Waldo’s concert series
gets listeners up close to new artists
By Jennifer Mitchell
Published May 10, 2006
the energy one feels at stadium and arena concerts is an experience
like no other, unless you’ve got great seats, you might as well
lock yourself in a hot, crowded, smoky vehicle and turn on a CD.
A local listening-room environment is striving to
bring music lovers face to face with nationally recognized up-and-coming
performers in an intimate setting and the effort seems to be a singing
The acoustic Uncle Waldo’s Coffeehouse, located in
Rocky River’s West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, presents
everything from folk and country to pop and funk. The venue provides
an added bonus for local artists, who often are asked to perform
as show openers.
“Last summer we did some test runs — rounded up some
volunteers,” said Kim Stanuch, one of the event organizers. “Now
it happens at the church once a month and hopefully we’ll be moving
to twice a month.”
The success of the coffeehouse is partially due to
its environment, Stanuch said.
“We kind of like the more intimate atmosphere, where
everybody can get a CD signed and talk to the artists.”
In addition, the coffeehouse is smoke free.
Jerry Knasel of Westlake has attended three shows
to hear folk music artists.
“I think it’s big enough that they get some good names
and some musicians from all over the country,” Knasel said. “It’s
big enough to get the names, but it’s not so big you can’t meet
the people afterwards. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, very comfortable.”
Also cited for the event’s popularity are the efforts
of volunteers and organizer Brian Schmuck. After 20 years of following
the music scene in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas, Schmuck
came home to Cleveland.
Schmuck writes on Uncle Waldo’s Web site that Texas
is “the place where I discovered
the not-so-discovered singer/songwriters. And oh what a joy when
you are in a small venue or a house concert and you are blown away
by someone you had never seen before.”
Among those that stand out in his memory Lynn Miles,
with Keith Glass, Annie Gallup, Carrie Newcomer, Elizia Gilykson,
Jack Williams, Sahara Hickman and Groovelilly.
“I took notes and I spoke to the artist after the
shows,” Schmuck said.
He made friends with a man who runs the Uncle Calvin’s
coffeehouse and asked all the right questions.
“I knew that this is what I wanted to do — to present
the undiscovered, the below the radar, the very approachable artist
who regularly blew me away with their talent,” Schmuck said.
Bringing the idea to Cleveland, he started out with
the Butternut Ridge House Concerts series.
Though now a minister, Tamara Lebak was an intern
minister with West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church.
A collaboration between Lebak and Schmuck brought
the series to the church.
“There is this great big musical world out there and
I hope to show you what I’ve discovered ,as well as make a few new
discoveries with you,” Schmuck wrote on the Web site.
He and others did just that on Saturday, when folk
and R&B inspired artist Trisha Walker took listeners to “The
Heart of Dixie, ” singing songs from her new CD.
Among those who’ve recorded Walker’s songs are Patty
Loveless, Faith Hill and Alison Krauss.
Those who missed Walker still have a chance for an
earful of soulful singing when Angelo Melasecca, aka Angelo M.,
takes the stage June 3.
Though they may not know it, many locals might share
the artists’ story. In mid-2003 after decades in the steel industry,
Angelo M. lost his seniority and pension benefits when the company
he worked for, Bethlehem Steel, went bankrupt.
Making the proverbial lemonade out of a bad situation,
he tossed down his hard hat and picked up his guitar and returned
to the career he’d dreamed of as a child.
Drawing influences from Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Chet
Atkins and Leo Kottke, Angelo writes his own music and lyrics. Among
the instruments he plays in a night are the acoustic guitar, Dobro,
12-string slide, mandolin, bass guitar and percussion.
The 7:30 p.m. June 3 concert is $12 in advance and
$15 at the door. All proceeds from every coffeehouse show support
the artists performing.
Those who show up early can hear Tom Ball of Akron
radio station 91.3FM, The Summit, interview the artists. The interviews
and concert replay a few weeks after the event.
The coffeehouse is at 20401 Hilliard Blvd. in Rocky
River. Call 333-2255, ext. 111 or visit www.unclewaldos.com for
more information or for advance tickets upcoming shows.