Saturday, Apr 28: Jubal's Kin Festival Grounds
Saturday at MerleFest broke hard and cold. Our camping neighbors had an impromptu jam session at 3 a.m., which is to be expected when camping at a music festival geared towards people who not only love to watch and listen, but also play. It would have been one thing to hear the soft strains of a string jam or the gentle harmony of "Wildwood Flower," but some dude shouting the lyrics to "Whipping Post" over badly tuned guitars played really hard … not the thing mountain dreams are made from.
So I sat, at sun up, reading and drinking coffee, plotting revenge and the instead of taking my revenge, made the accused coffee, read some more and generally moved real slow. Crustymarhsmellowman. I did get to play a couple tunes with Pete McWhirter as he moved past to grab some coffee on his way to open his booth.
Then I moved real slow some more.
Really real slow.
After lunch, I decided to make an attempt to see some music.
I had already missed Jim Lauderdale at the Creekside Stage. To bad, I like some Jim Lauderdale and it would have been a nice wake up, but there you are. I saw on the schedule Jubal's Kin at the Dance Tent, looked at the clock and … damn missed that, too. But what ho! There they are on the schedule at the Americana Tent immediately following their Dance Tent set. It's a MerleFest miracle! I grabbed my camera and another cup of coffee and headed out.
Jubal's Kin, all nerves and bad house sound on Day 1, was all smooth and in good voice on Day 3. They filed the promise I thought I saw at the Cabin Stage on what always seems like an eternity ago and delivered a set full of vigor, with pristine sound delivered by the sound person. Their originals are fresh with sparse instrumentation and the kind of tight harmonies that only siblings can deliver. Never lyrically embarrassing with overplayed earnestness or too casual observation, they meld in with beautifully arranged and originally considered traditional tunes. There's "The Cuckoo," that ancient English broadside, rendered as if Billie Holiday had spent some time in the Eastern Kentucky mountains. "Buffalo Gal" was reconsidered as a pop tune with a well delivered encouragement to jump in on the chorus and sing along. Gaelanne's fiddle playing is absolutely gorgeous in a John Hartford/Matt Comb's kind of way, though leaning a bit heavier on the front of the beat as opposed to sitting in the pocket. And her banjo playing is just delicious. They added one more member for this set — "Uncle Joe" on pedal steel and fiddle. With "Baby Brother" on bass, Jubal's Kin appears to be a family band.
Satisfied my instincts were intact, I left the Americana Stage to catch some other music. I wondered into the Traditional Tent to catch some of mountain legend Red June. He was explaining to the audience what a jam session was. Have I mentioned the Traditional Tent smells like a barn? I don't think it's intentional, but the wet grass combined with an enclosed space has rendered an unfavorable impression. After the lesson on what a "jam" is, Red invited a local banjo player up to do a fiddle tune with the fiddle player who didn't bring a fiddle, but did bring a mandolin. Not to fear! You can play fiddle tunes on mandolin (or piano for that matter), so he requested the newest banjo player and the fiddle player with the mandolin decide on a tune they both knew and then play it. Five minutes of discussion and tuning followed. As I headed out of the tent I thought "Just like a jam session," and went down to the Creekside Cabin to catch the rest of the Snyder Family Band and the following act, Sierra Hull and Highway 111.
The Snyder Family Band is a family Bluegrass band (no irony at MerleFest!). Like all Bluegrass bands they have a banjo, sing harmonies and play Bluegrass. Of course they play it really well. People love them. Standing ovation.
I waited around for Sierra Hull and Highway 111 to take the stage. Sierra Hull, 5-foot-nothing and former wiz kid master of the mandolin is now a promising songwriter and ingenue. I'm familiar with this script and am bored not two minutes into the first song. Sigh. I stop in the field in front of the Watson Stage to hear some of "Assembly of Dust." Young Nashville Country script. Know it. Boring. Moving on.
It's coming up on 3 p.m. and time to give my sister a break in her booth in the Heritage Tent. Nancy Roberson is a weaver based out of Knoxville, Tenn. She's been showing, selling and demonstrating at MerleFest for about as long as there has been a MerleFest. She heads out for her afternoon nap (apparently a hardwired Roberson DNA trait) and I pleasantly meet the mass of retail customers streaming by and wondering into her booth.
Nancy makes shawls. Well kind of. Not only does she design each warp for the loom, but on these particular pieces of clothing, she has design the shawl itself. It's twisted, sewn up the back, and pulled over your head like a loose fitting sweater. The front gathers in soft bunches and hangs across the chest. The ladies love them. Woven of soft cotton and rayon with the occasional silk woven in for effect, the main color of each shawl is broken up with a rhythm of competing and sometimes complimentary colors. People can't help but be drawn in by the colors and when the reach out and touch them, you always get an "Oooooo, these feel so nice and are so beautiful." If you don't, it's a replicant — ready your phasers.
