Music Tonight: Call it the New Wisp Jazz Club — iconic local Jazz venue the Blue Wisp reopens today at its new location at the corner of Race and Seventh streets, following its move over the past week from its old digs on Eighth Street. I’m psyched about the new location for selfish reasons — because it’s so close to CityBeat’s world headquarters (if you’re looking for a staffer after 5 p.m., check the new club’s bar area). Looking out the window by my cubicle, I can see that the hideously ugly sign from when the restaurant Bagpipes was in the space is still hanging up (for the record, purple, lime green and orange NEVER go together unless you are making pottery in a Southwestern desert). And The Blob that is Greater Cincinnati construction crews decided it was a good week to swarm Race Street … right in front of the new Wisp (leaving traffic down to just one lane). But the show must go on and the Wisp is on track to re-open today at 4:30 p.m.
The Wisp’s new location is larger and, according to a note on its website, will enable to club to "bring in more national Jazz acts to supplement our great local and regional talent.” The Wisp owners are also taking advantage of the kitchen area (Tommy Malone, who used to be at Mesh and Mt. Adams’ Fish House, is running things on the restaurant end) and one of the largest bar areas downtown. The restaurant won’t be ready for a month or two; it will also be several weeks before the larger performance area will open. (The club is offering a “VIP Membership” that includes various tiers of perks; check out the details here.)
But the bar area (and its live music bookings) is ready for business. The Ellen Rowe/Ingrid Jensen Quintet has the honor of being the first act to play the new Wisp. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. tonight ($10 cover). At 12:30 a.m., local bluesman Delbert Williams offers some late-night Blues, if you want to stop in for a nightcap and check out the new space (no cover charge).
UPDATE: The construction crew is gone! The old, ugly sign — still there.
• While we’re on the topic of new yet familiar clubs, tonight would be a good time to also check out the new venue occupying the space in Covington formerly home to popular music club The Mad Hatter. Bangarang’s of Covington took over the spot late last year and is offering regular shows in line with the bookings of the Hatter. And it’s still friendly to music lovers of all ages. Tonight, the club welcomes Scottsboro, Ala., Posi Punk crew Latin For Truth and Chicago Pop/Punk/Hardcore band So Many Ways. Doors open at 6 p.m. (The bands Overpower, The Creature and Against the Ropes also perform.) Below, check out the music video for the title track from Latin For Truth’s album Youth Crew Blues.
• Rohs Street Café in Clifton Heights is hosting a showcase for local artist-friendly, non-profit record label Best Friends Records. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and is open to all ages. The $5 cover charge goes to help label operations. The lineup features Alex Evans and Vulgar Pigeons, Flowers For Judith, Luke Glaser and The White Bear Principle, Hot Monarchy, Vivid Youth, The Yugos, Come Here Watson, Plastic Inevitables and a reunion appearance by the band Starfox. Click here for more on the label. Below, check out Come Here Watson’s tune “Cute Little Mess” (you can download this and several CHW songs here).
• Win, Place or Show in Fairfield is giving local original music a chance tonight, welcoming Second Chance at Eden, Atlantis Becoming, Livid and Killer Star Effect to the venue at 9:30 p.m. Maybe you should take a chance on Win, Place or Show in return? Cover charge is just $5. Here’s a clip of Second Chance at Eden performing their song “The End” live.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for January 6
On this day in 1976, Peter Frampton’s life changed forever as his double live album, Frampton Comes Alive!, was first available in record shops (to our young readers, those are like the iTunes store only in real buildings). The album topped the charts for 10 weeks and remained on the album charts for a stunning 97 weeks, turning Frampton into a bonafide superstar.
Frampton (who lives in the Cincinnati area still, even after his recent divorce from his Cincinnatian wife) was just in the headlines after he became one of the highest profile music stars to file a lawsuit against his record label over unpaid digital royalties, a problem that is annoying a lot of musicians and will likely come to a boil in 2012.
But, on a more upbeat note, Frampton also recently made the news when he was “reunited” with his favorite guitar, a custom Gibson Les Paul that he thought was lost forever when the cargo plane carrying it crashed in 1980. According to The New York Times, the guitar was “saved” from the plane as it burned and sold on the Caribbean island of Curacao. He finally got his axe back after a two-year “negotiation” with its previous “owner.”
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers born Jan. 6 include: Bluegrass legend (and Cincinnati regular, back in the day) Earl Scruggs (1924); Fabulous Thunderbirds vocalist Kim Wilson (1951); lesser-known Hank Williams offspring, Jett Williams (1953); lesser-known Young brother from AC/DC, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young (1953); and Pink Floyd’s original driving creative force Syd Barrett (1946).
Barrett famously “disappeared” after leaving Floyd and releasing minimal solo work, hermitting away due to alleged substance abuse damage and other mental health issues. But he left behind some amazing Psychedelic Pop music that, while perhaps not as influential as what Pink Floyd became, is still inspiring young musicians to this day. In honor of what would have been Syd’s 66th birthday (he died in 2006 from cancer), enjoy one of my faves, “Late Night.”