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The Devil Strip MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2 • THEDEVILSTRIP.COM


e r u t l u C & t r A , ic s u M Akron

WHAT MUSIC SCENE? Questions with songwriter & rock star dad Chuck Auerbach

Inside this issue: Comedy in a basement, gypsy jazz in Kenmore & gluten-free in Jilly's kitchen

Going back to Howard Street with The Mighty Soul Night

This issue

Welcome to

The Devil Strip

inside this issue


Akron Music, Art & C

Arts, Culture & Entertainment..............................4 Local music hides. It doesn’t keep normal business hours and isn’t, even in the Internet age, open five, six, seven days a week. Prolific locals only take the stage once or twice a week. And unlike local restaurants and shops and attractions, local musicians rarely set up storefronts so the chances of you passing one and thinking, “I should check that out later,” are slim. I am a dedicated local music fan—local to wherever I am—so I get this. It takes seeking, which is part of the fun. But I also want guidance. That’s what I looked for on my first visit to Akron. There are a lot of reasons this paper exists but one early question kept nagging me: How can a city this size—with such a deep pool of talent and a pedigree of Hall of Fame-caliber performers—be without some kind of publication exposing and exploring the fringes? Flash-forward to a few days ago when, on very short notice, I put out the call for area musicians to meet for a photo. I aspired to something like the famous “A Good Day in Harlem” photo, which featured dozens of jazz greats, from Count Basie and Charles Mingus to Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. But as I rounded the corner, I expected to see six musicians and our talented photographer Shane Wynn glowering at me.

other but they’d all been reached by—or themselves reached out to—their connections to make this happen. (As impressive, 100+ musicians have answered our local music survey.) Initially, we considered doing a comprehensive guide to Akron local music. But we don’t have the space to tackle that beast. So Jenny Conn, the writer behind our cover story, suggested “The State of the Scene”—taking a look at where we are and where we can go. She went in search of honest opinions and found a bunch. Probably just the tip of the iceberg. Going forward, music will be a big part of everything we do (see the announcement on page 4) so we’ll just keep pushing and pulling at this every two weeks, addressing our big questions and bringing more fans aboard the Good Ship Akron until they match the quality and quantity of our bands. Enjoy, Chris This issue is dedicated to my Dad, who would have loved this issue because he loved music and he loved me. I wish you were here to see this, old man. RIP William David “Rusty” Horne August 13, 1955 to April 1, 2011

Instead, there were more than 50 and everyone was smiling. That settled my questions about our community of musicians. They didn’t all know each

The Devil Strip launch party at Musica. Photo credit Shane Wynn.

CONTACT US: Office: (330) 842-6606 Publisher: General Info: Advertising: Distribution:

CONNECT: Website: Facebook: Twitter: @akrondevilstrip Instagram: @thedevilstrip Publisher >> Chris Horne; Layout, Design and Illustration >> Alesa Upholzer, Bronlynn Thurman, Edgar Woolley Photographers >> Shane Wynn, Svetla Morrison, Maria Varonis, Jessica Morris, Chelsae Ketchum Contributing Writers >> Holly Brown, Jenny Conn, Abby Cymerman, Katelyn Gainer, Jecca, Chris Kessinger, Isaac Kelley, Eric Morris, Kris Morrison, Brittany Nader, Ilenia Pezzaniti, Scott Piepho, Dave Rich, Liz Tyran, Maria Varonis, Katie Wheeler, Joanna Wilson, Dina Younis

Connecting the Arts.............................................5 Out & About........................................................7 Diggin In..............................................................8 Knowhere............................................................8 Etc.......................................................................9 New / Native......................................................10 The Most Interesting Person We Know...............11 Only in Akron....................................................12 Dina’s Days........................................................13 8 questions........................................................14 Cover Story: State of the Scene..........................15 In the Kitchen with….........................................18 The Dish............................................................19 Food and Fun.....................................................20 Film & Feast.......................................................21 On Stage With...................................................22 Music Listings....................................................24 The Scene..........................................................25 Bars / Nightlife..................................................26 Show Review.....................................................27 Behind the Bar...................................................28 Your Turn...........................................................30 Comic Strips and Puzzles....................................31 Photo Essay........................................................32

The Devil Strip is published bi-monthly by Random Family, LLC. Akron Distribution: The Devil Strip is available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader. Copyright: The entire contents ofThe Devil Strip are copyright 2015 by Random Family, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Publisher does not assume any liability for unsolicited manuscripts, materials, or other content. Any submission must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All editorial, advertising, and business correspondence should be mailed to the address listed above.


MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


Arts, Culture & Entertainment

A Very BIG Announcement


In which Chris reveals the

Super Big Secret he’s been not talking about


EXHIBITION: BEAUTY REIGNS Akron Art Museum 1 S. High St., Akron Runs through Sunday, May 3 A showcase of the exoticism, exuberance and optimism found in the work of 13 painters working in studios across the United States.

UnBox Akron mock up

For almost three weeks, I’ve been forced to keep my mouth shut, telling only those people closest to me—the inside circle of Team Devil Strip. It sucked. Not only am I really excited about the news itself, what it means for us and hopefully for this city, but over the last decade, I’ve largely made my living by blabbering or reporting on about the cool and interesting things I’ve learned. So here it is… drumroll please… We got the Knight Cities Challenge Grant. Out of more than 7,000 ideas submitted, Unbox Akron was selected as one of the 126 finalists. Once upon a time, I ran for city council in my hometown and lost by 126 votes. I assumed our luck would ultimately fall the same way: Close but not quite there. Then I heard Unbox Akron made the cut, one of the 32 ideas being funded. I’m still a little dazed, even after all the time to digest it. We’re getting $52,168.09 from the Knight Foundation to launch and run an Akroncentric subscription box service. If you’ve used Birchbox or Loot Crate or Graze, you should be familiar with the concept except we’re a little different. There are boxes for Austin, Baltimore, Nashville and Cleveland merch, but what we’re really trying to do is build up and support a culture of exploration and ambassadorship of Akron. So while there will be samples of locally-made goods in every box to help expose the work of small (and micro) businesses in the area, our mission is to get you out around town discovering Akron’s hidden gems.

to help you - Keep Akron Beautiful will give you the supplies, and you’ll be invited to the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic at the Akron Zoo on April 25. For more information, visit

That means, if you subscribe, you could get between two and four Akron-made goods plus a downloadable mix of local music, some tickets to a local event, an itinerary of dining and entertainment options to make your next date night easy and a neighborhood guide with some special incentive to check out a specific place. Since it’s already more fun to go exploring with a friend, the best part of Unbox Akron may be that the value increases when you take someone with you. Then there are the quarterly boxes—allgear, all-Akron and handpicked to give Akronites abroad a taste of what they’re missing back home. Of course, there’s more to all this and a lot still to iron-out. But the good news is that Knight is helping us pull this off the right way. As we get closer to launching, I’ll ask you to peek behind the curtain as we meet with potential vendors and talk to potential subscribers so we can get your feedback to help us make this thing work. Are you excited yet? (We are.)

Knight’s mission is to promote informed and engaged communities. The foundation does that by investing in innovations in media and journalism, community engagement and the arts. The Knight Cities Challenge is funding ideas to make the 26 cities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work. The challenge asks innovators to answer the question: What's your best idea to make cities more successful? More at

Tuesday, March 31

MARCH 31 – APRIL 2 Wild Tales (122 mins) Timbuktu (97 mins) The Nightlight 30 N High St, Akron Showtimes at APRIL 3 – APRIL 16 It Follows (97 mins) The Nightlight 30 N High St, Akron Showtimes at APRIL 10 – APRIL 16 Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem The Nightlight 30 N High St, Akron Showtimes at


EDWARD ALBEE'S "A DELICATE BALANCE" Weathervane Playhouse, through April 12, 2015 1301 Weathervane Ln, Akron A dark comedy in which the carefully controlled existence of two complacent suburbanites is forever shattered by their family and friends over the course of one eventful weekend. Learn more at or by calling (330) 836-2626 CLEAN UP AKRON MONTH Keep Akron Beautiful Help Clean Up Akron in April! Identify a site you want to clean and recruit some friends

Bill Squire with Josh Morrow, Josh Volchcko and Cody Cooper Funny Stop Comedy Club, through April 4 1757 State Rd, Cuyahoga Falls A true "local guy does good" story as Bill Squire returns home to the Akron area where he first learned—when he fell out of a plastic swimming pool at the age of 6, breaking his arm—how to get a huge laugh. Who knew that would eventually lead to a life as a professional comedian? With his unique point of view, sharp writing, and high energy Bill Squire is one of the best young comedians on the scene, performing fearlessly at venues from "hole in the wall" bars to 2,000 seat theaters and even a coast-to-coast tour that lead to an appearances on Comedy Central where he won the network's "Open Mic Challenge" and "Show Us Your Best" contest in 2009. Learn more at or by calling (330) 923-1962

Friday, April 3 ADULT EGG SCRAMBLE 8:30pm at Fred Fuller Park ($10) 601 Middlebury Rd, Kent A nighttime Easter egg hunt featuring 5,000 eggs, only for those 18+. Prizes include a 50” TV, iPad, and much more! Register at

Saturday, April 4 DOWNTOWN AKRON ARTWALK 5 pm in Downtown Akron (FREE) Experience local art, live music and fun for all ages at the award-winning Artwalk in Downtown Akron. Venues include galleries located in the Northside District, North High Street, and East & West Market Street.


Arts, Culture & Entertainment POP UP CRAFTY MART 5—9 pm at Summit Artspace 140 E Market St, Akron Crafty Mart on the 3rd floor of Summit Artspace during the Downtown Akron Artwalk featuring artists and artisans like Next Fall, Exquisite Corpse Boutique, Akron Coffee Roasters, smART Studio, The Robot Consortium and The Nerd Stitch Shop. Food by Three Sisters Momo and Stray Dog Cart. GAME NIGHT & ARTWALK 5 pm—midnight at Coffee Pot Café 60 S High St, Akron Dig into the Coffee Pot’s large game library— or bring your own—for their first weekly game night. Enjoy work by a few local artists with soups by The Stew Pot Kitchen, hot dogs and house blend coffee by Stray Dog.

the Akron Zoo will get a plastic egg filled with prizes that include candy, free tickets, behind-the-scenes tours and more. Winter admission is $7 per person. Children under two are free. Parking is $3. (The zoo is hosting an EGGStravangza on Friday.) To learn more go to or call (330) 375-2550.

Monday, April 6 THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON¹S NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL 8 pm at Guzzetta Recital Hall (through April 8) 157 University Ave., Akron Trio of new music concerts—all free. For more information, call 330-972-8301 or email JACOB AND THE GOOD PEOPLE 5—11 pm at the Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog 1680 E Waterloo Rd, Akron Although Jacob has shared stages with the epic sounds of bands like Dave Mathews Band,

Sunday, April 5


make our community whole. You are needed and wanted. Your contribution is necessary. Consider yourself recruited to make the future happen.

Tuesday, April 7

Wednesday, April 8

THE BREAKFAST CLUB 7:30—9 am at The Front Porch Cafe' 798 Grant St, Akron The Breakfast Club welcomes Wil McCall and H. Spees from Leadership Foundations, traveling from Fresno and Dallas for a two-day visit to Akron when they plan to share the importance of entrepreneurial and business leadership for the common good of our city.

PAINT A MASTERPIECE & IMBIBE 6—8 pm at Old 97 Cafe 1503 Kenmore Blvd, Akron Eat, drink, paint and mix it up with friends as their talented artists will instruct you step-bystep through re-creating a featured painting. Your $35 ticket includes the canvas, paint, easels, brushes and aprons. No painting experience is necessary. Learn more at

SONG, FOOD AND DANCE FROM THE MARGINS OF AKRON 5 pm at Akron Art Museum (FREE) 1 S High St, Akron Join South Street Ministries for a celebration of the changing face of leadership and a chance to meet other grassroots servant leaders in Akron. No one is excluded from the quest to

Summit Artspace’s current exhibition, “Self & Others: The Photographic Portrait” challenges the familiar idea of what a portrait is. When one thinks of a portrait they might think of senior, high school or even family portraits. What do these style of portraits tell the viewers about the individuals in them? This is what the artists involved with “Self & Others”

“I would like them to see my vision, my eye in the work, it’s basically a play on words because that is what you see in my work – my eye,” Lilley explains.

are attempting to challenge and answer.

“One of them is a digital compilation with four images and overlaid in Photoshop,” Lilley says. “The rest of them I try to distort them in camera instead of Photoshop.”

The exhibition features local photographers including McKenzie Beynon, Toni Danette, Jennifer Anne Court, Nathaniel Gilchrist, Bradley Hart, Peter Larson, Susie Lilley, Michelle Murphy, Don Parsisson, Ed Suba Jr., Cheryl A. Townsend, Anna Young, and Todd Biss. The photographs featured in “Self & Others” represent the photographers’ ideas of what contemporary portraiture is. The photos range in a variety of subjects, including many of the artists’ self-portraits to portraits of others and even Cheryl Townsend’s portraits of Barbie dolls. As I walked around the gallery, I carefully studied the portraits to grasp each photographer’s own unique and individual style of portraiture.

Katelyn Gainer

Explore at Summit Artspace

selfand others the photographic portrait

EGG ZOOPRISE 11 am—4 pm at the Akron Zoo The first 50 people through the gates of

Robert Randolph and Rusted Root, he still creates his simple style of music with the idea that less is more. His music is sparse, quirky, and addictive, and his songs will be hummed for hours after you hear them.

Some artists—such as McKenzie Beynon’s portraits—offer a more classic style of portraiture and even though different, probably what most individuals are more familiar with when thinking of portraiture. Meanwhile, other artists such Susie Lilley challenge the viewer to even make out the subjects face in her portraits. After what seemed like minutes of staring and picking apart her portraits the only feature I could make out was an eye. I was curious and I finally asked Lilley who is her subject matter in the portraits—they’re all self-portraits.

Thursday, April 9 NEXTOHIO: INTERNET STARTUP CONFERENCE 5:30 pm at Quaker Station (FREE) 130 East Mill Street, Akron Have a great idea for an internet company

Her process was as interesting as her vision for the end result.

