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chris hess

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i just e-mailed 98.5 wncx and vented on lack of airplay of the berries..i'm so tired of hearing michael stanleys songs and not the berries!(nothing against m.s.) i basically told them i remember a time when ohio bands were supported much better than now by the rock n roll capital of the world,and to open up their eyes and ears to what's happening right now w/the guys..also mentioned the boss comments at his concerts among others..as a guy who lives close to cleveland,i'm encouraging any ohioan to get the stations off their butts and wake up..please e-mail,call,whatever it takes to get these guys their due from their hometown!! e-mail wncx@wncx.com thanks,chris

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Chris,

Eric saw your post and asked that I reprint this letter he wrote to Michael Norman, the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They chose not to print it in it's entirety…so we will. Eric adds, "The letter speaks for itself. It's time for Clevelanders to know what we've been up against. Maybe if they get mad enough and call the local stations enough the stations will rethink their decision not to play us."

Bernie

- - - -

Hi Michael, Nice to hear from you. Let me clear up a few things right off the bat. I recognize the PD did a terrific job covering the reunion show in November and we totally appreciate it. We were all very pleasantly surprised when the coverage ended up on the front page (I can't recall the last time that happened). I must have somehow missed John Petkovic's column and I was not aware of the PD's policy regarding not covering a group more than once a year, etc.

In Chuck's reply to my email he explained that his column is supposed to be "a little bit newsy and a lot snarky" and that as a public figure and "rockstar" I put myself out there. I understand it, I accept it, but here's where things get a little sticky. First, let me give you a little history, which may help explain my feelings.

When the band moved from being house band at the Agora back in 1970 to Capitol recording artists in 1971 there were a lot of people in Cleveland that didn't get it. Maybe it was the name, maybe it was the suits, but WMMS was so busy trying to prove how "heavy" and "progressive" they were that wouldn't give us the time of day. They saw us as a step backward, a nostalgia act. We saw ourselves as marauding revolutionaries pounding on the gates of the bloated, self-indulgent prog-rock movement. Who the hell ever decided that Jim Capaldi's silly flute solos were "more progressive" than Pete Townshend's power chords. In any case, they wouldn't play us until our third album came out in '73 and by that time the band had already started to implode out of frustration.

With the exception of Jim Girard over at Scene magazine, I can't recall anyone who was willing to go out on a limb and say "Hey, these guys are great!" in print or on the radio. And because Cleveland isn't a media town like NY or LA, we had to consistently fight the perception that we were still a "local" band. We'd come home from a six month tour of the U.S. and Canada and people would ask us when we were going to play the Agora again. Whatever radio success we had was attributed to the fact that we were "from here" and that must be why we were getting airplay. Cleveland never really understood that we were having hit records in England, Germany and Japan as well.

Against that backdrop, when Rolling Stone picked our fourth album as one of their seven best albums of the year in 1974, and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" as the best single of the year, we hoped that the radio and print media in our hometown would take notice AND SCREAM THEIR PRIDE AND APPROVAL FOR ALL TO HEAR! It never happened. Minds were already made up, it wasn't important, whatever. We couldn't understand it.

We sold out Carnegie Hall in 1973 and blew the doors off the place, got a GREAT review from Rolling Stone, returned home and couldn't sell out Music Hall. It was beyond maddening.

Fast forward to 2005. We spent last weekend taping five songs (unplugged) and a couple hours of interviews with Eddie Trunk (metal-head host of VH1 Classic, he got his parents to try to get him into a club in NJ when he was 8 years old to see us) then played to two sell-out audiences on Saturday and Sunday at BB King's in NY. Little Steven Van Zandt, Jon BonJovi, Gene Cornish from the Young Rascals, May Pang, superstar writer and producer Desmond Child, hell, even all- time Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings ( who knew the words to every song we played and sang along) were in attendance.

When Roger Friedman, the guy who wrote the piece for Fox News came backstage, he knelt down in front of Jim Bonfanti. By the time I got home on Monday, the Fox piece was already up. It was an excellent review. It let everyone know what really happened on those two nights at BB Kings. And do you know what the best thing about that review was? He took a stand. He didn't cover himself by being "snarky," He loved the band's performance and he said so. Period. He wasn't worried about whether anyone else would think he was uncool for liking us. That's what we've been waiting for for 32 years from our hometown.

