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.
Detroit producers/Electro musicians Ryan Spencer and Adam Pressley formed its new project Jamaican Queens last year, following the demise of their previous band, Prussia. The pair bonded over a mutual love for Hip Hop production, something that would find itself central to Jamaican Queens winding sound. Together less than a year, the twosome's single "Kids Get Away" introduced the newcomers with a sound that blends EDM, Hip Hop sounds and rhythms and a somewhat psychedelic brand of Indie Pop.
The band calls its music "Trap Pop," a reference to the Trap style of Hip Hop that is something of a successor to the old Southern Crunk style. Still, you won't mistake Jamaican Queens' music for T.I.'s — JQ's unpredictable, fluttering style recalls MGMT's last two albums had the Electronic aspects of their music been more prominent.
Jamaican Queens' first full-length, Wormfood, is due in February and was mixed by Christopher Lazlo Koltay, a former Cincinnati musician who has been enjoying a successful engineering/production career in Detroit the past several years, working with artists like The Dirtbombs and Akron/Family. Here's the song that has garnered the band the most attention so far, "Kids Get Away."
Later this month, successful Cincinnati singer/songwriter Kim Taylor will be headed to Park City, Utah, but not as part of any kind of concert tour. Taylor will be attending the annual Sundance Film Festival, one of the world's most prestigious film events, along with the other actors and participants from the new movie, I Used to Be Darker. The film was co-written and directed by Matt Porterfield, whose previous work, Putty Hill, drew scores of rave reviews.
Despite it being her first foray into acting, Taylor has a leading role in the film, playing a musician named Kim whose marriage and relationship are falling apart just as her troubled niece shows up on her doorstep looking for a place to crash. Taylor's husband in the film is played by Ned Oldham, brother of cult music star Will Oldham and also a musician (along with solo work, he's the singer for the bands The Anomoanon and Old Calf).
Taylor knew the film's screenwriter, Amy Belk, from when she attended college in the ’90s in her home state of Florida.
"I met Kim Taylor in the ‘90s when we were both teenagers at Bible college in Florida, shortly before I got kicked out and she flunked out," Belk writes in the press materials for IUTBD. "She is the only person I still know from that strange, balmy with a chance of fire-and-brimstone time. I’ve followed her music career through the years, and shared her songs with Matt (Porterfield) when we started writing. He fell for them like I knew he would, particularly 'Days Like This' and 'American Child.' Even before Matt met Kim and had her read for the role, her music and grace informed the story we were crafting. In many ways, Kim was Kim from the start."
Taylor performs "Days Like This" (which was covered by Over the Rhine on their The Long Surrender album) and "American Child" (from her album Little Miracle) in the film. She and Oldham will be featured on the movie's soundtrack alongside tracks from several acts based in Baltimore, Porterfield's current hometown, including The Entrance Band, Dope Body and Dustin Wong.
I Used To Be Darker premieres at Sundance on Jan. 19 and screens multiple times throughout the fest. Click here for more on the film. Here's the trailer:
through her website here. Give it a listen below:
Taylor has completed her new album, Love's A Dog, which will include the Darker Mix version of "American Child." The album is tentatively scheduled for release in February or March.
While not necessarily “weird,” when fans discovered that bad-ass, longtime local Blues artist Kelly Richey had started a side-business as a “life coach,” undoubtedly a few thought they misheard or misread. It’s not really a logical step from stunning Blues guitarist and vocalist to personal life coach for hire.
Likewise, when I first got an email about the new lineup of Richey’s band, I did a double take. Again, not that it was particularly unusual news — I just didn’t see it coming. (The music world could use a lot more moments like that.)
Joining Richey in the new version of KRB is experienced drummer Jyn Yates from Kentucky and Chris Sherman, the guiding force behind popular local Funk group Freekbass (and his new duo project, Freekbot).
While Sherman (who goes by his stage name, Freekbass) is best known for his huge Funk grooves, dabbling in modern EDM and rather flamboyant stage outfits at times, Richey’s sound skates the line between hard Blues and Rock; the most flash from her live shows come from out of her fingers as she plays and mouth as she sings.
On the surface, the pairing seems on par with Buckethead joining Bonnie Raitt’s band or Flea sitting in with Stevie Ray Vaughan. In other words, it should be quite interesting to hear what the trio comes up with. The first single, “Fast Drivin’ Mama,” offers a hint — the song is a rocking slice of riffing Blues Funk. It’s not drastically different from Richey’s usual sound, but the groove is appropriately huge.
Here's the debut single/video for "Mama":
The new KRB trio was assembled to record the next Kelly Richey Band album, which the musicians have been working on at Shangri-La Studios in Lexington, Ky. The album — Sweet Spirit — is scheduled for release March 1, followed by tour dates that will take them from Florida to Canada.
