Pabstolutely makes noise for good cause

For the bands that take part year after year, Pabstolutely is not just another gig.

“It’s a family at this point, between The Royal Oaks, Golden String, many of the vendors and volunteers, as well as a lot of the performers,” according to B.J. Lisko, vocalist and guitar player for Youngstown’s Turbo Lovers. “I’ve done promotions for Pabstolutely since its inception, so I’m involved in more than just the performer capacity. Through that, I’ve seen it grow from a last-minute, 10-band outdoor show to one of the most anticipated events of the year.”

Pabstolutely 6 will feature 14 bands on indoor and outdoor stages on Saturday at the Royal Oaks Bar and Grill. The fest was started in 2008 by Royal Oaks owner John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Golden String volunteer Joe Stillson and Royal Oaks patron Mark Calvaruso.

”Turbo Lovers is basically just gearing up for this show,” Lisko said. ”We have three more in the fall already set, but for now, Pabstolutely is our focus. We’re playing inside now, which is a first for us and the festival, to have bands inside the bar, so we’re adjusting accordingly. It’s going to be a fantastic time as always.”

Cleveland’s cowpunk act Whiskey Daredevils is another returning band to the festival. The Daredevils have been together for a decade and played about 800 shows, and lead singer Greg Miller said those Pabstolutely gigs are among the most memorable.

“I think the whole idea and spirit of the event is awesome,” Miller said. “These guys in Youngstown created something with enthusiasm and creativity. Just seeing all the bands and the craziness that the Kennedy brothers have in store is exciting. I encourage readers, if they want to have an interesting time, see something they never saw before, and have a good time that they will talk about for months, they should come to Pabstolutely.

“Pabstolutely is the opportunity to see good quality bands making independent music and doing it their way.”

Proceeds from Pabstolutely benefit Golden String Inc., a non-profit organizations that works with adults with disabilities and provides an adult daycare environment. It also operates its own Internet radio station, Golden String Radio.

“Golden String Radio provides a work program that allows adults with disabilities to host their own radio show,” Stillson said. “We accept all music from local to Motown to polka. Pabstolutely is a fundraiser first and foremost and a music festival second. It has grown in attendance, and this year we are shedding more light on Golden String Inc. and Golden String Radio, mixing local and national acts together. We also get support, funding and raffle prizes from Pabst Blue Ribbon. They donate a lot of items like skateboards, bicycles and grills that were hand made by people. We support them and they support us in that way.”

Jimmy Sutman, director of operations for Golden String Inc. believes that Pabstolutely has helped Golden String Inc. in myriad ways.

“Many local musicians still volunteer at and allow our adults with disabilities to continue working in the Youngstown/Warren music scene. Oh, and donations from Pabstolutely have increased each year. This goes directly to our programs to support our adults with disabilities such as the radio station, medical advocacy, transportation and the development of the Dave Kellogg Woodshop to employ adults with disabilities. Our friends at Pabstolutely treat our Golden Stringers with respect and dignity,” Sutman said.

Stillson said Pabstolutely 6 will give crowds a taste of newer acts as well as old school regional and local acts. Stillson likes to bring the nostalgic focus to the festival. Mahoning and Trumbull counties share a rich alternative rock history and heritage, and Stillson likes to add one old school act of local acclaim onto the Pabstolutely lineup.

Last year ’80s punk rockers The 8-Balls took the stage, and this year’s classic act will be Feckweed, an early ’90s act from Girard that played regularly at The Gargoyle in Warren and Pyatt Street Downunder and The Penguin Pub in Youngstown.

“We are mixing old-school with newer bands in the area because Royal Oaks Bar and Grill is the oldest functioning bar in Youngstown,” Stillson said. “This year Pabstolutely offers everything from punk rock, classic rock with a heavy edge to indie rock. This year we will have acts as diverse as Whiskey Daredevils, Sirens Everywhere and Sam Goodwill. The music schedule goes all over the map.”

One of the out-of-town acts on the bill is New Jersey’s Crazy and the Brains, which played at the bar last month.

“Pabstolutely 6 should be cool and fun, and I know a lot of great bands are playing,” said bass player and vocalist Brett Miller. ”We just completed a small tour for our album, ‘Let Me Go,’ which we will have available at Pabstolutely 6. With our debut album, we are influenced by The Stooges 1970 sophomore album, ‘Fun House’ and Black Sabbath’s 1970 self-titled debut album. We are trying to bring that sound live, but I think we play what is natural for us. It just sounds like Crazy and The Brains.”

Mutts from Chicago is making its second Pabstolutely appearance.

Mike Maimone, keyboard player and vocalist, said, “We feel fortunate to have met the dedicated folks who work day-in and day-out for such a great organization in Golden String Inc. They have often provided us with a fun and hospitable place to play in Youngstown when we’re on tour. So it’s definitely an honor to play Pabstolutely, where those two things come together for an amazing event run by great people.”

The festival also showcases local vendors. This year’s participants include Amplified Arts Jewelry, Lenz’s Artistic Dermographics, Bareknuckle Tattoo, Touch The Moon Candy Saloon, Bitter Hearts Tattoo, One Hot Cookie, Rusty Water’s T-Shirt Co., Youngstown Pulse Magazine, Salon Hapami and Gorilla Joe Printing.