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by Rick Pender 04.03.2015 49 days ago
at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
king

Stage Door: The Circle of Life

I've seen The Lion King five times, on Broadway and on tour. I wrote about it in a feature this week, describing how a successful but not terribly profound animated Disney feature became a stage musical that's a worldwide phenomenon. A touring production is at the Aronoff through April 26; it's the third time the show has landed in Cincinnati.

Rather than evaluate the performers — who are highly talented and extremely polished in their presentation of the show — I decided to pay attention to the visuals this time around. It was worth it. The Lion King has the most inspiring opening of any show I've seen: A call and response between Rafiki, a nervous mandrill and two others brings together a clutch of African animals to Pride Rock where a regal pair of lions, King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi are presenting their new cub. The animals enter the theater from all directions — from the stage wings and down the Aronoff's aisles, enabling the audience to see the actors in their puppet gear up close as they sing "The Circle of Life." It's a great way to begin the show's magic.

But it's only the start: There is color and pageantry to burn in this story — from a colony of loony hyenas to a fatal stampede of antelopes. The second act opens with the chorus dressed in colorful clothes with ornate puppet birds and kites sing "One on One." I was reminded of the wonderful South African choral groups that inspired Cincinnati audiences during the World Choir games in 2012 — passionate harmonizing and heart-thumping rhythms. From start to finish, The Lion King is a remarkable experience. If you've seen it once, it's worth going again to appreciate new dimensions of this gorgeous production. Tickets: 513-621-2781.


Two good shows onstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse this weekend, and they couldn't be more different from one another. It's the final weekend for Peter and the Starcatcher (CityBeat review here) a prequel to Peter Pan that elaborates in a fanciful way about the origins of the boy who refuses to grow up, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, Tinker Bell and more. It's driven by imaginative theater-making — instead of special effects, audiences are called upon to envision things like storms brewing and characters flying. A great show for families. … On the Shelterhouse stage it's serious drama with Tracey Scott Wilson's Buzzer (CityBeat review here), the story of three people moving into a redeveloping urban neighborhood. It feels like Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine. Tensions spurred by changing populations provide context for this story, but it's really about the toxic dynamic between an up-and-coming black attorney, his white schoolteacher girlfriend and his white boyhood pal who's led a troubled life. A strong cast and Wilson's naturalistic dialogue make this a very watchable (but very adult) show. This one is onstage through April 19. Box office: 513-421-3888.

Know Theatre opened it's production of the comic-book inspired Hearts Like Fists last weekend. It's a two-dimensional tale of girl crime fighters battling a dastardly villain, Doctor X, who's murdering lovers — since his own love life is in shambles. There's humor but not a lot of depth to this one, but if you like slam-bang action stories, you'll love the fight choreography and the silly posing of the characters. It's around until April 25. Tickets: 513-300-5669 … A block away from Know in Over-the-Rhine, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is winding down its production of Detroit ’67 (CityBeat review here), set in a tumultuous era in the Motor City as a brother and sister struggle to make a living while the world around them is burning. Although it's rooted in events from nearly a half-century ago, this one has some very prescient messages that seem like they're about more recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere. Final performance is 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.03.2015 49 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Harry Black

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy City Manager courts businesses upset with Indiana's RFRA law; more streetcar headaches; public nude photog coming to Cincy, looking for "the crown jewels"

Good morning y’all. I cannot wait for this weekend so let’s get to it.

Are you a businessperson in Indiana steamed about the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act? A lot of people are. In the wake of controversy around Indiana's law, which as written allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals on the basis of religious beliefs, Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black is making a pitch to Indiana businesses: Come to Cincy. We’re more accepting, and that’s good for business, Black says. Black has already written to companies like Yelp who had planned to expand in Indiana but are now pulling back thanks to the new law signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week. Many businesses have balked at such RFRA laws, both in Indiana and elsewhere, saying they’re morally objectionable and bad for business. Pence and Indiana lawmakers announced a fix to the law earlier this week that they say would prohibit discrimination. But many of the law’s critics, including big business, say the fix isn’t enough. Now Cincinnati is looking poach some of that business expansion for its own.

• Another day, another embarrassing streetcar argument. At yesterday’s City Council meeting, Mayor John Cranley lashed out at the city’s streetcar team, saying it had “secretly” spent $200,000 on studies for the transit project’s potential second leg into uptown. It turns out that last February, the team, led by project executive John Deatrick, spent about $70,000 out of a fund set aside for streetcar studies in 2008. The team authorized the full $200,000 in contracts to two firms to do budget and cost benefit analyses but paused the work when it became clear focus on the current phase of the streetcar was the priority. Cranley says the 2008 City Council resolution creating the original $800,000 pot of money for studies didn’t specifically authorize the streetcar team to use the money and that the studies are an example of a “culture of secrecy” around the project. The team says it was unaware it had to ask for special permission to undertake the analyses for phase 1b. Phew. City Manager Harry Black, who has the power to discipline city personnel, says there appears to be no grounds to punish members of the streetcar team. Can we just stop the fussin’ and the feudin’, please?

• Parking rates are changing in Over-the-Rhine and downtown Tuesday. The shifts, which are tied to usage in the areas, have been planned for a year and were given final approval by Cincinnati City Council yesterday. Rates will go up or down by a quarter in various parts of the downtown/OTR area. In general, rates will go down or stay the same west of Vine Street, ranging from $2.00 an hour south of Sixth Street to $.75 an hour north of Central Parkway. East of Vine Street, rates will go up; it will now cost $2.25 an hour to park south of Central Parkway and $1.25 an hour north of it. The city has watched usage rates in various parts of downtown/OTR since January to come up with the new rates, a kind of makeshift “dynamic parking” effort. In other cities, sophisticated data crunching can change parking rates on meters according to demand on an hourly basis. That won’t happen here, but by shifting rates according to the parking market, city leaders hope to incentivize parking turnover in busy areas and encourage drivers to park in less-used locations. Some of the funds from the parking boost will go to the streetcar, and some to the general fund, City Manager Harry Black says.

• I grew up in Hamilton, where the grisly legacy of James Rupert is hard to escape. On Easter Sunday 40 years ago, Ruppert murdered 11 members of his family in a house on the corner of Minor Avenue in Hamilton’s Lindenwald neighborhood. At the time, it was the largest mass-murder in U.S. history. Yesterday, Rupert had a parole hearing. The parole board’s decision hasn’t been announced yet, but the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office is strongly objecting to his release.

• Hey, here’s a weird one. Need some new nude photos in front of Music Hall? There’s a guy who may be able to hook you up on Opening Day, when he comes to Cincinnati to shoot nude photos of folks in front of local landmarks. He’s done it in a number of big U.S. cities, sometimes with getaway drivers nearby due to the illegal nature of being naked in public. I can’t avoid comment on this quote in the Enquirer, so here it comes:

“I am looking for Americana, the history of the United States,” Harvey Drouillard says. “I am looking for the crown jewels." Crown jewels indeed.

• A few days ago, I told you about how the Ohio General Assembly floated a proposal that required college students and other somewhat transitory voters to register their car in Ohio if they wanted to vote here. Many Democrats have likened that measure to a poll tax; it would cost most students $75 to re-register their cars and if they don’t and try to vote, their current registration would become invalid. Gov. John Kasich apparently agreed with the detractors, vetoing the measure Wednesday. The provision was tucked into Ohio’s transportation budget legislation, which moves forward without the voter registration law.

• Finally, U.S. negotiations with Iran over that country’s nuclear program have made big headlines lately, with a lot of politicking going on around the fact that we’re negotiating with the country at all. But according to some sources, those negotiations have taken a fruitful and promising turn lately. Here’s the latest on where things stand with U.S. efforts to keep Iran from developing nukes. The whole process is fascinating and terrifying stuff.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 04.02.2015 50 days ago
Posted In: Cincinnati, Events, local restaurant, Food news at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
carriage house farm dinner

Pop-Up Dinners Return to Carriage House Farm

The popular intimate outdoor dinner series kicks off in May

North Bend's Carriage House Farm is fully embracing the farm-to-table movement with this year's pop-up dinner series. From May through November the farm will play host to a variety of local chefs, who will be preparing more than two dozen seasonal dinners, utilizing ingredients available on the farm, like garlic, ginger, beans, heirloom tomatoes and comb honey. The intimate dinners seat 13 patrons in an open-air dining terrace, where the chefs will prepare their multi-course meals over a wood-fired oven — right in front of the guests.

Some dinners will also include special appearances by guest chefs, like Todd Kelly and Megan Ketover of the five-star Orchids, Jose Salazar of Salazar, Dan Wright of Abigail Street/Pontiac/Senate, Nino Loreto of food truck panino and others. To complement the bounty of Carriage House, chefs will also be working with additional artisan producers to complete the dinners, like Mudfoot Farm, Sheltowee mushroom farm, Weber Family Farm, Sixteen Bricks Bakery and more.

Here's a list of current dinners (some may be added later in the year):
  • May 17 - Chef Dana Adkins of the Eagle OTR and chef Jason Louda of Meatball Kitchen
  • May 31 - Chef Ryan Santos of Please
  • June 7 - Chef Mark Bodenstein of NuVo at Greenup
  • June 21 - Chef Mike Florea of Maribelle's eat + drink
  • June 28 - Chef Ryan Santos of Please's Kickstart Thank You dinner (sold out)
  • Aug. 16 - Chef Renee Schuler of eat well celebrations and feasts
  • Aug. 30 - Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar (sold out)
  • Sept. 20Chef Mark Bodenstein of NuVo at Greenup
  • Sept. 27 - Chef Jared Bennett of Metropole
  • Oct. 4Chef Dana Adkins of the Eagle OTR
  • Oct. 11Chef Ryan Santos of Please
  • Nov. 1 Chef Mike Florea of Maribelle's eat + drink
Dinners start at 4, 5 or 6 p.m. (Carriage House is about a half-hour drive from downtown Cincinnati) and cost between $80 and $85. Reserve seats here

Carriage House Farm, 10252 Miamiview Road, North Bend, carriagehousefarmllc.com. 
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.02.2015 50 days ago
Posted In: News at 08:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_04-01_areaoverall

Morning News and Stuff

Uncertainty for King Towers residents; Cincinnati developer proposes 21 single-family homes in OTR; Portman stocks up on cash for Senate race

Hey all. I’m hyped for the season’s first thunderstorm, which is officially rolling in as I type this. As far as I’m concerned, it’s finally spring. On to the news.

Residents displaced by the King Towers fire in Madisonville last Thursday will be able to stay in their extended stay hotel in Blue Ash for another two weeks, but after that their fate is uncertain. The 20-plus residents can’t move back into the building until it is investigated and cleaned, a process that could take months. Many have lived in the building for a long time and don’t have access to cars to get around. The fire injured several and killed firefighter Daryl Gordon, whose funeral drew thousands from across the country yesterday to downtown Cincinnati.

• A proposal by Cincinnati developer North Pointe Group in Over-the-Rhine would build 21 single-family homes on some city-owned vacant lots on Main Street north of Liberty Street. It would also redevelop a vacant building there into eight so-called “workforce apartments.” North Pointe says the houses will sell for around $400,000 to $600,000 each. The apartments will all be approximately 630 square feet and cost about $800-$950. The plan has drawn some controversy, which we explore in our news feature this week. North Pointe says it will need to tear down popular basketball courts on the land. After some residents complained, the developer agreed to keep two of the six hoops standing. But some are still skeptical of the proposal, saying it could change the character of the neighborhood.

• Cincinnati-based news giant E.W. Scripps Co. is officially out of the newspaper business for the first time in its 135 year history as of Wednesday. In a merger with Journal Communications, based in Milwaukee, Scripps has traded off its remaining newspapers for 12 TV stations and 34 radio stations across the country. The company has said it’s looking to expand its presence in TV and to own radio stations in the markets where it also broadcasts TV news. That could mean Scripps could eventually acquire radio stations here in Cincinnati.

• Suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter would like the Ohio Supreme Court to remove her ongoing felony trial from the county’s court system. Hunter is being retried on a felony count of misusing a court credit card after a technicality kept a jury from considering evidence for that charge when Hunter was tried late last year. A jury hung on eight of nine felony counts in that trial, convicting her of one count related to information she allegedly gave her brother, a county court employee, about an inmate.

Hunter and her attorney, Clyde Bennett II, say Hunter can’t get a fair trial in the county thanks to acrimony between her and many of the judges here. Bennett says prior decisions by Hamilton County Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, who is currently presiding over the case, were used as evidence in Hunter’s earlier trial, causing a conflict of interest. Judge Norbert Nadel presided over Hunter’s original trial, but he retired earlier this year and Dinkelacker was elected to replace him. Dinkelacker previously presided over an appeals court where he made the rulings in question about Hunter’s case.

• Another local connection to the weed-legalization efforts led by ResponsibleOhio: Cincinnati-based developer David Bastos is an investor in the ballot initiative, which aims to legalize the sale of marijuana and restrict commercial growth to 10 marijuana farms around the state. Bastos is a partner in Bridge Property LLC, which would establish one of those farms in Lucas County. ResponsibleOhio needs to collect 300,000 signatures by this summer in order to get their amendment to Ohio’s constitution on the November ballot. Should it pass, Ohioans over the age of 21 would be allowed to buy marijuana, apply for a marijuana vendor’s license (similar to a liquor license) and grow small amounts of the drug for personal use, a late concession to opponents of the measure’s limit on commercial growth.

• The Cincinnati Reds are on track to break their season ticket sales records, thanks in part to the MLB All-Star Game coming to the city July 14. The Reds’ previous record at Great American Ballpark is 15,648. Last year they sold about 14,500 and they’re on pace to reach more than 16,000 sales this year. There’s a clear incentive for baseball nuts to make the big commitment: Season ticket holders are automatically offered the opportunity to purchase All-Star Game tickets, which are a hot item. Both half-season (40 games) and full-season (80 games) ticket holders get a crack at the All-Star Game tickets.

• The 2016 Senate race in Ohio is heating up. Republican Senator Rob Portman, nearing the end of his first term in the Senate, will have to fight off either Gov. Ted Strickland or Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, both Democrats, in that contest. But he’ll have a lot of ammunition. Portman reported he’s raised $2.75 million in the last 90 days for his campaign. Portman has steeled himself for a primary challenge from the right — he angered some conservatives with his pro-marriage equality stance after his son came out as gay — but so far, no challenger has materialized and Portman has netted big cash and big endorsements. Portman could face a big challenge from Strickland, who is Ohio’s former governor and who has been endorsed by former President Bill Clinton. All this alignment of cash and big-name endorsements shows how crucial Ohio will be to the 2016 election, when the presidency and control of the Senate will both be on the line.

