ON A RECENT TOUR THROUGH THE MIDWEST and East Coast, I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Cleveland, Ohio. Though my Pittsburgh pals might never forgive me for saying so, it kinda rocked. Sure, its immodest self-identification as “The Rock ’n’ Roll Capital of the World” is, frankly, laughable. But Cleveland has a lot going for it—cool radio stations, a few bitchin’ live music venues, and surprisingly good Thai food, for starters. Of course, Cleveland is also home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, an impressive lakeside homage to all things rock. Well, almost all things. . . . Admittedly, my regard to the R&R Hall of Fame has diminished through the years as it has continued to snub all things progressive rock with its inductees. (No Yes? No Jethro Tull? No RUSH?!) But on a sunny day in April, I buried my grudge and decided to check it out.
I’m glad I did. First of all, any chance to get away from a smelly tour van packed with under-bathed dudes is a welcome one. Secondly, the opportunity to stroll around expertly curated exhibits displaying some of the coolest gear in the history of rock was one I simply couldn’t take for granted. From Sting’s Spector NS-2 to Elvis’s ’69 Jazz Bass and Rick James’ white Rickenbacker, “Duck” Dunn’s ’51 P-Bass to Cliff Burton’s wine red Ric and John Paul Jones’ 8-string Alembic, the museum had a downright righteous collection of iconic basses. Add to that dozens of well-presented audio-visual displays, and that’s a good day. The best part—and I hope I won’t land myself in hot water for saying so—is that the museum offers free admission to touring bands who are playing the area in exchange for an album of the band’s music.
If your travels happen to land you in or around Cuyahoga County, do yourself a favor and check out the place for yourself. And for a complete list of the basses on display (and as many photos as I could surreptitiously snap), check out my blog at bassplayer.com. Cleveland, you may be a far cry from the world capital of rock & roll, but you do rock my world with a capital R&R.