Concert Review: Stratospheerius Live at Wilbert’s Food and Music

StratospheriusJoe Deninzon and Stratospheerius

Photo: © 2017 Jim Carver/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

My apologies to the bands and their management for the quality of the photos. Between the color cast and camera malfunction it was a battle all night. – Jim Carver CEO/Founder – The Rust Belt

Multi-talented musician and former Clevelander Joe Deninzon came to Cleveland from Russia early in his life when his parents were hired by the Cleveland Orchestra. It was while he was living in the Greater Cleveland area that Deninzon found himself bitten by the music bug and decided to follow in the footsteps of his parents…sort of. Before long, Joe Deninzon was on a path that would lead to achieving degrees in Violin Performance and Jazz Violin as well as Jazz/Commercial Violin. These degrees are put to good use each and every time Deninzon steps on stage to perform in concert as part of his Progressive Rock ensemble known as Stratospheerius, a band that also consists of: Mike Wojik on drums (who was filling in for regular drummer Lucianna Padmore), Michelangelo Quirinale on guitar and Paul Ranieri on bass. It was this ensemble that had set up on the stage at Wilbert’s Food & Music in Cleveland this last Friday, November 11, 2017.

Joe Deninzon

Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius were just in town to perform at that venue as part of the Sonic Voyage Music Fest that also included Cleveland-based band Ego. Together, the two Progressive Rock bands entertained the crowd that seemed to be equal parts friends & family and those who were in attendance strictly for the music.

Along with the whole Sonic Voyage Music Fest concept, the night belonged to Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius who were celebrating the release of their newest album entitled Guilty of Innocence, a title that came from the fact that Deninzon had just served on a jury and the trial helped to influence the title of both a song title as well as the album title. The band spent most of their set for the night performing songs that are included on that release along with a few selections from the past releases of the group. But the majority of the night revolved around Guilty of Innocence.

Paul Ranieri

The portion of the concert belonging to Stratospheerius began with the song entitled “Behind the Curtain,” a song about being told to ignore what is actually going on as the world goes on around you. With this song, Deninzon strapped on his electric violin and with the help of his pedals and effects, he made the instrument sound as if it were talking as he played. The “talking violin” was one of the more unique moments to take place during the evening of November 11th.

Mike Wojik

Another moment involving Deninzon’s violin had to do with when the band was playing the song “Take Your Medicine,” a track that contains a definite Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention vibe to it. In concert, Deninzon once again used his effects pedals for the violin to make the instrument sound more like a guitar than a violin. Along with the “guitar solo” that came from Deninzon’s violin, the band showed off a slightly light-hearted side to their personalities as Deninzon and bassist Paul Ranieri started bouncing in place to the beat of the music. This ended up being one of the more memorable moments of the entire evening.

When Stratospheerius performs live in concert, the band likes to get the audience in attendance involved in the whole concert experience. That means, of course, a sing-along.

Michelangelo Quirinale

During the song “Guilty of Innocence,” the title track to the album of the same name that was being celebrated at the concert, Joe Deninzon got the audience to participate in the song’s call-and-response section where the lyrics are simply “Hey. Hey. Hey.” The resulting call-and-response added a fun element to the evening. The song also featured spirited solos from both Deninzon on the electric violin and guitarist Michelangelo Quirinale who also added energy to the song with their playing.

In a moment of the concert that Joe Deninzon described as “something out of Spinal Tap,” Deninzon strapped on both the mandolin and the electric violin at the same time; a feat is known for doing regularly. This was for the song entitled “Parallel Reality,” a track from the Guilty of Innocence release. As Deninzon alternated between the two instruments, everyone in the audience got to experience the undeniable talent of the musician as he performed effortlessly on both instruments.

While most of the evening went smoothly, the concert was not without its blemishes. After the song “Game of Chicken,” the band needed to take an intermission because of technical difficulties. Thankfully, however, the break was short-lived as whatever the problem had been was taken care of quickly. The show resumed thereafter.

Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius  Photo Gallery.

Photos: © 2017 Jim Carver/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

After the short intermission, Joe Deninzon stepped back onto the stage at Wilbert’s Food & Music to perform alone. This was so that he could perform the track “Dream Diary Cadenza,” a piece off the new Guilty of Innocence release designed to be a solo piece for Deninzon. Taking center stage once again, Deninzon interacted with his effects pedals to create a musical opus, of sorts. Starting slow, Deninzon made use of loops and effects to create the music and then started building the effects on top of each other in order to bring the tune fully to life.

Although the majority of the evening belonged to the music of Guilty of Innocence, the band did end up including a few songs taken from other albums within the discography of Stratospheerius. It was on the song “Release” from The Next World, the band’s previous album that Deninzon created one of the more animated moments of the evening. On the song, Deninzon bounced around back and forth on the stage as he played.

With the track “Climbing,” a track dedicated to friends and musicians alike who are still fighting their way through the music industry, Joe Deninzon hopped off the stage once again and went back into the audience to interact with the hometown crowd. And those who remained after a long night of music were very receptive and welcoming as Deninzon weaved him way around the venue.

For the song “Heavy Shtettle,” The band just let it all out after a long night of music. Michelangelo Quirinale on guitar and Paul Ranieri on bass as well as fill-in drummer Mike Wojik were all give the chance to shine. The song was one of the defining moments of the night as it lasted well over the five-minute mark.

For the hour-plus that Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius were on stage at Wilbert’s Food & Music in Cleveland, the musical ensemble put on one hell of a show.



Photos: © 2017 Jim Carver/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

The night began with the Cleveland-based band EGO. Throughout the forty-five minutes that the band was on stage, the trio of Mike Risko – All Guitars, Dan Schostek – Keyboards/Bass and Vikram – Drums (vocalist Jason Vanek was not in attendance) put on a strong performance that alternated between the styles of Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal. The band spent most of their set performing a lot of new material like the song “Burn Witch Burn” that will be included on an upcoming release.

And even though most of the set was new music, the band sounded solid as they powered through their songs. Cover songs like “Hey You” from Pink Floyd helped to make the band’s set even stronger as the audience got to hear some of the band’s various musical influences. EGO proved to be a strong opening act that fit well with the music of Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius.

Ego Photo Gallery.

Photos: © 2017 Jim Carver/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Together, Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius and the band EGO put on a strong concert at Wilbert’s Food & Music. For those who enjoy Prog-Rock, it was a great night.


Products, advertisements and links on this website contain affiliate marketing agreements based on commision or sales between The Rust Belt Chronicles and third party companies or businesses. We only recommend products, brands and businesses that we strongly support. Photos used on this site are used courtesy of the original authors and in no way endorse The Rust Belt Chronicles or our opinions. Thank you.


  1. Drew Sodee says:

    Thanks for the great review. One error though, on drums with Ego is Drew Sodee, not Vikram.

Speak Your Mind

Advertise With Us!

Advertise With Us!

[Read More...]