Along with creating captivating, dynamic music that has helped to make it one of Cincinnati’s finest Hip Hop groups, Valley High has released several stellar music videos over the past few years to accompany its tracks. This year has seen some of the best clips yet from the group, including ones for “That One Too” and, more recently, “8 Ball.”
The group blends sounds from several genres and features live instrumentation, like guitars and keys, to back the ear-grabbing flow of MC’s Moxy Monster and The M.O. Hour. Self-described as a “new wave hip hop band,” the latest video from Valley High (which really needs to parody the Van Halen logo on a T-shirt or something) is for the track “Let Me Get Em,” described as “a hard jazzy gritty street track that is a throwback to the 90's era.” The track is featured on the group’s 14-track album titled, appropriately enough, 90’s Tape, which is available for free download here.
One week ago today, on Nov. 14, the fun and increasingly acclaimed Michigan-based Electro Pop band Stepdad was bringing its nearly two-month, nationwide tour to a close and was set to perform at Cincinnati’s MOTR Pub. The band had a great fall tour; outside of some trouble with its tour van, things had gone smoothly until that point. With a few final shows on the tour after the Cincinnati date in their home state, the band members were heading into the homestretch and returning home triumphantly.
Then one of them them got arrested. Stepdad had played Pittsburgh the night before its MOTR date, driving through the night and grabbing a room at the Super 8 motel in Cincy exburb Mason, Ohio, (north of the city and near the Kings Island amusement park, where the Brady Bunch once frolicked) to get some rest. Early in the morning of Nov. 14, Stepdad’s Nathan John Klages — a multi-instrumentalist and also a solo singer/songwriter who works under the name Nathan K. — was arrested at the motel, charged with public indecency and “obstruction official business,” according to the police report. Klages got arrested for doing something many, many men have done — taking a piss outside. He was booked into the Warren County Jail. The look on his face in the above mugshot is one of understandable confusion, probably a little anger and definitely a lot of fatigue after working all night and then traveling.
Those souls in attendance at MOTR Pub for the November 14 show by underground pop superstars STEPDAD won't soon forget it. Neither will Stepdad's NATHAN K. He might never forget it -- because of a very wrong reason.
The evening before the show, the band, which hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was staying at a motel in Mason, Ohio. It was there where Nathan K. was arrested for -- allegedly -- urinating in the great outdoors. Nathan was subsequently charged with public indecency and taken to the Warren County Jail, where his arms and legs were placed in shackles and he was placed in a cell.
He was fined, processed, and eventually released just before showtime, so as to avert what would have been the compounded injustice of having to cancel the show.
Taking into account the advice of the legal defense, we will say nothing about the charge levied against Nathan. However, Nathan is saddled with fines and travel expenses related to this episode. He must return from Michigan to Southwest Ohio on Tuesday, December 17 to face the judge, and we, at MOTR Pub, want to help.
Nathan has agreed to play a set at MOTR Pub on Tuesday, December 17 at 9 p.m. We are asking fans of Stepdad, and fans of blind justice, and fans of rock 'n' roll, and fans of Nathan K. to attend the show and join us in throwing a fiver or a ten-spot in Nathan K.'s hat to offset his debts and to make something good of the bad.
Since Los Angeles is one of the centers of the music universe, being dubbed the “Best Live Band” in the city is an incredibly high honor. Energetic eight-member Americana ensemble The Dustbowl Revival received that exact honor this year when the city’s L.A. Weekly named the group the Best Live Band of 2013 in its Best of L.A. issue. Tonight you can see and hear for yourself when The Dustbowl Revival headlines MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Brad Loans of local greats The Sundresses opens the free show at around 10 p.m. with a solo set.
The Revival’s kitchen-sink approach touches on a bigger-than-usual array of American Roots music influences, from Western Swing, New Orleans Jazz, Dixieland and Be Bop to Blues, Gospel, Folk and numerous other styles (both expected and not). Delivered using the classic tools of the Americana trade (numerous brass instruments, fiddle, clarinet, mandolin, washboard, harmonica and kazoo, plus stand-up bass and guitars), The Dustbowl Revival’s latest release, Carry Me Back Home, was released to critical acclaim earlier this year. But, if the enthusiastic testaments online are any indication, seeing the group’s wildly entertaining live show is the best way to experience the Revival.
