It's another Friday full of quality options for those wishing to experience music in a live setting tonight. If Jazz is your thang, the Blue Wisp is your Friday night spot, as Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey performs at the downtown club's new space at the corner of Race and Seventh streets. JFJO — which has a wide-ranging fan base of Jam band fanatics and Jazz lovers — is doing a smattering of tour dates in support of its intriguing conceptual album, Race Riot Suite, written and arranged by the group's lap steel guitarist Chris Combs. The project is described as "a long-form conceptual piece that tells the devastating story of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, a real estate-driven ethnocide occurring under the guise of citizen-dispensed justice. The oil-elite, civic government and local press colluded to take advantage of a racially tense climate in Jim Crow-era Oklahoma, resulting in the death of hundreds of black Tulsans and the destruction of an entire city district."
It's hard not to make a connection to other "race riots" throughout America, including those here in Cincinnati (and it's fitting that the group will be performing selections from the project on Race St.). The album has been JFJO's most acclaimed piece of work yet, drawing praise everywhere from the L.A. Times to NPR to Huffington Post.
JFJO has started releasing solo piano and remixed versions of material taken from the Race Riot album weekly. Click here for more info and/or check out the video preview below.
Tonight's Blue Wisp show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $15 (while they last).
• Cleveland duo Mr. Gnome has been visiting the Cincinnati area for the past several years, so local music fans have been able to watch the development and sharpening of the twosome's compelling sound. Mr. Gnome began as a harder-edged experimental powerhouse and has grown into a truly unique, broadly dynamic Indie/ArtRock duo, one of the more interesting "new" bands on the AltRock scene today. Rolling Stone noticed, making the group one of its "Bands to Watch" based on the strength of its diverse LP Madness in Miniature, which came out late last year.
The band has also made some stunning music videos the past couple of years. Below, check out the trailer for its forthcoming music vid, "House of Circles," described as a surrealistic "live action interpretation of a sci-fi graphic novel" featuring the characters from Madness' cover art (warning: It's creepy as hell). The group is releasing a digital single, the B-side of which premiered this week on MTV Hive (listen here).
The band performs a free show tonight in Northside at Mayday with local openers Fake Hands. (Shows usually start around 10 p.m.)
• If Bluegrass is more your speed, the Madison Theater has two of the best of the new wave of ’Grass heroes — Yonder Mountain String Band and The Infamous Stringdusters — tonight at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the all ages show are $22.50.
What would the world be like if plastic Pop groups were replaced with members who are actually innovative and able to play instruments, like the members of YMSB? Our Deirdre Kaye has a theory (click here).
Wanna warm up before the show? Perhaps cool down afterwards? Stanley's Pub has you covered, hosting Cincy's young Bluegrass rascals the Rumpke Mountain Boys for fans who want to hang out pre-game and post-game.
Here's a YMSB montage set to a live track recorded just weeks ago in Arkansas:
Click the jump for more, including details about the sold-out Black Keys show and your Reggae headquarters this weekend.
• As we told you earlier this week, tonight's kick-off for Akron duo The Black Keys' first-ever arena tour at U.S. Bank Arena has sold out. But if you were lucky enough to nab tickets, you're in for a treat from both The Keys (who notched their first Rolling Stone magazine cover this year as well) and the opening act, U.K. sensations Arctic Monkeys.
Unlike The White Stripes and other duos who have resisted adding other musicians for live shows, The Black Keys will have a full backing crew with them on stage tonight. Here they are with full band on Letterman late last year to give you an idea of what to expect.
• Finally, The Mad Frog is your Reggae headquarters tonight as several artists take part in the 12th annual Bob Marley Festival at the Corryville hot spot. The lineup includes longtime Ohio Reggae legends The Ark Band, as well as The Lioness, The Flex Crew, Milton Blake, The Demolision Crew, Jr. Mark, Lady Jewel, Avalanche Sound and many others. Showtime is 9 p.m. and admission is $17 at the door.
Originally from the Caribbean (St. Lucia), The Ark Band has been a constant on the Reggae circuit since 1987. The group mixes original material with covers, including plenty of Marley songs. Check 'em out below doing "Three Little Birds" live a couple of years ago: