Rejoice Akron area bands, there is another local venue at which you can perform.
Tonight, Tim “Ripper” Owens will celebrate the opening of his and partner Micah Posten's new restaurant/concert venue, Ripper's Rock House, in South Akron with an acoustic show with guitarist Scott Jones. It'll be Owens’ first show in Akron in about a year and only the second show at the Rock House, which had its soft opening about a week ago with popular local bands Motherload and Red Sun Rising.
The spot is on Manchester Road and is a new and improved version of the old Ripper Owens Tap House.
Owens, 45, is still a globe-trotting rock frontman for hire. He just returned from doing a few gigs in Canada with the all-star tribute band Dio Disciples. Posten, 37, is co-owner of the successful Impact Landscaping and Irrigation and singer for the band Fracture and was a regular at the old place.
The two friends and partners enjoy the restaurant business and when plans to renew the lease fell through, Posten and Owens immediately moved forward to start anew with a much clearer vision of what they wanted from the new location.
“They kind of backed into music,” Posten said of the old Tap House. “They were a wing place/sports bar that kind of ended up being a music place.”
For Ripper Owens’ Rock House, the duo wanted the combo platter of being a restaurant that also hosts live music.
To help get the right sound, the two musicians enlisted well-known veteran soundman/engineer Jeff Hair, who has manned the soundboard for more than 5,200 live shows around the world.
“He's known for the giant loud systems and every time he comes in here he says we need something new,” Owens said.
“When you crank it, which we would never do with people in here, but just to test it out, it knocks stuff off the bar,” Posten said smiling.
The Rock House has a nice roomy stage, a mixing board that looks like something the Rolling Stones might use on tour, and for you gearheads — about 10 3,000-watt subwoofers — and a few more speakers mounted halfway through the rectangular-shaped building to ensure the folks in the back of the room can still hear loud and clear.
“If a soundman blows a speaker here, then he’s paying for it because he’s done something wrong,” Owens said.
The decor furthers the rock house theme with actual gutted microphones turned into door handles and lighting fixtures. There are also a few mementos gathered from Owens, such as photos with rock legends and friends and a few guitars that are mounted on the walls.
Likewise, the menu has a few nods to Ripper’s past and hometown including the “Judas Priest,” a Monster Philly sandwich available with “Stea-K.K.” or “Tipton Chicken” (named for J.P. guitarists K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton); the “Fear the Roo-ben,” and of course a Kenmore classic — a fried bologna sandwich. The popular world tour of wings is still available with an impressive variety of exotic sauces and dry rubs.
As both Posten and Owens have successful day jobs, micromanaging was not an option.
“I realized that from the last place. Everything that wasn't done there … and there was a lot of good things that worked there. The place worked, but it could’ve been better,” Owens said. “We’ve surrounded ourselves with good people; we have a chef from Prime [at Anthes on Manchester Road] and a general manager from a country club.”
So far, it has been working, as the Red Sun Rising/Motherload show packed in a few hundred folks and garnered compliments about the sound quality.
The basic plan is to feature local bands in a variety of genres as free shows along with a few national acts at reasonable ticket prices. As working musicians, Posten and Owens have had plenty of experience with unfriendly venues that treat bands badly.
“One of the main goals for me is when they come in, even if they’re a cover band or some new kids — we’re going to have a green room for them, they’re going to get a pizza, they’re going to get escorted to the stage and at this little venue they’ll get treated like they’re important,” Posten said.
“I’ve played probably every bar in this area and you’re lucky to get service. Sometimes it’s hard to even get a beer before you go on stage. Food is unheard of,” he continued. “We want to bring back the music scene where the bands say, ‘Hey we have a gig this Saturday, but it’s not at Ripper’s. We want to play Ripper’s again,’ that’s what we want.”
In addition to Ripper and Jones’ acoustic set tonight, Broken Road, a popular Rascal Flatts tribute band, will play on Friday night, and Akron born, New York-based rocker/actor Elijah Black will do an acoustic show on Saturday night.
The Rock House’s schedule is already pretty full and includes some interesting shows such as comedian and That Metal Show host Don Jamieson, Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Chris Caffery in August, veteran L.A. rockers Rhino Bucket and a head-banging metal three-fer dubbed the Metal Masters Tour featuring Bay Area power metal band Vicious Rumors, Seven Witches and Cleveland’s own Vindicator.