Editor's Note: Brian Penick of local music promotions company The Counter Rhythm Group is guest blogging for CityBeat monthly to provide a behind-the-scenes look at his journey to release his interactive industry guidebook, Musicians’ Desk Reference.
It has been killing me to remain so broad and vague this entire time about what exactly me and my staff have been working on, and while I will attempt to be slightly more specific this time around, I am afraid that you will inevitably be strung along for yet another 30-day span, inching closer to the release this Fall.
If you have been reading these entries (or know me personally), you know I am a musician, and that I have experience touring and working in the music industry for about half of my life. While I do not necessarily claim to be an expert (I believe it requires an extreme longevity with multiple facets of success and even some failure to be given that label), I can tell you that I have an understanding of how the working elements of this business function, and that I have been able to make a career as both a performer and a servicing agent. That being said, my passion (and I do consider myself a passionate person), has become helping others to succeed in this industry through sharing my experiences and knowledge. While competition certainly has its place and can keep you sharp, ultimately we are all in this together, trying to reach a common goal of finding success. The more we work together the better the potential is for any one of us to achieve these goals.
I truly believe Musicians’ Desk Reference is the next step in the evolutionary process to bind us together as a musical community. My overall intention with this project is to level the playing field as much as possible, everywhere from general theories of advancement to the specified documentation that an artist will actually work with. At the end of the day, we hope to unveil the unknown variables that musicians will face and provide the tools and the understanding and put the focus on what matters most: your music.
How do you know if Musisicans’ Desk Reference is something for you? The eBook encompasses several distinct areas of the music business, ranging from the inner workings of just starting out as a musician, down the necessary paths of recording, promoting, touring and eventually building a team of industry professionals to work for you. These topics are based on my own personal experiences as a musician and with operating The Counter Rhythm Group (my music industry promotions company), in addition to many conversations with musicians over time about what topics they are most curious about. Not surprisingly, many of the requests were in the same categories, so in the end the subject matter was not too difficult to choose from.
It is an exciting time for sure, as we are literally in the last two weeks of content creation, working right along schedule with our team of professionals we have amassed to help make the dream a become a reality.
Looking ahead into the near future, I am excited to announce that we will be conducting some closed focus groups for the content, eventually leading into beta testing a full working version. All preparation is leading up to the release of the final product this Fall, and while I cannot give out too many specifics (sorry!), I can say that it will be a series of events not to be missed.
I apologize if the bulk of these blogs seem to relate more to the backstory and the generalities of the book rather than the specific content and the process behind the final product, but that is unfortunately the direction that it must take for now. While I have been hit with a wave of positivity from musicians familiar with the project, it is very clear that more explanation is required as to offer insight as to what we are actually doing over here. The process, as that of many servicing professionals, can often feel like a variety of desk jobs that exist in the world, with the obvious exception of working with fantastic clients and the ability to go to shows, travel and be among others with similar interests that are typically awesome. In all honesty, I sit at a desk and work on several computers, monitors and devices, working with my team to create, verify and edit content, hour after hour. It is nothing but work, work, work around here (especially lately), and I would not have it any other way.
Most who’ve heard or seen the widely buzzed-about Cincinnati Indie/Punk/Pop/Rock trio Tweens knew it was only a matter of time before a national label signed the band. It was no shock, then, when it was recently announced that the band — which just played the MidPoint Indie Summer series on Fountain Square and was hand-picked to open a string of high profile dates for The Breeders — had inked a deal with respected indie label, Frenchkiss Records.
Frenchkiss, which was started in 1999 by Syd Butler of Les Savy Fav, has become known for its consistently high-quality signings and ability to discover bands who’ve taken their acts to the next level, including The Hold Steady and Passion Pit. The label is currently home to acclaimed artists Local Natives, Bloc Party, Crocodiles and The Drums.
According to the label, the threesome — Bridget Battle (vocals, guitar), Peyton Copes (bass) and Jerri Queen (drums/baking vocals) — will be recording its debut album for Frenchkiss this summer. Tweens' next Cincinnati show is July 3, when they’ll perform as part of the outdoor Northside Rock and Roll Carnival.
