Column: Pride in our shell

By Jared Buker


Downtown Performers

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The NewsOutlet is a joint media venture by student and professional journalists and is a collaboration of Youngstown State University, WYSU radio and The Vindicator.

About this package

Youngstown State University, WYSU radio and The Vindicator collaborate in a program called The NewsOutlet, a joint media venture by student and professional journalists.

The NewsOutlet students recently examined downtown nightlife — a slice of Youngstown that is a growing attraction and destination — and also unknown to many Valley residents.

More than one dozen students hit downtown on Feb. 26 and 27. The result is a two-part package featured today and Monday that looks at this micro-economy — from the business owners to the workers; from the artists who perform to the patrons who come from throughout the Valley and Northeast Ohio to be entertained.

Fifteen years ago, Bruce Springsteen sang of a city struggling to return to its former greatness and provide for its people.

But if he came to downtown Youngstown today, he would see that the volatility of our home hasn’t shaken the vitality of its people.

There is unshakable pride lurking inside the people of Youngstown. We all walk the same streets and frequent the same places, and it means something to us that we have made so much out of so little.

I spent time downtown long before I was ever a student of Youngstown State, and I kept coming back because I was so drawn to that local connection.

I have been playing in local bands since before I was old enough to drive. My father would help me load my drum set, and I would share the stage at Cedars Lounge or Barley’s with my older brother, Dave. For me, it never got old playing at the same venues for the same audience.

I remember the first time that I heard a crowd singing the words to a song I had written. That, in a nutshell, is why Youngstown is so special to me. So many of my fondest memories I owe to my adventures downtown, and I can only hope there are many more to come.

Though I no longer have a band of my own, I still love those nights hearing live music at the Lemon Grove Café followed by a midnight snack at Charlie Staples.

It’s a shame that not everyone realizes how much Youngstown has to offer. Most high school students preparing for college loathe the idea of being stuck in Youngstown for another four years. Many YSU students never fully come to appreciate the potential our city has.

The future of Youngstown rests in a cliché: Don’t judge this book by its cover. Instead, go out and be a part of the local nightlife. Any city, no matter who lives there, is only what you make of it.

I am so glad to see that the local music scene is still buzzing.

Even my brother, who now lives in Columbus, still treks back to play in Youngstown because he, too, cherishes the many years he rocked this fine city.

I know that this Youngstown is only a shell of what it once was.

But it’s our shell.

No one can ever take that from us.

(Jared Buker is a Youngstown State University student. The NewsOutlet is a joint media venture by student and professional journalists and is a collaboration of Youngstown State University, WYSU radio and The Vindicator.)

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