On this date in 1949, American musical icon Hank Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 25. It was the beginning of a very difficult relationship.
Even though things soured, Williams' Opry debut was a career-defining moment. The singer/songwriter wowed the crowd so much, he was called back for six encores (the encores ultimately had to be halted so the rest of the show could go on).
Williams' reputation for heavy drinking put off the Opry initially, but as his star continued to rise — boosted by the success of "Lovesick Blues" (recorded at the Herzog studio here in CIncinnati) — the Country music institution finally relented and invited him to perform.
Williams continued to make Opry appearances over the next three years, but he was banished in 1952 for his alcohol-related issues. Hank died just a few months later, in January of 1953 at the age of 29.
Over the past eight or so years, Hank Williams' grandson, Hank III, and other supporters have participated in a campaign to have Williams posthumously reinstated to the Grand Ole Opry. CityBeat also lent a hand, promoting the "Reinstate Hank" campaign during a tribute presented by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation in honor of Hank's historic recording sessions in Cincinnati (Herzog studios was located where CityBeat and the CMHF headquarters now reside). Check a clip below.
The reinstatement campaign has yet to work and seems to have lost some steam. But click here to learn more about the attempts to right such a ridiculous wrong.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a June 11 birthday include the least hirsute (ironically!) member of ZZ Top, drummer Frank Beard (1949); Soft Rock god with Air Supply, Graham Russell (1950); guitarist/singer of Southern Rock group .38 Special, Donnie Van Zandt (1952); Flaming Lips drummer-turned-guitarist Steven Drozd (1969); and Heartless Bastards singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom (1977).
Though she and her band are currently based in Austin, Tex., Wennerstrom grew up in Dayton before relocating to Cincinnati. As Wennerstrom has grown, matured, changed and become more confident, so has her band's music. After releasing her first two albums, Wennerstrom headed to Texas and retooled the band, adding two different musicians also from our area — Jesse Ebaugh and Dave Colvin — who joined Wennerstrom in Austin. Since then, the Bastards' albums The Mountain (a more earthy, less balls-out effort) and this year's Arrow (a great combination of everything the band does well) have continued the trend of each successive HB album drawing the group higher praise and more fans.
A happy 35th b-day to Erika. We miss you here in Cincy. Below, check out an interview and acoustic session recorded for American Songwriter.
This whole week has been overflowing with big-time concerts, from Radiohead to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Drake. If you went to any (and especially if you went to ALL), your pocketbook is probably a little lighter this weekend. So, in honor of all of you heroes who paid $15 just to park or spent $100 on three beers, tonight's live music recommendations are all FREE. And high-quality, to boot.
• Kick off your weekender on Fountain Square tonight for perhaps the most eclectic MidPoint Indie Summer series concerts of the year. Kicking off at 7 p.m., the free show is like a musical world tour that takes you from the early Reggae sounds of Jamaica (with local openers The Pinstripes) to the unique and exotic native-Blues of Timbuktu (Malian music legend Khaira Arby, pictured, and her band) to the grinding, deep Funk of Nashville's vintage Soul revivalists The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker on the mic. Dancing shoes are a must!
Walker and the Dynamites recently teamed with fellow soldier in the retro-funky revolution, Bettye Lavette, for the single "Yours & Mine." Check the phenomenal duet below.
• Local powerhouse power trio The Sundresses perform a freebie tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The 10 p.m. show also features Lexington rockers Oh My Me, making tonight's show a half-reunion of the "Midwest by Southwest" tour from this past spring (which also featured Wussy — who are currently headed to the west coast for dates — and Whiskey Daredevils from Cleveland).
Oh My Me has an intriguing and often captivating sound, mixing a groovy back-drop of fluid, hypnotic psychedelia with singer Erin Reynolds' stunningly soulful vocals weaving between the grooves — sort of a modern day Big Brother and the Holding Company. Lots of singers get the Janis Joplin comparison; Reynolds' voice and presence are so thoroughly alluring and absolutely natural, she's one of the few who actually deserves it.