When Nancy returned, I checked the schedule and cheese whiz on a cracker if Jubal's Kin wasn't playing in the barn-like Traditional Tent. Finally a chance to catch this band in more intimate surroundings, smell be damned. I headed over, got there early and claimed a seat near the front. In short order the band was on stage, laughing and calling out songs. They moved though a load of traditional tunes, all rendered in a sweet, imaginative way, like "Dinah Blow Your Horn," with added lyrics and a new verse melody. The Carter Family's "No Depression" was delivered in soul rendering pain. About midway through the set, a guitar string broke enabling some spontaneous double fiddle and dancing. While the guitar player stepped off stage, "Uncle Joe" and Gaelanne tuned their fiddles and discussed which tune to play. In a matter of thirty seconds (this is no a jam session) launched into a Skillet Lickers number my dad probably danced to when he was their age. A friend jumped up on stage and launched into some spirited clogging. Not to be undone, "Baby Brother" put his bass down, peeled off his shoes and joined the Appalachian chorus line at the end of the stage with some well executed Buck Dancing.
Yes sir, these kids from Florida are the real shit. I've spent decades in front of poseurs, wannabees, shitty players and hopefuls. Using a foundation of traditional music obviously passed along from a family that loves this stuff at an early age, Jubal's Kin are making something very real, unique and personal that compels you to be a part.
This is why I come to MerleFest. Thanks, guys, for inviting me in.
Exhausted from a night of no sleep and a day of wandering and finding Jubal's Kin, I headed back to my book and coffee and called it a day.
Hinder is a wildly successful Oklahoma Hard Rock comprised of members Austin Winkler (lead vocalist), Joe “Blower” Garvey (lead guitarist), Mark King (rhythm guitarist), Mike Rodden (bassist) and Cody Hanson (drummer). The band blew up in 2005 with the release of its debut studio album Extreme Behavior, which featured popular hits “Get Stoned” and “Lips of an Angel.”
The band is climbing the charts again with the single “What Ya Gonna Do” off their third studio album, All American Nightmare. CityBeat caught up with the band prior to their performance at RockFest in Cadott, Wisc.They had time to discuss the new album and the festival life. The band will be rocking the entire summer hitting rock festivals all across the country.
CityBeat: You’re out here in the metropolis of Wisconsin. What did you guys do last night?
Austin: We played a show in Indiana.
CB: So you were on the bus last night?
CB: Is this your first time at RockFest?
Austin: I don’t think so. I think we’ve played this before in 2007.
Blower: I know we’ve played this venue.
Austin: We played with Three Doors Down in ’07.
CB: What can we expect today from the set?
Austin: Rain and Lots of wetness.
Cody: We’re going to get the chicks wet tonight.
Mark: God is doing it for us.
CB: That’s the line of the day. You guys were just at Rock on the Range. What was your craziest Rock on the Range story?
Mike: I think I pissed myself that night.
CB: Any particular reason?
Mark: I don’t remember why because I was blacked out but I definitely woke up with some wet pants.
Cody: Shit I was so hammered that night, I might have pissed your pants.
Austin: I got so high, I didn’t know where the phone was.
CB: Did you guys go to Rocklahoma after that or did you just go on tour?
Austin: Yeah, we did Rocklahoma for the first time. That was pretty awesome. It was about time too because we are from there.
CB: I love the new album. It was one of my favorites that I listened to prep for Rock on the Range. I’ve been listening to it ever since. What’s your favorite tracks to play live on the album?
Mark: “Two Sides of Me” is one of my favorites to play live. It’s a good little rocker.
Austin: “What You Gonna Do” is one of my favorites to play recently.
CB: It’s catchy. I can say it with you.
Mike: Tell that to radio.
CB: It’s all over the radio. I’ve been in traffic coming into this place for a day and I think I heard it three times today. I think they got the memo that you were here. You guys have toured with some huge bands. Are there any other bands that you would like to tour with or play with?
Austin: I want to play with the Rolling Stones.That would be awesome.
CB: You guys did Aerosmith for a few dates right?
Austin: That was badass.
Mike: I’d like to play with The Doors, if that was possible.
CB: I had a question about “Striptease.” Any particular strippers or clubs that inspired that song?
Austin: I think it’s a lot of the bullshit that’s being shoved down people’s throats these days.
Cody: It’s more about a few of the pop artists and you can throw some reality stars in there.
Mike: Yeah, it’s kind of like they belong more in a strip club than they do on the radio or TV. That’s about how much talent they have.
Mark: Dude Ke$ha is talented, alright.
CB: In more ways than one right?
Cody: I doubt that. I did just see a picture of her online yesterday with her holding her tits and a big wad of nut underneath.
