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— John Fox
It’s almost here, Cincinnatians — Opening Day 2012 takes place Thursday. The beginning of
the Reds’ season is one of several cultural celebrations that the
Queen City does bigger than most other places (is it really possible
that another city gets down like our triumvirate of Opening Day-Taste
of Cincinnati-Oktoberfest?). As such, downtown Cincinnati will be
poppin’ off, as bars, restaurants and attractions attempt to engage
some of the locals who might only visit the business district for
The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade starts at 1 p.m., followed by the game against the Miami Marlins at 4:05.
The following is a list of more than 40 downtown businesses offering food and drink specials for Opening Day, according to Downtown Cincinnati Inc., the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting downtown businesses.
Blue Wisp: Located right on the parade route at the corner of Race and 7th streets, the newly relocated Jazz club/restaurant will have its kitchen open all day, with happy hour specials including $2 Red drafts. Four big TVs and live music after the game. 700 Race St., 513-241- WISP.
Holy Grail: One of the new restaurants in The Banks, the Holy Grail will host several live radio broadcasts before and after the game, along with its typical food and drink offerings. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, 513-621-2222.
In Between Tavern: Opens at 10 a.m. and offering $5 bottled beer. 307 Sycamore St., 513-621-7009.
The Lackman: Venture into Over-the-Rhine and taste the Gateway’s resurgence, or just a happy hour draft starting a 4 p.m. 1237 Vine St., 513-381-0741.
Lunar Lounge: This space-themed upscale lounge will open early and host DJs from Q102 and will have the game on its numerous TVs. 435 Elm St., 513-381-2573.
Mainstay Rock Bar: One of downtown’s best live music bars will offer happy hour deals from 4-9 p.m. 301 W. Fifth St., 513-721-7625.
Mynt Martini: Located on Fountain Square, Mynt will offer its new lunch menu starting a 9 a.m., along with plenty of TVs and live music. 513-621-6968.
Penguin Dueling Piano Bar: Plenty of TVs, plus $2.50 well drinks and $3 domestic beers. $5 cover. 441 Vine St., 513-621-2800.
The Righteous Room: Open at 1 p.m. with half-price drinks from 4-8 p.m., along with TVs and a DJ spinning at 10 p.m. 641 Walnut St., 513-381-4408.
Scene: Another of downtown’s hot night spots, Scene will be opening early to offer the game on TV. 637 Walnut St., 513-381-4327.
Tina’s: This corner bar will offer food and beer specials, starting at 8:30 a.m. 350 W. Fourth St., 513-621-3567.
Whisky Bar Cincinnati: The first 150 patrons will get a free Opening Day CD mix, and the bar will give away tickets to Opening Day before the game. $5 for a shot and beer, $3 Reds shots and more specials. 537 E. Pete Rose Way, 513-721-9227.
RESTAURANT AND BAKERY SPECIALS:
Abby Girl Sweets: “Reds” Velvet cupcakes and other flavors. Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 41 W. 5th St., 513-335-0898.
Boi Na Braza: Ten percent off lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and open for dinner from 5-10 p.m. 441 Vine St., 513-421-7111.
Café de Paris: This quaint sandwich shop offers a variety of coffee, cappucinos and lattes along with breakfast sandwiches and muffins, just around the corner from the parade’s route on Race Street. 17 Garfield Place, 513-651-1919.
Cincy’s on Sixth: Cincy’s will be celebrating its grand opening, with ticket giveways to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert and a Cincinnati Reds game. 9 a.m.-midnight. 41 W. Sixth St., 513-621-6200.
Findlay’s at the Hyatt Regency: “Make your own Bloody Mary” bar plus a breakfast buffet. 151 W. Fifth St., 513-579-1234.
Good Dog: $1 off Ballpark hot dog. 633 Main St., 513-381-2907.
