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by Deirdre Kaye 09.03.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Festivals, Music Commentary at 02:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
 
 
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REVIEW: Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road Troy, Ohio Stopover

The Gentlemen of the Road stopover tour started off as a rather simple concept. Mumford & Sons would invite a few of their music-playing friends to travel with them. They’d stop over for the weekend in towns they’d never been to before, towns they had no reason to visit. They would play two days’ worth of gigs for people they’d probably not ever played for before.It was just a small, scattered list of dates in BFE. NBD. Somewhere along the way, it became something much different. And much bigger. The “stopover tour” now looks much more like a takeover tour.

“It’s more about the town than the music,” was a sentiment you could hear echoed all over town. From the security guards to the people charging fans $20 to park in their driveway near the festival grounds. And that is an accurate statement.

When the Gentlemen rolled into Troy on the very last weekend of August they did, indeed, take over the tiny town. They did everything possible to put Troy’s best foot forward. The city center, with the fountain that turns pink in June for a strawberry festival, was closed down. WACO airfield was turned into a magnificent parking lot. Multiple school districts sent school buses to help transport music lovers from the parking lot to just a few blocks away from the festival grounds. You never had to wait for a bus, there were always plenty. Why can’t school districts work their own bussing schedules so fluidly? Even the Wendy’s in the next town stayed open until 2 a.m. in order to cater to Mumford fans.

Mumford & Sons ran Troy’s economy. The bakery served a limited menu and from the window hung loaves of bread shaped like mustaches – the international symbol for “Folk band.” A seemingly otherwise unused storefront became Mumford Market, which sold strawberry donuts and other festival essentials. Every storefront had a purpose, featuring window art of the four Brits in charge, of their acoustic instruments or of that omnipresent mustache (it was even painted on the streets). Aside from the Troy High School football field, which held the main stage and the bulk of fest goers, there were still two small stages downtown and another handful of street performers littering the crowded streets.

Heck, they even took over the Troy Police Department. For a town as tiny as Troy, they can’t possibly have very many cops and it seemed like nearly all of them were roaming around inside the closed-off festival area. You know that hard-assed vibe cops often get, especially when pulling security detail? Troy cops were the nicest (and best looking) unit to pull security at a concert I've seen. One of the highlights of the festival was watching an older (clearly drunk) woman swat an officer’s backside with her tambourine. He was quick to whip around and give her a quirk of the brow. When she gave him a grin and a wink, he laughed, wagged his finger and carried on. Later, as the woman and her tambourine flirted endlessly with one of the security guards, the TPD watched with grins and amusement. Nothing more.

And that bout of tambourine-assisted sexual harassment? Probably one of the worst crimes committed during the festival. One of the stage security guards remarked at how surprisingly low-maintenance the crowd was and one of the police officers on duty was quick to agree that the out-of-towners were exceptionally well-behaved. All of his calls had been to deal with locals — and even those calls didn’t seem like anything noteworthy or unusual for a festival environment.

Mumford & Sons fans know how to be polite when overtaking a city.

The festival repaid fans by taking over their nature. When they bought their tickets for the stopover date, they were sent a wristband, a fancy holographic ticket and a passport. The passport held info about last year’s first ever stopover tour, the band, the best restaurants and scenes to check out while in the area. And, just like a real passport, there were places to have stamped. Certain restaurants and stores had stamps. Every performer had a person in a booth at the back of the stadium with a custom stamp. People walked the festival grounds” with the rubber stamp, ready to bequeath another ink splotch on each passport. It was a race to get them all. A chance to maybe, just maybe, win a prize or learn something new.
    
What you really want to know about is the music though, right?

The festival may have been more about the town than the music, but the music was still what drew thousands of people to Troy’s gorgeous city streets. It was, after all, a concert, and the music that took over Troy’s stadium needs to be discussed.

Friday was a short day, with the festivities not kicking off until after everyone had time to show up after work. Of course, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the Friday night headliners, were the clear draw for fans on Day 1. The Zeros have traveled with Mumford & Sons before, most notably on their "railroad revival" tour, and even released their newest album on the Communion label, a pet project of Mumford’s piano player, Ben Lovett. Technically, the band is solid. The only difference between their records and their live performances is the sheer amount of energy they bring to the stage. The group has fun on stage and that fun easily makes its way into the crowd. But if you’ve seen one Edward Sharpe concert, you’ve seen them all. If you haven’t ever seen them, then you’re missing out.

