Ever listened to Paul McCartney’s first two solo albums and thought, “Wow, these are so great, I want to reinterpret them artistically”? If that’s you (or if you’re just looking for a bit of self-promotion), you could win some cool prizes by entering your McCartney-inspired artwork into a unique contest judged by Sir Paul himself.
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.
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.
Last night, Jane Smith, singer for the Cincinnati area band Belle Histoire, appeared as a contestant on the NBC singing competition, The Voice. None of the judges "turned around" (the show's sign of approval, but, really, isn't it rude not to look at someone singing for you?), but Smith earned some fans with the appearance.
Lyndsey Parker, who covers the show for Yahoo's music blog, was one such fan, writing, "Whyyyyyyy didn't any of the judges spin for this awesome girl? Biggest Voice fail of this season so far, for real. Obviously the judges could not see how adorable Jane was, with her perfect Marlo Thomas hair-flip, sweet Keane-painting eyes, and Zooey 101 style…but surely they must have heard the potential in this Belle Histoire frontwoman's throaty performance of Florence + The Machine's 'You Got The Love.' I don't understand why no one turned, since they'd turned for less impressive singers this season. Of course, the four coaches who rejected Jane then spent 10 minutes annoyingly gushing about how great she was, which only made me wish there was such a thing as a Do-Over Round on The Voice. Le sigh. If only Cee Lo Green hadn't sat out Season 4. I have a feeling Cee Lo would have totally hit his button for Jane."
Click here to read more about Smith and her on-the-rise Indie Pop Rock band Belle Histoire, then check out the band's music video for "My Dear," from the group's debut album Dreamers, below. And click here to listen to the first single from Jane's solo project Decker, "Swing," which was released to iTunes today.
This weekend, the Cincy Blues Fest — presented annually by the Cincy Blues Society — returns for its 21st year, a remarkable accomplishment for a music festival of any sort. The festival kicks off tonight and continues tomorrow at Sawyer Point along the riverfront.
The weekend features two main stage acts with serious ties to Cincinnati’s Blues past. Educator, author, DJ, singer and harmonica player Steven Tracy returns to Cincy to play the main stage on tonight at 7 p.m. with his band the Crawling Kingsnakes. A Walnut Hills High School graduate, Tracy worked with local Blues icons like Pigmeat Jarrett and Big Joe Duskin, becoming a part of the scene he’d later dig deeper into in the 1993 book, Going to Cincinnati: A History of the Blues in the Queen City. His writing career is extensive — Tracy has written dozens of album liner notes and edited/wrote/intro-ed several other books on a variety of subjects. Today, Tracy is a professor of Afro-American Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Saturday at 6 p.m. on the fest’s main stage, Stacy Mitchhart and his band are slated to perform. Mitchhart grew up in Cincinnati and spent time playing music on the East and West Coasts before returning to his hometown in the early 1990s and forming Stacy Mitchhart and Blues-U-Can-Use, a staple on the local Blues scene for a few years. After a move to Nashville, Tenn., in the mid-’90s, Mitchhart’s musical career really took off. His albums have been widely acclaimed and done well commercially — his 2011 release, Live from B.B. King’s, debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Blues charts — and he’s received high-praise for his showmanship and remarkable Blues voice. In 2008, Mitchhart was the subject of the well-received documentary NashVegas Blues.
Here is tonight's main stage schedule:
5:45-6:45 p.m. Dave Muskett
7:00-8:15 p.m. Steve Tracy & the Crawling Kingsnakes
8:30-10 p.m. Reba Russell Band
10:15-11:45 p.m. Watermelon Slim & the Workers
And here's the lineup for the Main Stage tomorrow:
4:15-4:45 p.m. Blues in the Schools (BITS) Band
5-5:45 p.m. The Juice
6-7 p.m. Stacy Mitchhart Band
7:15-8:30 p.m. Nikki Hill
8:45-10:00 p.m. Honey Island Swamp Band
10:15-11:45 p.m. Ana Popovic (all the way from Serbia!)
Some of the coolest things at the Cincy Blues Fest can be found on the “specialty” stages — a “specialty” of the fest — which this year includes a “Women of the Blues” stage on Friday, headlined by national act EG Knight and also featuring locals Rio & The Ramblers, The Juice and Tempted Souls Band.
Here is the "Women of the Blues" stage ((aka the Arches stage) schedule for tonight :
5:45-7 p.m. Rio & the Ramblers
7:15-8:30 p.m. The Juice
8:45-10:00 p.m. Tempted Souls Band
10:15-11:45 p.m. EG Kight
Saturday sees the return of the “Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame Piano Stage,” featuring an international cast of top-shelf Boogie Woogie pianists, including local favorite Ricky Nye and former locals (now Florida-based) Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues. The house band for the Boogie Woogie stage is Johnny Vidacovich (drums), George Bedard (guitar) and Chris Douglas (bass).