That’s it for me. Tweet at me, comment or email me with your news tips.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.01.2015 51 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
streetcar

Morning News and Stuff

Funeral held downtown for firefighter Daryl Gordon; City Council asks MLB to reinstate Rose; religious freedom laws are hot right now

Hello Cincy. Let’s get straight to the news.

The weather is beautiful and perfect for honoring a hero, even if the occasion is incredibly sad. Today is the funeral for firefighter Daryl Gordon, who died last week after falling down an elevator shaft while fighting a fire at an apartment building in Madisonville. Large crowds of fire officials and civilians gathered downtown this morning to pay their respects to Gordon, whose funeral service began at 10 a.m. at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral on West Eighth Street. Support has come from across the state and, really, from across the world. Firefighters from Columbus (which is sending nearly 200), Anderson Township, Covington, Deerfield Township, Delhi Township, Springfield Township and Sycamore Township will be manning Cincinnati’s fire stations so firefighters here can attend the ceremony. Firefighters from as far away as London and Montreal have traveled here to attend the service. Flags are flying at half-mast across the state in Gordon’s honor on the order of Gov. John Kasich. Gordon was a 26-year veteran of Cincinnati’s Fire Department.

• So I’m getting a serious aversion to the word “streetcar.” Not because I’m opposed to the controversial transit project, necessarily (though my personal feelings about it are admittedly complicated) but because it’s becoming Exhibit A when it comes to how our city struggles ludicrously with big decisions. Yesterday’s Cincinnati City Council Transportation Committee meeting is a good, or really, bad, example of this.

The two-and-a-half-hour meeting was the stuff of migraine sufferers’ nightmares, with back and forth arguments about whether or not to ask SORTA to use union employees to staff the streetcar (more on this in our print edition), a motion demanding that SORTA hand over bids it has received from companies interested in operating the streetcar, whether or not to study possible ways to pay for the project’s next phase, whether or not cost estimates for moving utilities for the project’s next potential phase were hidden from council for a year and more.

Having a number of tough decisions to make in a meeting is one thing. Not making any of them is another all together. The committee made no progress on any of those questions and has tabled a number of the motions it discussed until later this month. Awesome. When I was out of town, I watched the initial drama unfold over the streetcar project with a mix of jealousy that I didn’t get to cover it and gratefulness that I didn’t have to. Now I’m just tired of hearing about it. Like it or hate it, the tracks are in the ground. Stop politicking, both sides, and just get it done already.

• Elsewhere, part of council did decide one thing yesterday: The Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee would like to see Pete Rose reinstated into Major League Baseball so he can be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. The league’s new commissioner Rob Manfred has signaled that he’s willing to talk with Rose about reinstatement, though he’s not making any promises. Council made a similar resolution nearly two decades ago, but members now see a new opportunity for Rose in Manfred’s statements. While it was passing a resolution about baseball, the committee also asked  MLB to recognize black baseball players from the Negro League in the days before baseball was integrated, allowing them to be eligible for the Hall of Fame as well.

• Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Gov. Mike Pence March 26, has been making scorching national headlines because it seems to allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. Could a similar bill come to Ohio? It doesn’t seem likely. Interestingly, Ohio lawmakers tried briefly to pass a similar law last year. The bill was killed early over concerns that it would allow discrimination, and lawmakers say they won’t be trying to pass similar legislation anytime soon.

But Gov. John Kasich has indicated in recent statements that he’s interested in something of a compromise bill — one that offers language both guaranteeing protection of religious freedom and prohibiting discrimination against gays. Ohio does not currently have a law prohibiting hiring or housing discrimination against LGBT people. Meanwhile, following the intense criticism Indiana has received, Gov. Pence has walked back a bit on the law and is now calling on the Indiana State House to clarify it with language making it clear businesses are not allowed to discriminate against gays in the name of religious freedom.

• Meanwhile, Arkansas has also jumped into the “discrimination in the name of religious freedom game,” passing its own RFRA law yesterday. That’s drawn a sharp rebuke from an unexpected source — corporations in the state. Walmart has asked Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill, and Hutchinson has in turn asked lawmakers to make changes to it. Congress passed a federal RFRA law in 1993, and now 21 states now have some form of RFRA law. Importantly, these vary in whether they stipulate that businesses are included in the protection of religious freedoms and whether they can use the law as a defense in lawsuit proceedings. Texas, Indiana and Arkansas are among the few states with this language in their laws. Many legal experts believe these bills are popping up lately in response to the continued march of pro-marriage equality rulings in federal courts as well as the legalization of gay marriage in many states. Thirty-seven states now allow gay marriage. Ohio is arguing before the Supreme Court next month in defense of its 2004 gay marriage ban.

• Finally, here’s a crazy-alarming but really well-executed infographic showing the rise of incarceration rates, by state, throughout the United States from 1978 to 2012. Prepare to be highly depressed. Ohio is well up there in terms of prison population percentage, with 440 inmates per 100,000 people in the state. That’s not as high as some states — Louisiana has almost 900 per 100,000. Still. Yikes. The rise comes from a number of factors, including America’s war on drugs, the advent of the private for-profit prison and other factors. Great.

 
 
by Coltin Hanson 03.31.2015 51 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Reviews at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
burgerama_twinpeaks_jf

Getting a Taste of Burgerama

SoCal fest expands but remains true to its roots

I spent months conjuring a path towards a holiday in the sun. The clutching grasp of the highly irregular Midwest winter had me experiencing the full manifestation of the seasonal doldrums. A cross-country road trip turned out to be my conduit towards metaphorical enlightenment. I found solace in a distant two-day music festival nested in Santa Ana, Calif. But in fear of sounding like a silver-tongued bastard, lets talk turkey. 


This past weekend’s Burgerama was a compact, genre-bending two-day music festival with three separate stages (indoor and outdoor). Burger Records presented a lineup of 80-plus bands that included SoCal favorites Bleached, Ty Segall and FIDLAR but also offered Psych Rock pioneer Roky Erikson, Alternative legends Weezer and the Hip Hop collective Bone Thugs N Harmony. 


While in its fourth year of existence, Burgerama has a well-defined identity. Festival-goers all looked extremely similar as a parallel style and angst ran rampant at The Observatory venue in Santa Ana. Trendy weekend bohemians with eccentric personalities donning ripped denim were not in short supply. The only true individual was the lonesome dad with a disapproving glare and earplugs. 


Burgerama definitely has a common, overwhelming and obvious demographic. A sea of teenagers flooded the venue at the all-ages, weekend festival. My only safe haven from the painful, reminiscent sights of my adolescence was the beer garden, or beer prison (as I affectionately coined it), since you couldn’t freely roam the venue with your $6 beer. But it was the least populated area offering plenty of shade and a great view of the stage. Who would’ve thunk?


Festivals have a stigma of being over-priced and overrated but Burgerama did music fans a solid because for $90 you got two days of music and a better way to spend the weekend than binge watching Netflix and adding on to your to-do list. 


Most of the bands I was looking forward to seeing were scheduled later in the evening, so I had time to check out the handful of bands I was unfamiliar with before Burgerama. I was definitely impressed with my results of aimlessly wandering from stage to stage finding new artists to add to my music collection.  It was hard to pick a favorite performance, but here are a few that stood out that I highly recommend checking out if you haven’t already:


La Luz

This all-female quartet is based out of Seattle. La Luz has an intrinsically noticeable spacey 1950s Surf Rock, Doo Wop influence packed with a healthy amount of reverb, slight pressure on the tremolo bar and a well-mannered slice of four-part vocal harmony. The addition of extremely cohesive instrumentation makes this group captivating. Four extremely talented, women playing beautiful music. 


Broncho

When you put a jangly guitar above a fat drum beat with a driving fuzz bass tone, you get the perfect recipe for a wholehearted dance party. Broncho is quirky, fun and its songs are extremely catchy. The Oklahoma based trio was definitely my favorite band of day one. With underlying traces of Punk and timely use of non-lexical melodies, the pop-minded Broncho put on a great set at Burgerama. Definitely looking forward to catching them at Louisvill’es Forecastle Festival in July. (Check out a Q&A with the band’s Ryan Lindsey below.)


FIDLAR

FIDLAR, which stands for “Fuck it Dog, Life’s a Risk,” is an L.A. Punk band that was passionately received by a slightly aggressive crowd eager to heed the advice of the above acronym. Before the show started, I saw additional security march towards the front of the stage in preparation for the fallout. Even the side stage, which tends to be a refuge from the pit area, was filled with mini-mosh pits. Seeing the band at Burgerama made me excited to see them perform at a smaller venue. FIDLAR will be at Thompson House in Newport on May 16. I love Rhinegeist as much as the next guy, but I’ll be sticking to cheap beer that night. 


Jacco Gardner

Jacco Gardner, a Dutch multi-instrumentalist, was a breath of fresh air from the thematic distortion that could be quickly located throughout the venue. His band was extremely cohesive, offering evident attention to 1960s psychedelia. The intricate and diverse melodies offered comfort to weary eardrums. Gardner is genuinely a great songwriter. 


Mr. Elevator & The Brain Hotel

Mr. Elevator & The Brain Hotel was one of the only groups I looked up prior to Burgerama. The band name alone had me interested. This L.A. rooted psychedelic, keyboard-based four piece put on a phenomenal show despite having to play a shorter set due to a bass amp that blew out. Strictly because of instrumentation, this band will be likened to The Doors but this band has a definite sound of their own. The group members mentioned they are working on a new album currently, and I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from them.


Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is a Chicago based band that I was really looking forward to seeing after hearing their new album, Wild Onion. The energy these guys exerted left me both inspired and exhausted. Their energy transferred to the fans and the photographers in the pit were asked to leave before the agreed time because the crowd was getting too rowdy. Twin Peaks performed a wildly entertaining set; definitely glad I got to watch them. 


Read More

 
 
by mbreen 03.31.2015 52 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
jp

WATCH: Jeremy Pinnell Debuts Song/Video “Feel This Right”

Singer/songwriter collaborates with noted local photographer Michael Wilson for new clip

Stellar local singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell has revealed one of his first new songs since the release of last year’s magnificent album OH/KY in the form of a new music video shot by famed local photographer Michael Wilson. Wilson — who has done promo shots and album covers for artists ranging from Over the Rhine and Joshua Redman to Lyle Lovett and The Replacements — filmed the clip in a Boone County, Ky., horse barn in mid-March, using his “one-shot” (meaning no edits) technique, previously seen in clips from The Emery Sessions a few years back and more recently seen in a pair of clips for local Country band Bulletville's new album

Pinnell, whose sound has shifted towards a more traditional Country vibe since his days with local bands like The Light Wires and The Great Depression, performs in the clip for the new “Feel This Right” backed by his pals, the Honky Tonk crew The 55s, whose Cameron Cochran produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the video. 



"When I walked into the barn and shouted, and listened to the way the sound resonated off the dirt floor and the old wooden siding, I had a feeling something amazing was going to be captured,” Cochran says. “The light was perfect, the day was perfect, the band was in good spirits, the song was great, we had someone with an amazing eye looking through a camera — all we had to do was get out of the way of what was about to happen, and that was exactly what we did."


Pinnell plays April 11 at Over-the-Rhine’s Woodward Theater, before heading out on the road for dates in Tennessee and Texas. Click here for more on Pinnell.


 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.30.2015 53 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_6-18_unionterminal

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar expansion would be costly, Duke says; sales tax increase goes into effect Wednesday; officials make no arrests in one third of U.S. murder cases

Good morning Cincy! It’s finally getting to be bike commuting weather again, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’ve missed showing up to work all sweaty and out of breath with terrible helmet hair, and I’m sure my coworkers have missed it as well. Anyway, enough about my transportation habits, which I seem to talk about a lot in the morning news blog. Let’s get on to the news.

Sweet. More streetcar politics ahead. Moving utility lines to make way for a streetcar extension will be twice as costly as it was for the track currently being laid between Over-the-Rhine and downtown, according to an estimate performed last year by Duke Energy. Duke says the task, which is necessary before tracks are put down, could cost up to $38 million. Boosters want to get started on the next step for the streetcar, which would extend it near the University of Cincinnati and several of the city’s hospitals uptown. Councilman Chris Seelbach last week introduced an ordinance asking the city to begin looking at plans for the extension. But Mayor John Cranley, an ardent opponent of the project, has dismissed calls for the next step of streetcar as “silly.” Those pushing the city to begin planning for the uptown leg of the streetcar say if plans aren’t in place, the city could lose out on millions in federal funds that could help pay for next steps.

• More than 20 residents at the King Towers apartments in Madisonville are wondering where they’ll be staying following the tragic fire that swept through the building last week. That fire claimed the life of Cincinnati Firefighter Daryl Gordon. Representatives for The Community Builders, the building’s owners, on Sunday told residents they needed to be out of their temporary hotel rooms by 11 a.m. Monday morning. That caused an outcry from the residents and others, including members of Madisonville Community Council. Boston-based The Community Builders has since extended residents’ hotel stays until Wednesday and has promised to help find a solution for temporary housing for the residents while the building undergoes clean up and investigation, a process that could take months.

• Ready to start paying for Union Terminal? The county’s sales tax boost kicks in Wednesday after voters approved it in November. You’ll pay an extra .25 cents on the dollar so the county can pay for much-needed renovations to one of Cincinnati’s most iconic landmarks. The rate is going from 6.75 percent to 7 percent.

• A Greater Cincinnati area school district is boosting anti-drug messages to its students in anticipation of a potential marijuana farm nearby. Monroe Schools says a marijuana farm that would be established should legalization group ResponsibleOhio get its way is unwelcome in the city and that it sends messages to students that cancel out years of anti-drug efforts. One of the group’s 10 proposed grow sites would be in Middletown, less than two miles from Monroe’s K-12 public school. In response, the school district, some community leaders and law enforcement officials have teamed up to redouble anti-drug messages to teens, because telling a teenager not to do something is obviously the best way to make it seem uncool and unappealing. Meanwhile, ResponsibleOhio has responded by pointing out their legalization effort is only for those 21 and over. They also claim that the drug is already readily available to many on the black market and that their proposal would limit or eliminate that market.

