Cincinnati greats Wussy continue to surge into the national spotlight, playing sold-out shows across the country and continuing to garner glowing press for their spectacular Attica! album. The band also recently posted several photos of the members filming something for CBS in New York City recently (more info TBA), which should escalate its status even more (a film crew was on hand she the band played the MidPoint Music Festival recently, as well). Can’t think of a more deserved local band.
This evening you can catch the band live FOR FREE on Fountain Square as Wussy headlines this week’s happy-hour “Rocktober on the Square” series. Music starts at 5 p.m. with the fantastic Roots Rock ensemble Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound.
Here’s Wussy’s full appearance on KEXP recorded earlier this year.
• Nashville rockers Those Darlins are also a band on the rise and their fan base in Cincinnati continues to grow thanks to their repeated visits to the Queen City (and their great sound and live show). The group plays a free show at Northside Tavern tonight with guests Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s and Even Tiles. Doors open at 8 p.m.
• The two-night, “whole house” showcase at the Southgate House Revival in Newport celebrating local indie label Phratry Records kicks off tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is $5 each night. Click here and here for details. A documentary film about Phratry is currently in the works. Here’s the trailer:
• London Pop band Bastille was supposed to play at Covington’s Madison Theater back in May but cancelled and then got HUGE (or HUGER — its music had already been selling big and the band appeared on Saturday Night Live in January). So tonight the group is playing its make-up date at our riverfront arena. A review of Bastille’s recent show in Toronto said the young crowd screamed a lot.
Fellow Synth Pop band Grizfolk opens tonight’s 8 p.m. show at U.S. Bank Arena. Tickets are $29.50-$35.
• It’s looking more and more like you’ll never get a chance to see Led Zeppelin perform live and in person ever again. But tonight you can see the “American Led Zeppelin,” Get the Led Out, at the Aronoff Center. Showtime is 8 p.m .Next best thing? If you go, let us know. It’s certainly going to cost you less than what it would to see the real deal — tickets are $33-$46.
• Eclectic Americana singer/songwriter Cory Branan plays Saturday night at 10 p.m. at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery, one of the best newer live music clubs in the area. Local duo Rucca opens.
Branan has been drawing attention for his dynamic, boundless sound over the past 15 years, but his most recent album, The No-Hit Wonder, is earning him some of the best reviews of his career.
Writer Brian Baker spoke with Branan for a feature story in this week’s CityBeat. Branan said the diversity of styles that crop up in his songs just kind of happen naturally and is something never predetermined while a song is being written.
“I try not to impose on the song,” Branan says. “I end up in much more interesting places if I follow and see where it’s going. I overwrite a lot and go back with a machete instead of clippers, so I can end up three songs down from the one I started with, and that’s the interesting place for me. Then I sort of let them tell me what clothes they want to go out in, even down to the studio. Like ‘Sour Mash,’ I always pictured it as a flat-picked barnburner with fiddle and banjo, and then we were doing the record and I found out that Joe Fick, who’s a Memphis boy, was up in Nashville and he’s just the best doghouse (upright bass) player I’ve ever heard, so I was like, ‘OK, we’ll go a little more Sun Records on this one.’ I pivoted at the last minute.”
• Chicago Blues singer/songwriter/guitarist E.G. Kight performs Saturday at the DownTowne Listening Room, the intimate, “listener-friendly” new venue downtown in the historic Shillito’s building. Born in Georgie and based in Chicago, Kight is a cult favorite and has worked with everyone from B.B. King and Koko Taylor to Merle Haggard and George Jones. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 (all proceeds from shows at the Listening Room go to the performing artists).
• Legendary British Folk artist Richard Thompson plays the Dave Finkelman Auditorium on the campus of Miami University-Middletown Saturday night. Amanda Shires opens the 7:30 p.m. concert. The show is a part of Thompson's current acoustic tour in support of Acoustic Classics, an album featuring acoustic takes on some of the songwriter's favorite songs from his storied catalog. Tickets are $35 and available in advance here.
Check out Jason Gargano’s show preview for CityBeat here.
• Australian Electronic music composer/performer Ben Frost brings his tour behind his latest album A U R O R A to the Contemporary Arts Center on Sunday. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($10 for CAC members).
