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
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.