• Punk rockers turning to Folk and Roots music is nothing new (see: Billy Bragg, The Pogues), but it’s become a not unwelcome epidemic in the past decade. It’s easy to see the appeal — Punk and Folk are kissing cousins that share a raw purity and, often, a sense of social/political justice in the lyrics.
Another part of the appeal may just be how some of the artists who make the shift and go full Folk have found huge success after the makeover. Frank Turner, for example. The British folkie was the singer for Hardcore Punk band Million Dead in the early ’00s. The band’s run was short and relatively successful, but nothing compared to what Turner has experienced since strapping on an acoustic guitar and going solo in 2005 after the band’s split. After his debut album in 2007, Turner’s career took off and he built his now-huge fanbase by touring with bands like The Gaslight Anthem, The Offspring and Green Day, which had him open stadium shows for the band in 2010.
This year, Turner released his fifth album, Tape Deck Heart, his first recorded in the U.S. and his first under a global deal with Interscope Records. Turner comes to the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre tonight in support of the album. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Koo Koo Kanga Roo and The Smith Street Band open. Tickets are $20 at the door. Turner is touring with his full backing band, The Sleeping Souls.
Here’s the video for the new album single “Losing Days”:
• Two up-and-coming Rock crews with a rising presence on the FM Rock airways cruise into Bogart’s tonight. The Classic Rock-influenced bands Taddy Porter and Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights play at 7 p.m. Read Amy Harris’ interview with Tyler for CityBeat here and check out Taddy Porter’s video for the single “The Gun” below:
A lot of the great up-and-coming touring artists that made September’s MidPoint Music Festival one of the best yet have been building on their MPMF momentum and returning to the area. Even some of the bands that canceled their MPMF appearances have made their way back.
Korea’s Love X Stereo had travel issues and missed this year’s MidPoint, but recently played MOTR Pub (the club owned by MPMF artistic director Dan McCabe) and now the amazing seven-piece Wisconsin crew PHOX (who missed MPMF to tour with Blitzen Trapper) is headed to the same venue tonight for a great double-bill with San Francisco Psych Rock/Shoegaze outfit (and MPMF alumnus) Sleepy Sun.
The wonderfully eclectic PHOX, which recently announced a new recording was in the works, appear to be on the verge of very big things; seems like everyone who hears the band’s gorgeous and unique mesh of Folk, Indie Rock, Soul, Americana, Jazz, Chamber Pop and other styles instantly falls in love with them. In September, the group issued a live EP taken from its appearance at the ITunes Festival in London. It was the follow-up to its Confetti EP, released earlier this year with an endearing companion “music video EP” featuring clips for each track on the release. Check it out below:
Tonight’s show at MOTR (the venue’s website is calling it “a once-in-a-lifetime MUST SEE Mind Melting Monday Mash-Up”) starts at 9:30 p.m. and, like all MOTR shows, is free.
Last Friday we featured the first video from a series of clips created by The Queen City Project from footage shot at “The MidPoint Sessions,” a day party at the Art Academy of Cincinnati held during September’s MidPoint Music Festival in Over-the-Rhine/Downtown.
The first clip featured Athens, Ohio’s The Ridges, who curated the acoustic performances, bringing in three fellow Ohio acts to join them. Today we premiere the second video from the great Sessions series to emerge. The new video features talented and adventurous Cincinnati Indie Chamber Folk foursome The Happy Maladies performing their song, “Peter’s Sweet 16.”
The Happy Maladies have been playing a lot of out of town shows over the past year, hitting regional venues, Chicago and the East Coast fairly regularly. The band released its debut album, Sun Shines the Little Children, in 2009, followed last year by the magnificent, mesmerizing EP new again (check it out here).
