Incuya fest got off to a hot start

On first glance, last weekend’s Incuya Music Festival in downtown Cleveland was like a mini-Lollapalooza.

There was a great lineup of rock (and other) bands playing in a grassy urban setting, skyscrapers on one side, and a lake on the other.

Of course, that setting also describes a few other rock festivals that are in the core of big cities. And Incuya, in its inaugural year, is dwarfed in comparison to the well-established Lolla, which draws fans from well beyond Chicago.

But it will surely grow and turn into a summer tradition for Northeast Ohio.

“InCuya proved that the community support does exist, and that demand is high for an event like this in the middle of such a vibrant city,” said Joe Litvag, executive producer for the festival, in a post-mortem press release. “We’re already thinking about how we can raise the bar in 2019.”

Incuya pulled in 15,000 fans over two days, who saw 25 bands on two stages, including the Avett Brothers, New Order, Cake, the Revivialists, SZA and AWOLNATION.

It was an encouraging turnout, especially with the brutal heat and humidity that did not let up for a minute all weekend, even after the sun went down. Ask any promoter – that type of extreme weather holds down walk-up sales.

While Incuya wasn’t record-shattering or ground-breaking, it definitely was earth-shaking.

Because while Mall B, where the main stage was located, looks like a grassy field, it’s actually the roof of Cleveland’s convention center. And with 5,000 people jumping up and down during the Avett Brothers set, the “ground” did shake.

To no one’s surprise, the Avetts were tremendous and seemed to be winning over the uninitiated as they played.

I didn’t get to see every band on my list. But of those I was seeing for the first time, Tank and the Bangas left a mark. The New Orleans-based ensemble with horns, led by Tarriona “Tank” Ball, was a melting pot mix of styles that was as tasty as jambalaya.

I also have to salute Tropidelic, my favorite Cleveland band. They were quite at home on a big stage and looked to be having more fun than should be allowed.

Local Playwright accepted in New works festival

“Where the Star Fell,” a new play by Kelly Bancroft of Youngstown, has been accepted into the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

It will be performed Sept. 14, 15 and 20 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 22 at 4 p.m.; and Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. at Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie, Pa.

Admission is $20 ($17 in advance at

The plays in the festival are presented in blocs, and attendees will see two other short plays along with Bancroft’s piece. The plays are produced by CCAC South Campus Theatre for the festival.

Bancroft is an instructor at Youngstown State University, and also a singer and a writer.

“Where the Star Fell” is based on the true story of Ann Hodges of rural Alabama, whose life was upended in the 1950s when she became the first person to ever be hit by a meteorite.

The Pittsburgh New Works Festival annually selects 12 entries to produce. Theater companies and actors vie to stage the plays.

Bancroft’s plays have already been produced at the Youngstown Playhouse and in Milwaukee, and her writings have been published in many journals.

Last year, her short documentary film, “Arriving at Bessie,” was selected for inclusion in the Cleveland International Film Festival. It depicts her search for evidence of the life of an ancestor who died under mysterious circumstances

Bancroft explained the creative process for her new short play.

“I stumbled across the story of this woman, Elizabeth Ann Hodges, online accidentally shortly before the deadline for [the Pittsburgh New Works] contest,” she said.

“I seemed to have remembered her from ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ when I was a kid. I was captured by how dramatically her life seemed to change because of what happened to her and tried to imagine what it might be like to live your life after such an event.

“The play is based as much in fact as I could but I am imagining her emotional and spiritual life. I’ve been in communication with the curator at the museum in Alabama that houses this meteorite, and she’s given me more details. But the facts of the play are mostly true to life. The emotional facts are imagined.”

Bancroft is considering making it a full-length production.