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Follow the music to Freed Fest, Fiction Forest

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Summer Festival of the Arts is this weekend, a classy and curated artsy event that marks the midpoint of the season.

But it’s not the only thing happening.

Freed Fest will take place Saturday in downtown Salem. Now in its second year, it’s already showing signs of growth.

This year, at least 20 of the area’s top bands will perform between noon and 11 p.m. on indoor and outdoor stages.

Freed Fest is named for Alan Freed, the late and legendary DJ from Salem who coined the phrase “rock ’n’ roll” and did as much as anyone to propel the new genre in its earliest days.

The main stage at McCulloch Park will feature the Willis Gordon Band, JD Eicher, Ms. Waskins and Baxter Burgundy, Diana Chittester, AC Jones, Flocko Torres, Katie O’Neal Duo, Hayden Brooke, Leo D’Angelo and Whiskey Pilot, Mike Webb, Grease Monkeys and John Fitch.

Inside Kent City Center, you’ll see Randy Strader and the Tribute Band, with S.R.O., Abbey Road, Super Babes, Terry and Diane McCabe, Leanne Binder and Rajma, Indre and Demos Papadimas.

Freed Fest will also include entertainment at BB Rooners, Liebe Wein, Boneshakers and the First United Methodist Church. There will also be an Alan Freed display at the Salem Historical Society, on East Pershing Street, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Freed Fest is free. Go to for information.

Saturday evening at Salem Community Theatre, 490 E. State St., you can catch a comedy show featuring “The Evangelist” at 8 p.m. (this one isn’t free – it’s a fundraiser for the theater and is $10 with a cash bar).


Also Saturday is the third annual Fiction Forest, which not only has a great lineup, but thoughtfully continues the F alliteration in its title.

The fest previously took place outdoors at the B&O Station grounds, but this year it is moving indoors to West Side Bowl, 2617 Mahoning Ave. in Youngstown. Tickets are $15 in advance at and $20 at the door.

Doors open at 2 p.m., with music on both the smaller downstairs stage and the spacious upstairs one.

Here is the upstairs lineup: The Lighthouse and the Whaler, 11 p.m.; Spirt of the Bear, 9:45 p.m.; Harbour, 8:45 p.m., Sam Goodwill, 7:45 p.m.; The Labra Brothers, 6:30 p.m.; Black Wolf and the Thief, 5:30 p.m.; No Funk No Justice, 4:30 p.m.

Downstairs: East 9th, 7 p.m.; Model Rockets, 6 p.m.; Very Good Friends, 5 p.m.; and Eastwood, 4 p.m.

So why did Fiction Forest move indoors this year? Several reasons, said promoter Brian McCale.

“We decided to try West Side Bowl this year due to weather concerns, honestly,” he said. “We’re always stressing about rain and hot weather, so we wanted to be stress-free this year. Also, we love the in-house sound system at West Side Bowl and the venue in general.”


The Michael Weber Show: If you caught The Michael Weber Show at Warren Community Amphitheatre last weekend, then you already know all there is to know.

This 21-year-old guitar phenom from Akron is a mix of Jimi Hendrix, the Black Keys and Joe Bonamassa.

Weber and his band put on a scorching show in Warren, and I expect things will be no different when the act plays a free show at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Morley Pavilion in Youngstown.

Check out his video for “Golden Days” on YouTube for a taste.

Slovenefest weekend: The 38th annual Slovenefest will take place Friday through Sunday at the SNPJ Recreation Center, just over the state line in Enon Valley, Pa.

Featuring more than 20 Slovenian polka bands and button-box accordion clubs at five indoor and outdoor venues, the nonstop entertainment starts at noon each day. Go to

Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.