MPMF news and musings: Wanna be a volunteer for this year's MidPoint Music Festival? The great local volunteerism org Give Back Cincinnati is handling this year's vital MPMF helpers. Click here for details and perks.
And now, with the countdown down to just 10 days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks …
F.Stokes (New York City, NY)
With a poetic/spoken word approach to his smart lyrics and a musical approach informed by his eclectic tastes (he draws influence from everyone from Patti Smith and Johnny Cash to Miles Davis and Kanye West), F.Stokes is far from your stereotypical Rap artist. Though modern and relevant, Stokes’ unique approach is a throwback to the Native Tongues movement in Hip Hop during the late ’80s/early ’90s, in that he seems to be forging a creative path by following his own eclectic muses and not by following the blueprint for whatever it is that makes a Hip Hop song a hit nowadays. His lyrics can be raw and real, but he never indulges in the stereotypical Rap crutches (glorifying bling, guns, etc.). Like Kanye West minus the ego and with less epic ambition, F.Stokes creates his own alternative universe for Hip Hop, one that praises creativity and innovation over all else. Stokes’ new EP, Love, Always, was recorded in various spots across Europe, where music fans have embraced his originality and soulful style.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Kanye at his most artistic, Blackalicious, The Pharcyde. (Mike Breen)
F.Stokes performs at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club on Friday, Sept. 28, at 12:15 a.m. Here's a clip for Stokes' tribute to small towns, "My Simple."
Ami Saraiya and the Outcome (Chicago, IL)
Classically trained and wonderfully quirked, Ami Saraiya reprises her 2009 solo debut, Archeologist, with Soundproof Box, her first album offering equal billing to her backing band, the Outcome. Pinning down Saraiya’s sound is like describing Jackson Pollack’s work to an infant, but if you can conceptualize Zooey Deschenel fronting the Squirrel Nut Zippers as the carnival soundtrack to a Kate Bush PowerPoint presentation, you’d be in the weirdly appropriate ballpark.
Dig: A cabaret gypsy Jazz Pop revue in tribute to Edith Piaf featuring Regina Spektor on stage and Ani Di Franco in the orchestra pit. (Brian Baker)
Ami and Co. perform Friday, Sept. 28, at the "Biore Strip"/Know Theatre's second stage starting at 10 p.m. Here's the group's video for the track, "I'm Pregnant."
LOCAL LOCK PICK
Culture Queer (Cincinnati, OH)
Known for their quirky, eccentric, electronics-infused and endlessly catchy take on Indie Pop and engaging live shows that incorporate various video art backdrops (three of the members work in film), quartet Culture Queer has released some of the best albums of the past decade or so of Cincy music. This October, the band returns with Nightmare Band, a rich, kaleidoscopic stunner-of-an-album that’ll be backed by a national promo push that should do wonders for exposing one of Cincy’s best kept musical secrets to the rest of the universe.
Dig: The Rentals, Devo, Eels, Fruit Pop with all the flavors of the rainbow. (MB)
Culture Queer performs Friday, Sept. 28, at the Cincinnati Club at 8:15 p.m. Here's a fresh new video from the band's upcoming album, the title track "Nightmare Band." The album hits the streets (cyber and otherwise) on Oct. 16 with a release party around the same time (stay tuned).
Click here for full MPMF details via the official MidPoint site.
MPMF news and musings: The official MidPoint Music Festival guide (on the streets of Greater Cincinnati until Wednesday, then resurfacing when it's MPMF-time) included a few feature stories this year about some of the festival's bonus features and additions. Read Leyla Shokoohe's interview with MPMF main-man, CityBeat's own Dan McCabe, about the fest's dedication to Over-the-Rhine and new MPMF venues Washington Park and the Emery Theatre here.
