Capturing the Cleveland scene: An interview with Ryedood

Modern media is funny. Seems like everything musical and cultural that’s happened in the real world since about 2008 has been recorded on a phone by someone, somewhere, and is online and searchable via YouTube / Google / Wikipedia / etc.

Strangely enough, it feels like huge swaths of ’60s / ’70s / ’80s / ’90s music are available online too. I guess the old analog recordings held up and folks were motivated to post them on YouTube.

But materials from the late 1990s through the early ’00s…not so much.

And that’s a shame because from my POV, the turn-of-the-Millennium was one of the very best time periods for music ever. Or at least in the almost 50 years I’ve been around. Especially in the Midwest and in Cleveland, Ohio in particular.

I lived in Cleveland then and the local scene was amazingly diverse and supportive with many risk-taking, hard-hitting and just plain nutso bands.

Fortunately someone on the scene was recording things.

Meet Ryan “Rye” Kennedy, aka Ryedood. Rye was at what seemed like every rad Cleveland concert documenting the best bands with his video camera.

When I started digitizing old VHS this past summer, “Welcome to Cleveland” which Rye shot, edited and traded-around back in about 2001 or so was part of the first wave. What a sweet compilation.

You’ve got some nice shots of the classic Cleveland skyline and hours of full sets from rad Cleveland bands.

Rye is allowing me to post some videos you probably haven’t seen before, like:

Puncture Wound

Gordon Solie Motherfuckers

Razak Solar System

9 Shocks Terror

Ryan is a new dad so I really appreciate him taking a break from family life to talk about his life as Cleveland’s hardcore scene videographer:

Hey, Rye, when did you start attending concerts? What was your first concert?
My first ever concert was Primus at the Agora back in 1992? I think I was 16 at the time. After that concert, it was non-stop for me.

How did you start going to see underground / punk / thrash / hardcore / DIY (whatever you want to call them) shows?
It all started sometime in 1994. A friend of mine in high school, Tony Cavallario (from the band Aloha), and I set out to Bowling Green for the weekend to visit his sister at college. We hopped in a car and headed to Columbus that same weekend with her boyfriend and went to Columbus Fest. That was the first Fest I ever went to and it blew me away. That’s what kind of got me into that scene. It was seeing Avail for the first time there that really opened my eyes to the ‘scene’ I got to witness some great bands that weekend that I never knew about. One being a local band Harriet The Spy. So that kinda got me looking more and more into the Cleveland scene.

What were your peak years for show attendance?
I’d have to say I started around 94-2011? That I was super involved.

About how often did you go to concerts at your peak (i.e. how many bands or concerts did you see in a week or month)?
It was non-stop for me. Once I got to college I would borrow my buddy’s car and drive to Cleveland almost every night for shows, whether it would be at the Euc, Grog Shop or Speak in Tongues. I’m not even going to guess how many shows I’ve been to, but I’d say at least 2-3 a week. Back then there were sooo many great shows going on at these venues almost every night.

Did you play in bands?
I did. There were many bands of a hodge podge of the same people. From first to last band: Memories Lost…, Caligula, The Human Torch, HolyFuckingCrap!, Iron Teeth, and Hockey Fight!

A Sampler of Ryedood’s Channel

What were some of your favorite bands and venues from the late ’90s early 2000s?
Definitely the Euclid Tavern, Grog Shop and Speak in Tongues. I got to know Steve who ran the Euc really well so I always had an in there. But I spent a lot of time at SIT as well. Those three places played a huge part in my life back then.

Why did you decide to start documenting bands?
I’m not sure really. One day I think I wanted to do something with A/V. I borrowed my sister’s video camera and took it to a show. My friends and I sat around and watched it and I thought I had a pretty steady hand and just decided that I wanted to document these bands so I’d have something to look back on when I got older.

How many bands did you record? Did you share the recordings?
Wayyyy too many to even count. I always had my camera with me. I used to make video comps for fun and trade them with people on the internet. I think I started reading with some guy in California that I met via MRR. I have a bunch posted on my YouTube channel.

Any plans to put them all online?
Most of them are still on Super 8 in a box in storage. I’d love to try to convert them. Someday.

Welcome to Cleveland VHS tape by Ryan Kennedy

The ‘Welcome to Cleveland’ compilation shot, edited, and compiled by Ryan Kennedy.

What’s the story behind “Welcome to Cleveland”?
I made that comp basically to trade with a few people online. Like I mentioned earlier I just got super into recording and the Cleveland scene and wanted to show them off to out of state friends/people.

Can you tell us more about the sets linked below? Like, funny stories or dates for the shows that aren’t dated?
Haha I’ll try to remember some of these but I’ll be damned if I can remember anything anymore. Damn old age.

What do you do nowadays? Do you still listen to music? Do you still connect with people from that time?
Nowadays I’m still doing what I did back then 20 some years ago. I work for Pepsi Cola. I still do connect with a lot of people from back then. Believe it or not that damn Facebook is kind of a saving grace to reconnect and see what everyone is up to. I still do listen to music. It’s been a huge part of my life, but I will be honest, I don’t know any newer bands really? I guess that’s what getting old is all about.

What’s your favorite thing about the early 2000s time period?
The friendships that I made. That whole era for me was a huge part of my life. Going to shows, booking shows/fest, doing a zine, having a radio show at college and playing in bands and touring. But the friendships I made and the memories I have of that are what I think cherish the most. Hence why I started documenting these things. Sounds corny but the nostalgia of it all is great.

Thanks so much for the interview! If there’s anything else you want to say, please let me know.
Thanks for the interview. It made me go down memory road. After you asked me for the videos, I went back to my YouTube channel and started watching some of the videos again and reminisced from those days. So thank you for that!

Subscribe to Ryedood’s YouTube

Follow Carnage video—I’ve got a ton of surprises coming soon

Read more about 9 Shocks Terror at Cleveland Punk Fest 1999

Check out the online premiere of some classic Cleveland thrash videos

Add me on Instagram

Read the oral history of legendary Cleveland rock magazine U.S. Rocker‘s early years, 1989-93

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