I spoke with one of my favorite photographers in the exhibition, Don Parsisson. While looking at his portraits I sense a bit of mystery and something leaving me wanting to know more about his subjects—and his aims. “I think portraits have always been an attempt to capture something of the essence of the subjects. Historically, that has meant recording their likeness. For contemporary photographers, the essence of a subject goes far beyond a mere likeness, though that may certainly be one aspect of a portrait. I think some measure of intentionality is important. Selection of the location, props, and posing all contribute to distinguishing a portrait from a candid shot,” Parsisson says. I mention how it seems there is something hidden about the subjects in his photos. In a literal sense, since you can’t see the faces or full faces of his subjects and the fact after you view at his portraits you don’t leave feeling you know the subjects any more than you did before you saw the photo. “I think it was just coincidence that the photos selected for this show did not show the full faces of the subjects. This has not been a predominant part of my work, in

either portraits or my self-portraits. However, we are all mysteries. We never really know another person beyond what they want us to know. So maybe I've expressed that subconsciously in these photos,” Parsisson says.

“Self & Others” is now on view through May 3. A number of self-portraits from the Akron community are printed and displayed next to the exhibition. Summit Artspace invites individuals to send in theirs for inclusion via email at and through social media using the hashtag #selfothers‬. Submissions are accepted through the last week of April 2015. ____________________________________ By Katelyn Y. Gainer. Katelyn is the arts columnist for The Devil Strip and an art history graduate student at Kent State who works as a gallery assistant for a small arts nonprofit. She loves promoting Northeast Ohio’s thriving arts community. You can find her on Twitter at @katelyngainer

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Arts, Culture & Entertainment or app? Interested in learning about local startups? Looking for ways to grow your online business? The University of Akron School of Law and Thompson Hine LLP proudly present NEXTOhio, a totally FREE

farmers, food producers and artisans providing seasonal products and handmade gifts.

conference—with free pizza and a cash bar. Parking in Lot 70. Enter Through Door #6. Learn more at

Don Drumm Studios & Gallery (FREE) 437 Crouse St, Akron A special show of artworks honoring Don Drumm’s 80th birthday by 28 longtime top American craftspeople. The Opening Party for is Saturday, April 11, including cake for Don from 1-3pm.

YOGA IN THE GALLERIES 6:30-7:30 pm at Akron Art Museum 1 S. High St., Akron Combine breath, flow and art in a beginner friendly series taught by a certified Nirvana Yoga instructor. THE CLUB @ THE CIVIC: ELIOT LEWIS 8 pm at the Akron Civic Theatre 182 S Main St, Akron Eliot is an independent Multi-instrumentalist and is also the original featured musician on the award winning web series and now weekly TV show, "Live From Daryl's House' as well as a member of the Daryl Hall & John Oates band.

What this PlaCe neeDs is healthy fooD for eVeryone. United Way is a champion for healthy food for all in Summit County. We believe that nutritious food should be available to everyone, regardless of income. So we partner with many nonprofit organizations to promote equal access to healthy, high-quality food.

Join us at the table. Volunteer. If you have a passion for healthy food education, access and policy, connect with the United Way Volunteer Center to find ways to get involved with amazing programs and people in your community. Whether you have just one evening to help out a community garden, want to volunteer weekly at a farmers’ market or can spend some time in an office supporting a program, you can become a part of the solution.

Current volunteer opportunities: 1. Help with planting, weeding, watering and harvesting at an urban farm or community garden 2. Lend support to a weekly farmer’s market 3. Organize a healthy food drive 4. Deliver meals to seniors in their homes 5. Mentor kids on nutrition and exercise Many more projects are available! Contact the United Way Volunteer Center at or 330.643.5512 for a complete list of opportunities or search our online volunteer project database at Click VOLUNTEER, and then click the quick link for food-related opportunities. Nonprofits – contact the Volunteer Center to add your project.

beCause Great thinGs haPPen When We liVe uniteD. United Way of Summit County uWsuMMit.orG

AKRON RUBBERDUCKS HOME OPENER 6:35pm at Canal Park ($9) 300 S Main St, Akron Kick off the RubberDucks 2015 Season with the home opener against the Birmingham Mets.

Friday, April 10 ALES ON RAILS 7pm at Akron Northside Station ($49) Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Sample a variety of brews while riding the rails through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The fun trip includes a five-sample tasting of beers and appetizers as you watch the sun set on the park. Commemorative glass included. DR. MICHAEL ERIC DYSON 7:30pm at E.J. Thomas Hall ($10) 198 Hill St, Akron Michael Eric Dyson is a religious and cultural studies scholar, university professor, bestselling author and public intellectual. Dr. Dyson is the key-note speaker for the 2015 Black Male Summit, a national platform for best practices and innovative strategies focusing on cradle to career success for our African American males.


RUBBER CITY ROLLERGIRLS BOUT 6 pm at John S. Knight Center ($9 advance, $13 at the door) 77 E Mill St, Akron The Rubber City Roller Girls are a diverse group of women built for hard hits and speed! Playing at the John S. Knight Center in the heart of downtown Akron, Ohio offering fun times and excitement everyone can enjoy. Bouts are family friendly and suitable for all ages. SPIRITS OF THE CIVIC: THE WILD, WILD WEST ADVENTURE SPRING GALA 6:30pm at Akron Civic Theatre ($150) 182 S Main St, Akron It’s time to dust off your riding boots and saddle up! A strolling dinner as fine as cream gravy. Libations that flow as freely as the Rio Grande. A casino, can-can dancers and entertainment of the Wild Wild West kind with Lost State of Franklin. Period-inspired attire is strongly encouraged. Learn more at THE ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER Open Mic Cabaret XIV: Here Comes the Sun 8 pm at Pub Bricco 1841 Merriman Rd, Akron This FREE "Anything Goes" Open Mic Cabaret is brought to you by Wandering Aesthetics and Rubber City Theater Company at None Too Fragile Theater. Enter through Pub Bricco. (Free valet parking, but tips are appreciated.) Sign ups begin at 7:30 pm. Performances begin at 8:00 pm with musician/actor/improv star Ryan Michael Dyke serving as this month’s emcee.

Sunday, April 12

SEASON PREVIEW: 2ND CENTURY IN BLOOM 5-7pm at Manor House, Stan Hywet 714 N Portage Path, Akron Stan Hywet celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2015 with special tours and memorable events. Get an overview of our milestone season. Remarks at 5:30pm | Light Refreshments

PEOPLE & PLACES FILM SERIES PLAYTIME 12:30pm at Nightlight Cinema (FREE) 30 N High St, Akron The People & Places free film series seeks to shine a light on the importance of good urban planning in a time when many cities are undertaking a much-needed metamorphosis. April’s film is Playtime, a gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedy about confusion in an age of high technology.

Saturday, April 11

Monday, April 13

COUNTRYSIDE FARMERS’ MARKET 10 am—1 pm at Akron Art Museum and Akron-Summit Co. Main Library 1 S. High St., Akron/ 60 S. High St., Akron A special installment of the Countryside Farmers’ Market featuring more than 40 local

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY 7:30pm at E.J. Thomas Hall ($10) 198 Hill St, Akron A writer, professor, television host and political commentator with a focus on African-American politics, Melissa Harris-


Arts, Culture & Entertainment Perry hosts the Melissa Harris-Perry weekend news and opinion television show on MSNBC. She also provides expert commentary on U.S. elections, racial issues, religious questions and gender concerns for a variety of other

University of Akron Spring SPRINT Triathlon 500 yard pool swim, 12 mile indoor bike, 3.1 mile outdoor run. Learn more online at uakron. edu/srws/aquatics/

media outlets.

6pm from Deep Lock Quarry Parking Lot BIKE PARTY AKRON - A festive evening social ride through the City of Akron. Every 3rd Friday of the month.10-12 miles. Bring Lights, Bring

*Don’t see your club listed? Please contact us at with your information!*

Music. Ride starts at Lock 3 at 7pm


CRAFTY MART PRESENTS: THE MOM & POP SHOPPE Saturday, April 25 at 10 am – 5 pm Musica (51 East Market St, Akron) Vendors, food, and workshops all over downtown Akron at Musica, Summit Artspace, and Akron Art Museum with workshops available to the public. Preview Gala on April 24. Learn more at THE CLUB @ THE CIVIC: THE ANGIE HAZE PROJECT Friday, April 17 at 8 pm The Akron Civic Theatre 182 S Main St, Akron Bells around her ankle, a handmade tambourine shoe, drums encircling her piano, a guitar, melodica cowbell and a kazoo… we give you, Angie Haze, the Italian American, singer songwriting entertainer, who brings a caravan of energetic vaudevillians with her on the stage!


April 10 Exercise Science Club's UA Glow Run - Join the Exercise Science Club for their 2015 UA Glow Run through the University of Akron campus—but with a twist: we don't run until it's dark. Learn more online at akron-oh/running/distance-running-races/uaglow-run-2015 APRIL 11 Hop for Hope at Hale Farm - 5K/10K - Run/ walk through the streets surrounding beautiful, historic Hale Farm. Bring the family and enjoy the Easter Egg Hunt or get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny. Learn more online at APRIL 18 Get Into gEAR - 5K - This 5k run and walk takes you through Goodyear Heights Metro Park. "NOAC gEARed to Hear" was created for the purpose of providing hearing aids for area adults in need as identified by our local Quota International club. Learn more online at GetintogEAR5kSAA APRIL 25 Open M Walk and 5K - Benefits Open M Community Center. Participants will run through downtown Akron, including Main Street, and along the beautiful Towpath. More online at APRIL 26 Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon - 26.2M, 13.1M run | 5K run/walk. Learn more online at


APRIL 10 CVSR “Ales on Rails” - Beer-Tasting Train – Learn more online at APRIL 11 Hike Aboard! - 7 miles - Climb aboard Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for a one-way ride followed by a challenging hike back to cars. Learn more online at APRIL 17 Cuyahoga Valley Heritage Concerts - Happy Days Lodge - Dala: Darlings of the Canadian music scene, Dala brings a fresh brand of acoustic music to the world. Learn more online at

out and about why drive to music when you can paddle there?! Katie Wheeler

CVSR “Grape Escape” - Wine-Tasting Train – Learn more online at APRIL 24 Cuyahoga Valley Heritage Concerts - Happy Days Lodge - Comas: This multinational Irish music quartet bridges the gap between tradition and innovation, the new world and old. Learn more online at conservancyforcvnp. org/experience-your-park/concerts APRIL 25 Ramp Up Peninsula - A festival honoring the ramp (aka the wild leek). Learn more online at


APRIL 11-12 Urban Retreat - You don’t have to leave the country or drain your budget to recharge your spirit and experience more health and vitality! This spring, join health coach Terra Milo at Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, Ohio, for two-day urban retreat that will leave you feeling refreshed and revived. Learn more at Complimentary Community Classes at Lululemon Akron Showroom Saturday mornings at 9 am (Pilates/Crossfit/Yoga). Learn more online at akron/akronshowroom


PORTAGE LAKES RUNNING CLUB - Roads Every Tuesday at 6 pm at various places around Akron. Search for the group on Facebook for updates. CROOKED RIVER TRAIL RUNNERS - Trails Every Thursday at 6:30 pm at various locations in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. For details, join them at

Akron has a number of great outdoor venues for music both in and around the city. From Lock 3 to Blossom, these spaces bring fun, talented acts from all over the country to our backyard. There is a different type of venue here too though—one where there are no tickets necessary, and they charge the same amount for a beer and a burger on a concert night as they do every other night of the week. At various decks and patios around the Portage Lakes, bands warm up while you’re watching the sun go down over the water, and you can get to them by boat just as easily as by car. If you’re looking for a couple of hours of fun on the water, Howie’s on the Lake is a place where pretty much everyone knows each other and the burgers are as great as the live music they bring in on Fridays. It’s less than a mile and a half from the beach of the State Park, and paddling around the speed zone can make for an adventurous trip. The Upper Deck is about the same distance on the water, just in the other direction. They have music every weekend and a fantastic menu. Seriously, the food is awesome. Don’t let the rows of motorcycles intimidate you. There is great boat-watching here and a crowd who comes ready to rock out. If you’re looking for a longer day on the water, the Nauti Vine Winery is a little less than four miles through the lakes from the State Park. They have wood-fired pizzas on the menu and sell Mucky Duck

beer and Nauti Vine wine. Those names alone should make you want to check this place out. Make sure and start your journey here early though, as the winery closes earlier than the bars and the music ends around 10 pm. If you’re still looking for something to do after the Winery, Dano’s Lakeside pub is just a stone’s throw away. They don’t have music on a patio, but they do bring bands in and the decor is… well... worth seeing. Besides, who wouldn’t want a chance to staple something to a bar ceiling? There are companies that rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards that will meet you at the Portage Lakes State Park with all the equipment you need for an adventure on the water. Some, like the PLX Stand Up Guys——are even flexible in where they pick up, so you can paddle there and stay for the show without worrying about having to paddle back. To me, there is no better way to hear live music than grabbing a well-deserved drink and some food after soaking up some sunshine playing on the lakes all day.

AKRON BICYCLE CLUB - Every Thursday at

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Diggin in...

BRINGING Howard Street to Uncorked by Isaac Kelley

Every month at Uncorked, The Mighty Soul Night DJs throw an all-vinyl event showcasing rare music. While any show could produce an eclectic mix of soul, jazz, Latin, disco, funk, and Afrobeat LPs and 45s, you’ll be in for a special treat when you go April 18. That’s because April's event is a tribute to Howard Street, a celebration of the Akron jazz culture of the 50's and 60's. The tribute was inspired by percussionist Dennis Oliver, a veteran drummer who performed with many Howard Street legends, and the show will feature a short presentation of Todd Volkmer’s documentary “Legends of Howard Street.” Many musicians who performed during that era are expected to be present. Of course, this means DJs El Prezidente (WJCU's Soul Elixir Radio), Ben Crazy (Illstyle Rockers) and Forrest Getem Gump (Illstyle Rockers) will spin some special tracks from that legendary Howard Street era, like Soul Tornadoes' “Go For Yourself” and Alias Soul & Funk's “Well Good” as well as tracks from

groups such as The JBs, The Meters and Donald Byrd. The three DJs have been collecting records for over 15 years and have amassed a treasure trove of rare vinyl, which they showcase alongside percussionist Dennis Oliver on congas. El Prezidente says, “We saw other cities had vibrant record communities and we wanted to share that vibe in northeast Ohio.” Forrest “Getem Gump” Webb took his devotion to vinyl—and Akron history—another step further, opening a full-scale record store in Firestone Park and naming it Calhoun Record Shop after the one his grandfather owned in the 1960s and 70s on Wooster Road. The Mighty Soul Night’s Howard Street Tribute will be held April 18 from 8 pm to 12:30 am at Uncorked Wine Bar and Galleries. It’s a free event.

