Photo by Kevin Wierzbicki
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Photo by Kevin Werzbicki
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You’ve heard it said that “Cleveland rocks!” and the city will be living up to that reputation big time Aug. 25-26 as the inaugural InCuya Music Festival (Tickets) takes place at The Malls in Downtown Cleveland. The festival will be headlined by veteran British band New Order and Americana darlings the Avett Brothers; others on the bill include AWOLNATION, Booker T. Jones, SZA, Cake, the Revivalists, K. Flay, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Daniel Caesar and Yuna. And there’s a special treat that comes with the purchase of a festival ticket; free admission to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Anyone showing a ticket to the InCuya Music Festival can get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame free of charge during the festival weekend. There are six levels to the hall, each packed with displays honoring rock and roll and the various musical styles that preceded it and sprang from it. Visitors are presented a photo op before even entering the building as a giant art installation on the museum’s front grounds spells out Long Live Rock; it is so big that fans have taken to sitting inside one of the O’s to have their picture taken.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has an amazing archive of artist memorabilia, and after touring the museum it is mind blowing to think that what is on display at any given time is only a very small percentage of what the museum actually possesses (another facility in Cleveland stores the rest of it.) One of the first displays that fans will see is called Shine a Light: New Acquisitions, and it holds items like Green Day drum heads contributed by Tre Cool, stage clothing worn by The Notorious B.I.G., Wanda Jackson and Pink along with a guitar from Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd and a bass from Chi Cheng of Deftones.

Moving on through the museum fans will find exhibits focusing on music and bands from The Summer of Love (1967) featuring lots of trippy concert posters and a recording console used by Jimi Hendrix, a large area dedicated to the Legends of Rock and Roll featuring the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, David Bowie, U2, Michael Jackson and many others as well as an exhibit featuring successful acts of the new millennium like Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Halestorm and the Lumineers. There’s also an exhibit chronicling the Cleveland music scene and an Elvis Presley section that includes a 14-minute video that plays on a loop.

Special exhibits currently at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include Stay Tuned, a look at how music on television, including theme music from shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and “Batman” helped to shape viewer musical tastes, and how live performances (like the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show”) were life-changing moments for many young viewers and future musicians. The hall is so big that some attendees might tend to skip some exhibits, but one not to miss is the Power of Rock Experience, a short film directed by the late Jonathan Demme. The movie strings together great performances from various induction ceremonies, making a powerful statement with just music and no narration. The film closes with the famous jam on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” featuring Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Prince and George’s son Dhani Harrison. The most stunning part of the performance was Prince on lead guitar, and fans will also be stunned to see, on the way out of the theater, the stage outfit that Prince wore for that show.

Also not to be missed is Part of The Machine: Pinball & Rock, a special exhibit featuring pinball machines that pay tribute to artists like the Who, the Beatles, Aerosmith, Dolly Parton, Alice Cooper, Elton John and many others. All of the machines can be played and two free tokens can be obtained by scanning your hall admission wristband. Related --- Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball exhibit now open at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Some of the other exhibits at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include a focus on rap called Rapper’s Delight, a look at protest against rock and roll called Don’t Knock the Rock, an in-depth exhibit about the roots of rock (gospel, blues, R&B, country, folk and bluegrass) and a 30-minute film about Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” television program. And of course there is a large gift shop with a good selection of T-shirts and assorted rock memorabilia items. There’s even a snack bar and coffee shop so that those spending the entire day at the hall can easily stay fed and watered. A bargain at any price, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will be a super and absolutely free experience for InCuya Music Festival fans who show their ticket Aug. 25-26.

For more information on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame go here.
Cleveland has lots of other fun things to explore; find more information here.