Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Modulated Tones

This Band Could Be Your Life: The Modulated Tones
by Brit Charek

Looking at photos of The Modulated Tones, it's hard to believe they weren't taken in Andy Warhol's New York City Factory in the 1960's.

The Modulated Tones are Gina Kantner and Kevin Braun
The band's sound follows suit-- a simple two piece made up of Gina Kantner and Kevin Braun, they describe the genre they fit into as "Psychedelic/Experimental." They use heavy feedback, fuzz, tremolo and drones but still manage to keep it catchy.

The band accredits most of their style to the British shoegaze movement of the 1990's by naming bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain as their sole influences. (The sound was known as shoegazing since the audience would often be hypnotized by watching the guitarists stomp on their effects pedals.) 

I made the mistake of asking guitarist Kevin Braun about the effects the band uses and had no idea what he was talking about. They tend to use vintage guitars (a '72 Fender Vibrolux with the original tremolo and a '67 Fender Bassman for their last EP to be specific) and amps, and an array of colorfully named effects pedals such as "sonic boom," "acid fuzz" and "wahzoo wah" to name a few.

Regardless of the process, the product is great. Their sound is rich, fuzzy and catchy.

Oh yeah, and they're new to town. They moved here from New Castle, PA to spread the gospel of psychedelic music.

"We really love all the people in Akron," says Braun, "Here everyone is down to have a good time and great. Everyone has something to say. I haven't had a bad time yet."

I think I can agree with that.

You can listen to The Modulated Tones' latest EP by visiting their Facebook page at or you can welcome them when play their first live show in Akron at Annabell's in Highland Square with As If on October 11. You can also see them play with Ringo Deathstarr of Austin, Texas on October 15 at Now That's Class with Glass Cities and Field Trip-- two more Northeast Ohio bands not to be missed if you dig the psychedelic or shoegaze scene.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Watching the Akron Marathon--Saturday, Sept. 29th

In the early morning hours, thousands of runners will be crossing the starting line on Broadway Street in downtown Akron this Saturday.
Being a Spectator at the Akron Marathon
by Joanna Wilson

Have you seen the blue line all over Akron?  Over 10,000 runners will be following that painted blue line along the streets of Akron this Saturday, September 29th.  You may already know a local runner that is participating in one of the several races going on that day.  These races include not only the marathon (26.2 mile race) but the half marathon (13.1 miles), the relay team race (five runners share the 26.2 distance between them) and even a children's race (1 mile non-competitive run).  Local residents should be aware of the road closures in enforcement for Saturday.  There's a downloadable pdf of the road closures available on the Akron Marathon website, under the RACE WEEKEND heading.

Akron Marathon runners crossing the All-American Bridge (or the Y-Bridge, if you're an Old School Akronite).
If you aren't racing that day, a fun way to participate is to be a spectator.  The Akron Marathon course is specifically designed to pass by several well-known local landmarks as well as easy viewing spots encouraging spectators to join in on the fun and excitement passing them by.  If you have children and the weather is cooperative, you could easily make a fun picnic brunch along the blue line with poster board signs and cowbells and whistle noisemakers. 

A little inspiration goes a long way.

As a runner myself, I know how valuable it is to the racers to receive shouts of encouragement from spectators.  It really does help an exhausted runner reach deep into themselves for more strength and energy when they hear and see people cheering for them.  Need inspiration for a good sign? Check out this website: Best Race Signs for some hilarious examples of inspirational messages from other races all over the country.

Sit in Canal Park Stadium to see the runners cross the finish line.

So WHERE are the best places to be a spectator?  There's always the starting line on Broadway St. in downtown Akron.  However, you'll need to be there before 7am and within just a few minutes of the start time, all the runners leave and there's nothing else to see.  I recommend a location much further into the 26 mile course to give the runners a chance to spread out.  An excellent location is the finish line: Canal Park Stadium.  The runners finish their race within the stadium so you can sit in the stadium chairs, see each of the runners dramatically cross the finish--and have access to restrooms and food/drink vendors.  Of course, if the race starts at 7am, runners won't arrive for a couple hours after that but runners will continue to cross the finish line until after noon.

Another choice spot for spectators is down in the valley where Akron Peninsula Rd. meets Portage Path.  This is the 16 mile mark for runners as they exit the Towpath and head south on N. Portage Path.  There is lots of parking in the retail stores along the plaza there.  Another recommended spot is Firestone High School.  This is at the 20.7 mile mark for the racers and a place within the marathon that they will need encouragement.  You've heard of runners "hitting the wall" during a marathon?  That's runners-speak for reaching the 18-20 mile point and feeling the inevitable exhaustion that comes from such an activity.  At Firestone High School, you'll see the runners who have hit the wall and you'll be in a prime location to encourage them to keep moving to the finish line. I have been camped out at Firestone High School before and I know what a great spot this is--it's also easy to reach on race morning.

