A thousand words. That’s what I have to tell you everything about what I am doing, why I am doing it and how it may affect musicians and the music industry. At the end of it, you get to form an overlying judgment on both who I am and my reasoning. So here we go.
My name is Brian Penick and I am the founder of an artist development company called The Counter Rhythm Group and the author of the upcoming eBook, Musicians’ Desk Reference, an interactive and customizable eBook that establishes a protocol for progression through the modern music industry. Yes, that’s a lot — I’ll explain below.
But first I’d like to thank the kind folks at Cincinnati's CityBeat for giving me an amazing opportunity to guest blog about my world for the next couple months, raising nationwide awareness (and funding) for an eBook that will be released in October. We are very fortunate to have an entity such as CB here in Cincinnati that is willing to take a chance at promoting a startup project this early on, something that fewer individuals have every year with the closing of “altweekly” newspapers across the land. While I could go on for many paragraphs ranting about how important these outlets are to the worlds of the arts, small businesses and independent thinking in general, I simply implore you, if you have not done so in a while, to go pick one up and start reading. You won’t realize what you’re missing until its gone.
This book is a project that I am putting together out of both passion and necessity. I have been a touring musician for well over a decade now, having a large part of the business end in each of my projects, always trying to learn the ins and outs of the beast known as the music industry. I love giving advice to other musicians on whatever I can, and while I might not have the answer, I often have an answer, which is (usually) better than nothing. I enjoy seeing independent musicians thrive or “make it,” and I always hope that people who find success are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with those who have not … a utopian dream I have where the music industry becomes more of a community, eliminating the competitive edge that unfortunately drives musicians to greedy and selfish attitudes about helping others.
Throughout my personal experiences as a musician and running The Counter Rhythm Group I have found some parallels to the questions musicians are asking, most of which seem to have a natural progression to them.
For many, the music industry seems to be a labyrinth you have to face in the dark. Why does it need to be this way? I believe it doesn’t.
Musicians’ Desk Reference sheds light on the complexities. You’re still going to have to navigate your own path, but this eBook will give you some tools in your belt to have as good of a chance as ever. The inner workings of the book display information on several topics of the music industry, offering insight as to WHY, WHEN and HOW you can accomplish important tasks, all leading towards progression. But it doesn’t stop there, as the book gives you customized scenarios in chronological order that offer clarity on what exactly you need to do. In addition to all of this, there is an extensive collection of documents that are included — everything from templates and instructional guides to examples and video tutorials.
Again, I don’t have ALL the answers, but I do have some, which, combined with my desire to help more musicians than I presently can, is why I am in the position that I’m in. I would have loved to have a resource like this when I was coming up as an independent musician and I really hope this is a game changer for the music industry.
We’re about to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the project, something that makes me queasy just thinking about it. I have been on the fence about KS from the start; while I think it’s actually a great platform to help projects that extend the bounds of creativity come to fruition, you’re still begging for money, which I am not a fan of. I started The Counter Rhythm Group out of pocket and, while I would love to do the same for this, the costs are astronomical to produce a good (like this) vs. a service, and there is no way I can handle that at the moment.
But then I started to realize that how important crowd funding is to something like this. Getting people to support this extends beyond the monetary value (more backing = cheaper book costs to users), because when someone backs this project it means that they believe in what we are doing and that it’s necessary. That is a very humbling thought to someone who has essentially shut himself away from the masses since starting this project and it makes this knot in my stomach start to slightly ease up.
Here I am about to enter the most important month of my life, one that will dictate at least the rest of the year, with the amount of sleep dwindling with each approaching night. I encourage you to read the story and watch the video at my Kickstarter page and if you feel compelled to, contribute and/or share.
Again, I am grateful for what I do and the fact that I get to do it every day, even if it means I get to help only a few. I love music more than most things in this world and I know many of you share that same sentiment. Thank you for reading. Here we go.
Brian Penick will be guest blogging for CityBeat monthly, leading up to the fall release of Musicians' Desk Reference. For more on the project, visit the official site here.
One of Cincinnati's finest Indie acts, the brilliant Bad Veins, has split in two. Last night, BV's singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist Benjamin Davis took to the group's website to announce that founding member, drummer Sebastien Schultz, has decided to "move on from his time with Bad Veins."
Schultz — previously the drummer for local Indie rockers Cathedrals — had been a member of Bad Veins since almost the very beginning; Davis' first Bad Veins show was a solo affair opening for late Cincy duo wil-o-ee. As the pair told me for a 2008 CityBeat cover story, Schutlz was at the show (though he left early) and joined shortly after. He's played on all of BV's releases, including the most recent LP, The Mess We've Made, and toured extensively with Davis for the past five-plus years.
