By Rachael Ullinskey Youngstown, Ohio, isn’t simply the home of abandoned warehouses and old steel mills anymore. In fact, revitalization efforts for this town once dubbed as the “armpit of Ohio” have made significant progress, especially in the world of arts and music. A perfect example of this revitalization is Vex Fest, an August 15th concert in downtown Youngstown’s Federal Plaza West, featuring over forty bands on four different stages. Originally conceived as a hard rock festival, Vex Fest is now in its 7th year and has grown to feature local bands of all shapes, sizes and musical tastes. Last year, over 8000 were in attendance as local and national touring bands rocked the streets of Y-town at this free-concert event. Vex Fest 7’s line up consists of bands like Relic, Asleep, Love Turns Hate and the Fever Djs. Vex Fest is spearheaded by the efforts of Youngstown Local Music, a non-profit organization that sponsors and organizes live outdoor music events in downtown Youngstown. Their goal is to promote the Youngstown music scene by hosting events such as Vex Fest and helping spread the word about live shows in the area. If you attend Vex Fest, make sure and check out the valley’s own The Kellys, an alternative band comprised of Kelly McCraken at vocals, guitarist Joel DeGenova, bassist Moe Angelo and drummer Matt Holko. Created in 2003, this band has been on the rise to popularity in the Youngstown area, appealing to listeners of all ages and musical backgrounds. The soulful voice of McCraken combined with the musical talent of DeGenova, Angelo and Holko provide a listening experience of traditional rock’n’roll with a creative and unique twist. They’ve performed at a variety of venues, headlining the naming ceremony of Warren, Ohio’s “David Grohl Alley” and collaborating with Northeast Ohio’s All Star Orchestra for a performance of epic proportions at the Warren Amphitheater. This will be their fourth year performing at Vex Fest. The gates open at noon on August 15th for Vex Fest 7 and the concert lasts well into the night, usually ending around 2 a.m. It’s free and open to all ages, so pack up the kids and enjoy a day full of music and entertainment in a town that’s determined to make a name for itself in the world of performing arts.