Check the clip below for a taste.
More than just the openers, there's another reason to show up early. The first 20 people through the door tonight receive a free copy of the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards' 2008 Album of the Year, Barkinghaus, by headliners The Sundresses.
Click here for the full run down of tonight's live musical entertainment offerings.
On this date in 1984, the comedy motion picture Ghostbusters opened. It would go on to be ranked on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest film comedies ever at No. 28 (though they did rank Tootsie No. 2, so … grain of salt).
Besides doing boffo numbers at the box office ($238.6 million, which is like double that in today's dollars), the movie also gave us that unforgettable (for better or worse) theme song by Ray Parker Jr. (the rest of the soundtrack included such icons as Thompson Twins and Air Supply).
Like the film, the single was a hit upon its release and caught the attention of Huey Lewis — and every other person on the planet who had heard his 1983 hit with The News, "I Want a New Drug." The song features the same rhythm, similar vocal inflections and melody and, most glaringly, a practically identical bass line, so Lewis' answer to Parker Jr.'s "Who you gonna call?" was "My lawyer!"
To make matters worse, Lewis (as well as Lindsey Buckingham) had reportedly been approached to write the theme song to Ghostbusters, but was too busy with Back to the Future soundtracking. It took a while, but in 1995, an "amicable" settlement was reached.
One of the stipulations of the settlement was that neither party could discuss it (or the case) with anyone (especially the public). But in 2001, Lewis talked about the controversy and lawsuit in his Behind the Music special on VH1. Lewis said, "The offensive part was not so much that Ray Parker Jr. had ripped this song off, it was kind of symbolic of an industry that … wanted our wave, and they wanted to buy it. (It's) not for sale. ... In the end, I suppose they were right. I suppose it was for sale, because, basically, they bought it."
So Parker sued Lewis in 2001 for talking about the case. He claimed that the agreement they had reached was "directly related to (Ray's) comfort, happiness and welfare" and that Huey's statement caused him emotional distress. I can't find info on whatever happened in that case, but it seems logical to assume another settlement was reached. And this time, so far, everyone's kept their mouth shut.
What do you think? I think they both could have been sued by British Synth Pop project M, whose biggest hit, "Pop Muzik," also sounds similar … and came out in 1979! Maybe this legal kerfuffle can stretch into a fourth decade. Check all three out below and you be the judge.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a June 8 birthday include daughter of Frank and artist in her own right, Nancy Sinatra (1940); one of the founding members of Parliament/Funkadelic, Fuzzy Haskins (1941); one of the vocalists for rockers Three Dog Night, Chuck Negron (1942); Ohio native and ’70s hitmaker Boz Scaggs (1944); the singer who made the blissfully craptastic video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart" possible, Bonnie Tyler (1951); Bluegrass (and beyond) guitar great Tony Rice (1951); influential guitarist (with Black Flag) and label operator (with SST Records) Greg Ginn (1954); Rod Stewart fill-in and Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall (1960); keyboardist for New Romantic superstars Duran Duran, Nick Rhodes (1962); guitarist and founder of The Derek Truck Band (duh), member of The Allman Brothers Band and co-founder of the Tedeschi Trucks Band (with wife Susan Tedeschi), Derek Trucks (1979); fiddler known for her solo work and her time with the group Nickel Creek, Sara Watkins (1981); and Hip Hop musical genius (yes, just because he knows it, too, doesn't mean he isn't one) Kanye West (1977).
As a happy 35th birthday present, we offer something we know West will appreciate — free publicity (and calling him a genius — that counts as part of the gift, too!). In return, I expect a pair of Air Yeezy II sneakers for MY birthday.
Here's "Mercy," West's latest video (another thing he is especially good at making) for his track with 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Pusha-T. (It says "explicit," but just for a couple of salty words here and there; mildly NSFW. I guess. I mean, I don't know where you work.)
