The sixth season of TV One's entertaining and informative Unsung series, showcasing artists who did well but didn't quite reach the heights many expected, kicks off tonight at 10 p.m. with an episode about the late, great Soul star Isaac Hayes. Next week, on Jan. 30, the series focuses on a group that was formed at Kentucky State University and ended up calling Cincinnati its home base — Midnight Star.
The R&B/ElectroFunk nine-piece band was a major success in the ’80s, giving the music world massive hits like "Slow Jam," "No Parking on the Dance Floor" and "Freak-a-Zoid." But the band eventually splintered — due to "arguments over money and management," according to the Unsung synopsis — with Reggie Calloway and brother Vincent leaving and eventually forming Calloway (which had success with the smash "I Wanna Be Rich" in 1989).
Midnight Star carried on and produced a couple more albums that featured R&B chart hits before taking a break. The "hiatus" ended in 2000 and Midnight Star continues to this day, performing most recently at the Macy's Music Festival last summer. Click here to read up on the band circa 2013.
The Unsung series has a loose definition of "unsung" (as the Isaac Hayes episode suggests), but its profiles of various R&B/Soul, Hip Hop, Funk and Gospel artists are always fairly illuminating. The show has dedicated episodes to a wide range of successful artists, from The Ohio Players and Zapp to Kool Mo Dee and Big Daddy Kane to George Clinton, The Spinners and another Cincinnati-affiliated star, Bootsy Collins.
Unsung (Documentary) - Bootsy Collins... by GENERATIONDISCOFUNK
The rest of Unsung's season six includes episodes on EPMD, Lou Rawls, Eddie Kendricks, The Whispers, Mint Condition, Johnny Gill and a special two-hour look at the Disco phenomenon.
TV One is channel 217 for local Time Warner Cable subscribers (1217 for the HD channel).
Slanted Indie Pop crew Maps & Atlases formed in 2004 and, in 2010, released its breakthrough LP Perch Patchwork, the Chicago quartet's debut for the esteemed Barsuk label. Since Patchwork, the band has spent tons of time touring, which has included several dates in the Cincinnati area. The band's compelling latest release, Beware and Be Grateful, was issued by Barsuk last spring and is perhaps the finest example of the group's dynamic sound yet. M&A's sound is uniquely layered and structured, full of subtle, unexpected outbursts and song twists, yet still overflowing with magnetic melodies and spine-tingling harmonies.
The band performs tonight at Oakley's 20th Century Theatre with like-minded locals Archer's Paradox, who are readying for the release of their debut album a little later this year. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $15.
Here's the video for "Remote & Dark Years" from the latest M&A album.
• The end of The Grateful Dead, with Jerry Garcia’s 1995 death, didn’t do much to squash the band’s incredible popularity. To satiate some of that Dead thirst, various members from throughout Garcia’s and the Dead’s history have brought the legendary band’s spirit to that huge fan base on a fairly regular basis. Two Dead-affiliated artists have been sitting in with Chicago-based jammers Terrapin Flyer for the past few years for shows and tours. The band will be joined by Melvin Seals, who played Hammond B3 organ with the Jerry Garcia Band for 15 years, and Mark Karan, who played guitar with the post-Dead band The Other Ones and Bob Weir’s Ratdog, when they swing through Stanley’s Pub tonight for a 10 p.m. performance. Tickets are $20.
Here's some footage of the collaboration from last March, doing a version of Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," a Dead fave.
• Over a decade ago, Minnesotans Paul Sprangers and Scott and Evan Wells were integral parts of Hockey Night, a wildly eclectic Indietronic outfit that blended the lo fi Rock and snarky humor of Couch Flambeau with a next generation love of Electronica, Hip Hop and mad crazy sampling (remember "Battlestar Scholastica" from their 2002 debut Rad Zapping and "For Guys Eyes Only" from their 2005 swan song Keep Guessin'?). The band's ugly dissolution would have beaten the musical aspirations from lesser men, but Sprangers and the Wellses were made of sterner stuff and, after a brief hiatus, tapped drummer Nicholas Shuminsky to form Free Energy in 2008.
Free Energy, now based in Philadelphia, exploded into the wider consciousness when LCD Soundsystem¹s James Murphy produced the band's debut album Stuck on Nothing in 2010, causing UK music magazine NME to erroneously tout them as Murphy's new band. While patently false, the claim focused an extraordinary amount of attention on Free Energy and Stuck on Nothing; Spin and Rolling Stone cited the album and band among the year's best. With their just-released sophomore album Love Sign, Free Energy (now also featuring guitarist Sheridan Fox) reinforces and expands their new musical direction, a Classic Rock/New Wave Pop hybrid that enthusiastically references everything from The Cars to The Outfield to Cracker with equal amounts of affection and adrenaline. And in familiar ’60s Pop/Motown fashion, "Electric Fever," the album's infectious first single — originally leaked 10 months
ago — is the lead track on Love Sign. Free Energy might not be breaking any new ground but they go over the old territory with an ass-kicking intensity.