The band is currently working on a new album, which is expected to release in early summer next year. In July, The Happy Maladies announced “Must Love Cats,” an intriguing project that celebrates the collaborative spirit in creativity. The band is soliciting original pieces written for the group from composers of all stripes. Until Jan. 1, interested artists can send the group new “compositions, songs, ballads, marches, sound poems, farcical musicals, improvisational games, panic attacks, etc.” The musicians will chose five pieces and work with the composers to get it in performance shape. In the springtime next year, The Happy Maladies will play the compositions during a special concert series, which will be documented and turned into a concert film, album and booklet with profiles of the composers.
You can find complete details about the Must Love Cats project here on the band’s website. Here is a video featuring the band members explaining the project.
Visit thehappymaladies.com for more on The Happy Maladies.
Acoustic guitar phenom Andy McKee performs downtown tonight at the Ballroom at Taft Theatre. Admission is $18 for the 7 p.m. show which, unlike most Ballroom performances, will be a seated affair.
Though he works his magic with just wood and strings, technology played a big role in McKee’s success story. About seven years ago, McKee’s label at the time posted on YouTube a few low-production videos of the fingerstyle guitar instrumentalist showcasing his compellingly original approach, which involves a lot of rhythmic slapping, alternate tunings, unusual fret fingering and other atypical elements.
Those simple videos launched McKee — who counts players like Michael Hedges and Preston Reed among his biggest influences — into the the upper echelon of viral video sensations, not because of something stupid (like most super-popular YouTube videos), but because of his gripping acoustic wizardry. The clip below, featuring his composition “Drifting,” was one of the first posted; it now has more than 48 million views (other clips have a similarly stratospheric number of views).
McKee had released two critically acclaimed albums before 2005’s Art of Motion, which featured the songs that would make him one of YouTube’s biggest musical success stories. By the time 2007’s Gates of Gnomeria was released, McKee was able to successfully tour the globe and play for large audiences everywhere he went, something that continues to this day (though he slowed down just slightly when he and his wife welcomed their first child). The Kansas native moved up to the Razor and Tie label for distribution and would go on to found the Guitar Masters Tour, sharing the spotlight with other acoustic alchemists and also helping the next generation of players with various guitar workshops. McKee’s most recent release is 2010’s Joyland; on his website in June, McKee said that he will be releasing new material gradually over several months instead of saving up material for a single album release.
• Tonight in the Taft Theatre’s big room, Trampled By Turtles returns. The Minnesota band has built up a huge following by eschewing most of the traditional music biz support systems, like record labels. The DIY success story is ongoing as the progressive Americana/Bluegrass ensemble’s popularity continues to skyrocket. The band just released its live album/DVD package Live at First Avenue earlier this week. Check out CityBeat’s preview of the show and then take a look at a clip from the new release:
Tonight’s show at the Taft starts at 9 p.m. with Nashville Indie Roots group The Apache Relay opening.Tickets are $22.50.
• While it’s likely that most area fans of EDM are going to be checking out the big Ubahn Fest downtown tonight (and tomorrow; click here for details and previews), The Mad Frog in Corryville is also presenting a showcase of diverse, progressive Electronic music.
Named after a mini-game within Nintendo 64’s Mario Party video games — a nod to 8-bit and gaming culture influences — Shy Guy Says is the work of rising Electronic music artist Jarrod Linne, who works out of Bloomington, Ind. Linne creatively mixes Hip Hop grooves and other elements with a multitude of EDM styles (Glitch, Trap, Electro, Downtempo House, etc.), never allowing himself to be easily pigeonholed by constantly exploring new sonic realms. The next Shy Guys Says release is the EP The Hellephant, coming out through the Rad Summer label. Look for the EP on Beatport this Monday and everywhere else Dec. 2. On Wednesday, TheUntz.com previewed the new EP track “Round 1 (They Meet).” Check it below:
Shy Guy Says will be joined by Indianapolis’ Magnetic for tonight’s Mad Frog show. Taking the same genre-blurring approach as Shy Guy, Magnetic’s DJ sets blend remixes of other people’s music with original tracks and are said to be uniquely engaging and energized. Rounding out tonight’s bill is another Indy artist, Kodama, and Cincinnati’s own Kaiten (aka Kurt Heer), who works with the label/promo group/management agency, Massive Detroit Records.
