One of the things that I’ve wanted to highlight in a little way with this blog is the chance to get involved in the community and be a part of things, and this is definitely the time of year to do that. There are lots of very worthy causes out there right now, but the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is both local and important to people in need, right in our own community.
I’ve written about Ryan Humbert before, probably because I run into him now and again through my day job and First Friday events, but I knew this had to get its own mention. Humbert and his band came together with a string quartet, keys and a percussionist to perform a Christmas concert at the Akron Civic Theatre to benefit the Foodbank, Strung Out For the Holidays. An acoustic set is a twist on his normal show, but it went even farther by including a lot of songs not usually considered holiday fare from the Beatles, Sinatra and Elton John. Honestly, I think the huge variety in the set list was my favorite part of the evening, even though they sounded really good.
Beyond the show, the Foodbank pulled up a huge truck in which went all the donated food, so people could see what a difference could be made even with a few small donations. Check the Foodbank’s site for more information on how to get involved there, and look for other places to help someone this holiday season.
First Friday July had a lot to live up to for Independence Day weekend. There were enough people crowding the streets when I got there to have our own parade, though most were wandering around and staring down.
This month’s theme was Chalk the Walk, with more than a dozen works of chalk art up and down 4th Street by local artists. Moreover, there was space designated for kids (and big kids) to do some doodling of their own with huge pieces of chalk. It was hard to feel uninspired when huge dragons and mermaids traveled the ground under your feet. I wasn’t exactly artistic, but I couldn’t help scrawling this blog’s address on the road. So, if you’re visiting because you saw my doodle, HI! (and do you always visit Web addresses that you find on the street?)
This big guy by Jeffrey Keirn was my favorite, even if I couldn’t get a good shot of him. The flashing lights from the Ryan Humbert concert being held about 20 feet from here messed with my camera.
There was plenty to do outside the concert, as well. I think the outdoor food stands have become a staple during the summer months, and I saw something else that I never believed I’d come across: a cornhole set featuring the logo and colors of Iris. I sort of wish I had taken a picture of that, now.
In the middle of the day, you can just eat your lunch and grab a book, or chat with co-workers or if you happen to be anywhere near downtown Canton on any Wednesday for the next two months, you can actually catch a concert.
I dropped by the Canton Cultural Center mid-week to see Ryan Humbert kick off this year’s J-Jams, sponsored by Arts in Stark. A decent crowd was gathered inside the big courtyard area with the Pegasus looking on during the first of the lunch-hour concerts. There’s a whole schedule of local artists taking the stage to help downtown workers get through the middle of the week, and if you don’t feel like packing lunch you can also bring a few dollars to eat some catered Chik-fil-A.
The event was a pretty cool gathering of local people who just want to meet with some others for lunch. I grabbed a seat at a table full of Nationwide workers from down the street, and ended up having a good time chatting with Doug Stuck, who is also going to be playing next month (that’s as good of a plug as I think I’m going to get for you, Doug).
Humbert is a pretty cool guy, too. He grew up in Green and is living in Jackson right now, but he did a year-long stint in Nashville to finish a new album. His music sort of fits in with Americana pop with some rock and even some dance beats thrown in. Some of the tracks on his new album “Old Souls, New Shoes” have a definite groove to them that I was not expecting to hear. Some fun stuff.
He’s going to be showing around northeast Ohio for a while before starting work on new stuff, so you might check the ‘shows’ tab on his site to see when you can catch him. Personally, the Everly Brothers show in Akron on Saturday sounds like a lot of fun to me.
Also, be sure to check the Arts in Stark site to check out all the local bands that are going to be showing on Wednesday through the next two months!