Fiction Forest festival filled with local acts

YOUNGSTOWN — Brian McCale, founder of Steel Standing Entertainment, used to stage the Revive Music and Arts Festival at B&O Station.

Filling the dreaded opening slot in 2014 was a young local band called Spirit of the Bear.

“Immediately I was really into them and I could tell others were into them,” McCale said.

Revive is no more, but McCale now manages Spirit of the Bear, which leads its own music festival, Fiction Forest, where Revive used to be.

This year’s event will feature non-stop music with 15 acts alternating between two stages from 4 p.m. Saturday until 1 a.m.

“We don’t have overlapping sets,” McCale said. “It’s 100 percent about the music.”

The idea behind the festival was simple.

“We wanted to book some of the top local favorites around here and mix in some regional bands like the Ohio Weather Band and use this as a tool to get some show trades out of it,” McCale said.

Groups like Ohio Weather Band gets to reach a Mahoning Valley audience and Spirit will open for OWB in the Akron area.

Spirit of the Bear — James Harker, guitar and vocals; Danny Svenson, keyboards and vocals; Jamie Vitullo, drums; Ethan Schwendeman, keyboards; and Mike Perorazio, bass — is headlining the event along with The Vindys and JD Eicher.

“The Vindys and JD are huge local favorites,” McCale said. “We want a lot of people there, so we picked the top drawing bands.”

Many of the acts on the bill Saturday have benefited from exposure on The Summit, the Akron-based public radio station that is simulcast on 90.7 FM in Struthers. In addition to getting played in regular rotation on the station, they’ve been featured at events hosted by the station, helping those acts get greater exposure in Akron, Canton and Cleveland.

For example, the Labra Brothers will be doing double duty on Saturday, playing an afternoon concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland as part of a Rock & Recovery event presented by the Summit and then returning to Youngstown in time for an 8:30 p.m. set at Fiction Forest.

“The Summit is awesome. They play a ton of Youngstown bands and are showing us mad love,” McCale said. “It’s very motivating for the bands to have that kind of support.”