AKRON, Ohio – Move to Highland Square Porch Rokr, there’s a new music festival in town.
The inaugural Kenmore Winter Break Music Festival, which takes place December 17-18 at the Rialto Theater on Kenmore Boulevard, is designed not only to break the monotony of a gloomy Ohio winter, but is also part of a strategy to the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance (KNA) to highlight Akron’s Music Row.
With five recording studios specializing in songwriters to hip-hop, a historic guitar repair store, an instrument store, and a concert hall with multiple stages, the music industry has roots. deep in Kenmore, said KNA Executive Director Tina Boyes.
“We finally listen to our musicians and our music companies and say, what do you need? “, Boyes said. “I don’t know if anyone really did it in a concerted way. This is what we are trying to do. We already have the music companies here.
Since Boyes took over as the head of the newly formed community development company in 2016, KNA has focused on revitalizing the businesses still standing on the Boulevard, Kenmore’s only business district.
KNA started out by running a Better Block Festival in 2017, which is designed to show off what’s possible in a community, while also showcasing what’s already great.
This three-day event has morphed into Kenmore First Fridays over the summers, which has brought food, vendors and music to the boulevard, drawing thousands of Akron residents in recent years. .
Boyes also applied for and received a historic designation for the boulevard, whose listing on the National Register of Historic Places offers benefits to small business owners wishing to make building improvements.
During the long months of the pandemic, 10 new small businesses opened their doors on the boulevard, filling storefronts and bringing more vitality to the neighborhood.
Now, with a solid base in the business district and the pandemic subsiding enough for people to step out again, KNA is refining its focus on helping individual music companies to market themselves – a move that sparked the idea of the Winter Break Music Fest.
“Businesses needed marketing help yesterday, from someone taking a photo and putting it on Facebook to an ad,” said Corey Jenkins, KNA promoter and experience manager, and the mastermind behind the festival. music. “Overall, most don’t know how to do all of this.”
But Jenkins does, having experience both as a musician with the “Big Pop” group and in corporate marketing.
KNA plans to start promoting major musical activities first, and expand to others on the boulevard as she and Jenkins flesh out the best approach with whatever means they have, Boyes said.
“There are people who live within a block of these businesses who haven’t even known for 15 to 20 years what these businesses are,” she said. “It’s our job as the CDC here for this district to make sure people know this district is awesome. Magnify that visually, you know, branding and branding from a marketing standpoint. We want to make it affordable and accessible, but it can’t be free. “
The idea for a music festival arose when Jenkins began planning promotions with Rialto Theater owners Seth and Nate Vaill for a revival of the theater. The brothers bought the theater in 2010 and opened an auditorium, event space, and Just A Dream Recording Studios in 2015.
While working on a revival plan to showcase the new theater show stage for acoustic sets, Jenkins suggested a music festival.
“In December, people miss the summer music festivals,” he said. “With the COVID stuff, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for that, so I was like, ‘Let’s do something big. “”
The Vaills liked the idea so Jenkins contacted 91.3 The Summit FM, Akron’s original music station, who agreed to participate. The Summit already references the Boulevard as Akron’s Music Row in advertisements, Jenkins said.
Once the other boulevard music companies agreed to sponsor the event, the festival took place.
“It’s about giving Kenmore and the Rialto a unique and unique musical event that they can own,” Jenkins said.
Promoting the Boulevard as Akron’s Music Row makes sense, said Seth Vaill.
“To be honest, there is a rich history here,” he said. “I think we start with the musicians and then the people come. I think that’s the key, getting the musicians to come and play, you know, and then people will follow once there’s a community of musicians here.
The Rialto is in good company on the Boulevard.
- Lay’s Guitar Shop was opened by Virgil Lay in 1968, serving Jack Bruce, Phil Keaggy and Joe Walsh. Lay also founded SIT Strings (stay tuned), which is now located about two miles from the boulevard.
- Lay’s is now owned by Dan Shinn, who opened Loft at Lay’s upstairs in the repair shop, and sells handmade and custom instruments, vintage guitars, amplifiers and more. Shinn’s brother, Joel Shinn, runs a guitar repair and restoration business and is working on the launch of Lay’s brand guitars.
- The Guitar department, a Boulevard staple since 2009, is a new and used second-hand consignment store for players of all levels and budgets, offering music lessons.
- Among the recording studios is Thom Tadsen Live Album Recording Studio, in the former Cook Hardware. Tadsen operates a 24-track, 128-read live music studio specializing in punk, metal, rock and rockabilly.
Boyes compares the services KNA could offer Boulevard businesses to agency work, where the offerings would be on a project or mandate basis.
“We say, ‘There is a whole new group of people who might be paying attention to you, who want to be careful about you, and we can reach them,” “she said. “Let us help you.”