Akron Jazz Fest will take over the former Innerbelt for a concert hall


It’s a nod to the city’s past.

And a chance to embrace his musical roots.

The Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival takes over part of the city’s inner belt, where homes and businesses once stood and cars later passed through, to turn it into a rather unusual concert hall.

It’s all part of a larger three-day celebration of all things jazz at a variety of venues across Akron. Some of the concerts – like the one in the inner belt – are free, while others require tickets.

The Dan Wilson Quartet will perform at a ticketed performance Friday night at Blu Jazz+ night club.


Inner Belt of Akron:A troubled history of the Akron causeway.

From 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday, there will be free concerts and even panel discussions to explore the history of jazz music in Akron at the very spot where a controversial road was built that at the time was supposed to improve the access from one side of town. center to another.

The city has now decommissioned much of the inner belt that never lived up to its promise and resulted in the razing of dozens of businesses and homes.

City and community leaders are now considering what the open space just west of downtown should become.

But for three hours on Saturday it will be a place to listen to jazz music with performances by the band Ronell Regis and James Gaiters Soul Revival.

“We are thrilled to bring this event to the Inner Belt region which has such a rich cultural history,” Chris Anderson, founder of Open Tone Music and organizer of the jazz festival, said in a statement. “The history of this space is so important to Akron and to jazz and music culture in general and to be a part of that history with this event is truly special.”

Akron Jazz History:The Cotton Club visited the Palace.

The city has a place in the history of the musical genre and was known as the Jazz Corridor of the Midwest, a popular stopover for musicians traveling between New York and Chicago.

Howard Street jazz clubs have hosted Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

In 2012, Akron artist Miller Horns completed a monument on the site of the former hotel that George W. Mathews operated at 77 N. Howard St. in the 20th century.  The misspelled name

Joining a panel discussion will be Alberta Blanton-Williams, the goddaughter of George Mathews, owner of the Matthews Hotel, and jazz saxophonist Fred Davis.

Liz Ogbu, designer, urban planner and space justice activist who assembled the Akron Innerbelt committee studying the future of space, will moderate.

The city will provide shuttle service to the Innerbelt concert site from Wills Lot, 154 Wills Ave., where parking will be free.

The Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival will feature musical performances Thursday through Saturday. The eight venues range from the Blu Jazz+ Club to the Civic Theater of Akron to the Mustill Store Museum.

Norman Brown will perform at the Akron Civic Theater on Saturday.

Norman Brown with special guest Hubb’s Groove will perform at the Akron Civic Theater at 8 p.m. Saturday.

For a full schedule, tickets and more information, visit opentonemusic.org.

Craig Webb can be contacted at [email protected]


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