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 ever-busy Greenhornes bring their current tour with San Antonio rockers Hacienda (“discovered” by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and also the bulk of Auerbach’s solo touring band, The Fast Five) to Covington’s Mad Hatter Thursday night for an all-ages, 8 p.m. show. (Local openers are The Kickaways and Two Headed Dog, featuring former members of The Virgins and Thee Shams.) If you can’t make it or want to keep the Greenhorne vibe going into April Fool’s Day, you can catch the band performing on Carson Daly’s late-night NBC show Friday (yes, it’s still on the air and, in fact, actually features a number of interesting musical and cultural figures now that the network appears to have no interest in it).
Southwestern Ohio native Greg Dulli and his band The Twilight Singers can cross "Play Letterman" off of the To Do list of promo duties for the group's new album, Dynamite Steps. Just as they did on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show in February, the band played the elegant rocker "On the Corner" on The Late Show last night. The single also has a new accompanying music video (watch both below). Letterman — a notoriously big lover of music both new and classic — appears to be a Twilights fan, calling them a "wonderful Rock & Roll band" in his intro and seeming genuinely pumped up when he shook hands with each member after the song (if you've watched Dave long enough, you can tell when he truly loves the musical acts that appear on his show and when he couldn't care less about them).
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.
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).
Cincy rockers Wussy have stepped up their game in terms of touring and promotions big time. It was previously announced that the group would join Cincy legends The Afghan Whigs on their upcoming U.S. tour run. Now, immediately following those (mostly sold out) dates, Wussy is set to join another local favorite, Heartless Bastards (now based in Austin, Tex.), for several shows on that band's fall tour.
Wussy is the confirmed support act on Bastards dates in Houston, New Orleans, Nashville, Athens, Ga., Saxapahaw, NC, and Washington D.C.
Wussy and Heartless Bastards are also hooking up on vinyl, participating in the series of singles tributing the songs of Soul/R&B songwriter Eddie Hinton. The Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli recorded the first single in The Dangerous Highway Series of 7-inch singles (taking on "Hard Luck Guy” and “Cover Me"), while Drive-By Truckers did Vol. 2. Due next month, Vol. 3 features Wussy doing "Breakfast in Bed" on one side and the Bastards doing "Got Down Last Saturday Night" on the flip. At the same time as the split single, Shake It is also releasing Vol. 4 featuring Cincy's Buffalo Killers, with two tracks produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. (Besides buying them in Shake It's Northside shoppe, the releases will also be available through Shake It via mail order; click here to browse the catalog.)
Before the Whigs and Bastards dates, Wussy headlines next Friday's free MidPoint Indie Summer Series on Fountain Square (the last of the season), then the band's Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker will be doing several dates as a duo in the U.K. (from Sept. 17-Oct. 1). The band's first album to be released overseas, Buckeye (on the Damnably Records imprint), came out in July in the U.K. and features a compilation of Wussy songs from the group's five albums (including the acoustic rendition of Funeral Dress). Buckeye has been scoring Wussy some remarkable press; the BBC reviewed the record and said, "Wussy are certainly a band with an incredibly rich past and, undoubtedly, an equally rich future."
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.
This weekend, the Cincy Blues Fest — presented annually by the Cincy Blues Society — returns for its 21st year, a remarkable accomplishment for a music festival of any sort. The festival kicks off tonight and continues tomorrow at Sawyer Point along the riverfront.
The weekend features two main stage acts with serious ties to Cincinnati’s Blues past. Educator, author, DJ, singer and harmonica player Steven Tracy returns to Cincy to play the main stage on tonight at 7 p.m. with his band the Crawling Kingsnakes. A Walnut Hills High School graduate, Tracy worked with local Blues icons like Pigmeat Jarrett and Big Joe Duskin, becoming a part of the scene he’d later dig deeper into in the 1993 book, Going to Cincinnati: A History of the Blues in the Queen City. His writing career is extensive — Tracy has written dozens of album liner notes and edited/wrote/intro-ed several other books on a variety of subjects. Today, Tracy is a professor of Afro-American Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Saturday at 6 p.m. on the fest’s main stage, Stacy Mitchhart and his band are slated to perform. Mitchhart grew up in Cincinnati and spent time playing music on the East and West Coasts before returning to his hometown in the early 1990s and forming Stacy Mitchhart and Blues-U-Can-Use, a staple on the local Blues scene for a few years. After a move to Nashville, Tenn., in the mid-’90s, Mitchhart’s musical career really took off. His albums have been widely acclaimed and done well commercially — his 2011 release, Live from B.B. King’s, debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Blues charts — and he’s received high-praise for his showmanship and remarkable Blues voice. In 2008, Mitchhart was the subject of the well-received documentary NashVegas Blues.
