Thursday, August 30, 2012

Competition for the Akron Art Prize Kicks Off at the Akron Art Walk This Saturday

Akron Art Prize
By Brit Charek

There are over 135 artists who entered the competition for the Akron Art Prize and are showing their work at galleries all over Akron throughout the next month, and you personally can help determine who deserves to win a piece of the $10,000 in prize money.

Summit Art Space is located on the corner of Summit and E. Market downtown

In a way, it's like the American Idol of the Akron art world. The public, who may or may not be educated in the Fine Arts, gets out their cell phone and texts in their vote for their favorite piece and whichever artist gets the most votes texted in wins. Unlike AI, however, you receive a limited amount of votes to cast, and you actually have to get off your sofa and go see some art.

Participating galleries include Summit ArtspaceWe Gallery and an outdoor space at the Akron Art Museum downtown, or you can head over to Millworks Gallery and Red Light Gallery on the Northside.

Red Light Gallery

Never been to the Akron Art Walk? This might be the perfect opportunity to check it out! The next one, which is the launch of the Akron Art Prize, takes this Saturday, September 1 and takes place the first Saturday of every month.

Visit the Downtown Akron Partnership's website to learn more about the event and how to register your phone to cast your ten votes. You can vote anytime between September 1 and October 6, and anyone over 16 can enter.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Take a Tour of the Akron Civic Theatre

The Akron Civic Theatre
by Joanna Wilson

Ever been to a concert or a show at the downtown Civic Theatre and marveled at the architecture of the building?  I recently took the FREE guided tour offered monthly (the third Tuesday of each month) at the Civic.  All my questions--and more--were answered about the historic building.  I also got to hear the behind-the-scenes experiences of the theater staff.  For example, did you know that many of the staff believe the venue to be haunted?

The opulence of the staircase can still be felt by every visitor.
When you first enter the lobby of the Civic Theatre, you are treated to the grand and lavish interior of this historic structure.  The tour guide is delighted to share the background of the construction of the theater as well as the details of each of the ornamental fixtures of the interior including the various pieces of furniture.  You'll be surprised to discover how much of it is all original!

The Civic Theatre underwent extensive renovations starting in 2001.  Gone are the all white hallways and ceilings that I saw in my youth when I first visited the theater.  The Moorish-Spain castle-inspired opulence has been brought back from its 1920s original opening.  In the lobby, you can see the vibrant Mediterranean turquoise and terracotta colors in the walls again.  You can also see the very edge of the restoration work along the ceiling and the walls away from the staircase (visible in the above photo).  They are currently fundraising to continue the restoration to return all of this theater to its former glory.

Have you ever admired the portrait painted above the front entrance/exit?  It's Christopher Columbus on horseback.  Take another look next time you're there.

The tour also takes you to the mezzanine level (also known as the balcony) where you can spend as much time as you like admiring the atmospheric ceiling with it's twinkling stars and breezy clouds.  I learned from the tour guide that the constellations in the ceiling actually mirror the sky seen above Vienna, the childhood home of the original architect John Eberson.  How cool is that?

I'm barely scratching the surface describing the things you'll get to experience on your tour of the facility.  Something interesting to most everyone is hearing the funny stories about the various entertainers who have graced the stage over the years.  The children in my tour group were rapt with a story about Alice Cooper's snake who escaped his dressing room and wound himself around a heating pipe in the interior of the building!  Okay, it wasn't just the children who loved that story but there's many more too.  You can hear about the parrot Loretta who used to fly free within the theater and feel a chill when a staff member shares a story about her own sighting of a ghost!  The guided tour isn't just an entertaining way to spend an afternoon, it's also a way to further connect with our own history and legacy in Akron.

To schedule your RSVP for the tour, call the Civic Theatre office at 330-535-3179
Follow the Civic Theatre on Facebook 
Akron Civic Theatre website

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mr. Zub's Deli at the Matinee in Highland Square

Mr. Zub's Deli
by Brit Charek

The decor at Mr. Zub's in Highland Square is nothing too special. The bright yellow walls and the photos of sandwiches are a nice touch, but it's food that keep customers coming back. The sandwiches are generously portioned, reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.

On top of that, the staff is always friendly, helpful and unpretentious. Since the building is connected to the Matinee, customers can eat inside the sandwich shop or have their order delivered over to the bar right next door.

Not only are the sandwiches delicious, but they're fun to order. Why? They're all named for a character from a TV show or a movie, mostly cult classics. The menus themselves are quirky and well-designed. 

A few examples of menu items: the Uncle Rico has roast beef and tots, the Borat is falafel on pita,the Rocky Balboa is a classic philly sandwich, the Clarice Starling is a gyro (Get it? Silence of the Lambs), and my personal favorite, the Rosemary (named for Rosemary's Baby), is tofu, onion and sprouts with cream cheese on a bagel-- It's especially delicious if you sub hummus for cream cheese. It's a great option for vegans.

