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Cleveland Rocks. But it also swings, waltzes, polkas and lots more.

RIP Michael Nesmith of the Monkees

There have been many deserving tributes to Mike Nesmith, best known for his role in the Monkees band and TV show. He passed away at the age of 78 on December 10, 2021.

Many news outlets did a very thorough job with his biography but we wanted to share a few lesser know items about Mike.

Michael Nesmith in 1966

Michael Nesmith in 1966

  • The Monkees TV show was a flop with test audiences until they edited in the unscripted audition footage of Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones ad-libbing. Then it became popular.
  • In 1966, "The Monkees" won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and in 1967, their records outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined.
  • Mike was the son of a secretary who struck it rich by inventing Liquid Paper.
  • He also invented the concepts of music videos and MTV with his show "Popclips" and home video with the cassette "Elephant Parts."
  • Mike was a real musician and songwriter with pre-Monkees success under the name Michael Blessing and who had written "Different Drum," which became one of Linda Ronstadt's first hits, two years before "The Monkees" debuted.
  • Mike wore that woolen hat to the audition and the producers liked it. They were even going to call his character "Wool Hat" but that didn't stick.
  • Stephen Stills from Crosby Stills and Nash notoriously tried out for a role as a Monkee, only to lose to Peter Tork due to Stills’ crooked teeth.
  • Jimi Hendrix was the opening act for one of the Monkees tours.

The Monkees in 1966

The Monkees in 1966

My favorite Michael Nesmith songs were
  • Some of Shelly's Blues
  • What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?
  • Mary, Mary
  • Papa Gene's Blues
  • You Just May Be the One
  • Tapioca Tundra

Cleveland Style Polka

Joe Valencic, Joe Novak and Bob Kravos explain the different kinds of accordions and styles of polka music. They favor the Cleveland Style or Slovenian style of Polka. Why? In the words of the great Frankie Yankovic, 'Just Because.'

More Polka from the Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid

My Ticket to Ride
By Janice Mitchell

In 1964 as Beatlemania swept the US and world a Cleveland Heights teen from a troubled family falls "in love" with the Beatles. She buys every record, magazine and tchotcke she can. She dreams of meeting them and moving to London to be with them. Probably the same dream as thousands of young girls at the time, right? But this girl went beyond the dreaming stage.

The full title of the book is My Ticket to Ride: How I Ran Away to England to Meet the Beatles and Got Rock and Roll Banned in Cleveland (A True Story from 1964) and that's exactly what happened. It's an amazing story!

My Ticket to Ride Beatlemania book cover

Read our review and more of Ticket to Ride.

When It's Polka Time in Cleveland

Fred Ziwich and his "International Sound Machine" has a new CD release out called "When It's Polka Time in Cleveland." (Now and Then). Some of the 23 songs were recorded in 2021 (Now) and others were recorder in the past.

If you don't know Fred Ziwich, here is a little about him from when the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

"Fred Ziwich is known as just about the most versatile musician ever on the Cleveland polka scene. He is a virtuoso on several instruments, a prolific recording artist, and an expert music arranger. His band, the "lnternational Sound Machine" has mastered, performed and recorded all of the major polka styles. Fred also plays a large repertoire of popular music. There is no music he can't play and perform well."

See more from Fred Ziwich's Lifetime Achievement Award bio.

The 23 songs cover a variety of Polka Styles. I especially liked the title cut, Achtung Los (Watch Out!), The Beer is Good (Die Goass is' Weg) and Oktoberfest is here.

Fred Ziwich CD cover

There's a unique arrangement of In Heaven There Is No Beer and Cleveland Girls Polka. Fred also does several covers that were a surprise such as The Accordion Man - Billy Joel's Piano Man with the words adjusted. Who would expect covers of "Can't Smile Without You", "The Way You Look Tonight" and the classic "Does your Chewing Gum lose its flavor (on the bedpost overnight)?

There are a lot of styles on this CD and a lot of music. Something for everyone.

You can get it when you see Fred perform live or at PolkaConnection.com and other websites. You can also email him at FredPolka@yahoo.com

Music Therapy helping stroke and other brain deficit patients

Carol Shively-Mizes, MT-BC Activity Therapy Coordinator and Music Therapist at MetroHealth System in Cleveland Ohio spoke at the first annual meeting and 8th annual Summit put on by the International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network (ICC-WIN), American nationalities Movement and ClevelandPeople.Com. She told how using neurologic music therapy techniques was helping patients who had deficits from brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or strokes.

Raisin' Canes Vaudeville Troupe
From the Parma Seniors Center

Chopin performed in the Polish Cultural Garden
Dr. David Dubal and prodigy Dongning Yang

Dr. David Dubal, Professor of Performance and Piano at Julliard

Dr. David Dubal, Professor of Performance and Piano at Julliard

Franz Liszt performed in the Hungarian Cultural Garden

Opera in the Cleveland Italian Cultural Garden
Rossini, Puccini, Verdi, Mascagni, Donizetti and more
Photos and videos of the performances

Dan Doty of Opera per Tutti (Opera for All)sings Puccini's Nessun Dorma at the Cleveland Italian Cultural Garden

Bruce Springsteen Exhibit Preview Party
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum - 03-31-09

America's Polka King
The real story of Frankie Yankovic and his music

Frankie Yankovic Square
Photos from the Dedication Ceremony

Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories
By Carlo Wolff

Polka Hall of Fame
Cleveland Style Polka - Frankie Yankovic and more

Music Reviews

Tony Bennett's Christmas CD
With the Count Basie Big Band

Harry Connick Jr.'s CD
What A Night - A Christmas Album

Neil Diamond's CD
Home Before Dark

Steve Winwood's Nine Lives
New album from the Traffic, Spencer Davis, Blind Faith vocalist

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