Saturday was magnificent, loud and the best kind of exhausting you could imagine. A little after lunch, the stage came to life with the lovely Indie Brit Rock band Bear’s Den (who will be back in Ohio to play Cincinnati's MidPoint Music Festival at the end of the month). They might have only kicked off the day, but their talent deserved a later slot. After Bear’s Den came Nashville’s Those Darlins, headed by Jessi Darlin, a wisp of a girl with a set of dragon-sized lungs. Rubblebucket, from Brooklyn, showed up next and bestowed upon festival goers all their weird, twitching energy. They’re awesome, but putting them before the decidedly more mellow (but still oh-so-awesome) Justin Townes Earle seemed a little ill-placed. It felt a little like revving the engine of a Mustang when you’re still three stop signs away from an open country road. Justin Townes Earle was brilliant, of course, but very laid back, and Rubblebucket left everyone pretty amped. On the upside, Earle’s joke about the Westboro Baptist Church earned him laughs.

Mumford & Sons also imported their friends, The Vaccines. Also hailing from England, The Vaccines’ lead singer Justin Young previously recorded on the Communion label as Jay Jay Pistolet, a far more tame version of the vintage Rock that evolved to make The Vaccines what they are today. This new creation doesn’t seem to get quite as much love from Communion’s heads as some of their other friends and that’s really a shame. The Vaccines are with Columbia now and blowing up in the U.K., but still floundering in America. They’re brilliant, though, and crowds eat them up. They sound gritty and much more Punk Rock than anything on the radio right now, but they could very easily end up on those playlists. They bring an insane amount of sexual energy to the stage, too. Remember that old Almost Famous quote about the fans “getting off?” One guttural bellow from Young ignited a crowd full of shrieks. The end of The Vaccines meant half the crowd needed a cigarette.

Earlier in the day, one of the security guards said he’d worried the concert would be full of Bluegrass bands, something he hated. So far, though, he liked what he had heard. He had no idea that after The Vaccines, things were about to get real blue, real fast. Old Crow Medicine Show are old pros by now. Not only have they toured with Mumford & Sons previously, but they’ve also been around for ages. Maybe that’s why their concerts always seem similar. They’re a blast and, if you know all their songs, you’ll be hoarse by the end of their set. But, at the end of the day, nothing changes much from concert to concert … not even the between-song banter.

Somewhere during the Old Crow set an older, surlier photographer made a comment that I caught just the tail-end of. He either said “They’re better than this” or “I’m better than this.” The answer to both of those sentimentswas the same, however. “Clearly Not.” If Old Crow were better than doing a clone show in a tiny town, then millions of people wouldn’t be singing along to “Wagon Wheel” right now and thinking it was by Darius freaking Rucker. And, if that photog were better than that festival, well, he wouldn’t have been there. Oh, the egos.

Mumford & Sons finally took the stage just as the sun was sinking down past the stadium, though we’d seen them during the set before when they crashed a few Old Crow songs. The first time I saw them was in 2010 at Beachland Ballroom. They sold out the 500-person capacity room and joked their way through the entire set. Not much has changed in those three years except the size of the crowd. As I bought a pair of Vaccines underwear from the merchandise barn (because, why not?), one of the boys added a sincere moment.  Winston Marshall (I think. I was really far from the stage by then and trying to size underwear) told the fans there were a lot of people in America that the band loved “very, very much.” And that there were a few dickheads, too. Whether playing to a crowd of 500 or 50,000, the guys of Mumford know how to make each group of people feel awesome. Even if it’s just knowing to say, “O-H!” and grin when the Ohio crowd screams back the usual reply of, “I-O!” After all these years, they still really get a kick out of that trick.

Their performance was great, too. But it seems pointless to tell you that. At this point, Mumford & Sons have become so famous, so overplayed on the radio, you’ve no doubt already made up your mind about those four mates from London. Either you love them or you hate them. End of story. For me, the answer is love. I can respect a well-informed adverse opinion on the matter, however. So I won’t try to change your mind.

I walked back to my car as the Yacht Club DJs began their cool-down set after Mumford & Sons left the stage. Troy was quiet except for the bands and the revelers and drunks (so it wasn’t very quiet at all). But the town has a peaceful vibe to it and the band has always had a respectful sense to themselves that together kept everyone in check.

