Friday, June 28, 2013

This Band Could Be Your Life: Comfort Clouds

This Band Could Be Your Life: Comfort Clouds
by Brit Charek

The Akron Empire has no shortage of talented musicians. One of my favorite local bands, Comfort Clouds, is releasing their second full-length album tonight at Square Records.

Two of the three members of Comfort Clouds started making music around 2008 under the name 'Dinomania'. They both started working for the Akron Public Library where they a met co-worker who would become their drummer and complete the band. In late 2010, they changed their name to Comfort Clouds and released their first full length album, The Dinner Set.

I first heard Comfort Clouds in 2011. I was looking for a band to perform at an event I was hosting and after asking for suggestions I was introduced to them by a friend who also works at the library. Not only did I love their sound, but they were really nice people! I picked up a copy of The Dinner Set and listened to it all winter. I was charmed by the intelligent lyrics rich with daydreams about history and fractions-- the type of thing you'd expect from graduate students who work for the public library system.

The bands' new album, Three New Sciences, follows the same formula of balancing intimate songs that can feel almost a little too honest with upbeat indie-pop songs all while maintaining a sophistication that comes along with what we call "art."

The band has their work cut out for them in the next year. "We're focusing on recording and releasing music quicker than we have in the past," says Jacob Trombetta, guitarist and vocalist. "The delay was completely due to our school schedules, but now, since we graduated, we can attempt to focus our energy. We also want to expand our arrangements. Comfort Clouds now has an identity to the members. We feel the sound we make can be placed into a lot of different musical settings."

Along those lines, in addition to the release of Three New Sciences, the band is also very excited to be working on a soundtrack for the film Ellie Lumme, by film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. They described the film as "sort of a ghost story without a ghost."

"Ultimately, what I want to do is write my favorite album of 2014," says Trombetta.

Besides Trombetta, Comfort Clouds also includes Bob Ethington on percussion and Jennifer Anne Court on vocals and woodwinds. Court also takes all the photos for the album covers. The artwork for the new album is striking. Also appearing on Three New Sciences is Scott Moses on bass, and Mike Tolan on guitar and organ.

You can check out Comfort Clouds tonight, June 28, at Square Records where they will be celebrating the release of their new album. Please come and join them for an in-store performance of the album with an additional performance by Jairus D. McLat. The music starts at 7pm. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

Visit Comfort Clouds' website.
Visit Comfort Clouds ' bandcamp.
You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vendetti's Full Service Salon

Vendetti's Full Service Salon
by Joanna Wilson

Whenever a friend goes into business for himself, it sparks a bit of excitement in everyone around him.  The thrill of taking new risks, the swirl of energy from working hard, and the bravery of going out on one's own is inspiring.  Just last month, my friend John Vendetti took a professional leap and became an independent operator running Vendetti's Full Service Salon in Fairlawn, across from Summit Mall.

John Vendetti of Vendetti's Full Service Salon.

Vendetti's Full Service Salon is located inside the Sola Salon Studios on Smith Road across from the mall.  With more than a decade of experience under his belt, Vendetti's offers the full range of services including cut, color, and styling.  He also carries the product lines of Kevin Murphy and the Men's Dept.  He's knowledgeable, easy to work with and talk to, and has a great sense of style, which he brings to every client and every service.  But one of the things I love most about his new venture is the on-line appointment feature.  The 24/7 booking allows anyone to see when his schedule is open and conveniently book an appointment right from the salon website or even facebook.

Enter the Sola Salon complex (behind Yoga Bliss) and Vendetti's is Studio #18.
Akron Empire believes in supporting Vendetti's independent spirit as I'm sure you do too.  If you need a haircut, a new style, or color, consider this local entrepreneur. 

