Shuffle: A DIY Venue in Akron Brings Musicians And The Homeless 'Out of the Shadows'

Jan 18, 2018

A group of DIY musicians is coming together to help Akron’s homeless tent community. In this week’s Shuffle, WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz talked to organizers of the Out of the Shadows concert series.

Longtime Akron music fan James Yu is bringing together musicians to benefit Second Chance Village, a local tent community for homeless people.

In the shadows
“When I first went to visit, I could see using this great space to put on live music that is really personal,” Yu said.

'Everybody helps out.'

Yu says homeless people often remain hidden from mainstream society. Local musicians, meanwhile, often don’t have the exposure they need starting out. So he sees the monthly concerts as a way to raise the profile of local musicians and the city’s homeless at the same time.

He’s aptly named the concert series Out of the Shadows.

“Akron has so much to offer, and that should be seen and heard,” Yu said. “This way, both communities can come out of the shadows.”

A community effort
Yu started out by cold-calling bands, asking if they would be willing to play for free. He convinced them it was a good cause that would also give bands a place to perform. Yu got permission to build a stage at the tent community's headquarters on Broad Street. He’s calling the ad hoc venue East End. The residents at Second Chance help with everything from hanging lights and equipment to security.

“Everybody helps out,” Yu said.

Getting more bands
Johnny Neiman is a local musician who runs the High Five Records label in Canton. He’s partnered with Yu to get more groups involved in the concerts.

“We’ve established a network (of bands) and we can easily reach out them,” Neiman said. “It creates that link and that nexus to the other members of the local music community.”

Neiman built those relationships through a compilation album called “Dancing Shoes Required.” The album features around 20 bands from Ohio and elsewhere.

“I was looking for a way to expand and promote and contribute more to my local and regional community,” Neiman said.

Yu charges $5 to get into the concerts. All proceeds go to The Homeless Charity, which runs the tent community.

The next Out of the Shadows concert is Saturday at East End and will feature Neiman and other local punk bands. You can find details here

Hear Johnny Neiman's compilation album