This is Electronica, but it’s neither conventional Electronic Dance music, pure-noise Industrial nor (solely) peacefully Ambient droning. Noirish and foreboding, thrilling and involving, it aurally paints a landscape that has been compared to Blade Runner. It unfolds for 40 minutes, like an urgent story. The music can be lulling, even comforting, in its brooding introspection, but it keeps building — it’s complicated like a symphony. Overall, it’s tough and emotional, with moments of grandeur along with reverence to minimalism.
• Some other Australian musicians will also be in town Sunday night. Psych Folk/Rock band Immigrant Union — fronted by Dandy Warhols member Brian DeBoer — plays Sunday a 10 p.m. show at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub with guests White Violet. Like all MOTR shows, it’s a freebie. DeBoer describes the 10-year-old band’s sound as “Spiritualized being (baptized) in a river of Creedence Clearwater.”
Click here for more live music events in Greater Cincinnati this weekend and feel free to promote other cool shows that were unmentioned in the comments.
Two that I highly recommend, and that I’m afraid might be overlooked because of bigger museum shows, are Emily Hanako Momohara’s Heirloom — at Downtown’s Weston Art Gallery — and David Benjamin Sherry’s Western Romance at a temporary space at 1500 Elm St. in Over-the-Rhine. Momohara’s show is up through Nov. 30 but Sherry’s ends Nov. 1.
Both use color wonderfully to make you focus on objects and/or landscapes close-up — so close-up they have a transporting, transcendent effect if you can spend enough time with them.
Sherry, an L.A. artist recently featured on The New York Times Magazine’s cover, uses color in a psychedelic way, achieving the effect he wants during processing. It gives his Western mountain and desert landscapes a glaze — a “purple haze,” in the case of “Putting Grapes Back on the Vine” — that turns physical geography into a state of mind. There are also in the show black-and-white prints by masters of Western photography — Ansel Adams, Carleton Watkins — to acknowledge Sherry’s debt and also proclaim a change.
Momohara, who taught photography at the Art Academy of Cincinnati but now is relocating to China, is using Heirloom to explore ideas about her Okinawan and Japanese ancestry. These distinctive still photographs and photograph-like videos isolate and deeply contemplate objects related to or inspired by that.
The vertically formatted pieces — like the fantastic “Gathering” video, which looks at luminescent, open-mouthed koi as they crowd around the water’s surface — seem to be moving forward a grand narrative, like scrollwork. And the more horizontal pieces, like “Mask #1,” revel in mystery through the way illuminated objects occupy space in an otherwise dark ground.
To me, these two shows are among FotoFocus’ very best — and I especially hope Momohara returns at some point with something much more extensive.
All right. It’s beautiful outside right now and I’m at a desk (as I imagine you are) with a load of election stories to write. I’m sure you’ve got your own stuff going on as well; let’s do this news thing quick so we can all be a little closer to getting to the weekend.
Are you embarrassed for Ohio yet? No? Just wait. Everyone’s favorite big-talkin’ sheriff will be representing the Greater Cincinnati area to an audience of millions soon. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is filming a segment of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, where he will tangle with host Jon Stewart. Jones is well known for his antics and sometimes factually questionable assertions. He recently tried to bill Mexico for the amount it cost Butler County to jail undocumented immigrants he alleges came from that country. He also likes to equate immigrants with crime, drugs and disease which I explored briefly a while back. Now… he’s going national.
“We’re going to be filming a segment on illegal immigration and the upcoming elections,” Jones told the Cincinnati Enquirer about the show, which he’s filming this afternoon. Can’t wait!
• Dena Cranley, wife of Mayor John Cranley, will join 14 area pastors’ wives in an effort to extend health tests and information about diseases that predominantly affect low-income urban areas, the mayor's office said in a news release today. The services will be available at area churches with financial support from Walgreens. The program is part of a national push called First Ladies Health Initiative that has already been launched in Los Angeles and Chicago. The initiative provides free screening for diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, and more.