And now, with the countdown down to just 12 days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks …
Grizzly Bear (Brooklyn, NY)
Indie Art Pop
When this year’s initial MPMF performers were announced, eclectic Brooklyn crew Grizzly Bear was by far the name that seemed to most excite fest-goers. The group’s eccentric mix of artsy arrangements, organic psychedelia and boundless experimentalism has been earning the fans an ever-increasing and loyal fanbase since their lysergic debut release in 2004. Though continually adventurous, the band’s sound has grown and matured with the size of its following — 2009’s Veckatimest debuted at No. 8 on Billboard’s album chart and seemingly made every single music critic in the world’s “Top 10 Best” list that year. Expect an even bigger response from critics and fans when Grizzly Bear finally unleashes the much-anticipated new release, Shields, released just prior to the band’s MPMF stop. There’s a very good chance one of MPMF.12’s biggest acts will be sporting a Top 10 album by the time they get to Washington Park (an MPMF first).
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Brian Wilson at his “off-the-meds” creative peak, listening to an “AM Gold” Soft Rock compilation and a Kraut Rock comp after drinking gallons of psychedelic mushroom tea.
Grizzly Bear headlines the Washington Park stage on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8:30 p.m. The band performed the lead-off track from its new Shields album, "Sleeping Ute," on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night. Take a look/listen:
Rich Aucoin (Halifax, CAN)
On his enthralling 2011 full-length, We’re All Dying to Live, Canadian musician Rich Aucoin decided he’d invite Canada to record with him. As a result, the album features over 500 musicians, whose teaming on Aucoin’s dynamic, funky and craftily constructed tracks makes Dying to Live sound like the Electro Disco party of the century. But it’s not just a mindless exercise in dancefloor stereotypes — there’s depth and nuance to Aucoin’s songwriting and layering that might not be noticeable initially. Unlike a lot of Dance acts, Aucoin’s music isn’t disposable fun — it’s essential and commands repeated listens.
Dig: ’80s Synth Pop, ’70s Disco, of Montreal, 4AD artists, Chic and Duran Duran in art school together.
Rich Aucoin performs at Below Zero Lounge on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 11 p.m. Here is the hour-long film created to sync up with We're All Dying to Live (plus, of course, the full album for a free preview listen).
MPMF news and musings: Kick-ass longtime MPMF sponsor Dewey's Pizza is giving away a trio of special "Next Level Experience" passes for you and two of your closest friends (or, I suppose, you could give them to people you hate, though that would just be kinda weird).
If you win, you'll receive a three-day wristband and one night at the Dewey's Pizza/Grammer's stage in the best seat in the house (which appears to be a couch positioned very close to the stage). For more on Dewey's Next Level Experience contest, click here.
And now, with the countdown down to just 13 days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks, today featuring all Ohio artists …
Cloud Nothings (Cleveland, OH)
From his parents’ basement, Dylan Baldi created and released several acclaimed lo-fi recordings as Cloud Nothings before his 2009 EP, Turning On, pinged the critics’ radar and scored positive reviews on all the right blogs. Almost immediately, Baldi had to assemble a band to play the gigs that were offered to him, resulting in lots of touring and his slightly shinier 2011 self-titled full-length. This year has seen the release of the even more expansive Attack on Memory and a string of upcoming opening dates for Silversun Pickups. Not a bad three years for a Hardcore obsessed kid from Cleveland.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The idea of Tommy Keene and Kevin Seconds stirring up some Pop and some Punk for a Husker Du tribute. (Brian Baker)
Cloud Nothings perform at Midnight on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Cincinnati Club. Here's the official music video for Cloud Nothings' "No Future/No Past."
Blowfly hatched from Soul songwriter/producer Clarence
Reid’s depraved imagination as his alter ego who loves to make parodies
about, well, getting off.
As Blowfly, he rapped nasty ditties decades before Too Short and 2 Live Crew. In the ’70s and ’80s, Reid released a slew of Adults Only party records as Blowfly on his own Weird World record label, all the while writing and producing for R&B artists like Betty Wright, Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, KC & the Sunshine Band — and himself.
