West Virginia and Ohio 2011:
Mary Wade Burnside Column: Times West Virginian article from September 7, 2011



Trip to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a blast

The night before I left to meet up with my annual field trip buds, Ken and Lisa, I randomly began to throw some CDs into a bag for the ride up when I realized I should select the tunes with more care.

After all, we were headed to Cleveland for one reason: to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A rock 'n' roll road trip requires some thought put into the music. When we traveled from Nashville to Memphis to tour the home of Elvis Presley, we of course took, well, Paul Simon's "Graceland." Come to think of it, it did not occur to me to pack any Elvis for that trip, as I don't actually own any albums by the King of Rock and Roll.

So maybe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will come in handy in helping me to appreciate the history of the music I have listened to my entire life.

To get there, I met up with Ken and Lisa in Parkersburg. They live in Los Angeles but visit her parents every year in Charleston. And we plan a field trip. Sometimes we hit a rural attraction like a Civil War reenactment. Last year, we visited the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and did the Strip District. When possible, we eat at a restaurant featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." Lisa and Ken are trying to get them all in.

The idea is to do something you can't do in L.A., a bit ironic when it comes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as Los Angeles has been the breeding ground for some of the most influential rock music, including the Doors and the Mamas and the Papas, Buffalo Springfield and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, in such famed venues as the Whisky A Go Go and the Viper Room, both on the storied Sunset Strip.

But the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sits on the shore of Lake Erie in a striking glass pyramid style building - designed by I.M. Pei - because Cleveland DJ Alan Freed promoted the term "rock and roll." And also, apparently, because the city of Cleveland put up $65 million in the process.

After we met up in Parkersburg, I told them that the link to our Cleveland hotel had expired on that very day. We joked that we might arrive in land of Cleve with no accommodations.

"You know what that means," I said. "We'll have to spend the night in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We'll hide in the bath rooms until after they close."

"We'll get to see Buddy Holly," Ken said.

"And Elvis," I added.

"And try on the meat dress," chipped in Lisa.

Ah, yes, Lady Gaga's meat dress, a sartorial sensation at last year's MTV Video Music Awards. While we were plan ning our trip, we learned that the dress had been preserved, in a meat kind of way, in order to be preserved in a historical sense. That alone would make the Hall of Fame worth the $22 price of admission.

As we headed up Interstate 77, we did not need my CDs right away as we found a radio station that played songs that seemed appropriate for the occa sion: The Who's "Baba O'Riley," Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing," Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town," and Boston's "Rock and Roll Band." When Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" came on, it was a bit of a letdown, but it gave Ken, a musician, the opportunity to tell the story of how he had bought a secondhand synthesizer in L.A. and how he had been told it had belonged to Rick Springfield.

"Maybe he wrote 'Jessie's Girl' on it," he joked. "Maybe I should donate it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

But when we arrived, it turned out other musicians' synthesiz ers actually were exhibited in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As were a lot of stage outfits and other famous costumes, such as the green uniform John Lennon wore on the famous cover of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.

Also on display was memorabilia including Janis Joplin's psychedelically-painted Porsche, the famous awning from leg endary New York City music club CBGB, prop cars dangling from the ceiling from U2's "Zoo TV" tour set, Johnny Cash's tour bus, as well as handwritten lyrics to famous songs, such as the Beatles' "In My Life" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and the Clash's "Clampdown."

We also got to see "U23D," a slick but fascinating U2 concert viewed through 3D glasses that did make us feel like we were there. Another theater is dedicat ed to the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, intro duced on three giant screens, starting with the first year, 1986, in a combination of photos and video, except for when it came to the Sex Pistols, which just showed John Lydon's (aka Johnny Rotten's) hand-scrawled note not-so-politely declining the invite.

On the top floor, the rotating exhibit paid tribute to "Women Who Rock," and we got to honor the likes of Patti Smith, Heart, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, whose "The Singles" I had packed for the trip.

We also got to lay eyes on - but not try on - the meat dress, which, after being turned into jerky, no longer resembles the outfit Gaga wore at the VMAs.

As usual, Ken documented our trip on his website, www.elevenshadows.com, where he also compiled a list of the bands that have been snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committee, from KISS (although "Rock and Roll All Nite" was blaring outside the Hall of Fame when we arrived) and the Beastie Boys to the Cure, Can and Kraftwerk and one of my favorites, The Smiths. In spite of the snubs, Ken noted, and I agree: the trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a blast. We spent six hours there and I could spend at least anoth er six. Drew Carey (and Ian Hunter, the musician who wrote the song the comedian used for his TV show theme) was right. Cleveland does indeed rock.

Email Mary Wade Burnside at mwburnside@timeswv.com.

Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

Buy Ken's art at ImageKind.com.

West Virginia and Ohio 2011
Page 4 of 4

1 2 3 4


Eleven Shadows Travel Page
Contact photographer/musician Ken Lee


eleven shadows eleven shadows