• 3CDC will buy three buildings with 80 units of low-income housing in Over-the-Rhine on the 200 block of West 12th Street across from the Drop Inn Center and at 1301 Walnut Street. The developer says the buildings are “problem” properties, with high amounts of police calls, and that residents there want out. 3CDC says it’s helping those living in the 64 occupied units find other places to live. The developer doesn’t know what it will do with the buildings yet, but says the building on Walnut may become an expansion of nearby Mercer Commons project and could end up as mixed-income housing,. Helping low-income people find more enjoyable, safer surroundings sounds great, but a couple questions spring to mind. Will the low-income units be replaced one-for-one? What do residents have to say, and will they be relocated to nearby housing in OTR? None have been quoted so far about the buildings’ problems, and it’s unclear where they will be moved to. You can peruse crime stats yourself to see the propensity of police calls to the buildings, how many people arrested lived in the buildings and so forth.
• There’s a reason you shouldn’t get relationship-related tattoos, and I think it’s kind of the same with building names. Chiquita Brands International peaced out on Cincinnati in 2011, first moving to North Carolina and now training its wondering eyes toward Ireland. Until recently, we still had a big, prominent building, the Chiquita Center, bearing the company’s name. It kind of made us look like we weren’t ready to move on from the relationship. No more. We’re finally letting go. The center will be rebranded as 250 East Fifth, a simple, bold declaration that the building doesn’t need to define itself by its bygone relationship with some flashy, globe-trotting company with tons of banana money.
• Finally, I think I found my Halloween costume. This guy was dressed in the creepiest possible way when he drunkenly entered someone’s house and passed out on their couch, only to be discovered by children. Undead Santa couch surfer for the win.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Rock venues in the States, shall we? In my mind, there are two distinct types: you either have the nice, well-kept venues that often lack a certain spark that make them truly special or the dives that feel like a Punk Rock haven but smell like a dirty sock filled with cheese. You have to choose between fantastic atmosphere or a bathroom that’s actually been cleaned since The Sex Pistols were the next big thing.
Well, my friends, it seems that you can get the best out of both worlds; you just have to hop the pond and check out European venues. On this trip, I’ve been in an underground hall converted into a bar, a warehouse covered in graffiti and stickers, a youth center filled with murals slapped in the middle of a small town (and next to a church) and a venue in Berlin filled with so many weird and wonderful knick-knacks, I can’t wait to get home and start redecorating a little bit. I wanted to share some pictures and highlights of what we’ve seen so far.
The venue in Freiburg was called The White Rabbit and it was located underground, down several flights of stairs. The entrance was narrow but opened up to a large, cylindrical structure. We guessed that it was used as a bomb shelter or wine storage but the real origin was even more intriguing. It was originally the town’s coal chamber; the building above it had been leveled during the war and had been rebuilt.
Hamburg’s venue was the most surprising so far. As a Metal kid through and through, the graffiti and sticker-laden walls of Hafenklang instantly appealed to me. It had an industrial air about it and it felt just dirty enough. The wall adornments actually gave the place an artistic element. Somehow, hundreds — if not thousands — of taggers managed to create a cohesive composition worthy of any modern art museum.
Berlin has the honor of housing my favorite club yet. The Bassy Club was full of odd and awesome artifacts. I’m a big fan of weird decorations and this place was absolutely chock full of them. When we walked in, we all went into full tourist mode and started snapping pictures left and right. I now fully intend on finding a cow skull and making him a new light fixture when I make it back to the states.
Special kudos goes to Berlin for being an awesome city. We got a few hours to roam around and we ran into some sort of festival and found an awesome “Horror Rock Bar” called Last Cathedral. Sadly, it wasn’t open when we were walking around, so Nick and I had to resort to pulling an Immortal pose in front.
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
It’s probably safe to call 80,000 tons of rotting meat and vegetables a big mess. In fact, I don’t want to live in a world where such a thing doesn’t qualify for “big mess” status. The deeper issue is what can be learned from such a mess and who will be held responsible.
Council voted Oct. 15 to spend $300,000 to clean up Compost Cincy, a former composting company created in Winton Hills in 2012 with the help of the city’s Office of Environment and Sustainability (OES).
Neighbors of the site have complained for the past year of unbearable odors. The company closed its doors in October 2013, but the smell remained. Now, the city is left with the bill for cleaning it up.
