In the autumn of 1887, a group of women got together to discuss ways they could help advance music appreciation in Akron and provide a performance outlet for women in the area. They called their group the Tuesday Afternoon Club. Out of that group the Tuesday Musical Club was born, and Akron has been a city that loves music ever since.
In the 1950s and 60s, Akron's Howard Street became known as “Jazz Corridor.” The great musicians of the time had played a circuit that would lead them from New York to Chicago, and often – even though they were regarded as the greatest musicians in the world at the time – often couldn't find hotels that would rent rooms to them because they were black. Akron was a convenient stop between the two major cities, and Howard Street was full of black-owned hotels that offered rest, and clubs that welcomed some of the greatest entertainers of the time, including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and many others.
In the 70s and 80s as the punk movement began to grow, those bands followed a similar route as the jazz musicians did decades earlier. The punk rockers found kindred spirits in the young people of Akron at the time.
Also, something uniquely Akron was bubbling underneath the surface at that time. The members of Devo first came together in 1973 as art students enrolled at Kent State University. By the release of their first album, Q. Are We Not Men, A. We Are Devo in 1978, the band's lineup consisted of Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, Gerald and Bob Casale, and Alan Myers. They gained national attention when they appeared on Saturday Night Live the same year. In 1980, the group released the Freedom of Choice LP which featured the hit single “Whip It.”
Around that same time, another budding musician – Chrissie Hynde – graduated from Firestone High School and went on to study at Kent State as well. At one point she even found herself in a band with Mark Mothersbaugh.
Hynde would go on to form The Pretenders in 1978, and they would release their first album in 1980. Over the years the band recorded hits such as “Back On the Chain Gang,” “Brass In Pocket,” and “My City Was Gone.” They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Throughout her career, Akron continued to play a role in Hynde's life. In 2007, she opened The VegiTerranean – an Italian-Mediterranian fusion restaurant that served vegan dishes. It was named one of the top 5 vegan restaurants in the country before it closed in 2011.
James Ingram – another musician born and raised in Akron – found success in 80s. Ingram graduated from Akron's East High School and cut his teeth playing with the Akron band Revelation Funk. They provided the song, “Time Is On Our Side,” for the soundtrack to the movie, Dolemite.
From Ingram's solo career, he was awarded two Grammy Awards in the 80s for the songs “One Hundred Ways” and “Yah Mo Be There” which he recorded with the help of Michael McDonald. He's probably best known for his duet with Linda Rondstadt, “Somewhere Out There” - the theme to the animated film, American Tale.
In the background during these times, local band Tin Huey featured saxophone player, Ralph Carney. Carney would go on to record and perform with Tom Waits, The B-52s, Elvis Costello, Les Claypool, and many others.
Before Carney passed away in 2017, he partnered with his nephew Patrick Carney to created the theme to the Netflix animated series, BoJack Horseman.
Prior to recording the theme to the cult favorite animated series, Patrick Carney and his musical partner Dan Auerbach came to prominence with they band they formed in Akron in 2001 – The Black Keys.
Auerbach and Carney self produced and recorded their early recordings and built a fan following by touring and playing small clubs all across the country. Their third album, titled Rubber Factory, gave a nod to their hometown and received critical acclaim. Their next release, Brothers – with its popular single “Tighten Up” placed them in the spotlight, winning two Grammy Awards. Their next album, El Camino, netted three more Grammy Awards.
The musical spirit of Akron still thrives. You can find artists performing classical music, jazz, hip-hop, and rock performing throughout the city. Taking in a live performance in Akron always offers the chance of seeing the city's next big name in music.