The Cla-Zels
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The Cla-Zels

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | SELF

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter




"Flower of the Gold Rush Reviews (10 reviews)"

“The band is led by singers/guitarists Joanie Whittaker and Jason Erickson, both excellent writers who proved their versatility on The Cla-Zels’ diverse debut album…Like I Own Hawaii, Flower of the Gold Rush has the mark of creative musicians dedicated to writing good songs, regardless of any genre expectations.
The band comes out of the gate strong with the Southern Rock riffage and punch of “Train to Alabama,” which makes for a great transition from the previous release [In a Canyon]. From there, The Cla-Zels glide gracefully between sensual, slow-burning Rock balladry (“You Answer First”), soulful Modern Rock (“Nierika’s Eyes”), Classic Rock (“Jellybean,” which is reminiscent of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s work with Heart), jazzy Folk Rock (“Wood County”), Blues Funk (“Dear Candy”) and even Latin-tinged Pop/Rock (“The Paper”).
The Cla-Zels are adventurers with chops — even as they surf genres, Whittaker and Erickson’s vocals are consistently strong (and exceptional when they harmonize), Erickson’s guitar work is not only masterful but endlessly creative and the rhythm section (drummer Brian Baverman and bassist Chris Barlow) is studio-musician tight.
Now that they own Hawaii, spent some time in a canyon and have seen their flower of the gold rush bloom, it should be interesting to see where The Cla-Zels head next.”
--Mike Breen, CityBeat (“Cla-Zels Rock on Second LP of Year”)
“. ..Timing seems to be spot on within the indie/alternative pop rock grooves. The dual voice combination of Erickson/Whittaker is extremely effective, as they deliver many solid vocal performances that match the style of music perfectly. The music is upbeat, funny, interesting, thought provoking, melodic and highly entertaining…
…Very simple yet effective, conservative, highly original, and passionate… Erickson and company are clearly being themselves as songwriters and performers, and this is what emerges. It's clear to me they are having fun with it… The CD refuses to try to hard – that’s what makes it so amazing…
…The production delivers a lot of musical variety... Honorable mentions go out to the amazing musicianship of this band and the Top Flight guitar and vocal performances of Jason Erickson. I give The Cla-Zels high marks for not being afraid to let it all hang out musically… A very likeable, marketable record with amazing songs…. Just a blast to listen to…”
--Markus Druery, Indie Shark (Indie Shark’s PICK of the MONTH)
“…The band has a raw sound that's propelled by Erickson's guitar, which at times seems just on this side of control. It cuts through the mix like a tuneful band saw…
…“Train to Alabama" by Erickson and "All the Way" by Whittaker are the aural equivalents of the cover shot on the CD, which shows Whittaker slugging [bassist Chris Barlow.] The songs certainly have their share of punch, and there’s a sense of something menacing below the surface so many times. "Wood County" paints a haunted image of the leaders' old haunts that's buttressed by a sly country feel.
…Whittaker supplies some tender moments. "Nierika's Eyes" speaks of seeing the world through a child's point of view (with Erickson's guitar countering with an electric jolt). "Nighttime Fare" is an all-acoustic, aching ballad with a bowed bass fiddle underneath...
...Flower of the Gold Rush points the way to a musically fertile 2013.”
--BG Sentinel-Tribune
“…The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar… You will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive solo guitars, well placed percussion, and harmonies…
…The CD gets off the ground nicely with “Train to Alabama,” an impressive intro groove that serves up slamming blues rock against dynamic rhythm, walking bass lines, effective harmonies and soulful melody from Erickson and Whittaker. The CD makes a great first impression, dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row….
…What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together… I also like how well Erickson and Whittaker harmonize together- like hand in glove…
…All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board… The music of The Cla-Zels has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From the rocking title track and “Jellybean” to heartfelt “Nierika’s Eyes” and “Nighttime Fare” to grooving “Wood Country” to psychedelic “Dear Candy,” this CD has something for just about everyone.”
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10”
--Cyrus Rhodes, Indie Music Digest (IMD PICK of the WEEK)
“…’The Paper’ makes me want to dance. The sultry sound of the song and Erickson’s vocals combine perfectly to create a Latin, salsa dancing mood.
“You Answer First,” “Nierika’s Eyes,” and “Jellybean” remind me of Heart. Whittaker definitely has strong vocals similar to Ann Wilson and these songs showcase that.
“Wood County” has a fitting twang to it… I could just picture myself driving through town listening to this song in the fall… The song “Flower of the Gold Rush” brings it all together and really highlights how this band can rock. It starts off with strong guitar, ends with an awesome solo, and combining Whittaker and Erickson’s vocals just hits the spot…”
--Erin Cox, BG
“…There is a whole lot of variety to these latest arrangements and performances… The Cla-Zels is an impressive band that delivers rock solid playing like a well- oiled machine…