Grecos: Opening Day tailgate with live music. $10 includes parking, cover and one free Grecos Signature Cincinnati Pork Green Chili Taco. Hamburgers, hotdogs and full lunch menu will be available throughout the day from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. 700 W. Pete Rose Way, 513-721-3663.
Greek to Me: Opening Day special “Buy a gyro, get a second gyro for $1.” 125 E. Court St., 513-422-4976.
It’s Just Crepes: Featuring "Go Reds" crepe with raspberries and vanilla cream for $3.99. 39 E. Court St., or 151 W. Fourth St.
J. Gumbos: Chicken Etouffee and Spinach Mushroom Etouffee is the $5 big bowl special. 425 Walnut St., 513-429-4549.
Johnny Rockets: Serving breakfast and regular menu before, during and after the game. 191 E. Freedom Way, 513-834-6110.
Blue Pizza: Open at 11 a.m. with an
all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $7.50 that includes fresh
salad, homemade soup, soft drink or water, and all the pizza you
want. Buffet open until 2 p.m. Open for business all day and night.
35 E. Seventh St., 513-381-7777.
McCormick & Schmick’s: Opening at 11 a.m. and featuring two happy hours from 4-6:30 p.m. and 9:30-11 p.m. featuring a range of appetizers from $1.95 to $4.95. 21 E. Fifth St., 513-721-9339.
Moerlein Lager House: Hosting the Fuller Ford Opening Day Party from 11a.m.-4 p.m. with free music by the Naked Karate Girls. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, 513-421-2337.
Morton’s: Open at noon with a great view of the Opening Day parade from windows overlooking Fifth Street and Fountain Square. Offering full menu in the dining room and bar bites in Bar 12*21. 441 Vine St., 513-621-3111.
Nada: Full patio set-up and ready for pre- and post-game goers. 600 Walnut St., 513-721-6232.
Nicholson’s: $2 Bud and Bud Light bottles and "Red Leg Bombs" for $4. 625 Walnut St., 513-564-9111.
Palomino: “The Big Red Flatbread” returns with four cheese spread, sliced hot Italian sausage links, roasted yellow peppers, dollops of bold smokey Ketchup and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, for $6. 505 Vine St., 513-381-1300.
The Phoenix: Opening Day Ballpark Buffet with hotdogs, brats, metts, popcorn and peanuts from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. for $14.95. $2 domestic bottles and $4 imports. $4 call liquor and $6 premium. Also, parade seating will be available. 812 Race St., 513-721-8901.
Plum Street Café: Lunch service available until 5 p.m., with the bar remaining open late-night. Big TVs. 423 Plum St., 513-651-4341.
Rock Bottom Brewery: Open at 9 a.m. and serving Donut Cheeseburgers on the patio. Located on Fountain Square. 513-621-1588.
Senate: This OTR hotspot is open from 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. for lunch. Dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. serving Reds-related gourmet hot dogs. Full bar available. 1212 Vine St., 513-421-2020.
Servatii’s: Open 6 a.m.-5 p.m. serving baseball decorated cookies at both downtown locations and passing out pretzel sticks at the Local 12 booth during the Reds Rally on Fountain Square. On Fountain Square and 41 E. Court St., 513-241-7500.
Snappy Tomato Pizza: Free Busken cookie with purchase while supplies last. The buffet is $6 and includes all you can eat pizza, salad and drink, or a baby beast personal pizza pepperoni or plain cheese for $4.69. 330 Walnut St., 513-241-9888.
The Squirrel: Free Busken cookie with purchase while supplies last, along with a sandwich, chips and drink special. 344 Walnut St., 513-721-1128.
Streetpops: This new popsicle shop will celebrate its grand opening this week. Open noon- 6 p.m. on Opening Day with 50 cents off all red popsicles. 1437 Main St., 513-446-7505.
Taste of Belgium: Open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch (Taste of Belgium) and 5-10 p.m. for dinner (Belgium Bistro). Outdoor seating with delicious Belgium waffles available. Offering Reds cookies and chocolate dipped mini-waffles on a stick. Happy hour from 5-7 p.m. 1133 Vine St., 513-381-4607.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill: Serving lunch and dinner all day in an American-themed space. 145 E. Second St., 513-721-8629.