Here's a recent demo posted by the band for the song "Don't Wait Up."
The first day of summer isn't for three more weeks, but MidPoint Indie Summer begins this evening.
The free, every-Friday concert event — sponsored by CityBeat's MidPoint Music Festival (which recently announced another stack of performers for this September's fest) — is part of Fountain Square's PNC Summer Music Series, which kicked off earlier this week. Shows start every Friday at 8 p.m., preceded by the 4EG Happy Hour (5-8 p.m.), which includes a special guest DJ each week (today it's DJ Ice Cold Tony) and lots of drink specials.
MidPoint Indie Summer shows feature primarily local acts, but also a few national touring performers. Click here for the full lineup so far.
Tonight's MPIS headliners are using the event to launch into a new phase of their career. It's officially the last show by 7-year-old, nationally-acclaimed Indie Pop band Pomegranates … but also the first show for the band under its new name, Healing Power. Pomegranates/Healing Power will be playing song from all five Pomegranates albums, "some we haven't done in years," the band writes on its Facebook page. Healing Power already has some solid bookings this summer, including dates with Cold War Kids, Ra Ra Riot and former Miracle Legion frontman March Mulcahy.
R.I.P. Pomegranates, and welcome to the world, Healing Power. Here's an oldie but goodie, from 2009's Lujo Records release, Everybody Come Outside! (The band has confirmed this one's in tonight's set!) Pomegrantes/Healing Power performs at 10 p.m.
At 9 p.m., great Covington quartet The Yugos perform, celebrating the release of their brand-new Life is Awesome and Then You Live Forever LP, a stellar exhibition of the band's twinkly/trippy, melodic Dream Pop. The album was posted today on The Yugos' Bandcamp page. Check out the fantastic first single from the album, "Dream Away" (a free download), below and grab your album download here to get even more pumped for the show tonight.
Kicking off the show in style at 8 p.m. is Cincy Indie Rock threesome The Never Setting Suns. The band has independently released a pair of strong albums so far, including last year's Time & Eternity. Download that album's "Meet Me There" for free here.
Over the years, Greater Cincinnati has been lucky to have at least a few radio stations dedicated to giving original, local music some airtime. While WEBN (yes, that WEBN) strongly supported local music in the ’70s/’80s, most substantial local airplay now comes courtesy of community and/or low-powered stations, plus the occasional, short-lived niche show from a huge corporate radio outlet.
At 88.9 FM (or 89.1 FM in Northern Kentucky), Class X Radio's diverse programming and lineup of shows include the longest-running local music program in the area — Kindred Sanction — which got its start on WAIF over 25 years ago (the station also incorporates local music into its other programming). The community radio station WVQC (Radio Free Queen City) is run through Media Bridges and features numerous shows that spotlight Cincy artists (listen online or at 95.7 FM). And Northern Kentucky's powerhouse public radio channel, WNKU (wnku.org or 89.7 FM) integrates local artist cuts into its normal playlist frequently.
This past April, 94.5 FM became Cincy Rock 94.5 … for a month. Owners Clear Channel threw a bone to local music after Northern Kentucky resident Josh Fields won a contest to program the channel until its May 1 conversion to a 24-hour FM simulcast of AM superstar, WLW.
This Sunday, in what will hopefully be a more permanent occupation of some FM airtime for local music, another Clear Channel outlet, The Project (at 100.7 FM and 106.3 FM), will launch what looks to be a great new program, CincyMusic Spotlight.
One of the few conglomo-stations to consistently play "Alternative" music in the city (it also plays the bigger local bands, like Foxy Shazam and Walk the Moon, on a regular basis), The Project will now delve into Greater Cincinnati's music scene head first every Sunday night at midnight. The program will be made available as a podcast at CincyMusic.com, which partnered with The Project for the new show (podcasts will also be available at CincinnatiProject.com). You can subscribe to the podcasts at both sites starting Sunday.
