The local country music scene gets a few days in the spotlight with the inaugural Rockin' Country Festival, today through Friday night.
The festival was organized by Kent State graduate student, aspiring country music P.R. maven and big ol' country music fan Jodee Hammond, who got the idea while reporting from the 2010 CMA Music Festival in Nashville.
The festival also doubles as a food drive for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and attendees are encouraged to bring canned food items for donation. And remember, this will be food for actual human consumption, so no eight-year-old, dust-covered cans of pickled Brussels sprouts, please.
As for the music, Hammond has tapped a few of the most popular local country bands in the area, kicking off at The Kent Stage tonight with the Carter Twins (21-year-old brothers Josh and Zach), whose country pop sound and brotherly harmonies heard in the single Heart Like Memphis have been garnering them attention, including some time in rotation on CMT.
It might be a good idea to see them now, so in a couple of years when they're opening for Toby Keith at Blossom, you can brag, ââI remember seeing those nice young men at the Kent Stage, back before they were famous.ââ
Also on the bill is Tony Rio and Relentless, a hardworking quintet that certainly fits the festival's title with a contemporary country-rock sound and Rio's twang-infused tenor. Tunes such as Southern Fried Saturday Night and the anthemic Freewheelin are built for bar crowd sing-a-longs and drunken two-stepping.
Friday night the boot-scootin' continues with the ââWalk of Fameââ featuring seven acts at seven downtown Kent venues. All shows are free (so there's no excuse for not donating some food). Here's the schedule:
Â¬]5:30 p.m., Katie O. at Pufferbelly Restaurant, 152 Franklin Ave.
Â¬]7 p.m., Rob Duskey and The Rounder at Mugs Brew Pub, 211 Franklin Ave.
Â¬]7:30 p.m., Courtney Bergman at 157 Lounge, 157 S. Water St.
Â¬]7:30 p.m., Derrick McKee at Venice, 163 Franklin Ave.
Â¬]10 p.m., Laura Fedor at The Loft, 112 W. Main St.
Â¬]10:30 p.m., The Flaughers/Curtis Band at Water Street Tavern, 132 S. Water St.
Â¬]11 p.m., The Ryan Humbert Band at Ray's Place, 135 Franklin Ave.
Besides jump-starting her P.R. career and getting a taste of concert promotion, Hammond has also adroitly included her fellow students through the school's Record Promotions II class (I'll bet that curriculum has changed quite a bit over the past few years) and the Journalism and Mass Communications Got To Believe Entertainment organization run by professor Gene Shelton.
What: The Carter Twins and Tony Rio & Relentless B
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Kent Stage, 175 E.
Main St., Kent B
Tickets: $10 advance, $15 at the door
While we are talking about the Kent Stage, there's a performer coming who doesn't fit into the usual bailiwick of folk, blues and Americana when DJ Steve Aoki plays the intimate venue.
Aoki (son of Benihana founder Rocky Aoki) is a longtime DJ/producer/remixer/record label head who, through his Dim Mak Records, has helped jumpstart the careers of electronic/alternative artists such as MSTRKRFT, Bloc Party, The Gossip and others. He's also done scores of remixes, for folks such as Michael Jackson, The Killers, Drake and many more.
I've never seen a DJ act at the Kent Stage, but hopefully there's some way to free up floor space for folks to dance.
What: Steve Aoki
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday B
Where: The Kent Stage, 175 E.
Main St., Kent
Tickets: $25, $30B
Musica has a couple of interesting shows by national acts on the way, starting with Cincinnati's mellow AAA duo Over The Rhine on Saturday. Husband and wife, pianist/guitarist/bassist Linford Detweiler and vocalist/pianist/guitarist Karin Bergquist have been purveying their quiet, Americana-infused sound since their 1991 debut Till We Have Faces and are currently touring behind The Long Surrender, released last month.
The album, on the band's own Great Speckled Dog label, was recorded in California with respected Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer Joe Henry, who also co-wrote a few tunes and has produced well-received albums from Solomon Burke, Mose Allison and Bettye LaVette. It features a duet with band hero Lucinda Williams on the sparse, mournful acoustic tune Undamned.
On April 15 Musica welcomes longtime alt-rock duo Local H. Scott Lucas (vocals/guitar) and Brian St. Clair (drums) are celebrating the release of Local H: The Island Years, part of their former label's ICON compilation series, which purports to choose artists who represent a genre and/or a generation (who also happen to be on a Universal record label).
The designation places the duo alongside other ICON comp recipients including Johnny Cash, James Brown, Lynyrd Skynyrd and um... Hoobastank.
Basically, it's a combo platter of contractual obligation and Universal trying to suck every ounce of blood from the band's musical turnip.
But for Local H fans it means the current tour, dubbed The Singles Tour: All the Hits All Night, will feature all of the band's singles. So there will be no need to worry if they'll play the post-grungy All The Kids Are Right or the catchy Bound to the Floor or Eddie Vedder because they most certainly will.
What: Over The Rhine
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: 41 E. Market St., Akron B
THE CARTER TWINS - Reinvent The Wheel
OVER THE RHINE - I'm On A Roll
Scion A/V Presents: Steve Aoki and Armand Van Heldon "BRRRAT!
(Editors note): What the hell was that?
LOCAL H - Bound For The Floor