When the phrase “guitar hero” gets tossed around, it’s naturally in reference to some of the greatest six string figures in Rock history. But if there is a subset of that hallowed group — guitar heroes in waiting, as it were — then Natalie Wells surely deserves to be included on that hopefully short waitlist.
The Independence, Ky., native is quickly becoming one of the Greater Cincinnati area’s most powerful live forces with a guitar presence that stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the giants of Rock. A teenage student of the Blues, Wells felt an affinity for first generation masters like Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt and next gen ’60s acolytes like Johnny Winter, Big Brother’s Sam Andrews and James Gurley, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher and a host of others. Wells’ brilliance in her own guitar pursuits has been in her supernatural ability to absorb a rainbow of Blues and Rock influences and translate them through her own unique interpretive gifts. As she showed on her largely original debut, Mind the Gap, she may have learned from the greats but she’s much more interested in running the guitar flag a little farther up Rock & Roll Hill.
On her new mini-album, Live from Earth, Wells and her chugging rhythm section (bassist Curt Hall and drummer/vocalist Michael Hodges) offer up an all-cover set that simultaneously proves how much she loves her influences and demonstrates her translational power.
Live From Earth’s seven tracks represent just four factions of Wells’ estimable influences and they’re more than tangentially connected; Buddy Guy is one of the primary links between the old acoustic and new electric school of Blues, while Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower represent those who most effectively reimagined the Blues in a Rock context. Wells injects swinging new life into Led Zep chestnuts “Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid” and “What Is and What Should Never Be” while distilling Hendrix’s complex chemistry to a simpler but still impressive formula with her takes on “Stone Free/Third Stone From the Sun” and his avowed classic “Voodoo Chile.”
Wells finds the heart of Guy’s gentle “My Love is Real” and the soul of Trower’s blistering “Day of the Eagle,” all delivered with her fluidly original guitar stylings and a voice that is part husky Blues shouter, part Cher Pop powerhouse. Wells may still has a few minor vocal timing issues to fine tune, but Live on Earth is solid evidence that her guitar chops are cooked to perfection and ready to serve to a wider audience.
At this point, Natalie Wells’ guitar does not gently weep; it cries a bucket of tears, screams with passionate abandon, howls like a steroid-amped wolf and demands to be heard.
Cincinnati homeboys Walk the Moon have been tearing up the road since the release of their self-titled debut for RCA Records earlier this year, not to mention making the promo rounds all over the television dial (from the late-night chat shows to various appearances on VH1 and an MTV Unplugged set). The band is currently touring Europe with the band fun. ("We Are Young") and this morning they debuted the music video for their latest single, "Tightrope."
The video is Walk the Moon's first since the stellar DIY clip for "Anna Sun," which was made even before the RCA deal was in place and continues to draw massive hits online. If you watch even a few minutes of TV a week, chances are you've already heard part of "Tightrope." The track is used in commercials for the HP Envy 4 Ultrabook.
When Walk the Moon wraps up its current European jaunt, they'll perform a homecoming show Nov. 1 at the Madison Theater in Covington. The show is also the second anniversary of The Counter Rhythm Group, the locally-based music promo group that has worked with WTM, as well as local bands like Wussy, R. Ring and Alone at 3AM. Tickets for the Nov. 1 show are $16 and apparently moving very fast (i.e. it will sell out). Fellow local-gone-national Indie act Bad Veins opens the show. WTM hits the road for a North American headlining tour soon after the Madison show.
Here's Walk the Moon's new clip.
And here's the HP commercial featuring a bit of the tune.
Last year before their appearance in Cincinnati at the MidPoint Music Festival, Athens, Ohio, band The Ridges allowed us to premiere a cool promo video they had made prior to the festival to promote their appearance. The orchestral Folk/Indie/Pop ensemble ended up being one of the highlights of last year's festival, with their buoyant, endearing and original take on classic American music sucking the audience in like the sole space-heater in Antarctica. (They also featured a local guest star, singer Molly Sullivan, who is currently singing harmony vocals in Brian Olive's band.)
Since MidPoint, The Ridges have continued to work to raise their profile, most recently doing their own Daytrotter Sessions installment, performing live for the site's many followers (check it here). The band returns to Cincinnati on Feb. 2 on its Midwestern "mini tour" (though three show really feels more like a "jaunt" than any sort of "tour," no?) for a free show at MOTR Pub with fellow MPMF.11 act Paper Thick Walls. And they've crafted another video clip to get the word out.
Grammy-winning Classical music ensemble eighth blackbird will be joined by Philip Glass tonight at Memorial Hall for Day 2 of the MusicNOW festival (which kicked off last night at the Christ Church Cathedral and Westminster Abbey assistant organist James McVinnie). Glass — also in town to check out the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's world premiere of one of his latest works Friday and Saturday at Music Hall — will join 8bb onstage for the performance of his piece, "Music In Similar Motion." The ensemble will also perform a piece by Glass protege Nico Muhly (likely to be in the audience or guesting at some point, as he's performing at tomorrow's MusicNOW event) and other material, including a specially-composed tribute to Glass.
The appearance is 8bb's birthday/thank you gift to the legendary, now 75-year-old modern composer.
“Our entire concert is a birthday present for Philip Glass,” 8bb flautist and spokesperson Tim Munro told our Anne Arenstein. “When we knew we’d be collaborating with Philip, we decided to create a program with three compositions that represent three times in his life. We also have four pieces by composers influenced by Glass.”
Read the full interview with 8bb here.
Sandro Perri is also on tonight's bill. Read Jason Gargano's interview with Perri here.