Would I do it again? Yes. But do I still absolutely hate festivals? Yes. Would I recommend the experience to anyone that made it this far in my review? Without hesitation, I recommend that you go visit Troy. And I will always tell everyone I meet that Mumford & Sons puts on the best show around and you should witness it once in your life. Whether you decide to hold out for their next stopover tour or settle for their next arena show, that’s up to you. Or, if you decide to wait a decade until the fuss dies down and they’re back to playing places like the Beachland or Bogart’s, I won’t judge you. I already know those gigs will be just as amazing.

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.30.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music History, Live Music at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Celebrating Cincy's Music Heritage Tonight (and Beyond)

Numerous events set to honor historically crucial Cincinnati musical institutions of the past

Tonight in Cincinnati, you can explore the state of local music at any number of area venues featuring local talent. You can also explore Cincinnati's important musical history at events set to celebrate and honor its rich legacy.

• At the site of the former Herzog recording studios (811 Race St., Downtown, also home to CityBeat), the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (which is now headquartered in the old Herzog studio's space) is throwing a dinner party this evening to mark the 64th anniversary of music legend Hank Williams' second (and last) sessions at Herzog. Williams recorded a handful of songs in Cincinnati at Herzog that helped launch him into music superstardom, including "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Lovesick Blues," "Lost On The River," "House Without Love," "I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Living" and "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It." (Click here for more background on Herzog.)

Tonight's event at Herzog — dubbed Bucky Herzog's Legacy Hour — will get you dinner from Eli's BBQ  and drinks at 7 p.m., plus a reception at 9 p.m.

The juicy stuff's in the middle — a collection of local musicians will be performing/recording those eight famous Williams' tunes from the second session in the same spot they were originally recorded.

The music starts at 8 p.m. and the show is being presented like an old-fashioned radio hour. Edwin Vardiman hosts and performs those classic songs with Arlo McKinley and several of his talented friends from the area Roots music scene, including Timothy Carr, Tyler Lockard, Moriah Haven Lawson, Sarah Davis, Sylvia Mitchell and Kelly Thomas.

Making it even more like an old-timey radio show broadcast — it will actually be broadcast live (though through the internet's series of tubes) for those who can't make it. The first 30 minutes of the show will be streamed live through StageIt here. Head there now to grab a ticket — for a $5 donation to the Music Heritage Foundation (also the beneficiary of the live tonight), you will receive a free download of the entire performance.

Bucky Herzog's Legacy Hour is open to music lovers of all ages. Admission is $25 at the door. Visit the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation's site here for more info (or to become a member, which you can also do tonight).

• This September marks the 70th anniversary of the launch of King Records, the Cincinnati-based label that, for 30 years, released some revolutionary records in a variety of genres, including titles from James Brown, The Stanley Brothers, Hank Ballard, Tiny Bradshaw and Wynonie Harris. Founded by Cincinnatian Syd Nathan (who was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997), the label is widely credited as a pioneer of laying the foundation for Rock & Roll, releasing music by both black and white artists and putting out high-quality R&B and Country/Bluegrass artists.

The label’s legacy has gradually gotten more attention over the past couple of decades and, especially locally, hardcore music fans have loudly trumpeted King’s historical significance.

The original building still stands in Evanston (dilapidated but marked with a historical marker) and Xavier University (plus numerous boosters) is making plans for King Studios in the neighborhood. The “experiential learning” community center is set to feature interactive displays about King’s history, a recording studio (for local musicians to record and others to use for learning opportunities) and a community arts center providing visual art classes and more.  

The label’s 70th anniversary month is loaded with events throughout the city — from author visits, music and exhibits at Cincinnati library's main branch downtown to numerous King-related concerts and activities around the city.

Here's a short documentary about King Records, made Matt Peiken and posted online today at King Studios' site:


Tonight, King Records Month launches with a free reception at the Evanston Recreation Center, running 4-7 p.m., where the public can learn more about King Records and King Studios.

From 6-8 p.m. tonight, MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine hosts the opening of Royal Plastics: King Records Album Art, a very cool concept for a King-centric photo show.  

The exhibit — named for King's separate company set up to manufacture music releases, Royal Plastics — was conceived by local music historian Brian Powers, who works for the city's library, a big reason the main branch has so many King events this month (and has long been illuminating visitors about Cincy's musical past).

Powers had begun to collect King releases on vinyl when he noticed that several were obviously shot in Greater Cincinnati. Powers reached out to accomplished local photographers John Curley and Michael Wilson to assist and signed up several local musicians — including Bobby Mackey, Jake Speed and Buggs Tha Rocka — to star in "re-shoots" of the vintage covers, mimicking the original front of several of King's old releases.

