By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Pabstolutely rock festival started small a decade ago when three friends at the Royal Oaks bar decided to raise money for a charity. Since then, it has grown into an annual event that draws around 1,000 people. Now in its 10th year, the festival will return Saturday.
Joe Stilson, Mike Calvaruso and Jim Sutman were the founders of the daylong event that takes place in the street and parking lot at the Royal Oaks, at the corner of Oak Street and Lansing Avenue on the East Side.
Stilson, who has been handling it solo for the past seven years, said the 10th anniversary makes this year’s Pabstolutely a special one. He has no intention of calling it quits, either. “Every year, it’s like, ‘Why not?’,” he said.
As always, admission is free, but if you want to drink you have to purchase a wristband for $5. Proceeds from the festival benefit Golden String Radio, a division of Purple Cat, an agency that helps adults with disabilities. The Purple Cat’s men’s choir, made up of clients of the agency, will perform shortly after noon.
The festival always has a Youngstown vibe to it in general, and a Royal Oaks flavor in particular. The Royal Oaks will be selling its barbecued ribs and other menu items for which it has become known.
About a dozen local T-shirt, tattoo, photography and other unique vendors will set up shop under a large tent. The Whirl and Hurl, a ride created by Youngstown-based modern metal sculptor Tony Armeni will be set up.
And as always, the festival poster will be created by Jeremy Lockard, a Youngstown-based tattoo artist and hot-rod pinstriper. Lockard’s intricate posters depict Royal Oaks people, objects and events at the bar, and will be emblazoned on T-shirts that will be sold at Pabstolutely.
The centerpiece of Pabstolutely is the music, with a dozen bands playing on an outdoor stage.
This year’s headliners include two long-time Young-stown favorites who have not performed much lately: Coinmonster and Rebreather. Coinmonster began playing the festival three years ago; it’s one of the only shows the heavy band does each year. Rebreather hasn’t played a show in about five years but will regroup for Saturday. The Pabstolutely show will mark the band’s final performance as Rebreather.
Another familiar face on the card is Punk Willie, which has played almost every Pabstolutely either in its current iteration, or as Larry Shankman and the Foreskins. “They are the Godfathers of Pabstolutely,” said Stilson.
Though the lineup leans toward hard rock and punk, bands such as When Particles Collide and Garter Shake will provide texture – and a female touch.
New this year will be a beard and mustache contest at 2 p.m., run by the Rust Belt Whisker Society. Registration begins at noon.
Pabstolutely also will feature a basket raffle, Pabst Blue Ribbon merchandise and a 50/50 raffle.
The vendor list includes Artistic Dermagraphics, After burner FX, Bareknuckle tattoo, Rusty Waters T-shirts, Touch the Moon Candy Saloon, Amplifies Arts, Firedoll Photography, Stepan Studios, The Radical Notion and Little Steel Derby Girls.