Howard Street Tribute (FREE) The Mighty Soul Night April 18 @ 8 pm-12:30 am Uncorked Wine Bar 22 N. High St, Akron

Knowhere Congratulations to Tammy Bradfield who was the first to correctly guess the location of the blue metal palm tree (at the gas station right off the Waterloo Road exit of I-77 South). This week, we found a strange door inside a notable downtown building. Do you ...knowhere?


| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2





to talking about some other stuff so here are some of the jewels he dropped in an email exchange we had while he was out-of-state…

Name / Age: Tim Quine / 58 Hometown: Akron Neighborhood: West Akron (Fairlawn Heights) I was already a fan of Tim Quine’s Rubber City Review blog when a recent post made me finally pull the trigger on the gotta-meetthis-guy compulsion I get when something feels kismet. In a “RCR Mailbag” follow-up to response from his “bro country” bashing post, referenced his family ties to Milledgeville, Georgia, about 30 miles from Macon where I was born and raised. After that, I had to reach out. Among many other things, Tim is half-Southern. Originally, he was going to be the “Native” side of our “New/Native” profiles but we got


Chris: So, I'm hoping you have one more "Bro Country" rant in you... With so much bad music out there, what about this stuff gets under your skin so much? Is it your maternal Southern heritage or just that it's an affront to good taste? Tim: It's probably little bit of both. You know, a lot of people up north have a real attitude about Southerners and traditional country music. They think both are inherently dumb. That really bothers me, because I spent a lot of time as a kid in Milledgeville GA, and I cut my musical teeth playing bluegrass music. Maybe I'm too defensive about it, but let's face the facts: Central Georgia gave us Little Richard and Flannery O'Connor, and country music gave us Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Emmylou Harris and Dwight Yoakam. Unfortunately, bro country seems to validate that elitist attitude about Southerners and country music. It's like watching the trailer for “Furious 7.” Stupid is stupid, regardless of the art form or where you live. CH: Why start (and keep running) Rubber City Review? It seems like a real investment of time and effort—which I'm grateful you give because it's fucking good—just to be an outlet for your music "snobbery." TQ: Thanks Chris. It's a labor of love, really— and a family affair, given the occasional contributions from my sisters (Keena's a web wrangler, graphic designer and working musician; Mary's a trained journalist, former piano teacher and current rock-star mom) and brothers (Jack's a former math professor and currently plays piano in a swing band; James is

a photographer and also plays music regularly). I've worked as a professional writer and casual musician all of my adult life. RCR allows me to write about virtually anything that leaps into my somewhat twisted mind. Maybe in the back of my head I'm just preparing myself for retirement. CH: One of my favorite things about RCR is the balance between your love for the big, wide world of music and the occasional reminders that you are rooted in a very particular (often peculiar) place. Was this intentional when you set out or just the way it evolved? TQ: I never really intended for RCR to be Akron-centric. To use the parlance of shitty cinema, it was really just my way of "paying it forward," in the sense that I've amassed a fairly large music collection over the years and not always through legitimate means. If I turn a few other people on to The "5" Royales or Evan Johns & his H-Bombs or Robert Ward or western swing guitarist Junior Barnard, then I feel a little less guilty about all the file-sharing I did in the Nineties. Recently one of my friends browbeat me into writing more about Akron. I'm glad he did, because my “Really Rough Guide to the Rubber City” is now one of my most-read posts! CH: How do you view your place as Dan Auerbach's "blues-snob" uncle and punk guitarist Robert Quine's cousin? Are you sandwiched between--or overshadowed by--these two pretty damn good musicians, or is just part of your own pretty damned interesting resume--RCR, the Wanda Hunt Band, journalism career and political speechwriter, etc.? TQ: Damn, you make me sound like Akron's own Zelig! I think I'm fortunate to have Dan in

my life and to have known Robert. I probably lived a little too vicariously through The Black Keys early on, but now I'm perfectly content sitting back like everyone else and watching them from afar. Besides, it's a lot more rewarding than getting wedged backstage with 100 people who have virtually no connection with the band! CH: When did you fall for Akron? TQ: When I moved to Columbus. Akron has one of the best park systems in the Midwest. Down in Columbus, most of the parks are oversized parking lots with shrubs. And everything is oppressively flat. I really missed Akron when I lived down there. CH: What is your favorite local cultural asset? TQ: None of them remained local, but I'd say the hugely influential bands and artists we've unleashed on the rest of the world: The Black Keys, Devo, Chrissie Hynde, Robert Quine, Lux Interior of The Cramps. And I'm a big fan of a truly local treasure, The Numbers Band. It's hard to explain The Numbers Band to visitors from out of town, but if you don't like them, you can't stay in my house. Beyond that, it's hard not to love The Akron Art Museum and the Nightlight Cinema. And the Highland Theater—how has that place survived? CH: What do you miss most about the Akron you grew up with? TQ: Probably the additional 100,000 people who were here when I was a kid. But I have to say, it's nice not to have to share all this stuff – roads, parks, cultural attractions, cable service, even water—with a lot more people.

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THE Devil Strip |



New / native Meet musician Theron Brown and Square Records owner David Ignizio Christopher Morrison & Scott Piepho


Name / Age: Theron Brown / 28 Hometown: Born in Zanesville, OH Neighborhood: West Akron, near Wallhaven Occupation: Musician, jazz pianist, teacher, educator, actor— yes, folks he has a SAG card. Who do you wish was on more Akronites radar? The arts and culture in general, in Akron. I just don’t think they know the wealth of what’s going on. I mean all my friends are “killing at music” since 2005, (smiles) like Nathan Davis and the Admirables, which is a band that has a real heart felt soul-jazz groove; they should also check out: Dan Wilson, guitar player; Chris Coles on sax; The Acid Cats, they play jazz fusion and Bobby Selvaggio on alto sax. What is your favorite local cultural asset? People, always had the support, plus friends. I don’t think people realize how Akron supports that cultural family of music and want it. When did you fall for Akron? I think it was when I left the Glenn Miller orchestra in 2010, then I lived and played in New York City. I missed my guys in Akron. I had a big following here and there was my church, City of Joy— and again, the people, connections being in a position when I could help, it’s my home. Where in Akron do you like to escape? Well, I like to hang out with friends. I’m engaged, you know—Toni and I would love to travel abroad more, to get some different culture. There’s movies, basketball, a person has to ask me to do something, or I’ll just sit all day at home on the piano. (laughs) Why should everyone try your local favorite restaurant? I love soul food, so Pammie’s Restaurant (Ribs, Chicken & Fish) on Copley Rd, off of South Hawkins, by the Save-A-Lot. Dan Wilson introduced me to that, I usually go once or twice a week (laughs), and it’s probably bad to go twice a week, huh? No, don’t put that in there (laughs pointing at my notes) I might be going after this interview. It’s a hole in the wall type of place, but the food is really good.


How do you think Akron will be different in five years? There will be a big time difference. I see leaders coming together, people involved, like in the akron2detroit trip, an organization funded by the Knight Foundation that tours neighborhoods in cities, innovating ideas to influence young people and helping to improve the city, making a difference. I’m on the music side and I’m going to Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks with akron2pittsburgh.

When you’re young a lot of people just want to get out of where they’re from. A lot of people when they’re younger think this area is sort of dead end. Coming back here and starting a business and meeting so many people through doing that. Being able to do things here that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do in other cities I lived in. Just a lot of opportunities here because things are kind of cheap and you can kind of, if you’ve got an idea, you can kind of roll with it.


Where in Akron do you like to escape? We do a lot of hiking and stuff like that. Metroparks in general you know, try to mix it up. The last few years me and my wife have done the Fall Hiking Spree. Just visiting a lot of the areas, places we hadn’t checked out before.

Why should everyone try your favorite restaurant? I do go to Nuevo pretty frequently just because they’ve got kind of an interesting twist on. It’s Mexican, but pretty modern. It’s definitely different from the other Mexican restaurants around here. Also their drinks are really good; margaritas are really good. How do you think Akron will be different in five years? Probably not much different. I think Akron is on like a slow track a lot of times which is not necessarily a bad thing. In five years I imagine it will be on a slow steady growing path that I feel it’s on right now. If you look at it now from where it was five years back there’s a lot of really great things that have come about in those five years. Hopefully it just keeps going on that.

Name / Age: David Ignizio / 40 Hometown: Akron Neighborhood: Merriman Hills Occupation: Owner/Manager, Square Records Who do you wish was on more Akronites’ radar? I’ll go with a music-related one. A guy named Gabe Schray that’s been making music for quite a while now, for like 15 years or so. Various band and puts out a lot of solo records of his own, under his own name. He used to be in the House Guests, he was the bass player for House Guests for a long time. Kind of makes it hard for people to get to know about him I guess because he puts out very limited edition CDs. Puts out a lot of music but it’s never really well promoted. But I like all his stuff a lot. [It’s] all instrumental. Almost kind of dub influenced. Electronic at times. Very nice stuff. What is your favorite local cultural asset? The Nightlight. Relatively new but I’ve been going there quite a bit. They opened like last summer. Probably been there about 20 times to see films since then. Got to know the people down there. I really like how they’ve been booking movies. There’s always something really interesting even if it’s not something I’ve heard of before or that I don’t usually watch. I’ll always give it a chance based on their reputation with me so far. When did you fall for Akron? Probably not until the second time I lived here because I moved away when I was 20. Didn’t come back until I was 26. But yeah, after leaving for a while I think then getting some perspective.

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The Most Interesting Person We Knowa

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“Love one another, babies!” Remembering Jeremy Hahn Joanna Wilson

Sometimes one plus one equals three. That was Jeremy Hahn’s vision. He saw the potential for the local music scene to be bigger and better than the sum of its parts. Splitting his time as bassist/vocalist for punk band Spiderwood while working at Chuck’s Steakhouse, the popular music venue in South Akron, Jeremy followed his personal mantra— “Love one another, babies!”—to do more than just pull people together; he was helping build the local music scene.

“His dream was to unite all the little factions of music into one big loving scene...Now it's up to all of us to carry on Jeremy's legacy. Enough with the bullshit, the pretty squabbles, the childish bickering and shit talking. It's time for all of us as Akron/Canton musicians and fans to get over it all and become one.” Spiderwood, a classic, three-piece punk band that entertained northeast Ohio audiences with a blend of original music and covers since

Then the unthinkable happened. Jeremy suddenly passed away in February at the age of 43. Now, people in the music scene he supported are set to prove Jeremy’s vision correct. Jeremy had already organized two punk-meets-metal shows—a line-up of punk bands alternating with metal bands on the bill—and had plans to organize a third one. This third show is going to happen Saturday, April 4 with his friends picking up where he left off. Fittingly, they’re c alling it Jeremy Hahn’s Memorial Show. Bob Stewart, of the band Flames Burn Black, says, “The punk meets metal shows were important to Jeremy because they united two genres of music with one common goal—to support each other.” “We’re hoping to celebrate Jeremy’s life as he would have liked it,” his friend Crystal Serva Stewart says. Considering the way he lived, that’s a tall order. “Jeremy was larger than life. The most outgoing and confident man. He truly never met a stranger,” his girlfriend Beverly Erickson says, “He was all about supporting all local bands and venues. He would promote shows that he was not even a part of. He just had such a passion for music and people.” Beverly pointed me towards a Facebook post by Joe Thompson from the band Last Days Pay that sums it up, almost like a mission statement.


Jeremy Hahn 2012, wasn’t just about beer and tattoos. In addition to the band’s energy and sense of humor—as evidenced by their off-beat gig posters—they also played at the Rock for Autism Benefit at Chuck’s. Judging from the outpouring of sentiments from Jeremy’s friends, co-workers, family and bandmates, the grief and loss to the local music scene is obvious. Perhaps his memorial show will prove to be the catalyst that brings our music scene’s bands and fans together to continue the community-building that was so important to him. If that happens, there could be no more-fitting tribute to the man who worked so hard to nurture the local music scene.

MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


only in akron


Chrissie Hynde with

Liz Tyran

When my boyfriend Jason was hired to be the daytime sous chef at VegiTerranean a few years back, I had no idea I would get to meet its famous owner, Chrissie Hynde—let alone pal around with her. And while I honestly don’t remember the first time we were introduced, I do remember the first time I saw her. It was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of her new restaurant. A crowd of onlookers gathered in the parking lot connected to Furnace St. to hear her and executive chef Scott Jones speak about the chic new vegan spot-to-be. She wanted to put her “proverbial money where her mouth was” and bring her passion for animal rights and the vegan lifestyle to one of her other passions, Akron—the town where she was born and raised, had sung about and to which, she had now returned.

came to a halt when Chrissie accidentally bit into an olive pit that she said nearly cracked her tooth. Shortly after, she picked up the check and returned us to our home. I think she appreciated the fact that we lived downtown. She believes in urban living and in public transportation. She wanted to know why more people didn’t take the bus around town and sometimes she would ride it herself instead of taking her car. Chrissie’s life in London, where she also resided and where her two grown daughters lived, called her back there for parts of the year. I believe the next time I saw her here was for the Devo, Chrissie Hynde and Black Keys concert at the Civic Theater.

