Stone Tavern Brings More Music to Kent's Night Life
Venue owners plan to feature eclectic mix up to 6 nights a week
A new addition to the Kent music scene made an auspicious debut Friday night with the opening of the Stone Tavern.
The venue, which opened in the former Professor’s Pub location downtown, is run by longtime friends and music lovers Louis Delbene and Bill Hunkus, who are both looking to up the ante in Kent's live music scene. True to form, Stone Tavern opened with cool jazz from the Bob Niederriter Trio.
Cleveland native Niederriter is a guitarist, composer and arranger who studied the work of greats such as Herb Ellis and Jim Hall, and the influence clearly shows. His guitar lines are clean, melodic and concise. Able accompaniment was provided by Kurt Kothiemer on bass and Matt Skitzki on organ.
The trio provided a stylish start for the Stone Tavern, playing a mix of traditional jazz classics and Niederriter originals such as Milori, from Niederriter’s latest CD, Full Circle. The group’s take on Thelonious Monk’s In Walked Bud and the Ellington classic Perdido early in the evening were particularly strong.
Niederriter will be a regular performer at the new venue. He'll be playing the first Friday of each month with different combos. I’m especially interested in hearing him backed by one of his colleagues on the Hammond B-3 organ.
A nice crowd of well-wishers, jazz fans and the curious braved single-digit temperatures to fill the bar early on in the night.
DelBene and Hunkus have been in involved in music most of their adult lives, playing in bands, recording music and promoting shows. But this is their first foray into owning and operating their own establishment.
The pair has an ambitious plan to present live music and entertainment five to six nights a week, with the emphasis on original music. Rock, jazz and world music will be the main offerings, with comedy shows sprinkled into the mix.
The duo will partner with Kent’s Vinyl Underground store and Akron’s Square Records in Highland Square to present DJs and bands on Thursdays. Tuesdays are comedy nights, and on Wednesdays the venue will feature a mix of singer-songwriters, bands and DJs.
DelBene stressed that they want to provide something different in Kent. “Much of what we do will definitely have an edge to it,” he said.
They also want to offer national bands from time to time, though the size of the venue will likely limit them in that area.
Saturday night, things got considerably heavier. No-frills blues-based rock from Akron’s Unclean and metal from Youngstown’s Rebreather filled the bar.
DelBene, who has lived in Kent since 1999, says he also plans to partner with Standing Rock Cultural Arts to cross-promote events. “We are here to help promote the arts in this community,” DelBene said.
DelBene and Hunkus have a keen awareness of Kent’s music history, and they are committed to making the Stone Tavern a vital new part of the city’s nightlife. You have to give them credit for taking this kind of risk in today’s pre-packaged music world.
It certainly will be interesting, and I wish them luck. Keep an eye on this column for regular updates.