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Packing in the shows at Packard hall

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Published: Thu, April 26, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

Packard Music Hall is about to get a workout.

The Warren venue is will host back-to-back-to-back shows next week, with country legends the Oak Ridge Boys on Monday, Broadway-style magic act the Illusionists Live on Tuesday, and Brit Floyd (a Pink Floyd tribute concert) on Tuesday.

In the past week, three future shows were announced: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (June 16), George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (July 21) and Don Felder (Nov. 7).

And in the very near future, three more shows will be announced that will take place this year.

The once sleepy venue’s turnaround began a few years ago, when JAC Management took over operations. It has a capacity that approaches 2,000, and that seems to be a perfect fit for a lot of shows.

“Packard is a theater, and a lot of acts want that more intimate setting,” said Kristen Segarra, marketing manager for JAC. “Pat Benatar is doing an acoustic tour, so she wanted a smaller venue. George Clinton has played Covelli Centre before (which JAC also manages), but we thought it would be cool to put them in Packard this year.”

Clinton and his large band played a raucous show at the similarly sized Stambaugh Auditorium two years ago.

Covelli Centre is three times larger than Packard hall, and Segarra said JAC is fortunate to have both options.


So, how hard did The Vindys kill it at Federal Frenzy?

The Youngstown-based rockers gave what had to be their definitive performance before a crowd of thousands at Saturday’s festival in the heart of the city.

The band, featuring vocalist Jackie Popovec, John Anthony, Rick Deak, Ed Davis and Scott Boyer (plus horns and keys for Saturday’s show) was ecstatic after their electrifying set.

The organizers of Federal Frenzy were also on cloud nine. The festival shattered last year’s all-day attendance of 5,000.

“There was definitely an uptick in daytime attendance, especially by families,” said Erin Driscoll, director of student activities at Youngstown State University, whose Penguin Productions stages the event.

Fed Frenzy added a lot of family-friendly activities this year to complement the music, and that, said Driscoll, made a difference in the afternoon hours.

More than 6,000 people had entered the gates by 7:30 p.m., when they stopped counting, and more kept coming after that.

The Vindys went on at 8 p.m. and were a tough act to follow for headliner Smallpools, a bouncy indie-pop band from Los Angeles. I felt bad for Smallpools at first but they quickly won over the crowd and proved to be an excellent choice.

Driscoll noted that the throng did a quick readjustment between the two bands, with The Vindys’ community-heavy crowd giving way to a college-age and younger set for Smallpools.

“We feel like we hit the mark in selecting a variety of acts that appealed to our students and the Youngstown community at large,” said Driscoll.


Greg Johnson is known for his nightclub act Youngstown’s Total Package Band, and also as a DJ. But Johnson, of Warren, is also music minister at Elm Road Christian Center in that city.

Under the moniker Son of Moses (Moses is his father’s name), Johnson has created some gospel songs to further his ministry — and other ones.

Johnson had a life-changing experience when he underwent major heart surgery and doctors were unable to bring him around for 12 hours. In that time, Johnson said God gave him songs. He has put some of them on Youtube, including “If You Love the Lord, Throw Up Your Hands.”

To have Johnson perform at your church, contact him at 330-720-2485 or 77gregoryjohnson@gmail.com.

Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator.

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