Kathy drove us 3 hours – and $7.50 in tolls – to Cleveland yesterday to see James McMurtry – western writer Larry’s son – perform at the Music Box Supper Club (1). It was well worth it. Music Box was a great venue, with long tables angled to the stage and beverages flowing freely throughout the show. Food too, if you needed something like that. James held forth solo, with only his 12 string and sardonic baritone – well up to his lyrics – to carry him through.
Probably kept the ticket price down. Maybe it was absence of a backup group that kept him away from my favorite song of his, one that captures growing up, and growing older, in a little ’burg like the one I grew up in (2). A little halfway through his set, he performed “a medley of his hit”, about an Oklahoma outing where they “had us a time” (3). No loyal fan from the Music Box has yet posted his setlist, but his from a couple days back at the Birchmeier pretty well approximates what he did in Cleveland (4). Remember, the beauty of Setlist.fm is you can click on any song in the list and hear it performed. Great way to dive deep into any artist.
It helped to be plunked into pleasant surroundings. We were headed to stay in a condo in the Grand Arcade building on West St. Clair in the warehouse district.
Built in 1890 as an office building, converted to residences a couple decades ago, some of the “improvements” seem quite recent and show they’re still trying.
On the way there, we passed by Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland, um, baseball team. The season has started, and family friend Jeff has already been to a game
I asked Jeff if he saw Chief Wahoo anywhere. Jeff responded that for sure he was on the garments of all the fans.
If you want to read about Louis Francis Sockalexis, the first Native American player to play in the major leagues and the individual for whom the Cleveland Spiders became the Cleveland Indians in tribute, you can read here (5).
But whatever silly name they sport, the Clevelands will still make mincemeat of my slightly improved Tigers, as they always do.
Foot on the ground out of the Grand Arcade got us marching downhill to the banks of the Cuyahoga (no longer burning (6)) and the Flats. With riverside patios still closed to the cold, we were confined to interiors. Collison Brewing offered high ceilings and many selections which included a couple pretty good IPAs, one of which benefited ALS research (7).
Always ready to drink to a good cause. Good conversation with the barkeeps.
A couple steps in got us to our sumptuous Italian dinner at Lagos East Bank (8). When we got to Music Box via Uber later, we saw they had food, too, but no sautéed calamari, duck, lobster gnocchi or $100 bottle of Renato Ratti Barolo ’17 to wash it down. We did o.k.
So after a concert like that, for folks of our age, it’s back to the shack for a snooze then wake up to hit the road for home in the morning. AirBnBs tend not to offer waffle makers and hard boiled eggs, so it’s off exploring again for breakfast. What did we do before Yelp? Fashionable 27 Club Coffee was 0.1 mi away (9). Woulda made a nice walk if it wasn’t raining. With a skull logo and a support t-shirt for their “potheads”, we knew we weren’t in Starbucks. We chose to sit and partake of their breakfast items and were well satisfied. They even gave us some quarters to feed the meters outside. Like the Wise Men, we left Cleve-berg by a different route. All roads lead to I-80, so we got home eventually, and fast! Old Cleve-berg isn’t that far away after all. We’ve attended some Cleveland Events before: CSN, the R&R Hall fame, and Todd/Daryl just recently. We’ve always approached these trips with trepidation because the destination seemed so damned far. But maybe Cleveland isn’t so far. Surely a nice place to visit. But…
1. Music Box. https://musicboxcle.com/
2. “Just us kids”-James McMurtry. YouTube 12/7/10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH5hTwWgHp0
3. Choctaw Bingo by James McMurtry. YouTube 3/16/20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nggqe-L9ZQ8