Group: Are you kidding me?
CB: Are we sure it was her?
Cody: Yeah, or it was some nasty bitch that looked just like her.
CB: So what has been the highlight of 2011 for you guys so far?
Mike: I don’t think we have any super-big highlights.
Austin: The fact we have our third record out is pretty awesome. Being well-received by our fans, I think that’s pretty badass.
Mike: We might just make a highlight tonight.
CB: I have to tell you. I was here last night and Rob Zombie made a highlight.
Cody: What did he do?
CB: The stage, as you know is two-tiered. He said, “Everybody is too far away. Come up on the stage.” So all the girls came up on the stage with them for four songs. He said, “If you behave. Don’t fuck it up.” Next thing you know I am running onto the stage and at John 5’s feet. So I think that shocked the security and the venue for a minute. So you guys can try it. Nobody got hurt.
Mark: They are a lot braver than us.
Blower: A lot more scary looking too.
CB: Any regrets over the years?
Mike: Yeah, we have lots of those. We have a whole bag of them.
Cody: We have tons of regrets and mistakes we have made over the years. Especially when you first start out being a band. You are green and you let outside people have a little too much control and make some bad decisions for you. If we could go back, we would probably have a lot more money.
CB: Do you guys all still live in Oklahoma.
Austin: I don’t. I live in California.
Cody: But the rest of us do.
CB: How often do you get home?
Cody: We just came from home. We have been home for quite a bit on this cycle. It’s been a little more relaxed. We’re out on this run for like seven weeks. So it’s good to be out.
CB: Do you guys prefer to play festivals like this and Rock on the Range or your own shows where you have your own, obviously your fan base is here too, but when you have your own shows, you know who is there?
Austin: Either way, we bring the same show. I guess sometimes when we play like Rock on the Range, we only get a certain amount of time. We come in and play 40 or 45 minutes, that kind of sucks. I wish we could play longer. Other than that, we bring the same show no matter what.
Mike: It’s kind of cool too, to have a break from the same tour every night and have a few festivals stuck in there because the lineup is different, there are different bands at all the festivals. So it’s cool to get a change from the everyday show.
CB: Anybody you are looking forward to seeing today?
Blower: I’ve never seen Kid Rock so I am pretty stoked about that.
CB: You guys are touring with the new album. Have you started working on any new music yet?
Austin: Not necessarily recording in the studio but we are always coming up with ideas and stuff on the road. We kind of never really stop writing.
CB: What’s your process? Do you guys do it together or separately?
Austin: Usually me and Cody will sit down with acoustic guitars and write the nutshell of the song and bring it to the rest of the guys and they put their thing on it.
CB: How does the feedback session go?
Mike: Pretty straight forward.
CB: You guys have been together forever so you can take it right?
CB: You guys had a ton of songs to pick from for this album?
Cody: We’re hoping to be able to recycle some of those and use some for the next record. There are some really great songs that didn’t make it. Hopefully we’ll pick some of them out for the next one.
The weekend after the big Bunbury Music Festival at the Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove parks along the riverfront, another festival by the same fest organizers, Buckle Up, is set to make its debut. This morning, the full lineup and schedule for the Country/Americana fest was announced.
Friday, July 18: Alabama, Eli Young Band, Jamey Johnson, Marty Stuart, Ashley Monroe, Eric Pasley, Chris Janson, The Cadillac Three, Sturgill Simpson, Old Dominion, The Railers, Son of Fathers, David Fanning, Jamie Lynn Spears, Joshua Scott Jones, Pistol Holler, Jeremy Pinnell & The 55's, Sara Haze, Phillip Fox Band, Tyler Childers & The FoodStamps, The Dan Varner Band, Ashley Martin, Kaitlyn Baker, Alexis Gomez, Lonesome Jared & The Heartattacks, Messerly and Ewing, and Andrew Hibbard
Saturday, July 19: Willie Nelson / Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Old Crow Medicine Show, Emmylou Harris, Drive-By Truckers, Kristian Bush, Houndmouth, The Lone Bellow, The Spirit Family Reunion, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Joe Pug, Lera Lynn, Natalie Stovall and the Drive, Caitlyn Smith, The Tillers, Tall Heights, The 23 String Band, Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle, Kentucky Timbre, Coralee and the Townies, Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome, Al Scorch, Shiny and the Spoon, The Carolines, Dean Fields, and Wild Carrot
Sunday, July 20: The Band Perry, Thompson Square, David Nail, Corey Smith, Dylan Scott, Sam Hunt, Blackjack Billy, Dallas Smith, JT Hodges, Chase Bryant, Logan Brill, Lyndsey Highlander, Abigail Rose, Noah Smith, Ruth Collins, Bobby Mackey, Straw Boss, The Kentucky Struts, Ty Bates, Carly Pearce, Jetset Getset, Honey & Houston, Zack Dubois, and Max Fender
Tickets for the Buckle Up Festival are available now ($55 for one day/$130 for a three-day pass, but prices go up after Memorial Day). For tickets and more info (including the daily schedule), visit buckleupfestival.com.
