Chris Bentley said he found a great new place to continue the legacy of buzz in Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood.
After a run of about 12 years with two different owners, Buzzbin closed at the end of June in downtown Canton. Chris Bentley and his wife Julia have owned and operated the club since 2019.
“It’s going to be the same,” Chris Bentley said of the venue at 952 Kenmore Blvd. “I’m going to make it as cool as it was (Buzzbin in Canton).”
Buzzbin at Kenmore will continue to focus on music, art and concertgoers, the couple said.
“When you’re in a show, it’s like a symbiotic relationship,” said Julia Bentley.
The couple cited multiple factors for the end of the Buzzbin Art & Music Shop in Canton: Repairs needed to the building they rented at 331 Cleveland Ave. NW. The cost of rent. And business never returned to pre-COVID levels despite many loyal and passionate fans and customers.
After being unable to find another venue in Canton or elsewhere in Stark County, Chris Bentley said a musician on the Kenmore scene reached out and they were soon enthusiastically received in the community, including by The Rialto Theaterwhere Buzzbin performed rock shows until his nearby space was ready.
“They understood what we’re trying to do together and we work together,” Julia Bentley said, noting that Buzzbin leans more toward punk and metal shows, while The Rialto, 1000 Kenmore Blvd., is more geared toward indie rock.
The Rialto Theater will be hosting the Kenmore Winter Break Music Festival! at 6 pm on December 2 and 3, with 12 bands and soloists.
The Bentleys also praised the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance for their support and help with the establishment of the new Buzzbin.
Buzzbin owners say downtown Canton groups weren’t supportive of the club enough
The Bentleys said another factor in their decision to close the Buzzbin in Canton was a lack of support from some downtown entities like ArtsinStark, Visit Canton and those responsible for booking musical acts at Centennial Plaza. Julia Bentley said she would have liked more associations with these entities, as well as social media mentions and promotional help.
She said there was “no reciprocal interest or support.” One exception was a Buzzbin show featuring musicians from the Canton Symphony Orchestra, which she said was “unbelievable.”
The couple said they sometimes felt left out with those organizations.
David Whitehill, president and CEO of ArtsinStark, said the agency’s focus is two-fold: operating the Cultural Center for the Arts and supporting nonprofit arts organizations throughout Stark County.
Over the years, he said, as funds became available, ArtsinStark “offered and committed to supporting some for-profit artistic and creative enterprises that are critical to a municipality’s economic vitality.”
Whitehill said Buzzbin “certainly fell into this category for downtown Canton,” and ArtsinStark provided financial support to Buzzbin in a number of ways prior to the pandemic.
Plus:Richie Ramone Talks Taylor Hawkins, Eilish; he never expects another Zeppelin, Doors, Nirvana
However, funding for the arts has dropped dramatically since 2020 and “we find that Stark County nonprofits need our support more than at any time in recent history,” Whitehill said.
Visit Canton serves as the Stark County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Allyson Bussey, President and CEO, said the organization’s “primary focus is to attract people from outside of Stark County to the region to create economic impact through visitor spending.”
He added that while “certainly live music throughout the region can be part of that attraction…with abundant entertainment and special events in our communities, it is imperative that artists and business owners be active and strategic in marketing their events to be successful”. “
Bussey said Visit Canton also offers a wide range of free marketing tools for any event or tourist venue “looking to market to visitors and local residents alike.”
They proposed a Soul Asylum concert for Plaza Centenario
Chris Bentley said he also wanted to book Soul Asylum and other rock music acts at Centennial Plaza.
He said he was approached by a representative of soul asyluman alternative rock band that achieved chart success in the 1990s.
Buzzbin, however, would have been too small a place. So, Chris Bentley said that he approached Patrick Wyatt about getting Soul Asylum to perform in Centennial Square in the center of Canton. Wyatt handles event booking for the outdoor venue as operations manager and employee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which has partnered on the space with the city of Canton.
Chris Bentley said that the talks did not progress despite his interest.
“I thought it had the potential to have some really cool shows,” he said of Centennial Plaza.
Wyatt said he met with the Bentleys to discuss the process for renting the event plaza and his thoughts on booking bands.
“Some of the challenges discussed were the limitations (with) the open plaza being a ticketed event and Jerzee’s contract for the sale of food and alcohol in the plaza,” Wyatt said.
The new Buzzbin is rockin’ at Kenmore
Chris and Julia Bentley, however, said they are now putting those issues behind them as they embrace the fresh start in Akron.
“There’s no competition from anybody up there,” Chris Bentley said of Kenmore. “And everyone was extremely helpful and welcoming.”
Buzzbin is located in the Kenmore Boulevard district, home to musicians, artisans and recording studios, as well as the Rialto Theatre, Lay’s Guitar Store, the guitar department Y Kenmore Komics and Games.
The resurrected Buzzbin has already put on some of his signature rock shows in various genres. And more are planned for the rest of the year. The club’s motto remains: “Where Loud Lives”.
Upcoming shows include a lineup on December 2 starting at 6pm and featuring Chum Lord, Missile Toe and Rubber City Ukes. As part of the “Light the BLVD” event at Kenmore, “Frost Fest” is being described as a “Punk Rawk Christmas Extravaganza.” A December 3rd show begins at 8pm and includes Night Goat, Bwak Dwagon and The Liquid W’s. Admission to the show for all ages is $5.
The Bentleys said they want to stay connected to Canton. The couple continue to operate Frankenstein Records and Heart Shaped Box Whiskey Bar in the 300 block of Cleveland Avenue NW next to the old Buzzbin.
Buzzbin will offer shuttle-style rides in a wheelchair-accessible van to take Canton residents to the Kenmore club.
Art will also be part of the aesthetic at the new Buzzbin, Julia Bentley said.
“I feel that art and music are very therapeutic.”
Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter @ebalintREP