Father time is undefeated…but sometimes you still hope that he has the good sense to bypass the good ones as long as possible. And Hank LoConti, who passed away yesterday, was a man who was definitely high up on the good ones list!
As the owner and major domo of the legendary Cleveland Agora he was the central figure in the growth of the North Coast’s musical scene and there is absolutely no musician who came of age during his tenure there that wasn’t touched by his presence or made better because of it.
To take the stage at the original Agora was to be front and center in the vortex of what was Cleveland’s incredibly vibrant music scene. And more than that, it was an honor to take that stage…a stage that saw all the would-be and wannabe artists of that time ply their trade and unleash their magic. And the ringmaster of it all was Hank LoConti.
Hank treated all the musicians who worked for him as if they were just as worthy as the brightest of stars and when he saw talent he nurtured it; and that, in and of itself, should make him worthy of musical sainthood.
Most of us have our great memories of amazing shows at The Agora…and whether or not they took place at the Coffee Break Concerts, the Monday night national shows, or during the nightly parade of local talent, we should all be aware that they never would have happened without Hank. He was the right man at the right time!
The three or four days that MSB spent recording “Stagepass” at the Agora were indeed magical and it’s very cool for us (and I think for the fans that were there) to have a lasting musical snapshot of those times. And, once again, it wouldn’t have happened the way it did without Hank’s involvement.
But all the musical trappings aside, we’ve lost a friend; a man who loved Cleveland and music and the musicians and fans that he brought together to create a magical time for all concerned.
Rock on, my man and rest in peace!
I didn’t know Hank LoConti as well as everyone else in this industry, when I was working for WNCX in the late 80’s I also worked for the Cafe that was in the front of the Agora, Hank and his family members would occasionally come in for lunch. He was always so kind. I wish I could have spent more time and got to know him better. I will be forever grateful that some of my best memories of Cleveland rock n roll happened because of him.
For Calling Hours and Funeral information read Hank’s Obituary in the The Plain Dealer here.