On this day in 2003, Iggy Pop reunited The Stooges to perform at the 2003 Coachella festival in California. Well, as much of a "reunion" as possible — original bassist David Alexander died in 1975. But you can't do much better than Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE) as a substitute. Pop re-teamed with guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer Scott Asheton for a few tracks on his Skull Ring album, which led to talk of playing some shows (joined by Steve Mackay, who played sax on Fun House).
Like the Pixies, the reunion seems never-ending. The original reunion shows usually stuck to material from the group's first two albums, but eventually they added material from Raw Power (which featured James Williamson on guitar and Ron Asheton on bass) and the band's mixed-reviewed new album, The Weirdness.
In January of 2009, Ron Asheton died of a heart attack. He was 60. The remaining Stooges issued a statement saying, in part, "We are shocked and shaken by the news of Ron's death. He was a great friend, brother, musician, trooper. Irreplaceable. He will be missed."
Then they replaced him. By May, the group had announced plans to keep going with former guitarist Williamson rejoining the band. Pop told NPR, "Although 'The Stooges' died with Ron Asheton, there is still 'Iggy and the Stooges'."
The group picked up reunion-touring that November, adding more Raw Power material to their set. In 2010, after a lot of clamoring from fans and even just those who understood the influence of Pop and Co., The Stooges were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I saw the first Stooges reunion a couple of times and Pop and the band, while perhaps not as "dangerous" as they once were, still put on a great live show. It would be hard for Pop not to at this point, though it should be interesting to see how much longer the seemingly bulletproof 65-year-old can keep prancing around, shirtless (of course), on stage like a 25-year-old. Is 70 too old? 80? Will Pop keep throwing himself around the stage and working out until his veins protrude from his skin when he's 90? He certainly doesn't show any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Here's a bit from the historic 1970 Iggy & the Stooges show here in Cincinnati at the ol' Crosley Field (yes, it was broadcast nationally on TV). Read all about the event here, from a 2010 CityBeat feature story on the 40th anniversary of the Cincinnati Summer Pop Festival.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing an April 27 birthday include: legendary Rock drummer (John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Elvis Costello) Jim Keltner (1942); Soul singer/songwriter ("I Can't Stand the Rain") Ann Peebles (1947); lead singer for the Soul group The Main Ingredient ("Everybody Plays the Fool"), Cuba Gooding, Sr. (1944); singer/songwriter/guitarist for Beatles-approved rockers Badfinger ("Come and Get It," "No Matter What"), Pete Ham (1947); vocalist with New Wave group The B-52's, Kate Pierson (1948); original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley (1951); Scottish Pop star Sheena Easton (1959); former Belle & Sebastian singer/cellist Isobel Campbell (1976); frontman for Fall Out Boy and solo artist Patrick Stump (1984); and America's countdown king, broadcaster Casey Kasem (1932).
And now, a long-distance dedication (to be read it in Kasem's voice):
When I was a youngster, I was addicted to your American Top 40 syndicated radio show. I'd listen every Saturday, just as I'd watch the morning cartoons (which you were also a part of, as the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo, as well as Robin on my must-see TV of the time, SuperFriends, among other shows.)
In a few years, my musical tastes would develop and I became less and less interested in most Top 40 music, so I didn't listen as much. But I'd still pop in every now and then, to check and see how my favorites, like Men at Work or The Police, were doing that week. And, if I was lucky, you'd throw in a fun fact or two about the artist behind the next song you were going to play (like, "… and that gas-station attendant was none other than Sheena Easton").
As I grew older, I also listened to commercial radio less and less, and I lost touch with my old friend, though I loved the clips of you losing it while recording your show. Earlier today, I noticed on Wikipedia that you officially retired from your radio shows in 2009 (and, apparently, you were still voicing Shaggy until that year as well). I felt bad that I thought you disappeared from the radio in 1986. So, Casey, could you please play Killing Joke's "Eighties" for my old pal, you, on his/your 80th birthday?
Oh, and YOU keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
Mike B. from Ohio
Music Tonight: Alternative music legends (and The Beatles of children's music) They Might Be Giants play the Southgate House in Newport tonight in support of their latest "grown up" album, Join Us. Check out CityBeat's interview with one of the Johns here. The duo will also being doing an in-store signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood at 6:30 p.m. (hang around until 8 p.m. and you can catch magician/comedian/social commentator Penn Jillette, who will discuss and sign his new book, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales). They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton's SGH show also begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 SOLD OUT. Below, check out the just-released TMBG music video for the Join Us track, "Cloissone."
Music Tonight: Swedish producer/DJ Avicii comes to Covington for a show at the Madison Theater. Avicii (born Tim Bergling and also known as Tim Berg) took the modern-age promo route, earning widespread praise on dance music blogs with his crafty House sound. He broke through initially with the track "Bromance"; a version with vocals called "Seek Bromance" became a huge international dance smash, particularly across Europe. DJ Tony Desaro opens tonight's 9 p.m. show. Tickets are $40 at the door. Below check out "Seek Bromance" and the more recent "Fade into Darkness."
Music Tonight: Straight off a hyped, packed show at Lollapalooza earlier this month (see video below), the independent Hip Hop self-starters of Atmosphere jumped right back on the road for touring duties behind recent album, The Family Sign, bringing Slug, Ant and pals back to Greater Cincinnati for tonight’s “Family Vacation Tour” stop at Bogart’s. The typically solid support bill this time around features labelmates Blueprint (Ohio’s own!), Evidence, DJ Babu and Prof. The all-ages show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are an awkward $29.27 (including fees).