…Lead singers Jason Erickson and Joanie Whittaker are to die for, as they possess a strong vocal duo collaboration and overall look that hits the mark remarkably well within the pop-rock music realm... their overall sound and amazing songwriting are as good as it gets in modern pop...

…The Cla-Zels have the creativity and songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. There is also a unique quality to this catalogue that breaks the mold when compared to the mundane pop-rock that’s been filling the airwaves lately… there is nothing fake and superficial about The Cla-Zels… not every square inch is filled with musical ambience delivered under duress-- and this musical space allows the music to breathe on its own with passion that cannot be faked. Equally impressive is how marketable this record is. It covers so much ground, and despite this it manages to not spread itself thin across too many lines... Flower of the Gold Rush will genuinely lift your spirits.”

--Heather Savage, VENTS Magazine

“The players are red hot, and the production value is as good as it gets for an Independent Artist… The Cla-Zels smash through the mold with their impressive sound… one of the hottest bands to slide across my desk this year…”

--Rory Richardson, Rock N’ Roll View

“A one-in-a-million Retro-Pop-Indie sound, effective vocals, hooky songwriting and musicianship make for a very effective combination… amazing vocal fronts and sizzling playing from the rest of the band… Both Erickson and Whittaker deliver effective vocals and a tad of sex appeal on the side…”

--Drew Blackmore, Skope
“The songwriting is very impressive and digs deeper than the next independent artist. Within each one of these pieces Erickson and company bare their soul and deliver pure musical mojo…”

--Michael Morrison, Music Emissions (9/10 Rating)
- Various

"Metromix In a Canyon Review"

Yee-haw! Love this track. It’s rock-infused country, with a little rockabilly swing to get your hips moving. Other tracks from the band vary. Some are upbeat, with the country rock-vibe, and others are bluesy, slow, and just plain sexy.
--Daniele Cusentino, Metromix - Daniele Cusentino

"In a Canyon a Trip Worth Taking (Citybeat)"

Featuring the solid vocals of co-frontpeople Jason Erickson and Joanie Whittaker, who trade off leads from track to track (and harmonize beautifully, as well), the music on In A Canyon primarily falls in the Country realm, but the band explores that realm to the fullest, tapping into both classic and modern Country. (Imagine a collaborative album featuring Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Cash, Sugarland, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, and you’re close.)
“Hot and Cold Running Love” is a dust-kickin’ Country rocker; tracks like “It’s Not Mine” and the title song are lovely, rootsy ballads; and the playful “She Sees It, She Likes It” has an old-timey, breakneck Bluegrass zeal. But the band never limits where their well-constructed songs go, bustin’ out some guttural Blues on “Clean Sheets, Dirty Man,” touching on Reggae with “One Bullet” and rocking out on the time-signature-crazy “The Hurting’s On Me.”
It’s an enjoyable trip through The Cla-Zels’ varied influences; you’ll be glad they invited you along for the ride. (
- Mike Breen/Citybeat

"Cla-Zels Feature Article"