Here is tonight's main stage schedule:
5:45-6:45 p.m. Dave Muskett
7:00-8:15 p.m. Steve Tracy & the Crawling Kingsnakes
8:30-10 p.m. Reba Russell Band
10:15-11:45 p.m. Watermelon Slim & the Workers
And here's the lineup for the Main Stage tomorrow:
4:15-4:45 p.m. Blues in the Schools (BITS) Band
5-5:45 p.m. The Juice
6-7 p.m. Stacy Mitchhart Band
7:15-8:30 p.m. Nikki Hill
8:45-10:00 p.m. Honey Island Swamp Band
10:15-11:45 p.m. Ana Popovic (all the way from Serbia!)
Some of the coolest things at the Cincy Blues Fest can be found on the “specialty” stages — a “specialty” of the fest — which this year includes a “Women of the Blues” stage on Friday, headlined by national act EG Knight and also featuring locals Rio & The Ramblers, The Juice and Tempted Souls Band.
Here is the "Women of the Blues" stage ((aka the Arches stage) schedule for tonight :
5:45-7 p.m. Rio & the Ramblers
7:15-8:30 p.m. The Juice
8:45-10:00 p.m. Tempted Souls Band
10:15-11:45 p.m. EG Kight
Saturday sees the return of the “Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame Piano Stage,” featuring an international cast of top-shelf Boogie Woogie pianists, including local favorite Ricky Nye and former locals (now Florida-based) Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues. The house band for the Boogie Woogie stage is Johnny Vidacovich (drums), George Bedard (guitar) and Chris Douglas (bass).
Saturday's Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame stage (aka Arches stage) lineup:
4:30 p.m. Ben Levin
5 p.m. Ari Borger
5:40 p.m. Ricky Nye
6:20 p.m. Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues
7:10 p.m. Bruce Katz
7:50 p.m. Al Hill
8:30 p.m. Axel Zwingenberger & Lila Ammons
9:10 p.m. Joshua Paxton
10 p.m. David Vest
10:40 p.m. Bob Seeley
11:20 p.m. Chris Conz
The Blues Fest again presents the St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage on both days of the event, always an excellent snapshot of the current local Blues scene.
Friday's St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage schedule:
5:45-6:45 p.m. Thomas Long & Blue Sacrifice
7-8 p.m. Noah Wotherspoon Band
8:15-9:15 p.m. Ralph & the Rhythm Hounds
9:30-10:30 p.m. Brad Hatfield Band
10:45 p.m.-12 a.m. G Miles & the Hitmen
Saturday's St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage lineup:
4:30-5:30 p.m. The Blue Birds Big Band
5:45-6:45 p.m. Jay Jesse Johnson Band
7-8 p.m. The SoulFixers
8:15-9:15 p.m. Doug Hart Band
9:30-10:30 p.m. Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project
10:45 p.m.-12 a.m. Leroy Ellington Blues Band
Here is a map of the Blues Fest grounds:
Tickets are $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday or $25 for a
two-day pass (tickets can be purchased at the gates or here). Visit
cincybluesfest.org for everything else you need to know about the
The New York Times published a story in the paper's arts section today about the history of Cincinnati-based King Records and those around town who have made it their mission to put the once-vital label back in the spotlight. The story mentions everyone from old-school King artists James Brown, Charlie Feathers and Nina Simone to current-day champions John Cranley, Elliott Ruther and Brian Powers.
RJ Smith, the author of the piece entitled "Rocking Cincinnati's R&B Cradle," was on hand for the King Records memorial back in mid-November, as well as the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, presented by the good peeps at CityBeat, later that night.
For a limited time (while supplies last, as they say), seriously discounted tickets for the MidPoint Music Festival — which returns to the clubs and venues of Over-the-Rhine/Downtown Sept. 26-28 — will be made available starting this Friday at 10 a.m.
During this “Loyalty Presale,” three-day “All Music Access” passes can be purchased through mpmf.cincyticket.com (the site will be live for the public tomorrow) for just $49 (they’ll be $20 more come MPMF time). They are expected to sell out fast, so get ’em while you can. For those wanting a VIP MPMF experience, the popular VIP passes will also be available Friday for $129 ($40 off the normal price). The VIP tickets get you priority admission to all shows, access to catered VIP-only events and other goodies. (Last year’s VIP passes sold out before the fest.)
In other MPMF news, if you are a musician/performer interested in being considered for a showcase slot at the festival, submissions are now being accepted via Sonicbids. The submission fee is just $20 until this Friday; after that it goes up to $25. (Those without a Sonicbids account can submit to MPMF and receive a two-week free trial of the service.)
Stay tuned to MPMF.com and this blog for the latest updates on MidPoint.