For the full run-down of King Records Month events, taken from the King Studios' site, click below the fold. Be sure visit kingstudios.org for full details.

Read More

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.30.2013
 
 
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WATCH: DAAP Girls' "Molly" Music Video

Cincinnati rockers host a video release party tonight at Japp's

The winners of the "Best New Artist" trophy at the most recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, DAAP Girls, will celebrate the debut of their new music video tonight at Japp's Annex on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.

The spooky, visually arresting clip is for "Molly," one of the many great tracks off of the band's debut album, Tape Songs (every song has a girl's name). Shot at the Kenneweg Compound in Alexandria, Ky., "Molly" was directed by local visual artist Philip LaVelle, alongside graphic designer Josh Jacob and videographer Sean Steininger. The video is mesmerizing and matches up with the lurching, dreamy swagger of the song perfectly. It's fairly low-budget, but doesn't look it, with it's creatively captivating effects and overall vibe.

DAAP Girls guitarist/singer Stuart MacKenzie provided this synopsis of the video:

"The video tells a story of five young people on the cusp of adulthood enjoying a last weekend together. (Unbeknown) to them, they are being viewed by the ghosts of their future's past. The video incorporates aspects of romance, nostalgia and magical realism to tell an alternate, complimentary story to the song."

Tonight's new video celebration at Japp's kicks off at 9 p.m. with a DAAP Girls performance, followed by the screening of the clip at 10 p.m. The band will perform after the screening as well.

Here's a sneak peek of "Molly," followed by the video's creative credits:



Directed by Philip LaVelle
Filmed by Sean Steinger and Josh Jacob
Edited by Sean Steinger, Josh Jacob and Philip LaVelle
Special effects by Josh Jacob
Casting by Erica Turer
Catering by Joe Diedenhofer
Filmmed on location at Kenneweg Compound, Alexandria, KY
Special thanks to Josh and Stephanie Kenneweg

Cast: Cody Reinhard Amir Gamble, Zachary Müller, Sarah Davenport, Rosie Carpenter, Emma Roberts, and Allison Gathof

DAAP Girls is: Jay Duckworth, Stuart MacKenzie, Daniel Peterson, Alex Duckworth, Michael Felger, Collin Thompson, Brian Gilronan.

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.29.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, Music News at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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WATCH: Skeleton Hands' "Oxygen" Music Video

Cincinnati Darkwave duo releases creeping new clip for latest single

In February of this year, Cincinnati area Electronic/Darkwave/Post Punk twosome Skeleton Hands released its stellar full-length album, Gone (read CityBeat's review here). One of the standouts on the LP is the track "Oxygen," which encapsulates everything compelling about the duo's sound — it's dark, danceable and moody, with synth atmospherics, creeping melodies and vocals, electro-bass wobble and shimmery guitar waterfalls. 

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).

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.28.2013
 
 
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See Why?, Get Discount MidPoint Tickets Friday

Fountain Square's MidPoint Indie Summer concert series ends with locally-bred greats Why? this Friday; MPMF offering exclusive fest ticket deal

The grand finale of the season-long MidPoint Indie Summer concert series is Friday on Fountain Square. It's always a bittersweet moment — the free series ends for this summer, but that only means that the MidPoint Music Festival is less than one month away.

The MidPoint Indie Summer series concludes just in time to kick off Labor Day weekend this Friday. The show is headlined by internationally beloved/locally based Why?, which is set to release its Golden Ticket EP in a few weeks. The EP is the result of some fan-engaging fun on the group's website.

On the Why? site, frontman Yoni Wolf explains: "We would write a theme song for one customer who came to the … web store and bought something every month. Like Mighty Mouse. It would be a song about that person. We’d read all about them on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes even go so far as to contact their significant other to ask them questions. Then I would write the song on piano and my brother would take the skeleton of lyrics and piano and turn it into a fully realized arrangement.” (Read more on Why? here.)

(Wolf, by the way, has also been hosting his own very entertaining podcast called The Wandering Wolf (free for download on iTunes and Soundcloud). The show's have been hilarious and insightful, with Wolf chatting with guests like James McNew of Indie Rock legends Yo La Tengo, Cincinnati Hip Hop legend Mr. Dibbs and he and his brother's own father.)

