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Incuya Music Festival is ready to rage in the Rock Hall city

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The inaugural Incuya Music Festival comes with high expectations.

It’s the first multiday major rock festival in downtown Cleveland in recent memory. Rock fests have been popping up all over the country in the past five years, and the Rock Hall city has been way overdue for one.

Cleveland got on the festival map three years ago with LaureLive, which is on the beautiful and woodsy campus of the Laurel School, near Chesterland. It’s a first-rate event, but a different vibe way out at the edge of suburbia.

Incuya, on the other hand, is on the Malls in downtown Cleveland, a few blocks from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, tickets include admission to the Rock Hall. Go to

The festival has a decent range of acts, with the likes of SZA and Cake, plus two great headliners and some very good Cleveland bands in the small type.

Here are my picks:

Headliners: New Order will take the main stage at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, and this is kind of special. This British synth-pop band was big in the 1980s but still sounds more hip than dated to me. Unlike a lot of bands, New Order has not been spreading itself thin across the festival circuit this summer. It is only doing a quick late-summer tour, and it’s kind of a treat to land them at Incuya.

I have seen the Avett Brothers – Sunday’s headliner – a couple of times and view them as among the best live acts in the country today. You don’t have to be familiar with their music to love their performance.

Bucket list: A few bands have managed to elude me this year. Incuya will offer one last chance this season to catch AWOLNATION, The Revivalists, J. Roddy Walston and the Business and K. Flay.

Rowdy Roddy and the Revivalists are a bit similar and are both on my bucket list.

AWOLNATION has been impressing everybody for a few years, and K. Flay has a dark and trashy edge. Also worth checking out is the Blue Stones, who are somewhere between the Black Keys and Royal Blood.

Local acts: Youngstowners should be very familiar with Tropidelic, with its brassy-reggae sound. But they might not know about indie-rockers Seafair and its powerful-voiced singer, Chayla Hope, so check them out. Same goes for power-pop act Dreamers.


The Chardon Polka Band can do it all – and in polka style. The act likes to stray from the traditional Northeast Ohio polka sound with rock covers that are good, clean fun.

So it’s not real surprising that the quintet has produced a children’s album.

The CPB has just released “Pony in the Back Seat,” which includes eight songs, each interspersed with some lighthearted dialog that offers some life lessons for youngsters.

The album can be ordered for $10 at all major online music retailers and at the band’s website.

Jake Kouwe, who plays accordion and sings with CPB, said kids have a natural affinity for the band, but until now they haven’t been the target audience.

“Kids seem to really enjoy our material, and we definitely want to encourage them,” said Kouwe. “However, I always felt kind of goofy handing a kid a copy of ‘Pirates, Women and Beer.’ It’s not exactly tailored to them.”

The CPB has been doing a lot of shows at kid-centric places of late, including libraries and schools.

“We’ve actually got quite a presence doing school assemblies,” said Kouwe. “We do a whole presentation about music and such. Elementary kids love it.”

The new record stems from the band’s desire to create an album specifically for children.

It was recorded at Gary Rhamy’s Peppermint Studio on Youngstown’s South Side, which has been the birthplace of many polka albums over the decades.

It was the first time CPB recorded at Peppermint, and the move there was made necessary by the death of their long-time recording engineer at Suma Recording in Painesville, where all of their previous albums were made.

“It was really tough having to find a new place,” said Kouwe. “Suma was totally like home to us. We were so blessed to find Gary and Peppermint, though. It’s old and new school, just like Suma. Gary is an old-timer, but he’s got some really fresh ideas. Peppermint, like Suma, has a lot of history behind it. Personally, I really dig that kind of thing, and I like working somewhere with character and heritage.”