Thankfully for BV fans, this is not the end of the group. "The show must go on!" Davis said in his website post, expressing excitement for Bad Veins' future:
"I’m going to use this opportunity to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and take Bad Veins in a bigger direction, adding others members, bass, keyboard etc. I’ve already received a number of offers from musicians to join but haven’t made any decisions yet. If anyone has any recommendations, hit me up! The plan is to get back on the road this spring!"
We had heard rumblings about the split prior to this past Sunday's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Davis ended up opening the show solo (with taped backing), closing his set with a great, orchestral version of The Muppets' "Rainbow Connection." (The CEA show was filmed and will be airing locally on cable; a special, limited-edition DVD will also be available — stay tuned.)
Bad Veins is booked to play an all-ages show presented by the Counter Rhythm Group on Feb. 16 at Rohs Street Cafe in Clifton Heights along with PUBLIC and The Ridges. More info is available here.
After a run of over 14 years, the popular "Monday Salsa Night" at Corryville club The Mad Frog — featuring local nine-piece Salsa ensemble Tropicoso (and weekly free dance lessons) — will come to an end this coming Monday (Jan. 28).
"The change is of course bittersweet," says Tropicoso's Nicholas Radina (who also tours with Over the Rhine and has performed with several local Latin groups, including his own ¡Zumba!), "but (we're) proud that we held a wonderful 'house gig' for so long in Cincinnati."
A press release describes the "Monday Salsa Night" finale as the start of a "break" for the event, though it's unclear if or when it would return (it also refers to Monday's show as being the "finale"). Part of the reason given for the "hiatus" is that, though it has worked for over 14 years, fans were asking for an earlier start time, since so many people have to get up Tuesday for work.
In response, Tropicoso has arranged for a new regular gig at the club, set to begin next month. "Friday Salsa Night" — featuring Tropicoso and everything fans have loved about the night — will take place at The Mad Frog on the second Friday of every month. The new night debuts March 9.
This Monday's finale starts with dance lessons at 9 p.m. Tropicoso — which was nominated in the "World" category of the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards eight times (including this year), winning twice — starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 and the event is open to Salsa lovers ages 18 and up.
The band has started a Facebook page — "Mad Frog Salsa Night Memories" — and is asking attendees to share their favorite memories.
The sixth season of TV One's entertaining and informative Unsung series, showcasing artists who did well but didn't quite reach the heights many expected, kicks off tonight at 10 p.m. with an episode about the late, great Soul star Isaac Hayes. Next week, on Jan. 30, the series focuses on a group that was formed at Kentucky State University and ended up calling Cincinnati its home base — Midnight Star.
The R&B/ElectroFunk nine-piece band was a major success in the ’80s, giving the music world massive hits like "Slow Jam," "No Parking on the Dance Floor" and "Freak-a-Zoid." But the band eventually splintered — due to "arguments over money and management," according to the Unsung synopsis — with Reggie Calloway and brother Vincent leaving and eventually forming Calloway (which had success with the smash "I Wanna Be Rich" in 1989).
Midnight Star carried on and produced a couple more albums that featured R&B chart hits before taking a break. The "hiatus" ended in 2000 and Midnight Star continues to this day, performing most recently at the Macy's Music Festival last summer. Click here to read up on the band circa 2013.
The Unsung series has a loose definition of "unsung" (as the Isaac Hayes episode suggests), but its profiles of various R&B/Soul, Hip Hop, Funk and Gospel artists are always fairly illuminating. The show has dedicated episodes to a wide range of successful artists, from The Ohio Players and Zapp to Kool Mo Dee and Big Daddy Kane to George Clinton, The Spinners and another Cincinnati-affiliated star, Bootsy Collins.
Unsung (Documentary) - Bootsy Collins... by GENERATIONDISCOFUNK
The rest of Unsung's season six includes episodes on EPMD, Lou Rawls, Eddie Kendricks, The Whispers, Mint Condition, Johnny Gill and a special two-hour look at the Disco phenomenon.
TV One is channel 217 for local Time Warner Cable subscribers (1217 for the HD channel).
The polls have closed on voting for the 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, the ceremony/party for which returns to Covington's Madison Theater on Jan. 27. Indie Pop greats Culture Queer were added to the CEA performance lineup today, joining Bad Veins, Ricky Nye, Gold Shoes, The Dopamines, Jess Lamb and a special collaboration put together by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation.