Also at the finale, there will be a one-time only special on tickets to the forthcoming MidPoint Music Festival 2013. Those purchasing tickets in person at the Square Friday can buy three-day passes for $59 ($10 off) and three-day VIP passes for $149 ($20 off). Visit mpmf.com for the latest on the fest and mpmf.cincyticket.com for tickets (if you can’t make it Friday).

Also performing Friday on the Square: Nashville’s Moon Taxi and Cincy’s Vito Emmanuel. Showtime is 8 p.m. 


 
 
by Mike Breen 08.27.2013
 
 
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Seeds Keep Growing

Members of The Seedy Seeds get busy after band announces "break"

On June 4, one of the more beloved bands in Cincinnati (and, increasingly, the rest of the country), Indie Pop greats The Seedy Seeds, announced that they were going on "break" on their Facebook page. The post was worded to suggest this is an "indefinite hiatus" — the words "break up" were not used, but there's no sign of activity from the band on the horizon (fans are also leaving "R.I.P." messages on their Facebook page).

In the "break" announcement that sounds like a "goodbye" one, the trio writes, "While we each have new projects to which we must now turn our energies, it's very hard to imagine how to live any moments from this point on as anything but Seedy Seeds."

Some of those new projects have been making themselves known recently. Seed Margaret Darling has been performing her solo material regularly on the local club front and, yesterday, it was announced she has some touring in her immediate future.

The band Distant Correspondent, described as Indie Dream Pop and featuring members located in different cities around the world, announced that Darling will be joining them on their upcoming fall tour. The supergroup made itself known to the public earlier this year and received a lot of press right off the bat. The band features David Obuchowski from Brooklyn's Goes Cube, the U.K.'s Emily Gray (from British Post Rock crew and John Peel faves Meanwhile, Back in Communist Russia), multi-instrumentalist Michael Lengel on drums (whom Obuchowski met when he moved to Colorado) and Seattle bassist Tyler Wilcox, as well as fantastic Indie singer/songwriter Edith Frost (who is not touring with the band this fall).

Here's what Obuchowski had to say about bringing Darling into the fold:

Being in a band with members in different cities and even countries is pretty liberating. Sure, it's not always the easiest thing in the world from a practical standpoint. But the flip-side is that it affords us the opportunity work with musicians we love, even if they don't live close.

With that in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we'll be bringing along Cincinnati-based solo artist, MARGARET DARLING as our featured vocalist for our upcoming record release tour. We're big fans of Margaret's solo work, and her work in the now-defunct Cincinnati indie-pop powerhouse THE SEEDY SEEDS. In fact, when it came time to put together a show in Cincinnati for our record release tour, we asked Margaret Darling to share the bill with us before we tapped any other artist. Margaret's music (as a solo artist and with her former band, The Seedy Seeds) has been described as "dizzying, perplexing and wonderfully fun" (NPR), and "no less than impressive - intimate and addictive" (CincyMusic.com).

Darling is joining the tour as "guest vocalist," beginning on the opening date in Denver on Oct. 23, the day after the band's self-titled album is released through Hot Congress/Old Flame Records. Click here to check out the music video for the Distant Correspondent track "Summit."

Meanwhile, Darling's Seedy Seeds co-founder Mike Ingram has been busy as a road sound technician, but he has found time to work with a new collaborator, great local singer/songwriter/guitarist Jasmine Poole, who works under the name Wonky Tonk.

Ingram (who harmonizes and plays guitar) and Poole have been working on new Wonky Tonk material and, given their hectic schedules, they even created a cyber-concert for fans to check out while they wait for it.
 

Wonky Tonk Live Aug 2013 from Wonky Tonk on Vimeo.

As luck would have it, both musicians are currently in town and tonight will be performing at the Nothside Tavern. The free show (in the club's "front room") features Wonky Tonk, Mr. Pointy and Kyrst and starts at 9 p.m.

Also in Seedy Seedsland, the group's drummer, Joe Frankl, has poured all of his focus back into his great Pop Rock trio of the past 10 years, The Frankl Project, alongside bandmates Jake Trippey and Paul Schroder. The band has been doing regular tour dates in support of its excellent new album, Standards. The band is hosting the album's local release party this Saturday at the Northside Tavern. The show is free and features special guests The Pinstripes, The Happy Maladies and 46 Long.

Here's a teaser The Frankl Project posted on YouTube. Click here for more on Frankl Project.

