by Frank Lewis
The club formerly known as Ron’s Crossroads is gone. And this time, it’s not coming back. The building that housed the North Akron club and the former Grooveyard studio was demolished last week, ending the once-proud venue’s years of obscurity.
With a capacity around 300, it was once a significant outpost for metal bands. In recent years it was a black hole where good intentions and half-assed efforts went to die.
Into the late ‘80s, the decades-old bar was the Temple Tavern, and had a reputation for cocaine and violence. On Halloween 1989, the DEA, Akron Police Department and Summit County Sheriff’s Department raided the club and seized the property.
The 1990s were good years. After 21 years working with Firestone, onetime bartender Ron Trocchio acquired the liquor license in 1991 and recalls purchasing the empty building from U.S. Marshalls in 1993. He envisioned a blues bar, but bands like US Metal proved to be a better draw. Soon, Ron’s Crossroads was a nationally known metal bar. Trocchio partnered with Mitch Karczewski’s Spotlight Talent to bring in national bands like Slaughter (pictured), Overkill and Sevendust. Local bands like Sinomatic, Spawn and a series of Tim “Ripper” Owens outfits packed the room on weekends. By 2003, Trocchio planned to retire. He sold it to a group of partners including Shawn Hackel, local frontman of alt-rock also-rans Cyde.
“I’m not sorry [I sold it],” says Trocchio. “But I wish it wouldn’t have turned out like it did.”
In early 2003, the venue became the Voodoo. It was a rare Akron-area hard-rock nightspot, the center of a local scene that never took off. A random hodgepodge of occasional national shows included Blueprint, Mortician, Hank III, and Deftones side project Team Sleep. Rap nights came and went. More regularly, it hosted local shows by bands like Corpse Forest and Facemaker.
Hackel also operated Grooveyard in the adjacent space. Using a mixing board reportedly once used by Pink Floyd, he recorded bands like Barium, Poets of Another Breed and Time No Reason. By the time the era of digital recording arrived, Grooveyard and the Voodoo had fallen into disrepute. Hackel shuttered the studio in 2004.
In 2006, Hackel hired Fast Chester/Last Stone Cast bassist Jon Epstein to manage the club. Epstein revived the Crossroads name and attempted to make it a musician-friendly bar. Then ownership changed, and it became a clubhouse for Akron extreme-motorcycling group Starboyz.
For the last year and a half, the club was known as BarFly Akron, then the Fly. In its BarFly incarnation, the club continued a tradition of poorly promoted last-minute shows by cult artists like Dax Riggs (of Elephant Boy & Deadmen and Acid Bath) and former Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
After switching to the Fly, the bar became a jazz hangout late last year, and was poorly equipped to handle the rare busy night. Owner John “Blade” Hayes was desperate to ditch the club, and had been offering to let it go cheap. The club was small and dark, located in the North Hill neighborhood on the edge Akron and Cuyahoga Falls. The area isn’t great, but Rubber City decay is worse at points closer to the suburbs.
In late April, the Ohio Department of Commerce nixed a transfer of the liquor license from the Voodoo corporation to the Bar Fly ownership, citing delinquent sales and/or income tax issues dating back to 2007. The property is now an empty lot.
With the and Lime Spider gone, downtown Akron’s Musica is now the only Rubber City rock club that can accommodate bigger national bands.
Those who remember the glory days remember them well. Former WMMS Metal Show host Matt Wardlaw says, “Ron's Crossroads was one of my favorite clubs in Akron that found its way into my world just a little bit too late.”
Read other memories here. — D.X. Ferris