The Sax Man: The Story Behind Cleveland’s Iconic Street Performer

WP_20150128_015A few weeks ago a saw a Facebook post by Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland that the brewery was hosting a film showing. Unusual, but what really caught my attention was that The Sax Man, a documentary about one of Cleveland’s iconic street performers, was the film.

The Sax Man film was part of last year’s Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), an annual event I volunteer to work each year. We saw an awesome roundup of films throughout the festival, but my husband and I weren’t able to make either of The Sax Man showings due to work obligations.

I was bummed. Since I started buying season tickets to PlayhouseSquare’s KeyBank Broadway Series several years ago, we have come to expect the Sax Man outside the theaters after every performance. Although we always looked forward to seeing and hearing him, we never knew his name or his story.

WP_20150128_009I thought the CIFF was our one missed opportunity to see the film so I was literally the first person to buy tickets to the event at the brewery!

We met our friends at Great Lakes’ restaurant and had a medley of appetizers before rushing across the street to the actual brewery for the film. I don’t remember ever being in the tasting room, but it was quite large with a bar in the back of the room. The staff had set up a drop down screen and folding chairs, which was nice because people could spread out a little or move chairs around a little depending on the size of their group.

The tickets for the event were $10, which included the film, a pint of beer and gourmet flavored popcorn from Campbell’s Sweets. I had a Dortmunder with a beer cheddar popcorn accompaniment and stole some of my husband’s white cheddar jalapeno popcorn, which was also tasty.

The film was incredible. I laughed and cried throughout. I love hearing other people’s stories, and this one was incredibly touching. I had no idea Maurice had played with Sly, Slick & Wicked, or that they hosted a one-night-only reunion at the House of Blues Cleveland in July 2013.

WP_20150128_010While I enjoyed the film, I really enjoyed the Q&A after the film with the director and the Sax Man himself (saxophone in hand, of course). They are working with a distributor to bring the film to Netflix, HuluPlus or iTunes, but the issue is that the Sax Man performs numerous songs throughout the film, most of which require the producers to purchase the rights to the songs in order for them to make the film available publicly.

It’s an incredible film and tells the story of not only the Sax Man, but Cleveland and an era of music. I would love to see it gain broader distribution.

I didn’t have any cash with me at the film, but I was able to donate online, and I encourage you to as well. In any case, keep an eye out for it online because I think it’s only a matter of time before they secure the funding and can share it worldwide.

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