Malcolm X Abram: A Halloween Sound Check

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Singer and songwriter Lou Reed poses for a portrait in New York, April 23, 2003. Reed the legendary musician died Sunday morning in Southampton, N.Y., of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant. He was 71. (AP Photo/Gino Domenico)

Happy All Hallows Eve to all who celebrate. May your treat bag be filled with king-sized candy and may your trick bag be empty as you traverse the various parties and get-togethers or stay home and hand out candy (no raisins, granola bars or anything with carob, please) to neighborhood kiddies.

Back in my Macon, Ga., days, we generally referred to this time of year as “harvest festival” or “fall festival” because “Halloween” is too pagan and reeks of occultism. Oooooooh, spooky.

Anyway, whatever your costume choice (stay classy, Akron), here are a few places you can spend your fright night and hear some live music.

Annabell’s Bar & Lounge in Highland Square will host its annual Halloween & Costume Party beginning at 9 tonight.

There will be Halloween bingo, a Halloween costume contest with a $100 grand prize, drink specials including something called Dracula’s Kiss — I’m guessing it’s red — and some free snacks.

Spooky and eclectic music will be provided by five bands: singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Hammer and Friends, the funky soul-jazz sound of Acid Cats, jam-rock band Hayden Calling, tuneful indie-rockers the Hobs and Detroit thrash-metal mavens Axe Ripper.

Meanwhile, at Ripper’s Rock House in downtown Akron, there will be a Halloween metal show tonight featuring Columbus melodic metalheads Lo-Pan, Akron’s considerably less-melodic grinders Mockingbird and the Unclean, a dirty, dive-bar born and bred, bluesy, hard rock trio.

Keeping with the theme of power chords, drop tunings and riffs that go chunka-ta-ka-chunka-ta, on Friday (All Hallows Day?), Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom by way of the recently closed Peabody’s, will play host to progressive instrumental metal band Pelican.

Last summer, the Chicago quartet amicably lost founding member/guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec but picked up a replacement in Dallas Thomas. It just released its first album in five years, Forever Becoming.

The album by the instrumental band makes good use of dynamics, mixing heavy, repetitive riffage with atmospheric arpeggios and ethereal sections sprinkled in its five- to 10-minute songs.

OK. I have one more band featuring chain-saw guitar riffs but this one will also be bringing an actual chain saw to the Rock Factory on Sunday night.

Jackyl is a hard-rocking, hard-partying band from Kennesaw, Ga., that caught its initial wave of fame in the early ’90s with the Top 25-charting, 12-bar blues-rock song The Lumberjack, which featured a chain-saw solo famously played by lead singer Jesse James Dupree.

The group’s biggest hit was the bluesy tune Push Comes to Shove, which peaked at No. 7 on the mainstream rock charts.

The band hasn’t had much commercial success since the ’90s, but it released an album in 2012 called Best in Show that made 84 on the Billboard 200 and the single Favorite Sin got some active rock radio airplay.

The 2012 album also features covers of Dr. Hook’s Cover of the Rolling Stone and Run-D.M.C.’s It’s Tricky featuring D.M.C. trading rhymes with Dupree, which for some reason I find both silly and enjoyable.

Although Jackyl might not be topping the charts, Dupree has diversified his brand, starring as executive producer, co-owner, entertainment procurer and a regular cast member of the TruTV reality show Full Throttle Saloon about the famed and massive 30-acre biker bar that is open only 10 days a year during the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Dupree also has a line of liquor called Jesse James American Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey and an American wheat beer called America’s Outlaw Beer. I haven’t had the pleasure of imbibing either of these surely fine, lovingly crafted alcoholic concoctions but I’m sure they get the job done.

Also on the bill is Jesse’s son Nigel Thomas Dupree and his band.

RIP, Lou Reed

For about half of a century, Lou Reed did pretty much whatever the hell he wanted to do. He largely ignored commercial trends, fan expectations, the requisite comparisons with his own catalog and the Velvet Underground’s massive influence on rock and seemingly just made whatever music his (surely irascible) muse whispered in his ear.

Some if it was great (the first four Velvet Underground albums, his early solo albums), quite a bit was really good (New York, Songs for Drella) and some of it reminded fans that Reed never felt musically beholden to them or their desires for his music in any way (the mostly reviled Metallica collaboration Lulu, Metal Machine Music, Hudson River Wind Meditations).

Reed died Sunday at age 71. When I was a young, aspiring music writer, Reed’s notoriously prickly and dismissive way with rock media was always an interesting read and taught me to be on my toes with artists.

The series of interviews Reed did with Lester Bangs throughout the ’70s should be required reading for anyone who wants to write, talk to or talk about rock music and musicians. I always wanted the challenge of interviewing Reed, if just to see if I could stand his steely gaze while asking a question he’d surely think and immediately inform me was beneath him.

Oh, well. Ultimately, the music is what matters, and it’s all still available and its effects are still reverberating in the music and attitudes of bands young and old, famous and obscure all around the world. I wonder if that would make Reed smile.

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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