Meat and music at the mall
The Ribs-N-Rock Festival makes a slight move for its return this weekend.
Previously held in the Southern Park Mall parking lot, the food and music festival moves to the mall’s DeBartolo Commons, a four-acre outdoor athletic and entertainment green space that opened last fall.
“Moving down to the Commons and being the first big event there is huge for us,” festival promoter Corey Ward said. “The extra added advantage for us is they have running water, electricity. We don’t have to rely on generators. It gives us a nice area where you can produce a nice festival.”
While they still will supplement with portable toilets, the commons also has bathrooms, he said.
For the “rib” component of the festival, Ward is bringing in four pitmasters — Carolina Rib King from Spartanburg, S.C.; Off the Bone BBQ from Mobile, Ala.; Texas Outlaws from Amarillo, Texas; and Desperados BBQ & Rib Co. from Hinckley.
“From doing this event, I have relationships with the rib vendors,” Ward said. “I made four phone calls and got the four I wanted.”
In addition to slow-cooked, smoked meats, other food vendors will be on site offering sides, sweets and other treats.
For the “rock” part of the event, tonight will start with Pittsburgh’s The Clarks, which has performed on opening night since Ward started the event.
“A lot of promoters shy away from Thursday, but people go out on Thursday night,” Ward said. “Why not get the best regional act you can and highlight them on a very good night? Our past history shows people will come out.”
The Clarks — Scott Blasey, lead vocals and acoustic guitar; Rob James, electric guitar and vocals; Greg Joseph, bass and vocals; and David Minarik, drums and vocals — has been together for more than 35 years. Its music has been released by major labels (MCA Records), independent labels (Razor & Tie) and self-distributed. The band appeared on “Late Show with David Letterman” and has filled many of Pittsburgh’s biggest venues.
The band has released three singles in 2022 — “Sugarcane,” “Stay” and “Crush” — with plans for an EP later this year.
Friday’s headliner will be Hinder, which played the event in 2019.
“Hinder did over 12,000 (people),” Ward said. “It was phenomenal. One of the reasons we brought them back was because of the rain. It rained in the middle of their set, and it just felt like the right move to bring them back.”
Hinder sold more than 3 million copies of its major label debut, “Extreme Behavior,” released in 2005. The single “Lips of an Angel” was a hit in multiple formats, a top 10 single on the Hot 100, alternative, adult contemporary and mainstream rock charts.
“Get Stoned,” “How Long,” “Better Than Me” and “Homecoming Queen” also were mainstream rock hits from that debut release, and that format continued to embrace the band’s music throughout the decade.
The former Rock 104 FM in Sharon, Pa., was one of those stations, and Ward has booked acts like Hinder and former Creed lead singer Scott Stapp to appeal to the demographic that station attracted.
“I thought the older rock acts had had its day,” Ward said. “Dominic Baragona, when he was doing the one (Mahoning Valley Rib Burn-Off) in Niles, would always do classic rock. I thought newer rock would hold just as good, if not better, and attract a whole new demographic, and it has worked out well.”
Closing the festival on Saturday will be Living Colour, making its first Youngstown-area appearance.