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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Lock 3 celebrates decade of downtown entertainment

5/24/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Lock 3 Park attracts crowds for concerts such as the Rock the Lock series on Friday nights.
From left is Lexi Heap, of Fairlawn, and her aunt Danielle Seals, of Akron, during the Rib, White and Blue Festival this past summer.
Photos: Krista Galloway
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Lock 3 Park is marking its 10th year of bringing music to the streets of Akron.

Tucked into downtown on South Main Street between the Akron Civic Theatre and the O’Neil’s building, Lock 3 is now a busy place year-round, said Akron Deputy Mayor David Lieberth. But summer is when the park hosts most of the activity, much of it in the form of rock, soul and jazz music from national and local acts.

Lieberth said when the city had the funds to tear down a row of buildings in that spot in the early 2000s, one idea was to have the Main Library move to the site and the Civic, which was in need of renovation, to be relocated elsewhere downtown. Those ideas didn’t meet with much support, so the city instead got a $1 million grant to create a park in the space.

Lieberth said construction was under way when he joined the city in 2002. As he oversaw the project, he also added in a stage with a canopy. The first performance took place May 30, 2003, with then-local artist Anne E. DeChant.

That first year, total attendance was about 30,000, Lieberth said. Lock 3 has come a long way, as last year’s events and activities brought more than 250,000 people to the site, he added.

That’s not all that’s changed.

“One of the things that’s happened is the sense that Lock 3 is here to stay, and that wasn’t the case in 2003,” Lieberth said. “It doesn’t mean Lock 3 won’t change in the future. There will continue to be the possibility that some of that space might be used for development purposes. But we weren’t really sure the first year what would become of it.”

This year, Lock 3 will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the end of the season, Sept. 1, with the return of Herman’s Hermits’ Peter Noone, who will make his fifth appearance there. In addition, the park will bring in more national acts this year with a $10 admission fee. In recent years, the city reduced the number of paid-admission shows due to the economy.

“The $10 ticket continues to be very, very cheap,” Lieberth said. “People can’t believe we charge only $10 for artists that at a minimum are $40 or $60 in other cities.”

This year’s admission-based shows are on Saturday nights. Performers include Roseanne Cash (June 23), Morris Day and the Time (June 30), Arlo Guthrie (July 7), The Buckinghams (July 21), Pieces of a Dream (July 28), SOS Band (Aug. 4), Taj Mahal (Aug. 11) and the Family Stone (Aug. 25), as well as Noone.

Lieberth said the Arlo Guthrie show, which celebrates the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie, will be part of the Summit Towpath 2012 celebration that day. Activities will take place all along the Towpath Trail, and tickets will be given away at trailheads and event sites, Lieberth said.

The Lock 3 summer season kicks off May 25 with Rock the Lock, the series of free Friday night concerts. Entertainment will begin with local bands at 7 p.m. and headliners, mostly tribute acts, at 8:30 p.m.

“Last year we had as many as 4,000 people on a Friday night,” Lieberth said.

The first night will feature Hollywood Nights, a tribute to the music of Bob Seger, and local act the JiMiller Band.

This year, in response to a request by attendees who took a survey last year, the city is going to do more to promote local bands participating, Lieberth said. The Local Band Showcase will allow the audience to vote for their favorite local Lock 3 performers, who will have the chance to share in $5,000 in prize money. Voters who purchase a beverage at Lock 3 are eligible to vote between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. during Rock the Lock events. Finalists will be announced in September, and winners will be declared after an online vote, Lieberth said.

In addition to the concert venue celebrating a decade, Lieberth added it’s also the 10th anniversary of the Akron History Exhibit and Toy and Marble Museum at the park.

The park also will be the site of entertainment for this year’s Rib, White and Blue Festival (July 2-4), the Italian-American Societies Festival (July 13-15), Blues and Brews (July 28), the National Hamburger Festival (Aug. 18-19), the inaugural Global Village Festival (Sept. 8) and the Summit County Hibernians Irish Heritage Festival (Sept. 14-15).

Lieberth said the city continues to underwrite the cost of events at Lock 3 through the sale of food and beverages and sponsors such as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Akron General Medical Center, The University of Akron, Tramonte Distributing, Coca-Cola, Hitchcock Fleming and Associates, Miller’s Rentals, G. Stephens Inc. and Lee Hyder and Associates.

For complete details on Lock 3’s summer events, go to www.lock3live.com.

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