The Kennett Square music venue, spun off as its own organization seeks broader audience
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
KENNETT SQUARE — When The Flash reopens in September, more will be changing than just the name, and some of those changes might seem like a return to the early days of the downtown venue, the venue seeks a better and broader connection with the local Kennett and Unionville communities.
As the doors swing open again to local audiences Sept. 6, more will be different than just the absence of Kennett in the venue’s name, explained Lee Zagorski, one of the original founders of The Flash, who returns as its new director. Zagorski plans a return to a more community-oriented venue, with more shows that attract different demographics, from kids to seniors, rather than the previous focus on adult-progressive music acts.
“The variety in acts is going to come back,” he said, speaking Thursday, amidst ongoing construction to freshen the venue as well as improve the audio system and seating. Zagorski, Dennis Melton and Matt Grieco are speadheading what they are calling Act II for The Flash. All three had a hand in the creation of The Flash in 2009, under the auspices of Historic Kennett Square.
And while the move is partly designed to better connect The Flash with the local community, Zagorski says some of the changes are intended to make the operation financially self-sustaining.
“The biggest difference is going to be that the audience is going to expand to all age groups,” said Lauressa McNemar, a member of the new organization’s board of directors.
Some of the changes are behind the scenes: The Flash has become its own 501(c)3 entity and spin off from Historic Kennett Square, a few other changes will be evident to those who attend shows. A new Website will debut next week, with the latest in schedule updates and more.
Local firms such as the B Frank Shinn Paint Company and Peter Lumber Company have been donating materials for the renovation of the performance space, while local community members have been donating funds to help pay for those items that cannot be acquired for free. McNemar’s husband, Glenn, a master carpenter, has been doing much of the work, making repairs, building new tables and painting. Although not likely to be complete until next month, the changes are already apparent.
The Flash will be expanding to offer Thursday night shows, the food menu will be reworked and — like a few other items — revert to the more interesting, upscale mix of sandwiches and salads offered a few years back, making the venue a better option for dinner and a show. More programming will be built around kid-friendly shows — Zagorski points to the Steve Pullara Cool Beans Family Show, planned for Oct. 27, as just one example.
Although many things will change, many favorites will be back in their familiar place. Better Than Bacon, the house improv troupe, will be back on alternate Thursdays and Open Mic Night — which once was a stepping stone for many local acts to becoming opening acts at The Flash for better-known artists, will be back as well, with host Todd Chappelle (in a new twist, some of those open mic shows will be broadcast on local radio or TV) and the Glee, independent movies and comedy will all remain part of the mix.
It all kicks off Sept. 6 with a Mushroom Festival weekend opening concert featuring the Melton Brothers Band with special guests John Lilley (member of the Philadelphia legendary band The Hooters) and Bob Beach. Chris Bruni, a gifted singer/songwriter with a large local following, will headline on Sept 7.
As a non-profit, the organization will need help from members of the local community for it to thrive. Local residents can help by making a donation, any amount you wish, by mailing a check to The Flash, PO Box 375, Kennett Square, PA 19348 made out to Kennett Flash, Inc. or by making arrangements with Lee Zagorski at 610 570 6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Flash is also looking for volunteers and, potentially, employees to help keep things running. Those interested should contact Zagorski.