Saturday, February 13, 2016

cleveland rocks!

Hello again!  It's that time of year (winter in my part of the world) where everyone is hopping a plane to escape bitter cold and frozen snowscapes - but not me!  I say who needs icing sugar sand, swaying palm trees, and bone warming sunshine, when you can find fun and adventure a mere four hours from your own front door?  So come with me, if you will, on a journey through blinding lake effect snow and gale force winds to Cleveland, Ohio - the birthplace of Rock & Roll!! (Who knew?)

Hey, please don't let my tone take ANYTHING away from the good city of Cleveland - on the contrary, it has a LOT going for it - the Cavs and LeBron James for one:

What an amazing mural - a must see downtown landmark located on the Sherwin Williams building.

It's also where you'll find Progressive Field, home to the Cleveland Indians:

Despite being gated up for the winter, this looks like it would be lovely place to spend an afternoon watching the boys of summer!  Right across the street from Progressive Field is the Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cavs:

You'll also find First Energy Stadium, home to the Cleveland Browns NFL team, on the scenic shores of Lake Erie:

All these first class venues are located minutes from one another in a clean, vibrant downtown core, also home to many fine restaurants and several other attractions that we may have to return to check out.

Now, you'd think given the above that we were on a sports expedition to Cleveland - but on the contrary - we were there to see an attraction unique to Cleveland that had been on our bucket list for years - the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which upon our arrival, looked like this:

Um, yeah, it just so happens that the hall is located literally ON the shore of Lake Erie - and that's that lake effect snow I mentioned earlier.  BUT!!! I ask you - what better kind of day to spend indoors taking your time exploring a museum?  Why choose the glass half empty?  This was our winter getaway, and this was perfect! AND - we were there on a Wednesday, when the hall was open until 9 p.m. - so we had all day and night to rock on! Woooooooot!!

I really don't know where to begin - there was just SO MUCH to see (and hear!) As you can see, this I.M. Pei designed marvel is pyramidal (he also designed Paris's Louvre pyramid), so the largest and most time consuming gallery hall is on the lowest level, and the subsequent halls get accordingly smaller as you go higher.  The entrance to the lower level gallery:

Not a bad place to start, right?  From here you are taken through the history of rock's roots, from the Blues:

Through to cities that influenced the path of rock history (in this case [haha literally this CASE] London/Liverpool):

Other cities that are highlighted are Memphis, Los Angeles, and of course, San Francisco, where you'll find a section devoted to Janis Joplin, which includes her scarves, glasses, jewelry, and even an invitation to her funeral - a sober reminder that she left us too soon:

Yep, got a little psychedelic on you here :) 
There is a section devoted to rock and roll's controversial past:

And of course a tribute to Elvis:

Poor headless Elvis looks a little forlorn here... :( and you can also see that another bonus due to the weather was that we almost had the entire place to ourselves!

Of course there were countless guitars on display - one which I was particularly excited to see was newly inducted (2015) Stevie Ray Vaughn's:

This particular 1961 Fender Strat was SRV's main instrument for the last five years of his life - he acquired in 1985, originally intending it to be given away as a prize at one of his shows.  However, he liked it so much that he ended up keeping it for himself, and gave another guitar away instead.  The tiger stripe pick guard is an homage to one of SRV's heroes, Buddy Guy, who had a similar pick guard on one of his guitars.

This is the type of detailed info that accompanies almost each and every one of the thousands and thousands of artifacts housed in the museum - there literally is too much information to take it all in in one visit - but we gave it our best shot!

There was a hall devoted entirely to the Beatles...

John Lennon's passport
...and other icons of rock such as Jimi Hendrix:

As a John Mayer fan, it was interesting to see this guitar was a part of his personal collection

I could seriously fill this blog with pages and pages of photos alone - if you've got some time to kill and are interested in seeing ALL the photos I took, I've created a flickr album, where I cover exhibits devoted to (in no particular order) Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Metallica, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and many, MANY more.

A few exhibits that I believe are not permanent (i.e. on display for a limited time) that we enjoyed immensely were those devoted to Graham Nash (member of the legendary Crosby, Stills and Nash) and Herb Ritts (photographer to rock royalty).

The Graham Nash exhibit was an in-depth exploration of his life, from childhood through to his time spent with bands such as the Hollies, CSN, and as a solo artist.  There was SO much information in this exhibit alone, you could have taken an afternoon to get through it - I particularly enjoyed an interactive exhibit where you can harmonize with Graham in a sound booth:

Thankfully no audio on that!  But our hair colour is definitely in sync... :)

I also loved this portrait of Graham, painted by his then girlfriend, Joni Mitchell, back in their Laurel Canyon days:

See what I mean!? SO much to see!!!

The Herb Ritts exhibit was the located at the "top of the pyramid", and as such the last exhibit we saw - but certainly not the least.  I have long been a fan - he is one of those photographers whose work is instantly recognizable:

Elton John
It was such a pleasure browsing this gallery.  Not only are Ritts's photos stunning works of art, but they also evoke such a sense of nostalgia for the point in time they were taken, and also an appreciation of the impact the iconic artists he captured have had on music history.  Amazing.

The late, great, David Bowie.

So there you have it!  Well, actually, not really - I've only scratched the surface of what's available to see at the R&R Hall of Fame.  Besides what I've mentioned, there are loads of interactive exhibits, and several films, (including footage from past induction ceremonies which gave me goosebumps!) So if you've been on the fence about going and this post has piqued your interest, I would heartily recommend a trip to Cleveland to check it out for yourself.  If you're a music lover (and who isn't?), you will not be disappointed.

The weather finally did clear up :)
A few closing thoughts about our little mini-getaway.  While of COURSE it's great to get away to sunnier climes when the weather in your part of the world is cold and snowy - it occurred to me that it's not really about where you go when you travel - it's simply about the travelling itself.  As I said to Rob this morning - I honestly got as much excitement out of rounding the corner and seeing that LeBron James mural looming before us, as I did when seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, or viewing the Diamond Head volcano in Hawaii with my own eyes.  Before you roll your eyes way back in your head at that statement, hear me out - I'm beginning to realize it's not how FAR you go - it's just that you GO.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Whether it be on a trip across the world, or a trip to the next town - just get out there and experience something new, something you've never seen before.  You'll come back having learned something you didn't know before, seeing things you didn't know existed, and meeting new people who are either doing the same thing you're doing, or welcoming you to their part of the world.  Travel is AMAZING. :)

Thank you Cleveland! :)


  1. what fun!!! being a michigan gal i've been to cleveland a couple times but have yet to visit the hall of fame. i really need to do that!
    great pictures and sounds like you had really good time.

  2. Thanks Tracie - yes, next time you cross the pond, check it out!