University Circle has historically been known as a cultural and music mecca, from the museums and educational institutions to music and family fun at Wade Oval Wednesdays
(WOW) and entertainment at nearby bars and restaurants.
Now Uptown is moving to establish itself as Cleveland’s live music neighborhood.
To that end, University Circle, Inc.
, Case Western Reserve University
and Roots of American Music
(ROAM), along with eight neighborhood bars and eateries, have collaborated to launch Cleveland Foundation Uptown Saturday Nights
The seven-week concert series will celebrate the roots of American music – blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, traditional country, folk, Americana, bluegrass and zydeco, among others – performed by local musicians across multiple Uptown District venues within walking distance of one another.
All shows are free and open to the public, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation
. University Circle president Chris Ronayne says the foundation has been generous to University Circle.
“They’re really focused on the human capacity side of redevelopment,” Ronayne explains. “Over the last decade the Cleveland Foundation has helped us immensely with attention to design, transportation, transit, local jobs and housing.”
The idea for Uptown Saturday Nights stemmed from ROAM founder and artistic director Kevin T. Richards and Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern
owner Sean Watterson. The two wanted to bring more attention to the music scene in and around Uptown.
Richards notes that University Circle is often associated with its cultural attractions, including the Cleveland Orchestra
, Cleveland Institute of Music
and the Music Settlement
, but sometimes the neighborhood is forgotten for quality live music from more local artists and venues.
“The big idea was we don’t get much of a public face to our public performances,” Richards explains. “We saw this as an opportunity to market ourselves and make people aware of the free music.” He and Watterson subsequently launched free weekly bluegrass sessions last November at the Happy Dog.
At the same time, Ronayne noticed the popularity of WOW, which came on the heels of the wildly successful annual Parade the Circle
, but WOW ends in August. “What we learned from the crowd is people want the music to go on,” he says of the 11th
WOW season. “They don’t want it to end with the end of summer.”
Uptown Saturday Nights kicks off this Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Nine bands and a deejay will play at eight different venues. See the schedule below for a full list of bands, venues and times.
Ronayne says this newest concert series simply is carrying on a tradition. “Historically, University Circle has been a live music neighborhood with places like Club Isabella and the Boarding House,” he says. “Carnegie, Euclid, Cedar are live music neighborhoods and it’s bubbling up again.”
He continues: “Cleveland’s on a roll right now,” he says, adding that maintaining that momentum is critical. “If we want to be a music city, we have to keep building on that. We have to keep it going.”
The series will be introduced on Friday, Aug. 26 with additional events in Toby’s Plaza on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, with EucFest
, a block party with live music, outdoor bowling and corn hole by Corner Alley Uptown
, food and a beer and wine garden. MOCA Cleveland
will host a free LOADED Concert
with the bands Form a Log, Fake Species, and Hiram Maxim at 8 p.m., as well as the fun, funky and free BOUND zine and art fair
. For those who haven't seen the dazzling Myopia exhibit
from Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh, a reduced $5 admission will get them into those galleries as well as programming associated with BOUND all weekend. Uptown will also be the destination for Cleveland Critical Mass’ August Ride
, through support from the Cleveland Foundation and No Depression
magazine, will cap off the Uptown Saturday Nights on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15. That event will feature local and national bands, food and family activities at Toby’s Plaza and at Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern.
Musical Lineup for Uptown Saturday Nights, August 27
- Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern,
11625 Euclid Ave.
Matt Monta & the Haymakers
, 9 p.m., Americana
, 10:30 p.m.,
- Coquette Patisserie,
11607 Euclid Ave.
Eric Seddon Duo
, 7 p.m., Early American Jazz
- Roots Garden,
Outdoors at 11460 Euclid Ave.
Down the Road, Appalachian String Band
- ABC Uptown,
11434 Uptown Ave.
Lost Bob & the Ozone Ramblers
, 7 p.m., Bluegrass
- The Corner Alley at Uptown,
11409 Euclid Ave.
, 8 p.m., Americana
- Ninja City,
11311 Euclid Ave.
- Barking Spider,
11310 Juniper Road
Erin Nicole Neal & the Chill Factor
, 8 p.m., Blues/Soul/Rock
Tom Shaper, 10 p.m., Roots Guitar
1903 Ford Drive
, 7 p.m., Early Jazz Piano