Don't complain about road closures--join the fun and encourage the runners.  Photo courtesy of

If you live in the Highland Square area, you can easily watch the runners from Portage Country Club which is at the 23 mile point of the marathon race course, or you can camp out on W. Market Street in Highland Square itself (24 mile mark) and cheer the runners on to the finish line, only two more miles further.  If you'd like more prime spectator location suggestions, the Akron Marathon website and the race directors offer several additional locations.  Click HERE for more spectator locations.

If you do set up along the race course, please use common sense.  Don't interfere with the runners, stay off the race course itself, respect whoever's yard/property you may be near and pick up your own trash.  The only thing I want to know is who's going to invite me to their Blue Line party?

For more information:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Saffron Patch in the Valley

Saffron Patch Serves Up Epic Food in the Valley
By Mathias Noble King 

Tucked away in the valley amongst miscellaneous pubs is quite possible the most phenomenal Indian restaurant in all of Northeast Ohio, Saffron Patch

It was kind of a random visit-- I’ve never heard of this place, but Akron Public Library was on the itinerary and Indian food sounded like a pretty great detour.

 if you see this sign, enter, delicious food will be served!

The place is clean, quiet, and the staff was friendly.  The décor is rather modest but there's a full bar including some Indian beers (I'd recommend the Taj Mahal) They have a wide range of appetizers including a variety of samosas and pakodas.

What a nice nook to eat in.

With a generous tandoori list and so many other dinner sized portions this menu indulges any craving you might have. 

I went for the mutter paneer and there's no denying that it was the best paneer dish I’ve ever had. 

It wasn’t just good-- it had a very deep complex taste: a mixture of spices and sauce and it was paired with quality jasmine rice. The only problem I had was selecting naan, only because they all sounded delicious, but I finally picked out the buttered and garlic naan (who doesn’t love garlic?!)

mmm paneer

Anytime I am in the Akron area and dinner comes down to a vote, you know what I’m suggesting!

Saffron Patch is located at 1244 Weathervane Lane in the valley, right by the Weathervane Theater. To get more information, visit their website by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shop Local--this Fall!

I wear my  passion on my bumper.

Portage Trail Barn Sale, Square Fest and Hallo-Weirdfest
by Joanna Wilson

I love this time of year!  The weather begins to cool back down and I look forward to fall activities each weekend.  There are so many good events happening in the next few weeks, I wanted to share a few of my favorites.  If you know of other enjoyable events coming up soon--email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail and we'll see if we can put it on the calendar.  Do you consult our calendar?  It's at the bottom of this blog.  Check it out!

Look for the sign!

Portage Trail Barn *Fall Sale*
Thur Sept. 20, 5-8pm
Fri Sept. 21, 10am-3pm
Sat Sept 22,  10am-3pm
Portage Trail Barn Fall Sale Facebook event link

If you haven't been yet, Portage Trail Barn is a rustic wooden barn filled with seasonal and handmade items  While you're enjoying a cup of cider, you can peruse the re-purposed and Earth-friendly materials crafted by local artists as well as the autumn decorative and wearable goods.  This family-friendly spot is ideal because of the diversity of items--all made by people in Cuyahoga Falls and the greater Akron area.  The organizer has been putting up photos of some of the vendors' items on her blog in the past week, continuing through this week.  Click here for that link.  Yes, those hand embroidered greeting cards are made by me!

Bring the kids and shop at the Portage Trail Barn.

Square Fest
Saturday Sept. 22, 10am-8pm
Square Fest Facebook event link

Most everyone is familiar with the annual street festival Art in the Square held in Highland Square in Akron.  When it was announced last spring that Art in the Square was canceled for 2012, two men had the courage and ambition to pull together a community festival after all.  Let's show our support and show up!  They have bands scheduled all day, vendors and artists booths, as well as the participation of local businesses.  Square Records is having an indoor Sidewalk Sale--click HERE for the Square Records Sidewalk Sale Facebook event link.  We should all be in Highland Square this Saturday, not only to enjoy the festival but to encourage and support the organizers, proving that this community event needs to be an ongoing annual tradition.  According to the FB event wall, they still need local vendors--so there's still oppportunity to get involved, if you're so inclined.  Will I see you there?

Saturday October 6, noon-6pm
Hallo-Weirdfest Facebook event link

Devilstrip Dolly's is hosting their second festival of art and music of the year.  Devilstrip Dolly's is the anti-gallery and shopping experience next to the Bomb Shelter on Bank Street.  Click HERE for a previous Akron Empire post about Devilstrip Dolly's.   Hallo-Weirdfest promises to be the creepiest and funnest festival of them all with a parking lot full of artists booths, food from Stray Dog Cart and music.  Did you miss the musical performance of Dolly Rocker Ragdoll at the first Weirdfest in May?  Here's your chance to catch him again.  Click HERE to see what one guest blogger thought of Dolly Rocker Ragdoll.  The schedule also includes a mini Dr. Sketchy's event--an opportunity to get creative.  Click HERE to check out a past Dr. Sketchy's event covered by Akron Empire.  This all-day festival of weirdness promises to be a good time of which I have no doubt.  Keep Akron Weird!

