Cleveland, as a city, pursues stardom on a level akin to that local band who gets that manager who uses the connections and then, finally, the majors! And the tour gets booked and the name reaches People magazine. You’re familiar. You’re a regular.

And there’s two big entertainment magazines in this town, and as can be expected from leased-out-the-ass pay-to-play infotainment in a sycophantic paradise like Cleveland, their coverage can be fairly baffling. Now, I love a vain attempt at self-aggrandizing cultural one-upsmanship--especially when the fer-Chrissakes New York Times treats your suspected marginalia like just another boring set of facts--but these people grasp at straws so desperately they’re blistered. It has nothing to do with morals; it has nothing to with ethics; ‘aesthetics’ may as well be cave-dwelling monks.

It comes down to a basic sense of appreciation. Yeah, all those name bands are cool. You get your fax straight, baybeh. But your town--THIS town--thirsts for a homebrew. Something’s gotta provide that real-time balance, keep at least a suggestion of a flame at your softening ass. This is Cleveland, pal. If you don’t bring more than a pillow for your behind along with your bandwagon, you might even get to play in Pittsburgh. Name-drop, a little. You all hedge your bets, breath held tight, two-fistin’ it. So enjoy it. Me, I’d rather just go see a band with energy, with passion and the power of a powerful song.

Idiom warriors, unadorned. Not martyred yet. Viva Caramel! Shut up and play yer guitar, son.

--Matt Damn Kuchna

Guitarist/vocalists Brian Noga and Brian Strazek, formerly of  Grain, joined forces with drummer Eric Vogt and bassist Eddie Sotelo to create Viva Caramel. They have opened for bands such as Poster Children, Sweep the Leg Johnny, Avail, Jets to Brazil, and the Promise Ring. Suitable for both basements and arenas everywhere, the Viva Caramel sound layers thick, ragged guitars over a bittersweet melodic center. Currently the band is working on a release for Spring of 1999.