Check out Vendetti's Full Service Salon website
Vendetti's Full Service Salon on facebook
and Vendetti's  on twitter: @VendettisSalon
You can also check out reviews of Vendetti's Full Service Salon on Yelp

Vendetti's Full Service Salon is located within Sola Salon Studios at 3029 Smith Rd.
(330) 606-7656
Tell him Akron Empire sent you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Akron Comicon Celebrates Superman's 75th Anniversary at Akron Public Library

A 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Man of Steel at Akron Public Library
by Brit Charek

There's been a lot of buzz about superheroes lately. Maybe it's the new blockbuster Man of Steel now playing at the Highland Theatre, or maybe it's the excitement of movie stars in town filming the new Captain America film. Whatever the reason, Northeast Ohio has a long history in the superhero industry. The Man of Steel himself, Superman, was first drawn in Cleveland 75 years ago. To celebrate, Akron Comicon is planning a free event at the Akron Public Library. (Joanna wrote about Akron Comicon when they had their first event last November-- click HERE to see that post again!)

The program will include a special film presentation by the Siegel & Shuster Society, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the creation of Superman in Cleveland, featuring Superman and his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. There will also be a question and answer session with society representatives Mike Olszewski (local radio personality), Mike Sangiacomo (Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter), and a special guest appearance by Irving Fine, Jerry Siegel's cousin and a founding member of the Siegel & Shuster Society.

Also appearing for the special event will be Brad Ricca, author of the new book Super Boys--the first
comprehensive literary biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of the DC Comics superhero Superman. Brad will be selling signed copies of his new book. Learn more about the book on Brad's website.

Local artist Daniel Gorman will also make an appearance. Daniel’s work, commemorating Superman will be featured on a special poster available at Akron Comicon this fall.

Other activities will include a Superman costume contest sponsored by Kenmore Komics & Games, and a
Superman trivia contest, sponsored by JC Comics & Cards. Special prizes will be awarded for the winners. (I wrote about JC Comics & Cards on Free Comic Book Day last year-- click HERE to check out that post again!)

The event will take place next Wednesday evening, June 26th, at the Akron Public Library Auditorium located at 60 S. High Street, Akron, Ohio 44326 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. This event will be hosted by the Akron chapter of Pop!--The Comic Culture Club. Seating is limited to 500. Parking is free.

To stay in the loop, make sure to like Akron Comicon on Facebook and you can always check out their website at

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Crafty Akron Coalition hosts Etsy Craft Party

Crafty Akron Coalition Meetup and Etsy Craft Party
by Brit Charek

Each year, Etsy, a website that provides a platform for everyday people to buy and sell handmade and vintage items, hosts a global craft party. That's right: Global. Crafters all around the world are getting together to craft and socialize tomorrow, June 20th.

This year’s theme focuses on using your creative powers to make your hometown even better.

For more information on Etsy’s Craft Party, check out this article:

And peek at frequently asked questions here:

Locally, the global celebration of meeting and making will be at Jack Richards studio in Cuyahoga Falls from 7-10pm. It is hosted by the Crafty Akron Coalition, an Etsy team for crafters in the Greater Akron Area. All are welcome.

Local crafty lady Lauren Groves formed the Crafty Akron Coalition last fall in an attempt to provide networking opportunities for small businesses in the greater Akron area. "There were Etsy Street Teams in both Canton and Cleveland, but none in the Akron area," says Groves. "I think Akron is unique in it's own right and felt that we needed something in our community that would be relevant to our area."

Now the Crafty Akron Coalition are not just on Etsy, but they've also established a Facebook group in an attempt to get more people involved. Click here to check it out!

The theme of this year's party is "Craft for Community," and the focus of the event will be on supporting the local crafting community. This is the first time the online group has organized an in-person event, in hopes to serve as a way to brainstorm how to translate the online team into a real world community of support for each other. 

"My goals for the group are simple for the moment," says Groves. She wants to "establish a vibrant group of people invested in the local handmade community that can provide support to each other."

The Etsy Craft Party will take place at Jack Richard Studios in Cuyahoga Falls on Thursday June 20th from 7-10pm. It is free and open to the public. Click here to RSVP on Facebook. Did I mention there will be free craft supplies provided by Etsy?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Canal Fest 2013

Canal Fest 2013: Saturday June 29th
by Joanna Wilson

There's a great deal of community excitement and anticipation for one of the first and biggest festivals of the summer season here in Akron.  This year's Canal Fest promises food, art vendors, live music, kids activities, and the duck derby.