And we're all looking forward to the biggest arts & crafts show of the season CraftyMart--coming soon!  Perhaps November?--we'll wait and see.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Root Candles in Medina, Ohio

The entrance to the flagship store in Medina.  Photo courtesy of

My First Trip to Root Candles
by Joanna Wilson

Some of the best things we learn about can often come from word of mouth recommendations from friends.  I was recently talking with a friend and she mentioned needing to head over to Medina to buy more candles. I confessed my ignorance for "high quality Medina candles" and I think she thought I was kidding (but I wasn't!)  My friend began to explain the long history of the A.I. Root Company--and now I'm not so sure how I could have lived in Akron for so long without knowing about this incredible resource so close to home.  This past weekend, my lesson was made complete when my friend actually took me shopping at the Root Candle Store and the Factory Outlet around the back.  So for anyone else who doesn't yet know:  the highest quality candles are made right in our own backyard at Root Candles, in Medina.

My friend drove us right into the quaint center of Medina and the store was easy to find with signs all over the downtown area directing us to the popular attraction.  I quickly learned that there is a very long history to this local company.  Founded in 1869 in Medina, A.I. Root Company was first established by a beekeeper to address the needs of the bee culture of the time.  The company spread to making honey and in 1928 began manufacturing beeswax candles.  Though their name has been updated to Root Candles, it is a fifth generation, family run company still located in Medina.  I just love that legacy!  Since I'm someone who values shopping and buying locally made items, that's important to me.  Click this link for more on the history of Root Candles.

Over 140 years in business right here in Medina.  Photo courtesy of

What's even more impressive are the candles themselves!  Though I intended to just accompany my friend for the afternoon on her shopping trip, I ended up caught up in the aroma of the Factory Outlet store filled with scented candles.  This time of year, the store is well stocked with autumn scents and even the upcoming Christmas/winter aromas as well.  There were so many attractive fragrances that I decided to buy a variety of votive candles.  The candles are sold by style, color and by size--but I found the information about length of burn times most helpful.  Of course, shopping at the Factory Outlet means these candles are factory seconds but they can be had with a steep discount.  I came home home with these new fragrances: Pumpkin Spice, Crisp Linen, Ginger Patchouli--and the wintry scents: Bayberry, Sparkling Cranberry, Cherry Chocolates, Juniper Wreath and Spiced Gumdrop.  Check out this link to more of their scented candles.

I purchased a variety of these 20 hour, small votive candles--I think Crisp Linen is my favorite fragrance.  Photo courtesy of

I might be the last person in Akron to learn about Root Candles.  But I couldn't help thinking what a great place this would be to take friends and family from out of town, the next time we're looking for an afternoon's worth of activities.  After leaving the Factory Outlet store, we walked around to the flagship retail store where they sell the highest quality candles including all the sizes, styles and colors they make, as well as unscented ones.  In addition to candles, they also see home decor items, kitchen and gourmet food items and even toys and things for children.  This is certainly a place to keep a group of women busy for an afternoon.  I want to thank for my friend for not laughing at me when I told I didn't know about candles from Medina. 

Where do you shop for locally made items?  Have you been to Root Candles before?  Check them out:
623 West Liberty Street
Medina, Ohio 44256


Saturday, September 8, 2012

None Too Fragile Theater

None Too Fragile Offers Indie Theater in Merriman Valley
by Brit Charek

There's nothing quite like seeing a live theater production. Now imagine seeing live theater in a room with just eighty people in it and being just a few feet away from where the actors are performing.

That's what None Too Fragile is trying to accomplish with their new space in Merriman Valley, opening September 28.

Jaysen Mercer, Managing Director at None Too Fragile, describes the types of plays they will be producing as "professional indie theater."

"Most people are with the concept of indie movies versus Hollywood movies," Mercer explains, "Both have their place, and both produce entertaining products, but one is usually substantially different from the other." 

None Too Fragile is located in the same space as Pub Bricco on Merriman Rd. in the valley 
"Our intention is to make the entire experience something to remember," continues Mercer, "Which is why you enter through an Irish Pub rather than our own front door. We want our patrons to feel like they are part of something underground, something unique."

Tickets are $20, but None Too Fragile offers a Pay-Whatever-You-Can policy to provide opportunities for those who might not normally be able to afford tickets to live theater.

On an average day, the first show in the new theater location, opens September 28

On an average day, by John Kolvenbach starring Sean Derry and Mark Mayo is the first show None Too Fragile is producing in their new location. When the play was first produced at the West End in London in 2002 it starred Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLaughlin. Opening Night is September 28 and it runs through October 18. Tickets are available now through the theater's website at