Composting takes food waste, and by rotating it and controlling its decomposition, converts it into soil. San Francisco was the first city to institute a municipal program when it started collecting compostable waste in 1996. Today, the city collects more than 600 tons of waste a day for composting. A number of other cities, including Portland, Ore., Seattle, Boulder, Colo., and other generally progressive places also have programs. If composting isn’t done correctly, though, allowing for the correct mixture of air to reach the refuse, you just end up with a progressively worse smell.
That seems to be what happened with Compost Cincy. Since 2012, the company accumulated 45 code violations from the city and two EPA citations. The city refused to renew its lease last year due to complaints about odor. One factor at play may have been the fact the company was doing outdoor composting. Many compost facilities are located indoors as a way to mitigate odor creation.
The OES will cover $220,000 of the cost of clean up with its budget, with another $80,000 coming from city contingency account. Mayor John Cranley pinned a good deal of the blame for the project’s failure on the city office.
“The origin of this entire organization is to combat odor,” Cranley said during an Oct. 15 City Council meeting. “So it’s pretty embarrassing that it was this office that came up with this compost mess in the first place. It’s a nightmare for the people who have had to go through this for a year."
Council voted 9-0 to fund the clean up effort. But Cranley’s remarks created a good deal of controversy around the role of the organization and the city’s efforts to establish sustainability programs.
The official mission of the office goes beyond odor control. The OES is charged with leading sustainability efforts in the city. That includes redeveloping brownfield sites around the city, helping run Cincinnati’s recycling program and protecting the city’s air quality. Council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Yvette Simpson and Chris Seelbach all chimed in to support the office.
“I want to stick up for the Office of Environment because I don’t think it’s their fault, or that they were in any way trying to emit odors on purpose in our city,” Seelbach said at the meeting. “Composting is something that there is a large demand for. The business, Compost Cincy, was actually doing really well because lots of people wanted to bring their compost there and buy the soil that it produces.”
Seelbach said zoning was the big issue, something the OES doesn’t control. Simpson said that the Office of Trade and Development, not the OES, selected the site. She said the office needs more support.
“We need more resources to the offices of sustainability to so we can get at least 10 years behind,” Simpson said, noting that Cincinnati is falling short of sustainability efforts made in other, comparable cities. She acknowledged that Compost Cincy was "poorly executed" but said that wasn't the fault of OES.
She praised the city’s recycling program and said the city should support more sustainability efforts, not mock failures. She pointed out that council and the mayor have been willing to support other endeavors that don’t guarantee success.
“We’re going to continue to have conversations about whether the city should support small businesses, and we just invested $5 million in Cintrifuse, which runs start ups,” she said. “Some may work, some may not, some stay in the city and some may leave, but there’s no question we should spend money on that.”
Cranley also faulted other OES initiatives, including the city’s infamously unpopular one garbage can policy.
“This came out of the same organization that said we should have meatless Monday and all kinds of bad ideas,” he said. “It seems like we should not be funding organizations who then end up creating multi-hundred-thousand-dollar cleanups.”
Councilman Kevin Flynn also had pointed questions about the project, but from a different angle.
“If this was a good business, then why is the city having to pay $300,000 to clean up this mess?” he asked. “We need to be able to go after the money that resulted from these people paying for dropping off their waste and the money from the people who were buying the dirt created by that waste. Under our current policy, we don’t have that ability to do it.”
Flynn said the structure of the business and the city’s agreement with it mean that owner Grant Gibson may not be liable for cleanup costs. Gibson told The Cincinnati Enquirer he had sunk about $500,000 into the business.
Meanwhile, Compost Cincy’s website is still live, though it states that the company is shuttered. In a somewhat passive aggressive farewell message, the owners also put some blame on the zoning process for the company's problems, though they say, in the end, location doesn’t matter as much as the attitudes of a composting project's neighbors. The site’s farewell missive seems to claim it was sunk by unfounded fears about composting.
“If our society doesn't move faster towards actually being green and not talking about it, our planet will be 100 percent wrecked of natural resources in the very near future,” the site says. “With that said, make the changes necessary to your life.”
Comic musical duo Igudesman & Joo performs at the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ Mayerson Theater tonight, presented by the Constella Festival. Korean-British pianist Richard Hyung-ki Joo and Russian violinist Aleksey Igudesman mix Classical music with other popular genres and humor for a wholly entertaining performance. Check out this popular performance (which has more than 7 million YouTube views):
CityBeat writer Anne Arenstein spoke to Joo about the duo's unique spin on performing the classics.
