6 Places to Feel the Beat of Cleveland

by Sandra Scott

Once called the “Mistake on the Lake, ” Cleveland [] is now the “remake on the lake;” having started to revitalize itself in recent years.  I love Cleveland and so do music lovers.  After all it is the city that popularized the term “rock ‘n’ roll.” No matter your music preference you will find a place to keep the beat going in this lively city. Here are six of the best musical spots to check out.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

This stunning glass structure was designed by I. M. Pei, one of the world’s most famous architects. He also designed the MoMA in Athens, and the iconic glass pyramid addition to the Louvre in Paris. Inside the museum, on a wall inscribed with quotes, one by J. Edgar Hoover really resonates with me: “Rock ‘n’ roll is repulsive to right-minded people and has a serious effect on our young people.”  Especially interesting to me was the video showing the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll music from its roots to the present day.


This is the place for “all that jazz.” I love it when the outside of a place does not hint at what is behind the doors.  Such is the case with Nighttown, a small, quiet neighborhood venue that has been voted one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world by Down Beat magazine.  Behind the non-descript entrance there are three bars, a great menu, an outdoor patio and live music nearly every night.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

House of Blues

The House of Blues is where being “blue” is wonderful. Take a look under the stage where they keep a metal box of mud from the Mississippi Delta. Along with the blues they now offer a Gospel Brunch featuring old favourites and an expansive buffet. I have it on my to-do list for my next visit to Cleveland. Gospel had an important influence in the development of Rock and Roll.

Hard Rock Café

I like to take friends and family here for a birthday treat; they are always eager to announce someone’s birthday with panache. I gotta love a place that has the blue Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitar used in their U.S. tour in 2003, plus Prince’s velvet suit, Madonna’s rhinestone shoes and a sketch by Janis Joplin.

The Happy Dog

The Happy Dog is a laid-back corner bar that features comfort food along with a variety of live music that ranges from classical to soft shoe to punk to polka music. Polka fans should visit the Polka Hall of Fame in nearby Euclid.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Severance Hall — Cleveland Orchestra

Feeling like classical or in the mood for organ music? Severance Hall, home to the Cleveland Orchestra, has the Norton Memorial Organ which is considered to be one of the finest concert hall organs ever built. The 1930s Severance Hall is not the only place to hear the Cleveland Orchestra.  They play at Blossom Music Center south of Cleveland and at a variety of venues worldwide.