 
 
by Amy Harris 08.23.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Interview at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
volbeat_vls3382

Q&A with Volbeat

Danish metallers play U.S. Bank Arena this Sunday

Volbeat has been headlining huge shows in Europe for nearly a decade and now they are bringing their Metal sound to the States. In the position of up-and-comer again, they bring their high level energy to American, which has translated into sold out shows across the country. Currently Volbeat is touring on its new album, Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies. 

CityBeat was able to catch up with new band member and former Anthrax lead guitarist Rob Caggiano in preparation for the band's upcoming show in Cincinnati to discuss the transition into a new band and his broad musical influences that have helped him evolve since childhood. He definitely has brings a strong, veteran presence to a band that was already rising to new heights. Check out Volbeat headlining the Rock Allegiance Tour at US Bank Arena this Sunday with HIM, All That Remains and Airbourne. 

CityBeat: Could you tell me about the moment in the studio working with Volbeat on their new album that you realized you really could be in the band or it would be a good fit?

Rob Caggiano: They had asked me to be a part of it two weeks into the process of recording. So it was pretty early on into the whole thing. I think it really stemmed from the first meeting we had when they called me initially when I left Anthrax and put the press release out there. A couple days later I flew to Denmark and sat down with Michael and went over the tunes and then ideas for the new record. We ended up collaborating and making music together. It was such a fun vibe and such a great chemistry. I think that was kind of a catalyst for everything else.

CB: I saw you guys at Rock on the Range for the first time playing together. It was really amazing. What was your favorite Rock on the Range moment this year?

RC: We definitely had a really good time during our show. It was a lot of fun. Rock on the Range, to me, is one of the coolest festivals here in the States. It seems like America is catching up finally with what is going on in Europe with these outdoor festivals. Rock on the Range is very well put together, very organized, just very pro and well done. It’s always a good time. I did get a chance to see Lamb of God play, about half their set and that was killer. It was great to see Randy back up on stage.

CB: Has there been any hazing or initiation since you joined the band?

RC: Not really, I was doing all the hazing. It has been pretty cool, pretty seamless, the whole transition. The way it went down, it was very organic and felt very comfortable from the beginning. It has been cool. We are having a blast.

CB: I know it must have been a difficult decision to leave Anthrax which had been your job for the last 12 years. What were the factors for moving on?

RC: I just had this feeling of being stuck. I just felt like I was on a conveyor belt, doing that for so long. I still love those guys dearly and they are like my family. I just wasn’t happy. It got to the point where I just wasn’t happy and I was questioning myself and what I am doing here. What are we doing? What’s going to happen in the future? I just came to the conclusion I needed a change. 

I think the main part of the problem was that Anthrax was never a creative outlet for me. By no choice of my own, that was just the way it had been. I think after all those years my heart wasn’t in it anymore and I needed something different. It was definitely an emotional, difficult decision to make but it was something that needed to be done.

CB: What is your favorite guitar solo to play on the new Volbeat record and out on tour?

RC: I have two favorites. I enjoy playing the “Lola Montez” solo and the “Doc Holliday” solo. 

CB: I know you have been producing for several years helping out bands and doing Anthrax and Volbeat records. Do you ever see yourself stepping out of Rock or Metal and producing other genres? There are a lot of collaborations happening right now with different genres of music.

RC: Absolutely. I never saw myself as a solely a Metal producer. To be honest, when I am at home, I don’t really listen to Metal. It’s probably because it is what I do all the time. My influences are really varied and I listen to so many different albums and genres of music. I just consider myself a musician. I put 100% of my heart into whatever I am working on. With all these different influences, I can definitely do a lot of different things and have done a lot of different things in the past.

CB: What are you listening to right now? What is influencing you?

RC: My favorite record right now, if we are talking about new bands and newer records, is this band called The National. I think (they're) phenomenal.

CB: They are actually from Cincinnati. 

RC: Yeah, it seems like they are doing pretty well all over the world. Their new record is phenomenal. I think it is just great, the production is amazing, the songs are great. I have never met the band. I had heard the name but I had never heard the music. We were doing a record signing in Copenhagen and I asked one of the girls at the store what was her favorite record, what should I check out, what came in that is the new hot record. She said to get the new National record. I said “Ok, I’ll give it a shot.” She was right. I dig it. I like Lana Del Rey too.

CB: Do you ever plan to sit down and write your Rock biography?

RC: Maybe one day down the road. I don’t know if I’m ready yet. 

CB: I’m sure you have plenty of stories. What is your craziest tour story with Volbeat right now?