Remember a few years ago when you couldn’t walk into a Starbucks without hearing the words, “Three words that became hard to say/I and love and you?” At the time, you probably rolled your eyes at yet another attempt to reel in hipsters from their local coffee shops.
However, the man whimpering those words was Scott Avett and his band, The Avett Brothers, ended up becoming … kind of a big deal. The group performs a show at the mid-size shed in Kettering, Fraze Pavilion, tonight at 8 p.m. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35-$45.
While “I and Love and You,” as a song, was mostly mellow and Folk-ish, it’s far from a decent indicator of the sort of noise the Brothers are capable of creating.
Perhaps best described as “Punk-Grass,” the band’s six albums are littered with songs almost worthy of an Andrew W.K. record. Rowdy numbers like “Slight Figure of Speech” and “Talk of Indolence” often cause quite a ruckus. On stage, their wilder songs work Scott and Seth Avett into contagious fits of bouncing, stomping and slapping excitement.
The plaid shirts, wife-beaters and bandanas may call to mind the likes of Nirvana, but the boys do romance, too. “I and Love and You” isn’t the only love song in their repertoire. Songs like “January Wedding” and “Laundry Room” make their female fans swoon.
The boys are married, so keep your panties in your purse, but enjoy the show.
It’s been 19 years since British Art Rock giants Radiohead did their first tour of the U.S. Tonight, Radiohead finally finds time to perform in Cincinnati, bringing its tour behind last year’s Grammy-nominated album The King of Limbs to Riverbend Music Center. If there’s any band worth waiting that long for, it’s Radiohead. The world’s biggest avant garde group is also one of the best live acts on the planet, playing with a fervent intensity backed by a dazzling light/stage show.
The group’s two-hour-plus sets of late have been heavy on Radiohead’s “post Pop” albums, though they often treat fans to “oldies” like “Karma Police” and “Paranoid Android.” If you are even the remotest fan, you need to see Radiohead once in your lifetime. You don’t want to wait another 19 years, do you?
Only lawn seats remain ($30) at the box office for tonight's show.
Electronic/Indie act Caribou — a MidPoint Music Festival alum — opens up the show at 7:30 p.m. Read more about Caribou here and check out a clip for the tune "Irene" below.
• Rising Hip Hop MC Yelawolf performs tonight at the Madison Theater in Covington. Tickets for the all-ages show are $20. Showtime is 8 p.m. Special guest Rittz opens.
When Michael Wayne Atha was born in 1979 in the
relatively small Alabama town of Gadsden, it’s doubtful that his mother
looked at her new son and said, “Future Rap superstar.” But that’s just
where Atha — now known by his stage name Yelawolf — is heading.
Yela moved between Tennessee and Alabama as a child and later traveled the country in pursuit of skateboarding stardom; he also hit Alaska in pursuit of a fishing-boat job. The MC grew up on Southern Rock before discovering Hip Hop. The geographic wandering and his love of a variety of music likely explain the diversity within his own. On his official 2011 debut album, Radioactive, Yelawolf’s own geographical origins are hard to pinpoint as he filters influence from southern Hip Hop to the Detroit scene and spits it out in his own unique voice. Even the guests on Radioactive were from all over, from Lil Jon and Mystikal to Eminem (whose Shady label released the record) and Kid Rock. During his recent performance at the huge Hangout Music Fest (see an interview from Spin with Yela at the fest below) along the ’Bama coast in mid-May, he showed off the full range of his influences, paying tribute to The Doors, Johnny Cash, Easy-E, Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Beastie Boys.
Yelawolf is set to begin recording his sophomore record for Shady — tentatively titled Love Story — after his current tour wraps up.
Ohio-born national music mag Alternative Press has been showing Cincinnati music some love the past two days. Yesterday, altpress.com premiered "Business Papers," a video by local Punk/Pop greats The Dopamines. The trio just released its new album, Vices, last weekend, but "Papers" was the Dopas' contribution to the The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore compilation. Another powerfully melodic gem from one of Cincy Punk's all-time finest.
