Last night, the music of Cincinnati — past, present and future — was on glorious display at Covington's Madison Theater. Yes, we realize it's a little weird to have the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (which celebrated its 13th birthday last night) in Kentucky. But the Madison provided a more casual "Rock & Roll" atmosphere than past years' events, so, just as airport developers did in the ’40s, we've decided to claim Covington as Cincinnati, at least for one night.
The "bar" ambiance (and lack of a smoking ban in Kentucky) kept everyone off the sidewalks and in the venue, though we're certain many woke up this morning with the old "my clothes and hair smell like smoke" complaints. Fear not: Official CEA2010 gasmasks and Hazmat suits are being produced as you read this.
The Lions Rampant — dressed in war-paint and American-Indian-gone-thrift-shopping attire — opened the night with a sizzling set of raw, bleeding Rock & Soul, setting the swaggering pace for the city's most fun and unique awards program. All of the live performances were top-notch and represented an impressive cross-section of Cincinnati's music scene — from II Juicy's slinky, sassy R&B and You, You're Awesome's Cubist adventures in Electronica to Brian Olive's ’60s-spiked Soul/Rock (featuring a great backing band of local Indie Rock performers, mostly from the band The High & Low), Small Time Crooks' highly entertaining mix of Rock, Hip Hop and Pop and Magnolia Mountain's transcendent take on Americana.
The CEAs have always been about current music-makers and the next wave of new favorites, but Cincinnati's rich and influential music history was also celebrated. Folks from the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation — who earlier in the day helped install a historical marker at 811 Race St., site of the pioneering Herzog studio facilities — talked about Hank Williams' (and others') crucial time spent in Cincinnati recording and also gave props to "Funky Drummer" Clyde Stubblefield, the man whose flawless break-beat on James Brown's Cincy-recorded "The Funky Drummer" gives Cincinnati an important place in Hip Hop history (Stubblefield's beat is the most sampled ever in Hip Hop). Former local politician (and noble arts supporter) Jim Tarbell also updated the audience on the re-birth of King Records as a recording/education/museum facility near Xavier's campus in Evanston.
Slideshow of the Herzog Studio marker dedication and the Music CEAs show.