In the late ’90s, reportedly inspired while watching a pianist play Stephen Sondheim songs in a New York City cabaret bar, singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt decided he wanted to get into writing for musical theater. As legend has it, Merritt decided he’d write a hundred love songs and present them as a musical revue performed by drag queens. Merritt decided 100 might be a bit much, so he whittled it down to 69 songs.
While the musical revue Merritt initially envisioned never materialized, his concept resulted in one of the more critically acclaimed albums of the past 20 years. Merritt and his band The Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs as a three-CD set on Merge Records in September 1999. The sprawling, genre-hopping album was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and its legacy has only grown with time.
The Magnetic Fields did perform the entire concept album in full on a handful of occasions, individual songs have been covered by the likes of Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold and Peter Gabriel and, in late 2012, several musical acts from Minnesota performed the album in its entirety.
This Friday for Valentine’s Day, more than a dozen area artists will perform 69 Love Songs in full at Northside Tavern (4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northside-tavern.com). Scheduled to begin just after 8:15 p.m., the show will raise money for The ALS Association (alsa.org), which helps raise awareness about (and find a cure for) ALS, a neurodegenerative disease also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Organizers are calling the concert The Night I Can’t Forget, a play on the title of 69 track “The Night You Can’t Remember.” The show is free to attend; money will be raised via various raffles of items donated for the cause.
Artists slated to appear include former Seedy Seeds member Margaret Darling, dynamic Rock/Roots group Maurice Mattei & the Tempers, engaging Dream Pop trio Little Lights, rockers The Ready Stance, masterful Power Pop singer/songwriter Roger Klug, evocative “Alt Western” crew Mack West, veteran Alt Rock outfit Tonefarmer, Indie ensemble for algernon and Boogie Woogie Blues piano genius Ricky Nye.
Also participating are singer/songwriter Eric Diedrichs (who records as cari clara and currently resides in Lexington, Ky.), Brad Stenz (former frontman of local major-label greats Moth and current member of the cover band Cover Model), Nathan Peters (singer/keyboardist for Dayton-based local faves Captain of Industry), Royal Holland (the new project from former Koala Fires frontman Matt Mooney), Dayton area acoustic duo The Orchard Brothers and Optigrab, a group put together for the 69 event featuring members of the cari clara live band, Pidgin and the Roger Klug Power Trio.
For full details about The Night I Can’t Forget, visit thenighticantforget.com.
• Last year, musician and local music supporter Mark Borison began presenting shows around town that showcased a variety of new, up-and-coming talent at a variety of venues. To help artists break through what he calls “the inherent clique-y nature of the local music scene” and introduce them to new venues and fans, Borison and some friends began booking shows based on a theme (like the Christmastime “Shoulda Brought a Sweater Fest” at Bogart’s this past December), gradually building a stronger following with each event.
This Saturday, Borison’s promo collective The Mark and Friends will present its Valentine’s Day Rebound Show at Molly Malone’s (112 E. Fourth St., Covington, Ky., covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com). The lineup features SSD Engage (a Chiptune act that creates music live on their Game Boys), Jesse and the Ripoffs (who do Rock covers of Pop hits), Rock/Pop/Hip Hop band See You in the Funnies, rockers The Last Troubadour and a pair of area Hip Hop groups — Cliq’n Ent and High N Mighty.
Showtime is 8:30 p.m. and admission is $5. For more info, go to facebook.com/TheMarkandFriends.
• Cincinnati is once again participating in World Sound Healing Day (WSHD), an event dubbed a “sonic Valentine for the Earth” that features numerous events and thousands of participants all over the world. Started 12 years ago, it’s an interesting concept (if a little hippy-dippy) based on the idea that numerous people simultaneously creating sonic vibrations across the globe will lead to some form of “planetary peace and healing.” WSHD kicks off at noon Friday, when organizers ask that everyone “sound forth” with a projected “Ah” tone for five minutes.
At 7 p.m. Friday, a local World Sound Healing Day event featuring numerous local musicians will take place at Grace Episcopal Church (5501 Hamilton Ave., College Hill). Musicians participating include Ron Esposito (who is also MCing the event), Billy Larkin, Baoku Moses, Janice Sunflower, Johnny Ruzsa, Rob Dorsey, Jenna Schroer and numerous others. Admission is $10.
The official WSHD site — worldsoundhealingday.org — has more information on the concept and many of the global events being held in conjunction (including the one in College Hill). Click here for the Facebook event page.