She came to be friends with a neighbor of ours—how I don’t recall, perhaps through the business he owned, the Rubber City Clothing store. In any case he was also a Jason came to know friend of ours and so her a little through when she had given work and the next several tickets to him thing I know we’re we all went to that riding around with show featuring Akron’s Photo credit: John Slonaker, taken Aug 10, 2007 in Santa Barbara, CA her in her little black best-known musicians hatchback. She wanted to show us some all performing in one evening, first separately older houses that she was angry about being and then all together at the end. potentially torn down and where the red brick roads used to be visible but no longer In the days to follow we ended up spending were. She would put her fist in the air and some time at our neighbor’s with her. She curse whoever was modernizing things, the was a big fan of foreign films and I remember same way she did when she’d put her fist in all of us watching a Japanese movie about the air and say, “Death to meat-eaters.” samurais. I have just two other memories of my interactions with her. One was when we I remember her being a little rough on the went to her new apartment that was being clutch as she backed out of some of the built out in the Northside Lofts, the building spots where she’d chosen to turn around. where her restaurant was. She had misplaced From there, she took us to her apartment in her keys to get in and so, naturally, to look Highland Square. I remember three things for them she sat on the pavement and about that apartment: it was humble, there dumped the entire contents of her purse out were dates on the table (she told me to eat on the sidewalk. The other is of her rolling a some because they had potassium in them) cigarette on my kitchen floor. and there was an acoustic guitar propped against the wall beside a pencil and sheets of Unfortunately, the VegiTerranean closed in paper with lyrics on written on them laid-out 2011. I can still remember the dozen or so on the carpet. portraits of famous PETA members hanging on the walls in the dining room—people like We left the apartment to have lunch at Michael Stipe, Morrissey, Pamela Anderson Aladdin’s and sat on the patio out front. and of course, the fearless Chrissie Hynde. When the server came over Chrissie spoke for all of us proclaiming, “Everyone at this table I have no pictures with her; I have no is vegetarian!” (We are not but like I always autographs, never asked for either. I just say, you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy wanted us all to be comfortable and not good vegetarian food.) She ordered two big worry about that. Who knows, maybe that’s plates of hummus and rice with vermicelli and why she didn’t mind palling around a little bit vegetables to share. Our eating and chatting with two Akron kids like us.


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Dina Days

Thrift Challenge Thrifting for Men Fashion blogger and thrifting expert Dina Younis is sharing the best tips and advice from her popular blog,

Dina's Days + Something to be Found Thrift Challange No. 7 Had my friend Katie never suggested we switch up the thrift challenge to include the men (and boys) in our lives, I would have never challenged myself to step outside of my thrifting comfort zone. In this challenge, we set out to recreate super stylish outfits for "The Dans."

For my Dan—Dan Wilson—she assigned a look complete with a tan blazer and chambray shirt. (After a little iPhone zooming, I came to the conclusion that this model is wearing jeans, so we went with denim for the bottom half.) Dan is a professional jazz musician so this outfit was perfect for a casual gig.

I swear by chambray shirts for both men and women because they are quite possibly the most versatile piece anyone can own, plus they are readily available at the thrift store; I found this shirt on the first try at Goodwill in Akron. My first round at the Village Discount Outlet was a mega success. Everything I grabbed was designer denim at ridiculously low prices (think $5) but I drew a blank and jumbled all of the sizes in my head and I couldn't reach him (I'm the worst person to take lunch orders for the office if you don't write it down, by the way). No worries though, we headed back together the second time around to ensure the denim and blazer fit properly. We found a pair of Calvin Klein jeans 30 seconds into our trip at the Village then took a short trip down the street to Goodwill for a blazer, which we found right away.

even rested his eyes as I did the bulk of the thrifting. I think the only thing Dan dislikes more than shopping is getting his photo taken model style and having to fake a smile. One thing led to another and before I knew it he was outside with his crossbow saying one day the tables will be turned and I'll be out in the woods with him in camo gear in exchange for his style feature on the blog. Keep dreaming...just keep on dreaming.

I took Ahmad's advice and cut a piece of fabric down to size for the pocket square. The thrift store is quite possibly the last place Dan would ever want to be, and honestly the last place I want for us to be together. I'm a solo shopper and he's a never shopper. With that said, both trips were very successful; he


To see more, including reader challenge submissions, check out Dina’s Days at

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THE Devil Strip |


8 questions...


Questions Chuck Auerbach How to raise a rock star in one easy step…

How do you raise a rock star? You don’t. At least not with the intention to—not if you want them to be natural in their process, remain grounded and most importantly, just grow up feeling normal, not pressured, just nurtured. Just ask Chuck Auerbach, the songwriting father of Firestone High School grad turned Grammy-winner Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. I relish conversations with Chuck, a retired antiques dealer, not because of what we talk about so much as the way he talks about it, whatever it is. His sarcasm, honesty and sincerity are welcome in my presence anytime and have turned me into as big a fan of his as I am of his offspring. He and his wife Mary, a retired French teacher, raised their two sons right here in Akron. This issue seemed like the right opportunity to ask Chuck about Dan’s early influences—and whether Chuck’s cooking is still in demand in the Auerbach family.

Œ Liz: Let's just cut to the chase. Tell us, really and truly, what it's like to be the father of a modern day rock legend? And if the answer is "fucking awesome" then by all means, feel free to say so—screw being humble for a minute. Chuck: It's a mixed blessing. It's great when your kids figure out what they want to do in life, and as they pursue it, find success. But, as they say, the higher you climb, the more your ass is exposed.

 LT: What are some examples of what you and Mary listened to that you think shaped Dan's ear? CA: Grateful Dead, Little Anthony, Sam Cooke, Robert Johnson, Louis Prima, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday, Beatles, Motown and others.

Ž LT: What type of impact do you think growing up in Akron had on the type of musician Dan became? CA: Dan always marched to the beat of a different drummer. He never listened to what was popular. He made his own way. What came out of him was very different from the music other people were making. So, to answer your question, the lack of a specific Akron sound, gave Dan the freedom to make the music he wanted. He wasn't pigeon-holed, like some kid growing up in Seattle, Memphis or New Orleans, as examples.


Childhood photo of Dan and Geoff Auerbach Courtesy of Chuck Auerbach

 LT: Does he still turn to you for advice? Personally? Musically? CA: Sometimes about both. We almost never talk about the music business, however. He's got good people. I was a good minor league coach, but he's definitely in the majors.

 LT: What were some of your favorite outings—events, restaurants, recreation— as a family in Akron? CA: Going to Chin's, was always our favorite meal out, followed by the Seoul Garden. Listening to live music: Mike Lenz and The Numbers Band were always top of the list. And, when Dan and Geoff were younger, seeing them play sports was a big part of family life. Akron's a great town to raise kids.

‘ LT: I've sampled (okay, eaten huge bowls of) some of your incredible soups. Have you always cooked at home for your family? Do you still? CA: Yes, I'm still the family cook. Mary was a hard-working teacher, and shopping and cooking just fit better into my schedule. Sadie, our granddaughter (Dan’s daughter), wants to open a restaurant. I asked her who was going to cook. She pointed at me. So I guess I'll be at it for a few more years.

’ LT: You’ve told me some stories about meeting some pretty famous folks since The Black Keys became internationally known, any favorites?

| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2

2004 Black Keys show in Kent Courtesy of Jessica Morris

CA: We've met a lot of well-known people, (actors, musicians, etc.) but unless we spend a lot of time together, on multiple occasions, it's hard to know. There's an artificiality that's built in to these encounters. They're fun, and most everybody is very nice, but you can't take it seriously. The one thing I learned, and it really surprised me, is that most of these folks are more excited about meeting Dan than vice versa.

“ LT: Is there a proudest moment for you as a father (related to his musical success)? CA: I don't have a single proud moment. I'm proud of his work ethic. I'm proud of him for keeping his eye on the prize, which is making more music. I'm proud of him for working through personal challenges. I'm proud of him for still being a good kid. ________________________________________ Find some additional Q & A with Chuck online at

BONUS QUESTION FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY: Chris Horne: How much of a role do you think the musical family connections both Dan—with you and Robert Quine—and Pat—with Ralph Carney—played in their success, whether just their early interest in music or their ability to adapt to the lifestyle of a world-touring band? CA: I can't speak for Pat, so that's an easy answer. Mary and I were friends with Rosalie, Robert Quine's mom. So, when Robt visited Rosalie, he sat down with Dan on two occasions. They played a bit and talked music. Robt liked Dan's North Mississippi influences. But, I don't think he really influenced Dan. He was an incredible guitarist, but he hated everything about the music business. I think my passion for music, and Mary's family, were the big influences. Every year, Mary's family, the Quines, would get together. They were all good players, ranging from blues and country blues, to bluegrass and folk. I think that's where Dan got the bug to play. In fact, his first stage appearance was at a Quine family reunion in Florida. I think Mary's and my support of his passion, and our help in guiding him in the early days, was very important. And of course, hooking up with Pat. It was definitely a team effort.


Photography by Shane Wynn

STATE OF THE SCENE Good, bad or ugly — digging into the Akron music scene Story by Jenny Conn AKRON MUSIC, ART & CULTURE

It’s Friday night in mid-February at Jilly’s Music Room. Temps are single digits with a wind chill below zero, but the room is slowly filling. Small groups, couples and occasional solo patrons file in, icy air still rolling off their coats as they pass those lining the bar and settled at tables under soft white of light circles. The Twist Offs fill Jilly’s pulsing lighted stage with strings, horns, keys, reeds and percussion, as energetic as they’ve sounded since the mid-80s, playing danceable horn-infused rock fronted by Erik Walter’s bluesy punk-inspired vocals. The crowd is a mix, 20-somethings to over-40s. All is in motion, drinks steadily flow and the dance floor comes alive. This is the kind of night Jill Bacon Madden had in mind when, in 2013, she opened Jilly’s in the building where she’d once booked bands for Northside Bar & Grille.

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THE Devil Strip |


Cover story Scarlet and the Harlots

the same time. One evening in February, BLU hosted Grammynominated jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco with jazz guitarist and Akron native Dan Wilson and Oberlin College graduate and drummer Jason Brown for two sold-out shows. “The energy was palpable,” Cook says. “Everyone in the room was on the edge of their seats.” The club’s jam nights are building steam, too, giving musicians opportunities to mix it up and spurring an unexpected development. It looks and feels nothing like Northside. All that wood and copper is gone. “Northside was the coolest venue out there then,” Bacon Madden says. “But I wanted to build a place that was chic and comfortable now, where adults would want to hang out and experience live music.” She means live original music in a space where the floor’s not sticky with beer. “There’s so much talent in Northeast Ohio,” she says. “I wanted a place that offers a chance for people to be open to finding new music.” To expose customers to new bands, she rarely charges a cover. In March, Jilly’s showcased 25 bands, ending with the annual Tb Music Northeast Ohio Bass Summit. Around the corner, BLU Jazz+ was designed according to a similar ideal. “There were no true jazz clubs in Akron, no venue to showcase the local talent,” says general manager Colin Cook. Cook points to jazz programs at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Kent State University and the University of Akron’s School of Music as a rich talent pool. “We want to nurture the next crop of jazz musicians,” he says. BLU gives off a speakeasy vibe as you descend the steel staircase to the space below Maiden Lane. Immersed in the sensuosity of old-world jazz, even the club’s craft cocktails, laced with smoky bourbons and tangy gins, reflect that golden era. The venue books local talent as well as internationally known artists, sometimes at

“Akron’s creating our own style of jazz, our own sound,” Cook says. “There’s a renaissance happening right now.” That renaissance appears to be playing out across Akron’s broader musical arena.

THE AKRON SOUND IS LEGION At downtown’s grand dame, the Akron Civic Theater, Executive Director Howard Parr has been hip to Akron’s talent since 1998, when he took the helm. “I would definitely have a pretty big tent view of what arts and culture are. It’s not just string quartets and poetry readings,” Parr says. A Tallmadge-native, the sleek, eloquent Angie Haze is a classically trained musician who plays multiple instruments and composes by ear. On the Angie Haze Project’s first show out, the band won a House of Blues showcase, beating 15 acts.

“People from out of the area are blown away by the talent here; not just artists but the business people also,” Haze says. “Maybe it’s partly the weather. We don’t have anything better to do, so you’re fully engrossed in your craft.”

out of announcing the band’s Akron roots on the road. “People equate Akron to the Black Keys and Chrissie Hynde.” Vivian Ramone, 18, and sister, Midge Ramone, 14, have played as ShiSho for 11 years, gigging locally at Musica, Annabell’s and Highland Square’s Porch Rokr.

Scarlet & the Harlots are feeling the Akron’sonto-something vibe as well. “One thing we’ve learned from traveling is that there’s such a rich talent here,” the flamehaired, opera-trained soprano Scarlet says. “So many great bands come out of this area.” Scarlet & the Harlots also play Akron and the region, and have toured since 2011. The band was recently invited to play the Loud Wire Music Festival in late June in Grand Junction, Colo., headlined by Weezer and Rob Zombie.

"I’d like to see a scene develop in Akron, like there is in Austin

“A lot of people think there is no scene, which I think is funny,” Viv says. “There’s so much going on in the underground right now.” The sisters glean inspiration from Akron’s Devo because the Mothersbaugh brothers’ ongoing creativity and artistic innovations have kept them relevant. Audiences outside northeast Ohio are picking up on something that evokes Akron as well. On tour, punk band Extra Spooky heard it from a venue owner.

or Seattle or DC." “I’d like to see a scene develop in Akron, like there is in Austin or Seattle or DC,” says Harlots’ lead guitar and band manager Trevor. “I think there’s potential for that to happen because there really is a bunch of talent not just in Akron, in Northeast Ohio in general. In different genres, we have what it takes to succeed nationally.” Brian Lisik, an Ellet-born rock singer-songwriter, agrees. “Musician-wise this is one of the healthiest [scenes] out there,” he says. “Is there a proportionate number of not just musicians but really good musicians? I would say yes.” Lisik has recorded four albums, including his latest solo record, “Curtisinterruptedus,” which comes out in April. He says he gets mileage

“He asked us ‘what is it with you Akron guys? Is there something in the water?’” guitarist Henry McCoy. “That’s our favorite complement,” guitarist Spenser Nikitin says. “It’s alright to get compared to bands. But we’ve gotten ‘you sound like Akron’ and it feels good to hear that.” Trevor says a venue owner in Charlotte told Scarlet & the Harlots the same. “Yes, there’s something blue collar,” Scarlet added. “Something working class. A raw sound.” As for Akron’s music scene garnering national attention, Lisik equates it to falling in love. “It’s either going to happen or not. You can do things to increase your chances, you can do everything right, and not get a date either.”

The Black Keys playing at The Lime Spider. Photo credit to Jessica Morris

“It’s just been incredible that so much has happened in such a small amount of time,” Haze says. “You put out what you want in the most positive and true sense, and it does happen.” Haze, who headlines the Civic on April 17, plays out a lot locally—from Annabell’s, Lock 3, the Cashmere Cricket to Jilly’s , Dusty’s Landing and the Kent Stage. After filling in for a cancelled act at Musica, her folksy-gypsy-cabaret sound caught the ear of the headliner, Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter David Mayfield who took her on tour.

