Classical Revolution: 10 years of playing classical music in a hot dog bar

Ariel Clayton-Karas talks about heading up Classical Revolution Cleveland, a collection of musicians dedicated to bringing music to alternative spaces.

The Happy Dog is a locally-beloved bar that is known for hot dogs with unusual toppings, and for hosting a steady stream of rock shows. Step through the doors on the third Tuesday of the month, however, and you’ll find the blaring amps swapped out for classically-trained musicians playing anything from Bach to Tchaikovsky to Phillip Glass. This is the night for Classical Revolution Cleveland.

Ariel Clayton-Karas is a violinist who has been the musical director of Classical Revolution for the last ten years. It’s a concert series concept that started in San Francisco in 2005, and has spread to New York, Detroit and Cleveland. The idea is to create a “totally accessible concert experience” according to Clayton-Karas. “Classical music doesn’t belong on a pedestal in some museum-like concert hall.”

The line-up of performers changes each month, with a wide variety of styles and instruments on display.  Many people walk in with no idea that the jukebox will be swapped out for a string quartet, although the show has ardent fans who show up every month. Musicians are all volunteer, and the shows are free of charge. “It’s purely done with love, and we love to do it.” says Clayton-Karas.

Classical Revolution Cleveland, the 3rd Tuesday of each month at the Happy Dog, 5801 Detroit Ave. 8 p.m. The event is free, and has no age restrictions. You can check out their Facebook page here.

Want to see some recipes from the Happy Dog’s kitchen? Check out how to make some of their famous hot dog toppings.