The trio’s debut show is Saturday in Northern Illinois (Mishawaka, to be exact), but local fans won’t have to wait long to check out the new KRB. The group performs on Jan. 11 at Legends Nightclub in Cheviot. Showtime is 8 p.m. and there is a $10 cover at the door.
AN OPEN LETTER to the four million members of the National Rifle Association:
Dear fellow citizen,
The NRA released a statement yesterday on your behalf expressing that you all are “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the news of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Yes, we all are.
For years you have willingly given your money to an organization that has largely ignored pleas from policemen across our country to limit access to assault weapons and armor piercing ammunition.
You have spent countless millions of dollars silencing and vilifying voices that, while supportive of gun ownership, were calling for moderation in the distribution of weapons that could be used for mass destruction of human life, including the gun used by Friday’s killer that shot one first grader 11 times. And 19 other first grade children. And 6 adults in the space of a few minutes…
When previous heartbroken victims of gun violence who lost children or spouses tried to speak out to hopefully help prevent others from suffering similar unspeakable loss, you rallied for your rights, and gave the suffering no quarter.
For years you have marketed the idea to the citizens of this country that the US government is a potential enemy bent on harming its own citizens, and the only way we could all be safe was if we each purchased a private arsenal of weapons.
While you are reportedly “shocked, saddened and heartbroken,” how many of your members after Friday’s shooting have changed their profile pictures to images of guns, or tweeted messages like “I’m buying a gun the day after Christmas. Join me! #NRAlifelongmember” How many of your members boasted last Friday that they were going to take their kids to a firing range?
You continue to lobby in support of all of us carrying concealed weapons into schools, day care centers, movie theaters, and public squares. You argue that if only we could all walk around packing heat, our society could be safer and more peaceful. You lobby for wider “stand your ground” laws, so we can all load up and take the law into our own hands and play judge and jury (and God?) in the heat of the moment.
The members among you who call themselves Christian often bemoan the fact that “God has been removed from our schools” and yet those very members ignore the direct teachings of Jesus as recorded in Scripture that call upon all followers of Christ to work to break the cycle of violence and not return evil for evil.
Too many of us have stood by silently while you’ve played the part of the playground bully in our public discourse, and distorted our constitution for profit. While we as a nation have improved upon the vision of our “founding fathers” to end slavery in this country, to allow women the right to vote, and to outlaw hate crimes, you cling rigidly to a few words written when the right to bear arms referred to a single shot muzzle loading rifle.
Your voice has been powerful and strident, and too many of us have remained silent in our disbelief of what we were hearing from you. Our silence has been deadly.
If you are indeed “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” consider the part (if you are able and willing to join the rest of us in searching our souls) your organization has played when it comes to last Friday’s shooting. Consider the fear that your organization markets. Consider the bitter fruit of your labors that we must all taste.
And please consider asking forgiveness, changing your ways, and offering whatever healing you are capable of to the hurting in Newtown, Connecticut, as opposed to condoning responding to violence with still ever more violence, ad nauseum.
Unless you can do your part (along with the rest of us), and change in response to Friday’s tragedy, there will be still worse to come.
I live on a small farm in Ohio, own two guns (and my own business) and have family members who are big game hunters. I am rethinking my responsibility as a citizen of this country. We all are. I invite you to do the same.
You’re holding your big press conference tomorrow. We’ll be listening. But I am confident that many millions of us will no longer be silent.
• Influential Maryland-spawned Death Metal/Hardcore/Gindcore group Dying Fetus headlines Newport's Thompson House for a night of hardcore release. Singer/guitarist John Gallagher has kept the Fetus alive for 21 years, maintaining a dedicated following and racking up honors like having his band's 2000 release, Destroy the Opposition, named to Decibel Magazine's list of "Hall of Fame" Metal albums.
Read more on the group from this week's CityBeat here. The band is joined by guests/tourmates on the Fetus' "The Blood of Power Tour," Malignancy and Cerebral Bore, plus Beverly Hellfire, Fenrir, End It With a Shotgun and Soul Rot.
Tonight's show is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Here's Dying Fetus' "From Womb to Waste" from the group's most recent album, Reign Supreme.
• The Madison Theater in Covington is launching its "Madison Theater Band Challenge" tonight. The events will feature a boat-load of local acts — between now and Jan. 4, there are NINE "Round 1" challenges, featuring around nine established and up-and-coming artists from a variety of genres each night. Tonight's first event starts at 6:30 p.m. and features a mix of Rock, Funk and Hardcore, with Banducci and the Wheels, Merry Carls, Pledges, Rebuild The Barrier, Self Ish, The Fallen, The Requiem, Undefined and Victory Over Vanity competing. Visit Madison Theater's site here for a run down of the rest of the challengers. All of the Band Challenge events are open to music lovers of all ages.
• For something funky and jolly, Steve Schmidt's annual Organ Trio Christmas Spectacular concludes tonight at The Comet and is always a popular draw. Click here for details.
Even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight. (Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments)