Shuffle: This Summer, Will 'Steelyard' Become 'The Cleveland Sound?'

Jun 1, 2017

Beginning this summer, a new monthly dance party gets underway in Northeast Ohio.  It combines elements of Electronic Dance Music, Dub and Reggae.  In this week’s “Shuffle,” Cleveland Scene Managing Editor Eric Sandy tells WKSU's Kabir Bhatia about what could be the new "Cleveland Sound."

To understand the sound, it’s helpful to understand what “Dub” is. Sandy calls it a loose musical term incorporating reggae and the early stylings of hip-hop. It’s very bass heavy. It can also be a cultural term or a communion among like-minded people who just want to cut loose and dance, enjoy some good food and catch up with neighbors.

Dub and reggae sprang from the movement of Africans going from Jamaica to London to New York City. So where does Cleveland fit into music with roots in Africa, Jamaica, London and New York City?

Sandy says, “on the edges,” a least right now.

He says the vibrant DJ scene in Northeast Ohio – at places like Touch Supper Club, B-Side, The Beachland Tavern and The Grog Shop -- can be incorporated very easily into the “sound system” culture that involves warehouse parties with a massive sound system at the center (sometimes called a “House of Joy”).

In Cleveland, Sandy says young people can set up their own rigs rather cheaply, and there are also benefits from having the space for the parties.

Another similarity – although he’s not comparing Cleveland’s West Side to Jamaica – is that the sound system culture evolved out of the ghettos of Kingston: whether selling food at a street party or spinning tunes or being an MC, it was a way to make money.

To do the same thing here, all one needs is the right equipment, and some gumption.

Starting June 17, Steel Yard Sound System will begin its monthly events.  At a recent preview, Sandy says the sound system and lighting was in fine form.

So could this be the new Cleveland Sound?  And would it be called “Steel Yard”?  Sandy says any name would likely incorporate Rust Belt imagery.  And his main argument for the success of Steel Yard Sound System, as a passive observer, is, “this is something new.  It's not a cover band.  It's not a tribute band.  It's pretty genuine and heartfelt -- which I like.”

That’s Cleveland Scene’s Eric Sandy talking with WKSU's Kabir Bhatia. More information on Steel Yard Sound System is available here.

“Shuffle” is our weekly look at Northeast Ohio’s music scene. You can hear it Thursdays during “Morning Edition.”

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