A classic rocker gets intimate, classic arena rockers take a victory lap, the "Red Rocker" will rock for a local charity and Cleveland's gettin' the blues
We’ve got an intimate evening of songs and stories with a classic rocker, a not so-intimate rock and roll all-night with classic arena rockers, an upcoming charity-driven appearance by the Red Rocker and a homegrown Midwest bluesfest.
On Saturday, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame double-inductee comes to the Akron Civic Theatre. Graham Nash was a member of The Hollies, who had more than 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, many of which are still on classic hit radio (“Bus Stop,” “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”).
Nash then famously joined a couple of other guys, David Crosby and Stephen Stills, who had done pretty well in their previous bands (The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, respectively). Crosby, Stills and Nash famously played their second gig onstage at Woodstock, and their debut album is a bonafide folk-rock classic filled with the trio’s complex harmonies and good songwriting.
They also had hits with Nash-penned songs, including the gentle “Our House,” “Teach Your Children” and “Marrakesh Express.” Neil Young joined the group for CSN&Y bringing more hits and tales of personality clashes. (Oh, and some drug issues. With Nash having said publicly that he’ll never work with Crosby again, fans are going to have to enjoy the members solo style).
These days Nash, a sprightly 77, is still writing and recording. His most recent album, “This Path Tonight,” was inspired largely by his divorce from Susan Sennett, his wife of 38 years.
The 2016 album was his first in 14 years and was generally well received. More recently, Nash and Rhino Records released “Over The Years,” a 30-track compilation that culls Nash songs from his 50-plus-year career including songs by The Hollies, CSN, CSN&Y, C&N and his six solo albums.
The show is billed as an intimate evening with Nash, who performs only with lead guitarist Shane Fontayne (who also co-wrote much of “This Path Tonight”) and keyboardist Todd Caldwell. And throughout the show Nash will share the stories and origins behind each of the songs.
Kissing Cleveland goodbye
Keeping it “classic.” Kiss is on its official last go-round on the tour circuit and Paul and Gene and the boys are bringing their “End of the Road” tour to Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday evening.
Stanley, 67, and Simmons, 69 (feel free to place your own Simmons-esque joke here), are breaking out the platforms, unitards, and blood and playing a set that is, of course, packed with hits and fan favorites.
If you’ve never seen Kiss before, it is an entertaining, old school '70s rock 'n' roll audiovisual spectacle. And, with all the stuff exploding on stage and the hit choruses of “Rock And Roll All Night,” “Detroit Rock City” and the disco-flavored “I Was Made For Loving You,” you may not even notice the singers' voices have definitely aged.
It’s also your last chance to enjoy the legendary, hilarious and occasionally non-nonsensical stage banter from Stanley. Lucky for the world, there’s a 65 minute compilation of nothing but Stanley offering pithy bon mots and observations such as “How many of you girls like to get licked? Guys? How many of you guys like to get licked? You lick me, I lick you!" Or localized stage ramblings, such as, “every time we come to Texas, I look out front! I know this isn’t the dairy state, but you grow em big here!!"
One more classic rocker, this time the Red Rocker, a.k.a Sammy Hagar, is hitting the road with his band The Circle, featuring former Van Halen bandmate Michael Anthony, rock legacy drummer Jason Bonham and longtime guitarist Vic Johnson.
Hagar and the band have a new album, “Space Between” due in May, and they’re coming to the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield Park on June 2.
The show will be this year’s Rockin FORE The Kids” charity concert produced by LOPen Charity Events and the Mawaka Foundation. It’s the 16th charity concert that benefits the Akron Children’s Hospital Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. Past events have been headlined by artists including Sheryl Crow, Rascall Flats and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. There will also be a few celebrities in the venue, including former WWE wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr. and boxer Ray “Boom Boom’ Mancini. Tickets ($109.50-$250) go on sale Thursday. ticketmaster.com.
On Friday, The State Theatre at Playhouse Square plays host to the Cleveland Blues Festival. Helping folks musically work through their feelings will be Sir Charles Jones, the Akron-born, Birmingham-raised King of Southern Soul. Jones and his husky, church-imbued tenor mine a silky, smooth mixing of classic and contemporary soul on his ballad-heavy 2018 album “The Masterpiece.”
His friend and sometime duet partner, Baton Rouge-bred Pokey Bear is also a contemporary Southern Soul man, obsessed with love’s foibles, who occasionally recalls an updated Little Milton.
The evening’s lone lady is a good one, Shirley Brown, whose 1974 Grammy-nominated R&B hit “Woman to Woman” is still an old school quiet R&B storm radio staple. Brown had a few other charting singles including “Ain’t Nothing Like The Lovin’ We Got" from 1989.
I’ve seen singer-songwriter-guitarist Theodis Ealy perform and it’s a good time. The Mississippi man actually backed up some legends, including the aforementioned Little Milton, along with Johnny Copeland and Charles Brown. Musically, Ealey, the “Bluesman Lover,” is a bit more in the traditional blues vein and also focuses on love subjects of the heart and knows his way around a ribald metaphor in fun tunes such as “Stand Up In It” and “Slow Grindin’.” Tickets: $63-$104.50. playhousesquare.org
My Oakland homeboy, singer Lenny Williams, is best known for his aching, passionate pleading crooning style typified in his R&B quiet storm mainstay, the sad monologue-laced “Cause I Love You.” In the late '70s Williams had a nice run of charting R&B songs, “So Very Hard To Go,” and Feelin’ Blue”
Calvin Richardson is the young buck on the tour (at the tender age of 42), but got his start during the late '90s neo-soul era and co-wrote Charlie Wilson’s smooth comeback jam “There Goes My Baby” with Babyface. He also had his Bobby Womack tribute album, “Facts of Life,” nominated for two Grammys. His latest album is “I Am Calvin Richardson."
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