• Ohio prison officials want to get inmates job interviews. Ohio Prison Director Gary Mohr has discussed efforts to recruit businesses who are willing to employ former inmates and has proposed setting up some inmates with job interviews upon their release. The program aims to cut recidivism among inmates and keep the number of repeat offenders in Ohio’s prisons to a minimum. Studies suggest those who find jobs after being released from prison have a much lower rate of additional criminal activity.

• In national news, here’s an alarming number: Law enforcement agencies make no arrests in one-third of all murders in the United States. That’s up from just 10 percent of homicides in 1965. Though violent crime has gone down across the U.S. in recent years, so have the percentage of cases in which police even find a suspect. The number of murders solved by law enforcement is even lower, since the FBI’s “clearance rate” only measures arrests, not convictions. The bureau estimates some 200,000 murders have gone unsolved since the 1960s. Law enforcement officials often blame a so-called “no snitch” attitude found in many low-income communities, where they say a number of community members refuse to cooperate with the police and help them find suspects. But some experts point out that murders of law enforcement officers, which often take place in those same neighborhoods, have a very high clearance rate, suggesting a difference in priority for different kinds of murder cases.

That’s it for me. Tweet me. Email me. Comment. Have you gotten your bike out yet? What’s the best spring bike ride location in Cincy? Let me know.

 
 
by Staff 03.30.2015 53 days ago
 
 
dean mediterranean imports

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Sung Korean Bistro. Salazar. Dean's Mediterranean. Goetta.

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. Surprisingly, no one ate Indian food. 

Nick Swartsell: Continuing what's become an ongoing addiction, I had a falafel wrap at Dean's Mediterranean in Findlay Market on Sunday. It's easily the best falafel in town — super crisp on the outside and warm and fluffy inside. Plus, the wrap comes packed with all kinds of optional pickled vegetables you don't normally see, hummus and hot sauce. And they give you a side of their curried couscous, which has dried fruit, cilantro and what I think are chickpeas. All that for five bucks. The best part is, it's still pretty under the radar — most people don't know Dean's makes food (they also have pretty killer samosas, FYI). You just walk up to the counter at the front and say the secret code words (which are, conveniently, "I'd like a falafel sandwich, please") and they hook you up.

Rebecca Sylvester: I went to Sung Korean Bistro Saturday night. The food was outstanding. Korean doesn't seem to have an overpowering element like other Asian cuisines (salt in Chinese or sweetness in Thai); the flavor of the ingredients really came through. I ordered the dolsot bibimbap, which is rice, vegetables and a protein served in a 450-degree clay pot. They top it with a sunny-side-up egg and mix it at your table with a chili paste. The pot continues to cook your food the whole time you're eating it, so the rice gets crunchier as you go. So good.

I also appreciate any restaurant that gives me chopsticks first and makes me ask for a fork, not because I am at all good with chopsticks, but because it paces me from eating like Garfield.

Pama Mitchell: I had a super fun time at Salazar on Friday. We sat at the bar, which has a cool design wherein each end has a rounded seating for five — which happened to be our group's number. I was impressed by the craft cocktails, very meticulously made by two bartenders. My "Spy versus Rye" (made with rye whiskey, obviously) was delicious. Also loved the fried Brussels sprouts appetizer (yes!) and an entree of "everything"-crusted salmon. Also notable was the first sign of fiddlehead ferns in the scallops dish. Splendid!

Danny Cross: My girlfriend and I dropped my sister off at Horseshoe Casino Sunday morning — she had made it through Day 1 of a big poker tournament there and was among the final 80 or so players out of 600-something going after a six-figure first place prize. Unfortunately, she was knocked out in 67th place, just five spots away from the lower-level prize monies. She should have just skipped it and went to the Metropole at 21c with us for brunch, because that place is pretty great. I ordered the Breakfast Sandwich (pimento spread, egg, bacon) but without the pimento spread because I'm a child with a terrible palate. This led to a brief discussion about a recent Deadspin article I read detailing tips for eating at a fancy restaurant. Sounds simple, but these are things I sometimes don't know how to do. (I hate tasting wine in front of servers as if I know anything about it or would even consider sending it back.) Katie had the Quinoa Hash (sweet potatoes, avocado, sunny side eggs and cilantro creme fraiche) and thought it was terrific. We split a side of goetta because this is Cincinnati. 

Casey Arnold: My boyfriend's sister* was in town for a poker tournament, so we had a little get together for her, which involved making our own tacos and margaritas. Since she went to the next round, she didn't get to the party until after midnight when all of the taco makings were turned into late night nachos. We stayed up late catching up, which is why we didn't roll out of bed until noon on Saturday. That's when my boyfriend and I crawled our way to Hangover Easy in Clifton. It was packed as usual!

*Editor's note: Casey Arnold is in a relationship with Danny Cross' brother and they are indeed talking about the same sister and the same poker tournament.
 
 
by Nick Grever 03.27.2015 56 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Live Music, Music News at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
jess

Beyond Idol Chatter: The Music/Day Job Balancing Act

Post American Idol, Cincinnati’s Jess Lamb scales back but continues her teaching job

For some musicians, their 9-to-5 is little more than a means to an end. Pizza and guitar strings don’t pay for themselves, after all. Others take pride in their work, both on stage and in the “real world,” but view them as two parts of a whole.

But for Jess Lamb, her twin identities as a musician and teacher are deeply intertwined. She works hard in both professional avenues and has put a large amount of effort into maintaining them, even during her post-American Idol influx of activities. It’s a balancing act with some unexpected complications that she is still learning to walk gracefully. But for Lamb, there is no other choice.


“I think that the public has seen me as a teacher and I don’t want my name to be tainted by this other persona, this other career, this other life. So I don’t want to be slosh drunk. I don’t want to be like Jim Morrison in my experimenting with life. But at the same time there’s a whole other vibe with playing in venues, playing in bars and it is very different from the teacher thing,” Lamb explains.


Before Idol, Lamb’s work as a musician and an ESL teacher were more easily separated. Nowadays, with the added exposure that Idol has brought to her and her late-night performances around town, she has had to go to greater lengths to protect the sanctity of both. A shot of Jameson may not be thrown back with the same careless abandon as a few months prior and photo ops are utterly devoid of the counter-cultural staples of, say, a middle finger or devil horns. This isn’t to say that Lamb was or is a reckless partier at night and a quiet bookworm during the day.


Rather, what happens at night can bleed into the daylight hours and her work in one aspect of life can’t compromise the other. She has to take into account who her new audience members may be and how they learned of Lamb. Being a teacher requires maintaining professionalism at all times. When a teacher is shown on national television, keeping that even-headed mentality all day and all night becomes even more important.


Considering all the time that Lamb has spent on her music after her Idol run, some may wonder why she doesn’t put the teaching on hold for the time being. Between the Idol recaps she does regularly for Fox 19 since leaving the show, the myriad interviews, the residencies at Japps in Over-the-Rhine and Jags in West Chester (as well as other shows), the studio work and all the other opportunities that have arisen, finding time for teaching is pretty much impossible at this point. In fact, Lamb has cut down her teaching work to roughly four hours a week, doing basic lesson planning and similar activities. But she still carves out time for her teaching for a very important purpose.


“I don’t do it for the money, it’s not sustaining me. I do it for my spirit. It’s for something that feels important, I don’t know that what I’m doing all the time feels important,” Lamb says.


She views being a teacher and an entertainer as two professions with two different contributions to society. Music and teaching both give something back to the community at large, but she feels that teaching impacts the public on a much larger scale. While singing in a smoky bar reaches a small amount of people, teaching has a much larger reach.

Ultimately, Lamb is a musician and teacher in equal measure. At this point, the music is taking more of her time, but she is determined to not let it take all of it.


“I don’t want to cancel out one or the other with a teacher persona that’s too square or a Rock star persona that’s too crazy and unstable,” Lamb says.


For Lamb, finding a mix of her two professions and passions is an ever-present struggle. When Idol rocketed her music to the forefront, she has had to constantly work to balance it out with activities that are equally as fulfilling. It hasn’t been an easy process by any means but one that she sees as absolutely necessary. 


Just don’t be offended if she turns down a shot of whiskey next time you run into her in the Main St. district.


Nick Grever is checking in periodically with Cincinnati-based American Idol contest Jess Lamb about her post-Idol life. Check out previous "Beyond Idol Chatter" posts here. Visit jesslamb.com for music, show dates and more.

 
 

 

 

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by Zack Hatfield 05.22.2015 111 minutes ago
at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
the joke

Foreign Film Friday: The Joke (1969)

This weekly series discusses the cultural and artistic implications of a selected foreign film.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a new Milan Kundera short story in The New Yorker. One of my favorite authors, I was intrigued to learn Kundera was releasing his tenth novel — the first in 15 years — later this year (in English; it was previously released in French). Though I enjoy reading Kundera’s work, the Czech author is known for taking umbrage at his books’ English translations. I began to wonder how he felt about his novels that have been translated onscreen, to film. 

Some quick Googling revealed he had served as either screenwriter or consultant on the only adaptations of his works, 1988's Unbearable Lightness of Being and 1969's The Joke, films that bookend the communist regime in the Czech Republic. Disappointed with Unbearable Lightness of Being, an American film starring Daniel Day-Lewis, I turned to The Joke. A film by auteur Jaromil Jireš at the crest of the Czech New Wave movement, its political tides swept the country during the end of the Prague Spring, a brief elision in the Soviet regime where democracy seemed attainable for a fleeting moment. 

I wasn’t disappointed. Not surprisingly, The Joke is inherently political, but its lofty themes of freedom thinly veil a more nuanced, personal narrative of intimacy and revenge. Told in effective jumps from the past and present, the film follows Ludvík, a man who sends a sarcastic jest in the mail to his romantic interest, Markéta, mocking Trotsky. The letter is read by his university comrades in the Party and they sentence him to six years in prison and the army, where he becomes the butt of his own joke. 

Jump to the present: Ludvík attempts to get revenge by seducing Helena, the wife of one of his betrayers from the Party years ago. The film unsnarls with an arid humor as Ludvík’s pessimistic outlook is upended by revelatory moments, often soundtracked by the film’s traditional music. The polyphonic chapters of Kundera’s novel are traded here for colliding tonalities between now and then, as the helixing of the visual tenses instill a sense of upheaval, of never truly being able to escape the past.

Cinematographer Jan Curík frames the imagery with a monochrome staccato to complement the frenetic visual grammar, and Jireš intercuts archival footage with the action to suggest the reality of the atmosphere. Voiceovers are capitalized on frequently, and add a dimension of helplessness that was shown in the book through multiple points of view. As Ludvík narrates his fruitless schemes, there’s a false sense of omniscience, even though it becomes clear that he has no control over his destiny. Jirês captures Kundera’s inimitable brand of existential romance, and Josef Somr plays the protagonist with an understated brilliance and ennui. Trying to convince Helena of his love, the godless Ludvík tells her, “It’s as strong as fate.” 

Kundera has suggested in interviews that all of his novels could have been titled The Joke or Unbearable Lightness of Being, and I found that true in this case, even though there is a clear heaviness to the causes and effects, in and outside the screen. Jireš was exiled after the movie was banned, and was pressured to erase The Joke from his filmography, a film whose weightlessnesses arrive in the form of old Folk songs, a practice that allows the characters to never forget their heritage. Cinema was Jireš’s way to remember, and his second film survives, thankfully, for us. 

It was alleged, in 2009, that Kundera was an informant for the Chezch secret police as a student, and turned over a Western spy who served 14 years after almost facing a death sentence. Whether or not this is true, it intensifies the texture of sin and ambiguity within the film, which Kundera co-wrote. Maybe it was a type of catharsis, a way to cope with his guilt. Or maybe it is the film’s final joke, leaving no one to have the last laugh. 


THE JOKE is currently screening on hulu plus as part of their Criterion Collection. hulu.com.

 
 
by Steven Rosen 05.22.2015 3 hours ago
Posted In: Visual Art at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
peggy crawford candid with raphaela-2

CAC Announces the Death of Founding Member Peggy Crawford

The Contemporary Art Center today announced that founding member Peggy Crawford died on April 18 in Santa Fe, N.M., where she had been living. She was one of three women who founded the CAC's precursor, the Modern Art Society, in 1939. She was able to come to the CAC last September to celebrate its 75th anniversary — an exhibition of her photography was part of the observance.

Here are excerpts from the CAC press release:

Contemporary Arts Center Director Raphaela Platow fondly recalled the impact that Peggy Crawford made on so many: "Mrs. Crawford’s life is an inspiration to me. As a young woman she was one of the three women founders of the Contemporary Arts Center (called Modern Art Society at the time), an institution she initiated, against all odds, in a moment in time when the Great Depression was still shaking the world and the second World War was about to erupt. It is so easy not to do something, to shy away from a great idea because of the many obstacles and hurdles in the way, a lack of resources, or fear of failure. But Peggy Crawford and her two companion co-founders created the Modern Art Society in 1939 because their lives urged them to do it. Mrs. Crawford applied the same passion, tenacity, and energy to her different life pursuits and I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to meet her and to spend time in her presence."

Born in 1917, Peggy Frank graduated from Smith College. In 1939, along with Betty Rauh and Rita Rentschler, she founded the Modern Art Society in Cincinnati, Ohio, which would become the Contemporary Arts Center.

The three founders had little  or no formal museum experience. For a year, their "office" consisted of a portable typewriter set up in a living room. At the start, the society had staunch backers and hard workers, but they had very little money and had only a borrowed gallery space in the basement of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

During the first year, the founders raised $5,000 to produce six exhibitions, each with a catalogue. Their first exhibition, Modern Paintings from Cincinnati (Nov.-Dec. 1939) showed their early commitment to showcasing up-and-coming local artists. 

The fledgling Modern Art Society mounted new and often controversial exhibitions, published catalogues, encouraged local artists and helped promote contemporary art collections and education. Between 1940 and 1951, the Modern Art Society exhibited such artists as Pablo Picasso (1940), George Grosz, Paul Klee and Alexander Calder (1942), Fernand Leger (1944), Rufino Tamayo (1947), Jean Arp (1949) and other new artists in abstraction, Surrealism, modern architecture and contemporary design. One of the highlights of this time was the Cincinnati showing of Picasso’s "Guernica" in 1940 because it represented the first and only time the important work was shown in the Midwest.