Tot Dogs: Open 11 a.m. 634 Vine St., 513-345-3056.
Trattoria Roma: Free appetizer with the purchase of two main courses. Offering a full bar and a late night menu. 580 Walnut St., 513-723-0220.
Walnut Street Grill: Open 11 a.m.-midnight. Enjoy a 3 Olives party downstairs and a Budweiser party upstairs. All drink specials will be effective all day and will include wine, beer and liquor specials, plus $2 pints of red beer. 631 Walnut St., 513-241-0707.
Washington Platform: Open before and after the parade. 1000 Elm St., 513-421-0110.
Wicked-wich: "Reds home run combo" featuring red garlic tomato soup and quarter pound all beef Nathans dog for $7.79. 425 Sycamore St., 513-421-9424.
Merry Christmas. Now, get out.
A memo sent today from a top Gannett Co. executive indicates layoffs are coming at the company’s newspapers — including The Cincinnati Enquirer — by the first week in December.
There are concerts that are fun and there are concerts that kick your ass. If you were at the sold-out U.S. Bank Arena Friday night for the opening date of The Black Keys first headlining arena tour, you probably got your ass kicked.
First up, Arctic Monkeys caused a ruckus on the floor. Most (but not all) of the folks in the seats wandered around aimlessly or sat there, watching listlessly. There was certainly uproar in front of the stage, though. But as the English boys played, sang and sassed, the crowd in the arena filled in and loosened up. It helped that their lighting guys strobed the shit out of them, too. The seizure-inducing lights may have been Morse code for “Love Arctic Monkeys. Swoon over our accents.” If so, it worked. By the time Arctic Monkeys closed with “When the Sun Goes Down,” the crowd on the floor had nearly doubled and, at the very least, those in their seats were nodding their heads and smiling. Those boys put on a fun show.
After spending the entire intermission only getting halfway through the beer line, nearly everyone gave up and fled to their seats when The Black Keys began. Not that anyone sat, though — they were all too busy dancing and freaking out. Strictly speaking, The Black Keys may not be from Cincinnati but it’s safe to say we treat them like hometown boys, anyway. Dan Auerbach (singing/guitar) even recalled playing Southgate House a few years ago. Upstairs. In the small room.
From a titanic disco ball that lowered from the rafters (for only one song) to the graphics on the screens behind them, the show was far different from their days playing tiny rooms. With each beginning there was an outburst of recognition. The middles of songs gave way to dancing, flailing and air guitar (or drums) and each ending note was drowned out by thousands of shrieks, whistles and catcalls.
Two things were learned last night. First, if you have any doubt about the amount of noise that one guitar and a set of drums can make, go see The Black Keys. Their albums don’t do justice to the sheer volume Auerbach and Partrick Carney (drums) are capable of producing. Second, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard an entire arena try to whistle.
If you weren’t there, you missed the best kind of Friday night possible. If you were, you’re probably already making plans for the next time The Black Keys come to town.
Despite rumors on state and national political blogs, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told a private gathering in Cincinnati this past weekend that he has no intention of picking State Rep. Jennifer Garrison as his running mate in 2010.
Last night at Covington's Madison Theater, the 15th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony once again brought together people from all facets of the Greater Cincinnati music scene and gave them one hell of a party. Along with offering one of the best people-watching experiences of the year, the packed crowd in attendance was treated to great "mini-sets" (usualy about three tunes) from local bands Pomegranates (who also played the event's after-party at the nearby Mad Hatter), Young Heirlooms, Los Honchos, Two Headed Dog and Wussy, who closed the night out with songs from their recently released fourth album, Strawberry.
"Thanks for voting for us," Wussy's guitarist/vocalist Chuck Cleaver deadpanned as they began.