"People from out of the area are blown away by the talent here... Maybe it’s partly the weather. We don’t have anything better to do, so you’re fully engrossed in your craft."


| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


Cover Story

About 50 local musicians gathered downtown when we issued the call ISN’T EVERYONE IN FIVE BANDS? Lisik still feels the burn of losing the Lime Spider in 2007 after a six-year run bringing national acts to Akron. “We need something akin to the Lime Spider that’s open till 4 in the morning—a Lime Spider/Waffle House, so musicians would come after the gig to keep playing.” A late night venue would probably work. Many area musicians have a main band yet play in several other acts, too.

Bassist Toussaint English—aka “TB Player”— has played with the Tracy Thomas Jazz Band, the John Mosey Trio and the Colin John Band, in addition to his role in Scarlet & the Harlots. “People want to stretch themselves, to play different styles,” English says. Scarlet has performed with the Akron Symphony at E. J. Thomas and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as with Akron singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert during his annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Civic Theater. Her bandmate Trevor writes songs with Humbert and joins his Harlots cohorts, drummer Dylan Gomez and guitarist Ryan McDermott, in the Joe Vitale Jr. Band. In April, Humbert is producing “Ohio’s Greatest Hits” at the Music Box Supper Club to celebrate the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony’s return to Cleveland. Lisik was invited to perform as a vocalist and Gomez will perform with the house band. Haze has played with Hoseff Garcia, upright bass, for seven years, but she often adds new musicians. “Depending on budget and who’s available, I like

Sisters Vivian and Midge Ramone form punk-folk duo ShiSho AKRON MUSIC, ART & CULTURE

to spice things up with different instruments like flute, accordion or sax, or to feature an artist I know, to give them exposure.”

“We never really covered anything,” McCoy says. “We just jumped right in to writing our own stuff.”

Extra Spooky collaborated with Tin Huey founding member, sax player Ralph Carney, on the band’s latest single “Father Man,” coming out on seven-inch vinyl in May.

For the members of Extra Spooky, the Akron scene is the Bizarros, Hammer Damage, Pizza Ghost, Assassin Broadcast and a cache of bands no longer together.

Lisik remembers when it was considered bad behavior to play with a band other than your own.

Their favorite local venue? “Honestly, nowhere,” says drummer Logan Patrick, because he thinks too many area bands and venues lack originality. “When you see a twopiece blues rock band trying to be the Black Keys, it’s uninspiring.”

“You practically had to sign a divorce decree,” he says. “Now I can put a call out for guitar players and get all these emails back.” Knowing others have your back is important for a growing scene. “This is how we survive and keep the ball rolling,” Haze says. “It’s hard doing things on your own. Supportive people are out there.”


If venues focused more on original talent than on cover bands it might help raise Akron’s music profile, ShiSho says. “As far as venues go, it’s very dichotomous,” Viv says. “Venues book the same kinds of bands and there’re not really any midsized venues.”

Musicians say the area needs more venues that accommodate the variety of styles coming up in Akron.

Scarlet’s Trevor agrees. “Musica holds about 500 people. You would have to block out a month or two to properly promote that gig, which kills our opportunities,” he says.

“There hasn’t been a central gathering place that all different types of musicians feel comfortable in,” Lisik says.

When the Civic’s Parr heard about Bacon Madden’s intentions with Jilly’s and Tony Troppe’s plans for BLU Jazz+, he was thrilled.

That sentiment is echoed by Extra Spooky, which has had difficulty landing Akron gigs that fit the band’s sound—“high-energy haunted dance punk”—or style. (Lead singer John Cohill has donned a Bowie-style silver suit with wings for performances.)

“I embraced them personally and on behalf of the theater, and thought maybe there will be opportunities for some crossover,” Parr said. “I would be happy if two or three more people announced the same thing.” (continued on page 29)

MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


in the kitchen


Jilly’s Music Room 111 N. Main St., Akron For reservations, call or email:

Executive Chef Joël Johnson and Sous Chef Kyle McMullen


Eric Morris

KM: There are going to be a few varieties of pizza: pesto and shrimp, caramelized red onion and mushroom, and fresh tomato and mozzarella.

The entire menu at Jilly’s Music Room is glutenfree but you’ll never taste the difference thanks to Executive Chef Joël Johnson and Sous Chef Kyle McMullen. Jill Bacon Madden, the club’s eponymous owner, is gluten-intolerant and wanted to provide a place where people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities could order anything off the menu, without fear of consuming gluten or accidental crosscontamination.

JJ: We had a call for a sampler platter so people can order a couple of each item. We also had a fried bologna sandwich that we took off the menu for winter, and people have been asking for it so we’re going to bring it back. KM: We’re also going to have a strawberry bruschetta that’s very summery. What menu items do you suggest for readers of The Devil Strip? JJ: It depends on their tastes. We have meatless items and vegan hummus. We have beef, chicken and seafood options. We’re going to put a sushi-grade Ahi tuna on the menu that’s line-caught for kabobs and a slider.

What is your favorite menu item, and why? JJ: We’re proud of our food and our presentation. I have no favorite; that’s like saying, “Who’s your favorite kid?”

KM: We have wasabi-deviled eggs with sweet pickle, bacon and chives. Once an order of the deviled eggs goes out, we’ll sell three or four more of them.

KM: The tacos are my favorite. We give them a variety of tacos -- beef, pork and chicken -- on the same plate. It’s served with a fire-roasted salsa, and it’s all fresh.

JJ: Popcorn’s also a big hit. It’s made with a little bit of bacon grease and canola oil, topped with Pecorino Romano, Applewood smoked bacon crumbles and fresh chives.

I also like the homemade potato chips with blue cheese and a balsamic drizzle. We give people a big plate of them, and they can just snack on them while listening to the music.

For dessert, we make Jilly’s Bark with Belgian chocolate, homemade toffee, toasted almonds and a little bit of Mediterranean sea salt sprinkled on it.

the Dish Music Style

Akron musicians share their favorite dishes at their favorite Akron restaurants Starters Popcorn at Annabell’s (Something Completely Different) Goat Cheese & Marinara from Bricco (Millstone) Brown sugar chicken wings at Jilly's (Stunt Cycle)

Pizza Pizza and Salad at Luigi’s (Devilstrip …and many, many others) Deep dish pizza at Brick Oven Brew Pub (Shivering Timbers) Large, any topping pizza at Rasicci's (The Singular)

Between the Bread The Royal Tenenbaum from Mr. Zubs (Anchor the Moon) Old Bald Guy at Diamond Deli (Nick Wilkinson & the Featured Players) Defibrillator Burger at the Fat Bob Grill (Pizza Ghost) Corn-Flake Crusted Chicken Sandwich at Crave (Ryan Humbert) Foot-long chili dog from BK Root Beer Stand (Ridadew) Pastrami and coleslaw on pumpernickel at Primo's Deli (Rachel Roberts)

Do you use locally-sourced ingredients? JJ: Yes, as much as we can, whenever possible. Our domestic cheeses are Amish, and the chicken comes from an Amish company. All of our meat products are sourced from our distributor in Brecksville.

Galley Boy at Swenson's (The Swizzle Stick Band) St. Louie's Bleus burger from Louie's (Jason, Tall Tales of Akron)

Entrées Pork chop and eggs at Fred's Diner (Rebekah Jean)

BIO: Writer Abby Cymerman is thrilled to be covering local chefs as part of The Devil Strip team.

It’s important to support your local economy as much as possible, and in many times and many instances, it’s just a better fresher product.

Evil Jungle Princess meal at Taste of Bangkok (Dave of The Beyonderers) Cowboy Delmonico at the Clearview Inn (Max Reaven & the Pupils of Groove) Shrimp soft tacos from Nuevo (Half Cleveland) Khing Curry at House of Hunan (Jeri of Time Cat) Mexican Bowl at Mustard Seed Market Café (Scottie of Survivor Girl) Sloppy Mac at Ms. Julie's Kitchen (Zach and the Bright Lights) Mock Duck Basil at Cilantro (Hoseff) Seared Sea Scallops over purple sticky rice at Dante Boccuzzi Akron (Bad Hounds)

Do you plan to change the menu seasonally? JJ: We change the menu every three months, and the menu’s going to change April 1. We’ll keep most of our staple items and introduce some new ones. We have a gluten-free pizza crust that we source from a bakery in Pennsylvania, and we’re going to use that crust to make small flatbread pizzas.


| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2

Rigatoni and clam sauce with a side of meatballs at Dontino's (Red Sun Rising) Panang Curry at Thai Pho (The Gage Brothers will fight anyone who doesn't love that place.)

Drinks The Zombie at Brickhouse Tavern (Band Kamp Rejects)


the dish

FIESTA PIZZA & CHICKEN One man’s mission to eat all of Akron’s pizza & jojos Eric Morris

When most people think of the jojo, they think: side dish, an also-ran mixed in with a bucket of fried chicken. At Fiesta Pizza and Chicken, however, this is not the case. And these are not your humdrum slices of fried potato. The jojos they whip up are meals themselves. To summon every Food Network cliché, like golden brown or crisped-to-perfection, would be a disservice. The jojos at Fiesta are mammoth pieces of fried starchy awesomeness. In a succulent combination of a crumbly, seasoned outside and hot, flaky center, these jojos make a person wonder why the other side dishes are even an option. Walking into Fiesta (the Valley location) feels a bit like a time warp. It might be the classic claw machine in the waiting area or the old school video games like Ms. Pacman and Tekken tucked away in the back of the four booth dining room. Or it could be the open kitchen with the throwback oven and deep fryer. It all certainly factors into the sense of nostalgia that takes over as soon as you walk in the door. It could also be that, like any place that feels authentic and uniquely its own, there’s a sense

For over 50 years and across four locations in the greater Akron-area, Fiesta has dished out both pizza and chicken (an idea, according to their website, that was once considered a novelty). And, perhaps most importantly, gifted the Akron community with the jojo, a present Akronites should be thankful for.

that something special is happening. And for any place, especially a pizza shop, to stay in business for over half a century, something special must be happening. And, whatever it is, it’s delicious. Although Fiesta Pizza and Chicken turned a boring potato into the magical jojo, the pizza is nothing to look past either. Much like the location itself, there’s not a lot of glitz and glamour in the pizza section of the menu:

While the patrons of any Fiesta Pizza and Chicken will not be walking away from their meals any healthier, they will certainly be walking away happier. And as long as each store stays nestled into the strip malls and corner shops around Akron, and as long the costumers sidle up for another wax paper bag full of jojos, there’s a good chance 2065 will be another good year for Fiesta Pizza and Chicken.

Alfred Ajamie & Walter Abood in front of the original Fiesta Pizza and Chicken. Founded in 1963. there’s cheese and there’s toppings—12 to be exact. The rest is up to you. However, whatever happens in the vintage pizza oven is, well, the start of a fiesta. Whether it’s the hungerinducing glisten only melted mozzarella can produce or the almost criminal amount of pepperoni layered on top, the pizza at Fiesta is the sort of pie that keeps a place in business for 50 years.

The Original Fiesta Pizza and Chicken 1860 Newton Street Goodyear Heights Akron, Ohio

where was this served? Congrats to Nancy Babyak who correctly ID'd that delicious plate of food in Issue #1 as coming from Chin's Place whose garden, neighborhood plant swap and fresh veggie dishes are just part of the reason she loves eating there. This week, we went for something under the sea with some crispy salmon on a bed of fresh greens. Be the first to tweet the answer to @akrondevilstrip or email the answer to and you'll get mentioned in our next issue!


MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |



GASOLINE ALLEY Dedicated to those side jobs that help make music dreams come true Holly Brown

Setting: Gasoline Alley. I sit, perfectly content, underneath the old school bicycles, carefully hung overhead. I’m joined by my most frequent dining companion, Maya. The two of us are perfectly content on the first Friday of the long awaited first-spring-break of our graduate studies career. Bloody Marys are a necessity (but I’ll get to talking about those later). My eyes are always moving in Gasoline Alley, between the bikes, the menu (which makes it borderline impossible to choose something) and the memorabilia on the walls spanning the entire 20th century and then some. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, of all of the places I have eaten in Akron, Gasoline Alley is the most “Ohio.” Perhaps it is the commitment to transportation décor and Ohio obviously and notably being the birthplace of aviation. Perhaps it is the un-deniability of everything fried. Regardless, it is almost middle America, almost northeast, and the second you step through that door, you feel not only hungry, but ready to be fed. This time around, I opted to order fried zucchini in the place of my beloved sauerkraut balls. Though this was a tough call—Maya and I definitely went back and forth more than once—we were certainly not disappointed. Literally an entire zucchini goes into one single order; rather than dropping a cup of French fry-sized zukes off at the table, we received whole cross-sections of zucchini fried just enough so that it actually tasted like zucchini and was anything but soggy. I have never and probably will never see fried zucchini like that anywhere else. We sat at the table posing with the giant zucchini cakes because we literally couldn’t believe it.

every fixing you could imagine (two olives, cherry tomato, pickle chunk, cucumber slice, pepperoncini, and shrimp cocktail, all toothpick-ed into an epic stalk of celery easily considered food sculpture), but I digress. This being the music issue and all, you might be wondering what’s particularly musical about Gasoline Alley? …Besides the fact their Bloody Mary makes me want to turn skyward and sing hymns in its praises, of course. Well, as a student at the University of Akron, Patrick Carney of The Black Keys was working in the kitchen at Gasoline Alley when he decided to leave school and devote himself fully to music. While this was not my first time on the Gasoline Alley rodeo, this was the first time that I was there that I found myself thinking a little more about the more private passions of the people who help to make me feel so fed. This one goes out to all of the people that work jobs to support the art that they love to do. More often than not, these people fall into the food service category and whether that be line cooks, servers, bartenders, or cashiers, it all comes down to what you stuff your face with. Food is art, albeit often art on the side of more entry level jobs (I heard whisperings that both Pat Carney and Dan Auerbach worked at the Arby’s on West Market). While catering to my insatiable craving for fried foods might not be your dream job, I am sincerely happy someone, somewhere does it if it means they’re closer to their art … while I live out my dream to write about it. Gasoline Alley 870 N Cleveland Massillon Rd, Akron (330) 666-2670