Peggy Frank married Ralston Crawford, a painter and photographer, who preceded her in death.

She is survived by two sons, Neelon (Susan Hill), and John, along with a stepson, Robert (Eldrid Crawford).

A memorial service was held at Kingston Retirement Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. April 30, 2015.

 
 
by Staff 05.22.2015 3 hours ago
Posted In: Drinking, Events, Fun, Comedy, Culture, Concerts, Holidays, Life, Movies, Music at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_cincinnatimayfestival700x615

Your Weekend To Do List (5/22-5/25)

Taste of Cincinnati. The May Festival. Memorial Day Weekend.

The big party this weekend is Taste of Cincinnati, but there are plenty of other options if you don't want to spend your entire weekend gorging. Check out the May Festival, Memorial Day Weekend at Spring Grove cemetery, plenty of live music, live theater and more.

FRIDAY
Celebrate the power of the voice with THE MAY FESTIVAL
The May Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious choral festivals in the Western Hemisphere, kicks off its 2015 showcase at Music Hall with Haydn’s “The Creation” on Friday and works by Handel and Vaughn Williams on Saturday. A special May Festival Youth Chorus/May Festival Chorus performance takes place Sunday at Covington, Ky.’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. Renowned guest vocalists will be joining each performance, with pre-concert festivities before Music Hall performances, including al fresco food trucks, lobby recitals, drink specials and more. The May Festival continues through May 30. $12-$125; subscriptions available. More details at mayfestival.com.


Mamma Mia!
Photo: Universal Pictures
Bring a blanket for MOVIES IN THE VINEYARD
You can pop corks or corn at Vinoklet Winery’s vineyard, which is hosting three outdoor movie nights this summer. On Friday, get your Streep on when they show Mamma Mia! on the silver screen amid the sprawling acres of the award-winning vineyard. And hey, if ABBA isn’t your thing, you can catch later flicks in June and July with Under the Tuscan Sun and Phantom of the Opera, respectively. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair, but no outside coolers, drinks or food; picnic snacks, beer and wine will be for sale. 7 p.m. Friday; film starts at dusk. Free. 11069 Colerain Ave., Colerain, vinokletwines.com.

The Cavalcaders
Photo: Pat Conley
Erin go Bragh with the ACTING IRISH INTERNATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL
Irish theater is top of mind locally, what with the warm-hearted Outside Mullingar continuing at Ensemble Theatre and this week an international festival of Irish acting. Catch daily performances of full-length Irish plays produced by companies from the U.S., Canada and Ireland — including our own Irish American Theater Company of Cincinnati, which is hosting the 22nd annual festival at its 200-seat theater. George Heslin, founder and artistic director of New York City’s Origin Theatre Company, critiques each day’s production and presents awards for directing, acting and production during a brunch on Sunday morning at downtown’s Millennium Hotel. Through May 23. $17-$22. Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati, 3905 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-533-0100, irishcenterofcincinnati.com.

Circle Mirror Transformation
Photo: Sandy Underwood
Learn and laugh with CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION 
Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation is a deceptively simple play — on the surface, it’s a comedy about five people enrolled in a community center class about learning how to act. They work their way through six weeks of exercises intended to reduce their inhibitions and open them to being more expressive and comfortable onstage. None seem bound for onstage careers, although one says she’s worked as an actress and another, a high school student, aspires to be one. But they do learn a lot — about themselves and each other. In fact, they learn how to act on the broader stage of life in this award-winning play that’s closing the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s current season. Circle Mirror Transformation, presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, is onstage through June 7. cincyplay.com

Steve Katz
Rock with Blood, Sweat & Tears' STEVE KATZ at the Southgate House Revival
According to Publishers Weekly, Steve Katz’s new memoir Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ’n’ Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star? has maybe the most spectacular revelation yet of any Rock memoir. Katz was a guitarist with two successful Rock bands in the 1960s, The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, and he went on in the 1970s to produce Lou Reed’s classic live album, Rock n Roll Animal. Katz says one of the stereo feeds of the audience track for Reed’s Animal concert at New York’s Academy of Music was lost, so there was only mono sound. That wouldn’t work, so the engineer went through his archives and found an audience track from a concert by the ultra-square John Denver. (Both were RCA recording artists at the time.) Steve Katz plays Newport's Southgate House Revival on Friday. Tickets/more info here.

SATURDAY
Taste of Cincinnati
Photo: Provided
Gorge yourself at TASTE OF CINCINNATI
It’s no secret the food scene in the Queen City rivals that of major U.S. metropolises — a few OpenTable award winners, some James Beard Award semifinalists and even a AAA Five-Diamond restaurant call Cincinnati home. And from Saturday to Monday, your favorite Cincy foodstuffs will be in one location at the Taste of Cincinnati, the nation’s longest running culinary arts fest in the heart of downtown. Want to chase LaRosa’s with a donut grilled cheese from Tom+Chee? And then follow that up with a Thai basil/lime ice pop from streetpops? At Taste, you can, and you should. This year there will even be a Food Truck Alley on North Broadway off of Sixth. I recommend fasting until then. 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday. Free. Fifth Street, between Vine and Sentinel streets, Downtown, tasteofcincinnati.com.

Outside Mullingar at Playhouse in the Park
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
Catch the extended OUTSIDE MULLINGAR at the Ensemble Theatre 
Count on John Patrick Shanley for compelling storytelling: His Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Doubt explored the power of innuendo; his Academy Award-winning movie Moonstruck was a romantic comedy. His play Outside Mullingar lands squarely between those extremes, connecting with his family’s roots in rural Ireland for a tale of identity, heritage and love. It’s sure to be a winning production with a cast featuring Dale Hodges, Joneal and Jen Joplin (yes, they’re father and daughter) and Brian Isaac Phillips, directed by former Playhouse artistic director Ed Stern. This show is likely to be a hot ticket: It’s already been extended by a week. Through May 30. $40-$44 adult; $25 student; $18 senior/children. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.

Ian Bagg
Photo: Provided
Laugh with IAN BAGG
Ian Bagg had dreams of playing pro hockey, but switched to comedy because he grew tired of getting knocked around the ice by players he describes as decidedly more talented than him. Fortunately, he had a knack for humor. “It’s so much fun being on a [hockey] team and hanging out,” he says. “I think that’s where I got my comedy chops: chirping at everyone from the bench and in the locker room and having a great time.” Fellow hockey fan Dave Coulier told CityBeat a very similar story a few months back. Oddly, Bagg and Coulier have never met. “You’d think if there’s anyone I would know, it’s a guy that does comedy and plays hockey,” he says. Thursday-Sunday. $10-$20. Funny Bone on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnyboneonthelevee.com.

The Cincinnati Boxing Story
Watch the premiere THE CINCINNATI BOXING STORY
The world premiere of The Cincinnati Boxing Story screens at Taft Information Technology High School on Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End on Saturday. Mark Sweeney’s film explores how Cincinnati is a boxing town that has long produced great fighters — most notably Ezzard Charles himself — and examines our boxing history with past and present champions and their supporters. 6 p.m. Saturday. $15. 420 Ezzard Charles Drive, West End, facebook.com/sweeneynowvideo.

Celebrate art all day with the ART SPACE IS YOUR SPACE artist in residence at Wave Pool gallery
Wave Pool gallery’s first artist in residence, Georgia-based artist and filmmaker Erin Colleen Johnson, organized several events Saturday that seek to investigate the intersection of race, class, migration, agriculture and environmental justice, all through the lens of soil. A groundbreaking ceremony for Camp Washington’s Urban Farm (3220 Colerain Ave.) involves setting personal intentions with a ceremonial shovel. Later at the gallery, David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, will talk about his work to eliminate racism within the criminal justice system, and Johnson herself will give a live performative video lecture called Providence Canyon. Groundbreaking 11 a.m.; Gallery events start at 6 p.m. Saturday. Free. 2940 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, wavepoolgallery.org.

SUNDAY
Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later
Photo: CHHE Collection
Remember history with UNLOCKING THE GATES OF AUSCHWITZ
The Freedom Center’s current Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later exhibit weaves together rare artifacts, photographs and the personal stories of Holocaust survivors Werner Coppel and Bella Ouziel to explore their journey and how life and the power of the human spirit continued in the face of the horrors of Auschwitz. Also on view are artifacts on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Hebrew Union College and more. A closing reception May 27 features a conversation with Coppel and Ouziel, as well as special recognition of area liberators and veterans to commemorate the end of World War II. Through May 27. $14 adults; $12 seniors; $10 children. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, freedomcenter.org.

Ohhh and ahhh over ZOO BABIES
Celebrate the newest arrivals at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden during the entire month of May, where you'll find the cutest baby faces from all over the globe. Follow the six-foot-tall pink and blue stork statues displayed throughout the zoo to lead you to baby African lions, penguin chicks, bonobo monkeys, a whole litter of African painted dogs and more, as their big eyes, miniature sizes and playful personalities melt your heart. Through May. Park admission $18 adults; $12 children and seniors. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org.

MONDAY
Memorial Day Weekend at Spring Grove
Photo: Provided
Celebrate MEMORIAL DAY AT SPRING GROVE
Between kicking off Memorial Day weekend with the Ohio Military band performing in the Rose Garden Gazebo, a veterans tribute and a historical Patriots and Pioneers walking tour of the cemetery, Spring Grove has the entire weekend jam-packed with activities. On Monday, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry will perform an 1860s Grand Army of the Republic ritual and shower flower petals on the graves of union soldiers interred in Spring Grove, followed by a living history presentation by President Abraham Lincoln (or a man dressed like him) and a Civil War walking tour. Thursday-Monday. Free. 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Spring Grove Village, 513-681-7526, springgrove.org.

Over the Rhine
Photo: Provided
Raise a barn with OVER THE RHINE
Barns and farms have played an important role in the history of Over the Rhine, married couple Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist’s internationally acclaimed, 25-year-old Cincinnati band. The couple met in a restored barn while in college in Canton, Ohio. For the past decade, the twosome has lived in and worked out of a brick farmhouse in Highland County on land they’ve dubbed “Nowhere Farm.” And now Detweiler and Bergquist are restoring a 140-year-old barn in Clinton County (in the village of Martinsville) and transforming it into a performing arts center with a recording studio called Nowhere Else.  As with Over the Rhine’s past two albums, Detweiler and Bergquist are turning to their loyal fanbase to help fund the new facility. The band is offering a variety of perks for donations. Among the perks (starting at the $100 level) are tickets to special preview concerts at Nowhere Else this weekend (the couple is hoping to have the facility fully ready to open by early October). The full six-piece band is performing special “Barn Raising Concerts” on Saturday (which is sold out), Sunday (7 p.m.) and Monday (3 p.m.). Over the Rhine will be debuting new songs at the concerts, which will be filmed and recorded for a forthcoming live album and DVD project. The release can be pre-ordered as part of the fundraising campaign. Visit at overtherhine.com/barnraising for full details.

Veterans and military get in free at BUTTERFLIES OF THE PHILIPPINES
As Cincinnati welcomes spring, the Krohn Conservatory welcomes the colorful and exotic butterflies of the Philippines. For 12 weeks, Krohn will transform into a majestic tribute to the Southeast Asian island country, capturing its stunning natural beauty and Filipino culture. The showroom will be a tropical paradise of free-flying butterflies soaring among waterfalls and bold volcanic murals. A rainforest under glass, the conservatory will be filled with more than 3,500 beautiful plant species, such as ornate orchids, brilliant bromeliads, delicate anthuriums and dramatic dracaenas, providing a backdrop close to home for the native butterflies to flutter. Free for active military and veterans on Memorial Day. Through June 21. $7 adult; $4 children; free ages 4 and younger. 1501 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiparks.com.



 
 
by Rick Pender 05.22.2015 4 hours ago
Posted In: Theater at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cappies recipients

Stage Door: Theater Critics of the Future?

There’s lots happening on Cincinnati stages this weekend — including excellent productions of Circle Mirror Transformation at the Cincinnati Playhouse and Outside Mullingar at Ensemble Theatre. The Cincinnati Fringe Festival is right around the corner. But I want to use this week’s Stage Door to highlight a glimpse of the future. Tonight the CAPPIE AWARDS will celebrate productions and performers from area high schools with a festive event at the Aronoff Center’s Procter & Gamble Hall.

Among the students being recognized are critics. That’s right: As part of the Cappies, teens from high schools visit other schools to critique performances. I have the privilege of handing out awards to the outstanding team of students from one particular high school. Starting last year, another recognition was added, sponsored by CityBeat, identifying the outstanding single critique written over the course of the year.

I received a half-dozen essays deemed by Cappies organizers to be the best pieces written during the 2014-2015 school year. (I did not know the names of the critics or their high schools when I was picking the winner.) At tonight’s ceremony, I’ll announce one I believe to be the best. You can read all of the reviews I considered in today’s blog, below. In addition to taking home a dandy trophy, the winner is invited to review a FringeNext show, one of three high school productions presented at the Cincy Fringe next week.

I urge you to read what these insightful young people have written about productions at other schools. It’s possible that someday one of these promising writers will be writing about shows and helping theater fans decide what to see onstage in Greater Cincinnati.


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.



West Side Story at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy

REVIEWED BY COLE HANKINS, Loveland High School

Amidst a fearsome gang war, two lovers are forever torn apart by the pull of a pistol’s trigger. And as a girl mourns her horrible loss, she extends two hands, one to each side. In the left hand, a Jet; in the right, a Shark, two groups sworn enemies, now holding hands united under common loss. It is with this heart-wrenching image of solidarity that Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy’s production of West Side Story leaves its audience, and with this image that its excellence finally hits home.

An American theatrical classic, West Side Story takes place in New York City, where two local teenage gangs — the Caucasian “Jets” and Puerto Rican “Sharks” — are amidst a territorial dispute. Jets leader Riff plans to challenge the Sharks and leader Bernardo to a rumble in order to settle the issue. However, the plot thickens when fellow Jet Tony meets Bernardo’s sister Maria, and the two quickly fall in love. The result is ultimately a situation spun far out of control, a vengeful gunshot separating the lovers forever, and grave consequences to a merciless feud.

