Ode to Hessler: Grog Shop hosts two-day concert dedicated to iconic street fair

The legendary Hessler Street Fair, known for its counter-culture vibe was a popular early summer festival beginning in 1969. Although it took a 10-year hiatus in 1984, the fair came surging back in 1995 and folks partied in the streets until the music stopped in 2019. 

The Hessler Street Fair may now be gone, but it has never been forgotten. So the Grog Shop, 2795 Euclid Heights Blvd. in Cleveland Heights on Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20, will host “An Ode To Hessler,” two nights of music dedicated to the spirit of Hessler Street Fair.

To commemorate the historic block-party turned music and arts festival, the Grog Shop will host many of the bands, vendors, and organizations that made Hessler so special in years past. 

Endorsed by the Official Hessler Street Fair, residents, and attendees past and present are invited to join in the festivities. Hooper Farm will have food for sale, with local artisans like Faith McFluff and Chris Adams, and grassroots organizations on site each evening. 

Night one on Friday, May 19 will feature Shoreline Funk All Stars, a new eight-piece collective born from a fateful open jam night and Shākē Ground Band, reggae rebel music! The band formerly known as Outlaws I&I is back and bringing roots music to its audiences.

Also performing is Blackout Rose; Santana meets Kravitz with hints of Fela Kuti, Kamasi Washington and Red Hot Chili Peppers; and Unc D, a Cleveland-based artist known for his prolific output and mixing jazz-scatting with autotune and modern hip hop.

Alex Bevan will begin the evening with a solo acoustic set including the 1976 summer anthem “Skinny” that filled the airwaves of WMMS and brought the Cleveland folksinger’s career into sharp focus.

Night two on Saturday, May 20 will feature headliners Jah Messengers and The JiMiller Band. Jah Messengers are a reggae band that use music as a catalyst to unite all people, while The JiMiller Band is best known for its free form improvisational rock that was made famous by The Grateful Dead.

Also playing will be the original “acoustifunk” band Big Ship; and the New John McGrail Trio, an evolving extension of the music of John McGrail composed of guitar, bass, flutes and whistles featuring Jay Bentoff, Sheela Das, and Charlie Mosbrook

Tickets are $10 for Friday or Saturday, or a two-day pass for both Friday and Saturday is $15.