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.
Tonight in Northside, Mayday presents its monthly new local band showcase, "Unsung." This month's newcomers aren't entirely "new," but they are new to Cincinnati. The Brothers Devine, a quirky and eclectic AltRock two-piece (guitar/drums) featuring bros Andris and Erik Devine, recently moved to town from Milwaukee. The duo takes avowed influences like Green Day, System of a Down, Bad Religion, and the Goo Goo Dolls and concocts a wild-eyed blend of Punk, Indie Pop, Metal, Folk and whatever the hell else they feel like exploring at the time.
Tonight's Unsung show is free and kicks off at 9 p.m. Here's a playlist of the Devine's music to get your ready. Click here for more on the group.
• Fuzzy, Pumpkins-esque AltRock crew Silversun Pickups pulls into Corryville tonight for a show at Bogart's. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the all-ages show are $30 at the door.
Click here to read a show preview from this week's CityBeat, then check out the band performing on WNYC's Soundcheck. Audio of the full appearance follows.
Those Guys have emerged as one of the more impressive up-and-comers in Cincinnati Hip Hop, both via their digital/CD releases (a handful of singles and a trio of excellent mixtapes) and their live show, which incorporates a three-piece live band. Those Guys features MC's J.Al and Jova, who met as high school freshmen and started the group upon graduation in 2008. Citing influences like Kanye, The Clipse and Kid Cudi, the duo issued Greater Than the Mixtape Volume 1 in 2009.
The most recent in their Greater Than the Mixtape series (Volume 3) was released late last year, kicking off with the monster track "You Ain't Know," which showcases the duo's telepathic back-and-forth, superb lyricism and a fat and funky musical approach.
The duo has been garnering extra attention with their just-released video (Those Guys' first) for "You Ain't Know," which was filmed in Monroe just prior to Halloween and features some spectacular scenes of the crew blowing up a car. Who says you need a big budget for action-movie-like special effects? (The group thanks the City of Monroe's parks, fire and police department as well as the Butler County Bomb Squad in the video description on YouTube, so the fiery shoot was on the up-and-up.)
The video has been creating major buzz on social media, even drawing praise from Hip Hop legend Redman, who tweeted "Dope ass video … thats wut Im talkn bout … sumtn different … hard shit."
Check the clip below, then visit the duo's Bandcamp site to download the latest mixtape and other Those Guys material for free. You can find more about Those Guys at their official site, Facebook page and on Twitter here.
Deft local MC Buggs Tha Rocka, who balances his excellent solo work with performances and recordings with the group Gold Shoes, has become the first Hip Hop artist to participate in the ongoing "Emery Sessions," a series of excellent music videos, filmed in one-shot by world-class photographer Michael Wilson at the restored classic Cincinnati venue, The Emery Theatre. Audio was handled once again by local musicians Cameron Cochran and Henry Wilson.
The series not only celebrates local music but also showcases the grand old theatre, a century-old Cincinnati treasure that fell into disrepair but has recently returned to "active venue" status thanks to the work of The Requiem Project.
Buggs and DJ Ghost performed "Stephanie's Song" for their Session. Unlike previous clips (which have spotlighted a host of local artists, from Over the Rhine to Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s, as well as Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and many others), Buggs and DJ Ghost don't perform on the theatre's stage, but in another nook and cranny elsewhere in the building.
"Stephanie's Song" is from Buggs Tha Rocka's fantastic The Wrath of Zeus mixtape, which is available for free download here.
Take a look at some of the other Emery Sessions here.
Well before social media made it easier to connect directly to fans, veteran Cincinnati music legends Over the Rhine were already whispering in their fans’ ears via regular notes on the band website, written intimately and poetically by OTR’s Linford Detweiler (mostly). The direct, worded contact fit well with Detweiler and wife Karin Bergquist’s mystical, emotionally resonant music, which has earned the group a dedicated fan base that spans the globe.
Along with a series of excellent albums and mesmerizing live shows across the country and beyond, the couple’s fan-friendliness and fairly consistent engagement no doubt helped not only build that fan base, but also maintain it.
