Joan Jett & the Blackhearts to rock the Rocksino in Northfield

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Singer/songwriter Ryan Humbert.

On Wednesday night, Northfield Park Track will become a hotbed of rock ’n’ roll with the grand opening of the newly constructed Hard Rock Rocksino, an 1,800-seat live music venue.

The inaugural show at the Rocksino will feature Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

Jett has been making music since her days as a tough teen rocker in the 1970s all-girl band the Runaways, but for many folks, Jett is best known for her 1982 cover of the Arrows’ 1975 tune I Love Rock ’N' Roll from her album of the same name that spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.

Jett followed up that success with a string of rock hits including covers of Tommy James’ Crimson and Clover and Gary Glitter's Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah), along with the Top 10 single I Hate Myself for Loving You from her platinum-selling 1988 album Up Your Alley.

In 1987, Jett co-starred with a then red-hot Michael J. Fox in the rock-themed drama Light of Day about a struggling brother/sister rock band in Cleveland. Though the film received a lukewarm reception, Jett was praised for her acting work.

In the 1990s, Jett’s hits dried up, but her influence was still flowing. She produced albums by Circus Lupus and Bikini Kill — one of the more outspoken bands of the ’90s Riot Grrrl movement of which Jett has always been credited as a major influence.

In 2012, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but as of yet are still waiting to be welcomed.

Jett and the Blackhearts released their 10th studio album (Jett also has two solo albums), Unvarnished, in September, a few days after her 55th birthday. The album features 10 new songs that musically fit Jett’s mix of ’50s rock ’n’ roll, big hooky choruses, tribal glam-rock thump and punk energy and blasts of three-chord “RAWK!”

But while the album’s lyrics generally stick to basic rock topics, Unvarnished finds Jett in the here and now, referencing our society’s increasing penchant for oversharing on social media in the Glam-Rock flavored TMI. Jett takes a mature look at a relationship in dissolution in the 1950s girl-group-inspired Soulmates to Strangers and on the 1960s-flavored Make It Back, Jett sings about her and her neighbors’ experiences and struggles during Hurricane Sandy (she lives in Long Beach, N.Y.)

Happy Humbert days

Akron singer/songwriter Ryan Humbert is gathering a group of his talented friends for the fifth annual Ryan Humbert Holiday Extravaganza on Saturday at the Akron Civic Theatre.

Described as a “back to basics rock and roll holiday show” the annual concert is sponsored by the new downtown Akron venue Jilly’s Music Room on South Main Street. Proceeds will benefit Mobile Meals, which daily provides more than 2,600 meals and supplements to people in need throughout Northeast Ohio.

Humbert and his bandmates — singer/guitarist Emily Bates, lead guitarist Erin Vaughn, keyboardist Ben Evans, bassist Jared Lees, saxophonist Justin Tibbs backing vocalist Becca Fostyk and drummer Matt Middleton — will be joined by special guest singers Maurice Martin of rock/soul/pop band Winslow, Mike Protich of popular hard rock outfit Red Sun Rising and Scarlet of Kent-based rockin' big band Scarlet & the Harlots.

The orchestra pit will be open for dancing to “basic rock ’n’ roll holiday” versions of classic including (Christmas) Baby Please Come Home, Chuck Berry’s Run, Run Rudolph and more. Here’s a vote for adding Martin Mull's Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope to the setlist.

Breeders hit Cleveland

Hey kids. Remember ’80s and ’90s indie/alt rock? Of course, you do. Those heady times are hard to forget with bands such as the Pixies, the Replacements, Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh back on the road and/or making new records with varying degrees of original members and equally varying degrees of approval from their old fans.

Well, if you're a fan of the era, then the upcoming Monday night show by the Breeders at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland should have you apoplectic.

The band is led by a ’90s alt-rock queen, Kim Deal, who left the Pixies earlier this year, and her twin sister, Kelley. The Breeders already had one album, Pod, under its belt before reconfiguring the band (most importantly, Kelley Deal replaced co-founder Tanya Donelly) and recording and releasing the album Last Splash in 1992.

The 15-track album was a critical and commercial success and contained the peppy radio and MTV hit Cannonball, helping the album reach No. 33 on the Billboard album charts and eventually pushing the Last Splash to platinum status.

But in 1995, Kelley, in the throes of heroin addiction, was busted, went to rehab and the band went on indefinite hiatus. The Deal sisters revived the band in 2002 for Title TK and in 2008 released Mountain Battles.

But for 2013, the Breeders are all about the 20th anniversary of Last Splash. For the tour dubbed LSXX, the sisters have recruited the classic lineup rhythm section of bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim MacPherson and have been playing the album in its entirety, along with songs from debut Pod and Last Splash-era EPs Safari and Head to Toe.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmxabram.

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