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).
Tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, it's an evening of ethereal Indie Pop atmospherics as Columbus quartet Fever Fever joins Oklahoma-bred sibling duo Clemency for a free, 9 p.m. show. Both groups have sounds that are big-sky spacious and slathered with chiming, The Edge-like guitar echoes and passionate vocals. And both groups give it up to God, though they are refreshingly light on any kind of didacticism in their music. (Read more about the groups from this week's CityBeat here.)
Clemency was formed by Yukon, Ok., natives Jason and Paul Watkins, who would relocate to Nashville in 2005 to kick of their careers in earnest. After the 2008 full-length debut, Vapors, the duo released the 2012 EP, My Heart is on the Eastern Horizon, which featured a short film to accompany each track.
Fever Fever released its first album in 2009, followed by a pair of EPs, which helped earn FF some music placement deals (recently, the NFL used the below single for one of its shows). The band is currently putting the finishing touches on a new acoustic EP that's due for release soon. Here is the Fever Fever single "Beautiful Dream" from the band's 2012 EP, Kingdom (download the track for free here).
• At the Blue Wisp Jazz Club downtown tonight, Colorado's Funky Fresh Trio lays down its brand of melody- and groove-driven original modern Jazz Funk. The trio features bassist Patrick McDevitt and drummer Alejandro Castano, plus composer/saxophonist Josh Quinlan, one of the busiest people in the Colorado Jazz scene thanks to his work as a college Jazz professor and his roles at the Dazzle Recordings record label, the Gift of Jazz organization and the Telluride Jazz Celebration Educational Program.
The Funky Fresh Trio members combine their love of early Jazz Fusion, James Brown, Hard Bop, Bob Marley, World music and new-school jazzers like The Bad Plus and Medeski Martin and Wood to come up with a fresh sound that's contemporary, accessible and dynamic, yet honors their musical forefathers and is performed with such grace and effortless flair, you know the members have chops to spare.
The band plays the Blue Wisp at 7:30 p.m. tonight before participating in a music clinic for students of the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music on Friday afternoon. Admission to the Wisp show is $7.
Here's the trio performing in Denver late last year.
For even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight, click here.
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."
• Bluegrass ensemble Hayseed Dixie began racking up fans upon its formation at the dawn of the 21st century thanks to its energized and entertaining live show and the contents of the band’s initial setlists and albums. Though all talented and experienced players, it was Hayseed Dixie’s novelty that initial drove attention its way. The group’s debut was a Bluegrass tribute to AC/DC, while subsequent albums have featured a wonderfully ridiculous array of the group’s Appalachian-spun Rock covers (they grass up everything from OutKast and Green Day to Neil Young and Motorhead). After wide exposure through musical- and comedy-world exposure, the Hayseeds began to introduce more and more original material (2008’s No Covers should be self-explanatory).
Hayseed’s members have individually gotten more busy with various interesting side projects while the main band takes a hiatus. As frontman John Wheeler works towards his more serious-minded debut solo album (scheduled for release early in this new year), banjoist Don Wayne Reno carries the Hayseed torch with his band Granny 4 Barrel, self-described as “Country music’s first and only shock Country Rock & Roll band.” If you thought Hayseed Dixie was outlandish, G4B takes it to the next level with their ridiculous outfits and a sound that retains Hayseed’s Rawkgrass attitude and turns the Rawk elements up to 11.
Granny 4 Barrel performs tonight at the Southgate House Revival as part of the opening for area visual artist Derek Toebbe’s “Urban Revival Art Show.” The event (which also includes DJ sets by the Devout Wax crew) is free and starts at 7 p.m.
Here's a sampling for G4B's crazy sound and stage show.
