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AUGUST 15, 2009   

"We're with the band"

Roadies packing up equipment on stageSort of.

Last night Joanne and I were volunteer roadies for bands performing at the Great Lakes Brewing Burning River Fest.

After the last act—Blessid Union of Souls—left the stage, we waited for real roadies to pack the instruments and amps into their cases. Our job was to schlep the bags and cases to one of the golf carts that would shuttle them to the parking lot.

Here's what I learned: those big amps are really heavy. The job of a roadie ain't that much fun, especially if you don't get free beer. As volunteers we had to agree to not drink on the job, other than all the free water you could handle.

Blessid Union of Souls onstage at Burning River FestI also learned to like the music of Blessid Union of Souls, a band I'd never heard of before the festival. Now I'm waking up with their song I Believe in my head. Their music is romantic and melodic at times, a thumping sonic assault on the ears at others.

Listening to I Believe I was reminded of the Beatles' All You Need Is Love. Same message, updated for a new generation.


What a place

Cleveland Coast Guard station lit up with colorful spotlightsIt's hard to imagine a more spectacular place for the Burning River Fest than Cleveland's abandoned Coast Guard Station literally at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

The station is in a serious state of disrepair, but that wasn't how it looked with the stage set up in front and colorful lights playing over the white walls and tower.

It's going to take a major application of money and effort to restore this beautiful piece of Cleveland's past, and the music fest opened the eyes of lots of people to what could be done. I suspect that's one of the things they had in mind when the planners chose this spot.

I was thrilled to see a booth where a group of volunteers was collecting ideas on how to shape the development of the station, Wendy Park to its west, and a new lakefront trail connecting them. A lake/river interpretive center is a no-brainer, but what about a youth hostel? Or an international visitor's center? This spot is the gateway where lake and river, nature and industry, come together and lead to Cleveland, a Green City on a Blue Lake.

Cleveland skyline at night from Coast Guard Station

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