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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Dead Boys, speaker salesmen

A 1977 performance by the Dead Boys at CBGBs is being used as the cornerstone of a new commercial spot for Sonos wireless speakers. It’s a short clip of “Sonic Reducer” taken from footage filmed for CBS’s 60 Minutes in the hey-day of punk. The show was later released on DVD as Live at CBGB’s 1977.

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Lou Reed (1942-2013)


Lou Reed, the famous New York artist/musician/poet, died on Oct. 27 at the age of 71. To my knowledge, his only performance in Youngstown came on April 27, 1978 at the Tomorrow Club.  The show came in between the release of the studio album Street Hassle in February and the live recording Live: Take No Prisoners in May.

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New Wave of British Heavy Metal with chicks

girlsschool 4-18-82By the time 1982 rolled around the Agora was pretty much on its last legs as a major act venue in the city. Early MTV hit-makers and other up and coming rockers of the day didn’t really get many booking slots as promoters relied on regional talent to fill bills that used to be reserved for national acts in the preceding years.

Area heavy metal fans did get a treat though when Britain’s Girlschool showed up for a gig on April 18, 1982 at the Agora. While the Youngstown area did not attract such well-known New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts Iron Maiden or Motorhead, Girlschool was the genuine article and was well-respected in metal circles around the world. In 1982, the band was testing the waters in the states for the first time with the album Demolition which included tracks from the band’s first two UK albums.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s the band performing “Hit and Run” in 1982.

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Because the night belongs to us

patti smith 2-15-78Patti Smith was one of the foundations of the New York City underground rock scene at the time of her Feb. 15, 1978 appearance at the Tomorrow Club. Commercial success was limited at this point, but that changed in a few weeks time when she released the album Easter. The Bruce Springsteen-Patti Smith penned “Because the Night” shot up the charts when it was released in the spring eventually allowing Smith to slow her hectic touring schedule in the 1980s.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s Smith performing her biggest hit on TV later in 1978.

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