Doors open at 8 p.m. and music begins at 9 p.m. Cover charge is $5.
• Country music star Justin Moore pulls his tour into Bank of Kentucky Center tonight in Highland Heights, Ky. After performing in bands and writing songs for others, Moore scored a deal with Valory Music Group (part of Big Machine Records) in 2008. After a few successful singles, Moore’s self-titled debut album was released in 2009 and promptly shot to No. 3 on the Country charts and No. 10 on the overall album chart. Moore recently released his third album, Off the Beaten Path, which hit No. 2 on the album chart (and No. 1 on the Country chart). Read more about Moore in CityBeat’s preview here. And here’s the video for the new album’s single, “Point at You”:
Tonight’s Bank of Kentucky Center show features openers Randy Houser and Josh Thompson. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $26.75-$39.75.
This weekend brings the uniquely “underground” Ubahn Fest to downtown Cincinnati. The two-day music festival (its name a play on the German word for underground rapid transit systems) features a mix of Electronic music, DJs and Hip Hop artists, including many local and regional performers. Ubahn is a collaboration between the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, branding/”social intelligence” agency AGAR and Self Diploma, one of the leading independent event promoters in the region, presenting the popular every-Saturday music series on Fountain Square during the summer (among other events).
While Cincinnati has its share of music fests, this is a rare one that focuses on EDM and Hip Hop. Even more unique is the festival’s setting. Ubahn takes place in the tunnels of the vacant Riverfront Transit Center, located beneath Second Street and running between the Bengals stadium and Broadway. For fest-goers, the entrance is at 220 Central Ave., between Pete Rose Way and Third Street.
Along with the local/regional talent, Ubahn features two huge acts to top the bill each night. Friday’s headliner is A-Trak, one of the leading DJs/turntablists around, working frequently with Kanye West, doing production work and remixes for an array of artists, forming the popular duo Duck Sauce with Armand Van Helden, collaborating with the likes of Travis Barker, Jay-Z and Danny Brown and co-founding the esteemed Electronic/Hip Hop label, Fool’s Gold. A-Trak was featured on the cover of Billboard’s 2012 Dance music issue alongside Skrillex and Diplo.
Here is a clip featuring footage from A-Trak’s huge Bonnaroo set this year:
Saturday’s headliner is singer/songwriter/producer Mike Posner, who has built a large following with his memorable brand of eclectic Electro Pop. Posner has also found success working with a wide range of artists — everyone from Big Sean and 2 Chainz to Justin Bieber and Big Time Rush — as a producer, songwriter and/or guest artist. Posner’s much anticipated new album, Pages, is due next year.
Here’s the clip for Posner’s 2013 single, “The Way It Used to Be”:
DJs, EDM and Hip Hop artists from across the region joining A-Trak for Friday’s festivities include DJ Davey C, DJ Prism, The Animal Crackers, Erik Barnum, The Natives, Sh3llz, Eazy El Loco, DJ Vizion, Panzer, Disco Joe, DJ Worldpeace, DJ Fursur and Briz-Rain.
Cincinnati’s Puck also appears at Ubahn on Friday. The MC released a music video for his track “Outside” last month:
Another local MC performing Friday is Trademark Aaron, who kicked off the summer with a great new EP, For the People. More recently, Aaron posted the short film made to accompany a new track called “Shake,” featuring Sleep of 2 Man Cypher (Sleep performs Saturday at Ubahn):
Saturday’s lineup is rounded out by local and regional acts like Cal Scruby, K.M.F., CJ Townsend, Those Guys, Big Cam, DJ Donkis, DJ Magnificent, DJ Drowsy, Sleep, Nuk, Nick Youngerman and PRJR.