The tight bond between OTR (which has put out albums on its well distributed Great Speckled Dog label since 2007) and its fans was tested in 2010 when Detweiler and Bergquist came to them with a proposition.
Before sites like Kickstarter or PledgeMusic became the hugely popular resources for artists to “crowd-fund” projects that they are today, Over the Rhine (as well as a few others) was a step ahead of the trend, allowing fans to pre-order the album and kick in additional funds for bonus perks. The experiment worked incredibly well and the band ended up with a nice budget to record (with Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry, no less) the exquisite full-length, The Long Surrender, one of the group’s best (and best reviewed) albums to date, which ended up on many “Best of 2011” lists late last year.
The Long Surrender campaign was so successful — at least partially due to the members’ way of making fans feel like they are a part of the resultant records — OTR has returned to its fans for assistance, this time so they can record and release two new albums by the end of 2013.
In a letter on OTR’s website, Detweiler explains the two albums, the material for which has been crafted over the past few years. One of the albums is tentatively titled The Farm and will feature songs written about the couple’s past several years living in an old farmhouse in Highland County, Ohio. The duo even plans on hosting a live performance of the songs on their inspirational property to celebrate the release.
The other project is a new holiday album, Blood Oranges in the Snow. The album will be OTR’s third holiday release, following 1996’s The Darkest Night of the Year and 2006’s Snow Angels. Not your typical Christmas-classics toss-off LP, OTR’s holiday releases, as Detweiler writes, “(hopefully) capture some of the reality of a beautiful — but often conflicted and even heartbreaking — time of year.”
For more on how to donate, click here. There you’ll also find the different tiers and perks, which include everything from digital bonus tracks, a “thank you” in the album artwork and signed posters to a private house concert, admission to any OTR concert through 2014 and … a tree, to be planted on the twosome’s farm and dedicated to the contributor.
Potential donors will have a chance to be swayed by Over the Rhine’s sublime sounds this Saturday, as the group returns to the Taft Theatre to perform many of their holiday tunes (and other songs). This year's event is being billed as “An Acoustic Christmas Concert.” The concert begins at 8 p.m. with opener Lucy Wainwright Roche. Tickets are $37.50 (via ticketmaster.com) or $42.50 at the door.
For those hardcore fans who just can’t get enough, OTR presents its annual “Holiday Sunday Soiree,” a casual, intimate gathering at St. Elizabeth’s (1757 Mills Ave, Norwood). Tickets are not issued for Sunday’s 3 p.m. get-together; sign up and pay for admission to the event ($20) here and your name will be added to the guest list.
Tonight's allegedly the "busiest bar night of the year," so if you like to hang out at places that are really packed, this is your jam. If you like to hear live music when you go out, you're also in luck, as a lot of the top acts seek out lucrative Wednesday-before-Turkey-Day gigs because of the aforementioned packed-ness.
If you want that live music to be (primarily) original, here are a few recommendations.
• Troy, Ohio-spawned Miss May I (whose singer, Levi Benton, recently moved to Cincinnati) is headlining the Alternative Press tour, which conveniently brings the increasingly popular "Metalcore" band back to their homeland just in time for Thanksgiving. The band's most recent release, At Heart (on Rise Records), came out this summer and was greeted with the best reviews of MMI's career and a No. 32 debut on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
The thrashy, melodic MMI headlines tonight at Bogart's in Corryville on a bill that also features The Ghost Inside, Like Moths to Flames, The Amity Affliction and Glass Cloud. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets to the all-ages show are $20.
Read CityBeat's interview with Benton here then check out Miss May I's most recent music video, for At Heart track "Day By Day."
• Vintage Rock & Roll stylist Chris Isaak makes his way to downtown Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at the Taft Theatre. Tickets range from $29.50-$59.50. Isaak's going to have to play the show then hop on a plane quickly — he's slated to perform in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. (Click here to read CityBeat's full preview of the show.)
Isaak recently issued a live DVD based on his 2011 double-disc release Beyond the Sun (his first for the Vanguard label). The album was a collection of cover songs originally recorded by artists on Memphis' seminal Sun Records (from Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis to Carl Perkins and, of course, Elvis), a fitting tribute given Isaak's similar approach and sound. The new Chris Isaak Live! Beyond the Sun DVD is a concert flick featuring several songs from the Sun album, as well as some of his big hits. Expect to hear a similar set list tonight. Here's an Isaak original from the DVD, "Live It Up."
