Tag Archives: Polka

Happy Dog Stage at Open Air in Market Square – Ohio City

Scott contemplating how awesome it is to listen to DJ Kishka outdoors

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.  

Mermouse House performs at the Happy Dog Stage at Open Air

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:

  1. They’re a Serbian band and Scott’s part Serbian, which is an aspect of his heritage I’ve loved learning about
  2. As former Sousaphone and Drum players, respectively, Scott and I really loved the sound Mermouse House produced
  3. 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.

Who Stole the Kishka?

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. 

My new favorite piece of jewelry from Salty Not Sweet's booth

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.

Tumbler from Glass Bubble Project

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.

Rare Birds, Polka Happy Hour and Hot Dogs This Friday

Located at 5801 Detroit Ave., Happy Dog has mastered the art of the hot dog.


Although I’m looking forward to going on vacation, I’m disappointed that I’ll not only miss Saturday’s Sketch Crawl, but also the DJ Kishka Polka Happy Hour AND Rare Birds shows this Friday at The Happy Dog.  

Scott eating a Hot Dog with Potato Chips, Bacon and an Egg


The Happy Dog is worth a future blog post all its own for its sheer awesomeness.  Located at 5801 Detroit Ave. in the Gordon Square District, it has truly mastered the art of the hot dog.  Options range from tasty quarter-pound all-beef hot dogs to homemade falafel and Field Roast vegan sausage (for those who would rather go meatless). And although I’m a carnivore at heart, I can attest from personal experience that the falafel is ridiculously good.  However, the choices don’t stop there — as there are over 50 options for toppings.  

With all of the choices, you can mix and match to your indecisive heart’s content.  For the traditionalist, the black truffle honey mustard, sliced gouda cheese and chorizo chili is a great spin on the classic chili dog.  Or you could give yourself a heart attack with Scott’s favorite: potato chips, egg, and bacon.  And of course, for the truly adventurous, there’s always fruit loops, peanut butter and marcella’s grape jelly and chile sauce.  But that’s the best thing about create-your-own hot dogs — it’s completely up to you. Add on any of the 75+ beers they serve, as well as a side of fries or tater tots with their own substantial choice of toppings, and you have the makings for one of the more unique dining experiences in Cleveland.  

In addition to the food, this Friday at Happy Dog is shaping up to be an awesome night of entertainment.  First, from 6-9pm, there’s DJ Kishka‘s Polka Happy Hour. With three hours of polka music, DJ Kishka’s Happy Hour is something I’ve been trying to get to for months without any luck – since the last few times he’s been scheduled to perform, I’ve been unable to go. Nonetheless, everything I’ve heard about him is fantastic. A post on 52 Weeks of Cleveland talks about both DJ Kishka’s show and Clinton J. Holley’s Ohio City Opry (another regular at Happy Dog whose classic country music I have been able to enjoy).  

The Rare Birds - Rusty Boyer, David Leland Horton and Neal Campbell.


After polka, Good Touch Bad Touch and The Rare Birds perform from 9 til midnight. The Rare Birds are a local band featuring a friend of mine, Rusty Boyer, on guitar, as well as David Leland Horton on drums and Neal Campbell on guitar. Fans of the group Doctor Teeeth will recognize Rusty and Dave who also perform in that band. With a heavy soul and garage-based sound that’s coupled with layers of harmonized vocals from all three musicians, The Rare Birds are definitely worth checking out on Friday as they perform a couple of Hank Williams and Neil Young covers in addition to their own songs.  

However, for all you Rare Birds fans who are like me and can’t make it to the show on Friday, there’s no cause for alarm since they are also going to be performing on June 13th in the Rock Hall’s Chef Jam. Chef Jam looks to be yet another powerhouse combination of great food and Cleveland music, and I can’t wait until I get back home for it.  


The Happy Dog 411:  

The Food

The Music
DJ Kishka Polka Happy Hour
The Rare Birds