In the fall of 1946, sibling Country (or “Hillbilly,” as it was dubbed) singing duo The Delmore Brothers came to downtown Cincinnati to record a session at E. T. Herzog’s studios (where famed sides by Hank Williams, Patti Page, Ernest Tubbs, Flatt and Scruggs and numerous other legends also recorded) on Race Street. Beginning their career in the ’30s, the Alabama-bred brothers had become well known for their stunning harmonies, incorporating Gospel, Blues and Folk traditions into their Country stylings.
In the mid-to-late-’40s, Rabon and Alton Delmore’s sound began to shift towards something more innovative and modern. The duo was recording for King Records, the legendary Cincinnati institution that made (and, many say, changed) music history when it began releasing R&B records alongside its Country ones. The Delmores were a part of the bridge to this open blending of styles, something that ultimately helped lay the groundwork for the creation of Rock & Roll.
Many consider The Delmore Brothers’ indispensable contributions to the genre dubbed “Hillbilly Boogie,” which blended bluesy rhythms and chord structures into the Country aesthetic, a crucial building block that helped pave the way for Rockabilly and Rock & Roll.
Former Rock and Roll Hall of Fame curator Jim Henke is quoted as saying, “‘Hillbilly Boogie’ by the Delmore Brothers directly anticipated the development of Rockabilly and, later, Rock & Roll. With their close-knit harmonies and their guitar playing, the Delmores influenced the Everly Brothers and countless other Country, Rockabilly and Rock & Roll artists.”
During the Cincinnati sessions at Herzog, the Delmores cut tracks like “Boogie Woogie Baby” and the seminal “Freight Train Boogie,” one of the most distinct precursors to Rockabilly (some even call it the first Rock & Roll record).
This Saturday at 7 p.m., several area musicians will gather at the site of those early recordings (811 Race St., second floor, now the downtown headquarters of the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation) to celebrate their 69th anniversary and the Delmore’s huge contributions to music. The local musicians who will gather for "Delmore Day" to talk about and perform songs by The Delmore Brothers include Edwin P. Vardiman with Kelly Thomas, J. Dorsey, Big Bob Burns with Jeff Wilson, Margaret Darling, Joe Mitchell, Joe Prewitt and Don Miller, Elliott Ruther, Tim Combs, Mark Dunbar, Travis Frazier, David Rhodes Brown with Jared Schaedle and Ally Hurt.
The event is open to the public (fans of all ages are welcome) and free. Here is the Facebook event page for more info.
The Cincinnati Heritage Programs put together by the Cincinnati Museum Center have been going on for over 30 years now, taking locals and visitors to some of the Queen City's most important and/or interesting landmarks. The programs have included historical presentations and bus and walking tours to the various sites.
This year so far, the Cincinnati Heritage Programs have shown and told the stories of radio pioneer Powel Crosley, "Grand Old Theaters" and Cincy local TV legends. This Saturday, the Heritage programmers present "Subway Talk and Walk," a nighttime exploration of Cincinnati's incomplete subway tunnel project.
On May 18, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the Cincinnati Heritage Programs presents the first ever bus tour of various important (not just to the area, but to the world) musical landmarks.
Dubbed "When the Queen City was King of Recording," the tour focuses primarily on a pair of historic recording studios that churned out records that would change the face of music. The bus will visit the original site of King Records, which released seminal albums from the worlds of Country and R&B, a gateway to the birth of Rock & Roll. The bus will visit the old King location at 1540 Brewster Ave. in Evanston, where city officials, the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CUMHF), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and others helped have an historical marker installed in 2008 to commemorate King's contributions.
Here's James Brown's first single, recorded with his Famous Flames and released in 1956 through the King subsidiary, Federal Records:
The tour will also visit the former site of the E.T. Herzog Recording Company, at 811 Race St., downtown. In 2009, the CUMHF and others also lobbied successfully for a marker to placed at the site, which now houses the organization's headquarters. The Foundation has turned the floor the studio once stood into a museum dedicated to the space's history, hosting receptions and recording sessions and showcasing a few artifacts (like the piano Hank Williams played when he was in town to record songs that made him a legend, including "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") and lots of old photos of the studio in action. The Music Heritage Foundation is currently hosting the photo exhibit, "Annie's Baby Had a Baby," which was part of the big, citywide Fotofocus photography showcase.