In a press release, the show is described as "a mix of the region's most talented musicians" and will also feature a "weekly recap of all the local music news from CincyMusic.com."
The program certainly has the right hosts in place. CincyMusic Spotlight will feature two local music/radio veterans — Venomous Valdez (who has done radio in the past, helped keep the MidPoint Music Festival running smoothly last year and currently works with local bands as a manager/road manger) and Joe Long (who helms the music blog Each Note Secure and was a former DJ on the late, great 97X/WOXY).
Tune in this Sunday night and be vocal in your support of the show so CincyMusic Spotlight stays on the air and proves wrong the seemingly conventional wisdom that there are no ratings or money in "local music."
The second round of announcements for this year's MidPoint Music Festival lineup was featured in this week's issue of CityBeat, on streets now. For those outside of Greater Cincinnati (or you lazy folks who don't want to walk to pick up a newspaper), here's the official press release:
For Immediate Release
Artist Announcement “Round 2” for MPMF.13
Original Pioneer Shuggie Otis to headline Washington ParkOpening Night
Cincinnati, Ohio, May 29, 2013 —Last month, after almost 40 years, Shuggie Otis, released a new album.
In September, MidPoint Music Festival (MPMF.13) will present Otis, one of the most mysterious figures in pop music history, as this year’s original pioneer. He will headline in Washington Park opening night with Cody ChesnuTT.
According to the New York Times (NYT), Otis’s album, “Wings of Love” (Epic/Legacy), which includes 14 previously unreleased tracks, is being packaged a alongside a reissue of his previous and most celebrated recording, “Inspiration Information,” from 1974.
“MPMF has always been known for the pioneering music we showcase, but I am especially excited and proud to present Shuggie Otis,” said Dan McCabe, artistic director of MPMF.13. “Unlike other original pioneers presented at past MPMFs like Ralph Stanley, Booker T. and Van Dyke Parks, Shuggie’s impact is only just now coming to light. Shuggie Otis speaks directly to the MPMF artist who often sacrifices success and notoriety for their art.”
On May 3, the first 13 artists were announced for the twelfth edition of the downtown Cincinnati festival happening September 26-28, 2013. Today, 14 additional artists are being released:
SHUGGIE OTIS/KURT VILE/ YOUTH LAGOON/
ON AN ON/ BATHS/ MURDER BY DEATH/ BLEACHED/ SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME/ SAN FERMIN/ SECRET COLOURS/ NAT BALDWIN/ WILD CUB/
THE SHILOHS/BIRDS OF CHICAGO
SHUGGIE OTIS: “He’s the unsung hero of blues and funk. His music is so potent that it only blossomed 30 years after it was first released.” - Questlove
“…a missing link between Sly, Jimi, Stevie, Prince and Frank Ocean." -Rolling Stone
KURT VILE: One of Coachella 2013’s 10 Must See Acts – Rolling Stone
“Wakin on a Pretty Daze” is a SPIN essential and a real testament to putting a great deal of effort into making something feel effortless.” - SPIN
YOUTH LAGOON: “8.7 / BEST NEW MUSIC. Wondrous Bughouse looks inward and discovers the endless possibilities of imagination and introspection.” -Pitchfork
ON AN ON: Broke new ground on their latest recording with accomplished producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals, Los Campesinos!)
BATHS: Just yesterday (May 28, 2013) second album Obsidian named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork. Debut album Cerulean, blurs the line between post-modern pop and the LA beat scene and earned “Best Of” recognition from Pitchfork & The Onion’s A.V. Club.
MURDER BY DEATH: "They've cultivated a cult-like fan base via their unique sound, which mingles elements of country, indie rock and alternative music into collections of songs that are the sonic equivalent of 'No Country For Old Men.'"— PureVolume
BLEACHED: “…originally found cult status with their punk band Mika Miko. It's the ole "they've cleaned up, but are still same degenerates you know and love" trick. . – The Village Voice
SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME: The jubilant fun of Motown and Northern soul with a decidedly indie approach.