Fittingly, CHCA’s production started with a bang in “Prologue,” where the Jets’ and Sharks’ choreographic and combat execution splendidly set the tone for the action to come. The Jets were particularly sharp in songs such as “Jet Song” and the lighthearted character number “Gee, Officer Krupke.” Other show highlights included the upbeat, toe-tapping song “America,” and “Tonight,” where both Jets and Sharks alike came together for a powerful prelude to the action-packed “The Rumble.”

As headliner Tony, actor Will Ellis’s performance was defined by pristine tenor vocals and a captivating vibrato, mastering his character’s higher range. In solo songs like “Maria,” Ellis never shied away from the spotlight, boldly owning critical character moments. Opposite of Ellis, Allie Kuroff’s operatic soprano was equally impressive as the lovely Maria, clearly acting her finest in the show’s riveting finale. Both Ellis and Kuroff played their roles with a unique tenderness, providing an interesting presentation of two classic characters.

Likewise, actress Merrie Drees brought a thrilling flair to the flashy, spunky Anita. Drees’s powerfully sassy vocals proved phenomenal, and her ability to balance great comedic timing in earlier scenes with compelling emotion later on was marvelous, a dynamic lacking in other characters. As the charismatic Riff, Gabe Hoyer also crafted an extraordinary performance. Hoyer featured a mesmerizing gravity to his presence that added an unmistakable charm to Riff, making his Act I death one of the musical’s most tragic moments.

Tasked with a very challenging musical score, the CHCA Orchestra played fabulously. Despite drowning out certain vocalists at times, the pit kept accompaniment clean, crisp, and well polished throughout. Equally crisp and well polished was manager Kaitlyn Nickol’s stage crew, making scene changes promptly and effortlessly and contributing to the show’s timely pacing.

Doing justice to one of the most beloved musicals of all time is undoubtedly a daunting task. Yet as the lights faded on that aforementioned scene of unity, the cast of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy’s recent production of West Side Story had accomplished exactly this. In a wildly successful effort, these talented performers honored not only the endearing charm of this theatrical legend, but also its strikingly poignant message.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Larry A. Ryle High School

REVIEWED BY ELEANOR CONNIFF, Highlands High School

Although written nearly 400 years ago, the works of William Shakespeare are still revered today as some of the most influential in all of Western literature. The Bard's plays are usually an essential component of any English course. The classic tales are still performed often by actors and theatre companies alike. It is difficult to imagine something as old as the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio in 1623 continuing to remain relevant and entertaining to audiences. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by Larry A. Ryle High School, students brought life to the timeless classic and gave a performance that stayed true to the tradition of Shakespeare with unique and original twists.

The story of A Midsummer Night's Dream centers around a love triangle, or rather, rectangle, between Hermia and Lysander, two star-crossed lovers; Demetrius, who loves Hermia, although unrequited; and Helena, who loves Demetrius. When Puck, a mischievous fairy from the woods, accidentally casts a spell on the two young men, he reverses their affections, causing both to fall in love with Helena. Chaos ensues as Puck attempts to reverse the mistaken spell and keep peace within both the fairy and the lovers' world.

In Larry A. Ryle's production of this classic story, the students met the challenge of Shakespeare with eagerness and understanding of the style, far beyond the years of most high school students. The production also paired the original Shakespearean text with 1950s style costumes, props, and characters in order to portray a commentary on the time period's stratified nature and to modernize the theme of unrequited love.

Under the pressures of a four-way love triangle, Willow Davis's portrayal of Helena stood out among the leading roles of the show as her characterization and poise set her apart. Helena’s nagging but endearing nature allowed the audience to laugh at her melodramatic soliloquies while also sympathizing with her broken heart. Samuel Greenhill stood out in his portrayal of Demetrius as well, creating a character that was both likable and antagonistic and keeping him true to the attitudes of the time period.

Of course, it is impossible to forget Macy Bates’s performance as the mischievous Puck. The youthful energy that she brought to the role was extremely refreshing and played well into her comedic timing, keeping the audience laughing again and again.

From a technical aspect, the show was extremely fine-tuned. Albert Harris's lighting was absolutely stunning, with a purposeful contrast in the lighting of the fairy world versus that of the real world. This choice, while subtle, was extremely impactful, as the set's minimalist style made the setting of the story extremely ambiguous and versatile, with the shift in lighting as the main indicator of shifting worlds.

Love and mischief are the same now as they were in the 1950s, and the same in the 1950s as they were in Shakespeare's time. Larry A. Ryle High School's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream portrayed these themes in a fresh and unique way, while also paying homage to the tradition of William Shakespeare.

 

Beauty and the Beast at McAuley High School

REVIEWED BY SAMANTHA TIMMERS, Scott High School

It’s not every day you see a humanoid clock charging at foes with a silver fork. Nor is it every day that an audience finds themselves yet again floored by a performance they've seen on the screen a hundred times before. Yet in this heartwarming rendition of Beauty and the Beast, McAuley High School charmed both adult and child once again through their humor and talent.

This stage rendition, written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Linda Wolverton, is actually an adaptation of an adaptation. The Oscar-winning movie version with which the world is familiar came out in 1991, the inspiration stemming from the 1756 fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. In this third version, a beautiful and bookish Belle becomes the only hope for a long-forgotten castle staff and Prince, who are slowly becoming inanimate objects as a result of a spell caused by the Prince’s vanity. But can Belle learn to love a Beast who can barely learn to love anyone else?

Overall, McAuley created a magnificent performance that was filled with magic and surprises. The cast was bouncing with energy from start to finish, and their vocal quality was solid amongst all actors. The technical crew skillfully created a lively atmosphere that resonated with audience members, phenomenally recreating classic scenes. With glittering costumes and whimsical choreography, Beauty and the Beast did not disappoint.

Danielle Mouch was extraordinary in her performance as Belle. Her vocal quality was pristine and clear, effortlessly reaching every note as well as maintaining her character’s spunky yet thoughtful personality. Gregory Miller, a well-established actor in Cincinnati high school theater, outdid expectations in his performance as the Beast. Though he might have had hair and tusks masking his face, his powerful yet perfectly controlled voice said more than facial expressions ever could.

Audience favorites included the actors playing Lumière and Cogsworth. AJ Keith’s (Cogsworth) dry humor was expertly delivered and well received, his deadpans flawless and his mannerisms appropriate for the endearing yet bossy character. Benjamin Burton seemed to be made for the role of Lumière: his French accent was spot-on (and maintained throughout the length of the show), and his eye for comedy was terrific—all it took was a few suggestive hip movements to send the audience into uncontrollable laughter.

The crew provided dazzling effects for the show. The lighting was of almost professional quality, with a highlight being the mystical, Northern Lights-sequel brilliance that occurred during the Beast’s transformation. While the costumes seemed to closely follow the movie adaptation, they were of high quality and were well constructed and designed. The choreography flowed seamlessly, from the Mob’s parade around the auditorium to the Wolves’ deathly yet entrancing dance. Overall, McAuley’s crew was a force to be reckoned with, achieving seemingly magical transitions and mirages.

In this tale as old as time, McAuley High School enchanted youth and elderly alike with its whimsy personality and spellbinding characters, reminding everyone not to be deceived by appearances; there “may be something there that wasn't there before.”


The Mourner’s Bench at the School for Creative and Performing Arts

REVIEWED BY SARAH MORGAN, Mariemont High School

A single gunshot can end a life, create irreversible emotional damage, and shatter even the closest of relationships in an instant. The School for Creative and Performing Arts’ dark, poignant, and haunting performance of The Mourners’ Bench explored the crippling emotional aftermath of a deplorable tragedy.

The first act opened up to an intense argument between siblings Bobby (Bradley Mingo) and Melissa (Nina Walker). Twenty years after they witnessed their father shoot their mother, Evelyn, in a murder-suicide, Bobby and Melissa have still not healed. While Melissa has attempted to move on with her life, marrying a nice man and bearing two children, Bobby is trapped in a state of perpetual dependency, turning to alcohol and eventually buying the childhood house in which the tragedy occurred. Mingo and Walker perfectly captured the essence of a tumultuous sibling relationship, from emotionally depleting shouting matches to interrupting one another mid-sentence. The two were able to adroitly deal with dark themes, including murder, rape, and suicide, by presenting an air of deep gravity and maturity to their lines.

Act Two, set immediately after Evelyn’s funeral, featured her sisters Caroline (Mallory Kraus) and Wilma (Danielle Brockmann) bickering about the future of their niece and nephew. Kraus and Brockmann both give performances rife with emotion, utilizing familiar body language to heighten the intimacy of their conversation. The timing of their dialogue was natural and seemed completely organic, inviting the viewer into their quarrel. Brockmann approached her role as Wilma with a gentle softness, providing a foil for Kraus’s seemingly callous, unemotional Caroline. The scene ended touchingly, with Kraus playing the piano while Brockmann watched, a testament to the boundless power of redemption.

Act Three centered around elderly, married couple Joe (Cameron Baker) and Sarah (Maggie Hoffecker). They moved into Bobby and Melissa’s childhood home immediately after the tragedy and become inextricably tangled in the history of the house they have purchased. The tenderness between Hoffecker and Baker truly reflected that of a couple on the brink of death; while just sitting next to each other on a couch, they seem comfortable and at ease, with no trace of awkwardness. By the end of the scene, sniffling could be heard throughout the theater as the pair gazed out of a window, contemplating life’s transience.

SCPA’s theater was a room with seating on all four sides, providing an intimate view of the stage and connecting the audience to the characters. The set was sparse: a living room furnished with an unadorned couch and a dilapidated piano. The simpleness of the set allowed the raw emotion of the actors to shine through, creating a memorable performance.

All in all, SCPA’s production of The Mourners’ Bench was an evocative and haunting testament to the power of loss, recovery, and redemption.

 

Sweeney Todd at Taylor High School

REVIEWED BY MADISON LUKEN, St. Ursula Academy 

A trip to the barber never seemed so dangerous than in Taylor High School’s production of Sweeney Todd, where deceit leads to a menagerie of questionable pies, ineffective Italian barbers and a tempest of revenge, violence and tragedy.

An ordinary barber, husband and young father, Benjamin Barker has his world turned upside down when he is thrown in jail on a trumped-up charge that costs him his wife and daughter. Escaping prison, Barker renames himself Sweeney Todd and moves back into his shop on Fleet Street when he discovers the suicide of his wife Lucy. Out for blood, he teams up with the pie baker below his flat, Mrs. Lovett, to take revenge on the ones responsible — Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford. Leaving a trail of deception, misery and gore in his wake, Sweeney Todd becomes the demon barber of Fleet Street in this haunting musical thriller.

From the smoke that billowed from Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop to the synchronization of the company in “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir,” the unwavering commitment of both the cast and crew of this show did not go unnoticed in both details and central events. Every aspect of the show came together to create a product of suspense, drama, and overall beauty as an elaborate set, apt lighting and emotional vocals blended with the energy of everyone on and off stage.

Despite the incredible amount of music and its difficulty, the leads of the show, Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, performed by Antonio Ortiz and Annie Gerth respectively, conquered the tumultuous trials of Steven Sondheim almost flawlessly. In addition to this vocal aptitude, Gerth was able to portray the comedic elements of Lovett through her accent and equally strong acting propensity. Reciprocated by Ortiz, the two radiated a brilliant, psychotic chemistry that was always present, especially in songs such as “A Little Priest.”

A buttress to the leading couple, the ensemble floated eerily onto the stage relentlessly, booming out “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and “City on Fire” without wavering. Additionally appearing repeatedly, the Beggar Woman, played by Eliana Batsakis, brought further skill to light both vocally and in her physical acting as she drifted across the stage, crawling in the shadows of London, cackling manically and uttering desperate warnings until she met her demise.

Behind the scenes, this show demanded both sets and costumes reflective of the dark, dirty setting of 19th-century London. In both areas, demands were met, as buildings faded into darkness under a smoky pall and windows appeared cracked in places like Fogg’s Asylum while their inhabitants skulked about in ripped clothes with faces scorched with the grime of the streets. The crew was also able to create credible deaths with their use of stage blood.

Altogether, Taylor’s production was consistent and energetic in every scene of the show, creating a thrilling and gripping story through its performers and behind-the-scenes crew. It was ultimately well deserving of the standing ovation it received.


Once Upon a Mattress at Ursuline Academy

REVIEWED BY CARISSA SAFFIRO, Cincinnati Christian Schools

From childhood one is taught that princesses are the immaculately beautiful creatures that epitomize all that is grace and beauty. Who could imagine that the next princess of a medieval land would be an uncouth and unruly woman from the swamps? Ursuline Academy’s recent production of Once Upon a Mattress explores what happens when an ill-mannered yet charming woman steps — or rather swims — into court looking for a prince.

Written in the 1950s, Once Upon a Mattress is a musical comedy adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” The musical was written by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer, and Dean Fuller with lyrics and music by Marshall Barer and Mary Rodgers, respectively. The show features Princess Winnifred of the swamplands who comes to marry Dauntless the Drab, despite all the women before her who have been turned down by his tyrannical mother. Following the classic tale, the queen puts a pea under twenty mattresses to determine whether Winnifred is a true princess.

With intricate music and challenging characters, the leads of Once Upon a Mattress certainly had their work cut out for them. The ludicrously uncouth yet lovable Princess Winnifred was played by Kennedy Carstens. From the moment she stepped on the stage the audience was in the palm of her hand and her vocal performance was unequalled by any cast member in the show. CJ Allen had the challenge of playing the role of Dauntless the Drab and chose to play this arguably flat character with a charming and comedic twist. The audience’s narrator and another lead actor in the show was the Minstrel, played by Arjun Sheth. Sheth not only brought the audience through the show with a confidence and charisma, but also had the vocal range required for the role.

King Sextimus the Silent, played by Michael Viox, was another leading force in the show, although because of an old curse he was unable to speak for most of the musical. However, his inability to communicate with words in no way inhibited his connection with the audience or his stage presence. His counterpart and friend, the Jester, played by Claire Westover, played alongside Viox with excellent chemistry but also showed a deeper side of her character as well as impressive tapping ability in her song “Very Soft Shoes.” Carmen Carigan must also be commended for her performance as the Wizard. Although in a smaller part, Carigan has the ability to leave the audience clapping and laughing hysterically every time she stepped off stage.

