Veteran ace Jazz pianist/organist Steve Schmidt returns to The Comet in Northside to launch his Christmas-themed two-night stand at the venue.
Schmidt's annual Christmas Jazz "Spectacular" has become a local holiday tradition. Schmidt whips out his organ (a Hammond B3; get your mind out of the gutter!) for the occasion and, as always, brings along some top-shelf special guests for the shows. Schmidt is joined by Brad Myers on guitar and Mark Wolfley on drums, plus two amazing singers — Eugene Goss (known for his work with Billy Larkin as Triage) and the great Mandy Gaines.
The Steve Schmidt Organ Trio Christmas Spectacular runs 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. tonight and tomorrow at The Comet. There is no cover charge.
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.
A new track from The National leaked last week and it serves as a good mini-preview of the Cincinnati-bred group’s headlining appearance at National guitarist Bryce Dessner’s MusicNOW festival on May 15 at Music Hall. The track “Think You Can Wait” comes from the soundtrack to the upcoming film Win Win by director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor). The song features guest vocals from pal/collaborator Sharon Van Etten, who is scheduled to open the band’s MusicNOW show (and, I would guess, perform “Wait” with the group).
Every year, a compilation featuring several of the artists performing at the MidPoint Music Festival is lovingly compiled to give an overview of some of the fest’s participants. MPMF10’s comp has been assembled and you can listen to it right here, right now. While the amount of already well-known acts performing at MPMF10 is something that makes the event exceptional this year, the comp reflects the high quality of the lesser-knowns as it’s made up of tracks by the superb up-and-comers performing at this year’s fest.
When Over the Rhine's new album, The Long Surrender, comes out early next year, it will have been 20 years since the beloved Cincinnati outfit released Till We Have Faces, OTR’s 1991 debut. In that time, OTR’s husband/wife braintrust — multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist — carved out one of the more impressive careers in Cincinnati music history, amassing a dedicated worldwide fanbase of passionate supporters. OTR’s unusually close-knit relationship with those fans has kept their base intact. It’s also how the duo was able to make The Long Surrender.
Matt “Sledge” Waller, a former DJ for the late Indie/Alternative music powerhouse WOXY (dating back to its terrestrial days in Oxford, Ohio), has gotten back to playing music. Waller hosts a weekly two-hour radio show on the Internet channel party934.com, which also airs in its hometown of Hudson Valley, NY, on the 94.9 frequency.
On this date in 1972, Les Harvey — guitarist for the Scottish band (which many believed would become huge) Stone the Crows — died on stage when he was electrocuted by a microphone. He reportedly died when he touched the (probably) ungrounded mic and his guitar at the same time during soundcheck (with what many believe were wet hands).
Harvey is a member of the sad club of rockers who died at the age of 27. He's also a member of a smaller club of known musicians who died from electrocution.
Keith Relf, singer for The Yardbirds, died in 1976 at the age of 33 after being electrocuted by an (again) ungrounded electric guitar.
John Rostill was the bassist for the British Pop group that gave Cliff Richard to the world, The Shadows (he was also a member of Zoot Money Quartet alongside future Police guitarist Andy Summers). Rostill was found dead in 1973, electrocuted by a guitar that was (again!) believed to be improperly grounded.
French Pop singer/songwriter Claude Francois — who cowrote the classic Sinatra tune "My Way" and sold over 70 million records in his career — died in 1978 at the age of 39. Francois returned to his Paris abode after recording a BBC special and was standing in a full bathtub when he tried to adjust a light on the wall above the tub. He was electrocuted and died. As far as I know, everything was properly grounded in the bathroom.
Lessons: Bathtubs and electronics don't mix. And always make sure your equipment is grounded before touching anything.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a May 3 birthday include singer/actor Bing Crosby (1903); early Blues musician and slide guitarist Homesick James (1914); late Funk superhero James Brown (1933); Pop star with the Four Seasons, Frankie Valii (1934); bassist for proto-Garage band The Troggs ("Wild Thing"), Pete Staples (1944); Soft Rock superstar Christopher Cross (1951); singer for Nu Metal band Saliva, Josey Scott (1971); singer/guitarist for Indie Rock favorites Interpol, Paul Banks (1978); and Folk legend Pete Seeger (1919).
Seeger — who will be awarded a "Distinguished Service" honor from the American Academy of Arts and Letters on May 16 — popped up in the news recently in a manner befitting the revolutionary singer/songwriter who penned (or co-penned) standards like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," "If I Had Hammer" and "Turn, Turn, Turn!" He also popularized the spiritual "We Shall Overcome," which became the Civil Rights Movement's theme song.
Seeger's social consciousness in song was used once again in a powerful way last week when tens of thousands of Norwegians joined together for a marathon singalong of his song, "My Rainbow Race" (the Norwegian version is called "Children of the Rainbow") as a way to protest/heckle admitted mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik during his trial for murdering 77 people last summer. Breivek had previously dissed the song because it "brainwashed" children into believing that things like cultural diversity and racial harmony are good. He said, in court, that the song was brought to schools by "cultural Marxists."
"The curriculum is stripped of knowledge relating to the codes of honor that have been so important for Europe for thousands of years,” Breivik said. “They put up these songs and propaganda films to get students to despise their forefathers.”
Here's Lillebjørn Nilsen leading the singalong (he popularized the original Norwegian version).
Born-and-bred Cincinnatian Bootsy Collins is now a university president/founder. The Funk music pioneer has announced the launch of Bootsy Collins Funk University, an "online bass guitar school." The "campus" opens July 1 and promises online lessons from "Professor Collins" and a host of "the finest bassists in music."
Friday and Saturday, the bi-annual Clifton Heights Music Festival returns to the clubs, bars and restaurants around the University of Cincinnati. The fourth installment is the biggest CHMF yet, with over 80 acts performing everything from Rock, Pop and Indie to Comedy, Hip Hop, Reggae and much more. The fest has become the best way to sample, in a live setting, what the Cincinnati music scene has to offer (with a few regional acts sprinkled in), so if you're a hardcore local music fan or someone who has wondered what the big deal is, your weekend plans are set. Below is the full lineup with links to check out the venues and artists before you head out.