SAN FERMIN: A pastiche of post-rock, chamber-pop and contemporary classical composition.
SECRET COLOURS: Revel in being the bastard seed of the '60s psychedelia and '90s Britpop bloodlines.
NAT BALDWIN: Double bassist/singer-songwriter Nat Baldwin's spent years as the Dirty Projectors bassist and former disciple of free jazz legend Anthony Braxton.
WILD CUB: “…[Wild Cub’s] brand of darkly-tinged new wave recalls elements of the youthful abandon of John Hughes soundtracks, the baleful allure of Greg Dulli, and the clockwork electronics of New Order’s middle period.” – KEXP
THE SHILOHS: The Vancouver foursome released full-length debut, So Wild earlier this year.
BIRDS OF CHICAGO: “They project organic gospel, hillbilly, folk and soul elements that bridge traditional and modern approaches." – Chicago Tribune
To view the whole list of artists for MPMF.13 to date, visit MPMF.com.
MidPoint Music Festival continues its 12-year tradition as the region’s frontline of music exploration, featuring an impressive and diverse lineup. Music fans everywhere flock to Cincinnati in September to be a part of this long running music event that started in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), the Cincinnati neighborhood that’s as cutting edge as the festival itself.
OTR remains a pivotal location, home to a number of MPMF.13 stages. OTR is on the National Register of Historic Places and was voted best Cincinnati Neighborhood in CityBeat’s Best of Cincinnati publication in 2011 and 2012. Since 2004 more than $255 million has been invested in the revitalization of OTR, including the $48 million renovation of Washington Park, which includes an outdoor music stage that serves as one of MPMF’s main stages.
Advance tickets are on sale now at www.mpmf.cincyticket.com. All-access passes are $69 and VIP passes are $169
Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival has developed a reputation as the place to find your new favorite band. MidPoint's embrace of emerging artists reflects the same pioneering ethic of Cincinnati's celebrated music history and its present day music-makers. The MPMF storyline continues to be diverse, dynamic and adventurous. Stay up to date at MPMF.com, like its official Facebook page, or by following the festival on Twitter.
MPMF.13 is made possible thanks to the generous support of its sponsors, including Dewey’s Pizza and Biore.
• The annual food/music fest Taste of Cincinnati — Cincy’s unofficial “start of the summer” — doesn’t begin until tomorrow, but tonight you can get an outdoor music fix that couldn’t be more “summery.” Reggae Culture Splash 2013 goes down 7-10:30 p.m. tonight at Washington Park (1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine).
The event features a stellar lineup of contemporary Jamaican Reggae stars, headed up by singer/songwriter Luciano, who is credited for helping keep socially/religiously inspired Roots Reggae music thriving in the face of an increasingly electro-dependent Dancehall craze.
Speaking of Dancehall, fellow Culture Splash performer Sister Nancy is credited as being the first female DJ in the genre and is also a fantastic vocalist. Also scheduled to appear are producer/artist Milton Blake, local collective Black Youth Faith and more, including DJing from I Vibez, Queen City Imperial Sound System and Frankie D.
Unlike most Washington Park concerts,
Culture Splash is not a free event. Tickets for Reggae Culture Splash
are $25 at the gates. The tickets will be available starting at 5 p.m.
An after-party will be held at Grammer’s
(1440 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine) at 10 p.m.; admission is $10 before
midnight and $20 after.
• For some more local Reggae flavor tonight, you can check out Cincinnati Reggae greats The Cliftones celebrate the release of their latest single, the fourth to be issued this year, with a show at Southgate House Revival in Newport. The 9 p.m. event also features performances by Magic Jackson and The Almighty Get Down.
In January, just before winning the 2013 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for “Reggae/World Music,” the group released “Hard Ground,” which was mixed by noted producer Jim Fox (who has worked with Black Uhuru, Barrington Levy, Culture and other Reggae superstars and legends).