The logo is a stick of butter-- They don't sacrifice flavor to accommodate the health conscious at Mr. Zub's! (Though they do have some delicious veggie and vegan-friendly items)
Mr. Zub's is open for lunch and dinner to eat in or take out, and they conveniently stay open a half hour past when the bars in Highland Square close. And as an added bonus it is owned and operated by Highland Square residents, so you can feel good about investing your money back into the Akron Empire.

The Large Marge (i.e. Tuna Melt, named from Pee Wee's Big Adventure)

Mr. Zub's Deli is located on West Market Street in Highland Square right next to the Matinee. To learn more and check out their menu or purchase a t-shirt with the Zub's logo on it, visit their website by clicking here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roger Hoover and the Hurt

Roger Hoover and the Hurt is Eric Baltrinic, Daniel Holmes, Roger Hoover, Kevin Martinez and Ysabel Price.

This Band Could Be Your Life: Roger Hoover and the Hurt
by Joanna Wilson

Local singer/songwriter/guitarist Roger Hoover is an experienced artist that has been making music for more than ten years.  But this past year, he has hooked up four others to form Roger Hoover and the Hurt creating an original indie/alt, roots rock sound.  This Akron-area band features the powerful hook of gravely vocals that bespeak a world weary wisdom and a slide guitar that echos and rocks the ground.  The band consists of Eric Baltrinic on drums and percussion, Daniel Holmes on guitar, Roger Hoover on vocals and guitar, Kevin Martinez on upright and electric bass, and Ysabel Price on harmony vocals.  My advice: catch this band while they play locally because they have the potential to blow up much bigger than the Akron Empire.

Artwork/cover of new 2012 CD release Lay My Rituals Down

Right now, Roger Hoover and the Hurt have a brand new CD out entitled Lay My Rituals Down.  This release contains seven very polished and tight songs including "Eastern Standard Time," "Girl's Got A Hold on Me," "Lay My Rituals Down," "Old Lover's Songs," "Full Force Gale," "First Bullet" and "My Home Is In The Ground." 

The first song on the CD, "Eastern Standard Time" is an uptempo bluesy song with a southern-influence and gravely vocals--the perfect introduction to the rest of the collection.  I was also impressed with the second song "Girl's Got A Hold on Me" a rockin' track with a touch of twang, a bad-ass attitude and an alt-country violin to boot.  The third track "Lay My Rituals Down" features a foreboding upright bass and profound lyrics that reveal a challenge to set ways of thinking.  I think my next favorite song is "First Bullet" another roots rock uptempo song; it's foot stompin' Nashville guitar rock.

CD release party is this Saturday, Aug 25th

I like this CD more and more as I listen to it and unravel its layers.  I encourage you to check this band out.  They are playing at their CD release party this Saturday, August 25th at Musica.  Click HERE for the Facebook event.   When asked what I could expect to experience at a Roger Hoover and the Hurt concert, this is what I was told by the band:

"We create a sonic story and guide the listener through common themes like redemption, loss and love from within all genres that form the Americana idiom. Our live shows are energetic and dynamic with a strong focus on the lyrical content. We play off of one another - its a subtle improvisation - and feed from the energy of the crowd."

Roger Hoover and the Hurt will also be performing next Wednesday, August 29th at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland.  Click HERE for that Facebook event link

For more on the band, check out this link to their website:
and their FB page: Roger Hoover

Friday, August 17, 2012

Akron Aeros Baseball

Take Me Out to the Ballgame
by Brit Charek

Who doesn't love going to see a baseball game in the summer? It is, after all, America's pastime. 

For less than half the price of what it costs to see a game at Progressive Field (and that's without before taking finding a place to park into consideration...) you can see the Akron Aeros right downtown at Canal Park. 

One of the best things about Canal Park is that there's not a bad seat in the house. It seats just 9,000 people. There's a great view of the Ohio and Erie Canal, hence the name. It was built in 1997 and has clearly been well maintained and is always very clean. 

The front of Canal Park, located on South Main between State and Exchange

The game was a little more slow moving than I recall most major league games, but the two teams were neck and neck the whole time, the beer tasted great and I have no complaints about the cost. They also had all sorts of entertaining contests and skits between innings, which is great if you have kids to try to keep interested. 

There are some great promotions for Aeros games. I was fortunate enough to end up there on Star Wars night. My favorite part was where they transposed the batters' photo with Star Wars characters (Think of a tough bearded baseball player with Princess Leia buns--I tried to get a photo but none of them turned out..)

I heard that Thursdays are dollar beer night-- I plan to go back to check it out! You can learn more by visiting the Aero's website by clicking here. The season goes through September.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flury's Café

You can't miss the sign for Flury's, located on Sackett between 12th and 14th streets in Cuyahoga Falls.

Flury's Café: My Favorite Place to Eat
by Joanna Wilson

Flury's Cafe in Cuyahoga Falls is one of those places that is simultaneously famous (it's been featured in the 2008 edition of Roadfood, a guide to America's best diners), but also kind of a secret. It's not out on a major street, but tucked away in the neighborhoods.  It's a small place--even with a recent expansion it only serves about 30 people at capacity.  No matter how you arrive there or how you found out about Flury's, it always seems like the kind of special place you can only learn about through word of mouth.

