Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Wednesday night was one of those times when many good things come together to create a truly entertaining experience.  As part of an experiment for use of the new Lock 4 in downtown Akron, the City is presenting jazz and blues bands for each Wednesday night during the month of August to see if there is a good local audience for this type of entertainment.

I missed the first concert last week, but made a point to attend this week to see Aces & Eights, a blues band out of Cleveland.  My friend Nancy joined me and we ran into an old friend, Garry, as we settled on the lawn for the first half of the show.   We could not have asked for a more perfect evening, weather-wise and the crowd was friendly and lively and obviously there to enjoy the music.  By mid-concert there were a couple hundred others clapping and tapping our feet along with the band.

First, let's talk about this fantastic band.  Aces & Eights consists of Dave Morrison on harmonica and vocals, Tim Matson lead guitar and vocals, backed up by Ray DeForest and Fred Debay, and Jimmy Yarnell on drums (hope I got all those names right!).  These guys got us started on a lively mix of Chicago blues, jump blues, R&B, and soul and were joined shortly by Becky Boyd on vocals who really got our blood pumping with her strong, bluesy voice.  Check out more about Becky and Tim Matson at

This group does not play many dates together and that's quite a shame because they are great and an obvious crowd pleaser.  They had lots of folks dancing and laughing along, in particular with a spin on a tune written by Tim Matson called Fridgedaire Man - or in this case 'Cold Fridgedaire Woman" sung by Tim and backed up by Becky and Dave Morrison.   What a hoot!  In our favor, the various members are parts of other bands that play the area regularly.  I'm gong to do my best to track down Becky and hear her sing again. 

Now to chat briefly about the venue.  I get the impression that this was an idea of Dave Lieberth, our capable Deputy Mayor, and what a good idea it is.  A smaller area than Lock 3, Lock 4 is a more intimate, friendly environment.  With all the steps built into the landscape, it's far more comfortable too.  Free parking surrounds this little park and if you can figure out your way through the Cascade deck, you can park practically on the Lock.  There was a beer and pop wagon and a Dim Sum truck on location for anyone hungry or thirsty.  The rush of the water through the canal adds to the ambiance but never overrides the sound of the music.  And best of all - it was FREE!
I think this idea is a hit and I hope they find a location to bring these concerts indoors for fall and winter.  As we all discussed at intermission, there is so much really good local talent, finding a venue where we can go to listen in Akron would be terrific rather than driving up to Cleveland and finding our way home late at night. 

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