The band plays at Newport's Southgate House Revival tonight with Sweatheart and Homemade Drugs. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $8 at the door. (Preview by Brian Baker)
Click here for even more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati.
The polls have closed on voting for the 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, the ceremony/party for which returns to Covington's Madison Theater on Jan. 27. Indie Pop greats Culture Queer were added to the CEA performance lineup today, joining Bad Veins, Ricky Nye, Gold Shoes, The Dopamines, Jess Lamb and a special collaboration put together by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation.
While you can no longer vote online for your favorite local musicians, you can still have a say in one last category. The CEA New Music Showcase takes place Friday at Bogart's and, if you attend, you'll be able to vote for the "New Artist of the Year" CEA. The show will feature sets by New Artist nominees Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s, DAAP Girls, Ohio Knife, The Natives, Public and Heavy Hinges (nominee R. Ring was unable to perform). Audience members will be asked to vote for who they thought did best and those total tallies will be weighted by votes from the CEA nominating committee to determine the ultimate winner.
You can do some pre-show prep and pick up this week's CityBeat to read our special cover story package about this year's "New Artist of the Year" CEA nominees, with profiles on each artist. Click here to read the intro and you can click on the band names below to check out each artists' feature article.
Below are a few audio tracks and videos from each nominee, so you can be even further prepared to vote wisely Friday night.
• Heavy Hinges is one of several New Artist of the Year nominees that contains several familiar faces. The Rock/Soul/Funk/Jazz/Gospel/Roots hybrid the band pimps was crafted after popular band Buckra called it quits following a dozen years of local music service. Buckra's guitarist/singer Dylan Speeg and bassist Andrew Laudeman formed Heavy Hinges in early 2012 with guitarist Jeremy Singer (also currently in Jimmelegs) and drummer Brian Williamson, both also experienced local players. Rounding the band out is relative newcomer, singer/ukulele player Maya Banatwala.
As expected in a field of New Artists, there isn't a ton of recorded material available from most of the groups. Heavy Hinges may have the least amount, but here's a cool promo video for an October show that includes a lo-fi Heavy Hinges recording as its soundtrack.
• Ohio Knife is the Indie Rock duo featuring drummer Joe Suer and singer/guitarist Jason Snell, who first teamed up in the late ’90s in the six-piece band Readymaid. After that group split up, Snell launched The Chocolate Horse, a project intended to be more compact, with fewer members in order to keep things more manageable creatively and logistically. The Horse eventually became complicated, as well, so Snell and Suer (along with mostly studio-only keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Higley, another former Readymaid and Chocolate Horse member who now works recording sessions in Nashville) stripped down even more and formed Ohio Knife. The size of the project wasn't the only thing that was different for Snell this time around; he and Suer (who's played in Cincy bands like Caterpillar Tracks and others since the Readymaid split) play a hard-charging brand of melodic Rock, partially inspired by the Grunge bands Snell grew up listening to. The EP Ohio Knife is OK! was released by Detroit's Fountain Records right as the duo launched and Ohio Knife's second show ever was on the streets of Austin, Tex., where they were participating in a art/branding project with local company Landor at SXSW (footage from the trip formed the basis for an expansive, artsy window display in the downtown Shillito's building). Ohio Knife is looking to put out a full-length in the new year.
Here's the Ohio Knife video for the song "Going Down."
• Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s bring a Honky Tonk flavor to the CEA's New Artist category this year. Singer/acoustic guitarist Pinnell proved himself to be one of the area's best songwriters in previous projects like The Light Wires and The Brothers and The Sisters, roots-tinged outfits that suited Pinnell's penetratingly melancholic tunes perfectly. For the 55s, Pinnell reteamed with old high school pal Cameron Cochran, who also plays in Pop Empire and previously was in the excellent Folk duo The Sheds, to form a group that performed in the style of raw, vintage Country, like George Jones or Waylon Jennings. Rounded out by drummer Chris Alley and bassist Ben Franks, the 55s were a steady presence in the clubs in 2012, growing a loyal following in a relatively short period of time.
The 55s have no releases out (there are plans for an LP soon, though), but there is some great live footage of the band shot for the one-shot video project, The Emery Sessions (which Cochran helped organize and record). Here is Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s performing "Back Home" at Over-the-Rhine's historic Emery Theatre.
