Awards & Events

Summer Festival of Arts Brings Back ‘Fabulous Flashbacks’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Fans of the Mahoning Valley music scene will be able to party like it’s the mid-1980s – or earlier – as part of this year’s Summer Festival of the Arts Weekend with a reunion concert by The Fabulous Flashbacks.

The Flashbacks packed indoor and outdoor venues here with their mix of covers, spanning 1962 to 1972, from 1983 to 1996, regrouping for a few reunion shows over the years . Doors for the show will open at 6:30 p.m. July 7 at Central Square downtown.

“These guys are responsible for some of the largest crowds at the former CityFest events in downtown Youngstown,” Michael McGiffin, coordinator of downtown events and special projects, said Tuesday.

McGiffin said he was approached by David Terpak, senior project manager at Forty Two Event Production, Boardman, who had been in discussions with Flashbacks lead singer Brian McCall. McCall and his band mates were thinking about doing a comeback show, Terpak said. He then approached Eric Ryan Productions/JAC Management, which manages the Covelli Centre, about putting the June 7 show together.

“The Flashbacks” couldn’t be more excited. We couldn’t be more excited,” McGiffin said. “I am in firm belief that the community is going to be excited.” He credited the Flashbacks for making the Youngstown music scene feel “more like a regional music scene in the ‘80s and early 90s.”

The reunion performance was among the events and performers outlined at a news conference Tuesday outlining  Youngstown State University’s annual arts festival, in its 19th year, and the growing roster of events affiliated with the weekend.

On that roster:

  • The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Summerfest, in its 33rd year, which runs July 6 to 9.
  • All AmeriCon 2017, a comic-book convention at the Covelli Centre July 8 and 9.
  • Youngstown Wine and Jazz, July 8, featuring jazz keyboardist Alex Bugnon.
  • 2DE Gospel Festival 2L17, headlined by Grammy winner Israel Houghton and New Breed.

The weekend has “something for everyone,” remarked Phyllis Paul, dean of the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communication.

The arts play a vital role in the community and whenever the college can partner with the city and the greater community, “We are not only fulfilling one of our most important educational missions, but offering support to our city and our community’s revitalization efforts as well,” Paul said.

The weekend is “one of the best things that I get to represent all year long,” added Linda Macala, executive director of the Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The weekend has grown such that every year her office gets calls from individuals around the state who ask where they can stay or to learn this year’s jazz artist, she said.

The Summer Festival of the Arts, which began with fewer than 30 artists, has grown to more than 75 artists this year, said Lori Factor, YSU director of community engagement and events.

In addition to the exhibitors and performers, the festival will feature a public art project, “Frame Your Happiness,” Factor said.

Last year, the former Downtown Jazz Fest was rebranded as Youngstown Wine and Jazz, resulting in a 25% increase in attendance, reported Ken Bigley, executive vice president of JAC Management and JAC Live.

This year the event will feature wines from wineries in Mahoning and Trumbull counties and selections from the Napa and Sonoma valleys as well, he said. He described Bugnon as “a prolific, energetic force” in contemporary music for nearly three decades.

Joining the festival weekend this year is All AmeriCon, which took place in Warren the past seven years, the last three at Packard Music Hall. Between the 2015 and 2016 shows, promoter Greg Bartholomew realized he would need a larger venue for this year’s event. He decided to move it to the Covelli Center after speaking with Jim Bugos, general manager at Packard, which like the Youngstown arena, is operated by JAC.

AmeriCon will feature more than 125 tables of vendors and comic book industry professionals, Bartholomew, owner of All American Cards & Comics, said. Featured guest this year is Bob Layton, co-plotter and artist on Marvel Comics’ Iron Man during some of the title’s more popular runs. Layton also has served as a consultant on the Iron Man movies, which feature one of the characters he co-created, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, also known as War Machine or Iron Patriot.

As a one-day show, All AmeriCon drew 2,500 visitors in 2016 and 1,700 the year before. Expanding it to two days this year, Bartholomew said he hopes for 4,000 to 5,000 people.

“One of the nicest things about being the oldest kid on the block is you get to help pave the way for newer ideas and events and partnerships, and we’re proud to be the anchor event for this outstanding weekend,” Factor said.

Pictured at top: Fabulous Flashbacks perform at 25th anniversary show sponsored by 106.1 The Bull radio station.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.