Word has been trickling out over the past few weeks about a new Country music festival in Cincinnati, organized by Bunbury Music Festival founder Bill Donabedian. Today, the first four artists slated to appear at the inaugural Buckle Up Music Festival were announced. The festival is set for the weekend after Bunbury — July 18-20 — and will use the same grounds at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove along the Ohio River. (Think of it as Bunbury’s version of Coachella’s Stagecoach fest.)
The lineup will feature “upwards of 80 performers” and include both modern, commercial Country acts and variations on the Country theme — “folk, bluegrass, Americana, roots rock and more,” according to the press materials — something the initial lineup announcement reflects.
Legendary Country act Alabama (which for many years used the controversial Confederate Flag in its artwork, years before Kanye decided to reclaim it) and current Country hitmakers the Eli Young Band will be joined by up-and-comers J.T. Hodges (whose music has been described as “Country Soul with some Rock N’ Roll”) and eclectic Brooklyn-based Americana trio The Lone Bellow, which performed last November at Cincinnati’s 20th Century Theater (read CityBeat’s preview here).
The Mayhem Festival takes over Riverbend July 20 and CityBeat will be featuring bands throughout the week leading up to the festival. Trivium is one of the groups playing this year, represent the new school of Metal at its best. The band, out of Orlando, is signed with Roadrunner Records and its fifth studio album, In Waves, is expected to be released in August.
Tonight's installment of the free "American Roots" concert series on Fountain Square — which generally hosts weekly Tuesday performances by some of the best of the rich local Americana music scene — serves as a preview of the upcoming third annual BrownGrass Festival in Rabbit Hash, Ky.
The benefit is headed up by veteran musician David Rhodes Brown, who started the event three years ago as a way to help raise money for local radio outlet WNKU (the name is taken from the title of Brown's most recent solo album, Browngrass & Wildflowers, some proceeds from which also went to WNKU).
BrownGrass 2012 takes place July 21 and features a stellar lineup of local and regional acts, including DRB and his BrownGrass Band, The Tadcasters, Magnolia Mountain, The Leo Clarke Band, Greg Schramm & the Radio King Cowboys, Blame Bersch, Mack West, Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups, Beth Farmer, Davey O, Dan F. Hill and many others. The festival runs from noon-11 p.m. along the riverfront in Rabbit Hash. (Read about the first and second year of Browngrass here and here).
On Fountain Square tonight, BrownGrass Fest participants Ruthie & Grace Lincoln perform at 8:30 p.m. followed by Brown and his BrownGrass Band, as a preview of the fest. (The fun starts at 7 p.m. with some World Choir Games festivities.)
For complete details on the BrownGrass Festival 2012, visit the official website here.
Here's a nice video overview of last year's BrownGrass and some audio samples from Brown's solo effort.
The annual MusicNOW festival, founded by Cincinnati native and guitarist for Indie Rock superstars The National, returns to various venues in Over-the-Rhine this March for a celebration of the festival’s 10 successful years. The event will utilize Music Hall and Memorial Hall (past MusicNOW venues), as well as the new Woodward Theater (the Contemporary Arts Center will also host a related music/art installation March 11-20). Heavy on collaborations again this year, the shows will run March 11-15.
Highlights from MusicNOW 2015 include a collaborative performance featuring The National and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The CSO will also perform “Songs from the Planetarium” with MusicNOW vets Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly and Dessner.
Here is the full lineup announced this morning:
Wednesday, March 11th
Woodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OH
Thursday, March 12th
Woodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OH
concert:nova with Jeffrey Zeigler
Friday, March 13th
Cincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The National with the CSO and new commission by Caroline Shaw
Saturday, March 14th
Cincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Songs from Planetarium featuring Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly & Bryce Dessner with the CSO, new commission by Daníel Bjarnasonand So Percussion
Sunday, March 15th
Memorial Hall - 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH
Perfume Genius, The Lone Bellow, Mina Tindle
Contemporary Arts Center- 404 E. 6th St, Cincinnati, OH
An ongoing Installation (see video below)
"Many of my most significant memories as a musician have taken place in Cincinnati during the MusicNOW Festival over the last 10 years," founder Bryce Dessner says in the press release. "When we started, we were driven to create an intimate music festival that was as much a creative refuge for the artists as it is for the audience to partake in intimate and rare performances. We have celebrated works in progress and new commissions, new collaborations, and detailed music of all kinds regardless of genre or popularity."