Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Truckers and a free lunch

Last night was special because of the company I was in, but could have been more so had Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers not cancelled their gig. But there was to be something of a compensation for that.

I met up with old friends, Sam, Jeff, Mark and his wife and after a great meal in a bar of the Westside of Cleveland, we went to the other side of town to visit another hostelry that had a choice of pinball tables.

I think there should be a call to bring those back into English pubs!

Jeff, being a music journalist, is a man in the know. He heard that a ‘secret gig’ was taking place at The Beachland Tavern. Jeff and Mark were up for a late night.

We arrived at around 11pm to find the night’s entertainment coming to an end in the main arena.

The three of us did some research on the bar before venturing next door where there is a smaller stage.

The gig was with a band called The Drive-By Truckers who have been supporting Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on their tour.

The word is that they were ‘phoned by the venue to ask if they would play, and initially declined. But, a few minutes later, the call was returned when one of the band members said: “You know? We’ll do it!”

So, instead of performing in front of around 15,000 people last night, they played before an audience of approximately 150. Thanks to Jeff, I was one of those 150.

A local cop was on hand at the door to ensure only those with a special ticket could gain admission but, despite that, there was a long queue of people hoping to get in.
If you can't see the small print of the notice on the door, it reads: Sorry ... yes, that means sold out ... like no tickets left ... for real ... thanks.

Not big in England, but pretty well-known in The States, I loved their music and from their style could understand why they had been chosen to support Tom Petty.

The beer made sure I got a good night’s sleep. My hotel is like no other I have stayed in before. It is in an arcade, of which the ground floor is a retail area. The colonnade style upper floors contain the rooms.

Today has been spent wandering around Cleveland. I am biased, and in this no way puts down the other great cities I have visited in The USA, but because of previous visits here, Cleveland is special to me.

It’s the city that Americans like to mock. Maybe there’s a similarity here with Plymouth. The sports teams have been starved of success and the big story here has been the departure of LeBron James from The Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
The guys here know I have a LeBron shirt in my case – they want to burn it tonight – just like many Cavs fans burnt their shirts and other memorabilia when he recently left town to sign for Miami.

The sports shops have Lebron Shirts at knockdown prices. I asked one assistant if they are still selling, and she said just a few.

They say there’s nothing as a free lunch. Wrong! I had one today.

I was making my way down to the waterfront area to the stadium of MY team, The Cleveland Browns. Just along the way is The Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a beautiful location, just north of the main downtown area and on the shores of Lake Erie.

I noticed a number of tents and a large crowd. A local radio station was giving away free lunch as a promotion.

So after queuing for a hot dog with great onions and mustard, it was to the ice cream stand for dessert and then a drink to round it all off.

Others were queuing for various games that were taking place, one with prize money of over $100,000.

This evening, I am meeting with the guys who I spent a great night with last night, and a few others as well.

Just call it community service – saving the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s beer from going off!

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