Sound Check: Shania Twain at Quicken Loans Arena; tribute bands invade Nelson Ledges

Akron Beacon Journal |



What: Shania Twain: Now


Where: Quicken Loans Arena, 1 Center Court, Cleveland

Tickets: $29.95-$149.95


What: Classic Fest 2018

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, Nelson Township

Tickets: $20-$80


On Saturday, former country-pop crossover queen Shania Twain will bring her Now tour to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The tour is her first since her 2015 "farewell" tour, and last summer Twain released Now, her first album in 15 years.

The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country and 200 charts, but received mixed reviews for its updated production sound and songs. So far, it hasn't sold a modicum of the units shifted off shelves by her previous albums.

But the bar is set ridiculously high when your previous albums sell upwards of 90 million copies, including the double-diamond-selling Come On Over (that's more than 20 million records domestic, 40 million worldwide, folks), which is the best-selling album by a female artist in Soundscan history, and the best selling country album ever.

During her amazing initial run, Twain earned five Grammys, six American Music Awards, nearly 40 songwriting awards from BMI and a bunch of Canadian music awards. Now (no pun intended), Twain is in that legacy phase of her career where, if she wanted to, she could never make another record and still tour for years. Opening for Twain will be Bastian Baker, a Swiss singer/songwriter and former professional hockey player who was handpicked by Twain to open the tour.

Tribute bands aplenty

Well, with many of the boomer-age rock and soul icons retiring and/or dying, the tribute band business should be increasingly booming. Pretty soon, the closest you're going to get to seeing Elton John in concert is some bald, piano-playing dude in big glasses and shiny pants calling himself "Nearly Elton" or "Bestyagonnaget John" or something.

Well, if you're already into or are just beginning to appreciate the work put in by tribute bands, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has the event for you. Classic Fest 2018 happens this weekend and will feature versions of a bunch of bands to whom you may have grown up listening and loving.

Let's play name the tributee from the band names, shall we?

First up is arguably the most difficult: Several Species. Hardcore fans will recognize this as part of the name of the song Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict. But if all you are familiar with is Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, then you may not recognize this song title from the 1969 album Ummagumma by Pink Floyd.

Also performing is Kashmir, which isn't as easy as Led Zeppelin 2, but I bet you figured it out pretty quickly. Ragged Glory will be surely wearing jeans as it covers the music of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Ball & Chain has "The Janis Joplin Concert Experience" as part of its name, taking any suspense out of that one, while Whippin' Post should be obvious to anyone who listened to late-night FM radio back in the day when the DJ needed a pee/smoke/coke/joint break and he'd drop all 22 minutes of the Allman Bros. Band's live version from the Fillmore East.

Also gracing the stage will be Hendrix Lives. No, it's not a tribute to Dutch soccer player Jorrit Hendrix or ex-Raelette (of Ray Charles fame) Margie Hendrix. It's that guitar guy from Seattle: James Marshall Hendrix. Other easy ones are Limelight, which will play the music of Rush, and Slow Hand, which takes its name from Eric Clapton's nickname, and most popular solo album. Then there's the JiMiller Band, which is not a tribute to someone named Ji Miller, but a long-running veteran jam band that will play an all-Grateful Dead set. It will also be headlining Lock 3 Park on in downtown Akron.

New shows

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/guitarist/critical darling Jason Isbell and his 400 Unit will be coming to Jacobs Pavilion on . Isbell's latest album, The Nashville Sound, won him two Grammys and dump-truck loads of praise for his ability to tackle issues and emotions both deeply personal and universal from various angles in his rootsy, country music with dashes of rock.

Also, coming to the Akron Civic Theatre, is a band paying tribute to its own bad self when Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, founders of the Byrds, reunite for the 50th anniversary of the band's beloved Gram Parsons-infused, mostly covers album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. McGuinn and Hillman will be backed by Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, so the music will be on point. (Tickets are $53-$93. More info: So far, the date at the Civic is the final date of the tour, so ain't we special?

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.


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