Youngstown Jazz Fest hit all the right notes

Saturday’s inaugural Youngstown Jazz Festival was such a success that the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber is already planning next year’s event.

About 4,000 paid to see the concert, including about 1,800 who bought tickets at the gate. That’s a huge walk-up sale.

Jerry Costa, program director for the chamber and the man who spearheaded the downtown festival, wasn’t surprised.

“We expected a big walk-up because of the weather and the low ticket price [$15],” he said. “Also, the price at the gate was the same as [tickets sold in advance].”

The weather couldn’t have been better, as the blue sky, bright sun and warm breeze brought out the summer dresses and shorts.

It was a sweet night all around as David Benoit and Spyro Gyra capped a show that also included local favorites SounDoctrine and Howard and the Point Five Band.

“David [Benoit] and Spyro Gyra were very impressed and asked me when I was bringing them back,” said Costa.

Folks with chairs made an amphitheater out of Federal Street.

But around the edges of the urban street party, where you couldn’t see the stage, the smooth jazz fusion was more like background music for the throngs who milled about chatting and sipping wine.

“It was great to see a diverse crowd having fun together and enjoying the music,” said Costa. “That event truly represented what Youngstown is all about.”

Costa said to expect more national acts next year, although he wouldn’t say who he has in mind.


A new space for art exhibitions will open Friday inside the Lemon Grove Caf , 122 W. Federal St., downtown.

The first show, “Rust_Rococo,” will feature the work of seven local artists.

In what has got to be the most abstract yet descriptive press release of the year, Jimmy Hagan, acting director of the gallery, had this to say about the exhibition:

“The artists’ work unearths the lush, the curvaceous, the vibrant, the smooth, the solid, and the sexual from apparent barrenness. ... Rejecting the macabre pantomime of aimless nostalgia and refusing to be overcome by the heavy shadow of memory and doubt, these artists invigorate and reconquer how we understand our wasted landscape.”

Hagan is an Ursuline High School grad and a senior at Oberlin College.

Artists exhibiting in “Rust_Rococo” are Justin and Salem Reese; Aimee Kirby; Don Attenberger; Steve Poullas; Leslie Cusano and Hagan.


Two Youngstown natives didn’t fare so well when the Emmy Awards revealed their nominees last week.

Although five members of the ensemble cast of “Modern Family,” ABC’s hit freshman series, picked up nominations, North Side native Ed O’Neill, the patriarch of the show, was snubbed.

Also shut out was “Sons of Anarchy,” the motorcycle-gang drama on FX. Jack LoGiudice, a Youngstown native, is one of that show’s writers.

On a brighter note, the CBS drama “The Good Wife” picked up a nod for Best Drama Series. Boardman native Ted Humphrey is a writer for the show.


Four events in an eight-day span will keep things hopping at Mill Creek Park’s Morley Pavilion and adjacent Wick Recreation area.

It begins Wednesday, with Cleveland-based Mifune. The afro-beat/electronica band includes Youngstown native Christine Fader on vocals and keyboards. The show begins at 7 p.m. at Morley.

Two nights later (July 23), national act WAR (“Low Rider,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends”) hits the same stage.

The annual Sunfest is July 25 at Wick. It’s a daylong family event that includes the popular sand-sculpture contest as well as two bands in the evening (FX Project and Rainbow Tribe).

Finally, country band Train Wreck performs at Morley on July 28.

Linda Kostka, marketing director for the park, is in her first year of handling the concerts. She has braced herself for a busy week. “We didn’t set out to do it this way, but we had to take WAR when they were available,” she said.

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