At the time, fans of Reid (and even his family) didn’t know about his career as Blowfly. His appeal remained underground. Like Rudy Ray Moore, who also built his following imitating the street culture of signifying, Blowfly’s poetic toasts were tall tales about size and strength. On “Rapp Dirty,” he spits an outrageous storyline of him as a sexual superhero whipping the Ku Klux Klan with his tool. A 45 spelled “Rap Dirty” from 1965, with him rhyming to a beat like Southern radio disc jockeys, is considered by many collectors to be the first Rap record.
Even bawdier at 73, Blowfly still makes music, and in 2011, he was featured in a documentary about his career, The Weird World of Blowfly. (The film is available on Netflix; check out the trailer below). In it, the caped crusader’s very elderly mother remembers that he said his first cussword when he was 9 months old and told her his okra tasted “ass-ty.”
Blowfly is currently touring the Midwest and Canada on his “Porno Freak” tour.
If you still have the energy after ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the fireworks on the river Sunday night — or if you're avoiding them altogether because you hate crowds (I'll be live tweeting the TV broadcast of the fireworks for all you homebodies) — two great Ohio bands are performing for free at Over-the-Rhine club MOTR Pub immediately following the big booms.
The fireworks after-party kicks off with Columbus Indie Rock crew Indigo Wild, a crafty, eclectic band that has built a nice following in Cincy thanks to frequent performances in the area (band members live in both Cincinnati and Ohio's capital). Here's a fun music video for Indigo Wild's song "Rowboats," featured on the band's debut release, the If By Sea EP (which came out last year around this time; click here to listen or purchase).
Headlining the show are The Ridges, an Athens, Ohio-based Orchestral Indie Folk troupe that has also amassed a solid following in Cincinnati. The MidPoint Music Festival vets — who perform in different configurations, depending on which members are available (including string and horn players) — return to play MPMF.12 in a few weeks. The Ridges are currently prepping a full-length album (recorded here in Cincinnati), so fans may even get a few new songs at the MOTR show.
The group performed at this summer's MidPoint Indie Summer concert series on Fountain Square, where they did an interview with CityBeat's John Byrne for a cool video feature. Learn more about the band and hear a few snippets of music in the piece below. (You can view more videos from Byrne's Indie Summer video series here.)
• Downtown at Arnold's tonight (Friday), catch influential cult hero Paleface, a man who has been on the cutting edge of contemporary music's continual fascination with traditional Folk music and an influence on some of the more adventurous musicians who seek to translate that vintage spirit into their own voice. Over the past 20-plus years, the singer/songwriter has been an Anti Folk torchbearer and an Indie Folk mentor, first learning songwriting and lo-fi recordings from underground legend Daniel Johnston in the late ’80s. From there he went on to teach a few tricks to roommate Beck (pre-fame), help the so-called "Freak Folk" scene grow freakier and folkier and collaborate frequently with pals The Avett Brothers. Whether directly or indirectly, if you dig today's "Indie Folk" — or any brand of slanted or subversive Americana — you've likely heard the results of Paleface's unique influence. Click here to read more.
Paleface's show tonight at Arnold's is free and — icing on the cake — great local Folk Pop group Shiny and the Spoon opens the show at 9 p.m. The gig will also be the first one for which Arnold's has commissioned a special concert poster. Crafted by talented local artist Keith Neltner (who has done commissioned poster art for Alice in Chains, Modest Mouse, Hank Williams III, The Avett Brothers, Cake, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and many others), the prints (pictured above) are available for $25 while they last (only 50 were pressed).
Here's Paleface's video for his ode to NYC, fittingly titled "New York, New York."
UPDATE: Arnold's just announced this afternoon that Paleface has cancelled due to illness. A rescheduled date is in the works. Shiny and the Spoon is still performing.