RC: It really isn’t that crazy on the road with these guys. It’s pretty mellow. It is a very focused thing. We do our show … the thing about being on tour, especially with Volbeat, we are headlining a lot of these festivals in Europe so we are going on late. We get there early at these festival sites and have a whole day of nothing. It is kind of boring just waiting to go on stage. Nothing really crazy has happened yet but I will keep you posted.

CB: I am shocked you haven’t seen crazy things at the European festivals with fans.

RC: I guess it depends what you call crazy.

CB: Yeah, your idea of crazy may be different than mine. You may be like, “That’s totally normal.”

RC: Exactly

CB: What was the name of your first band?

RC: My first band ever was when I was 14 years old. We were called “Wild Heart.”

CB: Do you keep in touch with those guys?

RC: Kind of. I saw the other guitar player recently in Florida. He has been a friend of mine forever. The rest of the guys I have not spoken to in a long time.

CB: Do you play any other instruments?

RC: Yeah, I play drums. I play keys. I do our programming when I need to. I just make noise basically. I can pretty much get anything to sound decent. As a kid, I started out playing drums so that has always been in my heart. I went to the guitar from that. 

CB: Your parents were supportive of the drums in the house?

RC: Well they bought them. Yeah, my parents were huge supporters of my music. My Dad is really into the music thing. It was definitely a very healthy atmosphere growing up for creativity and inspiration. There was always music around which was cool.

CB: I started hearing about Volbeat and listening to Volbeat about two years ago when they were just coming to the U.S. Obviously they are huge in Europe, beyond headlining. What do you think is the biggest difference so far in the U.S. shows and the European shows?

RC: In the U.S. it is very much on the rise, the shows over here are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. With them, we did two legs, two U.S. legs and every show was killer. Back in 2010, that is when I first met these guys with my other band, The Damned Things, they took us on tour. That’s when I first heard the music and met the guys and became friends. Even that tour was sold out every night. It was an awesome tour. Volbeat is definitely on the rise in America. In Europe obviously it is crazy. It is just a really good feeling all around. There is a lot of excitement about this band and the new record, just good vibes. 

 
 
by mbreen 08.23.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Reviews, Local Music at 09:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Koala Fires Release Final LP, Play Final Show

Cincinnati band calls it quits with new album 'Doom of the Norns' and farewell show Saturday

Saturday at Mayday in Northside, the great Cincinnati Indie Rock band Koala Fires will be performing for the last time. But the band is also saying goodbye with a gem of an album, Doom of the Norns, the band's second full-length, which will be officially released tomorrow in conjunction with the show. The Fires will be joined by Chicago's Brighton, MA and Cincy's Jody Stapleton and the Generals. Performers from Cin City Burlesque will also entertain between sets. Doors open at 8 p.m. and admission is $7. (Koala Fires will donate half of their merchandise sales Saturday night to help relocate the women of the Anna-Louise Inn.)

Doom of the Norns is a compelling piece of art, an Indie Pop/Rock record with a hefty emotional weight. Singer/songwriter Matt Mooney's vocals have never sounded better, his honey-dipped instrument crooning the album's up-and-down tales of finding love and losing it. It's not a unique concept, but in Mooney's hands, it feels real, raw, somber and often explosive. (Mooney wrote the record to help him get through the demise of his 10-year marriage.)

Mooney and guitarist Ben Evans play beautifully off of each other, their intertwining fretwork creating a wash of dynamic sound. Drummer Matt Retherford and bassist Matt Zink fuel the songs with precision and a distinctive flair; Retherford's fiery yet intuitive playing, in particular, is a crucial part of the albums success.

But the heart of the album is the passionate songwriting. These are Pop/Rock songs, but Mooney's melodies wind in unexpected directions and the songs themselves are dynamically structured. "Grim is the Doom of the Norns" sets the tone, building with twinkling guitars and Mooney's voice showcasing that early-love "head in the clouds" state of mind, before ripping into a big, exuberant chorus. "Nuckalavee" bops along on a jaunty rhythm, undercut by cutting lyrics like, "Do you want control of me? That might be nice/But after years and years he'll escape one night/He will terrorize, drink tears from your eyes and then scare your pain away."


