By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Since opening in 1975, Cedar’s Lounge (located at 23 N. Hazel St. in downtown Youngstown) has maintained the reputation as the city’s premiere music venue. For the last three decades, the venue has served as a Mecca for the local arts, giving home to all of the area’s brightest stars, and even snatching up a few up-and-coming touring acts along the way, including a little band from the U.K. that goes by Radiohead.
The venue is also known just as well for its eclectic vibe and welcoming atmosphere.
“The people that work there and the clientele always made a girl feel safe and welcome and not like they have to worry about being followed to their car,” said long-time Cedar’s regular Mandy Codespote. “You could have a drink and enjoy music without any problems.”
Sadly, in early December 2012, it was announced by the building’s owner that Cedar’s would be forced from its location.
This immediately sent shockwaves through the community. Many of the venue’s regulars, as well as those who indulge and participate in the local art and music scene, felt as though the rug had been pulled out from underneath their feet.
“It’s like our CBGB’s is closing down,” said Angelo Scordo, who has played the venue dozens of times with several local acts. “It sucks. I’ve seen and played a lot of shows there over the years and seen a lot of bands for the first time there. I sure as hell don’t think it’s going to help downtown.”
Scordo also said that their live sound was one of a kind.
“It was nice to have a place to play that held a crowd who respected the music and a professional sound system with people who actually gave a crap about what they’re doing to properly represent the bands,” said Scordo.
The building’s owners want to renovate the space, which is a historical downtown building. They eventually want to turn it into a wine bar and restaurant, with offices and apartments occupying the floors above. The owners, who as of press time declined to comment, have previously stated that Cedar’s does not fit into that plan, and that is why they will be leaving.
“I’m incredibly disappointed with the new owner’s so-called vision,” said Codespote. “I think they could have built upon what Cedar’s is and what they have to offer. I think it would have kept the regulars and brought in new customers too. I understand that this is a business and they want to make money, that’s the point. But if they would’ve just opened their eyes and saw the loyal following they have and noticed what it’s like in there weekend after weekend, regardless of what style of live music is playing, they will realize what they have in the palm of their hand. You don’t get this anywhere else in Youngstown.”
The community has relied on Cedar’s for decades as a centre for artistic and cultural diversity. It is embraced and celebrated through the various non-musical events the venue hosts.
“They also have the Trash and Treasure Sale, art shows and movie nights,” added Codespote. “It’s not just the music, there’s a variety of events. It’s a place for like-minded people to strike up conversation and there’s no other place like it in the area.”
However, the fate of Cedar’s has not yet been sealed. The venue’s owners and operators have said that they have definite plans to try and find a new location for the venue. As of press time, any possible location prospects have not been announced.
But the search has begun.
With a community of die-hard supporters, along with a few generations with fond memories that they’re not yet ready to let go of, few believe that the fate Cedar’s has been sealed. Time will only tell, but until then, an entire community is rallying behind it’s beloved downtown staple.
“I’m a life-long supporter and will follow them wherever they go,” said Codespote.