A Party for Pat

Pat O’Connor Music and Arts Festival Encourages All to ‘Be Like Pat’

 Above: Pat O'Connor in 2016, after the rededication of Culture Clash Records' iconic roof.

Above: Pat O'Connor in 2016, after the rededication of Culture Clash Records' iconic roof.

By Joel Sensenig

When you’re a kid from Toledo who loves The Smiths, you don’t always fit in with the crowd.

Unless you were in a record store owned by Pat O’Connor. 

As a youth, KC Saint John found a kindred soul in one of the founders of Boogie Records in the Westgate Village Shopping Center. Three decades later, Saint John is organizing the Pat O’Connor Music and Arts Festival on April 22 — Record Store Day, of course — in multiple venues across the city of Toledo to honor Pat’s spirit and love of music.  

The day has also been proclaimed Pat O’Connor Day by Toledo City Council. 

The festival is simply a way of honoring Pat’s legacy that meant so much to so many, Saint John said. 

“I was shocked to find out (Pat) was 61 years old, because he was never, ever 61 in my life. He was never older than 35 in my life, even though I’m 44 now,” Saint John said. “I was just thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can only imagine how many people’s lives he’s touched besides mine. I contacted anyone in Toledo that his path may have crossed and said, ‘Here’s what I think needs to happen. We need to honor him. We need to honor his vision. We need to honor everything he’s done.”

In Pat’s tradition of keeping things simple, participating venues are asked to contribute either $100, $250 or $500 to the Pat O’Connor Memorial Fund, set up by Pat’s wife, Marcia. The venues are responsible for booking their own talent, be it musicians or other artists. The events will be free for the public.

“It allows Toledo to have the purest music festival ever,” said Saint John, emphasizing that this is not a one-off event. He foresees the festival growing each year, eventually bringing in a large band to headline. “We’re doing a citywide celebration of Pat’s life, art, music and Toledo.”

"The festival will allow attendees to 'be like Pat,' Saint John said.

“You can go and be friendly with somebody and go and see a new band. Go and see a new artist,” he said. “That tingle feel when you’re like, ‘Wow, this is cool!’ A lot of people get stuck in the hum-drum of life and they don’t realize that in Toledo, we have got so much talent all around.”

Ean Garrett, guitarist of local band Awesome Job, came to know Pat years ago when Ean was working at Allied Record Exchange on Secor Road, just down the street from Pat and Culture Clash Records. Awesome Job is playing as part of the festival at 7 p.m., following sets by Violent Bloom at 5 p.m. and Pat Lewandowski at 3 p.m.

“Pat was a great person,” Garrett said. “Even working at another record store, I would always go into Culture Clash. He was always nice and would go out of his way to help me find what I was looking for or get back to me when he found something I might have liked.”

Garrett recalled a time he called Culture Clash looking for Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut album, an album Garrett had actually traded to the store the previous year. When Garrett walked in, Pat had the album waiting for him. 

“He said that it was the same LP I traded,” Garrett said. “He seemed excited to sell it back to me and even gave me a copy of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Crossroads’ album for free.” 

All of the proceeds from the venue buy-ins and T-shirt sales, produced by ERD Specialty Graphics, will go to the memorial fund. Advance shirts will likely be available online in advance and at Culture Clash Records. For more information on the event, visit the Pat O’Connor Music and Arts Festival event page on Facebook.