By Joel Anderson (Art and Poetry Editor)
On January 11, 2013, Youngstown mainstay Cedar’s hosted a farewell show from the area’s top two acts, The Zou and Third Class. For 35 years, the club has played host to many original and local acts, and on this night, two of its biggest admires said goodbye the only way they know how, by playing an amazing show.
“We first played at Cedar’s 12 years ago,” said Pepe Parish drummer/bassist for Third Class. “This is our home, whatever becomes of Cedar’s, hopefully, it can still feel like home.”
For Khaled Tabbara, singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist for the Zou, playing Cedar’s was a major goal.
“When I was young it was literally the venue to play at,” said Tabbara, “And we couldn’t get in here because the scene was dominated by metal bands.”
But with time, the scene changed and the Zou got to play Cedar’s when they put together their first Nouveau Rock Music Festival.
“We would get eight bands that could all bring thirty people from all over. Then all of a sudden we could throw a big show here and they liked us,” said Tabbara.
Since then, it has become one of the Zou’s main stop on tour.
“It’s our hometown bar, so it’s always place were return to when we go out on the road and we learn new songs, we bring back here to see if our friends and fans like them as much as we like them,” said Tabbara.
One theme kept popping up while talking to the bands. And that is, the people who visit Cedar’s is what makes Cedar’s.
“There’s always a certain group of people that respond to local music and think of it as legitimate. Look for the bands they really like. They know there are a lot of well-produced bands and well produced acts in Youngstown. Not a lot of people know that, but there’s a core group that needs a place to be, I don’t think it will disperse them, at least for too long. They’ll pop up somewhere,” said Third Class singer/guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Lee Boyle.
“I think the community this place fostered is more important than the bar itself,” said Murad Shorrab bassist/backup vocalist for The Zou.
“It’s not just a dive bar, which it would be cool if it was, but I really feel like this has always attracted people that are artistic and all the kinds of art in town,” said Tabbara.
For each band, the night was a bittersweet event.
“It’s awesome and awful at the same time. We just feel really nostalgic cause we can’t help but think back on all the times playing here. So it’s awesome to be able to play knowing it’s going to be the last time we’re going to play and it just didn’t happen all of a sudden. So it’s one of those things where it’s great and terrible at the same time,” said Parish.
“I think it’s like a wake for a good friend. There are obviously reasons to be sad and there are obviously reasons to be celebrating,” said Tabbara.
And what a wake it was. The night started off with newcomers Buffalo Ryders. If the White Stripes and The Black Keys had a child, the result would be Buffalo Ryder. The duo from Akron play their own brand of blues rock with distortion drenched guitars a little bit of slide guitar thrown in.
At one point during their set, singer/guitarist Joe Risdon mentioned it was the band’s “First and last show they played at Cedar’s.”
Third Class played next. With their quirky riffs and bouncy bass lines, the band rocked the stage playing a retrospective from all three of their releases. It always amazed me how Boyle could get so many sound’s out of his two string guitar.
Things really kicked off when Parish emerged from backstage with a trash bag during their song, “Party In Your House.” Suddenly, Parish launched the contents of the bag on the crowd, balloons and confetti.
Finally The Zou took the stage. It’s the first time I’ve seen the new line up play a show, and I must say, they were fantastic. With strong vocals, sweet melodies, distorted bass, spacey guitars and hard hitting keyboards, The Zou rocked the crowd with their brand of Indie Rock for 45 minutes.
All the key Zou classics we’re played, “Pinebox”, “Nothing Beats A Hangin’”, “Sleazy”, “They Don’t Make Them (Like They Used To)”, etc.
Even the newer songs they played sounded like they will soon be regarded as classics. Mainly their song Mon dieu, in its sweet serenading 6/8 time signature.
The band announced they will soon be releasing two new EP’s, which delighted everyone in the crowd.
As the night wound down and everyone was piling in their cars and going home, I reflected on something about the show. Third Class opened their set with their song “Blue” which contains the refrain “All I need is you or else I’ll be blue.” And the Zou ended theirs with “Pinebox” with its chorus of “I will feel the same until they lower my pinebox.”
Perhaps it’s my habit of overanalyzing things, but I found this to be beautifully poetic on how each band feels about Cedar’s and their feelings on losing such important partner in their musical career.