It’s hard to believe that the BRINK New Music Showcase will celebrate a decade of spotlighting up-and-coming local music with this Saturday’s event. This year, BRINK becomes a free event and, for the first time, moves from the three stages of the Southgate House to five stages at four venues in Northside (Mayday, Shake It Records, The Comet and Northside Tavern, where both the front-room and back-room stages will be used).
It may seem self-congratulatory (CityBeat operates BRINK as a cousin-event to the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards), but if you take a look at past BRINK participants, it’s hard to deny that it has been a crystal-ball-ish indicator of future big shots on the local scene. BRINK alumni include The Sundresses, Bad Veins, Kim Taylor, Buffalo Killers, The Lions Rampant, The Tillers, Wussy, The Seedy Seeds, Pomegranates, Daniel Martin Moore and Eat Sugar — all artists that have not only grown large local fanbases but have received national (and sometimes international) attention.
So who from the BRINK Class of 2010 will emerge as Cincinnati’s next great musical export? As George W. Bush likes to say, history will be the judge. But all of them appear to have the potential.
Below is the full lineup with Web links (click the artist's name to get there) so you can check ‘em out now before you check ‘em all out Saturday.
NORTHSIDE TAVERN (BACK ROOM)
12 a.m. Pop Empire
Up for the “New Artist” trophy at this year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, Pop Empire is the duo of Cameron Cochran (of The Sheds and Lions Rampant fame) and Henry Wilson. The twosome’s Electro-fied Art Rock/Pop (showcased on the Rainy Child EP, available for free download at the band’s site) was immediately embraced when they debuted at the start of 2010. A full-length is currently in the works.
11 p.m. Soapland
Also battling for the “New Artist” CEA, Soapland features a lineup of local Indie music veterans, including past/present members of Roundhead, The Wolverton Brothers, (in)camera and Viva La Foxx. Our own Brian Baker describes the Electronica-tinged rockers (currently working on an EP release) as “Cindy Wilson of The B-52s fronting the resurrected Flying Lizards and beating Brian Eno with an olive branch.”
10 p.m. The Skeetones
Up for the “New Artist” and “Electronic” CEAs this year, The Skeetones’ organic Electronica (with influence from Dupstep, Downtempo, Hip Hop and Acid House) has garnered the band regional attention (they’ve already been invited to a few big fests based on word-of-mouth acclaim). Though certainly an Electronic act, don’t expect two dudes hiding behind laptops. This is a real band (drums, bass, guitar, keys) with an Electro base from which they build improvised jams. Check the band’s site for a link to a free download of their Techtonics EP.
9 p.m. Acarya
This quartet’s acoustic-based Rock sound has a trance-like pull thanks to the prevalence of World music grooves and the group’s wide-open songwriting. The percussion-heavy band — which also features expressive vocals and even a cello from time to time — is described as “a cross between Led Zeppelin and Rusted Root.”
NORTHSIDE TAVERN (FRONT ROOM)
High Heels is a project from Austin Brown (formerly frontman for Staggering Statistics), developed when he moved to Berlin. After much recording, the live band (with members of Wussy, Cash Flagg and The Chocolate Horse) made its Cincy debut at this year’s MidPoint Music Festival. Fans who miss the quirky, creative Indie Rock songs Brown wrote for Staggering Statistics will thoroughly enjoy the singer/guitarist’s new kick.
10:30 p.m. Sacred Spirits
When guitarist Josh Kufeldt left Indie Pop heroes Pomegranates due to creative differences, there was little doubt he’d emerge with his own project. Indeed, this summer, Kufeldt and pals Ben Lehman and Sam Cowan formed Sacred Spirits. With an edgier, trippier, somewhat more experimental slant on Indie Pop, the band’s forthcoming debut studio effort was partially recorded in Brooklyn with French Kicks frontman Nick Stumpf.
9:30 p.m. Fake Hands
Fake Hands is a rotating collective with songs that blend Pop elements into a Post Rock base. The band (which features 3-7 players live) has been doing things D.I.Y. style, booking tours throughout the Midwest and East Coast and putting out two releases on their own (their Skeleton Songs EP was picked up for distribution this year by Dedicated Records). The group hopes to have a new cassette-release ready by BRINK.