Tickets for the 4th annual Duck Derby are still available for purchase.

This summer festival is organized by the Cascade Park Locks Association as a fundraiser for the Association and the historic Mustill Store, an important part of both Akron's historic legacy and canal history.  Though admission to the festival is free, the fundraising is done through hosting the Duck Derby.  When you purchase a ticket for the derby, you can win prizes, a 50/50 raffle, or both.  For more information on the Duck Derby, click HERE for the website details.  The Derby will take place at 1pm at Canal Fest so come on down and watch the floating duck parade!

Recognize this local landmark? It's Schumacher's Wheel--the site of CanalFest 2013, at the corner of North Street and Howard near downtown.

While you cheer on your duck to win cash or prizes, stop by the festival site to hear live music from  local bands on two stages.  On the Schumacher stage, you can hear electric/rock music by Roxxymoron, Mike Lenz, the House Popes, and the reggae band Umojah Nation.  On the Mustill Store stage, you can hear acoustic or traditional folk music by Zach, the Akron Ceili Band, and Blue Ribbon Blue Grass Band.  In addition to a variety of food vendors, there will be Hops@Locks, an opportunity to taste and enjoy ten different flavors of beer from Akron's own Thirsty Dog brewery.  There will also be a large collection of art vendors--including myself.  Stop by my booth and say 'hi.'

This family-friendly event is also host to numerous kids activities including face painting, a bounce house, balloon sculpture, coloring and chalk drawing, and a coloring contest. Click HERE for more details about the event on the Canal Fest website.

 If you're as excited as I am for this summer festival, you can start the party a day earlier on Friday June 28th from 5pm-9pm.  This is also another opportunity to get your tickets for the Duck Derby.

Canal Fest is Saturday June 29th, 11am-7pm
at the Schumacher Site, on the corner of North Street and Howard.
the Duck Derby begins at 1pm

Don't forget about the Friday Night Kick-Off Party
Friday, June 28th, 5pm-9pm
at the NoHo building, 21 North Street

Check out the following links: Canal Fest website
Canal Fest event page on facebook
Canal Fest on Twitter
Canal Fest community page on facebook

Friday, June 14, 2013

Baxter's Bar

The Best Taco in Akron!
by J Hudson

I’ve been searching for a great taco in Akron for years. I’ve tried the taco carts and traditional taquerias around town and like their tacos but don’t love their tacos, but I’ve finally found a taco I love. Actually, I found four of them and they are all at Baxter’s Bar at Main Street in the heart of Akron.

Photo's courtesy of Baxter's Bar's Facebook page
Baxter’s opened about a year ago and is primarily a bar with 200 bottled beers and 20 drafts, but its small kitchen puts out a variety of flavorful food. Baxter’s chef, Michael Foster, is a journeyman with experience as a sous chef at a number of fine dining restaurants in Northeast Ohio, including Moe’s and One Red Door.
Foster says he, “wanted to make a great taco but create something that was unique but also that appealed to the masses.” He’s done it. Baxter’s tacos are made authentic style with double blanco corn tortillas but their insides are non-traditional takes on old-style moles, salsas and sauces.

My favorite of the four, and probably the most unusual, is the root-beer braised beef with pickled shallots, New Mexican chili sauce, cilantro and locally sourced Lucky Penny Creamery feta cheese. New Mexico Chiles are reddish brown dried Anaheim chili with a hotness of about 2-4 on a scale of 1-10. Foster says, “he first tried the dried New Mexican chili on a trip to that state and liked its flavor and wanted to use it in his cooking.” This taco is full of flavor but you don’t really taste a too sweet root beer so much as the spice of the chili and tart of the feta. You also feel the creaminess of the soft cheese.

The Makers Mark bourbon apple BBQ pulled pork with pickled green bean slaw is less traditional. It tastes like a good BBQ pulled pork sandwich on a taco shell, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s sweet and tart and so packed with meat that you’ll need a fork to gather up what falls onto your plate.