While Strawberry is among the (if not the) best albums released in 2011 so far, it missed the cut-off to be nominated for a 2011 CEA. (To be in the running, albums had to have been released between early Oct. 2010 and Oct. 2011.) Maybe (probably) next year, Wussy!
Opening Cincinnati's summer concert season is always a difficult duty. A constantly fickle city in terms of their live music, Cincinnati crowds demand constant excitement and stroking from the band they are witnessing. Well, then what better band to choose for this tedious task than Kings of Leon?
The effect My Morning Jacket has had on live Rock music in America over the past several years is hard to deny. Spawned from the fertile Louisville music scene, the band’s legendary live show is an electrifying experience for all who attend. At the end of May, MMJ put out its sixth studio album, Circuital, which earned a career-high first-week entry into the Billboard Top 200 album chart, bowing at No. 5. Bo Koster, MMJ keyboardist since 2004, joining the band during the gap between its major label debut, It Still Moves, and the wildly diverse Z. CityBeat spoke with Koster about the band’s Cincinnati stop Wednesday at PNC Pavilion with Neko Case, as well as My Morning Jacket’s memorable live performances and passion for local record shops.
Rise Against is the epitome of Punk Rock in this era. They are as far from the status quo from society as bands get, yet record for a major label. Part of the group's mission is to promote progressive issues, both socially and politically. Rise Against recently released its sixth album, Endgame, which features the hit single “Make It Stop” (the video for which was nominated for a MTV Video Music Award last year).
CityBeat spoke with bassist and original member Joe Prinicipe in anticipation for their upcoming show in Cincinnati. They discussed the bands writing process and how they incorporated their socially active direction in their music. Rise Against will be opening Riverbend's PNC Pavilion for the summer this Saturday. A Day to Remember and Title Fight also perform.
CityBeat: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I know you are one of the original band members. You guys have been out on it for about 13 years from when you started. Where do you see yourself in 13 more years?
Joe Prinicipe: It’s hard to say with this business but I would say definitely still involved with writing music and performing. Rise Against has no intentions of breaking up. We would like to follow the same career paths as bands like Bad Religion and Social D that are going on 25 or 30 years and are still making relevant music. I hope that’s where I end up.
CB: I saw you last year with the Foo Fighters when you opened up in Columbus. I was wondering if there were any fun and crazy Foo Fighter stories on tour.
JP: It was pretty awesome when there were a group of protesters, I think we were in St. Louis, maybe it was Kansas City, and they were protesting the Foo Fighter show because they did that funny promo video where they were showering together. So this group came out, this very homophobic religious group. They were protesting and the Foo Fighters came out (before the show) dressed provocatively and they were out on a flat bed truck and performed and tried to play as loud as they could to overshadow, overpower the protestors. It totally worked and it was awesome.
CB: They seem fun to be around in general and don’t take it too seriously.
JP: Totally and they are all about enjoying what they have because being on the road and being away from your family is hard enough so you might as well make the most of it.
CB: Your music has been called protest music in the past by the Chicago Tribune and I just wanted to ask about your process to write lyrics around a cause. How do you choose a cause to support and then develop a song around it?
JP: (Singer/guitarist) Tim (McIlrath) writes all the lyrics and the process is very simple. He is just writing what he feels for that day. He writes from a personal perspective on life in general. That’s why our records are not just political, there are socially aware topics, there are environmental issues, there are songs about relationships and how hard it is to be away from our families when we are traveling. We always write music first and he will hear the tone that the music sets and he has a journal, and he will flip through the journal and see if something fits and if not he will write what he thinks will fit the music and that is how it has always been the last 12 years.
CB: Were you guys influenced at an early age or did something happen to you that kind of made you take your music toward this activism tone or did you have a kind of defining moment?
