• Ironfest, the multi-act concert event started by friends of late local music booster “Iron” Mike Davidson to benefit his daughter, is set for its third annual event tonight and Saturday at the new Southgate House Revival in Newport. Each night features a staggering amount of solid local bands from a variety of genres.
Tonight, catch Mad Anthony, State Song, Switchblade Syndicate, The Shanks, Goddamn Gravity, The New Void, Billy Wallace and the Virginia Blues, Vito Emmanuel, Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s, Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound, Chiva Knievel, Total Dudes, A Juliet Bender, Smoke Signals, Rising Shotgun, DC Project and Dead August.
Performing for Night 2 tomorrow are The Dopamines, Moonbow, Honeyspiders, Red Soul Rising, Unsinkable Molly Brown, Another Tragedy, The Tammy Whynots, 500 Miles to Memphis, The Sound Museum, SHIVS, Kelly Steward and the Restless Kind, The Mudpies, Martin Luther and the Kings, The Perfect Children, Buenos Crotches, Sticky Honey, The Andyman Hopkins Band and Queen City Radio, a very promising new group featuring Dan Mecher, former frontman for Turnbull ACs and Denial, former 500 Miles to Memphis bassist Jeff Snyder, longtime 500 Miles frontman Ryan Malott and Kevin Finkelmeier of Pete Dressman and the Soul Unified Nation and Denial fame.
Tickets are just $5 each night and music starts at 7 p.m. Click here and here for more info.
• One of Cincinnati’s most popular bands, Rumpke Mountain Boys, celebrate the release of their new album with a series of release parties in the region, kicking off tonight at Inner Circle (the former Annie’s location). Following the Cincinnati date, the Boys will perform for their growing fan bases in Lexington, Ky., Bloomington, Ind., Columbus, Ohio, and Cleveland, Ohio. The group’s new official full-length is titled Trashgrass, the name the members have given their eclectic, jammy, sometime trippy brand of Bluegrass. The band has all the markings of a standard Bluegrass troupe — mandolin, banjo, upright bass, acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies — but the members’ varied influences (they cite Grateful Dead, Ralph Stanley, Tom Waits and Jimmy Cliff among their key inspirations) make the end result its own organic, spontaneous beast. The seven-time Cincinnati Entertainment Award winners for Best Bluegrass act have performed at numerous festivals, shared the stage with artists like Ralph Stanley, Keller Williams, Yonder Mountain String Band and Del McCoury, and Vince Herman — a pioneer of the Rumpkes’ jammy take on Bluegrass with Leftover Salmon — called them “a party waiting to happen.”
Rumpke Mountain Boys perform tonight with the excellent local Reggae crew The Cliftones. The show starts at 9 p.m. and admission is $10 (or $12 for those ages 18-20). Visit rumpke.ning.com for more on the band.
The Rumpkes are probably one of the more documented bands in the area thanks to their allowance/encouragement of fans to record their live shows. Here's a video from this past March of the group performing the Folk/Jazz/Blues standard "Make Me A Pallet on Your Floor" at ekoostik hookah's springtime music fest in central Ohio.
• Strong local Rock/Pop act Majestic Man celebrates the release of its debut full-length, Manatee, this Friday at Mayday in Northside. Local bands The FrontRunners and Plastic Inevitables open the free show at 10 p.m. Manatee is loaded with melodic, well-written songs, but the varied groove the band manipulates throughout the album is just as distinct and magnetic. Be it the Jazz slink of “Someday,” the dubby sway of “Bodysnatcher” or the angled Funk of “Age of No Reason,” the music is rhythmically fascinating. The dazzling guitar playing and superb vocals add cohesion to Manatee, an album that shows Majestic Man to be one of the more gifted newer groups in the Cincinnati area. To preview and/or purchase Manatee, visit majesticman.bandcamp.com. Here's the new album track "Spanish":
• This past spring, prolific artist Jon Langford came to Cincinnati to open an exhibit of his visual artwork and perform a free concert with his group Skull Orchard at Over-the-Rhine club MOTR Pub. At the time, Langford spoke to CityBeat contributor Steve Rosen about his range of artistic endeavors.