Saturday's Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame stage (aka Arches stage) lineup:
4:30 p.m. Ben Levin
5 p.m. Ari Borger
5:40 p.m. Ricky Nye
6:20 p.m. Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues
7:10 p.m. Bruce Katz
7:50 p.m. Al Hill
8:30 p.m. Axel Zwingenberger & Lila Ammons
9:10 p.m. Joshua Paxton
10 p.m. David Vest
10:40 p.m. Bob Seeley
11:20 p.m. Chris Conz
The Blues Fest again presents the St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage on both days of the event, always an excellent snapshot of the current local Blues scene.
Friday's St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage schedule:
5:45-6:45 p.m. Thomas Long & Blue Sacrifice
7-8 p.m. Noah Wotherspoon Band
8:15-9:15 p.m. Ralph & the Rhythm Hounds
9:30-10:30 p.m. Brad Hatfield Band
10:45 p.m.-12 a.m. G Miles & the Hitmen
Saturday's St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage lineup:
4:30-5:30 p.m. The Blue Birds Big Band
5:45-6:45 p.m. Jay Jesse Johnson Band
7-8 p.m. The SoulFixers
8:15-9:15 p.m. Doug Hart Band
9:30-10:30 p.m. Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project
10:45 p.m.-12 a.m. Leroy Ellington Blues Band
Here is a map of the Blues Fest grounds:
Tickets are $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday or $25 for a
two-day pass (tickets can be purchased at the gates or here). Visit
cincybluesfest.org for everything else you need to know about the
Entertainment Weekly's website recently debuted a bizarre music video for Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider's cover of "Mack the Knife." The clip features Eric Nally, singer for internationally renowned, Cincy born-and-bred hard rockers Foxy Shazam, as a nerded-up emcee introducing Snider before a less-than-enthused small crowd. The song is from Snider's album of covers, Dee Does Broadway, which includes Broadway cameos from Bebe Neuwirth and Patti LuPone. The video clip also includes a cameo by modern Prog Rock legend Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Translatlantic). "Mack the Knife" is rendered fairly straightforward by Dee … at first. (You just knew he wasn't going to take it anymore.)
Snider is a Foxy fan, apparently. On a morning show in L.A. recently, he shouted-out the band to viewers, calling them "Queen meets The Darkness … so brilliant!
It's not the first Rock veteran to take notice of Foxy's talent. Nally co-wrote songs with Justin Hawkins of The Darkness, Meat Loaf and others for Meat Loaf's 2010 album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. Here's "California Isn't Big Enough (Hey There Girl)," which Nally and Hawkins wrote together. (Foxy and the since-reunited Darkness have been touring together a bunch lately, a match made in flamboyant Rock & Roll heaven.)
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.
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.
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.
Cincy rockers Wussy have stepped up their game in terms of touring and promotions big time. It was previously announced that the group would join Cincy legends The Afghan Whigs on their upcoming U.S. tour run. Now, immediately following those (mostly sold out) dates, Wussy is set to join another local favorite, Heartless Bastards (now based in Austin, Tex.), for several shows on that band's fall tour.
Wussy is the confirmed support act on Bastards dates in Houston, New Orleans, Nashville, Athens, Ga., Saxapahaw, NC, and Washington D.C.
Wussy and Heartless Bastards are also hooking up on vinyl, participating in the series of singles tributing the songs of Soul/R&B songwriter Eddie Hinton. The Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli recorded the first single in The Dangerous Highway Series of 7-inch singles (taking on "Hard Luck Guy” and “Cover Me"), while Drive-By Truckers did Vol. 2. Due next month, Vol. 3 features Wussy doing "Breakfast in Bed" on one side and the Bastards doing "Got Down Last Saturday Night" on the flip. At the same time as the split single, Shake It is also releasing Vol. 4 featuring Cincy's Buffalo Killers, with two tracks produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. (Besides buying them in Shake It's Northside shoppe, the releases will also be available through Shake It via mail order; click here to browse the catalog.)
Before the Whigs and Bastards dates, Wussy headlines next Friday's free MidPoint Indie Summer Series on Fountain Square (the last of the season), then the band's Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker will be doing several dates as a duo in the U.K. (from Sept. 17-Oct. 1). The band's first album to be released overseas, Buckeye (on the Damnably Records imprint), came out in July in the U.K. and features a compilation of Wussy songs from the group's five albums (including the acoustic rendition of Funeral Dress). Buckeye has been scoring Wussy some remarkable press; the BBC reviewed the record and said, "Wussy are certainly a band with an incredibly rich past and, undoubtedly, an equally rich future."