• After the best summer series yet, the final MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square goes down tonight at 7 p.m. And the every-Friday series is going out with a bang, featuring a flawless triple bill of local acts. Things get started with superb modern Soul translators The Guitars, who will be followed by the duo R. Ring, featuring Dayton, Ky.'s Mike Montgomery (longtime local engineer ad musician, currently with Ampline) and Dayton, Ohio's Kelley Deal (The Breeders). R. Ring spoke with CityBeat's Brian Baker about the project in this week's paper. Read it online here.
Headlining tonight's Fountain Square concert is Wussy, the now-veteran four-piece that is gearing up for some huge happenings on the horizon, including tour dates with The Afghan Whigs and Heartless Bastards and a trip to the U.K. by co-frontpeople/singer/guitarists Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver (playing as a duo) for several shows in support of the band's first U.K. release, Buckeye, a retrospective that came out to glowing reviews this summer. Read more about Wussy's many goings on here.
Here's the skate video by Kristian Svitak that R. Ring helped re-soundtrack. After DEVO's record label removed the video because it used the group's song "Mr. DNA," Svitak got together to record a new version with Deal and Montgomery. The song in the re-edited video was so popular, R. Ring released it as a limited edition single and local label Phratry Records released it digitally. (Click here to get your own copy.)
• Popular local Gypsy Jazz favorites and Django Reinhardt devotees The Faux Frenchmen celebrate the group's 10th anniversary tonight with a show at downtown's Blue Wisp Jazz Club. A decade ago this fall, the band (which features esteemed local musicians George Cunningham, Brian Lovely, Paul Patterson and Don Aren) made its debut, starting an every-Monday residency at former Clifton restaurant Tink's. Over the years, the band has only gotten more popular, drawing attention from outside of Cincinnati and performing numerous road dates (this fall they return for their sixth appearance at the annual Jazz at Chautauqua Festival in New York).
The band's anniversary show begins at 8:30 p.m. and admission is $10. Here's a clip from the Frenchmen performing on another anniversary — Reinhardt's birthday (taken from one of their annual appearances on WNKU in honor of Django).
• The performers for the weekly "Friday Flow" concerts at Washington Park are always a bit of a surprise because the lineups have been announced within only a week or two of the performances. It's also a surprise because the featured act is usually something pleasantly unexpected. Dayton Funk greats Lakeside ("Fantastic Voyage") popped up one week and Neo Soul star Dwele launched the series this summer.
Tonight's free Friday Flow concert is another cool, unanticipated treat. Just announced earlier this week, the show will feature R&B singer Chrisette Michele, a Hip Hop hook-singer extraordinaire (with Jay-Z, Nas, The Game and others) who has also had a successful career on her own, releasing a handful of acclaimed, charting albums for Def Jam.
The other headliner is Rob Base, a Hip Hop artist most know from his 1988 hit with DJ E-Z Rock, "It Takes Two."
Because of the volleyball tournament in Washington Park tonight, gates for the concert won't open until 7:30 p.m. Another change from the usual Friday Flow flow (also due to volleyball) — no food, drinks or coolers will be permitted (this weekend only). Extra food vendors will be on hand to feed the masses.
Click here for even more live music events going on tonight in Greater Cincy.
• At this weekend's Whispering Beard Folk Festival in Southeast Indiana, masterful Cold Spring, Ky., Americana group The Kentucky Struts debuted their great new music video for the ominous, creeping and soulful tune, "Country Road," from their The Year of the Horse album. The band made the video with Keith Neltner and Brian Steege, who worked on the documentary Charlie Louvin: Still Rattlin' the Devil's Cage. (Read more about the Struts recent album from CityBeat here.)
The summer music festival season is winding down, but area fans of Americana/Folk/Roots music of varying stripes have a big one to look forward to this weekend, as the fifth annual Whispering Beard Folk Festival returns to the Old Mill Campground in nearby Friendship, Ind., starting in just a few hours.
