Here is my one big tip for those attending the MidPoint Music Festival this week. If you see MPMF director-in-chief Dan McCabe, be sure not to utter these words — “I’ve never heard of any of these bands.” You will get a stare/glare that might just turn you into stone.
With around 270 performers from across the country (and world), chances are most of the music you hear at the festival will be “new to you.” That’s the beauty of it. With the potential to win over fans at MidPoint, a few bands have decided to use the festival as a chance to unveil new recording projects. CD release party-time, in other words. Many, if not most, of the artists performing at MidPoint will have fairly recent recordings — be sure to raid the merch tables and support the artists making MidPoint a success. Here’s a sampling of a few area bands that will have fresh-out-of-the-oven releases at MPMF.
• The Emeralds very recently became Sparrow Bellows and now the band has a CD with that name on it to prove it. The foursome, featuring singer/songwriter/guitarist Ric Hickey and former members of The Stapletons and The Trojan Rabbit, completed a 16-track album with ex-Afghan Whig John Curley. For the band’s MidPoint appearance (Saturday at Courtyard Café), the group will have copies for sale for the first time. Sparrow Bellows — which will host a more formal “release show” this fall — will also do a warm-up in-store show at Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge Saturday at 2 p.m., joined by fellow local MPMFers Goose.
If you dig rootsy, swaggering Rock & Roll with dagger melodies, hit up both gigs and grab a disc. If you’re a cheapskate, reps from the band will be handing out sampler discs featuring songs from the new album throughout the festival. For even more of a preview, go to www.myspace.com/sparrowbellows.
• Eagle to Squirrel will probably be one of the more unique acts you’ll catch at MidPoint (or most any festival, really). Also going by the fitting name The Eagle to Squirrel Variety Hour, the eclectic performance art/spoken word/Electronic/Jazz/ Hip Hop/Soul/Dance squad is releasing its debut CD, Werk, in conjunction with its Friday MPMF show at The Subway. The band — whose enticing sonic stew brings to mind an ADDafflicted Beck on a multi-media art bender — will also likely put on one of the more entertaining live shows of MPMF. So come for the CD, stay for the performance. (eagletosquirrel.com)
• If you’re a fan of classics-informed Pop/Rock music done flawlessly, Paper Airplane — a group with roots/ties all over Ohio, including Cincinnati — is the band to catch this MPMF. The band has been a highlight of MPMFs past, thanks to its jubilant, hyper-catchy take on the best melodic Pop/Rock made in the last 40 years or so, spun together dynamically and with such authority it comes off as remarkably fresh and not just some nostalgic trip down Abbey Road and Penny Lane. The band’s latest release, White Elephants, continues the Airplane’s tradition of crafting addicting songs that will burrow into your brain and sign a two-year lease. The band’s Saturday night MPMF show at The Lodge Bar will serve as Paper Airplane’s Cincinnati release party. (www.myspace.com/therealpaperairplane)
• Finally, Buffalo Killers — a fave of The Black Crowes and Black Keys (plus other bands without the word Black in their names) — are working on a new album with hopes of having it out before the end of the year. But until then, the group is releasing a new single (“Huma Bird” backed with “Spend My Last Breath”) which is available for download at all major online retailers and will be sold as a vinyl 7-inch at the band’s Web site and shows, hopefully including the Buffalos’ Saturday headlining performance at Newport’s Southgate House. If you’d like to taste it before you buy, “Huma Bird” has been made available as a free download (for a limited time) through the band’s Web site: buffalokillers.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: firstname.lastname@example.org