Area band ShiSho to perform in Cleveland

By kelly maile | Staff Writer Published:

Described as the "feasible love-children of They Might Be Giants and Kimya Dawson," sisters Vivian and Midge Ramone, of Akron, have been recording clever, comical music for nine years.

At 16 and 12 years old, the Ramone sisters' band ShiSho will play the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest fundraiser Friday at The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland to benefit this summer's WMC Fest, a grassroots event to inspire and enable the young creative mind.

Vivian sings and plays the guitar and Midge sings, plays the accordion and occasionally the ukulele.

"We write punk rock songs that are smart," Vivian said. "Even though we're kids, we're not really a band for kids. A lot of our songs have to do with politics surprisingly."

The girls explore musical themes well beyond their years. In their recent "My Dear Republicans (The Fiscal Cliff Song)," ShiSho rhymes the names of all Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives in a plea for bipartisan compromise.

"It was the end of 2012 and it was at a time where everything was super tense with the fiscal cliff," Vivian said. "The Republicans of the House of Representatives weren't getting along and weren't willing to compromise, so we sat down as a group and said 'We need to do something,' so we wrote this song. We get ideas like that just by looking at what's going on in the world."

Midge, the younger of the two, wrote her first song just a few days ago.

"The song that I wrote is about a guy who lives in a ceiling fan," Midge said. "It was really fun to write."

The girls often pull inspiration from their quick wit and mind-boggling imaginations.

"I was writing a song one time and I was having the hardest time with writers block and I was looking around this room and I was like 'I have to find something in this room and I'm going to write about it,'" Vivian said. "I saw this horrifyingly ugly clown doll on the dresser and I wrote about it and it's one of my favorite songs that I've written."

Over the years, ShiSho has performed countless shows from festivals, protest rallies and Girl Scout conventions to museums and fundraisers. They have opened for some of their favorite bands including They Might Be Giants, The Smoking Popes and Harry and the Potters.

"We have all these really bizarre opportunities, but it's really exciting," Midge said. "It's crazy thinking about all the things we've gotten to do. I started playing when I was four and I never thought I would be able to do a pre-show for one of my favorite bands."

The girls are looking forward to playing the benefit show Friday and this summer's WMC Fest for the first time.

"We went and saw the bands play last year, so we're very stoked to be playing it this year," Vivian said. "We've been playing shows around Cleveland for about four years now, but it's exciting to be playing WMC and to be a part of something so big and we're just really pumped to get to play with so many great bands."

Jeff Finley, an artist and designer born and raised in Northeastern Ohio, is the founder of WMC Fest.

"Quite simply, I wanted to start my own music fest, but combine it with my passion for art and design," Finley said. "I wanted to bring in folks that inspired me and have them give talks and perform for our creative community here in Northeast Ohio. We wanted to celebrate the attitude of a Weapon of Mass Creation, someone who defies the hand they're dealt and pursues their passion."

Aug. 16 to 18 will mark the fourth year of WMC Fest. WMC is a $175,000 event that takes all year to plan and organize.

"This benefit coming up is one of the ways we raise funds to help pay for the next festival," Finley said. "It's also a way to gather the creative class here and announce some of the bands and speakers we've got on the lineup for this year."

The benefit will feature five bands including Ohio Sky, Leah Lou and the 2 Left Shoes, Moon High, Freeze-Tag and ShiSho.

"We wanted to present a multi-faceted line-up to give folks a taste of some of the diverse array of music they can expect at WMC Fest," Finley said. "We want to raise funds and I'm excited to finally show the fans out there what we've got brewing for 2013."

Finley said he will be auctioning off a collection of art prints donated by last year's featured designers at the show. There will also be door prizes, raffles, a special presentation and discounted pre-sale tickets to the main WMC Fest available exclusively at the benefit show.

Pat The Producer will host the WMC Fest fundraiser. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. The Beachland Ballroom is located at 15711 Waterloo Road in Cleveland.

For more information, call 216-383-124 or visit www.thebeachlandballroom.com.

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