Lounge returns to days of indie acts galore

Local and national acts are welcomed at Cedars Lounge.
YOUNGSTOWN -- When Cedars Lounge Owner Tommy Simon ran the day-to-day operations of the club in the '80s, more than 200 regional and national musical acts came through the venue's doors.
From the Dead Milkmen and Cracker to Rusted Root, the intimate location was a thriving haven for underground bands. It's the hope and vision of Simon's daughter, Mara, who now runs the club, to put Cedars Lounge, located at 23 N. Hazel St., back where it once stood.
"I figure we have the opportunity, the space and a wonderful venue, why not have it here," said the 25-year-old Mara. "We just want to see a place for people our age and older to go and see some good music, just like Beachland Ballroom up in Cleveland or any other great venue like that. And we've been catching on to new and exciting bands."
Among the groups that have recently graced the Cedars Lounge stage are indie acts Okkervil River (Austin, Texas), the Amino Acids (Detroit) and zZz (Amsterdam, the Netherlands).
Scouting talent
Assisting Mara with her desire to book those regional, national and global acts -- perhaps looking for an additional date while traveling from Chicago to New York, or even Pittsburgh to Cleveland -- is the team of local musician Joe Shelby and music lover Jeff Petersen.
"Basically, Cedars Lounge was founded on music," Petersen said. "And in recent years, it's been kind of doing the local band thing. So, we thought it would be a good idea to try to bring in some regional and national acts. We think it's going to go over well and so far, we've been having pretty good success."
Hoping to create a cool indie-minded atmosphere, Cedars Lounge has a few dates booked for this summer with more on the way: Detroit's The Grande Nationals with Cleveland's Amps II Eleven (July 23); Detroit's The Salt Miners with Cleveland's The Whiskeyhounds (July 29), California's Biirdie (July 30); and Vancouver's Black Mountain with Ladyhawke and Blood Meridian (Sept. 24).
Catering to a wide audience, Cedars Lounge will open its doors to all styles of music, including alt country, bluegrass, indie pop, garage rock and more.
"I've been there since I was 18," Petersen said. "I've seen some great bands there and I would just like to see that keep happening. Keep people coming down there. There is kind of an opportunity there. There is a little bit of pride in downtown coming back and I think a lot of people are excited to see if they can make something happen again."

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