The most unique thing about Ursuline, however, is the wealth of talent in their dancers. The dancing chorus was always together whether they were doing ballet or tap. With dancers such as Keely Wissel on point and other incredible soloists such as Caroline Nymberg, the dancers stood out as one of the highlights of the show.

The technical aspects of the show seemed to move effortlessly. There were few to no microphone errors, although the cast was working with fifteen wireless mikes, and the lighting was flawless. Arguably the most unique and ingenious part of the show was the costuming. Almost completely student-made, the costumes were imaginative and well put together. In the chorus, each lady’s costume had a corresponding knight’s costume, just one example of the color and brightness of the show.

The costumes, actors, and dancers certainly mirrored the fun, bright, and slightly unconventional style of this production and brought the audience for an enjoyable ride.

 
 
by Josh Elstro 05.21.2015 26 hours ago
Posted In: Live Music, Festivals at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
shakyknees

Shaky Knees Festival: No Puns Necessary

Despite some limitations, Atlanta's Shaky Knees offered an enjoyable music fest experience

I'm swirling a 24 oz. PBR tall-boy around 2 a.m. at a bar fashioned from an old church in a neighborhood I can't quite figure out. Is it up-and-coming like our own Over-the-Rhine? Or are we "on the wrong side of the tracks"? I don't really care at this point. I've already gotten drunk once today and spent 12 hours in the burning southern sun. I just want a bed.

There are 20-somethings in rompers, board shorts and woven sandals hunting for a festival after-party lined up around the block waiting for over an hour to sit on picnic benches and drink crummy beers together at a 300% markup over buying them at a gas station. We are only inside because someone among some newly found friends has sweet-talked the back door guy. Point is, I'm bored and ready for bed. I engage a fellow Cincinnatian at this bar after awkwardly sitting in silence for the past 30 minutes. Someone points to an open garage door leading to an abandoned courtyard where a bonfire is burning and shadowy figures have been shuffling in and out of all night. Oh man … I've been to these parties back home. They often end in way more cocaine than I'm comfortable being around or racially tense fights. But it’s the path I have to take to find out where I can sleep, so I throw my hood up to go as unnoticed as possible and dive in.

"If you high as fuck and you having a good time say yeah!"


"YEAH!!"


"If you drunk as fuck and you having a good time say yeah!”

"YEAH!!"

A track starts playing a familiar synth line. Everyone in the rundown rock yard throws their hands up in unison and screams, "I DONT FUCK WIT' YOU!!" Big Sean's breakup anthem blares over the PA. Yes! I'm so down with this. The fact that I'm in dirty soccer shorts and an Against Me! hoodie doesn't matter. The fact that I'm not from here doesn't matter. My age doesn't matter. My race doesn't matter. We all dance and sing along together until the cops show up. Forget the kids waiting in line to drink bad beer on park benches hoping to get laid; this is the most live party I've been to in a long while and nothing like it has ever happened back home.

But this isn't home, it's Atlanta. And it's the best part of Shaky Knees festival. I had headed to the unofficial
capital of the South two days
earlier with wildly different expectations. I was nervous, expecting an endlessly
expansive metropolis like
Chicago or New York where you
could get lost for days just
searching for a legal parking spot
and shouldn’t expect to find a place to rest your head for less than $100 per night.

Instead I was greeted by a uniquely diverse, affordable and welcoming city that didn’t feel much more overbearing than Nashville or our own city. A welcoming attitude of southern charm and hospitality was the cherry on top of every restaurant and bar we’d visit.

Before I go on I feel it should be pointed out that while fully qualified to review a music festival, I fall into a not so primary target demo for festival promoters. Yes I’m white and middle class, but, more importantly, I’m 29. Not young enough to save up my graduation money and go on a road trip with my gal pals for the “party of the summer.” Not late enough in my 30s, with kids of my own old enough to either stay home alone or come with as I check out whatever ’80s Alt band has dusted themselves off to play in the twilight hours of each day in the name of collecting a paycheck. Most of my demographic is too busy being spit up on at all hours of the night by their newborns to afford spending three days drinking in the sun and being blasted by unhealthy decibel levels. But, alas, here I am.

That all being said, my only real complaint with Shaky Knees was its lack of diversity. It is in the Hip Hop capital of the south (several jokes were made asking locals if Outkast are the “presidents of Atlanta”), but it failed to feature a single Hip Hop or R&B act. There was a small representation of Delta music with Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty dotting the schedule early Sunday afternoon (which I unfortunately missed as my attendance was unplanned and last minute, so I had to spend Sunday driving home for work). Every band I saw was just white guys with guitars. Not that there’s anything wrong with some of that, but I didn’t see a single other act that had more than one token female or person of color (the exception being Tennis, which had one extra woman on keys tucked in the back of the stage).

Atlanta’s location provides for an amazing opportunity to unite a wide array of music lovers from all over the country. I met travelers from places as far as New York, Miami, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn. It has a stronger African-American middle class than most of the Midwest, as I experienced amongst its nightlife and food scene, and yet the culture of the festival was still focused primarily on a white, suburban, Indie Rock or Folk crowd, which is a shame. Some minor lineup tweaks could make all the difference for an otherwise amazing festival.

Enough of that. We’re here to talk about performances, so let’s party …

DAY 1
Jukebox the Ghost While assessing the lay of the land we settled into our first full set with the Piano Rock trio. My friend, who knows my taste well enough to know I’d instantly
want to judge
them, insisted I
give it a chance. It took a minute,
but with interlude
banter like, "This
is a party song
about breaking
up," or "This is the
dumbest song
ever written,"
these guys are
just having too
much fun to not
want to join in. I
mean, come on
— they closed with
a cover of
Queen’s "Don’t Stop Me Now" (yeah, they really had the balls to do that!) knowing full well their younger fan base would be totally lost and they didn’t give a single fuck. Kudos guys. You will do just fine in this world so long as your hairlines stay in tact.

Tennis I was merely nodding appreciatively through most of their set. Then lead singer Alaina Moore, whose neckline plunged all the way to the top of her high-waisted jeans with nothing but some hard working gravity protecting her from indecent exposure charges, introduced the song “Marathon.” One of the band’s older songs, it’s a solid straight up Doo Wop tune. (Now we’re talkin’!) I was pulled in for just a moment. But then all I could do is re-Imagine them as the opening band in the dance in Back to the Future with this same look and style. Marty never even gets the chance to rip through “Johnny B Goode.” The scene would already be too wild for Hill Valley circa 1955 to handle. There are riots in the streets! Marty disappears from the family photo and his existence fades into obscurity. Fin.

Wavves “Finally ‘the youths’ are partying!” I spent a good chunk of this set under the bright sun on searing black top thinking, “There’s gonna be some seriously dehydrated kids in sweaty ironic tees later.” Wavves’ first record was the only thing that swayed me to let my guard down and learn to accept the lo-fi revolution. Plus, “King of the Beach” is a total jam. But something just isn’t right about the energy of this young crowd. It’s like the Warped Tour of my youth for a new generation that doesn't have a George Bush to rally against and vent their angst toward. There’s a wave of aggressive indulgence in the pile of sweaty bodies that’s directed at nothing in particular and I’m too old or out of touch to understand it. Mostly I was thinking Hedonismbot from Futurama would fit right in crowd surfing over this pit. “Oh my!” Wavves new song was on point, though, perhaps suggesting a move away from the low-fi fuzz that covered up the simplicity of their previous work to something a little more richly melodic.

Manchester Orchestra I had to give this band a chance as my roommate texted me from back home insisting I check it out. I trust her. So I go. And, yeah, it’s heavy and I like that, but I’m not sure I get it yet. There are these glimmers of sing-along anthem glory, but in my 30-45 minute blind taste test of them I didn’t get enough of that flavor to crave seconds. Maybe some more research before they visit us for Bunbury next month will bring me around.

The Mountain Goats “AND HARD TIMES ARE WHEN A MAN HAS WORKED AT A JOB 30 YEARS AND THEY KICK HIM IN THE BUTT AND SAY: HEY, A COMPUTER HAS TOOK YOUR PLACE, DADDY. THAT’S HARD TIMES!” This is part of the epic, booming three-minute intro that sets the stage for The Mountain Goats’ show, a voiceover shouting a challenge to the Macho Man Randy Savage daring him to a fight in the ring across an empty stage. It gets you properly amped for what’s to follow. You can feel John Darnielle and his gang carry that energy right onto the stage with them as it ends and the crowd erupts. Don’t make the mistake of lumping these guys in with the dusters “just out for a paycheck” I mentioned earlier based on their age. You will rarely see someone look so happy to sing songs he wrote 20 years ago with as much conviction as Darnielle. His stage presence oozes “I’m a professional, but I’m having a blast!” And the crowd responds, “Alright John. Then I am too!” That presence is so strong he still wins over crowds with brand new songs despite already having a discography over 15 full-lengths deep. What's that streaming down my face as they close out with “No Children,” the hauntingly triumphant ode to the end of the ugliest relationship you’ve ever heard? It’s … it’s just a really heavy bead of sweat! It's hot out here damn it! Leave me alone!

Mastodon At this point in the day I just can’t take standing up anymore. Another minor issue with Shaky Knees overall was the food options. The ratio of local food trucks to festivalgoers yielded unbearably long lines for anyone hoping to catch some of the later acts of the day. Beer however was in ample supply, so I grabbed one to sip on while catching the most Metal moment of the weekend from a hill a hundred or so yards out from the main stage. Metalheads I trust recommend Mastodon and, yeah, they were fine with me too. Only problem is they fell just short of what I’m looking
for in their songwriting, a craft often overlooked
by Metal bands in my opinion. And so I spent
most of their set wishing I was watching Ghost
instead and checking my phone for any news of
their next release. We should expect that in
August.

Pixies Kim Deal purists be damned. Her current replacement did just fine and sounded spot-on like the records to me. While expecting those aging rockers coming out to collect a paycheck I’ve been talking about, there was still a dash of magic left. Or maybe it’s just that little flutter I get when a song starts up that I’ve been listening to for 15 or so years, like “Here Comes Your Man,” with no expectation of ever hearing live because, to be honest, it was a little loose at times. Okay. Really loose. Like, Frank Black stopped in the middle of a song and said, “That was my fault. I went to the chorus too soon,” and went on to the next one loose. Makes you feel a little bummed for folks who shelled out full price for a pass just because they’re so stoked to see their favorite band. So yeah, maybe my nostalgia high is wearing off now that I’m reflecting back and realizing Kim’s replacement was honestly the most engaging part of the set.

The Strokes Lead singer Julian Casablancas isn’t exactly the king of charisma. Hell, he’s not even the dunce in the corner of Charisma 101, which makes it really hard to accept this band as a headliner. His attempts at on-stage banter made for some of the most uncomfortable moments of the weekend. Tie that in with his cracking voice straining to push out the words “How long must I wait” before it just gave out during the first song of their encore, “Vision of Division.” Their set became downright unbearable at times. Unfortunately, on top of this, “Reptilia” is the only song I really care for and they opened with it. So I was over it quick. The crowd didn’t seem to care though. They all still went nuts when the song that sounds exactly like “Last Night” but isn’t it came on halfway through their set.

And so, in my constant battle of jaded cynicism vs. the fact that I do genuinely love live music, I’d say day one ended in a draw. On to round two!

Day 2
Kevin Devine We raced back to the festival grounds to catch this set, but I wasn’t quite awake enough yet and needed to finish my coconut water to get things going. But Kevin didn’t care. His high energy set was better than anticipated and got me back in the game. He’s got the Indie/Emo “slow burn, build and release” pattern down and I’m totally ready to go up and down for the ride. Definitely keep an ear out for him.

Mariachi El Bronx Exactly what it sounds like. It’s Los Angeles hardcore band The Bronx … playing mariachi. I honestly resisted them for years as my friends raved and I assumed it was just another silly novelty crossover band. But they’re such great players that they managed to transcend the novelty and throw one hell of a party. Unfortunately, The Bronx gang seemed to draw the short end of the stick for the entire festival as this set was early on the main stage where the bass in the mix was for a much larger headlining crowd and it ruined the whole balance of the band. I had to leave halfway through as my body couldn’t handle the blasting waves of low end. But their bass player sure sounded great!

Speedy Ortiz “I think Squidbillies is here right?” lead singer Sadie Dupuis says between songs with minimal irony or facetiousness in her voice. And it’s this feeling of off beat intimacy the band tries to interject into the mid-afternoon, sun-drenched crowd that draws me in. It helps me understand why others are drawn to them, while my aging ears struggle to get hip to it. Dupuis voice and melodies, along with everyone else’s performances, are great, their style of off-the-beaten-path harmonic and chord structure however have never really set in for me. It kind of killed off my mariachi buzz and I stepped out halfway through to plan the rest of my day in some shade.

Viet Cong I went into this thinking the tough as nails name meant I was about to see a bratty and loud Punk band, which I was kind of stoked about. But the droning bass and synth is all good too! Makes me want to get in the world’s angriest space shuttle and fly to the moon. As they droned the last two chords of their final song back and forth for nearly three minutes I found myself wanting to shout, “Just take off damn it!” These guys would be equally good for when you're drunk alone at 4 a.m. again and your Joy Division records are just too far out of reach, plus you need a little extra edge to encourage you to break a few things!

Metz If you wish The Hives were still a hard touring band, these guys will get you half way there. Plus they’re a lil’ heavier to boot. That being said, the riffs could be a little catchier for my taste, but they still deliver enough to keep me hanging on and start snooping around for their records next time I’m out. Plus, you’ve got to love a band that you know is making somebody in Canada say, "You know that quiet guy in accounting? Yeah he TOTALLY shreds on the weekends!" Probably also worth mentioning here that these guys will be tearing up the Woodward Theater with Viet Cong on July 21st and it’s definitely going to be worth being there.

FIDLAR Plain and simple: This is why I love Punk. Just look at the dumb, unbridled joy on the faces of this sea of kids bouncing up and down in unison. There’s a certain “it” factor that the best live acts have regardless of technical difficulty or skill required to accurately perform their songs which I’ve never been able to put my finger. (FIDLAR said it best during their own set: “That’s right guys, all you need is three chords!”) This band definitely has it. The fact that I’m getting too old and responsible to honestly relate to their lyrics doesn’t matter. I think cocaine is childish and immature and I think drinking cheap beer is a waste of calories … but goddamn. I just can’t help but scream along in unison with these kids and share their same dumb, shit-eating grin. They are rescheduling their recently cancelled show at Thompson House. Keep an eye out for the new date and be prepared to lose your goddamn mind.

