I wanted to chime in on two fun events from the opening night of the 2009 MidPoint Music Festival that not many people saw: the kick-off shows on Fountain Square and Deke Dickerson at the Southgate House.
The Young Republic at the Blue Wisp after playing Fountain Square
Rain kept the Fountain Square crowd down, obviously, but the two bands who performed (Shanya Zaid & the Catch from New York and The Young Republic from Nashville) were energetic, happy to be in Cincinnati and ready for their regular club showcases later in the evening. The sound, provided by ICB Audio, was excellent.
Guerilla "Flash Dance"
Between the acts, the Fine Arts Fund organized a guerilla "flash dance" for about 150 or so supporters, who "spontaneously" burst into a choreographed routine set to recorded music from local original bands. It was a play off of the concept you've probably seen in YouTube clips from train stations and other public places in Europe. Apparently the Fine Arts Fund group had been rehearsing for weeks but did a great job keeping the whole thing secret.
UPDATE: The Fine Arts Fund has posted video of the "flash dance" here.
I saw a few showcases in Over-the-Rhine during the first few slots: Serenity Fischer at Coffee Emporium, The Elms at Grammer's, The Sleeping Sea at the Segway Room and Vanity Theft at Know Theatre. The crowds were actually pretty good considering it was a Thursday and raining. I was impressed with the universally good sound I heard, particularly in the Grammer's tent and the retail Segway store.
I then drove over the Newport to see guitar hero Deke Dickerson, but unfortunately I was one of the few who did, as the show drew only 40-50 people in the Southgate House ballroom. Dickerson was undeterred, commenting several times that the Southgate House was one of his favorite venues anywhere in the U.S. and that he appreciated that we braved the weather and the MidPoint distractions on the other side of the river to come see him.
He was backed by a trio from Chicago, The Modern Sounds, who were young, clean-cut and amazing versatile. They opened the show with a short set of their own, playing several tunes with Cincinnati connections and impressing with their knowledge of King Records, James Brown and Hank Ballard. Dickerson then joined the boys for a set of Western Swing, R&B, Jazz, Boogie Woogie, Honky Tonk, classic Country and whatever else he wanted to throw in. He combined his own songs with a slew of obscure tunes from Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Conway Twitty.
Dickerson took to the drum kit after an audience member requested a "stripper song" in response to Dickerson's reminiscing about past trips to Newport. His bandmates started into a classic '50s sounding stripper melody, but Dickerson stopped them, broke down a funky beat and started singing, "I like big butts and I cannot lie..." "I guarantee you that's what they're playing this very second over at the Brass Ass," he said.
Now that we're into our second year combining Southgate House shows with the MidPoint lineup, it's clear that there's just not a lot of audience overlap. It's difficult to expect MPMF wristband holders to see a bunch of showcases downtown and then hop over to Newport for a late show at the Southgate, what with driving (after drinking) and then finding another parking space.
I know we've tried to recruit other Newport venues to join the fun, to no avail. So far, at least. Maybe next year some Newport bars will step up and help us create a MidPoint loop over there so the Southgate House will feel like it's included in the MPMF mayhem.