The Mexican BBQ braised chicken taco with fresh pico de gallo and lime crème fraiche flavor combo tastes more like a traditional taco, so if that’s what you’re into, I’d recommend it. If you’re a piscitarian, the cumin chili spiced shrimp with roasted tomatillo salsa verde, and cilantro cabbage slaw will also give you a traditional taco taste.

If you are a vegetarian, try Baxter’s salads. They come in full or half orders. My half order beet salad was the size of most restaurants’ full salad. It was $5 and was a bowl full of fresh, mixed lettuce, golden beets, slivered almonds and White French dressing. I’ve also had Baxter’s Nuts. These nuts come directly from the Peanut Shoppe next door and are the freshest nuts around. They are topped with cracked sea salt, cayenne, brown sugar, and rosemary, and are only $ 1.79.

On Tuesday tacos are $2 apiece. The rest of the week they are around $3 a piece if you order sets of three, and you can mix and match taco types. Another great thing about Baxter’s Bar is that the kitchen is open to Midnight. If you get to Baxter’s and order by 11:30 pm, you can fit in that elusive “fourth meal” of the day with real tacos instead of mystery meat concoctions from a chain.

Baxter’s Bar
205 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44305
Directly across from Lock 3. Between the Lockview and the Peanut Shoppe.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-midnight, Friday 11am-2:30am, Saturday 12pm-2:30am, Sunday 12pm-9pm

J Hudson ran the Hudson Farmer's Market for three years. He's the co-founder of Crafty Mart and founder of Sausage Fest LLC, a company that seeks to promote the United States’ rich and diverse culinary heritage as exemplified by regional, ethnic, and craft sausage makers throughout our land.

Check out J's previous contributions to Akron Empire:
The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery
The Fourth Annual Crafty Mart
Hudson Artist Justin Crowe Sets Out to Meme the World

Monday, June 10, 2013

Perkins Stone Mansion

Perkins Stone Mansion: 550 Copley Rd. Akron OH

Akron Empire welcomes guest blogger Juniper Sage with another historical tour she took of an Akron landmark and museum.  While Juniper enjoys historical locations, she is also one of the organizers of Dance Dance Party Party-Akron (DDPP-Akron).  Click HERE to see a recent blog post about this local women's group.  Juniper previously blogged for Akron Empire about John Brown House this past January.  Click HERE to see the John Brown House post again.  Joanna Wilson shared her historic tour of Hower House, another local landmark--click HERE to see the Hower House tour post again.  What is your favorite Akron historical site?

Taking a Tour of Perkins Stone Mansion
by Juniper Sage

I would be misleading you if I didn’t admit now that the other reason I am doing field trips to historical locations in Akron was to look at pretty houses. We have so many beautiful houses here but there are few that one can go into and really look around. The John Brown house may have been small and simple but the old way of building with stone walls and massive carriage houses has a real appeal to those of us that live in cramped apartments or have postage stamp sized yards.

Perkins Stone Mansion--side view of porch.

My second field trip for this series took me to the Perkins Stone Mansion, a very different kind of pretty house. Perkins Stone Mansion was built in the mid-1830’s by the eldest son of the founder of Akron, Col. Simon Perkins. He choose to build his family home on the outskirts of the city, right up against the Portage Path, where he had a clear view of both downtown Akron and the canal that the city was built around and that he and his father were instrumental in bringing through Akron.
Perkins is a name that is well represented throughout Akron. There is a Perkins Middle School, Perkins St, Perkins Park, Perkins Square and the Perkins Mansion. Learning about the mansion led to a better understanding about the very beginnings of Akron’s history and why the name is so prevalent in our community.

One of the outbuildings on the Perkins' property--The Wash House

I went to the mansion during the first week they were open this spring and there were a number of school children taking tours as part of a class assignment. The tour guide was very good about keeping them engaged while still relating interesting facts about the family and life during the time the house was occupied. The guide made several references on the difference between the Howers of Hower House and the Perkins family and now that I have been to both locations I understand what he was talking about. The Perkins’ were more of a farm family with simpler tastes, and sheep would have grazed right up to the front door.  I can’t imagine the same could ever be true at the Howers.’

The Wash House from another angle--you can see the tower for the windmill here.