The ’Tones latest, “Gone (Warn Mi),” is another Prophesy/Scientist collaboration, as is the "limited release" track the group dropped on Soundcloud recently, "Run Come Down." Check both out below:
Be sure to show up early to tonight's release show; free download cards for the new single will be given to the first 100 people through the door. The group will unveil another single in late June and are planning on issuing a 12-inch vinyl EP in August. The Cliftones are gradually moving toward a full-length release; it’s tentatively scheduled to drop in October. For more on the group, visit thecliftones.com.
The music for this weekend's Taste of Cincinnati event — running Saturday-Monday — is heavier on local cover bands than it's been in a while, with only a small handful of acts that perform primarily original music. In years past, The Enquirer's weekly paper offshoot had presented some high-quality original artists (i.e. those who write all of their songs) in front of the P&G boob towers, but with the run of those weekly papers ending (for now) with the corporate shuttering of Metromix, perhaps the fest is in need of some booking guidance. (Too bad there isn't another weekly in town that has been covering original local music for the past nearly 20 years … cough, cough … that might be able to help.)
Still, there are some great local artists at Taste this year, performing everything from R&B, Jazz, Bluegrass, Salsa and Blues to the predominant styles of Rock, Country and Pop throughout the event.
Here's a handy schedule for this weekend's tasty sounds. Taste of Cincinnati takes place noon-midnight on Saturday and Sunday and 12-9 p.m. on Monday. Find food, music and other fun stuff along the Taste path (six blocks of Fifth Street downtown, between Race and Broadway streets).
Saturday: Rattlesnakin' Daddies (noon, Kentucky Ale Beer Garden Stage); Naked Karate Girls (noon, Christian Moerlein Beer Garden Stage); Stonehouse Trail (3 p.m., Yuengling Beer Garden Stage); Final Order (4 p.m., Christian Moerlein Beer Garden Stage); Jamison Road (4 p.m., Kentucky Ale stage); Hott Stuff (6 p.m., Yuengling stage); 4th Day Echo (7 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage); Arlo McKinley and The Lonesome Sound (7 p.m., Food Truck Alley); Eugene Goss & Triage (7 p.m., Taste Experience); Pistol Holler (8 p.m., Kentucky Ale stage),
Sunday: Ricky Nye (noon, Yuengling stage); Kentucky Myle (noon, Kentucky Ale stage); Robin Lacy & DeZydeco (12:30 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage); Azucar Tumbao (3 p.m., Yuengling stage); 3 Day Rule (4 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage); The G. Burton Story (4 p.m., Food Truck Alley); Danny Frazier Band (4 p.m. Kentucky Ale stage); Perfect Sequel (6 p.m., Yuengling stage); Eugene Goss & Triage (7 p.m., Taste Experience); DV8 (8 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage); The Cincy Brass (8 p.m., Food Truck Alley); Dan Varner Band (8 p.m., Kentucky Ale stage).
Monday: The Turkeys (noon, Yuengling stage); The Sonny Moorman Band (12:30 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage); The Tracy Walker Band (1 p.m., Food Truck Alley); Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups (2 p.m., Kentucky Ale stage); Pete Dressman & S.U.N. with Kevin Finkelmeier (3 p.m., Yuengling stage); Leroy Ellington & the E-Funk Band (3:30 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage); Ralph & the Rhythm Hounds (5 p.m., Food Truck Alley); Kentucky Timbre with the Boone County Caterwaulers (6 p.m., Kentucky Ale stage); The DVB Trio (6 p.m., Yuengling stage); Stays In Vegas (6:30 p.m., Christian Moerlein stage).
Find everything you need to know about this year's Taste at tasteofcincinnati.com. Here's a map of the site with the various stages and food vendors marked:
Trouble Will Find Me, the new album from Cincinnati natives (now New York-based) Indie Rock crew The National, was released today in the U.S. on the 4AD label (it came out overseas yesterday). The band has already been busy with pre-promotion (profiles and reviews can be found from just about every major music press outlet), but now that the album's out, the real work starts.
