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Rubber City Jazz And Blues Festival To Host Event On The Akron Innerbelt

Akron, Ohio, August 25, 2022 — The Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival, hosted by Open Tone Music, is scheduled to take place September 8-10, 2022 in Akron. On Saturday, September 10 from 11am-2pm, guests can join the festival on the decommissioned portion of the Akron Innerbelt for a unique, free musical and cultural experience. The event will feature music from the Ronell Regis Group and the James Gaiters Quartet Soul Revival. A panel discussion will be held between musical sets to discuss the history of music in the area where the Innerbelt now sits.

“We’re excited to hold this event on the area of the Innerbelt which has such a rich cultural history,” said Chris Anderson, Founder of Open Tone Music. “The history of this space is so important to Akron and to the culture of Jazz and music at large and getting to be a part of that history with this event is really special.”

From the 1930’s to the ‘60’s, Akron was known as the jazz corridor of the Midwest when it was a hub for musicians traveling between Chicago and New York. Howard Street was filled with clubs that attracted musicians like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Construction of the Akron Innerbelt, cut right through this vibrant community, displacing hundreds of families, as well as businesses, houses of worship, and other social/cultural institutions.

This summer, the Akron Innerbelt Committee, named "Reconnecting Our Community" has hosted several engagement opportunities as the city looks ahead to what's next for the decommissioned portion of the Innerbelt. As part of this engagement process, the committee will host a panel discussion on the rich musical and cultural history of the area which was displaced by the Innerbelt’s construction.

The panel discussion will include Alberta Blanton-Williams, the goddaughter of George Mathews, who owned the Matthews Hotel, as well as Jazz saxophonist Fred Davis. The discussion will be moderated by Liz Ogbu, designer, urbanist, and spatial justice activist who has brought together the Akron Innerbelt Committee.

Attendees will be able to access the Innerbelt via shuttles from the Wills Lot (154 Wills Ave, 44302). Shuttles will leave and return every 20 min from 10:30am - 2:30pm. Free car and bike parking will be available at the Wills Lot. Handicap parking is also available. Snacks and light refreshments will be provided for the event.

The Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival will feature musical acts from Sept. 8-10. You can view the full line up and purchase tickets at

To learn more about other engagement events surrounding the Akron Innerbelt Committee’s work, please visit


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