At the end of each year, we like to look back and take stock of what transpired in the past 12 months.
Toward that end, you will find The Vindicator’s top 10 entertainment stories of 2012 in the centerspread of this edition of Vibe.
Though the stories that made the list were certainly the highlights, there were plenty of others that left a mark on the Valley’s entertainment scene.
Open and shut: In Austintown, Rodeo Music Hall — a large country-music club — opened at the site of Club Gossip in Wedgewood Plaza, while the Funny Farm Comedy Club moved into a new home at Mojo’s Pub and Grill on Mahoning Avenue.
And Shotz Bar and Grill on Oakwood Avenue began an aggressive turnaround as a venue for live and original music.
The arts-entertainment renaissance continued in downtown Youngstown. Playing leapfrog on West Federal Street was the Lemon Grove, which moved down the block, with O’Donold’s renovating and taking over its old space. Roberto’s Italian Ristorante also opened across the street.
Dooney’s Downtown Grill took over at the former Buffalo Wild Wings eatery and kept alive the Party on the Plaza tradition.
Greyland Gallery, a unique repository of vintage clothes, music, furniture and interesting oddities opened at the old Wig Warehouse storefront on Boardman Street.
Festivals: Two noteworthy new names were added to the summer festival frenzy. Mill Creek Park launched a rib fest at the Wick Recreational Area, and the gigantic Bavarian Fun Fest returned to downtown Sharon, Pa., after an absence of many years.
Museums: At the Butler Institute of American Art — Youngstown’s greatest treasure — work began on a second-level covered pedestrian bridge that will link the main building to the Butler North building. The bridge also will serve as a gallery.
The Butler played host to any number of unique exhibitions this year, but two stand out: a photo exhibit of works by Mike McCartney, who is the brother of Paul McCartney; and “The Raft,” a video that is like a painting come to life in slow motion. It’s the work of preeminent performance artist Bill Viola.
Taking the reins: There were new faces in leadership positions at three places. Cleric Costes was named director of the Oakland Center for the Arts; Matt Pagac and Chris Lewis took over as general manager and marketing director, respectively, at Stambaugh Auditorium; and Scott Irelan took up the reins of the theater and dance department at Youngstown State University.
Theater and music: Highlights of the theater scene were too numerous to mention (even when excluding those mentioned in the Top Stories of 2012 list), but here are a few: “Romeo and Juliet” at the Youngstown Playhouse”; J.E. Ballantyne’s Holocaust adaptation “A Light in the Darkness,” and “The Odd Couple,” which starred local television newscasters Len Rome and Jim Loboy, both at The Victorian Players; “Spring Awakening” at the Oakland; Easy Street’s “Annie, the Musical”; and “Rent” at Youngstown State University Theater.
Topping the list of pop/rock/folk concert were visits by three greats: Bob Dylan at Covelli Centre, and America and Judy Collins at Stambaugh Auditorium.
Local boys make good: Matt Toka, former frontman for Valley-based glam-rock band Cherry Monroe, resurfaced as a pop-punker on the Warped tour; and Josh Bartell, the Struthers cupcake wizard, baked his way onto the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
The unexpected: In October, Stambaugh Auditorium became a last-minute substitute location for the filming of an episode of “Dance Moms,” the popular Lifetime network reality series.
On a tragic note, Matthew Smith of Zanesville, lead singer/guitarist for rock band Marbles for Eyes, collapsed and died of heart failure, a congenital condition, immediately after finishing a performance in March at Cedar’s Lounge.