Music lovers complaining about the out-of-touchness of the Grammy awards is like stand-up comedians complaining about airline food. Both are overdone and clichéd, but the frustration is a shared experience that people instantly identify with. With the Grammys, sometimes an unlikely win or loss is so infuriating and baffling, people can’t help but go ballistic. This year’s event was a rollercoaster that reflected both the Grammys’ perpetual practice of giving trophies to irrelevant and/or the “safest” artists and the program’s well-intentioned efforts of late to get with the times. I can’t remember ever describing a Grammys ceremony as “shocking,” but this year’s was full of surprises both pleasant and mind-numbingly inexplicable.
Tomorrow (Thursday) marks the first Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day in some time where fans actually have cause to be realistically optimistic about the team’s chances of going deep into the playoffs come the end of the season. If you’re planning on going all out for Opening Day, a good place to start your reveling is at Arnold’s, as local Folk faves Jake Speed and the Freddies once again host its baseball-themed variety show. The fun kicks off at 9:30 a.m. and you can be there in spirit if you can’t make it in person by listening to WNKU, which will simulcast the festivities live.
Sad to report this morning that Joe Maier, former bassist for popular local instrumental Post Rock band Johnnytwentythree, passed away suddenly on June 19. He was just 31 years old.
Maier and his brother, guitarist Michael Maier, formed the band Halo in the late ’90s, which featured drummer Stephen Imwalle. The three formed Johnnytwentythree in the early ’00s, with Imwalle switching his focus to film (creating the visuals for the band's live shows and video projects).
J23 also included Brian Tyree on drums and Joe Maier's wife Brianne Maier on violin. Joe and Brianne had two young twin daughters. In lieu of flowers, donations for the couple's girls can be made to the Joseph B. Maier Memorial Fund C/O Fifth Third Bank 3715 Ebenezer Road. 45248. Click here to share your condolences.
Check out a CityBeat feature story on J23 here and give a look/listen to a couple of music clips from the band below.
The local music scene lost one of its veteran players this past weekend. Larry Malott — also a veteran of the Vietnam War — suffered a brain aneurysm last Wednesday from which he never recovered.
A gifted bassist, Malott (who was 65) was the low-end anchor of hard-working, popular local Blues band Them Bones. Along with regular gigs with the group around town (and beyond — the band has toured in Europe and represented Cincinnati at 2010's International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., placing an impressive third overall), Malott and Them Bones were also the anchor of the long-running Sunday night Blues jams at Newport club, Mansion Hill Tavern, hosting the weekly event since 2001. Many local musicians gathered this past Sunday at the open jam to pay their respects to Malott. Judging by the outpouring of grief and appreciation on social media the past few days, Malott was not only a great bass player and dedicated Blues supporter, he was also something of a mentor to other local musicians and incredibly supportive of his fellow artists.
Visit Malott's Facebook page to leave a message for his family and for info on upcoming funeral services (a public tribute appears to also be in the works). His family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, supporters make a donation to their favorite charity and/or one of the following ones — Sophie's Angel Run, Cincinnati Shriners Burns Hospital, Down Syndrome Association and/or Blues in the Schools.
Three of the finest music festivals in the region — spring’s Nelsonville Music Festival in northeastern Ohio, summer’s Forecastle Festival in Louisville and Cincy’s own MidPoint Music Festival, returning Sept. 22-24 — have made recent announcements concerning their 2011 events.
Get ready, MidPoint Music Festival fans. This Friday, the first 10 or so artists booked for 2013's MPMF — returning to the streets and venues of Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Sept. 26-28 — will be announced. And longtime MPMF sponsor Dewey's Pizza will have the scoop.
Friday, those wanting the info first should head to facebook.com/DeweysPizza ("like" their page, not just for the yummy grub they serve but for the support they've given MPMF and local music over the years). Then, of course, check this here music blog for a recap and more details.
Also of interest to MPMF fanatics are the lineups for this year's "Indie Summer" concerts, every Friday on Fountain Square from May 31-Aug. 30. The performers for the MidPoint- and CityBeat-sponsored shows are expected within the week. Keep an eye on this blog for the full announcement as soon as we get the green light to post it. (The lineups for the other themed Fountain Square music nights — six per week — are due very soon as well.)
For artists wanting to be considered for a performance slot at MPMF.13, the time to submit is now, as the deadline is quickly approaching. Submissions will be accepted (visit mpmf.com for directions) until May 11 at 11:59 p.m.
Several weeks ago, two pricing tiers of "early bird" and "loyalty" MPMF tickets sold out almost immediately. Tickets for MPMF.13 go back on sale this Friday through cincyticket.com ($69 for a three-day pass or $169 for "VIP Experience" tickets).
Those Guys have emerged as one of the more impressive up-and-comers in Cincinnati Hip Hop, both via their digital/CD releases (a handful of singles and a trio of excellent mixtapes) and their live show, which incorporates a three-piece live band. Those Guys features MC's J.Al and Jova, who met as high school freshmen and started the group upon graduation in 2008. Citing influences like Kanye, The Clipse and Kid Cudi, the duo issued Greater Than the Mixtape Volume 1 in 2009.
The most recent in their Greater Than the Mixtape series (Volume 3) was released late last year, kicking off with the monster track "You Ain't Know," which showcases the duo's telepathic back-and-forth, superb lyricism and a fat and funky musical approach.
The duo has been garnering extra attention with their just-released video (Those Guys' first) for "You Ain't Know," which was filmed in Monroe just prior to Halloween and features some spectacular scenes of the crew blowing up a car. Who says you need a big budget for action-movie-like special effects? (The group thanks the City of Monroe's parks, fire and police department as well as the Butler County Bomb Squad in the video description on YouTube, so the fiery shoot was on the up-and-up.)
The video has been creating major buzz on social media, even drawing praise from Hip Hop legend Redman, who tweeted "Dope ass video … thats wut Im talkn bout … sumtn different … hard shit."
Check the clip below, then visit the duo's Bandcamp site to download the latest mixtape and other Those Guys material for free. You can find more about Those Guys at their official site, Facebook page and on Twitter here.
Two big-time concert announcements came down the chute today, representing the broadest of broad spectrums of musical stylings. The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival returns to Riverbend for the fifth straight year on July 24. Metal fans will find this year's Mayhem lineup to be the best yet, with headliners Slipknot and Slayer alone making it one of the bigger concert events of the summer. Others appearing on the tour include As I Lay Dying, Anthrax and High on Fire (the lineup changes along the tour route, so all of those bands might not be on the Cincy show). Official "Get Off Your Ass" pre-sale tickets (Mayhem's name, not mine) go on sale April 6 (click here for details). A "very special guest" addition to the main stage won't be announced until March 5.
My guess is that it isn't Soft Rock superstar Barry Manilow (Kenny G would be a better fit), but Manilowmaniacs will be able to catch Barry at his own concert. On April 20, Manilow performs at Northern Kentucky University's Bank of Kentucky Center.
Local music fans who like their Indie Pop noisy and creative need to check out Pop Empire, a new duo featuring Cameron Cochran (of The Sheds, Lions Rampant fame) and Henry Wilson. And, like Cochran's Sheds (which gave away all of its music free online), Pop Empire is recession-friendly. Head to popempire.com and download the band's debut EP, Rainy Child, for free.