Don't call it a comeback: Music Saves space to be revived as Cleveland Rocks Shop on Waterloo

With the recent openings of Pop Life and Six Shooter Coffee's new location, Waterloo Road seems to be hitting a high note lately—and Beachland Ballroom owner Cindy Barber has big plans to keep it rocking and rolling.

This week, Barber plans to announce an ioby fundraising campaign to mount the Cleveland Rocks Shop, a retail space showcasing local music and honoring its past, present, and future. Housed inside the former Music Saves record store (which shuttered in late 2017), Barber sees the Cleveland Rocks Shop as the next step in creating a campus of sorts as an extension of the Beachland Ballroom.

"The whole idea is to energize our music economy in Cleveland,” says Barber. “When I was a kid, I worked at record distribution houses, and back then, we were one of the top record markets in the country, thanks to [legendary DJs like] Alan Freed, Bill Randle, and WMMS. I’m hoping in some small way to recapture and honor some of that rich history and energy.”

Barber has been diligently working toward that goal ever since her nonprofit bought the building next door to the Beachland Ballroom in February 2018. The building houses guitar shop Music Emporium and concert photography gallery Space: ROCK, as well as numerous band rehearsal spaces. The Cleveland Rocks Shop will soon join the fold when it opens its doors in April. (Music SAVES owner Melanie Hershberger still owns that particular part of the space, but Barber will be renting it out as part of the new venture.)

“We’ll be curating and selling products that represent Cleveland music history and current bands,” says Barber, adding that the shop will also feature interactive listening stations. Clevelanders will also be able to consign their own music memorabilia, which will not only be sold in the store, but digitized and donated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives.

Once the Cleveland Rocks shop is up and running, Barber plans to ramp up efforts at the Space: ROCK gallery and will later transform the back part of the building—which once housed a bowling alley—into the NOMAD (Northeast Ohio Music & Arts Development) Music Hub. Envisioned as a center for music education and collaboration, the facility will offer both recording and video technology, and Barber also hopes to develop a membership program loosely modeled after Memphis Slim House in which musicians can rent rehearsal space or a recording studio.

It’s all part of the bigger picture that Barber is advancing via her nonprofit Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present, and Future—having assembled a board that includes technology advisers, consultants, and others who can bring the vision to fruition.

"The mission has been around awhile, and now we’re finally in a place where we’ve got enough support from a newly energized board where we can activate now in a physical space," says Barber.

Barber's efforts have also attracted a one-to-one matching grant from Artplace America for the ioby campaign, with all gifts matched up to $15,000 for a potential fundraising total of $35,655. The timing is opportune, with the Beachland Ballroom celebrating its 20th anniversary in March, and Waterloo experiencing new momentum.

As Barber's nonprofit creates more of a presence on the street, she hopes to intersect with other arts-focused nonprofits like Praxis Fiber Workshop and Waterloo Arts

"Ultimately, we want to create the 'Waterloo Arts Experience District,'" says Barber. "There are a lot of great nonprofits here, and we want to make all of these educational platforms interact as we grow the neighborhood."

A previous version of the headline stated that Beachland Ballroom is reviving the space. The Music Saves space is being revived by Cindy Barber's nonprofit, Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present, and Future. We apologize for the error.

Jen Jones Donatelli
Jen Jones Donatelli

About the Author: Jen Jones Donatelli

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast.

When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.