Just prior to the springtime Cincy visit, Langford had come off a Midwest tour with perhaps his best known band outside of his first one — British Punk legends, The Mekons — Waco Brothers, the AltCountry outfit he records with for Bloodshot Records. Langford must’ve enjoyed his time in Cincinnati because tonight he's bringing the Wacos to MOTR Pub for a 10 p.m. show, one of only a trio of appearances currently scheduled for the group. The Brothers are bringing with them Paul Burch, the Nashville singer/songwriter with whom the band collaborated on this year’s Great Chicago Fire LP. The Chicago band Cannonball is also on the bill.
Here's a fan-shot video of Burch and the Wacos from earlier this year.
A week after The Afghan Whigs played a thrilling homecoming show with fellow local greats Wussy at Bogart's, another pair of local bands making waves are set to play their hometown (or across the river from it).
Every time Cincinnati AltPop rockers Walk the Moon come home to play a show, it seems like their star has risen higher. The band is back in town tonight for a sold-out show at Covington's Madison Theater (which is also serving as the two-year anniversary party for the hard-hustling local music promo outlet, The Counter Rhythm Group).
Since last here, Walk the Moon's breakthrough single "Anna Sun" continues to get airplay across the globe, while the latest single, "Tightrope" (as heard in those much-played HP commercials) is picking up steam, as well. The group has also been on tour pretty much non-stop, performing all over North America and in Europe (after tonight's show, the group is off for a few days before resuming its headlining tour in Nashville). The band's Unplugged set for MTV also made it to the airwaves (not MTV, of course, but its HD sister, Palladia).
Check out the "Tightrope" clip below and a behind the scenes look at the making of it here.
Great local Indie Pop duo Bad Veins (fresh off their own cross-country tour dates, with even more coming up starting next week) open, along with L.A.'s Family of the Year. Bad Veins are currently prepping a new music video, as well; a clip for "Kindness" off of the duo's amazing The Mess We've Made Album. Here's a really strong video of the duo performing one of the new album's best tracks, "Don't Run," on the "Off the Avenue" series.
If you don't have tickets, you're going to have to do some hunting. As of this afternoon, there wasn't a single ticket available on StubHub for the concert.
Tonight's the big night for local fans of The Afghan Whigs, as the reunited rockers host a homecoming concert at Bogart's in Corryville. If you don't have a ticket, try an online reseller or hit up the Short Vine scalpers because the show sold out instantly. There are, however, still tickets available for the Whigs' New Year's Eve show at Bogart's (click here). Another one of Cincinnati's greatest musical exports, Wussy, opens tonight's show (the band has been doing several dates with the Whigs on this first leg of the band's U.S. tour).
CityBeat previewed the Whigs' return with a cover-story package in our issue out last week. Click here, here and here to read up on the group, then click below for a playlist of Whigs music videos. And check this space tomorrow for a full report from the show.
UPDATE: According to the Bogart's Facebook page, doors open at 7:30 p.m.; the show starts at 9 p.m. (previously stated showtime was 7:30 p.m.).
• R. Ring, the duo project from Kelley Deal of Dayton's The Breeders and Northern Kentucky's Mike Montgomery of Ampline/thistle fame, performs a free show tonight at Shake It Records in Northside at 7 p.m. The in-store is in honor of the twosome's debut official release, an orange-vinyl 7-inch single from Misra Records. Check out the single's "Fallout and Fire" below and click here to listen to R. Ring's live session for Daytrotter.
Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
American Ska legends The Toasters perform a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Showtime is 10 p.m. and — sorry, kids — you must be 21 or older to get in.
The band was one of the leading inspirations behind the "third-wave" Ska explosion of the ’90s, but the band actually began 30 years ago, influenced by the 2-Tone Ska movement in the U.K. The Toasters blend of NYC Rock and 2-Tone made them cult heroes in the Ska underground, as did the band's D.I.Y. approach; founding member (the sole one in the current lineup) Robert "Bucket" Hingley formed the influential Moon Ska Records in 1983 to release his own albums, as well as those by acts like Mustard Plug, The Slackers and Hepcat. The label's various compilations also gave a boost to up-and-coming, non-Moon acts like Less Than Jake and No Doubt.