While you can no longer vote online for your favorite local musicians, you can still have a say in one last category. The CEA New Music Showcase takes place Friday at Bogart's and, if you attend, you'll be able to vote for the "New Artist of the Year" CEA. The show will feature sets by New Artist nominees Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s, DAAP Girls, Ohio Knife, The Natives, Public and Heavy Hinges (nominee R. Ring was unable to perform). Audience members will be asked to vote for who they thought did best and those total tallies will be weighted by votes from the CEA nominating committee to determine the ultimate winner.
You can do some pre-show prep and pick up this week's CityBeat to read our special cover story package about this year's "New Artist of the Year" CEA nominees, with profiles on each artist. Click here to read the intro and you can click on the band names below to check out each artists' feature article.
Below are a few audio tracks and videos from each nominee, so you can be even further prepared to vote wisely Friday night.
• Heavy Hinges is one of several New Artist of the Year nominees that contains several familiar faces. The Rock/Soul/Funk/Jazz/Gospel/Roots hybrid the band pimps was crafted after popular band Buckra called it quits following a dozen years of local music service. Buckra's guitarist/singer Dylan Speeg and bassist Andrew Laudeman formed Heavy Hinges in early 2012 with guitarist Jeremy Singer (also currently in Jimmelegs) and drummer Brian Williamson, both also experienced local players. Rounding the band out is relative newcomer, singer/ukulele player Maya Banatwala.
As expected in a field of New Artists, there isn't a ton of recorded material available from most of the groups. Heavy Hinges may have the least amount, but here's a cool promo video for an October show that includes a lo-fi Heavy Hinges recording as its soundtrack.
• Ohio Knife is the Indie Rock duo featuring drummer Joe Suer and singer/guitarist Jason Snell, who first teamed up in the late ’90s in the six-piece band Readymaid. After that group split up, Snell launched The Chocolate Horse, a project intended to be more compact, with fewer members in order to keep things more manageable creatively and logistically. The Horse eventually became complicated, as well, so Snell and Suer (along with mostly studio-only keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Higley, another former Readymaid and Chocolate Horse member who now works recording sessions in Nashville) stripped down even more and formed Ohio Knife. The size of the project wasn't the only thing that was different for Snell this time around; he and Suer (who's played in Cincy bands like Caterpillar Tracks and others since the Readymaid split) play a hard-charging brand of melodic Rock, partially inspired by the Grunge bands Snell grew up listening to. The EP Ohio Knife is OK! was released by Detroit's Fountain Records right as the duo launched and Ohio Knife's second show ever was on the streets of Austin, Tex., where they were participating in a art/branding project with local company Landor at SXSW (footage from the trip formed the basis for an expansive, artsy window display in the downtown Shillito's building). Ohio Knife is looking to put out a full-length in the new year.
Here's the Ohio Knife video for the song "Going Down."
• Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s bring a Honky Tonk flavor to the CEA's New Artist category this year. Singer/acoustic guitarist Pinnell proved himself to be one of the area's best songwriters in previous projects like The Light Wires and The Brothers and The Sisters, roots-tinged outfits that suited Pinnell's penetratingly melancholic tunes perfectly. For the 55s, Pinnell reteamed with old high school pal Cameron Cochran, who also plays in Pop Empire and previously was in the excellent Folk duo The Sheds, to form a group that performed in the style of raw, vintage Country, like George Jones or Waylon Jennings. Rounded out by drummer Chris Alley and bassist Ben Franks, the 55s were a steady presence in the clubs in 2012, growing a loyal following in a relatively short period of time.
The 55s have no releases out (there are plans for an LP soon, though), but there is some great live footage of the band shot for the one-shot video project, The Emery Sessions (which Cochran helped organize and record). Here is Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s performing "Back Home" at Over-the-Rhine's historic Emery Theatre.
• If The Natives — a gifted local Hip Hop "band," that performs with live instrumentation — would have come out in the early ’90s, it would have taken them five years to accumulate the amount of music videos and audio releases they managed to released in 2012. Ah, technology. Even better, The Natives are creative and adventurous, so all of the work released is of extremely high quality. Oh and it's all available online for free. The band released two LPs in 2012 — the mixtape-styled Coup d'etat and the more artist- and song-oriented Native America. The Natives also collaborated on numerous pro videos for tracks from the albums, kicking off 2013 with the below clip for "So Much." The Natives will be working on members' solo projects to start 2013, so catch the group in action Friday, while you still can.