• Wildly entertaining (and wildly eclectic) ensemble The Duke of Uke & His Novelty Orchestra bring its self described "lyrical ukulele jazz-funk-motown popssical" sound back to Cincinnati tonight for a a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Drawing comparisons to artists as diverse as Tom Waits, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Amy Winehouse, the B-52s, and Captain Beefheart, the Urbana, Ill.-based septet has been winning fans all over the region with their energized, swinging live shows, which blend smart lyrics, four-part harmonies and diverse instrumentation (ukulele, violin, tuba, saxophones, Latin percussion). Read more about The Duke and Co. in Reyan Ali's preview in this week's CityBeat here.
Here's The Duke of Uke & His Novelty Orchestra's official music video for "Jump Back," a track from their 2012 album April's Empire.
• There were moments over the past few years where it seemed like bassist Nick Oliveri was on the brink of imploding, stuck in that weird, almost dreamlike universe (inhabited by the likes of Courtney Love and Katt Williams) where an entertainer’s fans ultimately just accept that there’s a good chance the performer might die any day. Oliveri’s ornery streak has been consistent but it started out manageable — just some usual Rock & Roll debauchery. Then, in 2004, Oliveri was kicked out of Queens of the Stone Age after Queens frontman Josh Homme suspected he had been physically abusive to a girlfriend.
Luckily for Oliveri, he had a few side-projects to fall back on, touring with his group Mondo Generator (who comes to Newport’s Thompson House Saturday night), as a solo acoustic act and with veteran Punk sensations Dwarves. But it wasn't enough to keep him out of trouble (click here to read more about Oliveri's various ups-and-downs over the past year).
But Oliveri seems to have rebounded, even reportedly making amends with his old bandmate Homme. Mondo Generator has been perhaps the most consistent part of Oliveri’s life since 1997. Blending the Hard Rock of his previous projects with more Punk Rock chaos, Mondo has built a strong cult following for itself. But, with the way things are going as Oliveri continues to rebound, it’s anyone’s guess if Mondo will go back to “side project” status at some point.
Mondo Generator performs Saturday at the Thompson House with Saviours, Wino, Bearer of Bad News and Mangrenade. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $18.
Here's Mondo Generator performing "Four Corners" live.
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.
Holidays are especially exciting times for children and, given the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., kids all over will likely be going to be getting a little extra love this season.
Zak Morgan knows kids. The Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter has already had an amazing career in children’s music, with his second self-financed album, When Bullfrogs Croak, earning numerous awards and acclaim, including a 2004 Grammy nomination for Best Musical Album for Children, a remarkable feat for an independent artist.
Morgan’s accomplishments and hard work (he notches over 200 shows a year for kids across the country) paid off with a contract with Universal Music’s kids’ music imprint, myKaZoo Music. His debut for the label, The Barber of the Beasts, came out in late October and would make a fantastic stocking-stuffer for the little ones this Christmas.
Like his previous releases, The Barber of the Beasts features artwork by famed local illustrator C.F. Payne and contains an extensive booklet of lyrics and drawings. The album also features some notable guests, from local musicians like Dan Dorff, Paul Patterson and Josh Seurkamp to nationally acclaimed artists like Robbie Fulks and locals Karin Bergquist (Over the Rhine) and the iconic Bootsy Collins.
But it’s Morgan’s magical stories and songs that are the focal point. There is a perfect formula for children’s music; like with kids’ films these days, many artists try to hard to make their albums “parent friendly” and tend to go overboard, while those who “dumb things down” tend to be the most annoying. Morgan’s gift is finding the perfect balance.
The Barber of the Beasts is for smart and imaginative kids and parents, seeming designed to be enjoyed together. Morgan is great with clever word play and he isn't afraid to drop a few “big words” (or at least unfamiliar words). That’s where the booklet’s excellent vocabulary guide comes in handy. Parents can go over words with their children, who will have not only been entertained by Zak’s fantastical storytelling, but will also learn something in the process.
Many of the tracks on Barber feature gorgeous chamber string arrangements, but there are also tunes like “Snow Day,” on which Morgan channels his inner Tom Waits (vocally), the shuffling, jazzy Pop cut “Swinging On A Star,” the Country-esque “Nancy Jane” and the great Bootsy collaboration, “The Case of the Dry Markers,” a swingin’, “spooky” Jazz struttin’ mystery with a Halloween vibe.