As I had to decide to “really go for it,” this was going to be my dunchfast. That is, all meals in one. And there it was, the Jewish Italian: fried bologna, salami, provolone, mozzarella, and onions on a toasted homestyle roll. As a small child, I exclusively ate bologna and ketchup sandwiches, so every time I see bologna, the kid in me starts screaming, and 4-yearold Holly was not disappointed That sandwich was LOADED with meat and cheese, bread soaked with the drippings. Because I had such a craving for bologna, the second I took my first bite the back corners of my tongue started salivating, ringing in the rightness of my choice with a sting. A truly American sandwich for an all-American girl looking for a celebratory meal. I heard the legend of their Bloody Mary months before I even stepped foot in the parking lot. More like a meal than a drink, it comes with

The legend of their Bloody Mary month.. more like a meal than a drink


| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


dinner & A Movie

Dinner & a Movie

“High Fidelity” & Mr Zub's Deli

Pair this film adaptation of Nick Hornby's love letter to music with Mr. Zub’s movie-inspired sandwiches on this upcoming Record Store Day Chris Kessinger, the Film Freak

FILM: “high fidelity” In a tweet: Director Stephen Frears’ uses strong comedic performances and an eclectic soundtrack for an intriguing love-on-therocks story. What it’s really about: Rob Gordon (John Cusack), a record store owner in the slums of Chicago, is a music junkie whose knowledge of song couldn’t rescue any of his past relationships. Troubles with his current girlfriend force Rob to take a closer look at himself, so he calls on his former lovers to find out where he keeps getting it wrong. On top of this, Rob’s two bickering employees, Dick and Barry (Todd Luiso, Jack Black), not only push him another day closer to quitting but reflect some of immaturity he’s trying escape in his own life. Why it’s good: We all have that friend who points the finger instead of owning up. Slowly, the pieces unfold for Rob Gordon and that transformation puts Cusack front and center in a role he owns. Memorable quotes x kickass tunes = multiple viewings. How it’ll surprise you: At the center of all this reflection on past miseries, there's a charming and beautifully constructed love story between our two central protagonists. Also, Jack Black is at his comedic peak. As a musician, his role as Barry is rude and crude, but honest to the roll-your-eyes customers he serves daily. Bonus Points: Record Store Day is right around the corner on April 18, so the film would make for a great main event after making all your vinyl purchases.

Feast: mr. zub's deli Restaurant recommendation: On the prowl for a meal worthy of such musical immortality? Seek out Mr. Zub's Deli in the heart of Highland Square. With their moviethemed sandwiches and comparatively low prices, Mr. Zub's first gave Akron new favorites like the "Rocky Balboa" (cheesesteak) and the "Uncle Rico” (roast beef and tater tots with chives) about a decade ago. And if you want a drink, follow the hole in the wall over to The Matinee, the appropriately named bar next door. Film Freak’s Suggestion: While I have a long list of personal favorites, there are a couple options that never do me wrong. Start out with some delicious Potato Teezers—hash browns infused with a spritz of Jalapeno cheese. (It's not too hot for tender taste buds.) Then squelch what remains of your hunger with either the "Louis Winthorpe" (chicken Philly) or the "Tommy Boy" (meatball sub). For the hungriest (or most foolhardy) of challengers, try to tackle the breathtaking "Frank the Tank,” a triple cheeseburger squeezed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

Mr. Zub's Deli 812 West Market Street Akron Ohio, 44303 330-252-0272

on stage with...


ROCK: Female musicians offer more than chords in Akron Maria E. Varonis

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my place here, and if I have one. I’ve received a degree from that university downtown, like so many of us have, but now what? The Clash keep ringing in the back of my brain: should I stay or should I go? In "The Hard Way on Purpose," David Giffels writes that a decade or so ago everyone was leaving Akron for Phoenix. These days it seems our friends have left for Portland, or New Orleans. So how does a creative person make it work in the Rubber City, and still pay rent, cheap as it is here? In my need for inspiration, I decided to talk to some women in Akron—creatives, musicians whose voices might lend a hand to my existential, late-twenties, slightly irrational placement issues. What these ladies had to offer was more than I could have asked for.

Tracey Nguma, bassist and front woman of Umojah Nation (“unity” in Swahili) I never really had any plans to get out of the basement, that’s just how it happened. You don’t find too many female reggae artists, either. I thought, well, it would be great to put a female band together because men are always doing things, you know? The reception we’ve received—it’s love. There’s a sense of community; people get to know each other, they become friends, they bring friends, we see a lot of great energy in the crowds. I think the female musicians in the Akron area are very supportive and loving of each other. And I think that’s encouraging. There is a huge artist community here—it’s sort of: if you know about it, you know about it, you know what I mean? But it is here, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity here for you. I was born and raised in Akron. I’ve got roots here. I’m a mother, I’m a yoga instructor; I’m a wine-tender, a musician. That’s who I am.

°°°°° 22

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Sarah Benn, bassist and front woman of Shivering Timbers, which came to life as she and her husband (and guitarist) Jayson Benn began crafting songs for their daughter. Motherhood, music, work…trying to find time for creativity to thrive. Continuing to grow as a creative individual can be tough when pulled in so many different directions— however, I feel it has enhanced my overall experience.

°°°°° Anne Lillis has since played drums all over the US and Europe, and now locally for The Beyonderers, as well as with Oklahoma-based singer/songwriter Samantha Crain. Being a female musician is exactly the same as being a male musician, I would imagine, except for some subtle differences. One time, AS IF played a show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the place had a strict rule that no one but members of the band could be near the stage during load-in. The employees at the venue tried to kick us out


on stage with... of the club when we were loading in our gear, because they assumed we were the girlfriends of the band. Another time, I got asked if I was shopping for my boyfriend when I went to buy drumsticks at a music shop. It's nothing super aggressive usually, but it can definitely be irritating. …But on a side note, many of the best musicians I've played with in my life are women. Anyone who tells you that there is some intrinsic difference between men and women, as far as the capacity to learn music, or tour, or write songs goes, is straight up lying or sexist.

°°°°° Gretchen Pleuss, who learned from long-time guitarist Willy Porter at age 12, is now 24 and has two full-length albums. There have been times where it’s been more of a competition than it needs to be. I’ve come to know myself and I know what I’m trying to do. All of us [female musicians] are going in the same direction but have different avenues of getting there. We all wanna be able to do this full time and make enough money to survive. But in order to get there, there has to be a shift in thought, which is: to help each other rather than competing to get to the finish line. It doesn’t mean that only one of us can get there, just because we’re from the same area.

°°°°° Jeri Sapronetti, who plays guitar, writes and sings in Time Cat, has been putting on house shows in Akron since she was 18. I used to have these jam nights at my house off of Crosby on a weird, little, dead-end street that had nobody really living on it. I could make all the noise I wanted all night long and it didn’t matter. This whole scene kind of came together pretty quickly, actually. There was a real DIY, punk rock mentality. This awesome group of people from different sides of Akron and it was this air of: everyone is very supportive of each other and when it was time for a new band to play, everyone is quiet and attentive—they’re not screwing around and talking and just being assholes. … [House shows] support a community thing where people who maybe aren’t big enough or confident enough to play in venues, they’re comfortable with playing house shows because people are generally supportive. For me it’s never been, ‘oh, I’m a girl.’ I mean sometimes it gets in my head where you see all these female bands on Facebook and they’re pretty and 21 and maybe they’re not even that good but they have 3,000 “likes.” That’s something I hate about Facebook—you’re monetizing your worth based on the amount of “likes” you have on a photograph. I’m not like that kind of person. I don’t wear dresses and makeup and shit. Do dresses and makeup


make a good musician?

°°°°° Sandra Emmeline and Lizz Hough play in the same band, Sancat, but individually Sandra sings with the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble and Lizz can be found in UA’s Guzzetta Hall where she plays a very large bass in the orchestra. Sandra: It's hard growing up where your family's culture and values are different from those of everyone else around you. Anyone who is a child of immigrants can relate. My parents are Chinese but were born in Taiwan and came from a very conservative, traditional, workaholic culture. Fortunately for me, they wanted me to be well-rounded, and put me through music, dance, and sports early on in life. I think now my parents have mostly broken that traditional Asian mindset because they come to all my shows, even the metal shows my band plays in. I think having a daughter that was as wild and passionate as I was sort of helped them realize what the more important values are: being happy and doing what you love. …I’m a nurse and I’m a musician, and that’s what I love. I’m doing two things that I wanted to do. …That’s what I love about being a musician in Akron. There’s a variety of open-mindedness here. People appreciate you for your originality and creativity. I don’t have to sell myself and be something I’m not.

On a Tuesday evening, the women I had spoken with and some I had not yet, all met at Uncorked Wine Bar in downtown Akron. I didn’t know until then that Lizz and Sandra played in the same band. Or that Jeri knew Anne, and Sarah knew Tracey and almost everyone was playing at Big Love on Friday. I passed around a notebook and between drinks, we wrote down our thoughts about being creative and living in the same space. At Musica, I got out my camera and discovered there was an actual photographer in our midst (Chelsae Ketchum). Naturally, we decided, she should take the photos. It was a lovely, reciprocal arrangement, we all agreed. We laughed a lot. Everyone kept saying: Why don’t we do this more often? And, this is really nice. That was really all I needed to know.

Lizz: For me, it’s sharing thoughts and ideas with others; the collaboration and the learning process. I’m really grateful for what I have here. I want to continue to learn and grow, and I won’t let anything get in my way. Sandra: Lizz is awesome.

°°°°° Kyndra Heischman brings the blues to Akron to honor women like Elizabeth ‘Libba’ Cotten, who in the late 18th century coined her own unique, finger-picking style of blues guitar. We have a responsibility as women who play music—we cannot exploit ourselves. That’s all we see on the TV, that’s all we hear on the radio. There’s just so much. There’s so much in the world and you can either look at it and be like ‘well, what the fuck is going on, why does this hurt so much?’ Or you can be like, ‘what the fuck is going on? I have a responsibility, I need to own up to it.’ It’s time to move forward. …I represent women in blues, for so many blues songs men have laid claim to. Our music has been stolen and it is now our responsibility to give credit where credit is due.

MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


Music Listings

Music & COncerts Tuesday, March 31

Monday, April 6

Friday, April 10

BONZ, FEAT. BONZ OF STUCK MOJO 8 pm at Chuck’s Steakhouse 456 E South St, Akron The band is BONZ—all-caps like that—and it’s fronted by Bonz, who formerly fronted Atlantabased rap-metal rockers Stuck Mojo.

THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON¹S NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL 8 pm at Guzzetta Recital Hall (through April 8) 157 University Ave., Akron Trio of new music concerts—all free. For more information, call 330-972-8301 or email

Wednesday, April 1

TELAMON WITH NORTHERN WHALE, THE RYANS AND LUNAR CIRCUS 7pm at Empire Concert Club ($8) 1305 E Tallmadge Ave, Akron A night of alt rock at the Empire Concert Club, from Lunar Circus’s roots rock to Northern Whale’s award-winning alternative jams and the alt/indie sounds of Telamon.

JACOB AND THE GOOD PEOPLE 5—11 pm at the Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog 1680 E Waterloo Rd, Akron Although Jacob has shared stages with the epic sounds of bands like Dave Mathews Band, Robert Randolph and Rusted Root, he still creates his simple style of music with the idea that less is more. His music is sparse, quirky, and addictive, and his songs will be hummed for hours after you hear them.

MORGAN PHELPS Acoustic Wednesdays 8pm at Annabell’s (FREE) 784 W Market St, Akron Head to Annabell’s for an evening of music on the Warr Guitar, combining both bass and melodic strings on a single fretboard. JOE LEAMAN 7pm at BLU Jazz+ (FREE) 47 E Market St, Akron Enjoy a cocktail and some midweek swingin’ jazz with Joe Leaman, a local pianist and percussionist. RYAN HUMBERT 7pm at Jilly’s Music Room (FREE) 111 N Main St, Akron Local favorite Ryan Humbert performs songs off his newest album, Halfway Home, which features some of his most personal writing to date. Don’t miss this free show!

Thursday, April 2 JEN MAURER PROJECT 7pm at Jilly’s Music Room (FREE) 111 N Main St, Akron Akron’s own Jen Maurer (of Mo’ Mojo Music and Boy=Girl) plays a solo set of her unique blend of original mountain pop.

Friday, April 3 DAVE BANKS BIG BAND “A Tribute to Buddy Rich” 8pm at BLU Jazz+ ($18) 47 E Market St, Akron Enjoy this high-adrenaline, swinging tribute to the man who has been referred to as “the world’s greatest drummer,” Buddy Rich! Northeast Ohio’s finest musicians comprise this 16-piece big band in a not-to-miss concert celebration. Tropidelic, Arden Park Roots and Wanyama 9pm at Barley House ($5) 222 S Main St Fusing funk, reggae and hip-hop, Tropidelic headlines what is sure to be an energetic show with surf rockers Arden Park Roots and the six-piece ska/reggae/punk group Wanyama.


Saturday, April 4 JEREMY HAHN’S MEMORIAL SHOW Saturday, April 4 6 pm at Chuck’s Steakhouse (FREE) 456 E South St, Akron To honor Jeremy Hahn’s memory and his passion for local music, his friends are doing his “Punk Meets Metal” thing with an "outlaw" twist, featuring a lineup that includes AJ DeJulius, May Day Riots, Dead Again, The Said So, Ties That Bind, Last Days Pay and Flames Burn Black. FROM INDIAN LAKES WITH THE SOIL & THE SUN AND COME WIND 6:30pm at Musica ($12) 51 E Market St, Akron From Indian Lakes blurs the boundaries of indie, post-rock and alternative, and are joined by indie rock bands the Soil & the Sun, and Ohio natives Come Wind, whose music has been described as honest and joyfully passionate. THE LIVING WITH INHERIT THE WILD, ONCE MAGNETIC AND MR. BOOK 7pm at Empire Concert Club ($8) 1305 E Tallmadge Ave, Akron A lineup of all-local bands, starting with Akron’s own folksy singer-songwriter Mr. Book and culminating in the classic rock jams of Inherit the Wild and The Living. "LET IT GLOW" A PANDORA EXPERIENCE 9 pm at The Vortex ($10) 1167 Brittain Rd, Akron A “night of enchantment and radiance” with glow sticks, glow masks, LED balloons and backlights to create a “magical night” with 11 DJs on two stages. Attendees are encouraged to arrive dressed in blue or glow attire at this “hoop friendly” event. Get $5 off with Avatar costume.

