Decades ago, when musical rebellion was beginning to brew in the United States, a D.J. in Cleveland, Ohio, coined a term that caught fire.
That term was “rock ‘n’ roll,” and it established Cleveland as a city with its finger on the pulse of a movement. Since then, Cleveland, a hard-working Midwestern city on Lake Erie, has spawned artists such as the Pretenders, the Black Keys and Tracy Chapman. It more than earned the right to be the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the city’s biggest draw.
Anthony Taddeo, a local drummer and composer, has traveled extensively to the United States and Europe but ultimately returned to his hometown to contribute to the thriving music scene. Anthony’s Cleveland tour has a mandatory first stop: Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, a 1950s-era hangout in the up-and-coming North Collinwood neighborhood. Originally the Croatian Liberty Home, it features local rock and pop artists as well as locally sourced food. Another venue worth seeing: Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra since 1931, which features gorgeous Classical and Art Deco architecture inside and out. And for true music lovers, Anthony recommends The Bop Stop, with the best listening room for jazz in the Midwest and sweeping views of Lake Erie.
While local hangouts will give you the feel of the city, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is the most iconic tourist destination in Cleveland, and a must-see for rock music fans. Housed in a building designed by I.M. Pei, it has attracted more than 10 million visitors since opening in 1995. Here you’ll see Johnny Cash’s Fender guitar, the Supremes’ glittery wardrobe, John Mellencamp’s motorcycle, and more.
Creative culture is deeply embedded in Cleveland, which also boasts top-notch museums such as the Cleveland Museum of Art,ranked #2 in the country by Business Insider, with free admission and incredible shows year-round. The Museum of Contemporary Art features bold, visionary art housed in a stunning multifaceted mirrored structure, while the 78th Street Studios features extensive galleries. Downtown visitors can see top-notch Broadway productions at Playhouse Square, the largest performing arts center outside of New York City.
Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame
Midwestern food is seeing a renaissance thanks to its focus on locally sourced ingredients. Check out the West Side Market, Cleveland's oldest public farmers’ market dating back to 1912. Browse and taste local fare from over 100 vendors. For fantastic, authentic pizza, head to Citizen Pie, owned and operated by a native Lithuanian who spent years in Naples, Italy, perfecting his craft. Also worth trying: Great Lakes Brewing and Lola, owned by celebrity chef and Cleveland local Michael Symon, with rustic fare in a stylish setting.
West Side Market
A city with a blue-collar tradition and a rock ‘n’ roll mindset, Cleveland continues to evolve. From rock’s infancy in the 1950s to the explosion of punk and new wave in the 1970s and 1980s, this “quiet” Midwestern city has been changing everything about the way we view music and our culture.