This year, two big Rock albums that were among the best of their respective decades celebrate milestone anniversaries. On October 9, 2001, New York City band The Strokes helped define Indie Rock in the ’00s with their debut album, Is This It. About 10 years before that, on Sept. 24, 1991, Nirvana released its breakthrough album Nevermind, which reshaped the state of music at the time (and, some say, forever). Two music outlets have curated full-album cover versions of Is This It and Nevermind, featuring individual song contributions from a variety of contemporary artists. Both have also made the compilations available as a free download.
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.)
• 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.
Tomorrow is Record Store Day and local shops Everybody's Records, Mole's Record Exchange, Phil's Music and Memories and Shake It Records are all getting in on the action. If you're unfamiliar with "record stores," here's the Wikipedia page. If you're unfamiliar with Record Store Day, it's essentially an annual "holiday" where tons of artists and labels issue limited released goodies in an effort to get music lovers away from their computers and into independent retailers to buy their tunes. Here are a few of the things going on locally related to RSD.
• Everybody's Records in Pleasant Ridge is having a day's worth of live music going on for Record Store Day, as well as the usual deals and fun. Graham Weber, a former local now living in Austin, Texas, kicks things off at noon (he performs a show later tomorrow night at Neon's in OTR), followed by local acts The Newport Secret Six, Jack Logan and Midnight Riders, Strangetunge, The ClaZels and Playfully Yours. Chicago Soul/Funk band The Right Now (performing Saturday night at MOTR Pub in OTR) closes out Everybody's RSD (the live music part, at least) at 6 p.m.
• Phil's Music and Memories in Cold Spring, Ky., got a jump on the RSD action and has been offering deals since Wednesday (and continuing through Sunday) — 20 percent off used vinyl and 30 percent off used CD's and used DVDs. The store apparently has even better deals lined up for Saturday.
• Athens, Ohio-based Indie Roots band The Ridges are releasing a limited edition release and poster that will be available at most local indie retailers. The release, The Insomniac's Song (Live with The Sleepless Singers), features a special live version of the lead-off track from The Ridges self-titled debut album. The exclusive features a download card (encased in a 12-by-12 poster/packaging) that'll get you the live version of the song (with a choir of 20 singers from area bands like The Happy Maladies and Young Heirlooms, as well as Brian Olive Band vocalist Molly Sullivan), a video of that version and the studio version.
• Northside staple Shake It’s Record Store Day events have a lot of local music ties. The label arm of Shake It is issuing a special vinyl version of the debut album from the imprint’s franchise players, Wussy. The remaining copies of the colored-vinyl version of Funeral Dress (including a download card and special LP insert) go on sale via mail order or www.shakeitrecords.com on April 24. (Shake It is also again offering shoppers 10 percent off their entire purchases if they bring canned goods to donate to Churches Active In Northside’s food pantry.)
• Awesome local Indie duo Bad Veins is making its stunning sophomore album, The Mess We’ve Made, available at Shake It for RSD, ahead of its April 24 national street date. The band will perform a short set at the store at 5 p.m. before heading to Taft Theatre for the official release party Saturday night.
• At 7 p.m., potential “next big things,” Cincinnati’s Alt/Dance/Pop troupe Walk the Moon, will be at Shake It to perform a sort set. The band’s debut album for RCA Records now has an official release date — June 19 — but WtM is offering fans a special Record Store Day exclusive in the form of a 7-inch single (pictured) featuring the songs “Anna Sun” and the previously unreleased “Anyway I Can.”
• If you want a little warm-up to bridge the gap between 4/20 and 4/21 (advice: leave your bong at home), head to Northside Tavern on Friday for a special Record Store Day eve party hosted by Salina Underground, an Indie Rock radio show on WVQC (95.7 FM; www.wvqc.org). The free show is headlined by Brian Olive and his band, which recently announced a national tour kick-off at the Ballroom at the Taft for May 25. (Olive is also coming off some promo dates with the legendary Dr. John, on whose new Dan Auerbach-helmed album the local musician also appears). The 9 p.m. show will also feature Indie Rock group The Sweep and rootsy newcomers The Chance Brothers (releasing their debut album, Growing Concern, that night, as well).