One of the things I am always interested in when I go to old homes is to see how the servants interacted with the house, the back stairs, the dumb waiters and that sort of thing. I guess this is because it seems secretive and mysterious more than anything. So, I was a little disappointed that more of the servants’ areas were either storage or not restored to their original use. 

A small garden section featuring a donated sundial, visible as you walk into the property.

This tour took an hour but I would plan for a bit more time as the docents are willing to talk in depth if you are interested in more information. Tours of the Perkins Stone Mansion are available Wednesdays-Friday from 1-3:00pm through November 1st, excluding holidays. Appointments for Tuesday and Saturday tours must be made in advance. Prices are $6 per adult, $4 for seniors, and $2 for children 17 and under. 

For more information please go to:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Urban Luau and Reggae Fest at Urban Eats

Urban Luau and Reggae Fest at Urban Eats
by Brit Charek

If you've never eaten at Urban Eats downtown Akron, you're missing out. It's a locally owned and operated lunch spot in the heart of historic downtown-- they'll even deliver lunch to downtown businesses during the week! A few months back, Joanna blogged about her trip there. (Click HERE to see that post again.)

TONIGHT they are hosting their 4th Annual Urban Luau and Reggae Fest! Sponsered by 91.3 The Summit, the festivities start at 7:30pm with live surf guitar and grilled food in front of the cafe, then the party moves inside to Musica where reggae bands Human Nature, Umojah Nation and Carlos Jones take the stage.

The concert costs $12 and benefits Bring Eli Home. To learn more about the charity, click HERE.

"It's the summer kick-off party that blends Akron, Jamaica, & Hawaii together and spits out one giant tropical smoothie!"

Ubran Eats is located at 51 E. Market Street downtown Akron, right next to Musica. The 4th Annual Urban Luau takes place tonight, Friday June 7, starting at 7:30pm! Click HERE to learn more and RSVP on Facebook!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NOTO: Fashion Live & Local

Last Saturday night June 1st in downtown Akron as a part of the Artwalk, the women's fashion boutique NOTO produced a fashion show and event filled with excitement.   As people gathered at the Trolley Barn and took their seats, we were entertained with retro funk music by DJ Moose Malloy and delicious blue drinks stylishly called NOTO-tinis. 

A gorgeous dress from the winning local fashion designer Marcie LeGoullon's collection, during the Designers Challenge.

The fashion show consisted of two parts: the first was the Designers Challenge and the second was a summer fashions collection from NOTO boutique.  The Designers Challenge featured a set of three looks from four local fashion designers including Jennifer Day, Natalie Sullinger, Klair Heestand, and Marcie LeGoullon.  The Designers Challenge kept the audience's attention as we were asked to text-to-vote on our favorite collection from one of the four designers resulting in her winning a commercial grade Husqvarna Viking sewing machine to support and encourage her future in the industry. All four designers' looks were beautiful, polished, and refined--it was hard to predict who would win.

Have you ever been to a runway fashion show before?  NOTO knows how to bring style and sophistication to downtown.  Above, local designer Natalie Sullinger's sexy collection.

WERK!  Looking for something easy to wear to show off your attitude this summer? Ladies, check out NOTO Boutique in downtown Akron.

The second half of the fashion show featured a curated collection of summer fashions available at the NOTO boutique.  The models walked the runway to live music performed by everyone's favorite local band Shivering TimbersClick HERE to see Akron Empire's profile of Shivering Timbers again

The fashion show was introduced by Suzie Graham (extreme left), the president of Downtown Akron Partnership, with music by Shivering Timbers (center).

Were you in attendance at the fashion show?  If you missed it, don't fret--you can still take advantage of the event by visiting Akron's contemporary women's fashion boutique NOTO to purchase the incredible summer fashions.  The winner of the Designers Challenge was Marcie LeGoullon, a designer I'm sure we'll all be hearing more about in the future.  Congratulations Marcie!  And, thanks to Lauren Ward of NOTO for hosting this bright summer fashion spectacle.

NOTO is located at 76 S. Main Street, Akron OH 44308
(330) 451-NOTO
Facebook page for NOTO
Website for NOTO