If you were to ask me what my favorite ‘Saturday morning’ activity is in Cleveland, I’d be hardpressed to pick just one. However, if I was really forced to, I would have to go with visiting Ohio City. The Westside Market is swarming with activity and in general the neighborhood is filled with great people-watching opportunities.
One of my top Ohio City memories was last August’s Cleveland Sketch Crawl at Open Air in Market Square. Each Saturday in the summer, local vendors gather on the cobblestoned Market Ave. outside of Great Lakes and Flying Fig. Throughout the day, you can stroll through the street, lounge on one of the stone benches and listen to the bands that are performing that week.
This summer, Ohio City Incorporated – in partnership with Penzeys Spices and Room Service – has grown Open Air in Market Square into “Cleveland’s Artisan Outdoor Market .” And to reinvigorate the music lineup, Happy Dog was brought in to book entertainment for the Happy Dog Stage at Open Air. Given their ability to put together awesome concerts and events like Polka Happy Hour and Orchestral Manouvres, Happy Dog was the perfect pick for this.
Of course, if Happy Dog’s going to be involved, there’s no surprise that DJ Kishka would be on the lineup (thankfully) and a couple Saturdays ago we headed down to enjoy our favorite polka dj.
Mermouse House opened the day. Until recently, they were called Kyodai Brass and are a Slavic Soul Party-inspired band. Three of the (many) reasons Scott and I loved this group:
- They’re a Serbian band and Scott’s part Serbian, which is an aspect of his heritage I’ve loved learning about
- As former Sousaphone and Drum players, respectively, Scott and I really loved the sound Mermouse House produced
- They didn’t stick to just traditional-sounding brass band songs, playing their own take on a tango which was the highlight of their set for me.
After Mermouse House, DJ Kishka took to the stage in his trademark lederhosen and beard. He played a number of favorites like Ice Cubes and Beer and Cleveland’s a Polka Town, and there were a few I hadn’t heard before . As always, he engaged people who were enjoying the show and even those just walking by. I particularly got a kick out of the guests who were dining at Great Lakes Brewing Company that walked a few steps to the patio’s gate (next to where Kishka was set up) and made requests.
Chardon Polka Band closed that day’s lineup. Unfortunately, Scott and I had to leave before they started playing. After reading about them when they played Dyngus Day, I’ve wanted to see them play for a few months but keep missing shows. I can’t wait to hear their punk-rock blended with traditional polka sound, and with an album called Pirates Women and Beer, they had me at ‘Pirates.’
The nice thing about the Happy Dog Stage at Open Air is that if you’re someone like me who doesn’t like crowds, you can walk around, casually enjoy the music and have a lot of room to breathe. And when we weren’t sitting on Market Square’s wall or over at Koffie Cafe, we were stopping by some of the vendors.
Scott bought me a handmade birthday card from the Salty not Sweet table (less than a month til I get to see the card he picked out!) and I bought myself my new favorite necklace: a bronze-colored, owl-covered pocket-watch on a chain.
We also stopped by the Garage Bar‘s Saturday garage sale and the Glass Bubble Project where we picked up a beautifully eclectic, handblown tumbler. We didn’t have a chance to come back and check it out later in the afternoon, but were told they offer public glass-blowing demonstrations when it’s not too hot out.
Since no trip to Ohio City on a Saturday is complete without a stop at Westside Market, we dashed in, replenished our orzo supply and picked up some anchovie-stuffed and prosciutto-stuffed olives to enjoy at home.
Open Air in Market Square continues until September 3rd and Happy Dog is bringing great music each weekend to Ohio City. You’ll find the full list below and can like Happy Dog Stage at Market Square on Facebook for more details:
- 7/30 – Filmstrip (Alternative Rock) 2 p.m.; Nights (Alternative Rock) 3 p.m.
- 8/6 – Eli the Neighborhood Musician 11 a.m.; Brian Olive (Indie/Blues) 3 p.m.
- 8/13 – Radio People, Imaginary Softwoods + DJ Sets by John Elliott and Sam Goldberg (Electronic) 12-4 p.m.
- 8/20 – Library Time (Garage) 11 a.m.; Beatles Cover Band 2 p.m.; Bill Fox (Indie/Folk) 3 p.m.
- 8/27 – Chris Allen (Folk/Rock) 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
- 9/3 – Prisoners (Garage) 12:30 p.m.; Founding Fathers (Indie/Alternative) 1:30 p.m.; Herzog (Alternative Rock) 3:30 p.m.