Second annual Heights Music Hop returns this fall

The Heights Music Hop will be returning to Lee Road on Oct. 11. The music festival made its debut last year and drew more than 1,000 people to the Cedar-Lee neighborhood. Retailers said it had a tremendous impact on their businesses. “Lee Road was like a downtown street, like East Fourth,” said Kelli Kral, the proprietor of the New Heights Grill. “There was all this pedestrian traffic, and it was really wonderful. Everyone had a great time.”

“It was great for business,” added Adam Fleischer, owner of The Wine Spot. “As merchants, we get approached about things all the time. But with the Music Hop, we were able to get quite a few merchants on board, and everything came together. For four or five hours that night, we were packed, and a lot of the people had never been in this neighborhood before.”

The idea for the Music Hop originated with Jeff Coryell. Back in 2011, when he was waging what turned out to be an unsuccessful campaign for Cleveland Heights City Council, Coryell started talking about promoting the city as a home for the arts, and as an entertainment district. Coryell, who was finally elected to city council last year, spent the early 1990s in Austin, Texas, and was inspired by that city’s South by Southwest music festival.

In 2012, Coryell joined the board of FutureHeights, the organization that also publishes the Heights Observer, and convinced the board to put together a music festival. FutureHeights teamed up with Cleveland Beer Week and Cellar Door Cleveland, a local record company, and the festival became a reality.

Last year, more than 25 artists performed in the various stores, restaurants and bars along Lee Road, including such well-known Cleveland acts as Bethesda, Seafair, Oldboy, Meridian, These Knees, Xe La and Tom Evanchuck.

This year’s lineup is still being determined and will probably be announced in August.

“Planning for this year’s event has already begun, and we're excited to announce that we have received a matching grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture,” said Greg Bonanno, chairman of the FutureHeights Music Hop Committee. “Once again, the Music Hop will be part of Cleveland Beer Week's kick-off events. Attendees can purchase a tasting passport from Cleveland Beer Week to sample craft beers from yet-to-be-named establishments. This year's event will be longer, offering a diverse program of music, including family-friendly options. In addition to the main event on Oct. 11, we will host smaller Heights Music Hop events in other neighborhoods—stay tuned for more details.”

Sarah Wilson-Jones, owner of Phoenix Coffee, was also extremely enthusiastic about the event. “The Music Hop was the best community event that we have ever had on Lee Road,” she said. “It was a resounding success, and we were so glad to have participated in it. Here's hoping that it gets to be even bigger and better this year! The best thing was that it got community members out and partying together.”

Bonanno agreed. “It was incredible to listen to all of the bands,” he said. “It was also great to watch members of the community interact with each other and to see the enthusiasm in people young and old.” 

For more information, check out the Music Hop’s website,

James Henke

James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years, and is  the author of several books. He is a member of the FutureHeights Board of Directors and its Music Hop Committee.

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 6:26 PM, 05.29.2014