Could Cleveland be the new Midwest? Local nonprofit hopes to bring live music to Cleveland’s streets

CLEVELAND, Ohio – In terms of music, Cleveland has the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and plenty of music venues to choose from, but the city is not exactly as known as a music hub.

A newly-formed local nonprofit and a group of artists are hoping to change that by bringing live music to Cleveland’s streets. They have already placed local albums in retail stores and launched a new website.

Local Artist Ray Flanagan has been performing in Cleveland for a decade. He called Cleveland’s music scene the best-kept secret.

“If you think of New Orleans jazz or Chicago blues,” he said, “The unique thing about Cleveland, I would say compared to Nashville or Austin, is this sort of Midwestern rust-belt kind of grit.”

Musicians like Flanagan inspired Chayla Hope, Teddy Eisenberg and Jeanette Sangston to launch ‘Sixth City Sounds,’ a local non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting Cleveland’s music scene.

“We have Reggae, we have Rock ‘N’ Roll, of course, we have amazing Hip-Hop here,” said Chayla Hope, Sixth City Sounds Co-Founder, “Just everything that you can look for.”

Six City Sounds’ new website now serves a reference guide for local musicians or for artists considering, moving to Cleveland.

“Agora [Theater] has started music careers, basically since the 1970’s,” said Teddy Eisenberg, “Bruce Springsteen defined his career there.”

In collaboration with local shops like ‘Whiskey Grade,’ the organization is also putting out the ‘Cleveland Music Shelf.’

“The music box was locally built,” said Ned Breznai, Whiskey Grade Creative Director, “It’s a gorgeous box. It has locally pressed vinyl’s and records, all local musicians.”

Eisenberg calls the music box, the Starbucks model with a local twist. He said he also wants to see more busking or buskers in Cleveland, which in other words are street performers.

“I feel very strongly that busking or live street music adds to the vibrancy,” he said.

This summer, Sixth City Sounds plans to hold surprise pop-up concerts in Cleveland in partnership with the RTA.

The dates and bands of the RTA Summer Jam Sessions are being kept under wraps. However, Flanagan said he is already on board.

“The music industry doesn’t really look to Cleveland for things,” he said, “And what we’re trying to say here, is that they should.”

The surprise pop-up concerts will be held at public transit commutes, so bus shelters and train stations throughout the summer.


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