• The songcraft experts and flawless musicians of veteran Cincy Pop/Rock band The Newbees host an album release party tonight at Newport's Southgate House Revival. The release show was originally intended to be the second show at the new club (brought to you by the owners/operators of the old, beloved Southgate House across from Newport on the Levee) but a late code inspection held the grand opening up for a week. The Newbs are celebrating their LP Modern Vintage, a patchwork of musical styles and mercilessly catchy songs. Click here for a full review of the album.
The Newbees are joined tonight by The Turkeys, Chaselounge, Honey & Houston, Les Whorenettes, Shiny Old Soul, See You in the Funnies, Sundae Drives and Dave Hawkins. Tickets are $12 at the door (or $14 for those ages 18-20). Showtime is 9 p.m. Here's the Beatles-esque new album track "Up All Night":
• There are also plenty of other local original groups performing tonight. Among the highlights: Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms and soulful, rocking power trio Tattered Roots (which is celebrating its one-year anniversary) join together at Stanley's Pub in Columbia Tusculum. … Rootsy rockers Alone at 3 a.m. are playing a freebie at The Comet in Northside with Jacob Tippey and Matt Wood. … Electronic improvisers Skeetones hold down the party at The Mad Frog in Corryville, joined by guests The B.E.A.T. and Bassface. … Two former members of The Greenhornes — Brian Olive and Eric Stein — perform a free show at Northside Tavern with their current bands, The Brian Olive Band and Stein's Grotesque Brooms. … Rocket-fueled Indie/Blues/Roots/Rock trio The Sundresses headline tonight's free offering at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, joined by Detroit foursome Jeecy and the Jungle. … And two of the city's best modern rockers — Ohio Knife and State Song — perform a free show at Mayday in Northside (see poster above).
• A killer triple bill at Bogart's in Corryville tonight features three of the more kick-ass bands from the new breed of Rock & Roll buzz bands. Known for their explosive live shows and shimmery, energized Indie Rock style, San Diego-spawned/Brooklyn-based Delta Spirit headlines, supporting its self-titled breakthrough release from earlier this year. Endearing and invigorating L.A. Garage Pop foursome Fidlar opens things up at 8 p.m., followed by the smoking'-hot JEFF the Brotherhood, a killer duo from Nashville featuring bros Jake and Jamin Orrall. The band's latest album, the addictive Hypnotic Nights, was produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and is JEFF's debut for Warner Brothers Records.
JEFF the Brotherhood performed "Staring at the Wall" from Hypnotic Nights last night on Conan. Read more about tonight's show here and here.
• Psych/Rock/Roots trio Buffalo Killers’ current tour with rootsy NYC Blues Rock band Hollis Brown winds through Cincinnati tonight for a show at the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre. Tickets are at the door. Showtime is 10 p.m.
While still touring in support of Dig. Sow. Love. Grow,, the group’s fourth album which was released on Alive Records this past summer, the BKs have recently issued some even newer material. The local Shake It Records imprint recently released Buffalo Killers’ two-sided single for the Dangerous Highway: A Tribute To The Songs of Eddie Hinton series, on which the trio covers the Muscle Shoals musician’s “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” and “Still Water Runs Deep.” The group also just recently went into the studio to record two new tunes, “Nothing Can Bring Me Down” and “Baptized,” which are available as pay-what-you-want downloadable singles at buffalokillers.com.
On Nov. 27, Alive is releasing the live compilation, Alive at the Deep Blues Festival, which kicks off with a pair of epic BK tunes. Recorded during the recent Alive-roster-heavy Deep Blues Fest in Minnesota, the album also features a pair of tracks from label mate and fellow local Brian Olive. (Olive and his band play for free at Northside Tavern on Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 21.)
Here's an epic version of Buffalo Killers' "It's a Shame" from the live set.
• Downtown at Arnold's tonight, 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.
