JD's Summer Songfest marks 3rd year
Joy Ike: 4-5:15 p.m.
Labra Bros: 5:35-6:50 p.m.
JD Eicher: 7:10-8:40 p.m.
Will Hoge: 9-10:30 p.m.
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
JD’s Summer Songfest will return Saturday for the third year, but it is moving downtown.
The laid-back music festival with an acoustic flavor will take place Saturday outdoors in front of and next to Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St.
Gates open at 3:30 p.m. for the all-ages event. Tickets are $5 in advance at jdeicher.com/songfest and $10 at the door.
The day will include yard games, food from Quaker Steak and Lube, an additional food truck and a beer tent.
Best of all, the festival will make use of the loading dock next to Soap Gallery. With a sunken drive in front of it, and an industrial backdrop, it makes for a natural – but very urban – mini-amphitheater.
In previous years, the Songfest took place at Quaker Steak and Lube parking lot in Austintown.
Headlining this year’s fest – in addition to Eicher – will be Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and producer Will Hoge.
The Nashville-based artist, who grew up in Franklin, Tenn., is a music industry veteran. He released his 10th album, “Small Town Dreams,” in 2015.
“It’s a reflection of where I am currently in my life,” said Hoge of the album in his press materials, “but also where I grew up, and, ultimately, where I think I’m going.” In his lyrics, he shares stories of growing up, looking back and passing on his dreams.
Hoge earned his Grammy nomination for co-writing Eli Young Band’s No. 1 hit, “Even If Breaks Your Heart.”
The music will start at 4 p.m. with Joy Ike, a Philadelphia native born to Nigerian immigrant parents. Ike has a diamond-like voice and also plays piano on her insightful songs.
Youngstown’s Labra Brothers will take the stage after Ike. The Labras are quickly becoming one of Youngstown’s favorite bands with the group’s lively guitar-based songs that mix vocal harmony and a touchy of Latino rhythm.
Eicher will be up next, accompanied by his drummer and bass player but in a stripped-down set.
The Mahoning Valley native – who is represented by the same agency as Hoge – said the move downtown is designed “to kick it up a notch.”
The goal of his festival is to bring something unique to the music scene, and each artist on the bill does just that.
“We wanted to do something more focused on acoustic, and also more laid back, with a friendly summer vibe,” he said.
The 100 block of Champion Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for the festival, and Soap Gallery will be open.
“There will be cornhole games, and tables and chairs set up, and strings of lights,” said Eicher. “It’s a little classier than the typical set-up, but it will have that Youngstown steel-town vibe.”