RIP Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry has died at the age of 90.

Here are some posts about his history in Youngstown.


Scam bands revisited

animals 1-18-70

In 2014, I spotted the ad above and wrote an entry about the absurdity of it all. It turns out to be a very cool story involving a shady Michigan company, members of ZZ Top and the preying on of innocent rock fans who had no access to the level of information we do today.

Buzzfeed published the whole saga of this bizarre episode in rock history yesterday.  Here’s an excerpt detailing what happened to the fake Animals just about two months after the Youngstown gig:

Backlash from the bands whose identities it had effectively stolen ballooned to the point where Delta could no longer keep up its charade. The beginning of the end came when a fake version of the Animals created by Delta were confronted at a performance by the founder of the actual Animals, Eric Burdon. According to an article in the May 28, 1970, issue of Rolling Stone by Ben Fong-Torres, Burdon had shown up to the show with a baseball bat. Tom Hocott remembers getting a phone call from one of the fake Animals recounting this same story. “Eric Burdon and a bunch of bikers chased them around and threatened them,” he says. Burdon was contacted for this story; his wife Marianna responded with an email saying, “I asked Eric if he has any recollections of the incident you mentioned, but he doesn’t really.”

For more on this amazing tale, read Daniel Ralston’s excellent article:

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Gil Mantera’s Party Dream


Gil Mantera’s Party Dream are one of the last Youngstown acts to nearly make the big time. If you were around the Youngstown scene from the late 90s to mid 2000s, you understood why. There is no sense in trying to explain it here.

Let Ultimate Donny ( Richard Elmsworth) do it in a recent interview from the podcast Height Zone World.

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41 years, 9 months, 30 days


On Friday it was announced that Kiss would be coming to the Covelli Centre for a show on Aug. 26. If the show goes off as planned, it will mark the first show for the band in Youngstown since Oct. 27, 1974. That will be 41 years, nine months and 30 days since the last show in the city. I don’t know who keeps such records in rock ‘n’ roll, but that has to be in the discussion some sort of record for time between two performances in one city.

Another New York band with just two original members completed a 35-year, one-month and 23-day gap on July 29, 2011 when the New York Dolls did an opening gig for Poison and Motley Crue at the Covelli Centre. The Dolls had previously played Youngstown on June 6, 1976.

The Kiss show will be held one day after Gene Simmons celebrates his 67th birthday. Since Kiss is coming off a show in Toledo on Aug. 24, it’s a high possibility that Gene will be celebrating his birthday in Youngstown or somewhere nearby.

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Rockabilly at Stambaugh

3-15-57 stambaughThere was a time in the late ’50s when country-fried rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll were pretty much in mutual agreement and a fine example of this is the show with headliners Sanford Clark, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and Sonny James on March 15, 1957 at the Stambaugh Auditorium.

The bill also included a young Eddie Cochran and Roy Orbison. At $2.50 for top tier tickets, it seems like the price was quite the bargain.

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Freak out or fake out?

animals 1-18-70

On January, 18, 1970, the club The New World of the Freak Out (currently the site of the Utopia night club) claimed to have booked a show featuring one of the bigger bands of the 1960s in The Animals.

Only problem is the band broke up in 1969. Eric Burdon was well into his tenure with War at that point and the rest of the band was onto other things. So who knows if this was imposters or maybe some fringe members carrying on the name.

It would be absolutely absurd to think that the band that played arenas in the mid-60s played a Youngstown night club for $1.50 a ticket in 1970.

Edit: A commenter pointed out that the show was a scam and that the actual Animals did not play there.

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State Theatre Hall of Music presents…

joe walsh 7-22-1973

So it turns out there was life in the State Theater before the Tomorrow Club took over. Dubbed the State Theatre Hall of Music, the venue booked guitar legend Joe Walsh and Barnstorm on July 22, 1973. It seems to be the first rock music booking there, but I have no idea who else was booked or how the venue fared under that name.

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Left End leftovers

In doing research on Left End I found a couple items in the Plain Dealer archives perhaps worth bringing to light. Enjoy.

An article from Jan. 1977 in the Plain Dealer.

An article from Jan. 1977 in the Plain Dealer.

 A 1988 comeback article from Plain Dealer writer Jane Scott.

A 1988 comeback article from Plain Dealer writer Jane Scott.

Review of Aug. 1974 show at Idora Park.

Review of Aug. 1974 show at Idora Park.

1975 misc. item

1975 misc. item

Balloon stolen.

Balloon stolen.

