Yeah, Cleveland’s got a Rock’N’Roll museum… meh. Cool building, rockin’ (usually) free concerts outside, and a great location on the inner harbor- but paying admission to go inside just never appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love rock & roll, all ages and genres – but paying a bunch just to see Steven Tyler’s jacket? C’mon… Turns out my folks had wanted to visit Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for quite a while, so as a Christmas gift to them, we spent an afternoon in the Rock Hall with dinner at Nuevo on the pier. After 20+ years and hundreds of visits around the Rock Hall, I finally stepped inside. Much to my surprise, we had a great time, and it turned out my ‘meh” attitude about the museum was (reluctantly admitted) completely WRONG!
I’ll get this out of the way right up front; The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame IS pricey as museums go. I think cost has been part of my reluctance to visit, assuming (incorrectly) it would be an expensive hour or so to pass through. Reality is, we easily spent several hours wandering Rock Hall, and could probably have spent longer! Cost and size out of the way, just seeing the inside of the multi-leveled steel and glass building was nearly worth the price of admission for me. While elevators are available to aid access for all, I recommend the views from the escalators and stairs, if possible. The building is loud, with crowds and different music at every turn (and a band setting up in the lower level on our visit), but you probably crank your favorite songs louder in the car. Besides, this is about Rock & Roll- you’re not too old now, are you? As for the exhibits, I expected them to be… well… lame, honestly. Yep, wrong again.
Being in the presence of Steven Tyler’s jacket was actually kinda’ cool- as was seeing various drums, guitars and other assorted instruments from famous performers. Traveling through the history of Rock & Roll was fascinating, and time flew at the touch-screen displays linking different stars with their influences. Of particular interest (and completely unexpected to me) was the fairly large wall of 70’s punk bands culture. Nearby was a section of local Ohio bands including several favorite lesser-known bands, though no less influential, like Pere Ubu. Heading up levels, there is a very cool display of record players, radios and various means to record share music over the past 100+ years. I had no idea vinyl records actually date back to the late 1800s! Currently, the uppermost floor is filled with a special exhibit celebrating 50 years of Rolling Stone Magazine, though the exhibit will be replaced after April of 2018- so visit quick!
In addition to displays, the Rock and Roll hall of Fame regularly hosts various rock-related movies and documentaries, as well as a variety of concerts. April, 2018 will be a busy month for the Rock Hall, as ceremonies and concerts celebrate the 33rd annual inductions to the Rock Hall. As a side note and shout out, local rockabilly/ psychobilly faves, Lords of the Highway, have been asked to play the venue sometime during induction week- watch for them on the schedule. Always something happening at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, usually quite loud!
Yep, I was completely wrong. The Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was a blast, and a great way to spend a dreary NEOhio winter afternoon. My rockin’ folks had a great time as well , and dinner just down the hill at Nuevo was also terrific (but that’s a review for another time). Winter in Cleveland is a very hit or miss proposition, with some days best spent inside the museum. Summer on the North coast is fantastic, however. I’d recommend watching for any of the summer concerts outside the Rock Hall, then hanging out around the Cleveland lakefront for the day- or even the weekend!