When a representative of our band approached WNCX a couple of weeks before our July 15th show in Cleveland and asked them if they would lead in to a promo and ticket giveaway with one of our records, he was told by Bill Lewis, the program director that our music "just doesn't dovetail with what they're doing at the station." In other words "No". Apparently Michael Stanley and Donnie Iris and Joe Walsh "dovetail", but not us. Then your guy, Chuck, gets "a little newsy and a whole lot snarky" with his little piece and leaves out that Jon BonJovi said Bruce Springsteen is the one who turned him on to the Raspberries in the first place. It's great that Jon was there and it's wonderful that he wore out his CD but the fact that Bruce gave it to him is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE STORY! THAT'S WHAT WE WANT OUR HOMETOWN TO KNOW! THAT'S WE WANT WNCX TO KNOW. THAT'S WHAT WE WANT WMMS TO KNOW. AND THE SCENE AND THE FREE TIMES AND EVERY PERSON WHO THOUGHT WE WERE "LIGHTWEIGHTS". THE BIGGEST ROCKSTAR IN THE WORLD IS A BIG FAN OF THE RASPBERRIES. CLEVELAND'S RASPBERRIES. OUR RASPBERRIES. And you know what? Cleveland NEEDS to hear this stuff.

Cleveland hates itself. Cleveland doesn't think it can produce much of anything that's world class. Cleveland sees itself through the lens of NY and LA and every other city that thinks Cleveland is a washed up, rust belt loser of a town. The winningest football team that never went to the superbowl. The perpetually "rebuilding" Cleveland Indians. The worst poverty of any American city. The terrible schools. The criminal lakefront zoning. When Jon Landau, at that time a writer at Rolling Stone, reviewed Bruce Springsteen he said "I have seen the future of rock and roll and his name is Bruce Springsteen". In print. He took a stand. He wasn't "a little bit newsy and a whole lot snarky." He didn't qualify his enthusiasm by running him down in the next paragraph. He didn't hide behind sarcasm. He took a stand.

It doesn't really matter to me if Chuck likes or doesn't like my "post-Raspberries music." What does matter to me is that one has nothing to do with the other. He started his column by saying he was never a huge Raspberries fan and then backed up and said he didn't like my stuff. He apparently felt he had to distance himself from my music before he could tell people how we blew away New York. That's not snarky it's gutless. "All By Myself" had nothing to do with this piece. It was about the Raspberries performance.

I'm sending you a copy of the Fox piece. I dare you to print it unedited. Oh, and by the way, this morning a friend of mine called to tell me Bruce Springsteen dedicated a song to us Tuesday night during his performance in Greensboro, North Carolina. Here's the transcript. Be brave. Print it. Take a stand.

Regards,

Eric Carmen

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WOW! One thing I adore about Eric's style is that he puts everything right out on the table and hits every point dead center with the fewest, most perfect words possible. WHAT A POWERFUL PRECIS! *Way* beyond intelligent and articulate. Pure GENIUS!

I only hope the recipient is intelligent enough to understand this magnificent piece of writing. If he is, he's gotten his wake-up call. BRAVO, Eric!

smile --Darlene

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What an amazing letter!

You know, back when I was in high school, I used to try and turn everyone I knew onto the band (some things never change, eh?)and I can remember being in a class on broadcasting and speech , something I considered doing at that time.

My teacher worked at a local FM station and he was very cool and tried to help me get started by occassionally allowing me to meet performers when they flew through town for interviews. (In fact, I was supposed to meet Jim Croce the same week as his plane crash.)

Anyway, I constantly spoke of Raspberries and he agreed with me that their music was terrific. One day, however, he told me that he was told that they were "blackballed" in the industry by some people who "just didn't get them." and they would "never be the band everyone knows they could be" because of it.

That comment has always bothered me and it almost rings true with what Eric is saying here to the Cleveland press. It seems like some people don't want the band to have the success they deserve, despite the loyal fan base.

Let's hope that Bruce and others like Jon Bon Jovi wake up the future writers with their support.

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i think i had to go to the bathroom twice since i got home from work and read the note from bernie that eric read what i did!!! this is one of the best moments(beside seeing my daughters born) in my life!!!hands down!!..i meant what i wrote,always on a spur of a moment but could'nt wait any longer to release my frustration on this whole situation and now i'm so happy i did and maybe...just maybe...this will break the ice for the raspberries..no wait..our raspberries!!!!thanks,chris

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I rememember listening to Sunflower by the Beach Boys while my college friends teased me while extolling the virtues of Emerson Lake and Palmer's ridiculous Brain Salad Surgery. I now have the satisfaction of knowing that the Raspberries, Eric Carmen, and Brian Wilson have stood the test of time and are being recognized for the soulful genuises they are. I remember hearing Baby Let's Pretend and thinking it was one of the greatest singles of all time-and you know what ?- it was. So rock on Eric! You're the only act to sell out B.B.'s this summer! (2 nights yet) Your "Time Has Come Today" and you deserve it! Thank you for the music!