Here is the debut music video from the album for "The Case of the Dry Markers":
The songs and music are elegant and often downright majestic (particularly the ones with the spine-tingling string arrangements), while Morgan’s clever stories are loaded with a silliness that the young listeners will gleefully embrace.
I believe The Barber of the Beasts (which will specifically appeal to kids between around the ages of 1-8, but certainly fits the "fun for kids of all ages" bill) was released in time to make next year’s Grammy nominations. It will be a crime if it doesn’t make the cut. When it comes to children’s music, Zak is like the Bob Dylan of the genre — minus the curmudgeonly grumpiness, of course.
This Saturday at 1 p.m., Morgan and a host
of special guests will present the local release party for the album at
The Monastery recording studio (2601 Stanton Ave., Walnut Hills), the
performance/recording space owned and operated by producer/guitarist Ric
Hordinski (who also performed on, produced and co-wrote material on the album).
Tickets are available through brownpapertickets.com for $10 (or $20 for families of two-five people). Remaining tickets will be available at the door the day of the show for $15 (or $25 per family). Your ticket also includes food and admission to the post-show pizza party.
• 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)
Veteran ace Jazz pianist/organist Steve Schmidt returns to The Comet in Northside to launch his Christmas-themed two-night stand at the venue.
Schmidt's annual Christmas Jazz "Spectacular" has become a local holiday tradition. Schmidt whips out his organ (a Hammond B3; get your mind out of the gutter!) for the occasion and, as always, brings along some top-shelf special guests for the shows. Schmidt is joined by Brad Myers on guitar and Mark Wolfley on drums, plus two amazing singers — Eugene Goss (known for his work with Billy Larkin as Triage) and the great Mandy Gaines.
The Steve Schmidt Organ Trio Christmas Spectacular runs 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. tonight and tomorrow at The Comet. There is no cover charge.
Voting for Greater Cincinnati's annual celebration of our amazing local music scene, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, is now open. Vote for your faves or, even better, do some research online, check out all of the nominees and THEN pick who you think is most deserving.
Click here to get started on your ballot.
The 16th annual CEA ceremony will be held at Covington’s Madison Theater on Jan. 27, featuring more live performances than ever and first-time host Ted Clark, known for his monthly “live chat show” Ted Clark After Dark. Ted will present a special edition of Ted Clark After Dark at the after-party, this year held at The Loft, just around the corner from the Madison and above Tickets (the former home to the Rock club Radio Down). The after-party will also include the annual “Fashion Trashies,” presented by members of local Indie Pop legends The Fairmount Girls and honoring the best/worst/weirdest-dressed CEA attendees.
Tickets to the Jan. 27 ceremony/party will go on sale this coming Wednesday through CincyTicket.com. Proceeds from ticket sales are being donated the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation.
Another new aspect of this year’s CEAs involves the “New Artist of the Year” nominees. The acts nominated in that category will perform at the first-ever CEA new music showcase at Bogart’s on Jan. 18 (confirmations pending). Audience votes at the event will help determine the winner of the category, along with votes from the nominating committee (who also choose the Album and Artist of the Year winners).
Tickets for the new music showcase will go sale soon through Ticketmaster.
Now, a few words on "the process." Since the nominees were announced on Wednesday, I've received several queries asking "How do I get nominated for a CEA?" from various artists and/or their representatives.
It's the same answer found in the old joke, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
Practice. And also work hard and keep spreading the word about your awesome music.
As has been the case in the entire the 16-year existence of the CEAs (and as has been noted every year in our coverage of the event, including this year), a nominating committee is assembled each year to determine the CEA nominees. These include writers, promoters, club owners, local-music radio hosts and others whose opinion on local music-makers we trust. This year's committee included approximately 40 such people. We try our best to include those whose expertise is either wide-ranging or specific to a particular genre represented in the CEA categories. (Judges do not have votes counted if they're cast for an artist with whom the judge directly works.)