Cincy “new wave Hip Hop” act Valley High will also appear at Ubahn on Saturday. Here is their recent video release for the track “8 Ball”:
And here’s a recent track from local progressive Electronicists Black Signal called “Sai Pei.” The trio is also playing Ubahn on Saturday:
Another local Saturday performer is Hip Hop artist Buggs Tha Rocka who recently announced that modern Hip Hop legend Talib Kweli will executive produce his next album. Before that, Buggs will release a new mixtape next month. The MC recently posted the freestyle track “Gold Bars in Tha Safe,” which you can listen to and download below:
Buoyant Electro Pop group Stepdad pulls into MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. The free show kicks off around 10 p.m. with locals Halvsies.
Stepdad was formed in Chicago in 2009 by frontman Mark “Ultramark” Tafel and his roommate, Ryan McCarthy. The duo — which has grown Stepdad into a five-piece band over time — soon relocated to Grand Rapids, Mich., and self-released its debut recording, the Ordinaire EP, online. The EP drew wider attention to Stepdad, which signed to Michigan indie label Quite Scientific and re-released the EP in 2011.
After completing its debut album, Wildlife Pop, with a little help from Kickstarter, the band signed with Black Bell Records, the relatively new imprint founded by Passion Pit’s Ayad Al Adhamy and distributed by Warner Brothers Records. Wildlife Pop, released last summer, is an incredibly endearing listen, layering vintage-sounding synth bleeps and squiggles with broader, lush Electro atmospherics and a rhythmic base that is muscular and dance floor ready. At the core is Ultramark’s steady stream of exuberant melodies, which adds greatly to Stepdad’s jubilant sound (though, spoiler alert, the lyrics can be much deeper and darker than the upbeat vibe suggest). Wildlife Pop falls somewhere between the M83’s shadowy, cerebral Electronic explorations and Capital Cities’ (see below) warm and cheerily infectious Dance Pop.
Here is the music video for Wildlife Pop single, “Will I Ever Dance Again”:
• Virtuoso Blues/Rock/Roots guitarist, songwriter and singer Sonny Landreth returns to Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater. Rootsy local rockers Monkeytonk open.
After cutting his teeth in the ’70s playing with Zydeco/Cajun/Roots accordionist Clifton Chenier, Landreth (who grew up in Louisiana) launched his solo career in the ’80s, building his reputation as a masterful player and innovative slide guitarist. Landreth’s unique technique involves playing chords behind the slide leads, which he taps, slaps and picks with his right hand. Since the mid-’90s, Landreth has released a dozen albums that have been stylistic adventurous, a testament to his impressive versatility. The guitarist’s playing shows that Blues, Jazz, Rock, Cajun and many other types of music have greatly informed his boundless approach to writing and performing. (Landreth is also a popular session musician, having recorded with artists like Jimmy Buffett, Mark Knopfler, John Hiatt and numerous others.)
Last year, Landreth released another wildly diverse album, Elemental Journey, his first all-instrumental effort which features guests like fellow guitar wizards Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, as well as additives like symphonic strings and steel drums.
Here is a live clip of Landreth performing at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010:
• Over at Covington’s Madison Theater tonight, bring your dancing shoes because Fitz and the Tantrums and Capital Cities are going to have the venue jumping with their ear-grabbing/dance-inducing sounds. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and the event is open to all ages. Tickets are $25 at the door. L.A.’s Electro Dance rockers Beat Club open.
L.A. band Fitz and the Tantrums’ propulsive, modern update of vintage Soul/R&B caught the music world’s attention in 2010 with the release of their debut LP, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, both a critical and commercial success thanks in part to the powerful single, “MoneyGrabber,” a song that was perfectly timed to the national outrage over big banks and other mischievous financial institutions that led to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Tantrums’ second album (and major-label debut), More Than Just a Dream, was released by Elektra Records this past May. Here’s a clip for that album’s “Out of My League”:
Electro Pop duo Capital Cities garnered a lot of mainstream attention this year with its debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, released in June through Capitol Records. The album features the insistently catchy and winsome singles “Kangaroo Court” and “Safe and Warm,” both from the twosome’s self-titled 2011 EP debut. Like MGMT’s “Kids” or Walk the Moon’s “Anna Sun,” songs that were originally issued on earlier, pre-fame recordings but were released to widespread success on their respective major label debuts, “Safe and Sound” was released originally in 2011 and, two years later, continues to earn Capital Cities more fans. The duo’s super-catchy Synth Pop is hard to resist and the more people are exposed to Capital Cities, the bigger they seem to get.
