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 Welcome To Discerning Music Fans Everywhere...

To the World Wide Web home of Banana Records! Banana Records released its first record in 1982 - long before the debut of that entity known as the internet - but here we are!

Banana Records traces its history in Cleveland to as far back as 1973, when it emerged as a concept in the heads of a few music heads plying the scene in those long ago times. Please feel free to explore these pages. You'll find a concise history of Banana on the about page, you can explore the Banana stable of artists, and purchase their material. You can also check out Mab Zab Music publishing, which continues to be operational and can handle your music publishing needs. (Protect that intellectual property, folks!)

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Breaking News from Banana Records...

Banana Records Announces Major Signing

Release by PJ Nickels Due July 1

Paul Nickels

Banana Records is pleased to announce that long-time Cleveland rocker Paul “PJ” Nickels has signed an exclusive recording contract with the label.  Nickels will release his debut solo album, “With Friends Like These,” a sprawling collection of 20 original tunes he has written or collected from many collaborators during his long career as a drummer in local Cleveland original rock bands and, later, as a producer at his own Handsome Studios, early this summer.

After swooning over Ringo Starr at age 10 as he watched the Beatles play on The Ed Sullivan Show, his career began in earnest in the late 1970s when Nickels took the drummer’s chair in the legendary Cleveland psychedelic pop band The Backdoor Men and has continued to this day, where he plays with the original blues band The Old Brown Shoe Revue and the power pop collective The Clifton Beat. While he has appeared on records with each of the bands he has played in, “With Friends Like These” will be his first solo effort.

The common thread throughout is that Paul appears on all 20 selections as drummer and producer, and he also plays guitar, bass and keyboards on many. 

The list of contributors is extensive and features originals penned by:

  • Terry Hartman (Backdoor Men, Napoleon in Rags, The Deadbeat Poets)

  • Dan Cook (Backdoor Men, Napoleon in Rags, Bomber’s Moon)

  • John Castrigano  (The Breakaway Thrill, Solo Artist)

  • Dave Borucki(Adults, Public Enemy, Old Brown Shoe Revue)

  • Mark Bluhm (Clifton Beat, Inner Ring Conspiracy, Old Brown Shoe Revue)

  • Jim Butterfield (Clifton Beat, The Leisure Set)

  • Bill Rouse (Clifton Beat, Inner Ring Conspiracy)

  • Richie Altieri (Solo Artist)

In addition to the writers’ contributions, many musicians contributed their talents to the project. Local guitar legend Billy Capuano (Strange Brew, Blue Taxi), keyboardist extraordinaire Tom Leatherman (Fireside Cleveland), singer David Lowery (Inner Ring Conspiracy) guitarist Paul Castrigano, and Cincinnati-based violinist Laura Hasek, as well as Butterfield, Rouse, and Bluhm are featured players, in addition to the songwriters themselves.

“I guess you could call this my Covid Year Project,” said Nickels in a recent conversation. “Over the past decade, I’ve become increasingly involved in recording and production, working with a wide variety of artists. Suddenly, no one could come around and my own bands couldn’t rehearse or play out, and I realized the time was right for me to finally make a record of my own.

“I have never been much of a writer - over the years I’ve penned just a handful of my own. But I have always been a connoisseur of great songwriting and have had the extraordinary pleasure of working with some of Northeast Ohio’s greatest writers. I decided to reach out to them for contributions to the record, and I’m delighted with what they gave me.”

Nickels describes the collection of songs as being primarily in the power-pop vein, though some songs veer toward classic pop folk of the sixties and the regional garage rockers and one-hit wonders that drove local scenes around the country.

“I go back to the days when a local band like The Choir could enter a studio downtown and record “It’s Cold Outside’ and see it shoot into the regional and even national charts,” he says. “Another touchstone is the ‘Nuggets’ collection of regional hits. Rock and roll has ALWAYS been about the SONG, and this record is loaded with great ones. No filler.”

As far as his new relationship with Banana, Paul explained “I’ve been working musically with Jim Butterfield for over five years, and the Banana culture is just a natural fit.  I like the fact that they specialize in Cleveland-area talent, and they understand the importance of respecting my legacy music, with an ear for the future. Plus, I was just a bit intimidated by the thought of turning down The Big Banana. That doesn’t always turn out very well for an artist.”

Banana Records President Jim Butterfield stated “It’s a pleasure to finally have Paul where he belongs.  His history mirrors that of Banana, and we couldn’t be more excited to launch this new record with him”.

Details of the contract value and signing bonus are confidential, but The Big Banana has deemed the deal “well and good”

Stay tuned to this site for regular updates on the progress of Paul’s release!

Banana A&R Honcho Mick Butter hard at work on "With Friends Like These."


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