After 2020 turmoil, new music will flow from local acts
Plans have a way of changing even in the best of years.
No one would call 2020 the best of years, and few people had their plans disrupted as much as musicians, whose profession includes all sorts of behaviors that are discouraged — and banned — during a global viral pandemic.
But acts unable to play crowded bars, festivals and other venues didn’t sit at home and pout. They channeled their talents into writing and recording new music and developing other new projects they “plan” on releasing in 2021.
Ticket reached out to area performers about what they have on tap for 2021, and the response was great enough that the answers will be spread out over two weeks (at least).
And, not to state the obvious, all plans are subject to change.
The Youngstown band — Jackie Popovec, guitar and lead vocals; John Anthony, guitar; Rick Deak, guitar; Ed Davis, drums; and Matt Jackson, bass — plans to release a follow-up to its 2017 full-length debut “Keep Going” and a live set in 2021.
The studio album “Bugs,” was started at the beginning of 2020 at Court Street Recordings and was finished in early March just before the statewide shutdown, Anthony said. It was mixed by Jim Stewart, Michael Estok and Ryan West, and features some songs that are a stylistic departure from the bluesy, jazzy rock that has built a growing regional following for the band. The band hasn’t picked a release date yet.
Also coming is a live set recorded at Youngstown’s Westside Bowl in October 2019.
“If we are able to get out and tour this upcoming year, we plan to do a Midwest / East Coast tour that will cover areas including Chicago, NYC and Nashville,” Anthony said.
One show already is planned — a Feb. 27 concert that will have limited in-person seating at the Canton Palace Theatre as well as a streaming option. And the band is hoping some of its high-profile 2020 bookings get rescheduled in 2021, including a slot on the Wonderstruck music festival in Kirtland and a spot on a Women Who Rock benefit concert at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, where The Vindys would share the stage with Nancy Wilson of Heart, Sheila E. and singer / actor Rita Wilson.
The Youngs-town rapper played a local hip-hop showcase at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre in 2020, one of the few events at the downtown venue last year. He also released more than half-dozen singles last year and hopes to up the pace in 2021.
“My plans on the new year is to release a new single every two, three weeks, and sometime during the summer release my EP “Delason,’” he said. “I have a couple singles with Coach Joey from Detroit, which I plan on dropping sometime in the first quarter. Also a song with Allstar Jr. I’ll be releasing early in 2021.
“I’ll be in the studio working with DJ Chose on a couple projects. MGD will also be dropping a project with Swindla, OG Mxnsta, MGD Miles and myself. Just trying to stay busy and active.”
The modern country band kicked off the new year by releasing its latest single “Kiss That I Can’t Deny” on Sunday.
It’s the seventh original song released by the band — Wayne Webb, lead vocals; Scott Gearheart, lead guitar; Gary Coole, guitar, banjo and keyboard; Craig Pepey, drums; and Jeff Weston, bass.
“Our plan is to continue writing and release a new song every three months,” Webb said. “Our songs are doing really well. They can be downloaded and / or streamed anywhere you get your music. We are fortunate to have such a loyal fan base, perhaps better expressed (as) friend base. So many great friends who come to our shows and buy our music.”
The band’s usually busy live schedule was disrupted by the coronavirus, but Webb said the band was luckier than most.
“Broken Reins was able to play a lot of dates at campgrounds and private parties,” he said. “It was fun and interesting. Many of our campgrounds had audiences at least 30 yards or more away in golf carts. After each song they would honk their golf cart horns in approval.”
Spirit of the Bear
The indie pop band that originated in Youngstown released its “Spirit of the Bear” album on vinyl in November, and the songs have been available to its email subscribers since then as well.
The full album will be available to the masses beginning Friday as the record will be released to streaming sites.
“We can’t wait for it to finally be out as we started working on it way before the pandemic,” drummer Jamie Vitullo said.