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Tuesday, April 7 THE MOODY BLUES 7:30pm at E.J. Thomas Hall ($45-$75) 198 Hill St, Akron Having sold more than 55 million albums worldwide during their extensive career, The Moody Blues, one of the most enduring and beloved rock bands in music history, comes to Akron.

Wednesday, April 8 BROKENGLISH 7pm at Sarah’s Vineyard (FREE) 1204 W Steels Corner Rd, Cuyahoga Falls Have a glass of wine and some wood-fired pizza in the cozy tasting room at Sarah’s Vineyard while brokENglish plays a variety of jazz, blues, rock and acoustic covers.

Thursday, April 9 ELIOT LEWIS 8pm at Akron Civic Theatre ($20) 182 S Main St, Akron Join a special cabaret performance with Eliot Lewis, a multi-instrumentalist who has performed with the likes of Hall & Oates, Ben Folds, Darius Rucker, and many others. If he performs a cover, it’s a song he’s actually performed with that artist. JOHN SUNTKEN TRIO 9pm at BLU Jazz+ ($10) 47 E Market St, Akron Rising star drummer from Columbus John Suntken leads an all-star trio at BLU Jazz+ after performing with his alma mater, Hudson High School, student big bands.

DAN WILSON / PETER MAZZA QUARTET 8pm at BLU Jazz+ ($15) 47 E Market St, Akron Akron’s own Dan Wilson and New York City’s Peter Mazza are two of the biggest names on the jazz guitar scene today. They’ll be joined by local jazz heavyweights Kip Reed (bass) and Zaire Darden (drums) for an unforgettable evening. THE CLARKS WITH ANGELA PERLEY & THE HOWLIN MOONS 8pm at Musica ($15) 51 E Market St, Akron The Clarks have been together, honing their rock n roll sound, for nearly 30 years, and they’ll tell you their newest record is the best yet. If that’s not enough to get you to Musica for this show, Angela Perley has described her music with the Howlin Moons as “a kiss being blown off a freight train on muddy tracks” and “Americana tumble and roll.”

Saturday, April 11 LIONIZE WITH THE DELTA SAINTS, MEGHANN WRIGHT AND THE GREEN GALLOWS 7:30pm at Musica ($12) 51 E Market St, Akron The Green Gallows bring their high-energy acoustic sound to this show, along with Meghann Wright’s self-described sad bastard music. The Delta Saints are fresh off a 2014 tour that saw them sell out in six different countries, and Lionize headlines with their brand of groove-heavy stoner rock. AKRON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA “A New Birth of Freedom” 8pm at E.J. Thomas Hall ($25-$55) 198 Hill St, Akron The peace accord signed at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 ended slavery’s nightmare. Six days later, Lincoln was assassinated. Kurt Weill’s final work for Broadway was a triumph of lyric beauty, and a stirring reflection on race relations on this important anniversary.


Music Spotlight

Rubber City Beer Fest Photos courtesy of Joanna Wilson

KIM RICHEY 8pm at The GAR Hall 1785 W Streetsboro Rd, Peninsula Hailing from Zanesville, OH, Kim Richey has been nominated for two Grammy awards for her poetic music and arresting voice. Join the singer-songwriter for an evening of country and Americana in the historic GAR Hall. CHUCK LOEB, EVERETT HARP AND JEFF LORBER 8:30pm at The Tangier ($35-$55) 532 W Market St, Akron Guitarist Chuck Loeb, Saxman Everett Harp and Keyboard pioneer Jeff Lerber will present their brand of high energy funk, jazz and soul for one power-packed show.

Launch Party @ Musica on St. Patty's Day Photos courtesy of Shane Wynn


BEAR GRILLZ LIVE Friday, April 17 ($12-$15) 9pm at Thursday's Lounge 306 E. Exchage St, Akron Elektric Events and Thursdays Lounge promised to bring Bear Grillz after he got sick during the MiTiS Tour and here he is! Features local support by Nasty Blade Gamez, Satoshi D, Alerion and DJDK. (18 Entry / +21 Bar) Presales at

The Record Party @ Jilly's Music Room Photos courtesy of Svetla Morrison

HOWARD STREET TRIBUTE THE MIGHTY SOUL NIGHT Saturday, April 18 (FREE) 8 pm-12:30 am at Uncorked Wine Bar 22 N. High St, Akron See the story on page 8 for details or visit or to learn more.


MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


bars / nightlife

on the

fringe Lousy Weather’s underground comedy is really under their house. Story and photos by Ilenia Pezzaniti

Water dripped from the ceiling. A broken speaker cleverly tied to a pole fashioned with a belt and a guitar strap beamed the voices. “We are really DIY, like, we won’t even buy a real strap to hold that. That’s something you don’t get at a venue,” host and musician Bobby Comparda, 26, half-jokes. “Eh! It’s the Lousy Weather Media Basement Comedy Show! Eh!” rattles host, Sean Ast, 26, of Goodyear Heights. It’s his basement. It’s also Comparda’s basement. The buzzed crowd woo’d loudly and clapped. Eleven white plastic chairs filled three rows deep behind a small black futon. Another black futon squared off a makeshift stage. Two dining room chairs, two PA speakers laid down as benches and a lawn chair were placed to let you know the hosts had thought of everything you could possibly sit on. Backs lined the wall up the stairs. There was even a guy sitting on an exercise machine.

being in bands and playing in basements. It’s to “bring the comedy world to punk rock,” said Ast. “I think shows in a basement are the funnest thing in the entire world,” adds Comparda. On March 21, the LWM boys held their third comedy show where comedians Matt Brady, Erik Cribley, Willis Gordon and musicians Bobby Vaughn and Comparda were featured. Daniel Palmentera of My Mouth Is The Speaker was also pulled on stage by the crowds cooing that he and Vaughn play “At Your Funeral” by Saves The Day. (They all ruled.) Two boxes stacked on a dryer cradled a black HP laptop with a video-streaming camera attached so people could follow via social media sites. To thank those who came, pay the comedians, and offset the cost of their podcast dues, the trio set up a raffle.

"We celebrate everything about this city."

“I’m claustrophobic and it’s near the stairs,” guest Tony Sansonetti, 28, of Tallmadge, told me. “It’s a unique seating area. I can see the stage, crowd reactions and sound booth. Also, I like to think I can help direct people to the hidden standing area behind the booth after the show starts but mainly, I’m just a loner.” On nights dedicated to the comedy shows, the hosts bring in their favorite local comedians and musicians, picking new acts they explore between shows. Host Paul Wolfe, 27, of Akron, proactively goes to local comedy shows and reaches out to comedians and musicians he wants onboard.

“The whole reason why we do this is because we host a podcast and we have all these people on it and we want to showcase their talents,” Wolfe said. Comparda added, “We do the podcast to showcase anything that goes on locally, art-wise.” “We celebrate everything about this city,” Ast said. To catch the next show, ‘Like’ Lousy Weather Media Podcast Channel on Facebook. For podcast episodes visit:

The idea of having basement comedy shows spun off of Ast and Wolfe’s experiences of


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Show review

51 E MARKET ST AKRON, OH 44308 (330) 374-1114 LIVEATMUSICA.COM

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It begins like any other night at the Old 97 Café — the space is filled with an after-work crowd ordering mixed drinks, shifting their glances from the company close beside them to the classic film screening on the television set above the bar. Tonight, as patrons of the noted Kenmore pub are warming up with craft beers, whiskey and intimate conversation, Akron gypsy jazz band The Help and The Hands are setting up to fill the dark space with sounds of another place and time. Gravel-voiced vocalist and guitarist Brian Feltner and multi-instrumentalist Steve Bennett make up The Help, a rag-tag duo of gritty troubadours serenading the Rubber City with mournful blues and raspy yowls. The Hands fill out the lineup, with sisters Caty and Christine Petersilge on violin and cello, respectively. Midway through the first set, two corgis waddle through the tables, not barking orders but some other message only understood between the conversational pups. To any other band playing in the intimate venue, this may have been an awkward disruption, but tonight, the woofs are welcomed by the musicians gracing the small corner stage. “We are corgi fans,” Feltner says. “This is our dog song.”


Feltner leads the players in a harmonious howl as they dive into a cover of Sam the Sham and the Pharaoh’s “Li’l Red Riding Hood,” a rock ‘n’ roll tune that sounds like a dark pirate shanty on this particular evening. The Old 97 glows red hot as The Help and The Hands play three sets worth of songs new and old, ranging from selections off of their first EP, “Rubber City Rhapsody,” to old standards seasoned with a style and flavor only this particular group can cook up. The quartet hints that they’ll be back in the studio as they continue into covers of “St. James Infirmary Blues” and “When I Get Low, I Get High.” Bennett floats about the stage, switching from accordion to cornet to musical saw, even slinking off stage and through the bar cutting the quiet corners of the establishment with sound. He and Feltner weave on-stage banter with call-and-response tunes as the sisters’ strings ring out with tender precision. The foursome welcomes local upright bass player Jason Willis to sit in for a few tunes, including “Tongues,” a linguistic maze of a track from their new EP “Prime.” “This song is in more languages than you can count on one hand,” Bennett says. He tells no lie, as Feltner sings messages that suggest a life full of travel and encounters with characters from around the globe.

With each number, the crowd gets a bit more rowdy, adding a rhythm section of foot stompin’ and hand clappin’ to tunes like “Great Things” and a medley of Leonard Cohen and Decemberists covers. The group has a clearly loyal following of fans and fellow musicians sitting close to the stage with wide eyes, half-empty glasses and smiles. Feltner thanks each performer and the crowd for enjoying the “ragged but right” group of troubadours. Taking on the role of raconteur, Feltner continues that he begins each day with a bowl of gravel and vodka. “And spiders,” Caty adds, illustrating the blend of haunting grit, humor and overall dynamic of the band as they close out their last set. The Help and The Hands will bring their special blend of acoustic Balkan Gypsy folk, jazz and blues back to the Old 97 Café on April 18.

Check out The Help and The Hands on Facebook and ReverbNation:


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Our huge bar makeover

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Learn more about the Old 97 Café online at

Like us on Facebook - /LiveatMusica Follow us on Twitter - @LiveatMusica

behind the bar


Lisa Stewart, BLU Jazz+ What was your first night like? The first night at BLU Jazz+ was not what I expected at all. The official grand opening was scheduled for Friday October 24. The day before, the whole staff was getting in some last minute cleaning and training when Tony decides to tell us that this will be the day for our soft opening. We all panicked a bit, especially me since I was the only bartender that was available to work so last minute! I hurried home, changed my clothes and tried to mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen (Tony has A LOT of friends). It started out OK, then slowly but surely around 100 people showed up including an impromptu performance by Dorianne Denard. It was crazy, and scary and unfamiliar, but in a way, I was really glad I was thrown into it before officially opening to the public, I now knew what to expect.

Name: Lisa Stewart Hometown: Canton, OH Lives in: Highland Square Job: Bartender, BLU Jazz+


Good or bad, what’s one thing you wouldn’t have known if you weren’t a bartender? I have a degree in Public Relations but I have learned more about people in my bartending experience than I ever learned in school. Reading people is an art, and bartenders have to master that skill. I have learned to become more patient and understanding. I have learned to become a great listener, whether it's someone telling me a personal story or someone giving me a long drink order. I think everyone should work in a restaurant or a bar at some point in their lives to get a better understanding about working with the public in this capacity. It really gives you a different perspective.

Where do you go when you’re not at work? I love little local bars. I am not a night club type of person, so you will find me at Frank's Place on Market or at The Square Bar. I love bars where they have "activities" going on whether it's music trivia, live music, or my favorite, karaoke! Anyone that knows me knows that I am obsessed with karaoke. I do like to switch it up sometimes and go see music at Uncorked and have a glass of wine, or go to an open mic night at Baxter’s, but I mostly just stick to the Highland Square area since it is close to where I live. Favorite drink to make or order away from work? I do not have a specific drink that is my favorite to make but I love getting customers to try new things. Our most popular drink at BLU is called the Maiden Lane, a bourbon-based cocktail with fresh blackberries. Some people will overlook it because it's bourbon, but once they taste it, they never go back. I like getting people to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. I think a strength of mine is figuring out what a person will like based on what they normally drink. In turn, I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone as well and ordering specialty cocktails that other bartenders recommend. (Or beer, I really like beer, haha)

How do you know if it is going to be a good night? At BLU, it's never a bad night. We may be slower or busier than we can predict on any given night, but we can always count on good music and great guests. People's attitudes are different when they enter our doors compared to any other bar I have worked at. Even if someone has a complaint or is unhappy for any reason, the overall atmosphere always seems to fix the problem. Someone may complain about something minor like their food taking too long on a busy night, we apologize and try to remedy the situation and when you look over a minute later they are too busy enjoying the music to remember that they were upset in the first place. The BLU experience is so positive and fun, I have honestly never had a bad night since we have opened. We have been very lucky. What’s your favorite thing about your bar? On a personal level, my favorite thing is the staff. Colin Cook, our GM, handpicked all of the employees, recognizing that we all bring something different to the table; we all have different strengths and Colin strategically placed us in the role that showcases our abilities. We have become more than just coworkers, we have become like a small family. …We all want the best for BLU, our guests, and of course for the city of Akron. I love how different we are from anything else that is happening in Akron right now. We are more than just a "bar," we are an experience.