The Bronx And this is why I love hardcore! This is one of the tightest performances I saw up to this point despite unfortunately having the smallest crowd. No frills, just solid playing and tight execution. I had tried getting into them on record a few years back and something didn't click. Now it does. Time to go back and start working on picking up some change on the dance floor again.

Neutral Milk Hotel Yep. There's still too much ex-girlfriend attachment to this band for me to really enjoy it. Plus, they played at the time of day where no matter how close you want to get, you bottleneck at a point in the crowd that’s too far away to really feel a part of the set. “Maybe I should see if the Bronx is still playing? Why did I leave!? If one more person near me gushes over how cool using a saw as instrument is heads might roll …” Also the flock of blond college-age girls flocking out of the crowd after “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” was played early in the set was amazing. Am I being too cynical? Whatever. Jeff Mangum’s voice is still on point after all these years. Still worth it.

Wilco At this point that bottleneck was just too far away to really get into what was happening on stage, which bummed me out because I had to miss Wilco’s show in Cincy a few days earlier. The drunk people next to me were almost as loud as the reverberations distantly ringing on the stage. But hey — they’re still cranking out the hits and they're still Wilco, so you gotta love it. But I was a little too buzzed and nervous about not getting a good spot and running into this same situation for the Avetts, so I dipped out a little early.

The Avett Brothers “Effortless.” People challenge me all the time to explain why I believe these guys are objectively one of the best live musical acts in music right now and this is the only word I can ever seem to muster. The level of focus, mastery and attention to
detail that goes into the
performance this crew puts on
night after night should be
obvious to anyone who’s so
much as taken a single guitar or
voice lesson. The love, passion, joy, and energy they
infuse into every song, whether
it’s a sing-along anthem like
“Kick Drum Heart” or a soft
ballad like “The Ballad of Love
and Hate,” makes the whole act
seem more effortless every time
I see them. Whether it’s Seth’s
improvisational riffing on their
already perfect vocal lines or
Scott’s conviction and sincerity
when telling the crowd he needs their help singing along with something, I truly believe they would win over any true music fan who is willing to let go and be taken by the power of one of their sets. No other band refracts as much love for what they’re doing on stage back to an audience quite like the Avetts. Their headlining set at Bunbury will be their first performance in Cincinnati since 2008. Do not miss it.

Whoa. What a ride. The fact that I’m having trouble wrapping this up despite the fact that I missed a whole day of the festival is a testament to just how much Shaky Knees has to offer music lovers. I’m having trouble keeping the two-day experience I had from unraveling into a full novella and am now forcing myself to shut up. Despite its limitations, there is still enough diversity to keep most fans of semi-independent Rock or Alternative on their toes. (No. It was not hard to resist a “shaky knees” pun here.) But when you attend next year, don’t let your time adjusting to the southern sun tap all of your energy for experiencing the city’s culture and nightlife. As much as I love Cincinnati, I think we have much to learn from this gem down South and I look forward to returning soon.

— Josh Elstro

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.20.2015 51 hours ago
at 09:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News & Stuff

U.S. AG visits Cincy, city budget still light on human services funding, Reds stadium probably won't catch fire again

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Cincinnati yesterday on a tour of cities implementing innovative police practices. During a roundtable event at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Lynch said Cincinnati’s approach is a model for other cities to follow.

Via The Enquirer:

"This is a place that has been through difficult times," Lynch said, referring to the city's riots 14 years ago, which led to a lawsuit and accusations of racial profiling by police. "Cincinnati exemplifies the fact that a city is a living thing — and it is comprised of all residents of a community."

 Cincinnati has long underfunded human services, at least according to its own goal of using 1.5 percent of the city budget for things like programs to end homelessness, provide job training and offer support for victims of crime. It doesn’t look like the city will get back to that rate any time soon, and City Councilman Chris Seelbach yesterday questioned why City Manager Harry Black’s budget doesn’t include $3 million council unanimously agreed in November to use to reduce homelessness and help boost gainful employment.

Here’s some context via the Business Courier:

It has been longstanding city council practice to direct the city manager what to put in the budget by a motion backed by a majority of council members, so Black's statement appears to permanently alter a standing way of doing business at City Hall. It also increases the tension between Black, Cranley and City Council, particularly majority Democrats, over their governing relationship.

With funding allocated for a mayoral priority but not one supported by all council members, Seelbach said it raised concerns over Black’s independence and whether he reports to Cranley or Cranley and all nine council members.

“It strikes me as very strange,” Seelbach said. “It seems like a symptom of that.”

“So noted,” Black said. 

 City pools are set to open this week, but six out of the city’s 25 might not open on time because they’re facing a shortage of 65 lifeguards. The Enquirer today noted why the pools are important to low-income children, many of whom receive free lunch and take advantage of having something to do other than the bad stuff kids get into when they’re bored (my words). 

 Social justice activists planned to call on Major League Baseball this morning to speak out on racial injustice, specifically police brutality and what the group calls “blatant disrespect of African Americans in Ohio’s justice system.” The press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. today will include Bishop Bobby Hilton of Word of Deliverance, Pastor Damon Lynch III of New Prospect Baptist Church, Pastor Chris Beard of Peoples Church and Rev. Alan Dicken of Carthage Christian Church.

 WCPO Digital’s series on marijuana continued today looks at what Ohio can expect business-wise if and when the state legalizes pot. WCPO sent two reporters who probably can’t pass a drug test anymore to Colorado to report on the industry and a family who moved there from the Cincinnati area so their daughter who suffers from seizures would have access to medical marijuana.

 The Reds say the stadium smoke stack that caught on fire last weekend will be fully operable by the time the team returns from its current road trip. Firefighters climbed two ladders to put out the fire in one of the “PNC Power Stacks” during a game against the San Francisco Giants last weekend. A few sections of fans were evacuated but the game was never delayed. The Reds got whooped all weekend so the fire was actually a pleasant distraction and ended up on Sportscenter and stuff.

 Apparently there are lines out the door at a new chicken finger restaurant in West Chester called Raising Cane’s and its owners are going to open more stores, potentially one downtown.

 The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit yesterday against a collection of cancer charities it says misused millions of dollars in donations. Sounds like someone’s going to be in serious trouble for it. Worth a read from the Los Angeles Times to hear about the various members of the James Reynolds Sr. allegedly involved.  

In reality, officials say, millions of dollars raised by four “sham charities” lined the pockets of the groups’ founders and their family members, paying for cars, luxury cruises, and all-expense paid trips to Disney World for charity board members.

The 148-page fraud lawsuit accuses the charities of ripping off donors nationwide to the tune of $187 million from 2008 to 2012 in a scheme one federal official called “egregious” and “appalling.”

 Twenty-one-thousand gallons of oil is now sitting in the ocean instead of being burned into the air by automobiles. The U.S. Coast Guard says it has formed a four-mile slick along the central California coastline.  

 In good California news, Los Angeles City Council approved raising the city’s minimum wage to a nation-high $15 an hour by 2020.

 Documents recovered during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? Sure.

 Five global banks to pay $5 billion fine and plead guilty to criminal charges after an investigation into whether traders at the banks “colluded to move foreign currency rates in directions to benefit their own positions.” OK.

 Scientists say a snake ancestor had little toes even though it slithered.

 
 
by Staff 05.18.2015 4 days ago
Posted In: Leftovers, Cocktails, Brunch, Beer, local restaurant at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
bistro grace ceviche

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

ReUse-apalooza! Brunch at The Palace. Waffles with gelato. Cheese coneys by a flaming smokestack at GABP.

Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: Friday night’s ReUse-apalooza! at Building Value in Northside gave me the opportunity to do one of my favorite things for dinner: graze. Northside’s proliferation of tasty restaurants is the perfect place for progressive noshing, and an event like this is the perfect way to sample most of them in a compact setting. Some of my favorites were the ceviche from Bistro Grace, the chiles rellenos from Django Western Taco, the kale and white bean dip from Park + Vine and pierogies from Babushka Pierogies (neither from Northside, but I’m not that picky), and then dessert goodies from Happy Chicks Bakery and Grateful Grahams.

Colleen McCroskey: You either wholeheartedly agree with me or think I’m insane, but I am 110 percent convinced that cheese coneys from Great American Ball Park taste LIGHT YEARS better than coneys from a regular Skyline, so I treated myself to two of them this past Friday night when we played (read: lost to) the Giants. The cheese is lighter and fluffier and the flavors of the chili seem more complex and nuanced somehow. I washed down all that deliciousness with a vodka-spiked slushie. I also happened to be sitting right next to the smoke stack that caught fire so the black billowing smoke added some nice ambience to my own personal coney-fest.

Jesse Fox: I've been on a mission to eat better and minimize my portion size the past couple weeks, but this weekend I took a break from that. This started on Saturday when I went out with my friend Erica to use up a gift card I had from Moerlein Lager House. Knowing that we had a whopping $50 of free money we decided to go wild (for two broke girls) and order a couple margaritas, an appetizer (calamari) and an entree that was more than $7. Erica went with the herb-crusted salmon and I chose their crispy balsamic tofu. After that we went up to Clifton where my band was having a house-show and finished the night out with some Bud Light Razberitas and a few PBRs.  

Katie Holocher: I, no joke, literally ate Dewey's all weekend. A calzone Friday night, those leftovers on Saturday and then another pie on Sunday. Same order every time — banana peppers and pepperoni (or BPPep as we call it in our house), with extra sides of their ranch. Furthermore, I had a delicious lemon cake, that was as equally adorably decorated, at a baby shower, made by a local gal named Sara Kenny. She calls herself the Baking Actor but I was talking to my friend who knows her and it sounds like she's getting more away from the acting side so that she can get more into the baking side. 

Sarah Urmston: This past Saturday, OTR was buzzing with action — a 5k, the City Flea, store grand openings and more; every restaurant seemed to be flooded to their very brim. I gratefully remembered The Taste of Belgium (one of my favorite breakfast places in Cincinnati) had another location off of Short Vine, not too far from the one in OTR. Our scheduled 2-hour wait turned into no wait at all as my buddies and I gathered around a high-top for some their famous waffles. Switching it up from the usual chicken and waffles I get, I ordered the Waffogato: a Belgian waffle topped with vanilla bean gelato alongside a shot of rich espresso to dip, pour or do with whatever your heart desires. It was the perfect blend of cold and hot together, with a sweet-meets-bitter taste. It was the best way to wake up and begin a Saturday.  

Casey Arnold: My boyfriend Brian and I were traveling around the suburbs checking out yard sales on Saturday when we both were hit with some painful hunger. We remembered that there was a Mexican restaurant pretty close to where we were in Maderia called Chuy's. Neither of us had ever been there or heard of it. It seemed a little gimmicky at first: hubcaps hanging from the ceiling, T-shirts for sale and general flair on the walls. When the fresh salsa came (where was our red slime?) we were pleasantly surprised. I had the bean and cheese burrito with creamy jalapeno sauce. It was delicious, but we both swore that the sauce was just ranch dressing. Brian had the stacked enchiladas which were blue corn tortillas sandwiching shredded chicken. Everything was fresh, different and so much better than an average Mexican restaurant. I posted about it on my Facebook and my Austin, Texas-transplant friends started commenting about how surprised they were that the chain made it all the way up to Cincinnati and raving about their favorite dishes. I realize I've been spending too much time downtown. 

Garin Pirnia: On Sunday, my friend and I brunched at The Palace restaurant inside The Cincinnatian Hotel. In March, they introduced Saturday and Sunday brunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.). The restaurant wasn’t crowded or loud, so you could actually carry on a conversation. Besides their brunch menu, you can also order off their breakfast and lunch menus, so there were a lot of options such as challah bread pudding, and chicken and cornbread waffles. I had their eggs Benedict (arugula, grilled tomato, poached egg on English muffin, avocado mousse, hollandaise sauce). The eggs were a little overcooked but otherwise were good. My friend ordered the steak and eggs flatbread, which came with coffee-cured bacon. We also indulged in home fries, which were the right amount of crispy and pillow-y. The best part of their brunch menu is the inventive collection of bloody marys: a spicy lobster and shrimp gazpacho bloody that came with fresh-shaved horseradish mixed in, and chunks of lobster and shrimp on a skewer. I mean, lobster in a bloody! They also offer a Southwestern bloody (avocado, cumin, cilantro), and a Korean (kimchee, soy, ginger). You can order the bloodys singularly ($8-$11) or by the pitcher, but we refrained from doing that (maybe next time). They also make blueberry mimosas and housemade strawberry sodas. If you like a fancy (and boozy) brunch with affordable prices and food served atop white table cloths, then you need to go.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 05.18.2015 4 days ago
Posted In: Film at 09:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnati-Filmed 'Carol' Receives Outstanding Reviews

Considered an Oscar contender, film is in competition at Cannes

The Cincinnati-filmed Carol premiered over the weekend at the Cannes Film Festival and received sterling, outstanding reviews that called it an instant Oscar contender and the most important high-profile gay drama to come out of American cinema since 2005's Brokeback Mountain. The film is in competition at Cannes.

Based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt and directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I'm Not There), it features Cate Blanchett as an socialite who falls in love with a younger department-store clerk (Rooney Mara) in Manhattan. The film was shot here last year, using sites in Over-the-Rhine, Cheviot and other locales as stand-ins for a New York of old.


At Variety, the most important publication chronicling the entertainment business, critic Justin Chang said the film "should have little trouble translating critical plaudits, especially for Cate Blanchett's incandescent lead performance, into significant year-end attention.​" Variety also revealed that the distributor, Weinstein Co., has set a Dec. 18 release date for Carol, a prime opening weekend for any film with Academy Award intentions.

Here is a link to the full Variety review.

Meanwhile, at indieWire — the most influential website for the independent-film industry (Carol was produced independent of the big Hollywood studios), Eric Kohn also gave a strong rave to the film.


"Carol funnels (themes) into a nuanced tale of mutual attraction that reflects a filmmaker and cast operating at the height of their powers, rendering complex circumstances in strikingly personal terms," he said.


