Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:
Trumbull County lost one of its greatest champions of local theater with the death of Karen Horrell on Sunday at age 67.
There probably isn't a local stage that Horrell didn't tread upon - usually barefoot - over the years. She directed several productions and acted as well (I'll always remember her playing the Jewish grandmother on "Crossing Delancey with BackDoor Theatre in the mid-'90s). But most of Horrell's work was behind the scenes. I don't think I ever was at Kent State University at Trumbull's theater in the late '80s and '90s when Horrell wasn't there rustling up someone to do whatever needed to be done or, more likely, doing it herself.
She was just as valuable in the audience. If you were doing a comedy, there's no one you'd rather have watching it. She had a big laugh and gave it often.
Horrell obviously passed on her passion for theater to her sons Tom and Todd - it seems like I watched them grow up on stage. Less obvious are all of the other children she inspired through her efforts working with kids with Kent-Trumbull Summer Stock and through children's theater workshops at Packard Music Hall. Reading some of the testimonials that have filled Facebook the last few days, Horrell's impact on those who knew her and worked with her was profound.
The other sad news that has dominated my Facebook feed this week is the word that Cedars Lounge is being forced out of its location of 37 years by the building's new owner.
Cedars' owners Mara Simon has said the business will continue at a new location and North Hazel Street is merely "the shell" that contained it.
True, but it's a great shell, one that is filled with happy memories for many music fans in the Mahoning Valley.
I can't count the number of great bands I saw at Cedars over the years (Cracker, Too Much Joy, The Gunbunnies, Infidels, Slack Jaw, Red Wanting Blue, Watershed) and I missed many others (Drive-By Truckers, Goo Goo Dolls, Jonathan Richman, Okkervil River). It has been an oasis for local musicians who wanted to play their own songs, at times the only oasis in a valley of cover band bookers.
Over the summer, I was there to see Watershed, and the opening act was a group from Portland, Ore. - ground zero of hipster cool - called The Cry. The young band clearly was smitten by the club and not just because of the cheap beer prices.
"This place is cool as f---," lead singer Brian Crace said. He was wearing a Dead Boys T-shirt, and he clearly enjoyed being in a club where Girard native / Dead Boys frontman Stiv Bators had spent many nights.
Mara Simon and Billy Danielson have done a great job preserving the spirit of the place that her father, Tommy Simon, started. And that spirit can be transferred to a new shell.
Still, it's impossible not to mourn the loss of a space with so much history, so much character. "Character" may be the nicest word to describe those bathrooms, but that's the way a rock club should be.
Wherever Cedars ends up, let's hope it remains cool as ...
Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org