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Music festival intended as new Westlake Labor Day tradition

The Westlake Music Festival will be held 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Westlake Porter Public Library.

By KEVIN KELLEY
WESTLAKE

Labor Day, the federal holiday honoring American workers, means the unofficial end of summer and the start of a new school year. For decades, the three-day weekend was associated with entertainer Jerry Lewis’ annual telethon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Westlake Porter Public Library Director Andrew Mangels hopes Westshore residents will soon associate Labor Day weekend with music.

At the direction of Mangels, the library is launching the first Westlake Music Festival, a lineup of six musical acts performing from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday on the library grounds, 27333 Center Ridge Road. (The rain location will be Westlake Schools Performing Arts Center at Westlake High School, 27830 Hilliard Blvd.)

Mangels intends to use Saturday’s concert to promote the library’s music collection and downloadable music offerings.

“Music is a huge part of the way we communicate,” said Mangels, who plays the guitar. When his children were little, Mangels and a fellow librarian performed children’s songs as a duo named 30 Turtles. In 2006, they produced an album titled “Losing Our Marbles.”

“We want to highlight the fact that music brings people together,” Mangels said. “If it can bring them together at the library, they may be that much more likely to be educated, empowered, engaged, enlightened or excited by something we offer. In addition to music in CD format, we offer downloadable music through Freegal and Hoopla. If you are interested in learning how to play an instrument, we have a lesson database called ArtistWorks.”

Mangels will be on stage for part of the Westlake Music Festival, performing with his local rock band, Screaming Armadillos. The name comes from the time when Mangels almost ran over an armadillo with his car, and the animal leaped up and screamed, he said.

Ray Flanagan will perform contemporary rock songs at the Westlake Music Festival Saturday.

Other acts are Francis and Bridget Quinn, a father-and-daughter Irish duo; Surfer Rex, a band specializing in instrumental surf music; Blues Chronicles, a Blues band; and Ray Flanagan, a contemporary rock singer/guitarist.

Headlining the show are the GeezeCats, a four-member band who specialize in the the Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll music of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The band’s website describes their act as a “mixture of rock ‘n’ roll, doo-wop and improv comedy.” They’re scheduled to perform at 7 p.m.

All the bands are being paid except for the Screaming Armadillos, with which Mangels plays. The library is paying $1,625 in all for the entertainment, but Mangels said he expects the Friends of Westlake Porter Public Library to fund the musical acts in future years.

Maria Fesz, Porter’s music and art librarian who has been helping to organize the festival, noted the musical acts, although not all from Westlake, already have followings in the Westshore.

Fesz, who joined the library’s staff in January, is a North Olmsted High School graduate. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Mt. Union University and a master’ degree in music from Youngstown State University. Fesz – who plays the cello, viola and euphonium – received a degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Fesz said she wants the library to maintain a diverse music collection while also promoting the electronic collections available.

“There’s a lot out there for people to listen to through the library,” she said. “In regards to programming, I’ve been trying to have a mix of informative talks and interactive sessions or performances.”

Mangels sees the library’s music festival as complementing another Westlake Labor Day weekend tradition, Celebrate Westlake. Now in its 27th year, the annual 5-mile, 5K walk will be held Saturday morning at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center. Mangels serves as volunteer coordinator for Celebrate Westlake.

In future years, Mangels envisions expanding the festival to include performances at Westlake venues beyond the library. An art show associated with the music festival is another possibility, he said.

 

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