There isn't a huge stylistic gap between Steve Earle and John Hiatt, so it makes sense that they would make a good tour package (one that hits the Taft Theatre tonight for an 8 p.m. show). They're both moderately successful Americana artists with slavishly loyal fan bases and solid bodies of work over long careers (Hiatt having the earlier ’70s start).
To the curious mind, the billing begs the point: What else do Earle and Hiatt have in common?
• They both began their careers as staff songwriters and launched performing careers after one of their songs became a hit for someone else (Johnny Lee for Earle, Three Dog Night for Hiatt).
• They've both been covered extensively by other artists, Earle by Travis Tritt, Robert Earl Keen and others, and Hiatt by Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and many more.
• They both signed with Epic Records for their first deal; Earle never recorded for them, while Hiatt did two Epic albums which sold poorly and expedited his release.
• Their second contracts were both with MCA; Earle had a pretty decent run with the label, including his 1988 hit Copperhead Road, while Hiatt's was a repeat of his Epic experience.
• They've both been nominated for Grammys, but Earle has a commanding lead with 14 nods and three wins, while Hiatt has been nominated twice with no mantle bling to show for it yet.
• They've both been married multiple times, but again Earle has the lead with seven marriages; Hiatt has only had three.
• Both have successfully dealt with substance issues.
• Both are balding; Hiatt has the lead here with more hair, but Earle compensates with a ZZ Toppish beard.
• Both will kick your ass in the live setting, so bring an extra ass.
Here's a clip for Hiatt's "Damn This Down," off his latest LP, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns.
And here is part of a documentary filmed during Earle's sessions for I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (also the name of his novel and, yes, both are based on the Hank Williams tune, which he covers on the album as a bonus track. The novel is centered around Williams mysterious "doctor" who traveled with the singer until his death, then disappeared).
So far, the videos released from The Queen City Project’s series of clips from The MidPoint Sessions (a day party that took place at the Art Academy during September’s MidPoint Music Festival) have showcased three great Ohio acts — Athens’ The Ridges (also the curators of the Sessions), Cincinnati’s The Happy Maladies and Columbus’ Indigo Wild. Today you can check out the final clip from the performances, this one featuring another Cincinnati artist — intriguing singer/songwriter Molly Sullivan. While the previous performances were acoustic, Sullivan strums an electric guitar and utilizes loops to create a haunting effect.
Click here for more about Sullivan. And you can see/hear her live this Thursday at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine as she opens for Lexington, Ky.’s Ancient Warfare, which also played this year’s MidPoint Music Festival. Find details on the free show here.
Chuck Prophet has more Rock cred than any one man should have a right to claim. His eight-year run in Green on Red in the ’80s resulted in some of the most influential sounds to emanate from Southern California’s Paisley Underground scene and his subsequent solo catalog has notched an impressive level of critical acclaim over the past 22 years. In that time, the names he’s worked with — as collaborator, producer, hired gun, pal — reads like a who’s who of contemporary musical accomplishment: Warren Zevon, Aimee Mann, Jim Dickinson, Lucinda Williams, Jonathan Richman, Kelly Willis, Jules Shear, Alejandro Escovedo and a good many more lesser but no less important lights.
Prophet’s recent work has been some of his most viscerally satisfying, beginning with 2007’s wide-ranging Soap and Water, his 2008 collaboration with Escovedo on his Real Animal album, and Prophet’s 2009 political Rock statement, ¡Let Freedom Ring! For his latest solo jaunt, Temple Beautiful, Prophet maintained a healthy power level while injecting a concept into the proceedings, namely making every song on Temple Beautiful about his longtime San Francisco home.
The album springs to life with “Play That Song Again,” a bouncy slice of ’70s Pop/Rock, followed by “Castro Halloween,” an insistent Pop anthem with the ring of the casual greatness of George Harrison’s best solo work and the bluster it would have had if he’d ever installed Tom Petty behind the glass to produce it. The title track, a tribute to the Punk club that occupied the space once held by Jim Jones’ People’s Temple before they decamped to their infamous digs in Guyana, is a blaring blast of Rock and Soul that pounds like The Ramones on a couple of bottles of cough syrup and swings like T. Rex with more garage and less glam, “Willie Mays is Up at Bat” sounds like Warren Zevon channeling Bob Dylan circa “Watching the River Flow,” and “I Felt Like Jesus” swaggers and nods with Surf Rock reverb and Roots Rock twang.