Mooney may just be one of the best Rock lyricists in town. The powerful "Valley of the Kings" begins with the lines, "There used to be a thousand ways to tear this down and start again/But, now it seems there's just one way and it involves a match and some kerosene." The album gets progressively dark, but the words aren't defeatist — they sound like the kind of lyrics someone would write to come to terms with the ending a long relationship. It's artistic therapy. By the last couple of tracks, there is hope and resolve.

There is emotion to spare on Doom of the Norns, but this ain't no wallowing Emo spew. Mooney delves into his despair and writes about it smartly and poetically, making it the kind of album that would fit in your record collection perfectly alongside LPs by The Afghan Whigs, later Superchunk and Cari Clara.

When you fall in love with Koala Fires after hearing this album (if you aren't already in love with them), don't be too sad. Mooney has a new-direction project in the works, Retherford and Evans play together in the Cincy band House of Feeble Minds and Zink is a member of up-and-comers The Future Strikes. The Fires will burn on. (Click here to purchase the album digitally.)

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.22.2013
 
 
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Local Concert Photography Exhibition Coming Soon

Art Academy's 'Reverberation' exhibit spotlights 25 years of musical performances in Greater Cincinnati

Beginning Sept. 3 at the Art Academy of Cincinnati's Childlaw Gallery (1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine), the people behind the massive photography exhibition FotoFocus will set their lenses on the many great concert photographers in the region.

Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience will coincide with the MidPoint Music Festival, located just off the 12th Street MidPoint Midway (the strip featuring vendors, food, live music the box truck carnival and much more). Hours will be extended during MPMF, with the exhibit staying open until 9 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 10 p.m. on Sept. 27-28. (Normal hours, starting Sept. 3, are 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays). The exhibit closes Sept. 29.

The work of 29 artists will be featured in the exhibit, including shots from legends like Melvin Grier (an award-winning photojournalist who shot many years for The Cincinnati Post) and Michael Wilson (whose portraits have been featured on the covers of albums by The Replacements, Over the Rhine, Lyle Lovett, Ron Sexmith and many others), as well as Maurice Mattei, Sean Hughes, Keith Klenowski and Kara Smarsh. (Click on the names to check out some of the artists' work.)

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.21.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Music News, Music Video at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Crown Jewels of Jazz Festival Begins Today

Multi-act, multi-venue Jazz fest brings in big names, showcases local talent

The ambitious Crown Jewels of Jazz Heritage Festival kicks off today with a special concert in Washington Park featuring Philly Jazz/Funk/R&B squad PIeces of a Dream and local faves Marc Fields and Airwave. The expanded festival and new format this year is the work of Kathy Wade and friends, who run the Learning Through Art non-profit.

The Jazz Heritage Fest isn't a one-stop event. Besides Washington Park, numerous retailers, bars and restaurants in Over-the-Rhine and Mount Adams (across seven street blocks) will be a part of the fest's "Global Village." These venues will feature live Jazz each night of the fest and offer 20% discounts on their goods and services. It's a great way to get people to explore the thriving neighborhoods.

•    Another Part of The Forest
•    Below Zero Lounge
•    Iris
•    Urban Eden
•    Japp’s
•    Mayberry
•    Mr.Pitiful’s
•    Neons
•    Pet Wants
•    Switch
•    Segway
•    Symphony Hotel
•    Taste of Belgium
•    Zula
•    Art Beyond Boundaries
•    Couture Couture Boutique
•    Park and Vine
•    Little Mahatma
•    Venice On Vine
•    Clay Street Press
•    Street Pops
•    Atomic Number 10
•    Ensemble Theater
•    The Know Theater
•    Elementz
•    Mt. Adams Bar and Grill
•    The Blind Lemon
•    The Grotto
•    Longworth’s

Tomorrow (Thursday), Crown Jewels joins forces with the It's Commonly Jazz series in Eden Park's Seasongood Pavilion. Great vocalist Gregory Porter will perform at 6 p.m.

On Friday in Washington Park, Phil DeGreg's Samba Connection will be joined by singer Mandy Gaines and The Cincy Brass are also set to perform.

Saturday, the fest wraps up with headliner Diane Schuur, as well as Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra and Kathy Wade.

Single-day wristbands are available for $15 or you can purchase one good for all four days for just $40. There are also limited edition VIP wristbands which will get you into four "Meet the Artists Receptions" after each of the big four concerts. Proceeds benefit Learning Through Arts' Books Alive! For Kids, a performing arts/literacy program.

Wristbands for Books Alive! are available at the Aronoff Center Box Office and online at learningthroughart.com here.

 
 

 

 

 
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