Left End turns reunion show into a Spring Thing

After the success of Left End’s reunion show at Packard Music Hall in 2023, another show in Youngstown proper for the beloved Mahoning Valley band was inevitable.

Rather than just play another gig, the band and the promoters decided to make it a bigger thing … more specifically, a Spring Thing.

Spring Thing was an annual concert held at the Idora Park amusement park, which was destroyed by fire in 1984, and presented by radio stations WHOT-AM/WSRD-FM. Left End was the only band to play all 13 Spring Things.

“One of the things we were famous for is we played every year at Spring Thing,” drummer Pat Palombo said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to bring back Spring Thing? That’s how the whole ball started to get rolling. Let’s do a Spring Thing when it used to happen, in April, May. That’s why we’re doing it now.”

Left End was one of the most popular Mahoning Valley bands in the 1970s. Packed clubs and local radio support led to a record deal with Polydor Records, which released the band’s album “Spoiled Rotten” in 1973. Original songs such as “Bad Talkin’ Lady,” “Sunshine Girl” and “Cyclone Rider” received extensive local airplay.

“We played all originals,” bass player Roy Guerrieri said. “No band in the area played all originals and drew the crowds that we drew. We were very proud of our songs.”

Sunday’s concert at Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre will feature the same lineup that performed at Packard last year – founding members Palombo, drums; Guerrieri, bass and backing vocals; Tom Figinsky, lead guitar and backing vocals; and Jim Puhalla, rhythm guitar, joined by Dave Lemasters, who played with the band in the 1980s, on guitar and backing vocals; Michael Lawrence of Las Vegas on lead vocals; and Leanne Binder, backing vocals

Original lead singer Dennis Sesonsky, whose stage name was Dennis T. Menass, died in 2014.

Sesonsky’s daughter, Tasha Stanton, spoke Wednesday at Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, where the band received a proclamation from Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and a “Rocklamation” from Mahoning County Commissioners Carol Rimedio-Righetti, David C. Ditzler and Anthony Traficanti.

“I know he would want everyone to rock on,” Stanton said. “This is both sweet and sad at the same time. I’m so happy they are being recognized because they have been such an influence my life and so many other people’s.”

The band has fond memories of playing those old Spring Things. Both Puhalla and Figinsky recalled the time that The Eagles opened for them at Idora Park.

“They were just starting,” Figinsky said. “I think they had `Witchy Woman’ out. It was early in the game. I was standing by the soundboard, and they just killed – the harmonies, everything about them. It was just unbelievable. I didn’t want to go on.”

But Left End was impressed by them as well.

“They stayed,” Puhalla said. “They were right on the side of the stage as we played, and they were grooving with us.”

Sunday’s show won’t be a carbon copy of last year’s Packard performance. Palombo said they added about five different songs to Sunday’s setlist. But making the concert a Spring Thing necessitated another change.

That festival always was a multi-band bill, and the biggest Spring Thing of all was 1980, when Michael Stanley Band and Left End drew about 10,000 people.

Opening the show Sunday will be Youngstown’s The Houseband.

“The Houseband’s bass player is Michael Gismondi, who played bass for Michael Stanley,” Palombo said. “Of course, Gary Markasky’s still in town, their guitar player. And Gary Rowan, the sax player with Michael Stanley Band, is coming in from California. The three of them are going to do some MSB songs with The Houseband commemorating that 1980 concert. That’s going to be a nice feature and different from what happened at Packard.”

Those attending the concert should plan to arrive early. Before the Houseband performs at 7:30 p.m., the documentary “When Idora Rocked” will be screened.

Editor and producer Thomas E. Gregory of Gregoryfilms said, “The movie we’re putting together showcases the best of Mahoning Valley bands, the national acts who came to Idora Park and anybody who had anything to do with Spring Thing. It’s such a fantastic time period that everybody remembers and everybody wants to relive again, and we’re so happy to put this together again.”

Since these events happened in the ’70s and early ’80s, all concertgoers didn’t have recording devices in their pockets. Gregory said they were able to find some 8mm home movie footage, but the filmmakers mostly relied on old photographs and current interviews to tell the story

“We found a ton of tiny pieces that we’re putting together to make a gold mine, but we never found any treasure trove in one special place where this company or this person had all this stuff for us,” Gregory said.

After its screening on Sunday, “When Idora Rocked” will be given to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society for its use.

If you go …

WHAT: Spring Thing with Left End and Youngstown’s The Houseband

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday with the documentary “When Idora Rocked” screening about 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, 201 S. Phelps St., Youngstown

HOW MUCH: Tickets range from $29.50 to $75 and are available through Ticketmaster.


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