A City of Rock 'n' Roll
Acclaimed Northern-Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance has been travelling around the USA to discover the best music, food and culture the United States has to offer. His epic musical journey began on the shores of the Great Lakes in Cleveland, Ohio, in the cradle of rock'n'roll.
Cleveland, Ohio, is widely accepted as the home of ‘rock n roll’. Back in the 1950s, observing the growing popularity of rhythm and blues, local record store owner Leo Mintz convinced Alan Freed, the host of a WJW Radio classical music programme, to give over three hours each week to the genre. It was Freed who is credited with coining the term "rock'n'roll". He was also one of the people who put together the Moondog Coronation Ball, now considered the first ever rock‘n’roll concert.
Yet behind the city’s rock'n'roll legends stands an up-beat, down-to-earth city that prides itself on never having been mainstream, but never having meant to be either.
Boom and bust... and boom again
As he visited the city, Foy was struck by the indomitable characters he met, and the friendliness and warmth of their welcome, which he thought was remarkable even by hospitable American standards.
Cleveland's fortunes were historically wedded to oil. It was thanks to the world's largest oil refinery that it became, in 1920, the fifth largest city in the US. However, as industry changed Cleveland found itself home to a diverse range of businesses. "It seems that every shop in Cleveland is artisanal," Foy observes: "it's as if someone with incredible passion runs each and every business. There's none of the homogeneity you find in other cities".
As the self-proclaimed "Cleveland-gelicals" of This is Cleveland observe: "history hasn't always been easy on us. But pressure can create diamonds."