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Your backstage pass to Northeast Ohio's independent music scene.

Shuffle: Bringing Home Movies to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first “Home Movie Day” is coming this weekend. It's an opportunity for the Rock Hall to show off the materials they’ve gotten in an ambitious project to document Northeast Ohio’s music scene.

Ron Bierut grew up loving concerts and photography. He owned a Super 8 film camera which could capture vivid images, but no sound. Still, the Strongsville native would bring the camera with him to shows to film what he was seeing and enjoying at the time. But it wasn’t always easy.

“I snuck it in my pants. Only busted once at the Elvis Costello concert at the end. In the middle of ‘Pump It Up,’ I was standing right by the stage, being fully illuminated. And their bouncers just came and grabbed me. So I was lucky to get out, because I always heard those Elvis Costello bouncers were rough.”

Preserving NEO history
Some of what Bierut captured with his silent camera when he was young will be featured in “Home Movie Day” on Saturday. The event includes some of the material submitted by fans to the Rock Hall Archives on everything from silent reels of film – like Bierut’s -- to digital videotapes from the 2000s. It’s part of an initiative by the Rock Hall and the Ohio History Connection to document Northeast Ohio’s popular musical history.

No press pass required
The band Death of Samantha was well-known in the 1980s. Guitarist Steve Eierdam, known as Steve-O, became an archivist of the era’s underground scene in Cleveland. He says that because he owned a large, professional-grade video camera, he could walk right past most bouncers, who assumed he was with a local TV station. But in reality, he was documenting a scene that most people still don’t know about.

“I was capturing things onto videotape as early as 1983. And I knew there was something interesting here; there was a scene that everybody else was ignoring. The media was ignoring [it]. And I thought, ‘this is something that’s really good.’”

Steve-O also shot video of groups like Ragged Bags, Full Wave Rectifier and The Bizarros – and that’s exactly what the Rock Hall is looking for according to Archives Director Andy Leach.

“I definitely think it has value. And it really helps to paint the full picture of the scene here. One of the challenges in collecting it is, we might not even know there was a recording of some of these things.”

Collector's mentality
That’s the case for the early ‘90s band Velocipede. Kent native Chris Rutzen was friends with some of the band members. And he says he picked up a collector’s mentality from his father, who owned a record store back then. A clip from Rutzen’s VHS tape of some Velocipede shows will be included in this weekend’s Home Movie Day.

“Everybody that I was friends with in that whole Kent music scene, they didn’t save anything. They don’t have any of their fliers. They don’t have any of their cassettes or any of the music they recorded. Everybody just kind of relies on me to keep hold of it and keep it safe. That’s how I’ve always been, wanting to save stuff like that.”

The collector mentality is what drove a lot of the people who donated to the archives: some unexplainable need to document the music they loved. The Rock Hall’s Andy Leach says they’re always open to new acquisitions, even if it means just making a digital copy for the archives and returning the original. They’ve collected hundreds of items this year alone, but there’s still footage out there which they would love to have.

“I don’t know if this footage actually exists, but the Rolling Stones at Public Hall in 1964. Or Hendrix or Cream in 1968 at Public Hall. That would be amazing.”

But for Leach -- whether it’s major acts, or a short-lived local grunge band like The Reptiles -- it all has value. And at Saturday’s Home Movie Day, that footage will be on the silver screen.

Details about the Rock Hall's Home Movie Day – as well as donating material to the archives – are here.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.