Paleface's show tonight at Arnold's — a makeup date for a show canceled in late August — is free and great local Folk Pop group Shiny and the Spoon opens the show at 9 p.m. (Click here to read more.)
Here's a mini documentary about the making of Paleface's latest, One Big Party.
• Tonight you can get your roller boogie on as the bi-annual OTR Skate event returns to help raise funds for Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s Over the Rhine Recreation Center and its scholarships and staffing. The roller rink fun goes from 8-11 p.m. at the OTR rec center (1715 Republic St.) and admission is $5, which includes skate rental (you can also bring your own). Along with numerous raffles for items donated by local businesses, skaters can also play pool, air hockey and other games, or ask the Cincinnati Rollergirls roller derby team members on hand for some tips. Giving the event an extra dose of Rock & Roll attitude, local band The Yugos will perform along with Columbus Indie rockers Indigo Wild. (Facebook event here).
Here's a Yugos track released this spring called "You Don't Want Change, Change is for the Deranged"; check out the group's self titled full-length here.
• Hip Hop comes to Northside tonight with a free, 10 p.m. show at The Comet featuring local artist Abiyah, plus Philly's Has-Lo and New York City's Prem Rock (formerly known as Premonition).
Has-Lo's first taste of national attention came when he did well in the 2007 MTVU Best Music on Campus contest. With his intelligent lyrical prowess and dark, dynamic production style, Lo's initial EP releases and last year's In Case I Don't Make It album garnered buzz in the underground for the producer/MC. Anticipation has been building for his just-released long-player, Conversation B, a trippy rewiring of In Case featuring production collaborations with Exile, J-Zone, Oddisee, Kev Brown, Eric Lau, Apollo Brown and others. The results are blissfully psychedelic and unpredictable. Here's a remix of Lo's "Inherit the Stars."
• "Unity Jam 7," a recurrent local music event that showcases a wide range of local artists in the name of bringing different people together, takes place tonight at Centennial Barn (110 Compton Rd., Hartwell). Tickets are $20 at the door, with a portion of the proceeds going to the New School Montessori program. The event kicks off with a "Zumbathon" at 5 p.m. Music starts at 7 p.m. and wraps with a "drum circle" at around 10 p.m. The lineup — which spans from Jazz, Fusion and Latin music to Reggae and a variety of other forms of World music — features Unity Jam organizer Baoku Moses and his Image Afro-beat Band, Lisa Marie, Azucar Tumbao, Junya Be, Pharaoh Loosey, Mayan Ruins, Salsa Ires, Mr. Brown Mysterious Sounds and Garry Leidy.
Click here for even more live music in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
Over the summer, a video turned up on YouTube of Canadian chanteuse LIGHTS doing an acoustic cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” for Britain’s Secret TV. While her bubbly personality was evident, she did look tired and her voice was not at its usual strength. Fans wondered if the rigors of touring were taking their toll.
But there were no such concerns Wednesday (Nov. 14) night when LIGHTS played at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley. Winding down her Siberia tour, the Toronto native sounded absolutely amazing.
Two things are sometimes forgotten in the electronic swirl of LIGHTS’s music — she can sing and she can write. Vocally she was at the top of her game Wednesday. Parts that were sung in a more wispy tone on her two albums were belted out with force, topped with high notes that hadn’t come out in the studio versions.
And, oh yes, the writing. Proving she has both vocal and songwriting skills, LIGHTS excused her band mid-show to deliver a piano-and-voice-only version of “Saviour.” Showing it’s not all done with machines (as she did on her 2010 acoustic EP), LIGHTS delivered a tune that, like her others, can stand apart from the technological wizardry. In between scaling her vocal range, she invited the audience to sing along, which they did enthusiastically (the track was an Alternative radio hit in 2009).
LIGHTS has always toured with a band, pulling a page out the the Thompson Twins’ playbook from back in the day. Chief Twin Tom Bailey always reasoned that it was just more visually pleasing to see musicians on stage and not just three band members bopping around to sequencers and backing tapes. Sonically it helps, too, of course, as the players can improvise and add new dimensions and dynamics to familiar songs. Indeed, one of LIGHTS’s keyboardists even broke out a guitar for one song, playing the keyboard lines on that instead of his synth.