Founded in 2008, Whispering Beard has showcased both the old and new guard of Americana, mixing legends, contemporary favorites and lots of Greater Cincinnati area artists. This year is no exception; in fact, it may be the best lineup yet. Check the full rundown of performers below, as well as video clips from each day's headliners.
11:30 a.m. Easy Tom Eby
12:20 p.m. Red Cedards
1:10 p.m. Ben Knight
2 p.m. Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound
2:50 p.m. Rattlesnakin' Daddies
3:45 Kentucky Struts
4:40 p.m. Sassy Molasses
5:35 p.m. Al Scorch
6:30 p.m. Frontier Folk Nebraska
7:30 p.m. Charlie Parr
8:30 p.m. Pokey LaFarge and the South City 3
9:30 p.m. Whiskey Bent Valley Boys
10:30 p.m. Langhorne Slim
11:30 a.m. Jive Creek Ramblers
12:20 p.m. Billy Catfish
1:10 p.m. Terminal Union
2 p.m. My Brother the Bear
2:50 p.m. Shiny & the Spoon
3:45 p.m. Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s
4:40 p.m. Josh Eagle and the Harvest City
5:35 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers
6:30 p.m. Bloodroots Barter
7:25 p.m. Chicago Farmer
8:20 p.m. Caitlin Rose
9:20 p.m. The Tillers
10:20 p.m. Justin Townes Earle
11 a.m. Rabbit Hash String Band
11:50 a.m. The Blue Rock Boys
12:40 p.m. Mt. Pleasant String Band
1:30 p.m. Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers
2:25 p.m. Uncle Mike Carr
3:20 p.m. Magnolia Mountain
4:20 p.m. Ramblin' Jack Elliott (check out CityBeat's interview with the Folk legend here)
Weekend passes are $70 (it’s $40 for just Friday and Saturday and $20 for just Sunday). All-weekend on-site camping costs $40 or you can camp off-site for free (while spaces last).
Old Mill Campground is about an hour west of downtown Cincinnati. Here's a map from Fountain Square to Friendship.
View Larger Map
For complete info on this year’s Whispering Beard Folk Festival, visit www.whisperingbeard.com.
There isn't a huge stylistic gap between Steve Earle and John Hiatt, so it makes sense that they would make a good tour package (one that hits the Taft Theatre tonight for an 8 p.m. show). They're both moderately successful Americana artists with slavishly loyal fan bases and solid bodies of work over long careers (Hiatt having the earlier ’70s start).
To the curious mind, the billing begs the point: What else do Earle and Hiatt have in common?
• They both began their careers as staff songwriters and launched performing careers after one of their songs became a hit for someone else (Johnny Lee for Earle, Three Dog Night for Hiatt).
• They've both been covered extensively by other artists, Earle by Travis Tritt, Robert Earl Keen and others, and Hiatt by Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and many more.
• They both signed with Epic Records for their first deal; Earle never recorded for them, while Hiatt did two Epic albums which sold poorly and expedited his release.
• Their second contracts were both with MCA; Earle had a pretty decent run with the label, including his 1988 hit Copperhead Road, while Hiatt's was a repeat of his Epic experience.
• They've both been nominated for Grammys, but Earle has a commanding lead with 14 nods and three wins, while Hiatt has been nominated twice with no mantle bling to show for it yet.
• They've both been married multiple times, but again Earle has the lead with seven marriages; Hiatt has only had three.
• Both have successfully dealt with substance issues.
• Both are balding; Hiatt has the lead here with more hair, but Earle compensates with a ZZ Toppish beard.
• Both will kick your ass in the live setting, so bring an extra ass.
Here's a clip for Hiatt's "Damn This Down," off his latest LP, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns.
And here is part of a documentary filmed during Earle's sessions for I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (also the name of his novel and, yes, both are based on the Hank Williams tune, which he covers on the album as a bonus track. The novel is centered around Williams mysterious "doctor" who traveled with the singer until his death, then disappeared).