Ride Along With A Press Photographer For ‘Play It Loud – Instruments Of Rock ‘n Roll’ Opening Event
If you are visiting Ohio and looking for something unique and historical to do while in the Buckeye State, then look no further than Cleveland’s own Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
My friend Carrie Masterson and I did just that in November of 2019. We road tripped there from Central Ohio on a seasonal rainy and chilly fall Ohio day for the press event of “Play It Loud – Instruments Of Rock & Roll” display.
I have traveled to many museums and art exhibits around the world, so the nearly three-hour drive greatly piqued my imagination as to what we were going to experience in Cleveland.
Upon our early arrival to downtown, we were hungry and grabbed a most unexpected dinner at a very spontaneous location, but more about that later. Following dinner, we parked at the Rock Hall valet and immediately checked in to get our media credentials.
Being on the lakefront creates a very special type of weather, so we were eager to get inside the building.
While we waited in the crowd and I found my way to the photographer’s media riser, local musicians entertained the already-large crowd. We were excited about the evening and would not be disappointed. The opening ceremony began with Rock Hall CEO/President Greg Harris welcoming everyone and introducing rock legend Nancy Wilson of “Heart.”
Nancy spoke to the crowd for a few minutes and then introduced Don Felder formerly of The Eagles who then performed “Hotel California.”
Following Don Felder, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo appeared on stage playing a sampling of Metallica hits and leading the crowd into an instrumental chorus of “Enter Sandman.”
After this great show and a ceremony to officially open the exhibit, Carrie and I headed up to the sixth floor to take a tour. We worked our way down from the top and to avoid the crowd, which was checking out the exhibition from the bottom to the top.
Our first stop was a room that included Eddie Van Halen’s performance rig from 2013, including his famous “taped” guitars. Also, various instruments and sets from The Rolling Stones and Rage Against the Machine were flanked by overhead documentary video interviews of Eddie, Keith Richards, and Tom Morello.
From there we ventured down to the fifth and fourth floors were we found the majority of the exhibit. This included a flamboyant costume worn by Prince, to Clarence Clemons’ saxophone, to Keith Richards’ hand-painted Gibson Les Paul Guitar used to record “Beggars Banquet,” to Prince’s Gold Symbol Guitar, to Kate Pierson’s (B-52’s) keyboard used to perform “Rock Lobster” to the keyboard John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) used to record “Stairway to Heaven.”
Other instruments and memorabilia worth mentioning include:
• Chuck Berry’s early hollow-body Gibson guitar
• Bruce Springsteen’s guitar
• Eric Clapton’s Martin acoustic guitar model 000-42 used during his famous MTV Unplugged concert
• Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” guitar
• Rory Gallagher’s iconic 1961 Fender Stratocaster
• Jimi Hendrix’s hand-decorated electric guitar (dubbed “Love Drops”) made in 1967
• James Jamerson’s upright bass used on many early Motown hits,
• Steve Miller’s electric guitar painted with psychedelic designs ca. 1972
• A sculpture made from what was left of one of Pete Townshend’s electric guitars after he smashed the instrument during a photoshoot
• St. Vincent’s electric guitar, which Annie “St. Vincent” Clark designed in collaboration with Ernie Ball Music Man in 2015
• Tina Weymouth’s “headless” Steinberger bass guitar that she used extensively with Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club through the late 1990s.
• A selection of vintage posters from historic concert performances.
On the fourth floor was a very large Pink Floyd replica of “The Wall,” which towers over visitors. Behind the Wall, guests could listen to local musicians playing and sample the beverages at the cash bar.
On Level 3 we saw the Hall of Fame Gallery, its 2019 inductees and The Power of Rock Experience in the Connor Theater.
Speaking of theaters, the Foster Theater hosts film screenings that are a part of the $28 admission price.
Carrie and I watched a live concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. It was a high-definition digital projection and the pictures and sound in the theater made you feel as if you were there with “the Boss!”
Level 2 is the location of “The Garage.” The Garage is where you and/or your band can pick up any instrument, turn up the volume and play whatever you like. Don’t know how to play? Well, you can learn and then jam with your friends. We got to witness a whole host of talented individuals jamming with each other and paging through songbooks looking for music.
Level 1 of course, is the main reception area and the Rock Hall Store as well as the All Access Cafe. Here there is plenty of merchandise to commemorate your visit through books, clothing, trinkets, and collectibles.
Level 0 was my favorite part of the entire museum. Here lies the main exhibit hall. On display were new artifacts to the museum, including a couple of personal favorites, a collection celebrating Woodstock at 50 and a photo exhibit by former manager and music producer Michael Friedman.
Several other galleries featured Elvis, 25 Years of the Vans Warped Tour, Legends of Rock and Roll, The Music of Cleveland and the Midwest and The Roots of Rock: Blues, Gospel, R&B, Country, Bluegrass, and Folk.
Following our extensive Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tour, we decided to enjoy a large sampling of desserts and amazing coffee provided to all in attendance. It was a nice treat at the end of the night following all that we had seen as well as our grand dinner beforehand.
Regarding dinner, well, upon arriving in Cleveland earlier in the evening, we were starving. I really had no plan as to where to eat and decided to depend upon my spontaneity. What a prize we discovered in “Butcher and the Brewer” at 2043 E 4th Street in the Gateway District! Just WOW!
Our empty stomachs were screaming (not singing) out and Butcher and Brewer performed to our desires. We started with the Crispy Calamari ($12) as an appetizer. Carrie ordered the 30-Day Aged Ribeye ($35) and I ordered the Crispy BBQ Pork Shank ($22). We shared orders of the Brewers Mussels ($14) and the Divers Scallops ($16). Carrie enjoyed a wonderful Cabernet and I had the Malbec. We were stuffed at the end and declined the amazing choices in deserts since we knew we would be sampling the assortment at the Rock Hall.
At the end of the night, we were exhausted. The museum began closing at 11:00 p.m. and following our binge of coffee and sweets, we headed for home back to Central Ohio. What an amazing night!
CLEVELAND TRULY ROCKED and they PLAYED IT LOUD!
I can’t wait to return!
“Play it Loud, The Instruments of Rock & Roll” runs until September 13, 2020. Current Hours of operation and ticket pricing can be found on the official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website at RockHall.com.
Contributor’s Bio: Jack Fleming is a contributing photographer and writer for PubClub.com. Originally from Granville, Ohio, Fleming resided in Los Angeles for 20 years from 1995 to 2015 until Family obligations called him back to Ohio. While in California Fleming worked for Disney Consumer Products and Disney Online, ESPN.com, NASCAR.com, Artist Direct Records and operated his own photography studio in Eagle Rock. Fleming is most known for his fashion runway, professional sports and event photography often contributing to PubClub topics. Fleming makes regular trips to California and most recently worked with PubClub.com and Pub Club Live at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa during Tennessee “Hate Week” earlier in November.