In 2007, upon his retirement from the local airwaves, Cincinnati radio legend Gary Burbank and several area cohorts got together to form Play It Forward, a nonprofit organization set up to raise money for musicians in times of hardship. Ever since, Play It Forward has presented various benefit events throughout the year and helped numerous area musicians through hard times.
The concept of the organization is in its name. Musicians, especially full-time ones, toil away in a risky occupation (no 401k, no health insurance, etc.) just to entertain us; the least we can do is lend them a hand when things get bleak.
Play It Forward raises funds through direct donations and events like benefit concerts and raffles. This Saturday at Covington’s Madison Theater (madisontheateronline.com), a new compilation album for Play It Forward will be released in conjunction with performances by several of the featured artists.
The Passion and Compassion compilation was put together by Dutch-born engineer/producer Erwin Musper, known for his work with superstars like Van Halen, Scorpions, Elton John and David Bowie (among many others). Musper eloquently explains his attraction to the project in Passion and Compassion’s liner notes.
“Almost by default, musicians are sensitive, passionate and poor,” Musper writes. “It takes a deep conviction to choose a path of creative fulfillment and uncertainty over a steady paycheck. Some people think it is a stupid choice but I see them as heroes.”
“Everyone has a favorite song or singer,” he continues. “I don’t know anyone who swoons about his favorite lawyer. (Yet) almost every musician I have worked with in this city scrambles to get by — no healthcare or safety net.”
The 19-track compilation includes Cincinnati-area music veterans like The Newbees, Tracy Walker and Messerly & Ewing, as well as artists like A Continuous Now, Chaselounge, Chakras, Acarya, Giant Wow, One Horse and The Getaway.
The album also features a track from Tajči, a popular Croatian singer who now resides in Cincinnati, as well as a pair of cuts from two beloved bands from Cincy music’s relatively recent past — Oval Opus and Noctaluca.
Headlining Saturday’s benefit release party are two artists with national (and international) name recognition, both of whom are also featured on the compilation. Noah Hunt, who has been the lead singer for acclaimed Blues/Rock crew The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band since the mid-’90s (earning Platinum albums and several Grammy nominations), offers up the song “Tied Down” to Passion and Compassion (it originally appeared on Hunt’s 2009 collaborative album with guitarist Jason Dennie, All the Dark Things). Hunt will perform at the Madison Theater show with the 420 All-Stars, a band of local pals he rocks out with whenever he’s playing in town.
One of Cincinnati’s great musical success stories of late has been the rise of Alt/Dance/Pop quartet Walk the Moon. The band — which is currently working on the follow-up up to its self-titled debut album for RCA Records — donated the track “Fixin’” to the Play It Forward compilation. The band will play Saturday’s release concert, but with a twist. Instead of a set of WTM tunes, the musicians will perform as Kaleidoscope Space Tribe, the Talking Heads cover band the group has transformed into for special occasions (like the most recent Bonnaroo festival, where WTM did a surprise show as KST).
Also performing Saturday are Chakras, The Newbees, Green Light Morning’s Aaron Patrick (performing Oval Opus songs with some of his former bandmates), Tracy Walker and Acarya. The all-ages show begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $20 in advance through cincyticket.com or $25 at the door. The compilation will be on sale for $10 at the show. All proceeds go to Play It Forward. Visit pifcincy.org for more on the cause.
A Hip Hop Halloween
On Thursday, Halloween night, excellent Cincinnati Hip Hop MC Buggs Tha Rocka will be joined by modern Hip Hop legend Talib Kweli as they head up a strong lineup of local acts at Over-the-Rhine’s Rhinegeist Brewery (rhinegeist.com). The “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrecting Hip Hop” show comes on the heels of Buggs and Kweli’s performance together at the huge A3C Hip Hop fest in Atlanta and the recent announcement that Kweli will executive-produce Buggs’ next album. Look for a pre-release mixtape this December from Buggs and check out a new freestyle below (click the player for a free download).
Thursday’s event starts at 8 p.m. and will also feature performances by Valley High, Macho Means, The Natives, Nuk, DJ Bandcamp and more. Advanced tickets are available for $10 through cincyticket.com; tickets will be $20 at the door.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: email@example.com, @CityBeatMusic or on Facebook here.