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Theatre, Music, etc.


June 6, 2008

Cleveland Pride has three stages with dozens of artists

Cleveland--“Generations 2008: 20 Years of Pride” is the theme of Cleveland’s Pride celebration this year, but it fails to reflect the depth of this year’s event.

It’s true that Cleveland Pride is celebrating its 20th anniversary, but another word is even more deeply ingrained in the festivities than “generation” or “anniversary.”

That word is “diversity.”

This installment takes the de rigueur posturing and lip service about diversity and throws it out the window, splaying people of all races, all sexual orientations and gender identities across the day-long festival at Voinovich Park on North Coast Harbor.

With three stages of entertainment filling the eight-hour post-parade festival, there are young and old, black, white, Latino, gay, straight, bi, trans, and every permutation thereof.

The main stage, now rechristened the Triangle Stage--it is shaped like a triangle--will play host to well over a dozen acts, while the Lakeside Stage will feature even more performers.

The Performance Stage will be a little zestier than returning revelers might remember, with warnings posted about possible adult content in the acts.

That stage will have queens, kings, the Rubber City Bombshells and fetish models, including some from the Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend. It’s not for the young or the faint of heart, so parents are suggested to exercise caution before letting their youngsters see those shows.

The rest of it is as family-friendly as ever--except the beer garden, which is much larger this year.

The Lakeside Stage features the Blazing River Freedom Band and friends, including the Pride of Indy Band and Color Guard as well as the Lakeside Pride Freedom Band of Chicago. After that, the Cleveland Kings will take the stage, followed by local rock band Equals 4. The Rainbow Wranglers will bring their country-western line-dancing goodness up after that, followed by Women’s Rhythm Circle and the hard-rocking women of the Jane Deans.

Following that, Ann Arbor, Michigan natives Nervous But Excited step on up to rock and roll, followed by some jump-rope acrobatics with Double Dutch and the raw young sound of All 4 U.

The sexy sounds of Mary Player and Swank take things into the home stretch, and the Oberlin band Backbone wraps things up.

On the Triangle Stage, there’s even more to see and hear, with performers from across the country representing the width and breadth of the LGBT community.

As incredible as the lineup is on the two secondary stages--and make no bones about it, it is an incredible collection of performances--the Triangle Stage could be a music festival unto itself.

Those who get to the festival site early will be treated to the jazzy sounds of the Andrew Sords Combo, followed by the intense rock of Cleveland natives Audiblethread. Then the Blazing River Freedom Band will perform, and the grand marshals and celebrity grand marshal will be introduced. Spiritual leaders will offer a benediction, and then the national anthem will be played with drag kings and queens.

Audiblethread will then return to the stage for some more progressive rock, followed by American Idol contestant Cha-Cha.

The rockingest trio of women from the east side, Early Girl, hit the stage next, perennial pride festival favorites.

After Angelisa, Laura and Becky leave the stage, New Mexico transgendered folk-rocker Namoli Brennet steps up, paving the way for the Children’s Parade and Pet Parade, a chance for the little ones on two or four legs to soak up the spotlight.

Then, it’s time for a folk-rock, singer-songwriter grand-slam with Tracy Walker, Alexis Antes, Robin Stone and their guests giving the audience 45 minutes of greatness. While Alexis and Robin are welcome fixtures on Cleveland’s music scene, it’s a rare treat to get Cincinnati icon Tracy Walker on a stage this far north.

Then it’s time to dance to the Brazilian sounds of New York quintet Paprika, followed by trans comedian Ian Harvie.

Next up, in a stunning cross-generational fusion of music legends, Bitch will perform, accompanied by women’s icon Ferron, followed by Josh Klipp, the sexiest trans singer in North America. Seriously.

After the boys are done eating their hearts out over Josh, Ferron returns to the stage, now accompanied by Bitch.

Heading into the home stretch is Jaclyn Bradley and Band, formerly of Los Angeles and now back home in Lorain, followed by Tucson native and one of the hottest new Latino singers in the country, Dario.

The evening ends with the Pride 20 Tribute featuring many of the performers who earlier graced the stage, in a one-hour extravaganza.

Of course, almost all of this takes place after the pageantry of the Cleveland Pride parade. As in past years, the parade steps off from West Third St. and Frankfort Ave., a block from Public Square, marches north to Lakeside Ave., then past City Hall to East Ninth St., then north past the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the lakeside festival.

The list of grand marshals for this year’s parade has yet to be finalized, but in keeping with the theme, “Generations 2008: 20 Years of Pride,” there are plans to not only honor a handful of individuals as marshals for this year’s parade, but also to honor all the previous marshals.

There is still time to register for the parade or to become a vendor at the festival. For more information, including a complete entertainment line-up, list of vendors and sponsors and affiliated events, go to


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