By Michelle Hosie
Special to the Sentinel
The Spirit of the Eighties is excited to be welcoming some old friends from just across the border for the fifth annual live music event.
The Spoons, who come from Burlington, Ontario, will headline this year's festival on Saturday, Aug. 13.
The 2015 production brought more than 1,000 concertgoers over the two-day event.
"We had an amazing festival last year with Stan Ridgeway, The Toasters and The English Beat," said organizer Mike Hanrahan. "We had to scale it back this year; regroup a bit. The Spoons are just the band to bring us back to our roots."
The Spoons played the inaugural concert in 2012 and came back with Images in Vogue in 2013. Hanrahan said the band really enjoyed themselves while they were in Lewiston.
"All of the bands we've brought to Lewiston love it here. They enjoy the village, the Art Festival, the food and restaurants they visited. They love what we are doing - reviving the CFNY favorites from the '80s - and most of all they love the reception they get from the fans. It's a real kick for them to see all of these 40-somethings who get excited to see them and still know all the words to their songs."
Lead singer and founding member of The Spoons Gordon Deppe said the band was happy to come to Lewiston to participate in The Spirit of The Eighties again.
In October 2014, Deppe released a memoir about his life with The Spoons. "SpoonFed" chronicles the life of a young boy starting school in Canada, though he didn't speak a word of English, through high school where he met friend and future band mate Sandy Horne, and the next 30 years in the music business.
One of the things Hanrahan and the other founders have been working on is establishing the group's status as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization. With the help of Spirit of the Eighties' friend and supporter, attorney Steven Zastrow, the event committee will submit a 501(c) application with the IRS. It will register as an organization that has no owners and assuring the funds realized in the operation of the organization will not be used to benefit any owners or organizers.
Hanrahan said, "Ultimately we want our festival to create enough funds to support growing youth music programs in the community, but first we need to raise enough funds to sustain an annual event if it is to continue."
The hope is that, after obtaining the nonprofit status, more local businesses will make larger contributions that will now be tax-deductible.
In order to apply for the exemption status, the Spirit of the Eighties organizers must first establish a board of directors. They are reaching out to area folks who like to be involved with community projects, supporters of other youth or nonprofit projects, especially arts and music, educators, business owners, musicians and '80s pop culture enthusiasts. Anyone who is interested in a position on the board should contact Hanrahan at [email protected].
Hanrahan and this author have also teamed with some folks at the Discover Niagara Shuttle to offer free rides to Lewiston. The hop-on, hop-off vehicles run daily from Niagara Falls to Youngstown from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with no more than a 20-minute wait between shuttle visits to any of the dozen stops. On Saturday, Aug. 13, the service will be extended until midnight at least between Youngstown and Lewiston.
The Discover Niagara Shuttle began operating in May through the USA Niagara Development Corp. Friends of the music festival and some local businesses are coordinating to pay the drivers who will work the extended hours, and buy the gas used for these runs.
The idea is to make Lewiston and Youngstown businesses, the 50th annual Lewiston Art Festival and the Spirit of the Eighties accessible to neighbors as well as friends who may be visiting for the weekend without a car.
There are folks in the area who have not seen the new shuttles, and many who don't know about The Spirit of the Eighties. The goal is to offer them the opportunity to stay for the Art Festival and Spirit of the Eighties.
Though the shuttle project was developed with tourists in mind, locals are encouraged to take advantage of the free service and spend a day playing tourist in the town right next door.