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Ed Conley 1927-2012

By Mike Breen · January 25th, 2012 · Spill It
Covington native and legendary bassist on numerous crucial sessions done for Cincinnati’s King Records, Ed Conley, passed away on Jan. 5 at the age of 84. Following the private memorial for family a couple of weeks ago, friends and admirers this Thursday will gather at the Gwen Mooney Funeral Home (inside Spring Grove Cemetery at 4521 Spring Grove Ave.) at 1 p.m. for a public ceremony. The memorial will, of course, feature music performed by Conley’s friends, so expect it to be more of a celebration of the bassist’s life and his major contributions to music rather than a some sorrowful affair. 

Conley was the go-to session bassist for King Records during its heyday in the ’50s/’60s, performing on numerous recordings for the historic label, including songs that became standards, like Hank Ballard & The Midnighters’ original version of “The Twist” and Little Willie John’s “Fever,” which Peggy Lee turned into a smash hit. If King Records was the petri dish for Rock & Roll — its unsegregated approach freeing up the artists to explore uncharted territory and crossover to a wider audience — then Ed Conley deserves major credit for his role in shaping the bottom-end. 

Conley went on to play Jazz all over town on a regular basis, transferring his “go-to bassist” role to the local Jazz scene. In recent years, he performed with Billie Walker and his longtime friend (and King rhythm-section partner) Phillip Paul at the Cincinnatian Hotel, a gig he kept right up until he passed. Conley had also been involved in various projects aimed at preserving the legacy of King (and Cincinnati’s rich musical history in general).

Bill Hulsizer, founder of the Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation, had recently brought Conley and Paul into some area schools to talk about music and introduce the King legacy to a new generation. 

A hearty “R.I.P.” to a true local legend.

Rumors, Lies and General Misunderstandings

• Six-piece Indie Folk ensemble Merely the Mocs celebrates the release of its new EP, A Cynic’s Prayer, Saturday at Rohs Street Café (245 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights). The group is joined by Indigo Wild, Sun Country and Humming House for the 8 p.m. show. Cover charge is $5, which includes your very own copy of A Cynic’s Prayer. (www.facebook.com/merelythemocs)

• Local radio station ClassX (available at 89.1 and 88.9 FM or online at classxradio.com) is presenting a benefit concert Sunday to help raise money to buy new equipment for the station. One of the few outlets on the radio dial to support local music in the area (long-running show Kindred Sanction, which plays only local music, airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m.), ClassX isn’t trying to upgrade to anything fancy — the FCC is requiring the station to purchase the new equipment in order to deliver emergency alerts, as well as Amber Alerts. Since ClassX is a non-profit and sees itself as a community radio station, it has come to the public for help. Sunday’s benefit at the club Win Place or Show (7121 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield) runs 1-9 p.m. and features 12 local acts, including Dallas Moore, Kenny Greco, Matt Williamson, T. Bowlin, Lemon Sky, After Midnight, Bad Habit, The Cincinnati Sinners, Devil’s Due and 1330. Admission is a $10 donation.

• Popular veteran rockers Prizoner (which, save a few years in the ’90s, has had a presence in the local music scene for the past 32 years) performs a special concert Saturday night at MVP Sports Bar & Grille (6923 Plainfield Road, Silverton), former home to beloved Rock club Never on Sundays (which the band played often). Though largely a cover band now, the band is treating longtime fans to a full-album performance of its debut, Young and Rejected, which will be played as part of the group’s first set. Showtime is 9:30 p.m., but a big turnout is expected so you may want to arrive early. (prisoner.com)

• This Saturday, Mayday (4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside) hosts “Rock Notes for College Hopes: A Project REACH Benefit Show.” The event will include raffles and other opportunities to give (there is no cover charge), plus some great music by local Indie bands Frontier Folk Nebraska, Evans Collective and self-described “Party Blues Pop Rock” quintet LZRPNY. Proceeds will go to the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative’s Project REACH and its “Spring Break College Tour” program for local public high school juniors and seniors. (Learn more at www.cycyouth.org.) The fundraiser begins at 8 p.m.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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