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The new amphitheater is coming into focus

Thursday, April 25, 2019

It has been interesting to watch the new Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre emerge from piles of dirt.

Work has been going on for about a year but it’s only been in the past few days that the downtown facility has begun to show its finished look.

That’s because the details – landscaping, pathways, fencing – are being completed, and it’s no longer just raw concrete and dirt. Trees were put in along the main concourse this week.

While the outbuildings and concession stand were erected before winter, the stage superstructure was put up just a few weeks ago, and that was another milestone.

The stage might have surprised those who didn’t look closely at the architectural renderings. Some might have been expecting a bandshell, but instead the superstructure is basically a permanent “temporary” stage. It has a raw look that is very rock ’n’ roll.

The “seating” area, which rises on a slight grade away from the stage, has been graded and sod will be laid soon. Then it will really look ready.

Overall, the amphitheater reminds me of a miniature version of the Pittsburgh area’s KeyBank Pavilion. But instead of being in the middle of nowhere, it is in the heart of the city.

The mighty Market Street Bridge frames the venue on one side, and a wooded hillside provides the backdrop.

I think most people will be surprised at how well the amp has turned out. It will become a gem for the city and local organizations are already clamoring to use it for their events.

JAC Live and LiveNation have teamed up on booking national acts, and a decent lineup is already on the schedule. Concerts will include Michael Stanley-Donnie Iris on opening night (June 15), and also Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, the Music of Queen, Gucci Mane and Steely Dan.

Smaller acts, festivals and local events and gatherings will fill in the rest of the dates, and they should secure the goal of bringing scads of people downtown every weekend.

And once those people see the Amp firsthand, they will want to come back.


Sunrise Entertainment had back-to-back sellouts at Powers Auditorium on Monday and Tuesday night for the touring production of “Jersey Boys.” Ken Haidaris, president of Warren-based Sunrise, was thrilled with the turnout and is already planning to bring back the jukebox musical that tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

About a decade ago, the Youngstown Symphony Society had a short-lived Broadway series that brought in a number of shows for two-night stands. That series had uneven success but it did prove that this area will embrace Broadway tours as well as any.

Of course, not every show is “Jersey Boys.” The musical hasn’t aged a bit since the first time I saw it 10 years ago. But this week’s results should lead to more nights of Broadway in beautiful Powers.


Valley rockers The Stage of Dreams will have a record-release show Friday at the Ice House Inn in Austintown for their second album, “Fiction.” Also on the bill are Velocity and Bad Reign. The new album continues in the rock-blues-metal vein of their 2017 debut release, “Contra.” The Stage of Dreams is led by Daniel Butch, who has two other acts: popular cover band Haymaker and Iron Maiden tribute band Edward Be Thy Name. The band also includes Don Conti, Jerry Dungan and Shaun McConnell.

Salem’s The BreezeWay will go an intimate acoustic show Friday at Vintage Estate in Boardman.

The alt-rockers have toured the United States, Canada and Europe, and have licensed music to MTV and other networks. The band recently released three singles: “Gone Away,” “Someone’s Got Soul” and a rendition of the classic song “16 Tons” from their upcoming full-length album entitled, “Bits and Bobs.” You can watch them on the BreezeWay’s YouTube channel.

Jam-band veterans Jones for Revival will return to its hometown May 10 for a show at Cedars West End in Youngstown.

Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator.