Shuffle: From Coffee Shops to Bus Stops, Sixth City Sounds Is Amplifying Cleveland's Music Scene

Aug 31, 2017

Cleveland singer-songwriter Rachel Shortt performing as part of Sixth City Sounds' pop-up summer concert series
Credit Sixth City Sounds

A new non-profit is working to unite and grow Cleveland’s music scene. For this week’s Shuffle, we hear about Sixth City Sounds, which launched this summer by bringing local music to the public -- whether in a coffee shop or at a bus stop. 

On a bright, hot afternoon earlier this month, Cleveland singer-songwriter Rachel Shortt set up a microphone and amp and performed some songs with her acoustic guitar while commuters mulled around University Circle’s Little Italy Rapid Station.

"I’ve done my share of busking over the years," Shortt says.

Pop-up concerts
She wasn't busking on this day. Shortt, who’s been playing local gigs for nearly 20 years, was invited to play by Sixth City Sounds, a new nonprofit that’s helping to make local artists more visible and to attract new ones to what was once the nation’s sixth largest city.

One of its founders, Jeanette Sangtson, says one of their first projects is partnering with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for a summer pop-up concert series where artists perform on a bus, train or station. 

"Maybe not everybody is going to the record stores or going to the local shows. It’s another way of bringing the music to the people," Sangston says. 

Rachel Shortt says she’s played everywhere from subway stations to street corners. But she says this concert was special because people passing by really took notice.

"We need these types of things to keep the community that we have relevant and fruitful and growing and evolving."

CLE music shelves
In addition to hearing local music, Sixth City Sounds wants to make it easier for people to support local artists through their “CLE music shelves.”

CLE Music Shelves
Credit Sixth City Sounds

Similar to the displays you’d find at Starbucks, Sixth City Sounds has placed racks of CDs at area businesses. Albums by Cleveland punk band Ma Holos, hip-hop duo Fresh Produce and Akron rockers Ohio Weather Band can be found at University Circle’s Coquette,  Canopy Collective and Whiskey Grade.

The plan is to rotate artists and locations and all proceeds from CD sales go back to the musicians.

Musician Rachel Shortt says efforts like this can also help to unite the local music community -- a place that can be tough to break through.

"You make these connections and form these relationships and when something comes about, people remember you and they pull you in, because we’re all like a family."                   

An online resource
A key component of Sixth City Sounds is its website, where there's a one-stop-shop for the music industry. There's information from where to record and produce music to businesses that can create posters and album cover art. And, it’s also a community forum -- where artists can add resources they know about and grow the database.