Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Critic, the Kid, and the Rock and Roll Capital of the World

Growing up in Cleveland in the eternity before a driver's license on a low budget meant living music vicariously through the writing of The Plain Dealer's Jane Scott.

After my first show - the Kinks' Give the People What They Want tour in 1982 - I cut out her review from the morning paper and pinned it to the bulletin board above my desk. Then I started cutting out the reviews of shows I hadn't attended - all of them and every single morning for a while - so that I could understand and remember better the shows I had seen and imagine those that I had missed.

Cleveland called itself the Rock and Roll Capital of the World then. For a local there were some decent reasons for this: Alan Freed. The glory days of WMMS. Understanding Bruce Springsteen before any other market outside of the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia. Supporting the Michael Stanley Band, a long-time local group of heroes who almost but never quite cracked the big time. There was not all that much else civic light to celebrate in Cleveland during MSB's prime.

Jane Scott, who died today at the age of 92, was a rock critic in Cleveland for forty years. I knew the cadence and quips of her style as well as any writer's work during a time when only she and the radio offered a map to the places I thought I wanted to be.

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