Here's The Toasters' first music video, for the tune "Radiation Skank" off of the band's debut release, 1985's Recriminations EP (which was produced by British singer/songwriter Joe Jackson; he is to The Toasters what Elvis Costello was to The Specials).
And here is "Modern World America" off The Toasters' 2002 release, Enemy of the System.
Cincinnati Garage Rock superheroes The Greenhornes made a big splash with their comeback album ★★★★, released in 2010 on pal Jack White's Third Man Records, but after some touring behind the acclaimed LP, the band hasn't made so much as a peep. For Record Store Day's nationwide "Black Friday" celebration on Nov. 23, the band is finally giving fans a little more. And they teamed up with a very special guest for the occasion.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer Brendan Benson — a bandmate of The Greenhornes' Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler in The Raconteurs with Jack White — performed with legendary vocalist Eric Burdon of The Animals at South By Southwest earlier this year and was inspired to team Burdon up with the ’Hornes, a band very influenced by The Animals' early records. Benson brought the two entities together at a Nashville studio and, a day and a half later, emerged with a four-song EP.
The self-titled Eric Burdon and The Greenhornes EP (I would have named it The Burdhornes, but nobody asked) will be released on 180-gram vinyl by Readymade Records for Black Friday, with a digital release following on Nov. 27. Both versions are available for pre-order now here.
Though just four songs long, the EP shows The Greenhornes' members still have an incredible telepathic bond, while the 71-year-old Burdon's still super soulful vocals fit in perfectly. "Black Dog" and "Can You Win" are dirty, riff-driven slices of sublime, vintage Rock & Roll, while "Out of My Mind" slinks along to an hypnotic, electric piano-guided slow burn. Closing track "Cab Driver" sounds like a jokey outtake, with Burdon singing goofy lyrics in a non-specific accent and the band seemingly just jamming around behind him. As loose and kind of silly as it is, it's still a fun, humorous listen.
Check out "Out of My Mind" here and "Black Dog" here (via Rolling Stone).
Saturday night at Northside's Mayday is the debut of the Cincy Psych Fest, a multi-band event inspired by the popular Austin Psych Fest, a six-year-old event that showcases the current state of Psychedelic/Garage Rock and Pop, led by artists like The Black Angels, The Warlocks and Dead Meadow.
The Cincy Psych Fest is the brain child of Laura Dolan, Laura Skaggs and creative local commercial arts enterprise We Have Become Vikings. The team has assembled a great first-year lineup of national, regional and local acts inspired by the sounds of ’60s Psychedelia and Garage. The fest will present bands on Mayday’s indoor stage as well as on an outdoor, second-floor stage. Tickets are $10 (advanced ones are available through ticketfly.com here) and the fest begins at 6 p.m.
Here are some samples from the various artists. Click the band name for more info on each.
The People’s Temple (Lansing, Mich.)
Mondo Drag (Davenport, Iowa)
Outer Minds (Chicago)
Heaven’s Gateway Drugs (Ft. Wayne, Ind.)
Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor (Detroit)
Here are the Cincinnati bands on the bill:
Cincy newcomers Children of The Emerald Fire (featuring fest organizer Laura Dolan and an all-star local music crew featuring former members of Pernicious Knifs, The High & Low and many other local groups) are also performing, as is The Tongue & Lips:
Adding to the trip will be DJ Blythe Shadburn and Doctor Robert’s Ocular Odyssey‘s Psychedelic Light Show.
Find info on all of the performers and more at cincypsychfest.com.
