Get around Kent for some music, hear Akron Voices tell their stories
I’m another year older and deeper in debt and quite possible already shrinking. I tend to completely check out when I’m on vacation so I hope I didn’t miss anything vital. (Checks to see if Dylan, Springsteen, Wonder, McCartney, John, Swift, Madonna, Manilow, Beyonce are all still alive). Good, good.
Here’s a bunch of random stuff to see and hear as I play catch-up and scroll through my 17,000-plus emails (not an exaggeration).
This Friday marks the sixth annual Kent Round Town Music Fest happening in 30 venues all around downtown Kent. As beautiful and user-friendly as the weather has been this month, this should be a fun night to wander around.
In case you missed the Kent American Roots Music Festival this past spring (Kent apparently can’t get enough acoustic guitars or festivals featuring acoustic guitars), you can catch a few of the same acts on Friday, plus there’s a bit more variety with more than 30 acts participating.
Among the folks worthy of checking out are popular local artists such as singer, songwriter and producer Gretchen Pleuss (7 p.m. Bricco, 210 S. Depeyster St.); Kent’s own the Outside Voices (5:30 p.m. Acorn Plaza, where I once saw them play a set of solidly tuneful rootsy jangle rock); and Cleveland indie folk-pop couple By Light We Loom (5:30 p.m. Tree City Coffee & Pastry).
Some younger folks are also on the bill, including Akron singer-songwriter Indre, who released her debut album “Serenity” this year and has gotten some spins on 91.3 The Summit. "Serenity" is a mix of folksy guitars and contemporary pop melodies flavored with ethereal synth pads and Indre's fluttery melodies.
Now that the Shootouts are touring and playing festivals and such, there’s the Cory Grinder Band (10 p.m. Water Street Tavern, 132 S. Water St.), another band of honky-tonk revivalists for old-school country fans to enjoy.
For the funkier Afro-Latin side of things, there’s the horn-heavy instrumental group Costley Ct., which still has a Myspace page (apparently still an active World Wide Web thing).
Veterans include Wallace Coleman (8 p.m. JB’s Brewhouse Pub, 244 N. Water St.), former blues harp player for the late legend Robert Jr. Lockwood and, of course, 15-60-75 aka The Numbers Band (7 p.m. Venice Cafe, 163 W. Erie St.).
There’s also an acoustic, garage-cover power trio composed of older gentleman called Low t (7 p.m. Bistro On Main, 1313 W. Main St.), which makes me think of those ridiculous Nugenix commercials featuring baseball Hall of Famer Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas espousing the benefits of a modern snake oil that boosts both “free and Total Testosterone. Plus, your wife will like it, too (wink).”
All the acts are playing extended sets so you can mix and match, come and go at you’re leisure. For more info: www.kentroundtown.org/schedule.
If you’d like to possibly step outside your comfort zone Saturday, Chestnut Ridge Park will host the second annual "Many Voices, One Akron: A Celebration of Diversity." The program is an “afternoon of music and storytelling,” featuring an eclectic mix of talented folks who call this area home and have stories that you probably haven’t heard.
The performers and storytellers include trans pop singer/songwriter Natalie Martin and emphatic contemporary rockin’ blues-rock dude Hayden Gilbert, whose trio, Hayden Gilbert & The Ruckus, has been building an audience in the area for the past couple of years.
Also appearing are Appalachian fiddler Sara Finan, emcee and producer Ali Coker and musician-educator Puspa Gajmer, who founded and runs the Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy in North Hill and spent most of the first two decades of his life in a refugee camp in Bhutan after his family was ethnically cleansed from their family home in Bhutan. For more info: https://bit.ly/2m9JG4C.
One more item for you fans of country musicians: The Canton-based Music Farm is celebrating the grand opening of its Akron location on Arlington Road from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday with Sarah Kay of WQMX on site at 11 a.m., along with an EarthQuaker pedal demo booth, which is a lot of fun to play in for guitar nerds.
Country star Luke Bryan plays Blossom on Saturday, but if you can’t make that show or just can’t get enough Bryan, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can get Bryan adjacent when his bassist, James Cook, and drummer, Kent Slucher, stop by the store for a meet-and-greet.
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.