I’ll be taking my traditional birthday/Labor Day week off. To be honest, half of me is already splayed out in my chair in my backyard/at a nearby bar patio, slowly and quietly enjoying a tasty (probably) alcoholic beverage, basking in the lack of labor on Labor Day and waiting for the start of the final season of professional football in my home city of Oakland, California. (Las Vegas is a big, rhinestone-encrusted no-go for me. I'm loyal to my city, not the logo.)
But though I’ll be doing mostly nothing, I can’t leave you, dear reader, with the same, so here’s some-music-related-stuff-you-can-do-while-I’m-not-doing-much column.
Well, actually, I might do this event.
Pizza is easily among the top 25 best things that humankind has ever created. Lock 3 knows this simple fact and this weekend is bringing together eight pizza creators to anchor the three-day First Akron Pizza Fest.
As with most activities with “fest” in the title, there will be plenty of things to do besides eat pizza. There will be a casual cornhole area, a kids' zone with large inflatables and, on Friday, the Vitalant Blood Mobile for all your blood-related needs.
On Saturday, there will be a pizza-eating contest, because it wouldn’t be a proper American food festival without the spectacle of competitive gluttony.
But of course, it’s the music and the pizza we’re here for. Friday night is still a WONE Rock The Lock night, so enjoy that pineapple, tofu and pickled kale pizza — hey, I’m trying to be inclusive here — to the soothing blues-rock-flavored sounds of singer/songwriter/guitarist Nate Lupi, followed by the tribute band sounds of Lotus Land, a Rush tribute band that won RushCon No. 12 and No. 14.
RushCon is, of course, the convention for Rush fans that I’d never heard of before googling it a few minutes ago.
The last RushCon was in 2016, but a win is a win and from the clips I’ve heard and seen these Lotus Land cats know their double-necked guitar-slinging, double-kick-drum-stomping stuff. And it’s free.
On Saturday, the music starts at noon with '90s rock cover band Bad Juju, followed at 3 p.m. by the original melodic, radio-ready rock of Akron’s own Diamond Kites. Then at 5 p.m., it’s Back In Time and then WONE returns with Simply Queen, a Queen tribute band.
Sunday wraps up the First Akron Pizza Fest with Gen X at noon. They’re another '90s cover band, because you can’t have too many folks keeping the music of Limp Bizkit and Seven Mary Three alive on the stages of America’s bars and amphitheaters. Old schoolers Cruisin’ bring you the R&B, pop and Motown hits from “back in the day,” which now includes the '90s. Blues rock band the Mighty Smithtones wind it all down beginning at 7 p.m.
The Friday festivities are free, and it's $5 for Saturday and Sunday and yes, there will be slices and whole pies for sale.
At 8 Friday night, East Los Angeles-based, Chicano rock, folk, blues and soul band Los Lobos will perform at E.J. Thomas Hall.
The group — David Hidalgo, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, Steve Berlin, and Cougar Estrada — has been together since the early '70s and have endured commercial success with albums such as “How Will the Wolf Survive.” Most of their 15 albums have been critically acclaimed, including their most recent studio effort, “Gates of Gold,” which finds the band doing their thing, mixing straight ahead rock and blues, with some soul and various Latin influences, and the occasional dash of weirdness. (Tickets are $45-$55. uakron.edu/ej/.)
Ruben Does Lutha
While we’re staycationing in downtown, on Sept. 7, "American Idol" Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard will perform music from his most recent album “Ruben Sings Luther,” a tribute album and tour to the late beloved singer-songwriter Luther Vandross. Singing “Lutha” is dangerous ground for most singers to tread on, but Studdard’s malleable, velvety voice has been compared to Vandross for much of his career and Studdard’s album is quite respectful and respectable.
Have a joyous Labor Day and sometime next Tuesday, if you have a quiet, private moment, please ponder me and my celebrity birthday crew (Charlie Sheen, Valerie Perrine, Alan Ladd and Costas Mandylor) and how terrible it would be for you to help us celebrate our collective born-on date together in an unplugged Jacuzzi.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.