Thursday, August 29, 2019
In the last week or so, Youngstown was treated to two concerts by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts.
Hall and Oates (last Wednesday) and Steely Dan (Tuesday) both delivered hit-laden performances at Covelli Centre.
And the funny thing is, around here that is not unusual. The Mahoning Valley routinely gets shows of that caliber.
But time was – and not so very long ago – live entertainment in this area was kind of sparse, if not second-rate.
There would be a few shows at Stambaugh Auditorium by the now-defunct Monday Musical Club. Maybe a touring Broadway show would stop at Powers Auditorium.
But the scene was mainly about community theater, the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, some barroom rock and a few odds and ends.
Things began to change right about the time I got this job.
I began covering entertainment for The Vindicator in August of 2005.
And a few months later, a decadeslong entertainment slump that began with the steel industry collapse was quickly reversed.
That’s because in October of 2005, Covelli Centre (then known as Chevrolet Centre) opened, forever changing the landscape of entertainment in the Valley.
Suddenly there were all kinds of national acts in town, artists that would have never come here. Tony Bennett and Three Doors Down were the first concerts at the new arena, and then came ice-skating shows, the circus, monster trucks, Disney and everything in between.
The enthusiastic response that the Covelli immediately received inspired more.
Ford Family Recital Hall opened two years later, adding just a dash more to the mix for quality events that need a small theater.
Several years ago, two of the more staid venues in the area – Packard Music Hall and Stambaugh Auditorium – jumped into the fray. Suddenly the number of touring acts playing the Youngstown-Warren area more than doubled.
Then throw in the Warren Community Amphitheatre’s River Rock series shows and the gigantic annual country concerts at Stambaugh Stadium.
Another crowning jewel opened this summer: the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, which has wowed everyone and has already hosted several national acts.
The amp, as it is known, sewed up the last slow period in the entertainment calendar – summer. Now, we are busy year-round.
The Valley’s A&E scene will continue to grow.
Next year, the renovated Robins Theater will open in downtown Warren, adding more shows to the mix.
The Vindicator covered the Valley’s entertainment renaissance from day one.
Now, this newspaper is calling it quits after a 150-year run. Our final edition will be Saturday.
Over the past 14 years, I’ve enjoyed having a front-row seat to the area’s entertainment turnaround.
The bottom line is, things change – as this incredible era of entertainment revival has proven.
But my memories of The Vindicator will remain forever.
Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.