This morning, the AP site premiered the new clip from "Stay Awhile," taken from the I Can Tell EP released by great local Indie Pop ensemble Belle Histoire. BH's nationally-released debut full-length, Dreamers, is due July 17 from InVogue Records. (The band performs at the Bunbury Music Festival the weekend before the release date.)
AP premiered Belle Histoire's clip for "Be Alright" earlier this year. Check it below.
New York City Indie group School of Seven Bells has been added to the lineup for the 2012 MidPoint Indie Summer series (kicking off tonight at 7 p.m.!). The project sprouted in 2007 when guitarist Benjamin Curtis split from The Secret Machines and joined forces with singer Alejandra Deheza. The electronic-infused group's most recent release, Ghostory, came out earlier this year to generally great reviews and is certain to pop up on many end-of-the-year critics' polls. Check 'em out on Jimmy Fallon's show below.
School of Seven Bells headlines the Aug. 24 MidPoint Indie Summer concert.
According to The Weather Channel, showers are tapering off and it'll be overcast today with a high of 63. Perfect "cool new jacket" weather (even if you did just pack it away after temps reached into the 90s). And a perfect night to enjoy the first MidPoint Indie Summer concert of 2012. The free, every-Friday series on Fountain Square kicks off with two of the Cincinnati area's finest Rock & Roll bands — Buffalo Killers and The Kickaways — as well as headliners (and popular MidPoint Music Festival alumni) The Bright Light Social Hour.
According to CityBeat's Brian Baker, the Austin-based band "evokes the spirit of the ’70s with shards of Southern Garage Rock, Psychedelic Soul, electric R&B/Funk, Indie Pop and thunderously elemental Hard Rock, represented by acid-washed church and Farfisa organ, searing slide guitar and chunky riffage, Pop melodicism and a funky, slinky rhythm section, all in the service of songs that are compellingly contemporary and utterly appealing."
They're also one of the best live acts in the country today.
The Kickaways get things started at 7 p.m. Buffalo Killers are scheduled for 8:15 p.m. and Bright Light hits the stage at 9:30 p.m.
This is a song The Who stole from Mose Allison. The Bright Light Social Hour are stealin' it back.
• Two Hip Hop superstars are in town tonight for two separate shows. I would call them contemporary Rap legends, but younger folks probably call them "old school." Both are in the midst of comeback attempts.
Gruff-voiced, ruff-rydin' DMX performs tonight at Inner Circle (the former Annie's) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $35-$55. For an extensive stretch, DMX was a bit like the Pete Doherty of American Hip Hop, making headlines with unusual arrests (animal cruelty, "identity falsification" and several traffic-related offenses among them). More recently, X has shown an interest in becoming a preacher and appeared on the VH1 celebreality series Couple Therapy, showing his thoughtfulness and willingness to become a better man. (He also had his own reality show in 2006, DMX: Soul of a Man.)
None of this should overshadow the fact that DMX is one of the bigger selling Rap acts of our time. He had five straight albums debut at No. 1 and had his sixth, Year of the Dog … Again, just miss the top spot. DMX will give it another shot later this month — he's slated to drop his seventh album, Undisputed, on June 26.
Here's one of his greatest greatest hits, "Party Up." (Fun fact: Former Cincinnati Red Michael Tucker used this tune as his "coming up to bat" music when he played for Cincy.) This is the "dirty" version, so it's probably NSFW for those without headphones.
• Meanwhile, up in Corryville, rapstress Lil' Kim brings her "Return of the Queen" tour to Bogart's. Showtime is 10 p.m. and tickets are $27.