This year, invitations to participate in the nominating process were sent out to nearly 70 people, so obviously certain experts declined to participate, missed the deadline for nominees or just ignored our request.
The committee is asked to nominate up to three artists per category who caught their eyes and ears this past year. The only guidelines are that the artists should have been active in the past 365 days, the nominees should be largely original (though certainly talented, straight-up "cover bands" are generally not eligible) and the judges are also instructed to give special consideration to any act that has released new recorded material in that same time-frame.
The CEA nominating judges are listed in the CEA "program" annually. I will not release their names here because I've personally received many rude or stupid emails telling me what an idiot I am for not nominating "fill in the blank." The nominating committee was kind enough to participate; I don't want to open any of them up to such haranguing and harassment.
Finally, I'd just like to say that every year there are TONS of really great acts that deserve a nomination but don't get one. It's not personal. It's not "political." It's not "who you know." It's simply a matter of time and space. If every artist who deserved a nomination got one, the CEA show itself would run 16 hours — and that's just to read the nominations for each category.
I agree to some extent that award shows like these are a little frivolous and that the process for nominations isn't perfect. It never is, for any awards show. We have thought about letting the public nominate the artists (a la the long-gone "CAMMY" awards presented by The Enquirer), but ultimately feel that the way the CEA process is set up works best. Because, ultimately, whoever wins their category is going to deserve it.
Though we take the process seriously, we've always thought of the CEAs as more of a celebration than a contest. I invite you to think of it the same way and join us for the show, whether you were nominated or not. The CEAs are for the ENTIRE Greater Cincinnati music scene. The awards are just a good excuse to get everyone together. Instead of being a sore sport about your lack of attention, come out and congratulate and party with your fellow nominees.
Fans of live, homegrown American Roots music will want to keep their Thursday nights free for the next few weeks. Two strong, weekly events featuring several of the city's best musicians in the field (many of whom were recently nominated for 2012 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards) will continue (at least) until the end of 2012.
Mark Utley (nominated for the best Singer/Songwriter CEA) of local Americana ensemble
Magnolia Mountain (nominated for best Folk/Americana act) is December’s “artist in residence” at The Crow’s Nest
in Price Hill, which has become something of a local clubhouse for area Americana artists. Utley performs solo (and with bandmate Renee Frye) every Thursday this month, each night
joined by some top-shelf guests.
The residency continues tonight as Utley is joined by David Rhodes Brown’s Kentucky Timbre and Kentucky Struts’ Todd
Lipscomb join Utley, while Ed Cunningham of the Comet Bluegrass
All-Stars and Amber Nash of Shiny and the Spoon are the guests Dec. 20
and Sassy Molasses’ Moriah Lawson and Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver join Utley
and Frye for the Dec. 27 showcase.
All Thursday shows at The Crow's Nest are free; music
starts at 9:30 p.m. each night.
Meanwhile, Country troupe Jeremy Pinnell and the ’55s have been hosting "Honky Tonky Thursdays" every week around the area for the past several months. The free event — currently held at Japp's on Main St. in Over-the-Rhine — has also showcased a plethora of special guests from the local Roots scene.
Tonight is an especially strong lineup — the 55's will back up 500 Miles to Memphis frontman Ryan Malott (who just announced a Kickstarter campaign to finance his band's fourth LP) for a set of Country classics (and perhaps a few Malott gems) and fellow CEA best Country act nominee Tex Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys open up the night at 8:30 p.m.
Pinnell and Co. today leaked a recording from the band's pre-production rehearsals for their debut album. Look for the LP next year. Here's the demo for "The Way Country Sounds." You can also, for a limited time, download the track from Soundcloud here.
Cincinnati Entertainment Awards voting begins tomorrow at noon.