• The downtown main branch of the Public Library is getting in on the Record Store Day action. A turntable will be set up for anyone to drop the needle and sample the library’s music catalog (including lots of locally produced tunes) and there will be free live music all afternoon. Experimental guitarist Pete Fosco performs at noon, Art Gore and the Jazz Knights play at 2 p.m.; and Jarrod Welling-Cann from local band The Sleeping Sea plays at 4 p.m.
• Downtown's Arnold's Bar and Grill is reaching out the Record Store Day revelers and, on Saturday, will be offering 10 percent off your bill if you bring in a receipt proving you bought something from a local, independent record store that day.
Click below for a list of many of the Record Store Day exclusives being made available (or here for your own complete copy).
Tonight at downtown club Main Event, three of Cincinnati’s best DJs will perform at a benefit to assist the musical pioneer who made their DJ careers possible. When news hit late last month that DJ Kool Herc was in the hospital, bleeding internally and enduring massive pain, many Hip Hop lovers with an understanding of the music’s origins and originators began plotting ways to help. Tonight’s event featuring Mista Rare Groove, Apryl Reign and DJ Pillo is one of several efforts across the continent (and probably globe) organized by appreciative fans to lessen the financial burden of Herc's mounting medical bills.
Welsh musician Gruff Rhys is bringing his current unique (and brief) tour to Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center tomorrow (Thursday). The show starts at 8 p.m. Click here to grab your tickets.
attending the tour’s stop at the CAC will also be treated to an extra
rare bonus — Rhys’ Neon Neon project-mate and Cincinnati native Boom Bip (aka Bryan Hollon, who now works from out of the West Coast) will be
joining Gruff onstage after the main performance for a one-of-a-kind DJ
Rhys’ band Super Furry Animals released its major label debut, Rings Around the World,
in 2001 and the group appeared to be a successor to the throne occupied
by fading superstars like Blur and Oasis. The album (following SFA’s
excellent debut, Fuzzy Logic,
and a trio of experimental-oriented albums put out by king-maker Alan
McGee’s Creation Records) put a brilliant, creative spin on “Brit Pop,”
highlighted by fascinating sounds between the grooves, but also an
extraordinary knack for writing incredibly potent melodies. Rings
contained several hit-songs-in-waiting and did well in the U.K., but
never fully grabbed the ears of the U.S. mainstream like a few of the
band’s predecessors did.
While some artists would have simply gone back and cleaned up/out the sound of their potential breakthrough to appeal more to the mainstream, it soon became clear that Rhys and the Furries weren’t interested in pandering. The band had always been underlined by a progressive, adventurous streak (early works embraced Electronic and Ambient music, among other approaches) and it was evident that the opportunity to crossover or become a massive success was less important to Rhys and Co. than following their own creative whims. (By the mid-’00s, SFA had left the Sony family for the artist-friendlier confines of Rough Trade Records).
Rhys’ work outside of the Furries’ domain has been even more exploratory. Rhys’ eclectic solo albums have contained songs sung alternately in Welsh, English and Spanish. And he’s a huge fan of collaboration, working with artists like Mogwai, Sparklehorse, De La Soul, Gorillaz, Simian Mobile Disco and Brazilian artist Tony da Gatorra, to name a few. One of his most celebrated collaborations has been with Boom Bip; the pair’s Neon Neon project has been widely acclaimed, earning a Mercury Prize nomination in 2008 for the album Stainless Style (a loose concept piece about the life of John De Lorean).
Rhys’ current project/tour is a follow-up to Separado!, a feature film/multimedia venture during which film crews followed the musician as his “investigative concert tour” traveled through South America. The film followed Rhys on his journey to learn more about his “long lost, guitar-playing, poncho-wearing uncle, Rene Griffiths.” Given his musical output, it was fitting that Rhys’ intellectual and creative curiosity had led him down such another unique path.
Here's the trailer for Rhys' "psychedelic western musical," Separado!
current “investigative tour” is another adventure in genealogy and
travel, as the artist (again trailed by a film crew for a planned
movie sequel/music/prose/photo project) journeys through North America to find
the burial site of John Evans, another distant relative who allegedly
left Wales in the late 1700s on a quest to verify the legend of a
Welsh-speaking tribe of Native Americans.