Boston’s Barrence Whitfield & the Savages have returned to Cincinnati in a big way this week. The R&B/Soul-rockin’ crew has several local ties, including employing prolific locally-based drummer Andy Jody on the skins. The group also features Peter Greenberg of pioneering Boston band DMZ (as well as The Lyres) and groundbreaking Cincy Garage rockers The Customs (fellow Custom Jim Cole records with the band but doesn’t play live). The Savages recorded two albums in the ’80s; their 1985 Rounder Records release, Dig Yourself, was their last until the group's recent reunion activities.
"I met Peter at The Customs reunion in 2008, drummed for them the following year, which led to him contacting me to record Savage Kings upon the reformation of the original Savages," Jody says about his initiation into the band.
The Savages are in town to record a new album, returning to Ultrasuede studios, where they recorded Savage Kings.
"We decided to record here, partly logistics and partly in tribute to King Records," Jody says, "and it was the same studio where The Customs cut (their trademark tune) 'Long Gone.' "
Last night, Whitfield & the Savages debuted some of the new material at Shake It Records. Shake It, the label, released the Savage Kings in the States; The Customs' "Long Gone" single was the first release on the Shake It imprint.
The Savages will be warming up for recording this weekend with a two-night stand (Friday and Saturday) at The Comet in Northside. Both shows are free and kick of at 10 p.m. (Friday a DJ warms things up and Saturday Customs-inspired local rockers The Long Gones fittingly open the show). Click here for more info on the band. Below is a live clip filmed in Paris last year.
And here's a clip (with performances and interviews) from the band's earlier days when they were featured on the BBC.
Experimental Indie/Art Pop/Hip Hop band Why? performs its first local show since the release of the group's stellar fourth studio album, Mumps, etc., earlier this month. The band — which helped build the awesome Anticon label — plays downtown tonight at the Contemporary Arts Center for an 8 p.m., all-ages show. Tickets are $14. After tonight’s show, Why? gets back on the road for a tour that’ll take them all over the U.S., then overseas for dates in Prague, Croatia, Italy, Germany and Israel, among other countries.
Here's a great music video for the Mumps track "Strawberries," filmed in Northside during the most recent 4th of July parade. The vid was directed by Scott Fredette (an accomplished video artist and also a founder of Indie Pop foursome Culture Queer) and Alex Parks.
The band members also participated in a series of videos about the making of a Why? documentary by "DIY filmmaker Gerrek Reid," aka hilarious Cincinnati native and on-the-rise L.A. comedian Andre Hyland. Check the very entertaining and often hysterically funny "Documenting WHY?" web series below.
UPDATE: Tonight's CAC concert is SOLD OUT.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Marcus Mitchell, aka local Hip Hop artist and inspiration Skandal Da Ruckus Man, passed away this week after a battle with leukemia. In tribute, here is an interview with Marcus from March 2005, written by CityBeat contributor Mildred C. Fallen, from our archives. Check next week’s issue of CityBeat for more remembrances of the fallen Cincinnati music supahero.
To dub Marcus D. Mitchell a “big man” doesn’t necessarily state the obvious. In some cultures, “big man” also translates as a local personality who speaks on behalf of his people, commences rituals and parleys with other “big men.” And facing foes, big men fight for honor.
In 2000, Mitchell, better known as Skandal (or Skandal Da Ruckus Man), flew to New York to freestyle on BET’s 106 and Park and contended with other unsigned MCs on HBO’s Blaze Battle. Today, the self-described juggernaut of Supapowers has been reincarnated as an industry ghost writer and producer after someone attempted to rob him of his ambition last spring.
While he was away, thieves carted away his studio equipment and masters. Although his property never resurfaced, he feels he knew the thief’s motive.
“Damn monkeys!” he declares, still affected. “Whoever stole it was doing it to get at me personally, because they didn’t touch anything else in the house, not even money. It was Easter Sunday, at that! Man, they know they goin’ to hell!”
Depressed and unable to produce tracks or record vocals, Skandal bounced back after supportive colleagues bartered their efforts.
“A lot of cats just saw the opportunity (to barter) and was like, ‘You ain’t got no equipment? Man, I been wantin' to do beats with you for years,’ ” he says.