JP: No, it’s just seeing punk rock music. It’s just the nature of punk rock that seems formed as a reaction to the glam era of the 70’s. It’s just a reaction to that so it’s always been about that. It’s all we know. It was something that we didn’t even discuss. It was just kind of a given the direction of Rise Against was going to be that and we are kind of carrying that torch. Bands like Minor Threat and the Bad Brains were definitely singing for change whether it was singing against homophobia or social issues, but that’s kind of what the unspoken goal that the band has always had.
CB: What is the biggest way your music has been able to make a difference or make a change?
JP: I would say the effect that “Make it Stop” has had on young kids. Kids in high school trying to get through it all. We have gotten so many e-mails that the song is helping them through the hardest time of their life and that is incredibly rewarding. I would say “Make it Stop” stands out as that.
CB: Your new album came out last year in the spring. Do you have any new music in the works?
JP: No, we still have a whole year of touring on Endgame. I think I always have song ideas in the back of my head and so does Tim. It’s kind of an ongoing thing anyway. We won’t actually have anything, officially new until the end of 2013.
CB: Do you have any crazy Cincinnati stories from the past or any fond memories?
JP: Not really. Cincinnati is Bogart's, right?
CB: It’s Bogart's and this time you are at Riverbend which is outside.
JP: That’s right. The only thing I recall is from Zach our guitar player. His old band played Bogart's and someone was shot like 20 feet away from him. That’s really it.
CB: I think you are in a little safer place by the river this time. I have this new game and it’s a table game with quirky questions and people just give their first thoughts around it, so I have been experimenting with this a little and I have three questions from this game for you. The first question is what skill do you possess that most people don’t know about?
JP: Let’s see, nothing hidden, although I am a complete coffee snob and I have an espresso machine at my house and I take that very seriously. It has to be perfect. I have to time all my espresso shots as they come out of the machine. So I guess that.
CB: So you make the perfect espresso, that’s your hidden talent.
CB: What is under your bed?
JP: Actually nothing because my wife is a neat freak so nothing can be on the floor.
CB: If you are on the bus it is somebody else sleeping under the bed in the bunk.
JP: As far as the bus goes, our tour manager is usually in the bunk below me so I have him snoring …
CB: What song would you pick to sing karaoke?
JP: I’m really bad at karaoke, oddly enough.
CB: You don’t have to be good. I don’t think that’s the purpose of karaoke.
JP: That’s true. I don’t know maybe something from ’80s Pop like the Go-Gos or Duran Duran.
CB: What can the fans expect from the show in Cincinnati?
JP: Just high energy, just come and sing with us and have a good time. It is all about interacting with our fans and just everyone singing along. We are all there for the same reason. It is a good way to let off some steam from the week prior. Just come out and have a good time.
Saturday semifinals and on the men’s side, the only real intrigue comes from looking ahead to the finals, although any player will tell you that they can never overlook the opponent immediately across the net.
Novak Djokovic, the number two seed, goes toe-to-toe with the sixth seed from Argentina Juan Martin Del Potro, the first man other than Rafael Nadal to steal a Grand Slam from Federer during his amazing run from a few years ago. Del Potro has dealt with injuries, which slowed him down following his US Open win, but he’s back and clearly has what it takes to reach the finals here.
Djokovic has definitely brought that return game of his, which will be key against the taller Del Potro who takes advantage of his height. The first set stays on-serve until Del Potro litters a serve game with two double faults and Djokovic breaks for a 4-2 lead. From that point, it’s a routine set of holds with Djokovic winning the set 6-3.
Djokovic breaks Del Potro during his second service game in the second set. A pair of holds before Djokovic breaks again (Del Potro fails to win a point during this service game) for a 5-2 lead. Watching the latter portion of this set, its curious to see Djokovic pushing Del Potro further and further off the baseline with punishingly deep shots. And he pushes and shoves him right out of the match with a final ace [6-3, 6-2].
The other semifinal match is all Swiss, all the time. The number one-seed and world’s number one player Roger Federer against Stanislas Wawrinka. The two teamed up to capture the gold in doubles in the Olympics and having served as practice partners over the years, there’s a real familiarity that could make this match intriguing.