The Arkells from Hamilton, Ontario, opened the show with their brand of Canadian Alt Rock. Lead singer Max Kerman told the crowd that his hometown was the best Hamilton in the world, not the Ohio city just up I-75. The crowd got the joke, which sort of surprised and bemused Kerman.
“I was expecting some boos for that,” he said before the band launched into “Pulling Punches.” The Arkells provided a nice counterpoint to the main act’s fine, occasionally dub-steppy Synth Pop and the group seemed to have several fans of their own in attendance.
LIGHTS returns to Canada at the end of this run of shows, where she will spend the holidays with her new husband, Blesshefall frontman Beau Bokan. The Arkells will support their countrymen The Tragically Hip throughout the winter.
• Instrumental Avant Metal veterans Earth bring their adventurous, spontaneous Dronecore to downtown tonight for a hypnosis session at the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre. Showtime is 8:30 pm. Stebmo, Earth collaborator and progressive Jazz pianist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Steve Moore, and psychedelic, noisy Doom duo Eagle Twin open the show. Tickets are $15.
Guitarist Dylan Carlson gave birth to Earth in Olympia, Wash., circa 1990, and remains the only original member in a band that has seen numerous lineup and stylistic shifts. The group put a pair of albums out on Sub Pop during the "Grunge Revolution" (which they had little in common with), got booted from the label briefly and then welcomed back for three more albums. While Earth's aggressively experimental sound didn't quite fit the Grunge buzz, the group actually used the genre's concept of "slowed down Hard Rock and Metal" and took it to the extreme, decelerating even more and replacing Grunge's Punk and Garage influence with inspiration from avant grade composers and musicians and Carlson's singular vision.
Earth didn't survive the ’90s but returned in the early ’00s to start a run that has included several releases for Southern Lord Records, a haven for "Metal" artists on the more experimental side of the music. Earth's latest release is the improvised Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II, the follow-up to part I (and actually recorded at the same time) which has been praised for its gradual, natural exploration of different tones and approaches. Earth's trippy, glacial sound on Demons of Light II is infused with evocative cello and smoky atmospherics and often sounds like a new slant on modern Jazz, something Mingus might have come up with had he been into Black Sabbath.
Here's Demons II track "The Corascene Dog":
• Acclaimed by both fellow artists, critics and her dedicated fan base, Iris Dement has been one of the more compelling singers in the Americana movement since she put out her first album in 1992; her mesmerizing voice has a timeless soul that recalls the best early Country female vocalists. Dement's sound has evolved and taken detours over time. After two straight-forward Country/Folk Pop LPs, the 1996 album The Way I Should showcased a Rock vibe and some serious political commentary. She followed that up by collaborating with John Prine on his In Spite of Ourselves album, which scored her a Grammy nomination, but Dement took a break from music after that.
In 2004, Dement returned with her first album in eight years, Lifeline, released on her own label after her Warner Brothers contract expired. But Lifeline was primarily a collection of centuries'-old Gospel covers. This year, Dement released Sing the Delta, her first album of new material in 16 years. The songs harken back to that purity of her first couple of albums, but also shows how Dement has matured as a composer and performing. She writes with more confidence and has become an even better lyricist, creating an album that is mournful, poignant and poetic.
Dement performs tonight at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley with The Tillers, one of Cincy's finest Folk acts who are coming off of a successful release party for their recent live album. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. Here's DeMent's "Go On Ahead and Go Home" from Delta.
• Milwaukee-based Psych rockers Moss Folk perform a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine with like-minded locals Children of the Emerald Fire. Showtime is 10 p.m.
Formed in Michigan in the mid-’00s by founder Andrew James Shelp, Moss Folk entrancingly collages influences into a sound that draws from a wide range of music that could fall into the "Psychedelic" category. You'll hear elements of Kraut Rock, Pink Floyd, World music, Tangerine Dream and Spacemen 3 mingling in Moss Folk's ambient, hypnotic melange and the band has been known to match the lysergic sonics with fitting visuals (from video projections to cameos by various non-musical performing artists).
Here's a live clip of Moss Folk: