Typically speaking, we usually try to keep a local spin on the people and places that we feature on our Sunday Spotlight. This past week however, one of us was fortunate enough to be visiting a spot that resonates deeply with both of us. Being avid music fans, this is something that we feel passionate about sharing. We think too that our readers, many of whom we know are avid fans as well, will enjoy it.
I’ve traveled around quite a bit in my life. I’ve been to just about every state, Ohio included. In fact, I’ve been to Ohio many times. I’ve been in, around, and through Cleveland numerous times. For whatever reason however, I had never visited the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. I’m someone who needs music to survive and thrive, someone who thinks of music not merely as a form of entertainment, but as an accompaniment to the highs, lows, and everyday moments of our lives.
Rock music and it’s related genres, along with the sounds that helped to create it, are my genres of choice. So, it remained a mystery why I’d never tried harder to get to the hall. But it remained steady on my bucket list, ever since I put it on there way back when. Until last Friday that is.
When you arrive, if you’re not familiar with the exterior appearance of the hall, you will probably still recognize it right away. Sitting waterside on Lake Erie, right at the edge of downtown Cleveland, it is a bright, shiny pyramid amidst the boats, stores, and office buildings. Getting in and out was a breeze. Parking was close and reasonably priced. There are several doors in the front and staff are there to assist you. We walked in with ease, right to the ticket booth, and got our tickets to see the show. Grabbing a map will come in handy, especially if you’re a particularly organized person, like to do things in an orderly way, or want to be sure you hit specific exhibits. Or you can meander freely about like I did. Just be sure you make it to all floors and halls (all of which are numbered and with clear signage) and you should be able to see everything they have to offer. They also have a café, a gift shop (of course), and nice clean restrooms on each floor. The gift shop which I thought was going to be super expensive, was actually not that bad for what it was. I spotted a t-shirt I liked and dreading the price, I flipped the tag to take a peek. $23. Not bad at all for what and where it was.
That what and where is a matter of a bit of debate among some people. Some see it as just another tourist trap. A museum essentially, like any other, that brings in out of towners (perhaps visiting Cedar Point or other nearby Lake Erie attractions) and gives them something else to do with the family. So they come in and they plunk down their $22.00 a person and get on their way. And no doubt there are a ton of those people who come through every day. I watched several of what appeared to be the average tourist, walking hurriedly through the halls of each exhibit, glancing quickly at every case and moving on. Some stopping to snap a photo or two. Oddly enough, many of them were not even photographing anything in or about the hall. Mainly selfies taken in the hallways, or group shots of people standing in the gift shop, or the café. As I watched them take pictures, or hurriedly walk by a great exhibit with barely a glance, I thought to myself, this is why… this is why there are people in music who think this place is merely a tourist trap.
Fortunately I believe that an experience is what YOU make of it. The hall is FILLED with absolutely incredible information, photographs, and memorabilia from some of the most talented and amazing musicians and music industry professionals ever. Some celebrated and easily recognized and some not so much. But with that wealth of incredible music history at your fingertips, you’d be doing a huge disservice to yourself as a music fan if you didn’t try to check it out, and to really take the time to investigate, understand and savor all that it has to offer you.
Aside from literally having the clothes off their backs, there are incredible gems from every band, every solo artist, that you could ever wish to see. From Nirvana’s original first demo tape, to Janis Joplin’s signature spectacles. They have a letter from the FBI received by N.W.A.’s record label, criticizing the contents of the group’s music and proclaiming it to have a negative impact on national security. They have a concert rider for a Yardbird’s 1963 concert, and what can only be described as a whacky letter penned by Charles Manson and sent in to Rolling Stone magazine as if he were just your everyday reader. You can stand and gawk at one of the original suits worn for the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You can revel in the fact that, with every turn, in every hall, you’re standing in front of a piece of living musical history.
If you’re going, there are some things that you may want to know. The hall is open 7 days a week. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. everyday but Wednesdays when it stays open until 9 p.m. The cost is $22 for adult admission, $13 for kids (ages 9-12), $17 for seniors (over 65) and FREE for kids 8 and under. Memberships are available and a 6% admission tax added to each ticket goes to support Cleveland Metropolitan Schools. You can get special packages and group rates for groups of 20 or more and you must call ahead if you plan to do so. All of this information and more is available at their website.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, I hope you’ll enjoy checking out some of the exhibits through our pictures and on our Facebook page and on Instagram. And if you’ve been thinking of going, or even if you haven’t, it’s a must see for every true fan of rock n roll music.