Producers Fame and DJ Scott pitched in and donated many of the tracks heard on Vet Game, his first in a series of mixtape compilations to be distributed through the internet. Presented by Hall of Justice Entertainment and co-sponsored by Supapowers cohorts CJ the Cynic and Da Kid, Vet Game tongue-lashes antagonists, reprimands local radio and guides listeners of a tour of the Queen City, pointing out its idiosyncrasies.
Rounding out the compilation are appearances from Trina Holidai and Michelle Hollis, Piakan, Science, Donte (of Mood), Hi-Tek and J-Wiz.
“As far as the bangers, look for ‘Get Stole On’ and ‘Spell My Name Right,’ both produced by DJ Scott. ‘The Wrong Nigga’ talks about the break-in on Easter, when I was at Mom’s gate eating a plate,” he says. Thunderous vocals set violators straight as they detonate: “Y’all ain’t do nothin’ but put Skan/Back to ’96 with the hunger pangs.”
Reloading, “The Big Payback” unflinchingly fires direct hits at local black radio and venue promoters for lack of support. On the other hand, he shouts out Big Kap of New York’s influential station, Hot 97, for giving “For the Queen” 30 spins in a week, and says the exposure opened doors for him to sell songs to other artists, which subsidized his upcoming CD, Vigilante World.
“People don’t understand; you’ve got to invest in yourself before that big record deal comes,” he explains.
“For the Queen” traces Skandal’s roots back to Woodward High School “Bomb Show” performances and huddling in rhyme-ciphers against out-of-towners on Fountain Square.
“Before all the fightin’ and shootin’ started, we defended this city against all outsiders,” he says. “It was like something out of the movie Highlander.
“(Cincinnati) always had a beast,” he continues, naming warriors who fell into obscurity. “Regan used to be the most feared in a MC battle; he passed the torch to me and Clips (J-Wiz). Now Ill Poetic is the beast.”
“I used to really, really admire (Skandal),” says Ill Poetic, a solo artist and half of the duo Definition. He met Skandal following the Blaze Battle. “He was battling at Top Cat’s and I was amazed that Zone (the other half of Definition) knew him. He was just one of those people I kept hearing about.”
Although the HBO Blaze Battle episodes are available on DVD, Skandal laments, “Ain’t no honor in battling anymore, so now songwriting is where it’s at. There’s money in it. Cats who are known for their battle rep often aren’t known for making hit records.”
Skandal hopes his upcoming release, Vigilante World, will change that.
“I got the formula,” he says. “The problem is that nobody is rockin’ the (Hip Hop) heads and the streets at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with making good music that people who don’t make music can jam to.”
Having hosted local battles, he observes that today too many MCs lack originality and rely on trading insults to win battles.
“(There) was a time when you could murder ‘em with style,” he says. “Now, you only get response from the crowd when you say a punch-line, which is what I don’t like about battling anymore."
Skandal cites crowd-judged battles and MCs who deliver pre-written raps as the demise of the art form. He also emphasizes that styles differ from region to region.
“A lot of New York rappers spit written (verses) in battles and call it a ‘freestyle.’ And in the Midwest we call freestyling right off the top of the head,” he explains. “We used to listen to the New York style, not knowin’ they was spittin’ writtens in a freestyle, and we thought New York was just ‘cold wit’ it’ off the head.”
But since New York MCs assumed the precedent for battling, Skandal says he and his friends used New York as a benchmark in the beginning until they crafted their own niche.
Endearingly, he refers to his friends Supapowers as “stand-up guys I’d take a bullet for.” But of everyone, his mother is his best friend.
“She gives me an insight to things that you can only get from experience. I’m a true mama’s boy and if anybody got anything to say about it, come holla at me,” he says.
His weightiest ambition is to appeal to the female market and he’s slimming down because he feels that MCs like Notorious B.I.G., Big Punisher and Heavy D were merely lucky to be seen as sexy.
“They were rarities,” Skandal says. “When you’re fat, I don’t give a fuck, people are biased. I wanna have the whole package, not just the skills. I wanna have the whole market on lock.”