10:30 p.m. Painwater
Supergroup, anyone? Painwater is a Folk/Americana project formed by singer/songwriter Wm. “Billy Catfish” Furbee and featuring Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver, The Fairmount Girls’ Melissa Fairmount and Steve Girton, former frontman of Sistern, longtime live and studio engineer and current member of the Fairmounts.
9:30 p.m. Andy Gabbard
When not recording or touring with Buffalo Killers alongside his brother Zach, singer/songwriter/guitarist Andy Gabbard has been performing solo acoustic shows around town with a folksier Pop/Rock edge than the Buffs’ electrifying Psych Rock.
8:30 p.m. The Cincy Brass
One of the more outrageously fun shows of this year’s MidPoint Music Festival was provided by The Cincy Brass, which didn’t fail on their promise of bringing a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere to Arnold’s during their jubilant set. The funky group of horn players is becoming beloved for the members’ arrangements of everything from “When the Saints Go Marching In” to unexpected reworkings of modern Pop songs by the likes of Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga.
12:15 a.m. Leopard Messiah
This new five-piece Garage Pop outfit formed last year but spent a lot of time writing and honing their sound before playing live, which they finally did in grand style recently, opening for The Greenhornes’ huge homecoming show. With former members of Eat Sugar, The Griefs, The Vergins and White Girls, plus influences like The Kinks, The Sonics and Love, the band’s first recordings are available now through its Web site.
11:15 p.m. Two Headed Dog
Leopard Messiah’s Ross Dolan might just be the busiest man at BRINK this year besides organizer Dan McCabe, as he’s also playing with his other new band, Two Headed Dog. He’s joined by his former bandmate in The Virgins, singer Victor Valentino, as well as former Thee Shams drummer Andy Fox and bassist Chard Hardwick. “Gritty-grimy-Blues-Psych-Rock music?” they ask on their MySpace bio. Judging from the raw, dirty demo posted, that question gets a big ol’ yes.
10:15 p.m. Monkeytonk
CityBeat’s Brian Baker is a legend in the field of writing clever, insightful blurbs for the MidPoint Music Festival guide, so I’ll defer to him for this one. From this year’s MPMF guide: “MonkeyTonk is a group of obvious Rock & Roll journeymen of a certain age, they’ve clearly paid their dues and now they’re making some fairly glorious Americana that gene splices the swampy electric slink of Sonny Landreth and the balls-out Midwestern chug of John Hiatt, with flecks of Warren Zevon and Little Feat tossed in for good measure.”
9:15 p.m. The Dukes
The Dukes were formed out of the members’ desire to start a no-nonsense, straight-up, gritty and raw Rock & Roll band. They even describe themselves as “the forerunners of the rebirth of Rock & Roll,” taking inspiration from ’60s Rock pioneers and today’s Garage Rock masters.
1 a.m. The Guitars
Though some of this band's members’ earlier groups were noted for a nihilistic, punkish assault (especially Death in Graceland), The Guitars was formed around a mutual love for ’50s and ’60s Pop music as well as the soulful, creative studio musicians of classic Motown and Phil Spector sessions. While the members all pull time in other bands, they’re staying busy with a few Guitars studio projects which should see the light of day very soon.
12 a.m. The Kickaways
With swaggering energy and unrestrained enthusiasm, The Kickaways sound like they could’ve formed in 1976 and been an early CBGB’s band. But the quartet actually got together initially in February of this year. The band’s self-described “loud, kickass Rock & Roll” should be like crack for fans that miss the raw intensity of the earliest Stooges and Patti Smith Group output.
11 p.m. Shiny Old Soul
This trio features members of the Gregory Morris Band, including Mr. Morris himself on vocals, guitar and “banjitar” (it’s exactly what you think it is), plus drummer Katherine Monnig and bassist Mike Sadoff. The band formed out of the players’ desire to develop a more intimate, rootsier approach, resulting in a jazzy, folksy, acoustic-based Rock sound and lots of gigs on the local club front. The band describes itself thusly: “One part Jazz, one part Folk, one part Punk, one part Rock, but it's really all about the songs.”
10 p.m. Zachary Burns Band
The Zachary Burns Band is just singer/guitarist Burns and drummer Marshall Bertram, but the duo’s full-bodied tornado of Blues and Rock has enough inherent power and soulfulness for an octet. Like that other Ohio Blues duo, The Black Keys (or non-Ohians Led Zeppelin, for that matter), Burns and Bertram take their vintage Blues inspirations and inject them with a fiery, modern spirit.