AKRON, Ohio — The Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance will kick off one of its most anticipated economic drivers when the free summer music series First Friday returns to Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood in June, KNA said in a release.
Now in its 5th year, First Friday will run 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month from June 3 through Sept. 2 on the historic Kenmore Boulevard, KNA said.
First Friday events feature live music, vendors, family activities and food trucks, with activities running several blocks of the Boulevard as well as within many of the local businesses.
Each First Friday will showcase an outdoor beer garden, where attendees can taste locally made beer by a rotating roster of breweries, including HiHo Brewing Company, Lock 15 Brewing Company and Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.
In partnership with Akron Civic Commons and the Rotary Club of Akron, the first Friday in the series will feature live music by the Shootouts, a honky-tonk group whose third album, “Stampede,” is being produced by 10-time Grammy winner Ray Benson, said Corey Jenkins, KNA’s promoter and experience manager.
The summer lineup includes:
- June 3: The Shootouts with Akronauts, plus Oddmall: The Great Grassman Gathering
- July 1: Big Pop with the Buffalo Ryders, plus SIT Strings presents Virgil Lay Day and Torchbearers’ Inaugural Community Volunteer Fair
- August 5: Free Black! with Shelby Olive, plus East Ave. Market and Akron Black Artist Guild present “Summer Impressions” community art project
- September 2: Marc Lee Shannon with Indré, plus Crafty Mart
First Fridays evolved out of the Akron neighborhood’s Better Block event, which was designed to showcase what’s great about the Kenmore community.
KNA Executive Director Tina Boyes said that Better Block kick-started the community’s revitalization.
“Since then, we’ve added more than $1.5 million in new investment, a historic district and 12 new businesses along Kenmore Boulevard, many of which support our budding music economy,” she said. “And the growth can be attributable, in part, to events like Kenmore First Friday.”
With five recording studios specializing in singer-songwriters to hip-hop, an historic guitar repair store, an instrument shop and a live music venue with multiple stages, the music industry has deep roots in Kenmore, she said.
This year, First Friday events will offer bigger-name bands and a second stage, as well as new partnerships to encourage residents to keep coming back, she said.
On June 3, the main stage also will feature self-proclaimed “fun band” Akronauts, with Akron Recording Company programming additional music.
Also performing will be Kenmore’s First Glance youth hip-hop program, KNA said. First Glance is a Kenmore-based nonprofit that offers local kids and young adults a variety of activities to help them reach their potential, the agency said.
First Friday attendees can also peruse Oddmall’s “Great Grassman Gathering,” which will feature dozens of vendors offering art, games, toys, comics, collectables and all things odd, geeky and imaginative, KNA said. Oddmall is the first in a series of partners that are scheduled to appear at each First Friday event.
To find out more about Kenmore First Friday and other events, visit KNA’s Facebook page.