Cla-Zels at home at Cla-Zel
Written by By COLE CHRISTENSEN Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 06 May 2010 10:19
Whether or not The Cla-Zels believe in fate, they are certainly not denying the coincidence between their chosen band name and the fact that their namesake has recently been transformed from a movie theatre to a multi-purpose concert venue.
People recently viewing posters around town or reading the marquee at 127 N Main St in downtown Bowling Green might be lead to believe that The Cla-Zels is the new house band at the Cla-Zel theatre. A basic assumption that is easily made given their shared name and musical focus.
However, while the founders of the band The Cla-Zels took their name from the historic theater and are both former BG residents, they actually reside in Cincinnati and chose their moniker prior to the recent renovation.
Serendipity? Certainly... and, for an up-and-coming rock band a little serendipity never hurts.
"For the longest time the group that Joanie and I made up was Hi Ho Sylvia," singer, songwriter and guitarist Jason Erickson said. "We wanted a unique name that no one else had, that didn't mean anything. Choosing it was independent of the recent renovation, we didn't know they had converted it over."
The Cla-Zels will be celebrating the release of their debut CD, "I Own Hawaii" on May 14 at the Cla-Zel Theatre. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $7.50 in advance (at and $10 at the door.
The Cla-Zels are a modern day incarnation of the best of male and female led vocal rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s. Led by Erickson (a graduate of Bowling Green State University) and Joan Whittaker (a BG native and BGSU grad herself), the band incorporates diverse elements of rock, rockabilly, blues and even a touch of folk into their sound. They call it "Fleetwood Mac on steroids," a fitting throwback to a classic rock band that, much like The Cla-Zels emphasized strong songwriting and an eclectic approach to melody.
However, the band's songwriting and distinct rock sound is only half of its equation. Fans of rock shows that incorporate visual elements, show segments and general entertainment will be pleasantly surprised by The Cla-Zels approach.
Part theater and part musical entertainment, the band makes considerable effort to ensure their show is engaging. Complete with a tandem female dance team The Hot Tomatoes, separate electric and acoustic sets and an overarching whimsical rock theme, they are focused on making their live show something to be remembered.
"It is what I like to see when I go out to see music," Whittaker said. "I like listening to performers, but you go to a Prince show and he is not just standing there playing... there is a lot going on. I like that kind of entertainment."
Both Whittaker and Erickson have a long history of performing together, and their comfort as dual songwriters and performers is strongly felt throughout their debut album which ebbs and flows through genre, texture and sound.
Recently they added bassist Chris Barlow and drummer Brian Baverman to the mix, solidifying their sound and their focus on producing high quality music.
"We have the right pieces to our band puzzle," Whittaker said. "We had been going through bass players quite rapidly... we just pulled Chris in a short time ago, and we are quite happy. The timing is perfect."
In addition to her work with The Cla-Zels, past Black Swamp Arts Festival visitors may remember Whittaker from her 2008 acoustic set on the Youth Arts Stage. A long-time songwriter of children's music with poignant themes, such as teeth brushing, Whittaker won a 2007 Best of Cincinnati Award for her debut children's album, "Miss Joanie's Potty Party."
But for now, Whittaker, Erickson and the rest of The Cla-Zels are focused on exploring the possibilities on the road and in the studio with their band... dancers and all.
"This is the inauguration of what we are going to be doing across the Midwest," Erickson said. "Joan and I have been working on a number of projects together for a long time and we have done a lot of duo type things... but the last couple of years we started trying to put this rock band together and that is our focus."
- The Sentinel

"Cla-Zels CD release notice/review"

Saturday at York Street Café, The Cla-Zels (led by singer/songwriters Joan Whittaker and Jason Erickson) host a release party for their new full-length, I Own Hawaii, an incredibly eclectic album showcasing the band’s solidly melodic writing and adventurous musical approach, which shifts tones, moods and styles so often it’s sometimes hard to tell if it’s even the same band from one song to the next.
Mike Breen - CityBeat
- City Beat

