In an Almost Famous–like plot twist, Danielle Romanowski almost never made it to Cleveland—but she's so glad she did.
After deciding to relocate from Los Angeles to Cleveland earlier this year, the Florida-born musician hit the road with her band, Dark Water Rebellion, for a tour-slash-cross-country-move in August. On a day off in Montana, the band ventured to a remote ghost town, but almost didn't live to tell the tale.
Dark Water Rebellion"We were coming back down a mountain road when our tour bus lost its brakes and crashed," shares Romanowski.
Though no one was hurt, the accident certainly put a cramp in the band's touring style—as the bus had been not only their mobile home, but also their recording studio. "We had to cancel our tour, pack our stuff into a U-Haul, and drive it the rest of the way," says Romanowski. "It was definitely an adventure just to get out here."
The adventure is sure to continue as Romanowski takes on her newest role: marketing coordinator at the Beachland Ballroom. Romanowski credits serendipity with her landing the job—after making a cold call just to express her interest, she found herself on the fast track to a recently vacated opening.
"I knew about the venue just based on their reputation and was excited about what they were doing," she says. "I sent [Todd Gauman] a note introducing myself as a musician who'd abruptly moved to Cleveland and expressed my desire to get involved in the scene. He hit me back almost immediately."
Romanowski's role will entail social media promotion, writing and distributing the venue's weekly newsletter, planning special events, and generating interest in upcoming shows. "Really unique and awesome acts come through here, and the Beachland is super into promoting up-and-coming acts and helping building their following. As a musician, I think that's hugely awesome."
Her own band, Dark Water Rebellion, falls into that category as well. Romanowski calls their music "Southern gothic swamp rock," or what it might sound like "if Nick Cave, Trent Reznor, and Tom Waits got together." So far, the band has played the Agora Ballroom, and they hope to play the Grog Shop, and (naturally), the Beachland Ballroom. The band also released its first full-length album in April, and Romanowski says they plan to drop another album next year.
Right now, the three-member band is living together in an apartment on the West Bank of the Flats. Romanowski is the band's drummer, while her boyfriend, Brent Gorcie, is the lead singer and primary songwriter. So far, she's a big fan of the Land: "I feel like I'm coming in on Brooklyn before Brooklyn got cool," says Romanowski. "Creatives and artists can afford to come live here and pursue what we want to do."
Romanowski made the decision to move to Cleveland after spending just over a year in Los Angeles and feeling unfulfilled. "Being a new band in LA is completely stifling," she explains. "You have to pay to play most venues worth anything, it's an oversaturated market, and people are completely jaded."
Ohio had initially piqued her interest during a March 2017 visit, when the band booked numerous gigs in the state while visiting Gorcie's mom (who resides in Youngstown). "We played some shows in Cleveland, and I ended up falling in love with the music scene and the people," says Romanowski. "The people in Cleveland seem more interested in original music and the fact that we're trying to push an original art form. We feel really embraced here."