Tomorrow (Thursday) marks the first Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day in some time where fans actually have cause to be realistically optimistic about the team’s chances of going deep into the playoffs come the end of the season. If you’re planning on going all out for Opening Day, a good place to start your reveling is at Arnold’s, as local Folk faves Jake Speed and the Freddies once again host its baseball-themed variety show. The fun kicks off at 9:30 a.m. and you can be there in spirit if you can’t make it in person by listening to WNKU, which will simulcast the festivities live.
Three of the finest music festivals in the region — spring’s Nelsonville Music Festival in northeastern Ohio, summer’s Forecastle Festival in Louisville and Cincy’s own MidPoint Music Festival, returning Sept. 22-24 — have made recent announcements concerning their 2011 events.
The Cincinnati natives of hugely popular Brooklyn-based Indie Rock band The National have recorded a song for the upcoming soundtrack for the second season of HBO's critically-acclaimed series, Game of Thrones. The soundtrack is due June 19. The National is the only group featured; the rest of the soundtrack album is the instrumental score, written by Ramin Djawadi and recorded by the Czech Film Orchestra and Choir.
According to Spin, the band members took the words from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin's 2000 novel, A Storm of Swords. Check it out below.
Veteran ace Jazz pianist/organist Steve Schmidt returns to The Comet in Northside to launch his Christmas-themed two-night stand at the venue.
Schmidt's annual Christmas Jazz "Spectacular" has become a local holiday tradition. Schmidt whips out his organ (a Hammond B3; get your mind out of the gutter!) for the occasion and, as always, brings along some top-shelf special guests for the shows. Schmidt is joined by Brad Myers on guitar and Mark Wolfley on drums, plus two amazing singers — Eugene Goss (known for his work with Billy Larkin as Triage) and the great Mandy Gaines.
The Steve Schmidt Organ Trio Christmas Spectacular runs 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. tonight and tomorrow at The Comet. There is no cover charge.
Two highly anticipated concerts this week have been canceled. Last night, I received an emailed press release from the promoters of the Stone Temple Pilots concert at Taft Theatre at 7:24 p.m. announcing the show had been called off due to singer Scott Weiland’s inability to perform (not for the reason you’re thinking — Weiland was suffering from “inflamed vocal chords”). The concert was scheduled to start last night at 7:30 p.m., so that was a close call (especially for fans already at the venue). Today, Live Nation announced that the rare performance by Black Star (featuring modern Hip Hop heroes Mos Def and Talib Kweli) at Bogart’s this Saturday had also been canceled.
Despite Frank Ocean's deft leg-syncing and Taylor Swift's torture-porn-disguised-as-wholesome-circus, Akron, Ohio's Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys were The Grammys' big story last night, winning five trophies, the most of any artist.
While the Keys won the Grammys for Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, Auerbach scored two solo Grammys for his production work, winning the trophy for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) and also winning one for producing Dr. John's Locked Down, the Blues Album winner.
While Grammys for album winners are usually given to the producers, engineers, mastering engineers and artists, hopefully Cincinnati's Brian Olive will also score one for his work on the LP. Auerbach — who has produced albums by both Olive and Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers — enlisted Olive (an original member of Cincinnati's Greenhornes) to work on the Dr. John album. Olive has songwriting credits on every track on Locked Down, and he's also credited with playing guitar, percussion and woodwinds, as well as providing background vocals. (Check out CityBeat's profile of Olive from 2011, about his Auerbach-produced Two of Everything album, here.)
Kudos to Mr. Olive! That's him — the handsome feller with big side-burns playing sax (and a little guitar) in this video for the album's "Revolution."
Check out all the winners from last night's Grammys here, and click here or here for some extra musings about the show.
Local music fans who like their Indie Pop noisy and creative need to check out Pop Empire, a new duo featuring Cameron Cochran (of The Sheds, Lions Rampant fame) and Henry Wilson. And, like Cochran's Sheds (which gave away all of its music free online), Pop Empire is recession-friendly. Head to popempire.com and download the band's debut EP, Rainy Child, for free.
Garage/Psych Pop trio Buffalo Killers will have its third long-player, titled 3, released on Aug. 2 through Alive Records (also home to Brian Olive’s recent sophomore solo album). The band is set to host release parties in Dayton (at Canal Street Tavern July 15) and Cincinnati (at MOTR Pub July 16), then head out west for the start of what will likely be an ongoing, extensive tour for 3. Check out the new album track “Circle Day” above.
