MUSIC Outdoor venues open in Valley
A permanent amphitheater is planned for Cene park in Struthers.
By GUY D'ASTOLFO
VINDICATOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
The demise of B & amp;B Backstage, the popular Boardman amphitheater that died a very public death last fall after it got into financial trouble, has opened the door for a new crop of outdoor venues in the Mahoning Valley.
The B & amp;B closed amid a landslide of legal problems that made front-page news in September when the owner of the property parked two giant tractor-trailers in the facility because the operator was behind in the rent. The B & amp;B managed to get the trucks removed and squeaked through the last few shows on the schedule, but it never reopened.
Interestingly, included in those last few shows were the only two sellouts the B & amp;B ever had: Seether and Disturbed.
At the time, both bands were at the peak of the rock world, touring on the strength of top-selling albums.
Another thing the shows had in common was they were both promoted by Eric Ryan of Struthers.
Ryan owns the Cellar, the popular 450-capacity rock club in downtown Struthers. The 1992 Struthers High graduate has been booking regional and national acts there for a few years, and also brought the Sno-Core tour to the Struthers Fieldhouse several months ago and 3 Doors Down to Youngstown State University in 2004.
With the B & amp;B gone, Ryan took matters into his own hands. The result is a five-concert summer outdoor concert series in the Cellar's L-shaped parking lot.
A portable rental stage will be set up in the corner of the L, and 1,000 tickets will be sold for each show. The series kicks off Saturday with Poverty Neck Hillbillies; other shows are Shinedown, with Evans/Blue, July 5; the Fabulous Flashbacks, July 29; The Cellar Rocks festival, featuring 30 local bands, July 30; and the Clarks, Aug. 19.
The Cellar set-up has an industrial look. The lot is hemmed in on all sides by tall brick walls, with the waters of Yellow Creek rushing past behind the stage. Concession stands will be set up along the perimeter.
Ryan stresses that it's only temporary. Next year, he will open a permanent 3,000-capacity outdoor amphitheater in Cene Park, the baseball field complex a few blocks away.
It will be the latest jewel in Ryan's entertainment complex, joining South Bridge Billiards, a bar and pool-room above the Cellar; and Fat E's Attic, a restaurant on the second floor of the same building.
Meanwhile, in the bucolic farm country near the hamlet of Petersburg, in the southeast corner of Mahoning County, a permanent outdoor amphitheater has already been erected.
Buffalo Hollow is the brainchild of Eric Beight, who also owns Beight Monuments, a cemetery grave marker business on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman.
Beight has built a covered stage with dressing rooms on a portion of his farm, where he raises -- among other things -- buffalo.
Buffalo Hollow is a throwback to the '80s, when outdoor venues were Woodstock-like: in the middle of nowhere and very rustic. Beight admits modeling it after Legend Valley, the farm-turned-party grounds near Zanesville that hosted huge concerts, like ZZ Top, decades ago.
Donnie Iris will headline a weekend festival at Buffalo Hollow Aug. 11-13. Other bands on the bill will include Blue Taxi, Futuregrass, the Hern Brothers, and Rick Magee and the Roadhouse Rockers.
Campers and vendors are welcome, and -- unlike just about everywhere else -- festival-goers are invited to bring their own coolers full of beverages. Music isn't all that's on tap for the 18-and-older weekend: a bead contest (girls "compete" to collect the most), motorcycle show, tattoo contest, biker rodeo and an "anatomy contest" are also planned for the event, which benefits ABATE of Ohio.
Beight said Buffalo Hollow has a capacity of 3,000, with a permanent stage and dressing room, and an alcohol pavilion on the drawing board. He used timbers from an old barn on the property to build the stage.
A second show is planned for Labor Day weekend, but Beight wasn't ready to release the scheduled acts.
In Niles, concerts will once again be held at Eastwood Field, the home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor league baseball team.
David Lee Roth will headline a show July 3, with another concert in the works for August.
Eastwood has held several concerts since it opened in 1999, but has been quiet in recent years because of scheduling conflicts.
Youngstown Sports Grille
The Youngstown Sports Grille, on South Avenue in Boardman, is getting into the act with Flip Flop Fest. The July 22 outdoor music festival at the restaurant will include popular Columbus-based jam band Red Wanting Blue; Empathy, also from Columbus; Alternate Routes (Connecticut); and local acts Zach Rock Band, Via Sahara, Sonny Daze, Tomorrow's Hero and Since 86. Food, a dunking tank, and a hookah tent will be on the grounds for the event, which will start at 3 p.m.
Officials at Chevrolet Centre in downtown Youngstown are looking at doing an all-day concert in the parking lot this summer, according to Matt Hufnagel, the arena's director. It's still in the planning stages.