Five years ago, Chuck Prophet was trying to decide if he had anything left to say in a musical context, but Temple Beautiful finds him eleven albums deep in his solo career and sounding as energized and inspired as he was when he dropped his debut back in 1990; long may he do this, or any other damn thing his infinitely talented mind can conceive in a studio.
Northern Kentucky native and genuine guitar god Adrian Belew returns to the area tonight for a show with The Crimson ProjeKct at the Taft Theatre. Belew is spending half his summer on the road with the ProjeKct — a King Crimson offshoot that also includes KC’s Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto, plus Markus Reuter, Julie Slick and Tobias Ralph — touring as opener for modern-day Prog Rock legends Dream Theater. The ProjeKct set lists so far on the tour have been all King Crimson, primarily from Belew's initial period with the group ("Elephant Talk," "Thela Hun Ginjeet") and the ’90s KC period when Mastelotto joined the fold ("B'Boom," "THRAK"), but they've also been doing the title track from KC's 1974 album, Red.
In August, Belew, Levin and Mastelotto will be going to camp in the Catskills. The second annual “Three Of A Perfect Pair Music Camp” — which will include workshops, story sharing, hangouts and lots of music-playing — takes place Aug. 20-24 (visit threeofaperfectpair.com for full details or check out the video overview below).
But first things first — Belew and The Crimson ProjeKct perform tonight at the Taft at 7:30 p.m., followed by Dream Theater. Tickets are $27.50-$53.
Here's a clip from 1982 of Crimson performing another song the ProjeKct has been playing on its current jaunt.
• The name Marsalis is a quality-ensurer in Jazz. So many family members have made a name in music, the Marsalis family tree is a full branch of the general American Jazz family tree.
Esteemed trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis is the brother of famed trumpeter/historian Wynton, modern sax icon Branford and respected drummer-turned-vibraphonist Jason, and son of Louisiana Music Hall of Famer Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Together, the musical family received the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2011.
Of course, the Marsalis' individual achievements are still wildly impressive outside of the context of the family's accomplishments. Delfeayo has released a handful of acclaimed albums since the ’90s, including 2011's Sweet Thunder: Duke and Shak, but his greatest contribution to Jazz may be his work in production. Handling the boards on over 100 albums over the years, Delfeayo helped steer recorded Jazz back to a more acoustic mindset, eschewing tech "advancements" like the "dreaded direct bass" for the ambiance of early, classic Jazz sessions.
The Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet (with saxman and clarinetist Victor Goines) begins a two-night stand (with shows at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.) tonight at downtown's Blue Wisp Jazz Club. Admission is just $15 ($10 for students with ID).
Here's a clip of Delfeayo with his pops, performing "Sultry Serenade."
On this day in 1973, wishful thinking channeled through a Pop song paid off for rootsy New Jersey Rock group Dr. Hook when they appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stone. The band formed in 1967 and, in 1970, Dr. Hook was asked to cut a couple tracks for a film that featured songs written by poet/illustrator Shel Silverstein. Those songs led to a record contract and the group continued its collaborative partnership with Silverstein. After modest success with its debut, Dr. Hook's second album, Sloppy Seconds, was completely written by Silverstein and featured what would become the band's signature song, "The Cover of the Rolling Stone."
The song was a lighthearted, ironic take on the amateurish idealism of young musicians who believe that if they could only make the cover of a major magazine, they'd finally be successful. (It reminds me of my grandmother who once suggested to me that if my garage band could just get on that David Letterman show, maybe we would be more popular and successful.) The smart-asses at Rolling Stone put them on the cover in caricature form under the caption, "What's-Their-Names Make The Cover."
Dr. Hook indeed became Rock stars after that and continued to have hits into the ’70s with Soft Rock material like "When You're in Love with A Beautiful Woman" and "Sexy Eyes." The band broke up in the mid-’80s.
Here's the band's first big hit.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 29 birthday include star actress/singer Pearl Bailey (1918); Brazilian Bossa Nova singer ("The Girl from Ipanema") Astrud Gilberto (1940); Greek musician/composer (Chariots of Fire soundtrack) Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, better known as Vangelis (1943); singer for soft rockers Toto, Bobby Kimball (1947); late smooth Jazz taxman Michael Brecker (1949); master Blues harmonica player William Clarke (1951); late original lead singer for Ohio-spawned New Wave band The Waitresses ("I Know What Boys Like"), Patty Donahue (1956); singer/harmonica player with ’90s hit makers Blues Traveler, John Popper (1967); and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell (1959).