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Someone you may want to try in Cleveland is Wade Tolleson on WRUW. I get e-mailed information from the station on a regular basis. (Tolleson is the music director).

An interesting array of artists on that station, judging by the playlist. In fact, here are a few of the artists on the Top 35 albums on the current WRUW chart: (I'm only pointing out artists that I know something about)

#2 Femi Kuti(African Music)

#3 Gorillaz

#5 Chris Hillman(formerly of the Byrds)

#9 Ry Cooder

#10 Telluride Bluegrass Festival(compilation)

#11 Flora Purim(Brazilian Jazz)

#12 Sleater-Kinney

#18 Sufjan Stevens(Christian rock)

#22 Grateful Dead

#24 Tracy Bonham(East Coast singer-songwriter)

#25 Laura Cantrell(New Yorker country singer)

#34 Brian Eno(formerly of Roxy Music)

So format isn't an issue here. But are they aware, and are they interested....that is the question.....

Their web site is www.wruw.org

Address is 11220 Bellflower Rd., Cleveland,OH

44106

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Eric hit the proverbial nail on the head. I hate to say it but Cleveland treats its local artist like sh*t. I love the Michael Stanley Band as much as every Clevelander should but, let's be honest, they probably only get the majority of airplay that they do only because Michael works for WNCX. And that's a real shame because there are LOTS of Cleveland artists from years past that could use the airtime and let people know that Cleveland music didn't end with MSB and pick back up with Mushroomhead.

There was a time when there were all kinds of great places for local bands to play and the audience went TO HEAR ORIGINAL MUSIC. Nowadays the only places people can go to hear local, original music is little dive bars scattered thru the suburbs of Cleveland. I know this first hand as I've been sweating out in the clubs around here for years. You would think that the Odeon, Agora and House Of Blues could cut local artists a break and have showcases to turn people on to new music. Hell, local unsigned artists can't even get radio airplay (outside of College) let alone a gig on a decent stage - what was I thinking?

Nowadays the decent places to go to see local music are cluttered with cover bands and tribute bands. Doesn't anybody want to hear new talent from their own backyard? I'm seriously beginning to doubt it...

Eric, if WNCX won't play you then to hell with them. Bill Lewis still thinks "Treetop Flyer" is a relevant song that has to be played every day. You and your fellow Raspberries did a lot of people proud by selling out the HOB in record time. You did a lot of people proud by getting major props from The Boss himself. You did a lot of people proud by showing that, after 30 years, you can still get up there and work it like nobody's business. And when I say "a lot of people proud" I'm not just talking about all of your loyal fans (of which I proudly call myself) but fans of Cleveland music and the people, like myself, still out in the dives trying to make it happen and work it for anybody who cares to listen ... hoping one day to sell out the HOB, gets props from The Boss and still do it (well) after 30 years.

Getting Off My Soapbox Now,

John Shaft & His Purple Hat

P.S. If you play in a cover band or a tribute band and I offended you then I apologize. However, I'm sure you played in an original band one time or another and know where I'm coming from...

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There comes a time when one has to take a stand and just 'say it.' I've waited 33 years to hear Eric speak to the lack of respect for the Raspberries and "how sweet it is."

Of course the media weasles wouldn't print the entire response. Hell, they didn't really print the response at all. As Eric said - gutless -

Kudos to Roger Friedman there aren't many like him (willing to stick their necks out) that write from the heart.

Great letter Eric - See ya in AC. Play On!

Ted

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That Eric, now he can write! I fully understand his total frustration, having grown up in Cleveland myself. We could never understand why "our band" the Raspberries didn't get the national recognition they deserved, let alone a few good words from the local media. I guess the guys will just have to continue the tour, release a new CD, and blow everyone out of the water.

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That people over the years have had a hard time "getting it" with regards to Raspberries and Eric's solo career does not surprise. They didn't get power pop at the time. They didn't get Eric and his use of strings and pianos, or whether he was a rocker or a balladeer. That CLEVELAND, hometown of the band, still doesn't get it more than 30 years later just blows me away! Sounding better than ever, and still struggling with hometown approval. Good grief! While this doesn't seem like something the band should still be dealing with, perhaps there is enough angst there for Eric to write a song about it. I feel some inspiration coming on...Kirk.

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After reading the original article, Eric's letter and Michael Norman's ridiculous "reply", if you can call it that, I have a difficult time seeing how this guy could possibly have become Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Plain Dealer. (I had always been under the impression the PD was a great newspaper.)

With his enormous gift for sidestepping issues, not answering questions and his total inability to get the point, this guy missed his calling. He should have been a politician.

--Darlene

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