Author explores Kent's 'heyday of music' in 'Bars, Bands, and Rock ‘n Roll' | Book Talk

Barbara McIntyre
Special to USA TODAY NETWORK - Ohio
Bars, Bands, and Rock 'n Roll: The Golden Era in Kent, Ohio

The “real heyday of music in downtown Kent” ended on May 1, 1970,” and Chas Madonio was there for all of it. In the enjoyable “Bars, Bands, and Rock ‘n Roll: The Golden Era in Kent, Ohio,” he reaches back for some 60 years of memories.

Madonio bought a ukulele in 1958 and was off to a life in music. He put together a three-piece band and started to look for places to play. The options ranged from a barn to a drive-in to a golf club. As the members were underage, they couldn’t work at a place that sold liquor; the idea of teen clubs caught on and they were often packed far above legal capacity.

The British Invasion-inspired bands spiked the need for venues for them to perform, and Madonio goes through the carousel of clubs on Main and Water streets: The Deck, the Kove, Pirates Alley, the Fifth Quarter. The Barn was just that, an unheated barn. Even more abundant were the bands, who assembled and reassembled to suit their needs; Madonio describes dozens of different configurations. One of his bands came up with a dance number called the “Gamma Goochie.” Among the big names who passed through were Joe Walsh, Eric Carmen, Chrissie Hynde and members of Devo.

Madonio doesn’t directly address the May 4, 1970, shootings, instead focusing on May 1 as “The Day the Music Died,” when Richard Nixon’s sending troops into Cambodia incited campus protests and resulted in a lockdown, in his band’s case right in the middle of a set.

“Bars, Bands, and Rock ‘n Roll (306 pages, softcover) costs $30 from Kent State Historical Society Press. The introduction is by Walsh, and the foreword by Joe Vitale, who recorded and toured with the Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash. In addition to his music career, Chas Madonio owns an insurance agency in Brimfield.

‘Unexpected Love’

Unexpected Love

In the “About the Author” section of Medina resident David Allen Edmond’s romance novel “Unexpected Love,” he explains that he and his wife watched “hundreds of Hallmark movies” during the COVID-19 pandemic. The inspiration is apparent.

It’s also apparent that Benton Falls, where the story is set, is based on Medina, with its historic town square. What isn’t so apparent is why the entire town is so engrossed in the romance of Maggie McGrath and Brent Wellover, recent college grads deep in an argument about whether they should get married before she leaves for an internship in Chicago and he for a volunteer project in Ethiopia.

The interest in this matter grows so intense that it comes to engulf the operation of the entire town, compromising its elections, exploding on social media and involving skywriting and punkin chunkin.

“Unexpected Love” (287 pages, softcover) costs $15 from online retailers. David Allen Edmonds taught at Strongsville High School for 29 years, and his mystery novels “Personal Pronouns” and “Indirect Objects” are based on his experiences there.


Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights): Julia Tvardovskaya signs her science fiction novel “Identifiable,” 3 p.m. Sunday. Poet Marcus Bales reads from his work, 7 p.m. Thursday. Also at 7 p.m. Thursday, Florence Williams joins the Peculiar Book Club, talking about “Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey” in a virtual event; register at At noon Saturday, members of the Northern Ohio Authors Guild sign their work, including Emilia Rosa (“Finding Cristina,” featured in February 26 Book Talk), Wendy Fedan (“Finding the Darkness”), Lou Masterson (“Hostage Intervention”), Richard Norgard (“Road Kill”) and Patrick O’Keeffe (“Cold Air Return”).

Mimi Ohio Theatre (Playhouse Square, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland): Andrea Elliott, whose “Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City” won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, takes part in the One Community Reads program and signs books after her talk, 6 to 9 p.m. Monday. Register at

Tuscarawas County Public Library (121 Fair Ave. NW, New Philadelphia): Retired teacher Mike Gunther of Dover signs his essay collection “Views from the Hot Seat” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday. Register at

Hudson Library & Historical Society : Weapons expert Paul Scharre talks about “Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” in a Zoom event at 7 p.m. Monday. Register at

Cuyahoga County Public Library : Kara Gnodde talks about her novel “The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything” in a Zoom event from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday. Register at

McKinley Memorial Library (40 N. Main St., Niles): Terry Pluto talks about Cleveland sports and signs his many books, including “Vintage Browns: A Warm Look Back at the Cleveland Browns of the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and More,” 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Hudson City Hall (1140 Terex Road): Kyle Jekot, author of “A Cure for the Common Scam: A Non-Technical Guide to Navigating the Pitfalls of the Internet,” gives a presentation after a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. See

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Strongsville branch, 18700 Westwood Drive): Alan Dutka, author of “Cleveland’s Millionaires’ Row,” talks about bygone mansions, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Register at

Made Cleveland (1807 Coventry Road, Cleveland): Poets Siaara Freeman and Rachel Wiley read from their work, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes (2600 S. Park Blvd., Cleveland): Alfred A. Knopf, executive editor and Orion Magazine contributing writer, talks to Literary Cleveland’s executive director, Matt Weinkam, and signs his books, including “Wind, Trees,” 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Go to

Music Box Supper Club (1148 Main Ave., Cleveland): Former Beacon Journal writer Malcolm X Abram hosts an “Alice Cooper @75: A Shock Rock Talk” podcast with guests Gary Graff, author of “Alice Cooper @75,” John Gorman (“The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio – A Memoir”) Bill Peters, metal DJ at WJCU FM 88 and concert promoter Jules Belkin, 7 p.m. Thursday. Go to

Cleveland Jewish Book Festival: Jean Meltzer (“Mr. Perfect on Paper”) and Lynda Cohen Loigman (“The Matchmaker’s Gift”) talk about their novels in a virtual event, 7 p.m. Thursday. Register at

Akron-Summit County Public Library (60 S. High St.): The inaugural Akron Book Fest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday brings more than 50 authors who will talk about and sign their work. Roundtables participants include David Giffels and publisher David Gray. At noon, Cardington author Mindy McGinnis talks about “The Initial Insult” and “The Last Laugh,” a dark young-adult horror duology that references the works of Edgar Allan Poe; at 1 p.m., Wick Poetry Center leads a workshop. Authors include Alison and Wayne Marks, Jane Ann Turzillo, Joyce Dyer, Judy Orr James, Julie Ann Lindsey, Julie Drew, Les Roberts and Marc Bona. See

Mandel JCC Stonehill Auditorium (26001 S. Woodland Road, Beachwood): The Cleveland Jewish Book Festival continues with former international and NBA player Dan Grunfeld, author of “By the Grace of the Game,” followed by a basketball clinic for ages 8 and up, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 12. Register at

Email information about books of local interest, and event notices at least two weeks in advance to and I tweet at @BarbaraMcI.