Like X, Kim has also done some time in the pokey. She turned her jail stint into jail stint-ade, though, by working a reality show around her impending 2006 incarceration. Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown became the highest rated show premiere in BET history as 1.9 million fans tuned in for her special. Kim spent just over year in a detention center in Philly for allegedly lying about her role in a 2001 shooting outside of the Hot 97 studio in New York.
Kim is one of the most successful and influential female Hip Hop artists of all time. She's currently trying to get her fifth album released (it's been delayed due to contractual issues). Earlier this spring, her collaborative track with Young Jeezy was leaked. (Listen to "Keys to the City" here.)
I love it when Hip Hop artists sample Phil Collins, so here's Kim's video for "In the Air Tonight."
• The legendary Jon Langford is in town tonight to open a local exhibition of his artwork and perform a free concert at Over-the-Rhine club MOTR Pub. The dynamic artist will be on hand for the opening of his Transmissions: Art and Words show at Over-the-Rhine’s Clay Street Press Gallery (1312 Clay St.) from 6-9 p.m. Then he'll perform with his band Skull Orchard at MOTR. Original opening act Matthew Friedberger (of Fiery Furnaces) cancelled. Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver from fantastic local band Wussy will open the show instead, starting around 10 p.m.
Read CityBeat's interview with Langford here.
• Modern Cincy Punk greats The Dopamines celebrate its new album release, Vices (due nationally on June 19), with a show at Mayday in Northside. Tickets are $9 at the door. Also performing: Pujol, Be My Doppelganger and Vacation. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Dopamines fans who can't make it but are up for a road trip can head to Chicago for Night 2 of the record release partying at Wicker Park club Subterranean. Check out this great write-up in the Chicago Reader about the show, written by former local musician (Death in Graceland) Kevin Warwick.
Here's a li'l Dopamines gem from the past to get you in the mood. Like DMX and Lil' Kim, the trio likes to curse like sailors. You've been NSFW'ed. Further warning: This song will be stuck in your head for days once you listen.
Up-and-coming underground rapper Chris Webby performs tonight at downtown club Play. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 at the door. The show is open to all ages. Guests include GMB, Nynewest and hosts DJ Scholar and DJ Drowsy.
Webby is a Connecticut native (he has it tattooed on his chest; I'd move to Ohio if I were going to do that) who started rapping before high school and began to draw crowds at freestyle battles and with his popular mixtapes releases. Webby's built huge buzz in independent Hip Hop circles and has so far resisted signing a record deal. Click here to check out his mixtapes and other releases.
Webby recently tweeted that he's just recently boarded his plane to Cincy. "PLAY in Cincinnati is about to get real weird tonight," he added.
• Utah rockers The Used blast into Bogart's tonight. The 7:30 p.m. show is all ages and includes openers Stars In Stereo. Tickets are $25.
The Used's energized Post Hardcore style is sparked by vocalist Bert McCracken, whose stage antics are an unpredictable throwback to Rock & Roll's more dangerous frontmen (Iggy, etc.). The Used's latest album, Vulnerable, came out earlier this spring on Hopeless Records. The album hit No. 1 on the Top Independent Albums chart when released and made it to No. 8 on the Billboard 200.
Here's the video for The Used's single "I Come Alive."
• The song of legendary drummer Ginger Baker, Kofi, is bringing his Cream tribute band to Covington tonight for an 8 p.m., all-ages show at the Madison Theater. Kofi Baker formed Kofi Baker's Cream Experience after catching the Cream reunion in 2005 and deciding he'd like to pick up where the originals left off. In the Clapton role is Tony Spinner, a Rock/Blues singer and guitarist who was a member of Toto in the ’00s. Playing bass is another talented musician, Ric Fierabracci, who has performed with the likes of Chick Corea, Shakira and Yanni.
Kofi made his first live appearance when he was 6, playing with his pops on BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975. Here he is rocking with the Cream Experience in more recent years.
• MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine has a free show tonight headlined by Canadian Electro Pop group Parallels. Showtime is 10 p.m. and like-minded locals Skeleton Hands also perform.