"Cla-Zels Album/Concert Review"

Concert writeup
Yes, there is a relationship between the band the Cla-Zels, and the Clazel Theater in Bowling Green.
No, it's not the house band for the newly renovated downtown club where the Cla-Zels are playing tomorrow night - the band is based in Cincinnati - but a strong B.G. connection explains the coincidence.
Fronted by the songwriting and singing tandem of Joan Whittaker and Jason Erickson, both of whom are Bowling Green State University graduates (Whittaker also is a native of the city), the Cla-Zels are indeed named after the theater.
They've described their music as "Fleetwood Mac on steroids" which is pretty accurate. Both share vocals, creating a classic sound that rambles across power pop, folk, and straight-forward rock sensibilities.
The Cla-Zels are touring behind the release of their new disc, "I Own Hawaii," which features 12 songs either written or co-written by Erickson and Whittaker. (See Sounds Page 9 for a review of the disc.)
The latter has performed various times at Bowling Green's Black Swamp Arts Festival, playing children's songs.
She has recorded one children's album, "Miss Joanie's Potty Party" for which she won a Best of Cincinnati award in 2007.
The band's stage show features a full band - Whittaker and Erickson both play guitar and the group includes a bass player and drummer - and a pair of dancers know as the Hot Tomatoes.
The Cla-Zels will be at the Clazel Theater, 127 North Main St., Bowling Green, tomorrow night, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and music starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 in advance through the Clazel box office or $10 night of the show. Information: or 419-353-5000.

I OWN HAWAII The Cla-Zels (Self-released)
This tight little band out of Cincinnati named after the historic Clazel Theater in downtown Bowling Green focuses on irresistible, literate power pop tunes.
Featuring the classic "boy/girl" approach ala Fleetwood Mac or, closer to home, the Hard Lessons, Joan Whittaker and Jason Erickson - both Bowling Green State University graduates - take turns on songwriting and lead vocals. They also mesh perfectly on harmonies, giving the band a diverse array of sounds over the course of a dozen songs.
Everything from hard-driving rockers to quieter folk songs populate the disc and both Whittaker and Erickson are strong writers, giving "I Own Hawaii" a polished, fun vibe.
Local note: Former Sylvania resident and member of the Raisins, the Psychodots, and the Bears Chris Arduser plays drums on several tracks.

- The Toledo Blade


I Own Hawaii (2010)
-played extensively on WNKU.
-available on iTunes and CDBaby.

In a Canyon (2012)
-played extensively on WNKU, WVQC, and 105.9 FM.
-available on iTunes and CDBaby.

Flower of the Gold Rush (2012)
-played extensively on WNKU and 89.1 FM.
-available on iTunes and CDBby.



Joanie Whittaker (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Jason Erickson (vocals, lead guitar) comprise the two-headed songwriting monster that fronts The Cla-Zels. Each takes on half of the songwriting and lead singing duties, alternately leading the veteran rhythm section of Brian Baverman (drums) and Chris Barlow (bass) through a variety of grooves and feels. Girl and boy strut their hours upon the stage. The group convincingly shifts from genre to genre like the most diverse bands, but still keeps the show cohesive with Joanie and Jason’s signature harmony sound.

"It’s an enjoyable trip through The Cla-Zels’ varied influences; you’ll be glad they invited you along for the ride."
-Mike Breen, Citybeat

“…Both Whittaker and Erickson are strong writers, giving The Cla-Zels a fun, polished vibe…they also mesh perfectly on harmonies…”
--Rod Lockwood, The Toledo Blade

“A modern day incarnation of the best of male and female-led vocal rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s… their live show is something to be remembered.”
--Cole Christiansen, The Sentinel

“…Working with The Cla-Zels is a dream! All of the band members are fun and respectful. The Cla-Zels are playing here again soon and I hope many more times after that.”
--Ryan Angell