It was hate at first sight when Igudesman and Joo met. There’s a hilarious account of what brought them together on their website, but according to Joo, the moment of truth came a couple of months later.
“We shared the notion that the Classical music world which we loved so much was taking itself way too seriously,” Joo says. “Going to concerts was like going to a funeral.”
“We were young and we didn’t know much but we knew Classical music was full of life,” he continues. “Through our own projects and the music we wrote, we could at least create events that we would want to go to.”
Go here to read the full interview.
"An Evening with Igudesman and Joo" takes place at 8 p.m. tonight at SCPA’s Mayerson Theater, 108 W. Central Parkway, Over-the-Rhine. More information and tickets: 513-549-7175 or constellafestival.org.
Though the traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin or aluminum (WTF?), a more fitting present for the Cincinnati label Phratry Records to congratulate it on its 10th year of service is your attendance at this weekend’s two-night Phratry showcase at Newport’s Southgate House Revival.
Local musician Jerry Dirr (Knife the Symphony) launched the label in 2004 with the release of the debut album by Cincinnati’s Caterpillar Tracks. Since then, the label has put out around 50 releases, which are distributed nationally by Stickfigure Distribution & Mailorder.
Friday and Saturday’s anniversary showcase will feature a mix of Phratry signees (both local and out-of-towners), reunions and special guests. Here’s the lineup info from my Spill It column in this week’s CityBeat:
Friday night, the Phratry showcase will present non-Cincinnati signings Ultrasphinx (Akron, Ohio), Tyranny is Tyranny (Madison, Wisc.) and The Shanks (Toronto), plus currently active local Phratry bands Mad Anthony and Gazer. Friday will also see the return of Covington and thistle, whose own Tiberius Records teamed up with Dirr just as Phratry was getting started to release the compilation album Organelle. It will be thistle’s first show in three years. Friday’s lineup is rounded out by Indie Folk artist A.M. Nice, Reggae/Rock crew New Third Worlds, a reunion of former local Punk favorites Saturday Supercade and Jonathan Lohr & the Angel Shale, an AltCountry project that features former members of Caterpillar Tracks (whose debut album was Phratry’s first release).
Dirr’s own band Knife the Symphony plays the Phratry showcase Saturday, joined by one of the label’s most recent local signees Smoke Signals …, the hard-touring Ampline, progressive Post Punk/Metal band Mala in Se, State Song (which released the spectacular full-length Sleepcrawling earlier this year on the label) and blistering Punk group Swear Jar. Also performing Saturday are Pittsburgh-based Ed fROMOHIO, the former singer/guitarist of Mike Watt’s post-Minutemen band fIREHOSE whose more recent band Food records for Phratry, experimental unit Aperiodic and Heevahava, a former Greater Cincinnati band now based in Roanoke, Va. Saturday also features a pair of reunion shows local Punk fans should be pretty psyched about; both East Arcadia (which included/includes members of Phratry band Arms Exploding) and The Scrubs will reactivate their wonder-twin powers for the event.
In honor of Phratry’s 10th birthday, I’ve selected 10 of my favorite tracks from the label’s output so far. I hesitate to call these Phratry’s “greatest hits,” because everything the label puts out is excellent, but these tracks should give you a good idea of what the imprint is all about. You can peruse the entire catalog of available Phratry releases here.
Caterpillar Tracks - “Slippery Slope” from Scrape the Summer (2007)
thistle - “Ribbons” from The Small Hours (2008)
Humans Bow Down - “The White Sun” from A Mirror (2004)
Mad Anthony - “Sank for Days” from Sank for Days (2014)
Tyranny is Tyranny - “Manufacturing Truth” from Let It Come From Whom It May (2013)
State Song - “Skeleton Key” from Dear Hearts & Gentle People (2010)
Ampline - “Our Carbon Dreams” from You Will Be Buried Here (2010)
Knife the Symphony - “Rusted Satellites” from Dead Tongues (2009)
Arms Exploding - “Race Card Driver” from Ruminari (2008)
Gazer - “A Nurse for a Human” from Fake Bulbs (2014)