Born Peretz Bernstein in New York City, Farrell grew up to be one of the leading generals of the Alternative music revolution of the ’90s. Besides being the engine behind one of the leading bands of Alt music's eventual mainstream takeover, Farrell created the Lollapalooza traveling festival in 1991 (the first year also served as Jane's "farewell" tour). The fest, itself a kind of traveling Woodstock, paved the way for like-minded tours like Lilith Fair and H.O.R.D.E.
The traveling package tour trend petered out and, after a failed attempt at another touring fest in 2004, Lollapalooza became a stand-alone "destination" festival in Chicago's Grant Park in 2005. It remains one of the more anticipated events of its kind alongside Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Coachella in California.
Farrell has reformed Jane's Addiction yet again and this summer the band is touring extensively, playing several music festivals around the world that undoubtedly owe some debt to the success of the initial Lolla tours. Jane's comes to Cincinnati to headline the opening night of the inaugural Bunbury Music Festival on July 13.
Check back later today for news on Bunbury's lineup. An announcement is expected at noon.
Here's some raw footage from that very first Lollapalooza in 1991, with Jane's playing "Classic Girl."
Tonight's allegedly the "busiest bar night of the year," so if you like to hang out at places that are really packed, this is your jam. If you like to hear live music when you go out, you're also in luck, as a lot of the top acts seek out lucrative Wednesday-before-Turkey-Day gigs because of the aforementioned packed-ness.
If you want that live music to be (primarily) original, here are a few recommendations.
• Troy, Ohio-spawned Miss May I (whose singer, Levi Benton, recently moved to Cincinnati) is headlining the Alternative Press tour, which conveniently brings the increasingly popular "Metalcore" band back to their homeland just in time for Thanksgiving. The band's most recent release, At Heart (on Rise Records), came out this summer and was greeted with the best reviews of MMI's career and a No. 32 debut on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
The thrashy, melodic MMI headlines tonight at Bogart's in Corryville on a bill that also features The Ghost Inside, Like Moths to Flames, The Amity Affliction and Glass Cloud. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets to the all-ages show are $20.
Read CityBeat's interview with Benton here then check out Miss May I's most recent music video, for At Heart track "Day By Day."
• Vintage Rock & Roll stylist Chris Isaak makes his way to downtown Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at the Taft Theatre. Tickets range from $29.50-$59.50. Isaak's going to have to play the show then hop on a plane quickly — he's slated to perform in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. (Click here to read CityBeat's full preview of the show.)
Isaak recently issued a live DVD based on his 2011 double-disc release Beyond the Sun (his first for the Vanguard label). The album was a collection of cover songs originally recorded by artists on Memphis' seminal Sun Records (from Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis to Carl Perkins and, of course, Elvis), a fitting tribute given Isaak's similar approach and sound. The new Chris Isaak Live! Beyond the Sun DVD is a concert flick featuring several songs from the Sun album, as well as some of his big hits. Expect to hear a similar set list tonight. Here's an Isaak original from the DVD, "Live It Up."
• The songcraft experts and flawless musicians of veteran Cincy Pop/Rock band The Newbees host an album release party tonight at Newport's Southgate House Revival. The release show was originally intended to be the second show at the new club (brought to you by the owners/operators of the old, beloved Southgate House across from Newport on the Levee) but a late code inspection held the grand opening up for a week. The Newbs are celebrating their LP Modern Vintage, a patchwork of musical styles and mercilessly catchy songs. Click here for a full review of the album.
The Newbees are joined tonight by The Turkeys, Chaselounge, Honey & Houston, Les Whorenettes, Shiny Old Soul, See You in the Funnies, Sundae Drives and Dave Hawkins. Tickets are $12 at the door (or $14 for those ages 18-20). Showtime is 9 p.m. Here's the Beatles-esque new album track "Up All Night":
• There are also plenty of other local original groups performing tonight. Among the highlights: Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms and soulful, rocking power trio Tattered Roots (which is celebrating its one-year anniversary) join together at Stanley's Pub in Columbia Tusculum. … Rootsy rockers Alone at 3 a.m. are playing a freebie at The Comet in Northside with Jacob Tippey and Matt Wood. … Electronic improvisers Skeetones hold down the party at The Mad Frog in Corryville, joined by guests The B.E.A.T. and Bassface. … Two former members of The Greenhornes — Brian Olive and Eric Stein — perform a free show at Northside Tavern with their current bands, The Brian Olive Band and Stein's Grotesque Brooms. … Rocket-fueled Indie/Blues/Roots/Rock trio The Sundresses headline tonight's free offering at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, joined by Detroit foursome Jeecy and the Jungle. … And two of the city's best modern rockers — Ohio Knife and State Song — perform a free show at Mayday in Northside (see poster above).
