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Easy Street Band back for Tangier reunion show

10/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

The Easy Street Band will play its annual reunion show at The Tangier Nov. 2.
Photo courtesy of Easy Street Band
WEST AKRON — The Easy Street Band had a decade of local success in the 1970s and ’80s, becoming the preferred opener for bands like Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes.

Band member Bob Martin said most of the band’s members dropped out by 1984, but member Westside Steve Simmons kept a version of the band going though 1988.

Since that time, the band has reunited occasionally, much to the delight of its fans.

“Our roadies talked us into a reunion in 1990,” said Martin, a West Akron resident. “We thought maybe we’d do it every five years.”

They did just that, playing sold-out shows at The Tangier. After the 2005 show, they thought maybe they should start doing the shows annually.

“Now our friends continue to look forward to seeing us every year,” Martin said.

This year’s show will take place Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m., once again at The Tangier, 532 W. Market St.

Easy Street has its roots in a band called The Rats that formed in 1971 and played at University of Akron social events. Martin, a Barberton native, and Simmons joined with Norton High School graduates Bob Wallace, John Shumacher and John Marsek.

In 1976, the band added members, changed its name and began attracting crowds to places like the Flying Machine in Akron, Filthy McNasty’s in Kent and The Agora in Cleveland. They toured Canada and the U.S., hitting cities such as Dallas, Denver, Miami and Atlanta, and its self-titled 1982 album ranked among WMMS’ top 25 releases, Martin said.

He added he gives a lot of credit to the station’s Kid Leo for making the Cleveland rock scene one of the biggest in the country at that time.

“He brought so many great bands to the forefront,” Martin said. “One of them was Southside Johnny. Every time they came to town they would request that we open for them.”

The band also shared the stage with Meat Loaf, Tom Petty, .38 Special, Eddie Money, April Wine and Pat Benatar, Martin said.

Changes in the music business around 1984 led many of the band members to call it a day, he added.

“Metal bands had a comeback in 1984 and had a seven-year run,” he said. “We were starting to get into our 30s, and competing bands had their spandex pants on, and we didn’t look so good in that. We thought we’d just call it quits, but Steve kept the band together and kept it going until 1988.”

The reunion shows are usually the only show the band gets together for, Martin said.

“We will probably do an appearance at The Agora for its 50th anniversary,” he said. “Sometimes we play high school reunions for Barberton because they really supported us.”

The band does two sets, with the first one featuring the original band members playing classic songs from artists such as Bob Seger and The Rolling Stones. The second half of the show sees the addition of a horn section and the band’s original songs mixed with some of its signature tunes.

“We try to surprise people with songs that we didn’t do back in the day but maybe the same kind of artists, like Tom Petty, Southside or Springsteen,” he said.

An open invitation is always there for the band’s fan Drew Carey, Martin said. The band sent memorabilia to him, and some of it made its way onto the set of “The Drew Carey Show,” such as a bumper sticker on the refrigerator.

“We would just love for him to surprise us,” Martin said. “He used to see us in Cleveland when he was an up-and-coming comedian.”

Tickets for the Easy Street Band start at $25 and are available at 330-376-7171.

For more information, go to www.easystreetband.com.

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