Rhys put this call out to anyone with info that could help: “Gruff urges anyone with clues regarding Evans’s unknown burial place; imaginary volcanos; wandering tribes of Welsh Speakers, or lingering river reptiles to come to the shows, where their help with his investigations will be appreciated and featured in the movie.” You might even make the film's final cut just by showing up and checking out the show.
Rhys’ performance will include music, discussion, his cutting humor and more. As the trailer above suggests, and anyone who’s seen SFA live knows (the band's criminally under-attended show at the Southgate House many years ago was one of my all-time favorite concerts), don't go into one of Gruff’s appearances with too many expectations because, most likely, they’ll be blown out of the water.
The ongoing saga of locally-spawned music and broadcasting legacy WOXY continues and, once again, the station has been forced off the "air" (or Internet, as the case is) due to financial problems.
Two items of importance came down the wire recently relating to upcoming concerts in Cincinnati.
• This summer's three-day Bunbury Music Festival along the riverfront previously announced headliners for each day (Jane's Addiction, Death Cab for Cutie and Weezer) and today organizers gave us three more names. The Airborne Toxic Event is now set to play July 13 before Jane's, Manchester Orchestra will play July 14 and Gym Class Heroes (pictured) is set for the closing day of the fest, July 15. From a purely commercial standpoint, this thing is going to be huge. Each act announced so far is top-tier enough to headline its own large show and all receive regular airplay on "Modern Rock" radio (if not Top 40). I'd get your tickets early if you are hoping to attend. Passes for the inaugural Bunbury fest are $46 for one day or $93 for all three days. Click here to purchase.
• If you don't have tickets for The Black Keys show at U.S. Bank Arena this Friday, start thinking about cyber scalpers (sorry, "online ticket brokers") because the show has officially sold out. Friday's concert is the first date on the Keys' first ever headlining arena tour, which includes a few other sold-out shows along the route, including a Madison Square Garden one that sold every ticket in 15 minutes. I think that officially makes them "Arena Rock" stars. And damn popular ones at that. Not bad for a little Blues/Rock duo from Akron, Ohio.
The superb, now veteran local Indie Pop group The Minor Leagues are gearing up for the release of their new album, North College Hill. The album was recorded last summer with Sean Sullivan at The Butcher Shoppe, the Nashville studio owned by legendary singer/songwriter John Prine and Grammy-winning engineer Dave Ferguson (Johnny Cash, U2, Ryan Bingham), and was recently mastered by Michael Bond from the band's label, Datawaslost. The Minor Leagues recently made the album's first single — "Ghost Maps" b/w "Please Don't Throw My Love Away" — available as a free download from their new website (www.minorleaguesmusic.com).
It's looking like the historic Emery Theatre on the border of Over-the-Rhine and Downtown is back in business as a full-time functioning venue. Bands like Magnolia Mountain and Pop Empire have been using the Theatre to film music video projects and, next Saturday (April 28), the Emery hosts the "Rock This Town" benefit concert for CityLink, which helps resident "break the cycle of poverty" by providing employment training and other assistance. The event's music will be provided several groups of business people who can play instruments or sing (modeled on the "Suits That Rock" concerts that benefit the Carnegie Arts Center in Covington).
On April 27, the Emery will host a dual album release party/concert in honor of two new releases from the label Ol Kentuck, run by SubPop recording artist and Northern Kentucky native Daniel Martin Moore. One of the albums is a vinyl release of producer/guitarist/composer Ric Hordinski's Arthur's Garden (read more about the album here).
The other is the first release from a duo project consisting of Moore and singer Joan Shelley (pictured) titled Farthest Field. The event will also feature readings from authors Silas House and Marianne Worthington (who wrote one of the most engaging press releases for the album I think I've ever laid eyes on for the duo's debut; click the "Bio" pdf link on this page to read it).
It's a great time to check out the Emery circa 2012 because the concert is also free and open to the public. (Rock this Town's tickets range from $35-$100 — for a great cause, of course.)
Here are two video clips (shot by photographer Michael Wilson with help on the audio side from Pop Empire) promoting the concert, with music from Moore and Shelley's Farthest Field (officially available May 8).