By RICHARD L. BOCCIA
Thirteen bands, two acoustic acts, two comedians and two magicians rounded out the JonesFest itinerary.
YOUNGSTOWN — For the crowd gathered at JonesFest, the downtown music event felt like a little bit of big-city life.
Before the show, Marilyn Johnson and Carmela Shorter stepped out on a break from their West Federal Street office to watch the setup.
“This is kind of like being on the beach in Santa Monica,” said Johnson, soaking up the sun and pre-show music, recalling music festivals from the time she lived in California.
Shorter remembers Youngstown festivals from her childhood and how they waned as she got older.
“Now I can bring my little kids to get a glimpse of what we did,” she said.
Jim DeCapua, one of the event’s organizers, hoped for about 2,000 people to make the outdoor music fest a part of their weekend. By midafternoon, between 400 and 500 people had streamed through and he expected traffic to pick up for the evening.
DeCapua, a city resident, is also the front man for Jones for Revival.
It was among the 13 bands, two acoustic acts, two comedians and two magicians who hit the stage.
“After Vexfest last year, we were sitting around talking and said, ‘We should have a JonesFest.’ Then we thought, why don’t we,” DeCapua said.
Vexfest was another outdoor music event downtown with more of a metal bent.
Based on the early turnout, DeCapua predicts JonesFest, aimed at “anyone who appreciated the Youngstown music scene,” said its organizer, will become an annual thing although it may be pushed back to June to ensure weather cooperates.
As bands and vendors transformed the area between Wick Avenue and Phelps Street, the sun was welcome, but strong winds were not.
Performers Kevin Sheffar and Jason Greenamyer said their cards could blow away during a trick, though the gusts didn’t stop Sheffar from making a nickel disappear into a sealed bottle of iced tea.Greenamyer burned through tricks, literally, first lighting his wallet on fire and then turning $1 bills into hundreds.
“This would be my ideal crowd,” said Sheffar about the laid-back atmosphere — high winds aside — at JonesFest.
The free festival saw some young music fans.
Don DiPiero, 46, of Girard paused to tie his 4-year-old son’s shoe while walking around during the first band’s sound check.
“I take him to everything I can,” DiPiero said of his son, recounting trips to the Youngstown State University Festival of the Arts. “I think it’s great to expose him to things like that,” he continued, although he added they’d be heading out before the concert got rowdy.
JonesFest not only attracted a variety of ages, but also a variety of music fans — including a cockatoo named Ouija, who likes people and music, said his owners Nick and Nancy Carano. On workdays he entertains at parties and rest homes, and on off days “he dances,” said Nancy, who held a leash attached to Ouija’s harness. As the music played, the umbrella-crested bird sat on Nancy’s shoulder, occasionally lifting his big white wings to reveal yellow feathers underneath.
Julie Kocanyar and Libbey Pawlak, both of Berlin Center, Colleen Patterson of Poland and Jessie Tyler of Austintown, bounced a hacky sack among each other as they listened to the music.
“Our friend is in Melva — they opened — and we came to see them,” Kocanyar said. “They’re the best band in Berlin Center.” Patterson has a friend in the Youngstownians, another of the JonesFest performers, and came downtown to see them.
For other attendees it was a family affair.
Dianna Meehan and Billie Nelson, both of Boardman, and mother and grandmother of Mystic WIP Hustler drummer Brad Meehan, respectively, bounced to the music from a bench near the stage.
Brad Meehan has been part of the band for five or six years, his mother said. He and other Mystic WIP Hustler members, Dave Lynn and Charlie Cervone, all graduated from Boardman High School and now live in New York.
Brad’s love of music started early. He’s been a drummer since he was three years old, his grandmother said.
XCONTRIBUTOR: Denise Dick, staff writer.