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The event is named for a Canfield High School grad

Sunday, August 26, 2018

By William K. Alcorn


JD’s Summer Songfest drew several hundred acoustic music fans to the small space on South Champion Street in downtown Youngstown on Saturday, including family members of JD Eicher, the Songfest’s namesake.

“We are very proud of JD. We like his music. It appeals to all ages,” his mother and father, Peggy and Dan Eicher of Canfield, agreed.

“He never played a musical instrument until the eighth grade, but did sing solos in the sixth and seventh grades. Instead of giving a valedictorian speech at his graduation from Canfield High School, he wrote and sang a song. He got a standing ovation,” his mother said.

JD’s sister, Courtney Eicher of Harrisburg, Pa., and his sister-in-law, Natalie Eicher of Cleveland, were also among Saturday’s audience.

“I love the lyrics to his songs,” Courtney said. “He’s also a very good instrumentalist,” said Natalie.

Their favorite of his compositions is “Lines in the Sky.”

Rod and Christine Reiter of Damascus, first-time visitors to JD’s Summer Songfest, came to Youngstown especially to see and hear JD perform.

“His music is very relaxing,” said Christine.

And relaxing is what the sponsors of the Songfest aimed for.

“It’s laid-back, miked-up acoustic music,” said Daniel Rauschenbach,” co-owner of Soap Gallery next door to the Songfest site.

“I always feel more connected to the audience when playing an acoustic guitar. Songfest encourages that intimacy,” Eicher previously said.

Eicher started the Songfest three years ago, the first two at Austintown Quaker Steak and Lube, and now two years in downtown Youngstown, said Rauschenbach.

Bands performed in the loading dock area next to Soap Gallery, a small amphitheater. Proceeds from the Songfest go to the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown and to help finance next year’s event.

Besides JD, several other local artists included The Labra Brothers and The Vindys, along with Steve Everett of Nashville.

The headliners were Ken Block and Drew Copeland of the platinum-selling Sister Hazel. The group was expected to perform some of its biggest hits, which include “All for You,” “Change Your Mind,” “Happy,” and “Champagne High.”

“It’s a great event that gives people a chance to get their eyes on local artwork, hear great music and just enjoy Youngstown,” said Rauschenbach.