MidTown MixTape is the name for our community programming focused on arts and culture. The MidTown MixTape Planning Committee works to create events that provide both a platform for self-expression, and a channel to glean intergenerational feedback on the planning and development processes of MidTown. From these efforts, Leo’s Listening Party, which is a series of public concert and “Dinner and Dialogue” discussions, along with a digital café series called Caffeine Beats have emerged.

The goal of these programs is to continue the legacy of Leo’s Casino - a racially-integrated nightclub that operated from 1963 to 1972 in MidTown. The club showcased world-renown R&B and Motown artists on their rise to stardom, including The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, James Brown, and more.

To have such an entertainment venue in the 1960’s exist that welcomed all ethnicities was previously unheard of, and the Leo’s Legacy film  – commissioned by MidTown Cleveland and directed by Dr. Leah C.K. Lewis – highlights community leaders, innovators, artists, and business owners who remember the history of social unrest that Leo’s Casino provided its patrons a respite from.

Today, MidTown Mixtape uses innovative programming to ensure that art and culture continue to be woven into the physical space and placemaking efforts of our MidTown community.

Upcoming Events

Leo's Casino

leos casino

Leo's Casino was a legendary entertainment venue located at 7500 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland's Hough Neighborhood. Opened in 1963 by Leo Frank and Jules Berger, Leo's was a racially integrated, harmonious space where any tensions dissipated and the sweet soul of music reigned supreme.

Leo's helped introduce Cleveland to seminal Motown acts such as The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and Nina Simeone. The club also counted Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Richard Pryor among those to grace its stage. Otis Redding even played his last show there on December 9th, 1967.

Operating in the midst of a bustling, predominately African-American corridor, the Hough Riots in the summer of 1966 marked an unfortunate turning point in the club's prospects. Leo's closed in 1972, a vestige of a time where legendary Motown artists weren't yet mainstream and a different era in the neighborhood's history.

However, Leo's  continues to live on through the memories of those who were there and the passion of a new generation. MidTown Cleveland Inc. teamed up with Dr. Leah C.K. Lewis to bring the Leo's Legacy documentary to screens, providing an archive of Leo' Casino's history and a look towards the future. The former site of Leo's Casino was also designated a historic landmark by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, another testament to the impact this venue had during its lifetime.

leos legacy black

 

However, Leo's  continues to live on through the memories of those who were there and the passion of a new generation. MidTown Cleveland Inc. teamed up with Dr. Leah C.K. Lewis to bring the Leo's Legacy documentary to screens, providing an archive of Leo' Casino's history and a look towards the future. The former site of Leo's Casino was also designated a historic landmark by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, another testament to the impact this venue had during its lifetime.

MORE INFO ABOUT LEO'S CASINO

Cleveland's legendary Leo's Casino made music history, transcended race - Cleveland.com

Leo's Casino - Cleveland Historical

Leo's Listening Party

The effort around Leo’s Listening Party was born out of grassroots, civic engagement work where our residents convened their neighbors, friends, and families at their dining room tables and endeavored to ensure that black cultural roots and musical legacy were told and created a springboard for their history to be woven into the physical space and placemaking efforts of our MidTown community.

Caffeine Beats

Caffeine Beats

MidTown Mixtape has partnered with local musicians to create the Caffeine Beats virtual concert series.

Inspired by NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, Caffeine Beats focuses on attracting a younger audience and introducing them to the lost history of Leo’s Casino and recapturing the music synergy of Cleveland in the 1970’s. We’re honoring the foundation of which music legends have built, all while passing the baton to the next generation. These virtual concerts will feature local talent through live performances while building an audience through community and social media. Our purpose is to create a viable culture and an arts scene in MidTown to provide more platforms for local artists. Tune in to see some of Cleveland’s brightest stars and check out past concerts below!

 

              May 28

                July 30

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Contact 

Were you at Leo's Casino and want to share your memories or photos? Are you a resident looking to get involved? Have any other questions or comments about Leo's Casino, Caffeine Beats, Leo's Listening Party, or anything else? Fill out the contact form below or email Joi Carter (jcarter@midtowncleveland.org) and someone will be in touch with you.

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