Federer comes out and it is apparent that as the man is king of all he surveys. The crowds are overwhelmingly behind him, granting him home court advantage, although its not like he needs it.
The first set features flashes of brilliance from each man as they hold serve with Wawrinka confirming that he has a powerful weapon in his serve. He logs more aces than Federer, yet Federer's net play and shot selection more than keeps him in the match. By the inevitable tiebreak, the all-around game of Federer leads to a 7-4 win.
The second set is more of the same as they trade holds up through 3-games all, and then Federer sneaks in a break and a strong hold for a 5-3 lead. The expectation is for a Wawrinka hold and then Federer to serve it out, but an untimely double fault for Wawrinka gives the game and match to Federer [7-6 (7-4), 6-3].
Roger Federer versus Novak Djokovic. The number one seed versus the number two seed – the first time the two top seeds have met in the finals at the W&S Open. This is the match everyone was waiting for and the crowds are raucous.
On court, the action takes an unexpected turn. Federer breaks immediately, holds and then breaks again for a 3-0 lead. He holds again at love and unbelievably breaks once more for 5-0. Is Djokovic hurt? He makes no calls for his coach or a trainer and simply lets Federer serve out the first set [6-0]. Has he ever been blanked in a set, in an event final?
When Djokovic holds to start the second set, the crowd whoops it up, hoping to provide him with a charge. And now both players look like the top seeds we came to see. The service games add up and there’s the sense that a tiebreak is in store.
When it arrives, the temperature seems to rise. Heat and excitement generate a palpable jolt. Federer grabs a mini-break on Djokovic’s first serve and holds his two points. Before the air deflates out of the stands, Djokovic holds and breaks back. Back and forth they go. At 6-6, with the crowd firmly in his corner, Djokovic holds to take a 7-6 lead, but Federer scores a huge smash before taking the next two points and the match.
He raises his arms and grants Mirka a knowing nod as he walks over to towel off before the trophy presentation. This match sets the field on notice that Federer is ready to extend his Grand Slam singles title count even further and everybody, including the defending champion, better watch out.
The women’s finalists, ninth seed Na Li (CHN) and the fifth seed Angelique Kerber (GER), have the distinction of being the players who took out the Williams sisters on the way towards this meeting and each of them has proven capable of slugging it out or exerting their will through carefully constructed points.
Much like the men’s final though, this one starts off rather one-sided. Kerber follows up an all-business hold with a quick break of Li and another hold. Li finally hangs on during a service game, but what has undone her thus far is an inability to rein in her shots. Serves and groundstrokes sail far and wide in an-ever increasing avalanche. She seems confounded by her lack of control, but by the time Kerber has earned the first set at 6-1, Li has no answers and yet, it is Kerber who calls for an on-court conference with her coach.
The second set offers more of the same, as Li continues to push shots, except for her swinging half-volleys, which she nails with surprising accuracy. Somehow, she settles into a groove and evens things up at 3-all. Kerber lapses into a funk and before you know it, Li has secured the second set 6-3.
Li breaks to open the third set and suddenly, the two have completely switched games. Kerber can’t keep the ball on the court or as the games mount, it looks like she’s frustrated by Li’s ability to power shots all over the court. Kerber begins to stop chasing down shots that she consistently reached in the first set. She calls for a second pow-wow with her coach after falling down 3-0. Li aces her to take the fourth game, but Kerber digs deep enough to win her next service game and the crowd perks up for a minute, checking Kerber’s resolve. Unfortunately, Kerber had nothing left in the tank and she allowed Li to sweep her off the court without much resistance.
The final score [1-6, 6-3, 6-1] doesn’t quite reflect the curious lack of sharp precise play. It will be interesting to see if either player can use today’s effort as a springboard into the US Open. The women’s side of the upcoming Slam appears wide open, ready and waiting for someone, anyone to step up to the big stage, like Stosur last year. At this rate though, it will take far more from either of these finalists to own that epic moment.