I may be imagining it (the eternal optimist that I am), but it seems like ever since the Southgate House locked its doors at the end of 2011, many in the local booking world stepped up their game instantly. Though it's only been just over a month, it certainly doesn't feel as if the Greater Cincinnati concert market has been gutted by the loss of that one great club. And with several spots slated to open later this year (new venues from the brains behind the Southgate and Mad Hatter, plus whatever happens to the actual Southgate House building), it only looks to be getting better.
More good news on that front came out at the start of this week. On Feb. 10, an unexpected, big-time venue entered the mix — or rather, increased its presence in it. Downtown’s gorgeous Taft Theatre already this year announced some concerts by more “mid-level” groups like Trampled By Turtles and JJ Grey & Mofro, cult faves and Southgate alumni. Now, the Taft and promoter Music & Events Management Inc. are opening a new venue-within-a-venue that will allow the Taft to book artists who have outgrown small clubs but aren't quite ready for the big room.
The Ballroom at the Taft — located in the theater’s lower level — was designed to be, according to the press release, “a showcase style club venue that will play host to a variety of live entertainment events spanning all types of styles and genres.”
Over the years, Greater Cincinnati has been lucky to have at least a few radio stations dedicated to giving original, local music some airtime. While WEBN (yes, that WEBN) strongly supported local music in the ’70s/’80s, most substantial local airplay now comes courtesy of community and/or low-powered stations, plus the occasional, short-lived niche show from a huge corporate radio outlet.
At 88.9 FM (or 89.1 FM in Northern Kentucky), Class X Radio's diverse programming and lineup of shows include the longest-running local music program in the area — Kindred Sanction — which got its start on WAIF over 25 years ago (the station also incorporates local music into its other programming). The community radio station WVQC (Radio Free Queen City) is run through Media Bridges and features numerous shows that spotlight Cincy artists (listen online or at 95.7 FM). And Northern Kentucky's powerhouse public radio channel, WNKU (wnku.org or 89.7 FM) integrates local artist cuts into its normal playlist frequently.
This past April, 94.5 FM became Cincy Rock 94.5 … for a month. Owners Clear Channel threw a bone to local music after Northern Kentucky resident Josh Fields won a contest to program the channel until its May 1 conversion to a 24-hour FM simulcast of AM superstar, WLW.
This Sunday, in what will hopefully be a more permanent occupation of some FM airtime for local music, another Clear Channel outlet, The Project (at 100.7 FM and 106.3 FM), will launch what looks to be a great new program, CincyMusic Spotlight.
One of the few conglomo-stations to consistently play "Alternative" music in the city (it also plays the bigger local bands, like Foxy Shazam and Walk the Moon, on a regular basis), The Project will now delve into Greater Cincinnati's music scene head first every Sunday night at midnight. The program will be made available as a podcast at CincyMusic.com, which partnered with The Project for the new show (podcasts will also be available at CincinnatiProject.com). You can subscribe to the podcasts at both sites starting Sunday.
In a press release, the show is described as "a mix of the region's most talented musicians" and will also feature a "weekly recap of all the local music news from CincyMusic.com."
The program certainly has the right hosts in place. CincyMusic Spotlight will feature two local music/radio veterans — Venomous Valdez (who has done radio in the past, helped keep the MidPoint Music Festival running smoothly last year and currently works with local bands as a manager/road manger) and Joe Long (who helms the music blog Each Note Secure and was a former DJ on the late, great 97X/WOXY).
Tune in this Sunday night and be vocal in your support of the show so CincyMusic Spotlight stays on the air and proves wrong the seemingly conventional wisdom that there are no ratings or money in "local music."
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.
Nationally-acclaimed Cincinnati foursome Wussy are set to release its fourth full-length album through Shake It Records, Strawberry, with a release show at Northside Tavern on Oct. 29. But if you pre-order the album now, you'll receive an instant download of the full release. Click here to download or just give a listen. There's also a free pre-release EP available that'll only cost you an email address here. The preview EP includes new album tracks "Pulverized" (check it out below, as well) and "Chicken," as well as "Crooked," off the limited release, Funeral Dress II. The national release date for Strawberry is Nov. 2.
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.
Though not officially available until Aug. 2 to the rest of the world, Southwestern Ohio’s Buffalo Killers begin their touring duties for the new album 3 tonight in Dayton before coming to MOTR Pub Saturday night for their Cincy album release party. In honor of the forthcoming release, today the band issued a free MP3 download today of the song “Love Is Gold,” which was recorded during the 3 sessions, but left off of the album. Click above to listen.
Indie Pop trio The Seedy Seeds are nearing the end of its first tour leg in support of the new album Verb Noun, which took the band coast-to-coast, wrapping up Friday in Columbus, Ohio. Local fans will have a few chances to see them in April — April 21 they do a free show at the Cincinnati Zoo with The Tillers and they'll join Walk the Moon April 28 at 20th Century Theatre in Oakley — or you can check out the band's new video for the album's lush Indie Pop title track below. The band has also offered up a free stream of their "Friends of The Seedy Seeds" project, featuring several musician pals covering tunes from Verb Noun.
Cincinnati born and bred legend Bootsy Collins is known for his collaborations, from James Brown, George Clinton and Deee-Lite to more recent (and more unusual) hookups, like William Shatner, Charlie Daniels and Dr. Cornel West. But his latest collabo might be his strangest — and most fun — yet. Last night, Collins joined The Roots, DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh, Biz Markie and Erykah Badu on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for a little jam session with the cast of the trippy, hip kids' show, Yo Gabba Gabba.
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).