• DAAP Girls played it coy when first hitting the local club circuit, leaving an air of mystery surrounding just who was in the band before they played their first show. Fans would soon discover that DAAP Girls were really dudes! And familiar ones to local music followers. Featuring members of The Lions Rampant and Newport Secret Six, DAAP Girls play a groovy, dance-friendly brand of Indie Rock that manages to sound both contemporary and vintage. The lack of much information about the DAAP Girls online has fed the mystery, but it's also partially because the perfectionist members wanted to take their time releasing recorded material. There's a light on the horizon, though, for those who've been craving a take-home version of DAAP Girls — the band's Tape Songs will be released a little later this year. Below is the public's first taste of the album in a great music video for "Kate."
• The trio Public is the newest of the "New Artist of the Year" nominees. Though not far removed from high school graduation, the band already has a tight, masterful AltRock sound that should take them far. The three high school pals are talented musicians inspired by the likes of Muse, Led Zeppelin and The Killers. Public has released just one EP, Red, but it's a wildly impressive start. The songwriting and performance skills exhibited on Red (on which you can also hear touches of The Strokes and Modest Mouse) give one an indication that Public's just getting started and future work might be scarily good. Just last month, Public debuted the music video for the EP's "Castle in the Sky."
• Though not eligible for your vote Friday because they had to decline the invitation to play the New Music Showcase due to scheduling conflicts, be sure to read up on R. Ring. The duo teams local guitarist/singer/songwriter/engineer Mike Montgomery with Dayton, Ohio music hero Kelley Deal. After meeting during a recording session, R. Ring was formed to help Montgomery get over some stage fright about playing a solo show. Though they didn't do the usual "let's get signed!" hustle and bustle, intending to keep the project casual, their unique style quickly began to gain attention. R. Ring played South By Southwest last year and have a European tour on the schedule for this March, though activity will largely have to be routed around Deal's other big 2013 adventure — a world tour with sister Kim to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their band The Breeders' seminal Last Splash album. There isn't a lot of recorded material available yet, since R. Ring has officially only released one 7-inch single, but you can check out their Daytrotter session here. Below is the A-side of R. Ring's single, "Fallout & Fire," which showcases the twosome's sparse, hypnotic approach.
Friday's New Music Showcase at Bogart's starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $7.
Cincinnati Rock foursome Wussy had its biggest year by far in 2012, as the band traveled extensively for the first time, securing some great opening slots on tours by The Afghan Whigs and The Heartless Bastards. The band also gained a fan base in the U.K., where the label Damnably Records issued an acclaimed compilation culled from the band's previous albums called Buckeye (frontpeople Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker traveled to the U.K. to tour and promote the release).
With their press kit more overflowing than ever with international reviews and a variety of key radio appearances, Wussy's members are in a grateful mood. To say, "Hey, thanks," to their fans new and old, the group has issued Berneice Huff and son, Bill sings… Popular Favorites, a free compilation download that includes demos, rarities, b-sides and more.
Berneice Huff and son (named for that irresistible album cover travesty) kicks off with an intro from NPR's Terry Gross, taken from when Fresh Air did a piece on the group in 2009. The rest of the collection is a treasure trove for Wussy completists, with live radio sessions and interviews, a few cover tunes and the initial three-song demo that Cleaver took to Shake It in 2003 looking for a record deal.
Click here to download Berneice Huff and son, Bill sings… Popular Favorites and read more about the material included.
Here's one of the track from the collection, Coltrane Motion's remix of "Maglite," from the remix compilation This Will Not End Well, which featured several local artists' reworkings of Wussy songs (Coltrane Motion is based in Chicago but originated in Cincy).
On Thursday, Feb. 7, local promotional company The Counter Rhythm Group will debut a new "trade show" event that will offer local musicians a chance to check out a wide range of "good and services" available to them in the Greater Cincinnati area.
The first "Locally Insourced: Cincinnati Music Industry Trade Show" will take place at Rohs Street Cafe's large Sanctuary room in Clifton Heights. The event is free and open to musicians of all ages.
The MidPoint Music Festival is a sponsor of the event and will be on-hand to offer early registration for those wishing to be considered for a showcase slot at 2013's MPMF, returning to the venues of Over-the-Rhine and Downtown once again in late September.
Other vendors displaying their services for local musicians will range from video production companies, designers and photographers to promotional companies, poster and t-shirt makers, CincyTicket and many, many others. Locally Insourced looks to be a great chance for artists to explore the many options available to them in their own backyard and help them steer their careers in whatever direction they'd like.
Click here for more on the event.