Those retro/modern/futuristic urban-gothic sonics are perfectly reflected in the brand new video clip for "Oxygen." The ominous video — written by Thomas Stemrich (Director) and Josh Chiara (Director of Photography) of local band Holy Beast — was shot over three days in Northside and Over-the-Rhine.
The nutshell synopsis of the video:
"In New Berlin, in the basements of post-industrial mansions, lost youths pray to shrines for nothing and participate in rituals that don’t matter. But tonight, one of New Berlin’s daughters is through with the minutia, ready to dive beneath the insincerity of cult posturing, and finally awaken the beacon of change that swells beneath the city streets. Will this be another lost night in Neverland or will she finally meet the beast of her dreams?"
Stemrich and Chiara have made other music videos, including "Night Drive" for the local act Polar Sky (Polar Sky and Skeleton Hands both record for locally based Racecar Productions). Sharfe says "Night Drive," and now "Oxygen," are unofficially akin to part of a "series," with the Polar Sky clip setting the "New Berlin" tone initially, and the Skeleton Hands' video taking it further.
"In the New Berlin videos, we see Cincinnati through a dystopic lens," Sharfe says. "Prostitutes, cults, deities, people with holes in their torsos. Strange stuff."
Skeleton Hands are currently taking pre-orders for copies of Gone on vinyl. Click here to get in on the action. "Oxygen" will be available as a single this fall through Racecar. The single release will feature remixes, including ones by Kontravoid and the aforementioned Polar Sky.
The duo also returns to the MidPoint Music Festival this year, coming up towards the end of September in various venues around Over-the-Rhine and Downtown. Skeleton Hands is slated to perform at 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at MPMF venue Below Zero Lounge (on Walnut Street, next to Emery Theatre). Click here for MPMF tickets (or visit Fountain Square Friday night between 8-11 p.m., where you can buy tickets in person — one night only — for $10-$20 off).
Much has changed for the legendary Cincinnati live music venue the Blue Wisp Jazz Club over its 40-plus-year existence. Though it has consistently been the club for Jazz in Cincinnati over most of that period, the Blue Wisp has moved four different times over four decades. In its most recent locale at the corner of Race and Seventh streets downtown, the club owners also tried to attract more business by serving food and varying the types of music performed. But it wasn’t enough and the Blue Wisp has once again closed its doors (though various reports suggest it could find yet another new location in the future).
One thing that hadn’t changed at the Blue Wisp, at least since it began in 1980, is the Blue Wisp Big Band. The group of all-star local musicians has maintained one of the longest residency in the region, performing its skilled take on vintage Big Band Jazz like clockwork every Wednesday. The band is a Cincinnati institution.
When the Wisp shut down, the members of the Big Band were determined to not let their remarkable run end with a whimper. Instead, the Blue Wisp Big Band sought to continue its every-Wednesday residency at another venue. (In case you’re wondering, the group owns its moniker, so they can legally continue to use the “Blue Wisp” name.)
Veteran local Jazz pianist and Blue Wisp Big Band founding member Steve Schmidt says they’ve landed their new spot, Japp’s Annex on Main St. in Over-the-Rhine, and will pick up its Wednesday night shows beginning this week. Schmidt says the group will perform every Wednesday at Japp’s, at least through the end of July, when they’ll reassess the situation just to make sure it’s a good fit. The Big Band will again be playing two hour-long sets each Wednesday, the first starting at 8:30 p.m. The cover charge will be less than it was at the Wisp — just $5. (Parking is available in the lot on the corner of Main and Central Parkway, as well as in the garage behind the club on Sycamore.)
“We are excited about trying out this (Over-the-Rhine) spot and happy that the ownership and staff at Japp's is excited, too,” Schmidt says. “We are all thinking of ways to make it better for the customer and the band as we go along. The band wanted to start quickly, not to be dormant for too long.”
Several of the principal members of the Blue Wisp Big Band did a walkthrough several days ago to get a feel for the new space and were happy with what they saw (and felt).
“I got a very good feeling about the room,” Schmidt says, “both in terms of space — spacious yet intimate — and acoustics. I think the other guys felt the same way. (Founding BWBB anchor/drummer) John Von Ohlen rightly pointed out that there is a lot of wood — the floors and the large bar. As John said, in the fullest and most complimentary sense of the word, ‘It's a joint!’ It's what he had in mind when he formed the band and put it in the original Blue Wisp in O'Bryonville. He said he wanted a world-class big band in a beer tavern.”
“In a word,” Schmidt adds, “(the new space) has soul.”