The National kicked off what is certain to be several national television appearances in honor of the new release. Last night, the band played Late Night with David Letterman on CBS. Dave (who notoriously has pretty good taste in music) seemed to really dig the performance.
The National has already performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Those with Sirius Satellite Radio can check out "The National: The Radio Show," on all this week from 5-6 p.m. (with replays at 11 p.m.); a live session will also be aired on Sirius all week, as well as The National's June 5, 9 p.m. appearance at the Brooklyn Nets' arena, the Barclays Center.
The National also kick off an international tour this weekend; besides Turkey, Croatia and Luxembourg, the group is playing several major music fests in the States, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Cincinnati's own Bunbury Music Festival (July 14; get tickets here). The band is also playing Columbus, Ohio, in a few weeks — June 15 at LC Pavilion.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the seventh annual OTR (that's "Over-the-Rhine," if you don't get the hip lingo) 5K Run and Summer Celebration, featuring a fine art show, food, drink and other vendors, the 5K Run and a strong lineup of local, original music in OTR's Washington Park.
The festivities kick off with the 10 a.m. OTR 5K, which begins and ends at Washington Park this year. Here are the artists — including several Cincinnati Entertainment Awards nominees and winners — you can check out (on the park's Bandstand and Main Event Lawn Stage) this year. (Click each name for more info on the performer.)
• The Cincy Brass (Event Lawn Stage 10:15am-11:30am)
• Baoku & the Image Afro-Beat Band (Event Lawn Stage 12:00pm-12:45pm)
• DAAP Girls (Event Lawn Stage 1:15pm-2:00pm)
• Decker, the solo guise of Histoire singer Jane Smith. (Event Lawn Stage 2:30pm-3:15pm)
• The Tillers (Bandstand 11:30am-12:15pm)
• Mia Carruthers (Bandstand 12:45pm-1:30pm)
There will also be the following "special appearances":
Young Professionals Choral Collective (Bandstand 10:45am-11:15am)
Cincinnati Opera (Bandstand 2:00pm-2:20pm)
Queen City Brass Band (Bandstand 2:45pm-3:30pm)
• British Indie stars Foals perform tonight at Bogart's in Corryville. Showtime is 8 p.m. With a dancey, atmospheric New Wave vibe (sort of a modern, more Math Rock-informed version of Talking Heads), Foals took off quickly in the U.K.; the band's 2008 debut, Antidotes, reached No. 3 on the U.K. album charts and Foals were nominated for a Mercury Prize and several NME Awards based on 2010's acclaimed Total Life Forever. The band is currently supporting the especially strong Holy Fire, released earlier this year in the States on Warner Brothers Records (the first two came out on Sub Pop in the U.S.). Read CityBeat's preview of the show here. Here's a clip for the Holy Fire track, "Inhaler."
Joining the band is L.A. Indie poppers Blondfire and Florida Indie rockers Surfer Blood, who provided one of the highlights of the 2010 MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati. The band is gearing up for the release of its major label debut for Warner Bros., Pythons, the follow-up to the fantastic 2010 release, Astro Coast, an engaging melange of classic modern Indie Rock influence. Pythons is due June 11. Here's the new album track "Demon Dance":
Surfer Blood is also doing a free in-store performance at Northside's Shake It Records this afternoon. The group is slated to play at 3 pm.
• Composer/saxophonist Colin Stetson performs this evening at downtown's Contemporary Arts Center. The show starts at 8 p.m. with special guest Sarah Neufeld, violinist for Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre. Her debut solo album, Hero Brother, is due this August; here's the title track:
Stetson is supporting his latest release, New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light; adding to Stetson's compelling soundscapery on the album is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (Stetson is a member of that band, as well), who provides vocals on four songs. Stetson's appearance at the CAC tonight is his first in Cincinnati since the 2010 MusicNOW fest.
Read CityBeat's interview with Stetson here and check out this video, which features the new album's "In Mirrors" and "And In Truth":