In 2006, Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner of The National launched the MusicNOW festival, bringing unique and creative artists and Indie music heavyweights to his hometown for a unique and subsequently much-anticipated springtime event. MusicNOW has featured headlining artists like Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, The Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Kronos Quartet, Joanna Newsom and St. Vincent, but, while Dessner has performed at the fest several times (including with his Chamber ensemble Clogs), has never played. That changes this year. With a global profile as high as it’s ever been, The National will headline MusicNOW 2011’s final night, May 15.
Since moving to Brooklyn to launch The National over a decade ago, the Cincinnatians that comprise the band have found themselves in one of the biggest acts in Indie music. Their most recent album, High Violet, was a favorite on “Best of 2010” lists (it came in at No. 15 on Rolling Stone’s) and won Best Album at the Q Awards show in England. Earlier this year, they were nominated for a Brit Award for “International Breakthrough Act” (they lost to Justin Bieber). The National is headlining the biggest venues of its career and has been touring with Grammy shockers The Arcade Fire, including a string of dates in April.
While the May 13 and 14 dates will be held in MusicNOW’s regular home, Memorial Hall, The National show will be at the venue’s much bigger neighbor, Music Hall.
Indie Folk singer/songwriter Sharon van Etten is also on the bill.
MusicNOW has always been more than just a bunch of bands playing a concert, lending itself to more unique collaborations and presentations, so it will be interesting to see what The National and the rest of the participants offer up this year. The May 13 lineup features Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond with yMusic, a modern Chamber ensemble that has worked with the likes of Bjork, Peter Gabriel and David Byrne and will perform a commissioned piece in the name of late local SCPA student Esme Kennedy written by The Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. MusicNOW’s May 14 lineup includes Owen Pallett (better known to Indie fans as Final Fantasy), Electronic musician Tim Hecker and Little Scream, aka Indie Folk singer/songwriter Laurel Sprengelmeyer.
MusicNOW tickets go on sale March 15. Get ticket links and further details here.
More Local Notes
• Elementz Hip Hop Youth Arts Center, which provides a creative outlet for teens and young adults through workshops and performance opportunities, is presenting a special concert in honor of its sixth birthday. The “Don’t Fear the Unknown” show Thursday at 20th Century Theatre in Oakley will showcase the talents of young DJs, rappers, singers, dancers and graffiti artists from Elementz, as well as several established performers, including MC Forty, Wonder Brown, Moxy, Buggs Tha Rocka, Nitty Morris, Ill Poetic, Piakhan, Agape Alive, DJ Apryl Reign and more. For tickets and more details on the show and the center (which won a 2010 Pepsi Refresh Project grant), visit elementz.org.
• Progressive, eclectic Bluegrass band The Tadcasters is the “Artist in Residence” at the Southgate House for March, performing each Wednesday this month at 9 p.m. in the venue’s Juney’s Lounge. The band is joined by various guests throughout the run of free shows; this week, it’s guitarist Eric Evans. (www.thetadcasters.com)
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