The tour ends with lunch and some live music at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, a block from the Herzog stop.
The tour costs $60 (or $50 if you're a Museum Center member) and some spots are still open. But you'd better act fast. Deadline to register for the "When the Queen City was King of Recording" is tomorrow, May 7. Make a reservation by calling 513-287-7031. And click here for the Museum Center's rundown of great city tours and more.
The proceeds from the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (coming up this Sunday at Covington's Madison Theater) have been donated to various music-affiliated charities over the years. For the 2011 edition, money from the show will again be given to the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation. The non-profit organization has spent the past few years shining the spotlight on Cincinnati’s rich, often-overlooked musical past, reiterating the Queen City’s vital role in the development of so much popular music. CUSAMHF launches its inaugural membership drive with this year’s CEAs. VIP tickets for the CEA ceremony this year are $50 (click here to purchase) and include membership in the CUSAMHF’s Funky Drummer Society, named for the beat of James Brown’s “The Funky Drummer,” one of the most used drum samples in music history.
Music Tonight: Fountain Square will be loaded with music today. At 5 p.m., the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation presents a tribute to “Train Kept A’ Rollin’,” a Cincinnati-recorded King Records single by Tiny Bradshaw that eventually became a standard for guitar-fueled Rock & Roll bands (ranking up there with “Louie, Louie” and “Smoke on the Water”) thanks to versions by The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and scores of others. Read Steve Rosen’s feature story on the song and today’s events at citybeat.com here. Be sure to scroll down to check out some of the more famous versions of the tune.
Music Tonight: Lots of strong shows this evening to help usher in the weekend. Tonight’s free MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square is headlined by one of Cincinnati’s best bands, Electro rockers Eat Sugar. Get a taste of the sweetness below in the band’s most recent music video (directed by ES drummer Greg Poneris) for the song “Clap Your Hands.” Solid local newcomers Starfox and Louisville Electronic Pop crew The Pass get things started.
William “Beau Dollar” Bowman, a Hamilton-born singer/drummer who recorded at King Records in the 1960s with both The Dapps and Beau Dollar & The Coins, has died in Cincinnati after an extended illness. Until recently, he had been living in Florida. He was 69. Information on funeral services is available at www.webb-noonan.com.
Thanks to Paul Grein, who writes the "Chart Watch" blog for Yahoo, we now know that one of legendary Cincinnati-based King Records' impressive chart-topping records has been toppled. James Brown's King release Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal was the last mono-only release to make Billboard magazine's Top 10 until John Mellencamp's new No Better Than This, which recently hit No. 10 in its first week of release.
The long overdue appreciation of Cincinnati-based King Records gets another shot in the arm with the publication of Dayton-native Jon Hartley Fox’s King of the Queen City: The Story of King Records, a detailed look at the various personalities, including kingpin Syd Nathan, that made the studio such a culturally groundbreaking and creatively vital musical force.
For those who can’t wait for Fox’s appearance at the Books by the Banks festival at the Duke Energy Center on Saturday or at Shake It Records on Sunday, the author discussed the book with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air today. The show also included separate interviews with Bootsy Collins and former King staffer/Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, both of whom talk about their memories of King.
The group behind last fall's successful effort to erect a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame historical marker at the former King Records studio is at it again. They're now hoping to memorialize Herzog Studios' contributions to local and national music history.
At a press conference downtown this morning, leaders of the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation announced plans for a marker at 811 Race St., where in the 1940s and ’50s Herzog Studios hosted recording sessions by Hank Williams, Patti Page, Ernest Tubbs, Flatt and Scruggs and other notable "Country & Western" acts.
On Saturday, Brian Powers of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County — so instrumental in organizing that institution's ongoing tribute to the legacy of Cincinnati's King Records — put together and conducted one of the best King events yet, a panel discussion on Cowboy Copas & the Golden Age of Country Music.