Besides Haynes, the only other U.S. director with a new film in competition at Cannes is Gus Van Sant, whose The Sea of Trees stars Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe as two men who meet in Japan's "Suicide Forest."​ Its premiere was no so well-received — it was booed by the audience.
 
 
by Staff 05.15.2015 7 days ago
Posted In: Drinking, Fun, Concerts, Culture, Arts, Music, Movies, Life, Performances at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List (5/15-5/17)

Maifest, an Italian festival, The Breakfast Club turns 30, Carol Ann's Carousel opens, The City Flea and more

Lots of things to do this weekend, from festivals and craft beer drinking to arts and film screenings. Plus, The City Flea, Carol Ann's Carousel and new OTR shop Idlewild open.

FRIDAY
Head to Bogart's for INTERPOL
Interpol’s 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights seemed to arrive out of nowhere, a visceral, uncommonly mature effort that channeled not only a host of Post Punk staples but also a distinct post-9/11 desolation. It was, in fact, the product of the band’s founder, guitarist and driving force Daniel Kessler’s long-simmering vision, one he formed through years of writing and playing live around New York City with frontman Paul Banks, bassist Carlos Dengler and drummer Sam Fogarino, who was the last (essential ingredient) to join the band in 2000. Thirteen years after that stirring debut, Interpol is still kicking — minus Dengler, who left after recording the band’s self-titled fourth album in 2010; Banks now serves as the group’s bassist — and still delivering its melancholic, angular brand of Indie Rock. Interpol performs at Bogart's Friday. Tickets/more info here

Maifest
Photo: Matthew Andrews Photography
Get your drink on at MAIFEST in MainStrasse
Based on the German tradition of welcoming the first spring wines, the 36th annual Maifest fills six city blocks of historic MainStrasse with food, beer and wine, and works by more than 75 artisans and craftsmen. There will also be entertainment by top local bands — 500 Miles to Memphis, Young Heirlooms, Ricky Nye and more — in the craft beer garden, with a special Kinderplatz area with rides for children and a Braxton Brewery light display at the Clock Tower Friday and Saturday night. Don’t miss the popular street chalk-drawing contest Saturday. 5-11:30 p.m. Friday; Noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday; Noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. MainStrasse, Sixth Street, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

The Breakfast Club
Photo: Universal Pictures
Break out the acid wash and pleated pants for a screening of THE BREAKFAST CLUB
Revisit your favorite brain, athlete, basket case, princess and criminal Friday when The Breakfast Club’s Brat Pack returns to the silver screen at the Esquire Theatre in honor of its 30th birthday. John Hughes’ high school bildungsroman might not be completely timeless, but it’s the movie’s cliché moments that make it so enduring. Forgo popcorn for Pixy Stix and don’t forget to bring your acid wash jeans and “Members Only” jackets — prizes will be given for the best ’80s costume. 10:30 p.m. Friday. $9.75. Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, esquiretheatre.com.

CincItalia Festival
Binge on lasagna in a mini piazza the CINCITALIA FESTIVAL
The CincItalia festival celebrates all things Italy. You’ll find main dishes with lots of authentic Italian flavor like stromboli, lasagna, grilled spiedini and more, complete with a wide selection of wine and beer and cooking demonstrations. Visit the ladies of La Societa Fuscaldese Femminile to try their famous cannoli or enjoy lively music and a glass of vino in the mini piazza, with fountain and Tivoli lights. 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Harvest Home Park Fairgrounds, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, cincitalia.org.

MadTree Brewing Company
Photo: Jillian Tellep
Have some beer on a paint palette at ARTS & CRAFTS
Organized by a handful of sophomore graphic design students at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (and with sponsorship from Modern Makers, a multidisciplinary arts collaborative), Arts & Crafts involves the consumption of local craft beer and the exhibition of up-and-coming artists — with accompanying food trucks and live music. With the expressed intent of supporting local breweries and artists in an effort to nurture the arts in the Clifton community, organizers enlisted UC students to participate as well as breweries MadTree, Rhinegeist and more. 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Niehoff Urban Studio, 2728 Vine St., Corryville, artsandcrafts.beer.

Put in your pin curls for CINCY SWING FEST
Put in your pin curls and break out the saddle shoes for the second annual Cincy Swing Fest. Can’t Lindy Hop? No problem. Cincy LX/Swingallery will be on hand to provide complementary dance instruction to live music from Swing Band The Makeshifts. Classic cocktails available, plus pin-up makeovers from Retrocentric. 6-10 p.m. Friday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

SATURDAY
Run the OTR 5K and then head to THE CITY FLEA for an after party
The ninth annual OTR 5k run/walk kicks off summer in the city a little early. The race begins and ends in Washington Park, with a course that takes you through historic Over-the-Rhine. Dogs and strollers welcome. Register online or in person. 10 a.m.; afterparty celebration until 4 p.m. Saturday. $30. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, otrchamber.com

Curated monthly urban flea market The City Flea launches a new season Saturday at Washington Park. Keep your dollars local and support small business by shopping from hundreds of area vendors, selling everything from handmade goods and vintage finds to artisan eats and organic beauty products. Food trucks flank the park and drinks will be available from the concession stand. This month’s flea is also home to the OTR 5k afterparty. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, thecityflea.com.

Ride for free at the CAROL ANN CAROUSEL opening celebration
The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Carol Ann's Carousel at Smale Park on the Riverfront. Following the ceremony, the carousel will open with free rides from 1-7 p.m. Tickets will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis. Other festivities include face painters, jugglers, magicians, food carts, music and more. Ride one of 44 adorable characters — horses, frogs, elephants and more. $2 a ride after Saturday. 11 a.m. Free. North of Mehring Way at the Pichler Fountains, Downtown, cincinnatiparks.com.

Pixies
Photo: Jay Blakesberg
PIXIES play the Horseshoe Casino
History will always chiefly remember Kurt Cobain as a creator of music, not a consumer. But the Nirvana leader was also an avid advocate for his favorite groups and most cherished influences. In the posthumously released Journals, he documented his 50 favorite records. Most telling of all was his inclusion of Pixies’ Surfer Rosa in spot No. 2. That’s significant because Nirvana’s biggest hit owes a great debt to the group. Since reuniting in 2004 to tour and occasionally record (last year’s Indie Cindy was Pixies’ first album since 1991’s Trompe le Monde), the band has evolved into more of an elder statesman outfit (minus original bassist/singer Kim Deal, replaced on the group’s current tour by Paz Lenchantin, who’s worked with acts like A Perfect Circle and Zwan), showing only rare glimpses of the brilliant provocateurs of their youth. But it’s not as if the band has much more to prove; its unimpeachable impact was cemented long ago. Pixies play The Shoe at Horseshoe Casino Saturday. Tickets/more info here.

Dress as a stormtrooper at the LIBRARY COMIC CON
Move over, San Diego. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s third annual Comic Con proves you can immerse yourself in countless comic book universes locally. The five-hour festival has expanded to offer a host of events, including trivia, guest panels from local cartoonists, drawing contests and a superhero training camp for kids. Have a Wonder Woman ensemble, an Iron Man outfit or suit of armor for which you haven’t yet found a socially acceptable occasion? All ages can dress up as their favorite characters to win prizes. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Main Library, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org/news/2015/comiccon.

Shop at IDLEWILD, Article's new women's boutique in OTR
Over-the-Rhine men's shop Article's sister store, Idlewild, opens Saturday. Brands sold at the store include Imogene and Willie, a Nashville, Tenn.-based denim company, and Free People. The shop will also feature garments from New York designers Steven Alan and Emerson Fry, as well as accessories from a pair of Portland, Ore.-based designers Another Feather and Mazama. 11 a.m. Free. 1232 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/articlemenswear.

Three Days of Rain
Photo: Untethered Theater Company
Get immersed in THREE DAYS OF RAIN at the Clifton Performance Theatre
Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain is a mystery that unfolds in reverse. In Act I it’s 1995 as three adult children of two iconic New York City architects ponder the current state of their lives and what motivated their parents three decades earlier. Their conclusions, based on memory and a recently found laconic journal, make sense, but when Act II pushes back to 1960, almost everything they have hypothesized proves to be wrong. As is often the case, life was much more complicated. Continues through May 23. $25. Clifton Performance Theatre, 404 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, cliftonperformancetheatre.com.

Waite’s painting “Old School Boys Pool” is based on a swimming pool at the old School for Creative and Performing Arts. 
Check out paintings of abandoned sites in THE CINCINNATI SERIES
In his The Cincinnati Series of 29 paintings depicting depopulated city sites, Peter Waite — a Connecticut-based artist — neither celebrates nor dismisses what he sees. Rather, he just tells it like it is. His artwork is at Carl Solway Gallery in the West End through Aug. 1. If he finds something architecturally interesting to him that is also conventionally beautiful, like the suspension bridge or Union Terminal or downtown’s Isaac M. Wise Temple, he acknowledges and presents it. But if it’s something that interests him because it’s abandoned and decrepit, or it no longer serves its original use, he presents that, too. The Cincinnati Series continues at Carl Solway Gallery through Aug. 1. More info: solwaygallery.com.

SUNDAY
Price Hill Thrill
Photo: Steven Rosen
Tour the arts in Price Hill with PRICE HILL THRILL
Sunday there will be a tour of art studios and galleries in Price Hill, sponsored by the Weston Gallery. The event begins and ends at the Dunham Arts Center in the Dunham Recreation Complex and includes food, drink and entertainment by Comet Bluegrass All-Stars at a 5-7 p.m. closing reception. 2-7 p.m. Sunday. $35. 1945 Dunham Way, West Price Hill, westonartgallery.com.

Tommy Davidson
Photo: Provided
Laugh at SHAQ'S ALL STAR COMEDY JAM
Shaquille O’Neal’s All Star Comedy Jam is coming to town — get excited. Now lower the bar two notches because Shaq will not actually be there. … But raise the bar up again because comedian and actor DeRay Davis is hosting and he was on an episode of Empire. Other featured comedians include Tommy Davidson (pictured), Tony Roberts, Michael Blackson and Red Grant. Research some of their stuff on YouTube and check out the gig. The comedy franchise has featured some of the top urban comedians in the country and has been televised annually since 2009. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. $45.25-$92.25. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Henry V
Photo: J. Sheldon Photo
Catch a matinee of a different Game of Thrones with HENRY V at Cincy Shakes
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you might want to tune in to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is working its way through the real thing presenting Shakespeare’s eight history plays in chronological order over the span of five years. Up next is Henry V, in which the profligate Prince Hal has succeeded his bellicose father and sobered up to the bad state of affairs in England. He rallies the troops and his loyal partisans by declaring war on France. Against great resistance, using powerful speeches he pulls the kingdom together. Justin McCombs continues in this fascinating role. Through May 30. $14-$36. 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.

Quiet Company
Photo: Leah Muse
Austin, Texas' QUIET COMPANY play the Southgate House
With an instantly, insistently catchy Indie Pop/Rock sound that has drawn comparisons to the likes of Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie, Austin, Texas’ Quiet Company has seen its national profile rise considerably with the release of each new album, including this year’s excellent Transgressor. The group (which features former Cincinnatian and CityBeat employee Matt Parmenter on bass) is already a dominant force in its hometown scene. In its nearly decade-long history, Quiet Company has scored 12 Austin Music Awards, including Best Rock Band at the 2015 ceremony. But the acclaim isn’t limited to Austin — Time, Paste, The New York Times and numerous other national outlets have heaped praise on Quiet Company, and the group’s fanbase continues to grow thanks to regular touring and an explosive live show. 8 p.m. Sunday. $10; $12 day of. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.


 
 
by Rick Pender 05.15.2015 7 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
tage

Stage Door: Take a Trip to Ireland?

If you debating which show you might go see this weekend, my strong recommendation is Ensemble Theatre's Outside Mullingar (ETC, 5/6-24). It's a great script by John Patrick Shanley (who wrote the award-winning play Doubt and the award-winning screenplay Moonstruck). It's set in Ireland, so the characters are overflowing with dry wit. And the actors playing them are a quartet of the performers who Cincinnati audiences love: Joneal Joplin (Scrooge for many years at the Playhouse) is a crusty old man who might not pass the family farm on to his more sensitive son, played by Cincinnati Shakespeare's artistic director Brian Phillips. Dale Hodges, a respected local stage veteran, plays Aiofe, the owner of an adjacent farm; Jenn Joplin (Joneal's daughter) is Aoife's grumpy, opinionated daughter. This is a tale of parents and children, but there's a lovely, stumbling love story at the heart of the play, and it's that's emotionally satisfying. The production was staged by Ed Stern, now retired as the Cincinnati Playhouse's artistic director. It's onstage through May 24. Tickets: 513-421-3555.


Brian Phillips did double-duty recently rehearsing to perform inOutside Mullingar while staging  Henry V at Cincy Shakes. As the title suggests, this is one of the Bard's history plays, and it's a chest-thumping one about warfare and England's claim to power. The company is midway through a multi-year project to stage all of Shakespeare's tales of the kings of England in chronological order. That might sound a tad stodgy, but this one is full of fighting and bluster, and there's a thread of comic relief, too. Let's call it the Shakespearean equivalent of an action movie. It's onstage throughMay 30. Tickets: 513-381-2273.


You'll find two plays worth seeing at the Cincinnati Playhouse this weekend. One just opened last night (I haven't seen it yet): It's Annie Baker's award-winner, Circle Mirror Transformation, about some folks taking an acting class at a community center. Their lessons about performing expand to be come life lessons. It's a warm, thoughtful play in the Shelterhouse. On the Marx mainstage, you'll find the very funny Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, inspired by Chekhov but from the zany perspective of Christopher Durang, you don't need any theater history to be laughing out loud as three adult siblings from a dysfunctional family try to keep their balance. Tickets: 513-421-3888.


If you're eagerly awaiting the start of the Cincinnati Fringe (it kicks off on May 26), you should stop by Know Theatre for the American premiere of the Bane Trilogy with performances this weekend and next. It's three monologues about a guy who shoots first and doesn't ask questions in a one-musician film noir comic trilogy. You can experience them sequentially or out of order. Performer Joe Bone is the Guinness world record holder for the most characters portrayed by one actor in a performance; he's accompanied musically by Ben Roe. This show has a heavy-duty buzz: People were telling me about it weeks ago, so I'm sharing the news with you — although I haven't fit it into my schedule yet. It's running for two more weeks. Tickets: 513-300-5669.


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.



 
 
 
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