Parallels has drawn comparisons to New Order and singer Holly Dodson has been likened to singer Kate Bush and Madonna. The band was formed in 2008 by Dodson and Cameron Findlay, the former drummers for popular electronicists Crystal Castles.
Parallels sophomore full-length, XII, is due out June 26. Here's a clip for the band's song "Ultralight."
Click her for more music events around town tonight.
On this date in 1987, a Beastie Boys/Run DMC concert in Liverpool, England, turned into a riot and ended with the arrest of Adam "Ad Rock" Horovitz. The pumped-out crowd reportedly began throwing bottles and cans at the group, which the Boys playfully batted back at them. At first. After just a few minutes, things continued to get out of hand and the concert was cancelled for the safety of all involved. At the hotel later that night, Horovitz was arrested because police believed he was responsible for the beer can that struck and injured a female fan.
Horovitz spent the night in jail and, in November, Ad Rock — 21 at the time — was found not guilty of the charges.
Here's an ancient MTV segment featuring the Boys at Spring Break (to give you a sense of the trio's pre-enlightenment personalities around the time of Horovitz's arrest).
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a May 30 birthday include legendary Big Band bandleader and clarinetist Benny Goodman (1909); founding bassist for Punk giants Dead Kennedys, Geoffrey Lyall, better known as Klaus Flouride (1949); Jazz Fusion bassist Dann Glenn (1950); on-again/off-again drummer for The Clash, Topper Headon (1955); singer for Swedish Pop duo Roxette ("It Must Have Been Love," "The Look") Marie Fredriksson (1958); drummer and founding member of progressive Canadian Metal greats Voivod, Michel Langevin (1963); Country star Wynonna Judd (1964); Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello (1964); frontman for Indie Rock icons Pavement, Stephen Malkmus (1966); singer for Brit Pop crew The Charlatans, Tim Burgess (1967); Hip Hop-turned-Pop superstar Cee-Lo Green (1974); singer for Metal band Shadows Fall, Brian Fair (1975); "Freak Folk" poster child Devendra Banhart (1981) and Hip Hop MC Remy Ma (1981).
Remy was born Reminisce Smith and grew up in the Castle Hill Projects in the Bronx. Neighborhood MC Big Pun was an early mentor, putting Remy (then "Remi Martin") on a pair of tracks from his Yeeeah Baby album. It was a bittersweet debut, though; Pun died from a heart attack in 2000 and the album came out two months afterwards. (Big Pun was reportedly 698 pounds when he died.) Another big rapper, Fat Joe, took Remy under his wing and made her a member of Terror Squad. She was featured on the Terror Squad's huge 2004 single "Lean Back," which was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks that summer. It also earned Remy a Grammy nomination.
Remy's debut solo album, There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, dropped on Feb. 7, 2006, the sixth anniversary of Big Pun's death. The album was critically acclaimed but didn't sell very well (Fat Joe and Remy blamed poor promotion and choice of singles). She left Terror Squad in 2007.
As a free agent, Remy reportedly received numerous label offers and even a reported deal for a reality show. She had her second album in the works, as well as the debut of the super-trio 3Sum, featuring fellow MCs Jacki-O and Shawnna, when things went really bad for Remy. She turned herself into police after a shooting outside of a nightclub that wounded a woman who had allegedly tried to rob the rapper. The woman ID'ed Remy as the shooter. In 2008, Remy was convicted of assault, attempted coercion and weapons possession. She was sentenced to eight years in prison. In 2008, she married her fiancee, Hip Hop artist Papoose.
Remy — who also has a young son — lost her appeal last June. The earliest she can be released is Jan. 31, 2015. If she has to serve her whole sentence, she won't be out until March 23, 2016.
Despite her jail stint and the limited material released, Remy Ma remains a big influence on established and up-and-coming female Rap artists.
Here's part of an interview Remy did with StreetHeat about her life in prison.