.)
Going further back in music history: Next April 12, the Civic will welcome early rock 'n’ roll legends the Drifters, the Platters and Cornell Gunter's Coasters for an evening of classic doo-wop sung by spry senior citizens in suits.
One more tidbit for frequent concert-goers. For next year, Blossom Music Center is offering a $249 pass that gets purchasers a single lawn ticket to every show, including any sold-out shows, a free lawn-chair rental, a surely super-cool-looking personalized laminate (that lets everyone know you had $249 to spend on a fancy laminate that gets you into shows), and you’ll get access to other special ticket offers.
This seems like a pretty decent deal, particularly if you don’t mind the lawn (I’m not a fan) and/or are a country music fan as country artists tend to rule the Blossom pop season. But you’ll also likely get a couple of those classic rocker double bills and you’ll be able to catch whichever hot rapper is on the road. Go to lawnpass.livenation.com for more information.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.