The entrance to Flury's--did I mention it's small?

I first heard about Flury's from the owner Kim herself.  Several years ago, Kim invited me to visit Flury's when I saw her at our high school reunion (through the magic of the alphabet, Kim and I shared a home room for six years of junior high and high school).  After my first visit to Flury's, I quickly picked up on its charms.  It's small, Kim makes amazing food, it's friendly (everybody seems to know everybody else), and the service is the best in town. 

This is the potato-encrusted cod sandwich with coffee (I frequently order this meal).

Since its hours are from 7am-3pm, it makes sense that Flury's specializes in breakfast and lunch foods.  I typically order the cod fish sandwich or the tuna melt.  If I want breakfast, I typically order the special pancakes of the day--and hope it's Red Velvet Pancakes Day!  Kim also does an amazing crepe dish.

My boyfriend typically orders the veggie omelette, hash browns and wheat toast.
If you sit in the front room (there are only two booths and several seats at the counter), you get to watch Kim work as she prepares each of the meals.  You'll also see that she uses fresh herbs that she grows just outside the building!  The cozy size of Flury's ends up creating an amazingly friendly atmosphere and everyone seems to greet everyone else as guests arrive and exit at the front door.  I love that Flury's is a popular place with twenty-something hipsters as well as retirees and neighborhood regulars.  Flury's is the best known secret in town.

Flury's Café website
1300 Sackett Ave in Cuyahoga Falls
Open: Mondays-Saturdays 7am-3pm
Flury's Facebook page

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites

Photo courtesy of JaNicki Photography.

This Band Could be Your Life: Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites
by Joanna Wilson

Have you heard about the latest attention-getting band in the Akron area? This eight-member group has been together just over a year and has already made quite a name and reputation for themselves with a sound that's both familiar and new.  Playing soul music, Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites know the classics as well as the future of music.

Band members include: Nick Fritsch on Drums, Bob Basone on Bass, Brent Wesley on Vocals, Albert Santilli III on Keys, Jimmy Parsons on Guitar, Max Brady on Trombone, Nathan Paul-Davis on Saxophone and Matt Garrett on Trumpet.

Brent Wesley on vocals.  Photo courtesy of JaNicki Photography.

I had heard about Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites before I had a chance to catch their act.  But they exceeded my expectations when I saw them this past June at The Lockview.  Their first set was original music and the second set was cover songs.  I remember they played "Valerie" by the Zutons (Amy Winehouse's cover version is more popular in the States), the soul classic "Try A Little Tenderness," James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," Archie Bell & the Drells' forever hot classic "Tighten Up" and would you believe a funky sweet version of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love?"  Temperatures had reached over 90 degrees on that day in June but at night on the rooftop patio of the Lockview under the stars, everyone was on their feet, dancin' and sweatin' contrary to any common sense.  Including myself.

On the Lockview rooftop patio.  Photo courtesy of JaNicki Photography.
Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites' sound is both a throwback to classic soul and funk (the sax, trombone, trumpet section is as hot as it gets!) but contemporary sounding with new material that somehow improves on the past.  Pulling together all the great musical threads of the past, this local band is embracing an exciting and high-energy future.  I can't wait to take that tuneful journey with them! You know a band has hit on something good when the crowd is filled with college-aged kids that know all the words as well as people in age groups that may have originally attended concerts of the best of the 1960s-70s soul groups.  Everybody seems to get the fantastic sound of Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites!

The band is promising a vinyl release coming out soon.  But you can see them perform this Friday August 10th at the Square Records Anniversary Show at Musica.  Show starts at 10pm.  In the meantime, check out the band's facebook page: Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites and the facebook event for Friday's show

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Square Records Celebrates Their Nine Year Anniversary at Musica August 10

Square Records Celebrates Their Nine Year Anniversary
By Brit Charek

It’s hard to believe that Square Records has been open for nine years already.

Then again, it’s hard to imagine the Highland Square neighborhood without instantly thinking of Square Records. The store has established itself as a staple of the community, just like the movie theater, the giant metal frog in front of the library, and those crazy window displays at the shoe repair shop.

Square Records 9th Anniversary Party will be Friday, August 10 at Musica

In this day and age I can’t imagine a record store being the safest bet for a business startup. Just to play devil’s advocate, I asked owner David Ignizio why people should go to a record store when it’s so cheap and easy to purchase music online. His answer was quite convincing:

“Things can happen when you go out of your house and head to the record store. It has become a real hub for a lot of musicians and people interested in music to bump into each other or meet for the first time. I've introduced a lot of people to each other in the shop who went on to form bands or just be good buds. For some people, I suppose it's satisfying to sit and home and download entire discographies of bands in minutes, but you never know what you'll find in the used bin of a record shop.”

So head over to Square Records and see what you can find and who you might run into. Also, they’ll be celebrating their Ninth Anniversary with a show on Friday, August 10th at 10pm at Musica, featuring Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites, David Bay Leaf and Comfort Clouds. Advance tickets are just $4.99. Click here to see the Facebook event for more details.