Cincinnati native Tom Berninger’s film that follows his older brother Matt’s band, The National, on tour, Mistaken for Strangers, is finally opening in Cincinnati this weekend, after making the film fest rounds and racking up mounds of positive press (it currently has an impressive 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
The movie — which follows The National’s members (all Cincy natives) on their tour behind 2010’s High Violet album, but is really more about Tom and Matt’s relationship — makes its Cincinnati premiere this Friday at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton at 7:30 p.m.
The Friday screening will be followed by a Q&A via Skype with the Berninger brothers. Following Monday’s 7:30 p.m. screening, there will be an in-person Q&A hosted by Jim Blase of Shake It Records and featuring Tom, Matt and The National’s drummer, Bryan Devendorf.
Here's the trailer for Mistaken for Strangers:
This whole week has been overflowing with big-time concerts, from Radiohead to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Drake. If you went to any (and especially if you went to ALL), your pocketbook is probably a little lighter this weekend. So, in honor of all of you heroes who paid $15 just to park or spent $100 on three beers, tonight's live music recommendations are all FREE. And high-quality, to boot.
• Kick off your weekender on Fountain Square tonight for perhaps the most eclectic MidPoint Indie Summer series concerts of the year. Kicking off at 7 p.m., the free show is like a musical world tour that takes you from the early Reggae sounds of Jamaica (with local openers The Pinstripes) to the unique and exotic native-Blues of Timbuktu (Malian music legend Khaira Arby, pictured, and her band) to the grinding, deep Funk of Nashville's vintage Soul revivalists The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker on the mic. Dancing shoes are a must!
Walker and the Dynamites recently teamed with fellow soldier in the retro-funky revolution, Bettye Lavette, for the single "Yours & Mine." Check the phenomenal duet below.
• Local powerhouse power trio The Sundresses perform a freebie tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The 10 p.m. show also features Lexington rockers Oh My Me, making tonight's show a half-reunion of the "Midwest by Southwest" tour from this past spring (which also featured Wussy — who are currently headed to the west coast for dates — and Whiskey Daredevils from Cleveland).
Oh My Me has an intriguing and often captivating sound, mixing a groovy back-drop of fluid, hypnotic psychedelia with singer Erin Reynolds' stunningly soulful vocals weaving between the grooves — sort of a modern day Big Brother and the Holding Company. Lots of singers get the Janis Joplin comparison; Reynolds' voice and presence are so thoroughly alluring and absolutely natural, she's one of the few who actually deserves it.
Check the clip below for a taste.
More than just the openers, there's another reason to show up early. The first 20 people through the door tonight receive a free copy of the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards' 2008 Album of the Year, Barkinghaus, by headliners The Sundresses.
Click here for the full run down of tonight's live musical entertainment offerings.
On this day in 1967, The Beatles continued work on arguably their best song, "A Day in the Life." After a debate over how to end the track following the huge orchestral build-up (sustained choral vocals were considered, but scrapped), the group decided to simultaneously strike a massive E chord on three pianos and sustain the notes for as long as possible. Adding overdubs (and a contribution from producer George Martin on harmonium), the final resonating notes hang in the air for over 40 seconds on the recording. As the held chords faded on the pianos in the studio, the engineer had to crank the recording level, which picked up some incidental sounds (like a creaking chair and, certainly, something about Paul being dead) from the studio.
That E-major chord that closes the song — and the whole Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, considered one of the best ever — is widely considered one of the most famous chords in Rock/Pop history. Which means that The Beatles are responsible for the most popular opening chord in modern music — the mysterious G7sus4-ish that kicks off "A Hard Day's Night" — and the most notable final chord with the "A Day in the Life" finale.
Below is audio of BTO guitarist Randy Bachman explaining the "Hard Day's" chord mystery (frustrated guitarists should feel better about their inability to figure it out), followed by today's biggest Pop superstar performing that famed final note from Sgt. Peppers.
Click the jump for "Born This Day" featuring live footage from one of the final Sublime concerts with Bradley Nowell.