Cla-Zels to perform near namesake in Bowling Green

The Cla-Zels will perform at Howard’s Club H Friday night at 10:30 p.m., but this isn’t the first time the Cincinnati band has performed in Bowling Green, in fact, the band got its name from the Cla-Zel Theatre.

The diverse indie rock band, The Cla-Zels, has other ties to the city than just its name, which comes from the theatre downtown. Joanie Whittaker (rhythm guitar, vocals) grew up in Bowling Green and Jason Erickson (lead guitar, vocals) is a University alumnus.

“It’s always nice to visit and see old friends,” Erickson said. “We have lots of connections and it’s just a fun place to go back to visit. The people are so open to cool, original music.”

Whittaker and Erickson met 15 years ago when both were living in Cincinnati. They began dating and started a band. Although they are no longer dating, they wanted to and have successfully kept the band together.

“We make really good music partners,” Whittaker said. “Together we help each other so much and we are starting to collaborate more and more rather than just writing our own songs.”

The two originally went by the name of Hi Ho Sylvia and played mostly covers, Whittaker said, but they wanted more and needed a name-change.

“We needed a name that didn’t sound so country and we were actually up in BG when we saw the theatre named after Clark and Hazel and thought The Cla-Zels would make a good name,” Whittaker said.

It took some time, but the two finally found their drummer, Brian Baverman. And, only 18 days before the band’s first gig, Chris Barlow joined The Cla-Zels as its bassist.

“We all just fit and really get along together,” Whittaker said. “We’ve become a family. We try to hang out and have a monthly outing, so it’s not always business and music. We want to have fun too.”

The Cla-Zels will release its third studio album, “Flower of the Gold Rush,” Dec. 8. The show at Howard’s Friday is a CD release party for the album.

Whittaker said this album represents the band the best.

“It’s the first album all four of us did together,” Whittaker said. “We did the whole thing live. Recording live was a quick process, which is a good thing because it costs money and we didn’t give ourselves time to over think anything.”

Erickson said the Cla-Zels have a lot of different influences and the combination of a male and female vocalist allows for a lot of variety.

All the band members work full-time with music outside of the band as well.

“A lot of bands are not concerned with knowing the instruments, but it’s really important to us that our musicianship is above average,” Whittaker said.

Jessie Haught, the booking manager at Howard’s, said it makes sense for the band to come back and play in town.

“They played here a few months back and it was a very entertaining show,” Haught said. “Their antics on stage were just fun and it was a good show.”

Erickson said the band likes to keep its performances fun and laid back.

“We practice a lot so we can let it all hang out at the show, let loose and not have to worry about anything,” Erickson said.

The band will perform at Howard’s Club H Friday night at 10:30 p.m. The cover charge is $5.