Monday, July 22, 2024

Meet The Vindys: An Ohio Band on a Major National Tour

Some artists are synonymous with a city; Detroit has Eminem, Boston–Aerosmith, New Jersey–Springsteen and now, Youngstown, Ohio has The Vindys. 

The Vindys, a nine-piece band (which includes a three-piece horn section), oozes an array of influences from rock to soul and rhythm and blues to pop, embodies Youngstown. Their name is a tribute to the city’s daily newspaper, The Vindicator, and the band has close ties to the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. Running their operation from their home city in Ohio, this midwestern amalgamation of musical styles is making noise nationally and is ready for its close-up. 

Meet the band

The band’s frontwoman, Jackie Popovec, is reminiscent of a young Joe Cocker both in movement and in blues and soul vocal prowess. Often compared to Amy Winehouse, Popovec’s voice can turn from raspy and forceful to a Norah Jones-like smooth and sultry – an ability that makes the band with an abundant of influences across many genres perfect fit for sharing the stage with acts like Donnie Iris, ZZ Top, Ann Wilson (of Heart), Michael Stanley and Pat Benatar, with whom they are touring this summer on their first nationwide outing. 

“This is our first big step in front of a national audience and we will put forth our best effort,” Popovec said. “I’m very excited. It’s such an honor.” 

When she was younger, Popovec said Pat Benatar was one of the voices she tried to emulate. “She was right there on the top of my list. I was always trying to sing at the top of my lungs to her,” Popovec said. 

But before Benatar, there were humble beginnings and a lot of work. 

After finishing a music production degree in Florida, Popovec arrived back home in Youngstown in 2012 with no plans to stay. She helped her mom set up a small business and had one foot out the door. 

“My whole goal was to get out of town. I had every aspiration to move to New York or Nashville or L.A. and I just realized what a desolate area Youngstown was at the time for original music. I wanted to see what we could do while I’m in town,” Popovec said. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done… to be doing it from here and making waves, nationally, it feels right to me.” 

“In Youngstown, we’re seven hours from 70 million people,” guitarist Rick Deak added. ”Being in a working band, we can be in a large city in half a day’s time. Nashville, NYC, Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago are all within a half a day’s drive.” 

Band origins

Like many bands, The Vindys began their journey as a cover band 10 years ago, playing in local bars, honing their craft and feeding their audience original songs somewhere in the mix of hours of covers, in order to satisfy the band’s creative soul. According to Popovec, the audience started to respond to the original music. In 2017 the covers were out and the originals were in. Popovec says she was nervous introducing her original songs to the band early on. 

“Everyone was into moving forward as an original band; at the same, it was uncharted waters for all of us so, we also didn’t know what to expect. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that we are so glad we decided to do our own thing,” Popovec said. “I’m glad now I can see people singing along, buying the music and buying our merch, and appreciating us as an original band. That feeds my soul at the end of the day.” 

Deak says that he is the “old guy” in the band at 51. Popovec (aged 32) notes that the ages in the band range from 24 to 51, which may explain the noticeable array of influences the band displays in their music. Popovec says that the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University has been a resource in feeding the band musical aficionados. Popovec says most of the members have graduated from the Dana School of Music at YSU and are professors, adjunct professors, band leaders or band directors – just another example of The Vindys embracing and encompassing all that is Youngstown. 

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All the moving around that the band has done has been paying off. Their song “Are You Ready” has recently been used to promote the Philadelphia sports teams: Penguins, Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers as well as in ESPN commercials promoting the 2023 ACC Softball Tournaments. Their latest video “Bugs” was one of eight music videos screened at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. 

It was last year that Popovec says that she started working for The Vindys full time, managing the band. On top of booking hotel rooms, managing budgets, making travel arrangements, answering emails and interview requests, This midwestern rock star finds the time to write a song or two and show up to band practice. 

After 10 years as a band, The Vindys are finally embarking on their first nationwide tour and seemingly gaining new fans with every outing… and they’re living their rock ‘n’ roll fantasy while residing in Youngstown. 

“It’s the old grass roots way of making friends and fans. After ten years of doing it, we’ve radiused out from Youngstown. We’re not going viral or anything, we’re just gaining fans one by one,” Popovec said.

Catch The Vindys on tour with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. The tour starts May 10 in Lincoln, California. Check out for tour dates.

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