The curious case of Left End

Jane Scott chronicled Left End's exploits in the April 26, 1974 edition of the Plain Dealer.

Jane Scott chronicled Left End’s exploits in the April 26, 1974 edition of the Plain Dealer.

With the recent death of vocalist Dennis T. Menass (Dennis Sesonsky) the most popular Youngstown rock band in history for all intents and purposes came to an abrupt end. Unlike some other bands from the early to mid 70s rock scene who were attempted trendsetters of the day, there was no grand international revival by the way of album re-release, no superstar act like Metallica stepping in to do a cover or documentary film for the boys of Left End.

They arrived onto the national rock scene in April of 1974 with the release of the “Spoiled Rotten” LP for Polydor Records (the album premiered on Cleveland radio on April 13, 1974 and was available for sale shortly thereafter). There were big shows. There were antics. There were theatrics. The fans ate up whatever they were feeding (including frogs).

A fan who witnessed Left End play with the New York Dolls in June of 1974 in Cleveland shows off an interesting tribute to Dennis T. Menass in this Plain Dealer photo.

A fan who witnessed Left End play with the New York Dolls in June of 1974 in Cleveland shows off an interesting tribute to Dennis T. Menass in this Plain Dealer photo.

Of course, in the grand scheme of the way things usually go in Northeast Ohio, total victory was never achieved. The album got mixed reviews, a Polydor restructuring happened, vinyl production slowed and the music suits cowered in fear of what they (or most other people for that matter) could not grasp.

Left End were not unique in being kicked to the curb in what is perhaps the most misunderstood era of rock. Out in Los Angeles, about the same time as Left End was emerging in Ohio, the weirdness of sci-fi glam icons Zolar X gave people some pause as to whether they were the ones who influenced Kiss (They, of course, were largely forgotten until record reissues in the 2000s). The MC5, at the tail end of their darkest days in 1972, experimented with make-up and also thought they were the ones pushing the theatrical envelope. You had your Bowies. You had your glam Iggys. Alice Cooper was doing his thing too. Everything was sort of pointing in the direction of rock being more show oriented. Some bands were just luckier than others.

A Spoiled Rotten T-Shirt found its way into the 1976 Barbara Streisand film "A Star Is Born."

An “I’m Spoiled Rotten” T-Shirt found its way into the 1976 Barbara Streisand film “A Star Is Born.”

Rolling Stone's review of the album.

Rolling Stone’s review of the album.

Something like Left End will never be repeated however. The era of a band being able to work most, if not all, nights of the week and make a decent living off of it is long over. If a band now logs more than a hundred shows in its career here, they’re considered a veteran of the scene. Left End did thousands of shows. They could play a small bar in a Youngstown suburb one night and a theater in Cleveland the next. That is how a band becomes consistent and it is how a band leads the way to becoming legendary.

I really don’t know what Left End’s lasting legacy will be. The music the band recorded runs the gamut of sounding like the tough “thug rock” that critics liked to attack and the fans loved to something more funky and firmly and forever planted in 1974 (this is not necessarily a good thing).

They were essentially a Youngstown kind of band though. They made no apologies about playing for the shot and beer crowd and were working class through and through. And despite being called all sorts of unfair names by the national media, they are good-hearted people.

The band will get what I assume is its final send-off on Nov. 30 at the Youngstown Music Awards in Austintown.

There are some recent interviews from Dennis and drummer Patsy Palumbo on the excellent JimmyFro Show podcast which give a greater insight into what Left End was. I suggest you listen to those.


Nyabinghi 1998-2006

Opened in 1998 by Greg Barratt, who had owned another bar by the same name in Morgantown, West Virginia, the Nyabinghi at 1229 Salt Springs Road served as a haven for heavier stoner rock and metal as well as many other sorts of music in its brief existence. Plenty of acts who were big names or on their way to becoming big names played there such as the White Stripes, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Clutch and the Melvins. Hell, even former child actor Corey Feldman played their once with his terrible band. It was an eclectic place with a killer jukebox and beer selection that made a name for itself on the national music scene with the Emissions From The Monolith music festival.

In 2006, Barratt put it up for sale on eBay, but a a potential buyer with the means to meet the $150,000 bid for the building and equipment never emerged. Nyabinghi’s last night was on New Year’s Eve 2006. The building fell into foreclosure and later housed a bar called Pope’s Pub for a short time. A deliberately set fire in Jan. 2009 caused $5,000 damage to the stage area. Sometime in the last two years, the building was razed.

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