• R&B singer Jaheim was already wowing audiences at a young age, winning the infamous talent show at the Apollo Theater three times when he was just 15. It was the start of a long, fruitful career that kicked off in earnest when the singer was in his early 20s and was signed to the Warner Brothers-distributed label Divine Mill. Since his debut album in 2001, Jaheim has been a regular visitor to the upper airspace of the R&B charts. His new album, Appreciation Day, was released earlier this year and earned praise for being one of the best displays of Jaheim’s seamless blending of the classic seductive R&B artists like Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross popularized with today’s Neo Soul and Hip Hop-informed approach. Here’s the album’s single “Age Ain’t a Factor”:
Jaheim brings his “Appreciation Tour” with singer Chrisette Michele to downtown’s Aronoff Center tonight, in the venue's Procter & Gamble Hall. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Outside of singing at his church occasionally, brilliant Americana singer/songwriter David Wolfenberger
hasn’t performed in the area for quite some time. After working with the group The Marshwiggles in the late ’90s, Wolfenberger put out three stellar solo albums between1999-2006, earning him high praise both domestically and abroad. But besides occasional performances and scant new material (what he has released has been for charity), the 1999
Cincinnati Entertainment Awards winner for Artist of the Year has kept a low profile for the past several years.
Tonight, Wolfenberger is coming "out of exile"
to join an old friend in concert.
Wolfenberger is re-teaming with Mark
Olson, half of the brain trust behind the best work of The Jayhawks, at
Newport’s Southgate House Revival. Wolfenberger
toured extensively with Olson in the early ’00s as a member of The Original Harmony Ridge
Creekdippers, the group Olson formed with then-wife Victoria Williams
after he left The Jayhawks.
Wolfenberger opens tonight's show with a solo, acoustic set at 8 p.m. and he will also join Olson during his set (along with Olson's current touring partner — and wife — Ingunn Ringvold). Tickets are $12 at the door.
Wolfenberger has been posting some of his older material on his Reverbnation page and, in an email, he said he will be posting new songs "on occasion in the future." Here's one of his earlier cuts, "Tentatively Vince Foster," from his 1999 solo debut, Tales from Thom Scarecrow, released on the local Blue Jordan Records.
• With a Country music base, Rock edge, R&B-inspired three-part harmonies and catchy but emotionally weighty songs, Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow emerged in 2013 as one of the next potential Americana breakthrough artists. The trio’s well received, self-titled debut — featuring songs written by frontman Zach Williams to help him deal with a tragic horse-riding accident that left his new wife temporarily paralyzed — was released last January on Sony imprint, Descendant Records, to high praise from many high-profile press outlets. (Read more about the group from CityBeat’s preview here.)
The Lone Bellow performs tonight at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 at the door. Here’s a one-shot video of the trio performing its song “Tree to Grow” in the hills surrounding Los Angeles for the online “SerialBox Singles” series:
• In the two years since Cincinnati Indie Rock band The Sweep released its third album, III, the group has been busy regrouping with a new lineup and writing and recording material for a new album. Sweep singer/songwriter/guitarist Nic Powers and longtime bassist Glen May are now joined in the band by guitarist Brendan Bogosian, who currently also plays guitar with veteran local crew The Tigerlilies, and drummer Joe Klug, who also keeps time for widely-acclaimed Cincy band Wussy.
The Sweep continues its free, every-Tuesday-of-November residency tonight at The Comet in Northside at 9 p.m. The band is being joined by various special guests during the residency — last week’s opener featured the reignited Pillbug (from the forces behind The Fairmount Girls), while this week Halvsies joins The Sweep. For the Nov. 19 show, Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver will also perform and the Nov. 26 residency finale will feature a set from Fists of Love.
Click here to sample/purchase The Sweep’s great III album.