I keep waiting to receive a new release from the locally-based label Phratry Records that is subpar. The label — specializing in Indie/Post Punk/Punk-flavored sounds — is celebrating its sixth anniversary this month and its next release is its 22nd so far. The law of averages would suggest that, especially given the imprint’s increased output in the past year, at least one stinker would sneak by. But every time I click on a new MP3, slip in a new CD or drop the needle on the latest release’s vinyl version (Phratry’s offerings usually come in all three formats), I never fail to be impressed. And that 22nd release — the full-length debut from Cincinnati’s State Song, Dear Hearts & Gentle People — is definitely not the stink-bomb I’ve been half-expecting from Phratry. In fact, it may just be the label’s finest offering yet.
The fruitcakes have been throw away, the eggnog is spoiled, the big ball dropped, the champagne is gone and we’ve all had time to reflect on 2008. Now, chin up, sport — it’s time to start looking ahead to 2009 and what lies ahead for Cincinnati’s local music scene.
If the first release of 2009 (well, the first to cross my desk anyway) is any indication, we’re in for another great year for locally crafted CDs. The “New Year’s Eve baby” of the local CD world comes from newcomers Hazle Weatherfield, a promising trio that celebrates its debut release with a show this Saturday at The Mad Hatter in Covington.
Local Blues musician Phil Blank lost his battle with cancer and passed away on Jan. 15. He was 57. A memorial service for the veteran singer/harmonica player/guitarist is scheduled for Jan. 30 at the Staley-Crowe Funeral Home in Deer Park starting at noon.
Everyone's favorite funkdified, dancetastic bass hero, Freekbass, has teamed up with Hip Hop/DJ collective Tobotius for a slammin' couple of tracks that'll definitely get your booty motorin'.
One of the coolest, more unique musical experiences to be had in Cincinnati is at the concerts presented by The Loft Society, an on-the-down-low, speakeasy-like venue housed in the top-floor loft of an apartment building on Calhoun Street in University Heights (next to Mayra’s restaurant). Programmed and hosted by Al Williams, the Loft has been featuring artists on the more exploratory side of Jazz (with occasional guests from other genres) for the past two decades. The atmosphere is relaxed and communal and set up as a great listening experience first and foremost (obnoxious chatter during performances is strongly frowned upon). If you’ve yet to visit, Saturday’s “A Tribute to MLK” concert is a great place to start.
Following last week's announcement of the lineup for this year's MidPoint Indie Summer — free concerts every Friday on Fountain Square featuring an eclectic mix of local and nationally-touring Indie bands — kick-ass local promoters Self Diploma have unveiled who they have coming in for the Beats Summer Concert Series. Like Indie Summer, the Beats series features a blend of local and national acts. The concerts will feature some big names and hot up-and-comers in Hip Hop, Dance and Electronic music, including one of the best rising Hip Hop acts on the scene, The Cool Kids (Aug. 4).
Self Diploma has booked over 80 artists for the events, which kick off June 2. The concerts run through Aug. 25 and are open to all ages. Shows start at 6 p.m. and will be hosted by local DJ D-Lo.
Click here for updates and further announcements from Self Diploma. Here's the video press release for this summer's events, followed by the full sched.
ERIK '222' BARNUM
CALI KID DUBZ
MILK & COOKIES
DJ JOHNNY B
THE COOL KIDS
CJ THE DJ
THE CHAOTIC GOOD
JOLA THE TRUNK BOY
CHANCE THE RAPPER
When you say the letters “C&D” to any member of Cincinnati’s hip, bar-going, Shake-It-haunting scene, most people will nod their heads in recognition, knowingly acknowledging the “Complete Dive” on the corner of Hanfield and Witler, a block down from Chase. Now append the words “Record Bar” at the end of “C&D” and quite a few of those nods of familiarity will turn to blank stares.
Cincinnati music’s most iconic figure, Bootsy Collins, is gearing up to release a new album this spring, the funkmaster’s first new material in five years. The guest list on Tha Funk Capital of the World is stacked with superstars from various fields, not just music. Along with Hip Hop legends Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Chuck D (who all perform with Bootsy on one track, “Hip Hop @ Funk U”), eclectic banjo master Bela Fleck and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bobby Womack, the 16-track collection also features such non-musical figures as Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Dr. Cornel West and actor Samuel Jackson. Funk Capital has an April 26 release date.
Nationally recognized as one of the best record stores in the Midwest, it makes sense that Northside’s Shake It Records would go all out on the forthcoming global Record Store Day (April 16). Besides offering many of the limited-edition RSD exclusives being released by everyone from Blitzen Trapper, Yeasayer and Built to Spill to Television and The Velvet Underground (for the full list of exclusives, click here), the store/label is also issuing its own exclusive release from Shake It recording artists Wussy. And they’ll be hosting an in-store appearance by modern Hip Hop hero Talib Kweli.
Contemporary Arts Center has officially announced that Patti Smith will perform The Coral Sea with daughter/pianist Jesse Smith on May 17, in connection with her CAC exhibit, also called The Coral Sea, that opens the next day and features work not previously seen in the U.S.
At the concert, Smith will also play selected material from throughout her career.
The CAC website says that "The Coral Sea performance work found its beginnings from Smith’s 1997 book of the same name, her requiem to her dear friend Robert Mapplethorpe (who took the cover photo of Smith’s debut album, Horses, among his many other accomplishments). With music arranged and performed live by Kevin Shields — of heralded British shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine — two separate performances were held at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in June 2005 and September 2006. In 2008 those performances were released as a live album."
Mapplethorpe's own posthumous photography retrospective at CAC, 1990's The Perfect Moment, became a major controversy when cultural conservatives led by now-retired Sheriff Simon Leis tried to shut it down for obscenity. In a famous trial, a jury sided with the CAC. The concert venue and ticket information will be announced soon at www.contemporaryartscenter.org.
I first wrote about Smith's art show coming to the CAC in CityBeat last year here.