Freed Fest 2021: Rockin’ and rollin’ kicks off Friday

Freed Fest 2021: Rockin’ and rollin’ kicks off FridaySALEM — Salem will be rockin’ and rollin’ this weekend with free musical performances downtown and even a throwback Centennial Park dance during Freed Fest 2021.

Performances kick off Friday at a pair of local hot spots, Liebe Wein and Flying Pig Saloon featuring JJ Vigors and Four Lane Highway, with the bulk of the celebration taking place during Salem Second Saturday all day and night downtown and then ending Sunday with the concert at Waterworth Memorial Park with the Labra Brothers.

Named for the city’s own Rock & Roll Hall of Fame D.J. Alan Freed, who’s credited with coining the phrase Rock n’ Roll, the music festival returns full strength after a socially-distanced smaller version last year.

“People are eager to get out, to socialize and support live music. We hope to be a touchstone for quality music for years to come,” Freed Fest Committee Chair Sara Baer said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Freed Fest was smaller than normal and they had to follow health department guidelines. Even with the social separating, she said last year’s event was “a nice break for folks.”

She said it’s exciting to hold a larger event this year.

It’s also serving as the premiere opening event for Salem Community Theatre, which has been closed since last year and will act as a venue for local talent. Salem Music Centre recruited the bands and will hold it’s own open mic call from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Salem Music Centre is also coordinating the buskers, or sidewalk musicians. Bands at SCT include Musical Youth Band, Diane Drapcho, Pontune, Quaker City Cruisers and John Volio.

Freed himself was a local talent, playing in the high school band, plays and as a member of a jazz band known as the Sultans of Swing. He’s a 1940 SHS graduate. But his career as a radio disc jockey made him a legend before his death in 1965, earning him a spot in the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1986 and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1991.

“Freed Fest is a way for us to acknowledge the legacy and contributions of Alan Freed. Our hometown boy, he was one in a long list of Salem innovators, coining the term Rock n’ Roll,” Baer said.

Freed was integral in bringing R&B music and Rock n’ Roll to mainstream audiences and he promoted original songwriters and musicians, she explained. Exhibits showcasing Freed will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Salem High School Alumni Association and at the Salem Historical Society.

During Freed Fest Saturday evening, the main stage at McCulloch Park will feature a talented lineup of Indie bands with a regional following, including Rusty Soul Band, East 9th, Leo D’Angelo and Demos Papadimas. During the day, State Street Records will spin some 50’s tunes downtown. Local hot spots Liebe Wein, Flying Pig Saloon and Kast Iron Soda Works will host music, too, on Saturday night with DJ Sound Smith 80’s Party, John Reese Project and Shawn Theis. Both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon, LiB’s Market will host FeyFire.

A highlight of this year’s Freed Fest will revisit days past from the 60’s when kids brought their favorite music to the basketball court at Centennial Park and danced with their friends. David Shivers had the idea two years ago, but the dance couldn’t be done last year due to the pandemic.

An iconic event from years past, the hope is to bring it back, with attendees encouraged to dress in period attire, bring a picnic, lawn chairs and blankets. There’s going to be a trivia contest and best dressed contest. A play list from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s will be featured.

The Centennial Park Dance on the basketball court will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

This is the fourth year for Freed Fest, but the first held during the DORA, the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area which allows people to walk around with alcoholic beverages in designated cups purchased from designated providers. The Salem DORA covers all of downtown from noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from the weekend after Memorial Day to the weekend before Labor Day.

All of the venues listed for Freed Fest are inside the DORA boundaries.

“I think it’s wonderful. I believe when used responsibly, the DORA can be a great benefit to the local retailers and restaurants in the historic downtown,” Baer said.

The music is all free, with the event sponsored by the Downtown Salem Partnership, using some tourism dollars from the Salem Tourism Board, in conjunction with Salem Second Saturday.

T-shirts created by Promos Unlimited will be available for purchase at both the Salem Community Theatre and Main State at McCulloch Park venues for $20 each to commemorate the event. All proceeds go toward paying the bands.

Freed Fest Partners for 2021 include Salem Second Saturday, Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, Downtown Salem Partnership, VisitSalemOhio.com, LiB’s Market, Sourballpython and Cranky Pressman. Freed Fest also acknowledged with special thanks the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland, and AlanFreed.com, all on the Freed Fest website at www.freedfest.com.

That’s also where the Freed Fest schedule of performances will be updated, with information about some of the bands available by clicking on the highlighted band name.

Schedule (freedfest.com) includes:


— 7 to 10 p.m., JJ Vigors at Liebe Wein, downtown State Street.

— 9:30 p.m., Four Lane Highway at Flying Pig Saloon, North Ellsworth Avenue.


— 10 a.m. to noon, FeyFire at LiB’s Market, downtown State Street.

— 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Open Mic, Salem Music Centre

— 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Alan Freed Special Exhibit, Salem High School Alumni Association, downtown State Street.

— 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Alan Freed Special Exhibit, Salem Historical Society, South Lundy Avenue.

— All day, State Street Records, spinning sounds from the 50’s, downtown.

Salem Community Theatre Stage, downtown State Street

— 4 p.m., Musical Youth Band.

— 5 p.m., Diane Drapcho, 60’s girl singers.

— 6 p.m., Pontune, all brass band.

— 7 p.m., Quaker City Cruisers, 50’s & 60’s band.

— 8 p.m., John Volio.

Main Stage, McCulloch Park

— 7:30 p.m., Rusty Soul Band, blue collar rock-n-roll.

— 8:20 p.m., East 9th, high energy stage band.

— 9:20 p.m., Leo D’Angelo, traditional blues and folk.

— 10:15 p.m., Demos Papadimas, American roots music/Greek blues.

Centennial Park Dance, basketball court

— 7 to 9 p.m., 50’s, 60’s & 70’s music, bring picnic, lawn chairs, blankets, trivia contests, best dressed for 60’s, organized by David Shivers.

Hot Spots

— 6 p.m., 80’s Party with DJ Sound Smith, Flying Pig Saloon, N. Ellsworth Ave.

— 7 p.m., John Reese Project, Liebe Wein, downtown.

— 8 p.m., Shawn Theis, Kast Iron Soda Works, downtown.


— 10 a.m. to noon, FeyFire, LiB’s Market.

— 6 p.m., The Labra Brothers, Orashan Memorial Civic Center Stage, Waterworth Memorial Park.


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