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Jazz showcase series ready to start

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Published: Thu, February 7, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

A new monthly platform for jazz in downtown Youngstown begins Sunday.

Second Sundays with SounDoctrine will kick off at the Lemon Grove Cafe on West Federal Street from 4 to 7 p.m. It will return the second Sunday of every month, hosted by SounDoctrine, Youngstown’s premier jazz- fusion ensemble.

SounDoctrine and band member Jim Couchenour will do sets this week. Couchenour’s ultra-smooth style will be complemented by vocalist Natalie Sprouse.

Plans call for adding regional and national acts to the mix in the future.

Admission is $5. There also will be a barbecue buffet, catered by Guy’s BBQ of Youngstown, for an additional $15.

“Jazz and barbecue are a match made in heaven,” said Jere B of SounDoctrine, who is running the Second Sundays series, along with Lemon Grove owner/operator Jacob Harver.

Jazz has always had a firm foothold in Youngstown. Jere B wants to build on it.

“Our impetus was to keep a consistent jazz presence in the downtown area and have a room where we can bring some national artists in,” he said, adding it’s too soon to say exactly who might be on that list.

Jere B is a driving force behind the annual Youngstown Jazz Fest at Harrison Commons on the Youngstown State University campus. He is already a record producer, and the fest has helped him build a stronger connection to the jazz industry and its fans.

“It let people know that Youngstown has an audience for jazz,” he said. “The Lemon Grove will provide a nice, intimate environment for it.”

The downtown has long hosted weekly jazz sessions at both Cedar’s Lounge — which has closed but will reopen soon on the West Side — and at Frieda’s on Rayen Avenue. There are also regular Jazz in the Park shows at the B&O Station grounds in the summer.

The Lemon Grove Second Sundays series should fit right in.

As for SounDoctrine, Jere says the ensemble is working on new material and has tentative plans to release its next album in 2014.

Those who go to this Sunday’s show will get to hear three of those new songs. It will be the first time the tunes have been played before an audience.

Show will pay tribute to the late ‘Sugarfoot’

As a member of R&B-funk legends the Ohio Players, Youngstown’s Billy Beck played side-by-side with Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, who died two weeks ago in his native Dayton at age 69.

Sugarfoot had one of the most recognizable vocal signatures in all of pop music. The guitarist-vocalist and Ohio Players founder was the one who interjected all those funky, nasally “well, well, welllll” and “love rollercoaster chiiiild” background vocals into “Love Rollercoaster” — and a lot of other Players hits, such as “Fire.”

Beck and members of Youngstown’s Total Package Band — an ad hoc ensemble that calls itself the Spontaneous Band — will play a Sugarfoot tribute show Friday, beginning at 9 p.m., at Club Amauri, 3807 Belmont Ave., Liberty.

Then on Saturday, Youngs-town’s Total Package will pay homage to Sugarfoot at its gig at the Grist Mill in Austintown.

Because it’s a Valentines Day show, audience members also will have the opportunity to sing to their loved ones.


The Youngstown Playhouse’s 2013-14 season will include three blockbuster musicals.

Exact run dates haven’t been nailed down yet for any of the shows, but the season will start with a bang in September with “Spamalot,” the Monty Python comic hit.

The Playhouse has exclusive local rights to the musical, and its production will be a Mahoning Valley premiere.

The winter musical will be “Honk,” the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale of the Ugly Duckling.

Then in the spring, “The Wiz,” an updated and multicultural take on the “Wizard of Oz” story, will light up the stage.

Rounding out the main stage series will be the ever-popular “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

The Griffith Adler Actors Series — the cutting-edge plays in the blackbox Moyer Room — will include David Mamet’s “Race”; “Tuesdays with Morrie”; “Strange Snow”; “Good People”; and “Tally’s Folly.”

Season tickets go on sale in May. Call the box office at 330-788-8739.


Next year’s Super Bowl will be played outdoors and in a cold-weather climate — the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, which will be the home of the New York Giants.

To squelch rumors to the contrary, the NFL announced Tuesday that there will be both a pregame and a halftime show. Because it could very well be below freezing, the rumor mill had it that there would be no halftime show.

The halftime platform has become like an awards ceremony — an honor for either the reigning pop king or queen, or a way to acknowledge a great artist.

Beyonce’s performance Sunday was right on the money: a glitzy, high-energy hit parade, with sexy outfits and no wardrobe malfunctions.

Who will get the coveted spot in 2014? That’s open to speculation at this point. Here are just a few possibilities that I came up with:

Lady Gaga: A super entertainer and a household name. She’d have to tone down her sometimes rough stage banter.

Elton John: This would fall under the classic-rock category of halftime acts, which has already included The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Prince, U2, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.

The Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys”: A tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons would be fitting for both New Jersey and New York City.

Bon Jovi: Another Jersey boy.

Bruce Springsteen: He just did it in 2009, but you can’t rule him out for the hurricane battered area.

Jay-Z and Kanye West: New Yorkers would love this.

Rihanna: See above.

Billy Joel: Might be the front-runner.

Justin Bieber: It’s too soon.

Taylor Swift: See above. Although if she’s paired up with another country cross-over act (Lady A? Blake Shelton?), it could work.

Maroon 5: I hope not.

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