Best tip you’ve ever gotten? A few years ago on December 26—a day no one wanted to work since it was the day after Christmas—I had a party of four sitting at the bar that were in from Texas visiting family for the holidays. I had brief conversations with them, but mostly they kept to themselves. When it was time to pay the $50 bill, the man asked me what I wanted my tip to be. I actually hate when people ask that question because I obviously want to respond with a number higher than they want to give. I told him 20% was what I usually receive and that is all I expect. He handed me the slip with a $250 tip and said, “Merry Christmas. Buy yourself something nice.” It was pretty awesome, and needless to say, all the employees that didn't want to work that day wished they had.

| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


The State of the Scene

(continued from page 17)

Singer, song-writer, Brian Lisik

To that end, Musica is now opening its doors at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday nights. “I want Musica to be a venue where everyone feels welcome,” says event ccoordinator Jasmine Shadburn. “There’s so much great talent in Akron. [Opening at 5] will give us more time to include local musicians; give them a stage to perform on.” Extra Spooky members are in agreement that Akron needs a signature music festival, possibly at Lock 3. “All the music is cover bands,” McCoy says. “They have room for three stages to go at once. They could have an annual music festival that could make a lot of money and attract a lot of people to Akron.” Some bands are dubious about Lock 3 booking nonlocal tribute bands. Scarlet & the Harlots opened at Lock 3 for a Supertramp tribute band from Canada. “Why are you flying in people from Montreal when you have all these great musicians right here?” Scarlet asks. With a lack of venues for its size and sound, Extra Spooky has turned to house shows and the DIY scene, in which a band gets a space and throws a show. They once played a yoga studio in Manhattan that was converted to a live venue by night. “That is kind of a huge thing for music that’s our size,” Cohill says. “The bands themselves run the shows and you can have a sound guy you can trust.” The Firestone High School grads have played together for five years and are the essence of serious—no booze or smokes, and they practice every day. Despite their youth, these guys believe in the power of print media, investing in posters and buttons they distribute


around town. The plan is to release their album, “Marbles,” dedicated to Akron, and move to L.A. in late summer. “We believe Akron could become something eventually but it’s just not now, and we can’t really wait around,” McCoy says. Extra Spooky’s swan song show should send them to L.A. happy. They’ll open Jilly’s July 31 for the Bizarros and the Bad Dudes (Mike Hammer and Kal Mullens of Hammer Damage with Mike Houseman of The Record Party).

“They’re a really big proponent of the punk scene,” Viv says. “Sometimes there’s oversaturation but it’s a better problem than having nowhere to play.” Midge agrees, “There’s more of a carefree vibe at Annabell’s.” Carefree indeed. During one ShiSho gig, Annabell’s hosted a deviled egg-making contest won by a local chef who dyed his eggs with octopus ink. Conversely, ShiSho was once invited to play a Girl Scout festival in Solon and positioned next to Radio Disney. Their cover of “America Will Punch You” by Steve Ganze of Harvey & Felix was not well received.

series as a way to open up to local talent, scheduling cabaret-style shows with the band and audience both on the 200-person capacity stage. Parr hosted 36 such events last year, featuring a range of musical styles. Club events are pretty much break-even shows. “It’s very eclectic, almost exclusively based on local attractions,” Parr says. “The more we’re able to provide platforms that allow people to easily access whatever their tastes are, the more it will work to dispel this concept that there’s not much going on here.” Parr believes Akron venues, artists and audiences all benefit when the entire area is doing well and drawing crowds. If there’s a vital step forward to take, maybe opening up more is it.


“There were some angry moms,” Viv recalls.

“This is not about excluding,” Parr says. “This is inclusion.”

ShiSho says the area lacks venues for “youngwave” punk, a term they coined. Despite their youth, Viv and Midge have found a way to perform and record their original funny folk punk since 2005. But it’s been a struggle despite their longevity and their chops. (Their latest, “The Sisters” EP, features the Dead Milkmen on “The Dead Milkmen Song.”)

Age has been a problem for Extra Spooky as well. At one Akron gig, 30-some fans were turned away at the door because they weren’t old enough to buy booze. Fans offered to pay a cover but were still locked out.

The question isn’t whether that would help but what Akron’s music scene will look like—in a year, or in 10—once that becomes the rule instead of the exception. ________________________________________

“They wouldn’t budge,” says McCoy.

“There’s a lack of places for people under 21 to play and in Kent there’s a lack of excitement about music,” Viv says. “The venues need to step it up a couple notches. You can play EuroGyro but there’re people there watching sports at the same time.”


BIO: When Jenny Conn was a kid she knew wanted to either climb trees or be a writer. She cut her teeth writing news for weekly, daily and trade publications. After earning an M.A. in journalism, she started teaching. Now, she’s a writer who teaches and climbs an occasional tree.

So they’ve gotten creative, playing at Akron Art Museum, the Akron Summit County Public Library events and at Kent’s Scribbles. Annabell’s in Highland Square is their favorite venue.

A few years ago, Parr opened the stage at the Civic Theater to local artists, providing an allages entertainment venue. Under the Civic Theater’s atmospheric dome, stars twinkling through wisps of clouds, are about 2,600 seats, making the venue more suited to large productions that generate operating revenue. Even so, Parr created The Club @ the Civic

MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


my turn


tzwater )

My Local Music Manifesto

If you listen to people like David Byrne from the Talking Heads, the Internet didn’t just cause the sky to fall on the music industry, it’s killing creativity and art at the same time. All forms of artistic expression have been cheapened because now every poor schmuck with a computer can make an album and pollute the Internet with it. How will true artists continue to be found, let alone make a living from their art when just ANYONE has the ability to create and upload music? All these talentless kids and uncles who have stupid garage bands as hobbies are taking attention away from the true artiste, the musician who has been given the trust of a corporate monolith like Interscope or Geffen, and were nurtured into creating true, world-changing, IMPORTANT, legitimate art. If David Byrne had his way, every amateur painter would keep their crappy homemade watercolors in the attic, where they belong, and leave the real art to the professionals. Who are the professionals? Well, artists and musicians who were told by powerful people at record labels that they were good, I suppose. If you aren’t lucky to be plucked from obscurity by an A&R man, your homemade record just isn’t legit enough for David Byrne. Unless someone is willing to roll out a yearlong marketing campaign around your album, why even bother making it? Make no mistake: the digital revolution, the MP3, file-sharing and streaming services killed the music industry as we knew it. So… what does that mean for local and regional music? Digital technology may have killed the music industry, but it did not kill art and the sense of community provided by those that support it and provide it. If the music business is so bad, how has Akron’s independent record shop Square Records continued to increase its business over the past 10 years? If no one buys records anymore, how is that place still open and thriving? And why are there still recording studios in Akron if the advent of home recording studios are so cheap and easy to build? The reason: the culture that created the major label system became corrupt, and the public turned against it. At the same time, the culture that surrounds the production and distribution of art (and music) is as important as it ever has been. Art has survived, music has survived, and the creative community has survived because these are things that have no inherent monetary value but are priceless nonetheless. True music lovers/buyers often want to be a part of a community made up of


other music lovers and creators—and where do you find those people? You find them working at or hanging out in music stores, show venues, recording studios, festivals, live performances. For a local band, streaming audio is not a financial decision; it is one more link in the chain of building and strengthening a community of arts creators and supporters.

In my opinion, that’s all anyone who plays music should be concerned about in the first place—expressing themselves creatively while making their community a better place for it. As the national record industry continues to nosedive, the importance of regional musicians and bands as well as their supporters only increases. Now is the time for local bands to stake their claim on their city, embrace their regional-ness, and be an important part of the conversation as Akron tries to find its next storyline. Now before I start getting angry emails, I would never revel in anyone losing their job. I am not happy that stores went out of business, or that people at record labels are out of work. I will also never advocate for the stealing of someone else’s hard work. I don’t believe in illegal file sharing, and I don’t like the fact that YouTube allows people to upload full albums of music they have no rights to. For some bands, streaming services like Spotify legitimately cut into their finances, because they sell a lot of records. That’s a good reason to abstain from them, but it’s a reason that most musicians will never have to worry about. For the rest of us toiling in local band obscurity, writing songs for small audiences and playing shows within a 50-mile radius, the digital revolution has been the best thing that has ever happened to the creation, production, and release of music. The importance of a vibrant nightlife in this city can only be helped by easy access to the online presence of new and established regional bands and musicians. With local bands’ greater potential for visibility and infinitely greater access to their recorded output, the power of local performers have also have a greater responsibility to help build and represent their communities. In my opinion, that’s all anyone who plays music should be concerned about in the first place—expressing themselves creatively while making their community a better place for it. After all, most of us musicians never have

| THE Devil Strip / MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2

The Bey onderer s (PHOTO

Doc Rich

to worry about the business side, because there is rarely any business to actually worry about (of course, if someone wants to pay your for it, even better). I would argue that technology has made locally-created music more important and vital right now than it has ever been in my lifetime. For those of us living in a city like Akron, a city trying to find the identity that it will run with for the next 30 years, art and music are immensely important in that search for identity. What the music industry has wanted music buyers to believe for the past 60 years is that they know better than we do when it comes to who deserves to make it to the “big time.” They find the real talent out there, hidden among the hobbyists and crummy bar bands. In their version, they help the cream “rise to the top.” As a local musician, I can tell you that line of thinking is, was, and has always been a myth. For every band sanctioned by a major record label to be the next “big thing,” there have been uncountable numbers of bands and musicians from Cleveland, Canton, Akron, Kent, and other places in Northeast Ohio and beyond who are or were every bit as good as bands 10 times more famous than them. I’ve seen bands play blistering sets to no one. I’ve seen solo artists pour their hearts out in the Annabel’s basement for no reason other than for catharsis and connection with other people. I’ve seen strangers play jazz together at the old Northside on a Wednesday night, their only reason being to get out there and explore the creation of music with other people.

For those of us living in a city like Akron—a city trying to find the identity that it will run with for the next 30 years—art and music are immensely important in that search for identity. In 2015, a kid in Akron can write a song at 9 pm, record it simply at their home with one or two tracks, and upload it to YouTube for the entire world to hear by 11 pm. This is a great thing. In my mind, that 14-year-old’s acoustic song is EVERY BIT as important as a Talking Heads song, or a Black Keys song, or a Beatles song. You may have just yelled out loud “The Beatles?! How can some kid in Akron write a song as good as the Beatles?” Do you know how old the Beatles were when they started?

Hint: they were kind of young. Kind of really young. I am intensely proud that our city is represented on a national level by Chrissie Hynde, Devo and The Black Keys, among others. The things those bands have achieved are phenomenal, but also incredibly rare. The local bands we have in our city, though maybe 1/100,000th as financially successful, are every bit as important to this city. Local bands help keep this place interesting and vibrant. “Local” and “regional” are buzzwords used in everything from food to furniture making to theatres to small businesses—let’s focus on trying to “listen local” as well. I truly believe it can be every bit as good for you as eating and shopping locally. A healthy city NEEDS a healthy arts culture, and a healthy arts culture NEEDS a healthy music scene. One of the things I’m supposed to address in this piece is the question “What would help the Akron music scene?” Honestly, I don’t know that we need anything. People are working hard all over to make this music scene something to be proud of. From the people who book local shows at Musica and Annabell’s to the plethora of supportive open mic nights throughout the week and the Porch Rokr fest in Highland Square, important things are happening to distill a creative and fertile music scene. As records from national artists become harder to find at Best Buy and Target, and as FM radio increasingly plays less and less new music, that opens up so much room in a casual music listener’s time and budget to investigate local bands. Right now, from the warmth of your home or office, you can, right this second, take to the internet and stream music by current local musicians like Maid Myriad, Shivering Timbers, Gabe Schray, Trouble Books, Time Cat, Rachel Roberts, Megachurch, Half Cleveland, Herzog, (ahem) The Beyonderers, If These Trees Could Talk…and on and on and on. Their “localness” does not imply a lack of quality; in fact, I think it denotes possession of legitimacy. I think this city, with its rich musical heritage, gives local bands a much higher bar to live up to. And for the most part, they do. If you want to experience music that speaks to you about our city, our neighborhoods, and our shared experiences, listen local.


Puzzles & Comics

Crossword Puzzle Set by Alberich



ACROSS 1 Lousy, perhaps? That makes you irritable (6) 4 Don’t start to give up and slowly pass away! (4,3) 9 Around end of April eccentric local man’s abandoning new type of fuel (5-4) 10 2md child married old & boring person (5) 11 Poet, say, is arrested by English officer (7) 12 Part of maths group is competent in two foreign languages? (7) 13 Standing up before court (5) 14 So she hurriedly wraps present – it’s winter footwear (8) 17 Papa’s dog eating staple food?


DOWN 19 22 24 25 26

27 28

The cost of it! (5,3) Conference for one lecturer is a model of perfection (5) Artist appears in photo as well (7) Hoarse from speaking, Chuck finishes off pint quickly (7) Writer reflected on one small antelope (5) For a start, John Bull’s desperate to meet girl from Prague, perhaps, or another capital (9) Incidentally, article will appear in Times twice (2,3,2) Suffer, following live act (6)

1 Pampered girl’s back in school (8) 2 A disreputable sort regularly visited Vermeer scholars’ world (7) 3 Projectile or bullet, one cut to penetrate (9) 4 Eddy’s admitting solicitor reasoned soundly (4-7-3) 5 Attack falls short, very, when scoring (5) 6 One love after another comprises misery after short time – it’s a tragedy (7) 7 American poet unknown to be unfriendly (6) 8 Sells hot oyster stew, kept warm in this? (7,7)

15 Repair gel sure to hold up? (9) 16 Take no risks? Lincoln’s wife wouldn’t have agreed with this! (4,4) 18 It gives man right to return things primarily? (7) 20 American academic supports one-party state (7) 21 See doctor after old man boosted confidence? (6) 23 Conversely some step in solely to criticise (5)

MARCH 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #2


THE Devil Strip |


Sound Check


Justin Saborit The Empire at

Words by Chris

Horne |

Photos by Svetla

PICTURES WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS I’ve always loved watching soundcheck. It’s the calm before the storm. The venue is usually empty and eerily quiet— until it suddenly isn’t. The band fires up in quick, jolting spurts, one instrument at a time. Mic check, mic check, 1, 2, mic check. I need a little more in this monitor. Half of it is like watching mechanics fine tune a race car before the Indy 500 and the other half, a reminder that these musicians are real people, joking with each other and showing a side you don’t see when the performance begins. That’s why we asked photographer Svetla Morrison to visit the Empire Concert Club before Justin Saborit took the stage. Here are some of our favorites… Enjoy!


The Devil Strip, Issue 2: The State of The Scene  
The Devil Strip, Issue 2: The State of The Scene  

Writer Jenny Conn dug into Akron's music scene to get a sense of where we are and where we're going. She spoke to musicians and venues to ge...