Also coming this month from Spirit — James Harker, guitar and lead vocals; Danny Svenson, keyboard player and vocalist; Ethan Schwendeman, keyboards; Mike Perorazio, bass; and Vitullo — is the premiere of a concert film shot primarily at Youngstown’s Westside Bowl. It will debut on Jan. 15.
“We are so excited for that and even though it’s not the same as performing, it’s going to be a blast,” Vitullo said.
As far as performing live goes, the band members want to wait until they’re sure it’s safe, and they’ve turned down some offers because they think it’s too early to try.
“It’s hard to do that, but it just wouldn’t be right of us to be playing at the moment,” Vitullo said. ” If the pandemic lingers on throughout the majority of the year, we will take it day-by-day and put our heads together to see if we can’t be even more creative. We have a Google drive folder full of at least 20 demos already, so even though we aren’t sure when we will write new music again, we have quite a lot of ideas to choose from.”
The Warren native has worked as a writer, producer and musician for such hip-hop acts as Royce Da 5’9, Locksmith, Jarren Benton and Ca$his. But his focus, at least for the start of 2021, will be his work with Rebellion Records, the label founded by rapper Ghostwridah.
“We are planning to release a few projects we have been working on for the last few months,” Cargill said. “As far as touring, that is still up in the air with the pandemic going on, but we plan to continue releasing a lot of music and branded content.”
The Youngstown alternative / indie rock band — Ryan Racketa, guitar and lead vocals; Kenny Orf, drums; Steve Spencer, guitar; Reese Maslen, guitar; and Jarrett Walters, bass — started the year with a pleasant surprise.
Its song “It Will Get Better” was the fifth most-played song by a local act on The Summit FM (90.7 Struthers / 91.3 Akron) in 2020.
“We appreciate The Summit so much,” Racketa said. “To have our song played so much in a year when we couldn’t get out there and play it for people live was truly amazing.”
Like most acts, East 9th’s 2021 plans depend on how quickly live performance options return.
“Everything is kind of in a holding pattern,” Racketa said. “We do have a few new songs ready to release, but would like to accompany the release with some shows. Depending on how 2021 goes, we very well may release them regardless of the ability to play shows or not. We’ll probably start up the livestreams again in the spring as well to bridge the gap to in-person live shows.”
After a lighter schedule in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Warren bluesman is hoping for a busier 2021. Dates already are booked in northeast Ohio wine country as well as a headlining slot for the Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival in Columbus.
“After making the semi-finals at the 2020 International Blues Challenge, I am committed to winning another regional Blues Challenge and returning to Memphis, because I believe I can win it the next time around,” Knapp said.
He also plans to make a couple of albums released locally — “Maui in the Sun” and a EP of rock originals recorded as the band Machine Gun Mary — available internationally through CD Baby. Both were finished at Tune Town Recording in Newton Falls with by Mike Talanca.
“2020 was a difficult year, but I took the extra free time to increase my repertoire, organize all of my bands and improve as a musician and songwriter,” he said. “Let’s hope 2021 is the year of the comeback for everyone.”
The Super Babes
The Youngstown duo of Bridget Reckless (Yurcisin), guitar and vocals, and Ann Rock, drums and vocals, released its debut EP in September 2019 and has new music planned for 2021:
“Though we don’t have much set in stone for 2021, we can say that we’ve been writing new music and hope to get it recorded and released. We had already been working on some new and exciting songs for our live set that we would’ve played at all the scheduled 2020 shows that unfortunately got canceled. We’ve taken some of that work and continued to brainstorm ideas on what our next steps would be. We’re extremely excited to share more details with everyone soon!”
John Dante & the Inferno
Dante plans to open the a project studio in Howland where the two-piece band he leads with bass player John Falgiani will record its next album.
“We will be focusing mainly on writing our next album and developing a new sound for the new decade,” Dante said. “I am in talks with people about booking the band onto some bigger festivals in the summertime, and we are hoping to start livestreaming for fans again in the near future. I think the biggest goal for 2021 is to play more shows out of state.”