Happy New Year! Even though I’ve been hearing lots of horror stories about missing money for Akron events, I was looking forward to First Night Akron from Christmas night. It’s such a strange amalgamation of arts and other events that it’s always a lot of fun.
This year, I started out at the Akron Art Museum, where I caught Case Sensitive, a teen band with some really nice choices of cover tunes and a few original pieces. They definitely had some talent, and they might bring extra drumsticks along next time.
In the Greystone Hall Ballroom, I listened to the Akron Derbytown Barbershop Chorus. I intially headed that way because I thought it’d be a little curious, but it ended up being a lot of fun, with some songs that got the crowd moving and singing along - there was a guy behind me really belting it out along with the chorus.
I grabbed a traditional hot pretzel at the John S. Knight Center (someone needs to step it up - I almost didn’t finish the thing) and went to the Summit Art Space to see Creatures of the Midnight Sun, of which the lion up there is one. Blacklights can be really tricky to work with, but everyone there seemed to be having a lot of fun with the art. I really hope the art space can keep up little interactive shows like this.
I finished up the night doing some ice skating at Lock 3 - the first time I’ve done any skating for a few years. I didn’t fall once, but it wasn’t for lack of flailing around. I sort of scooted along the outside edge as 6-year olds blew by me backward in the center. I didn’t know it was actually so easy to rent skates out up there; I’m thinking I’ll be doing that again before the season is over.
The night finished with dancing to radio tunes (dear radio people: can we please put a moratorium on that song? You know what I’m talking about) and finally, the thing I was waiting for most:
I’ve been including information on the calendar for Akron for a while, especially since they sometimes seem to be more active than we are a little farther south. It’s not exactly my city, but it’s something. There are a few events that have taken place at a place called Northside in Akron, which would be the equivalent of the arts district in Canton, but I didn’t know how to find it.
If anyone had told me to just go to Luigi’s (which a friend finally did), it would’ve saved me a lot of trouble. I made a trip there Wednesday to see some local musicians play a sort of impromptu jazz combo after the regular band. I’m not as familiar with some of the songs, but I was really getting into the music regardless. People switched on and off with different instruments between and even during songs, making the whole night a very freeform, creative experience. Even with a low cover charge, the music was definitely worth it.
Through the summer, the jazz nights are Wednesday from 8 p.m. to midnight at Northside.
Musica is one of the more eventful places in Akron. Just by regularly bringing moderately well-known to well-known groups from around the country, it pretty routinely makes up a good deal of the monthly events on the Downtown Akron Partnership calendar.
But just because they get some bigger names doesn’t mean they won’t keep track of the local music scene. Last night I checked out a few local bands made up of a few friends of mine, Lions from Ohio and Whispersignal.
The lions here are jamming under some very pink lighting. They put together a pretty good show, especially for the first show played together in couple months. I personally got a kick out of a song late in the set built around the catchphrase of a more famous lion, “If I were king of the forest..”
Their show was followed up by another local band, Whispersignal - which is a pretty appropriate name, given that the style was so much quieter than the previous show.
Good shows all around, and a decent crowd for a Wednesday night.
Let’s talk about Akron (even though they sort of overshadow those of us just south sometimes).
While doing my rounds online, I visited the Downtown Akron Partnership, who is responsible for much of the cool stuff that happens up there such as the Art Walk. This month, it looks like they’re encouraging people to GO and get out during work hours to play or have lunch somewhere new downtown. I’d really like to add it all to my calendar, but there are too many daily activities going on there to list.
Even though I’m not working directly in Akron anymore, I’ll try to get up there at some point. Who doesn’t want to take some recess from work? Check out GO’s calendar of special events here, but also look at the DAP’s monthly events list to find the daily initiative.
I am not certain when this started, but a part of me sort of hopes that First Friday had a part in it. I came across a flyer for Third Thursday while out a few weeks ago, and knew that if it was anything like the Canton incarnation, it would be a blast. The Akron Art Museum stayed open during the evening hours to let people have a chance to hang out in a local art center and hear a live concert by The Twilight.
I do want to come across fairly, because I did think that it was a pretty cool event if it’s just starting out. I’ve felt the pain of trying to get big events off the ground, so the smaller crowd was just fine. The problem was just that other than the concert, there was nothing really to do that didn’t cost money. I mean, I realize that you have to be able to make money to make this stuff work, but what makes First Friday so much fun is that there are a handful of different galleries that you can just wander through while catching local music. Buying food and doing other shopping here and there comes naturally from that. I really wanted to go and do things for Third Thursday, but just to visit even the main galleries, I still had to get an admission pass? Come on guys, it’s four hours once a month. I think you could probably donate a little bit of that time to the people coming to see the show and buy food in your lobby. I mean, if you’re serious about trying to get more Akron U students or young people involved at all, there needs to be something else going on.
Speaking of the show, The Twilight seemed to have a good time with the small crowd. There was some banter back and forth between songs from the lead to the people in the lobby, which is always fun. I like seeing bands get into the location they’re playing. I didn’t know much about them before Thursday, but I liked what I heard. I think I liked their opening song the most, but they had some solid upbeat rock going on. I can pretty easily see why Cleveland Magazine had them as last year’s best band.
I did check out some of the exhibits before the band got started, but I’ll get into those mostly another time. The only one that I really want to mention is a set of collaborative works between One South High students and local artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson in the Corbin Gallery.
The kids took her inventive and earthy style to the museum, recreating scenes inspired by the “RagGonNons” she created. The really ridiculous bit about these works was that these are fourth-grade students, some of whom understand a few of the gallery pieces better than I do, I’m pretty sure. It’s only open for a couple more days (two, in fact) but check it out if you have the chance.
As for Third Thursday, the next one comes up in April, with live music from The Mickeys, who also played at the First Friday in March. I’ll be looking forward to it, but I really hope that they take a few more cues from Canton on this. Get more people (or better yet, other Akron galleries) involved, and it would be a really great event.