• If The Natives — a gifted local Hip Hop "band," that performs with live instrumentation — would have come out in the early ’90s, it would have taken them five years to accumulate the amount of music videos and audio releases they managed to released in 2012. Ah, technology. Even better, The Natives are creative and adventurous, so all of the work released is of extremely high quality. Oh and it's all available online for free. The band released two LPs in 2012 — the mixtape-styled Coup d'etat and the more artist- and song-oriented Native America. The Natives also collaborated on numerous pro videos for tracks from the albums, kicking off 2013 with the below clip for "So Much." The Natives will be working on members' solo projects to start 2013, so catch the group in action Friday, while you still can.
• DAAP Girls played it coy when first hitting the local club circuit, leaving an air of mystery surrounding just who was in the band before they played their first show. Fans would soon discover that DAAP Girls were really dudes! And familiar ones to local music followers. Featuring members of The Lions Rampant and Newport Secret Six, DAAP Girls play a groovy, dance-friendly brand of Indie Rock that manages to sound both contemporary and vintage. The lack of much information about the DAAP Girls online has fed the mystery, but it's also partially because the perfectionist members wanted to take their time releasing recorded material. There's a light on the horizon, though, for those who've been craving a take-home version of DAAP Girls — the band's Tape Songs will be released a little later this year. Below is the public's first taste of the album in a great music video for "Kate."
• The trio Public is the newest of the "New Artist of the Year" nominees. Though not far removed from high school graduation, the band already has a tight, masterful AltRock sound that should take them far. The three high school pals are talented musicians inspired by the likes of Muse, Led Zeppelin and The Killers. Public has released just one EP, Red, but it's a wildly impressive start. The songwriting and performance skills exhibited on Red (on which you can also hear touches of The Strokes and Modest Mouse) give one an indication that Public's just getting started and future work might be scarily good. Just last month, Public debuted the music video for the EP's "Castle in the Sky."
• Though not eligible for your vote Friday because they had to decline the invitation to play the New Music Showcase due to scheduling conflicts, be sure to read up on R. Ring. The duo teams local guitarist/singer/songwriter/engineer Mike Montgomery with Dayton, Ohio music hero Kelley Deal. After meeting during a recording session, R. Ring was formed to help Montgomery get over some stage fright about playing a solo show. Though they didn't do the usual "let's get signed!" hustle and bustle, intending to keep the project casual, their unique style quickly began to gain attention. R. Ring played South By Southwest last year and have a European tour on the schedule for this March, though activity will largely have to be routed around Deal's other big 2013 adventure — a world tour with sister Kim to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their band The Breeders' seminal Last Splash album. There isn't a lot of recorded material available yet, since R. Ring has officially only released one 7-inch single, but you can check out their Daytrotter session here. Below is the A-side of R. Ring's single, "Fallout & Fire," which showcases the twosome's sparse, hypnotic approach.
Friday's New Music Showcase at Bogart's starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $7.
• Combining some of the idiosyncrasies of modern Indie Folk with uplifting Pop melodies, Chamber music arrangements and an Americana grab-bag of various other influences, the trio Plume Giant makes a glorious noise that is buoyed by the clever, collaborative songwriting, as well as the trio’s vocal chops, which add a slanted, colorful layer to the group’s sound via frequent and flawless harmonies. The threesome — which formed after meeting each other while attending Yale — makes this glorious noise with fairly spare acoustic instrumentation (Oliver Hill plays guitar guitar and viola, Nolan Green plays guitar and harmonium and Eliza Bagg plays violin, harmonium and various other instruments). But the sound of the group’s recent debut full-length, Callithump, is full-bodied and far from minimalistic. On the dynamic 2012 release, the trio explores traditional Appalachian music, swingin’ Jazz, Tin Pan Alley pomp and breezy Folk Pop, but all of it is filtered through Plume Giant’s distinctive vision, with hints of the avant-garde beneath the inescapable harmonies and lovely aura.
The now Brooklyn-based trio performs a free show tonight in Over-the-Rhine at MOTR Pub with like-minded Cincinnati-based Chamber Folk ensemble The Happy Maladies. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Here is Plume Giant's smile-inducing "We Got It Made" video from their debut LP, followed by The Happy Maladies' "New Again," taken from The Emery Sessions live music video series. The Maladies' song is the title track off their 2012 release, which was nominated for "Album of the Year" at the upcoming Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.
• At the Southgate House Revival in Newport tonight, Indianapolis progressive Bluegrass group Flatland Harmony Experiment performs a free, 10 p.m. show in the venue's "Lounge." Formed just a couple of summers ago, FHE has toured the region regularly, found success on radio outlets and through online Bluegrass/Americana/Folk music channels and are seemingly on their way to becoming an even bigger presence on the national festival circuit (in June, the trio will compete at the 40th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition). The trio (Scott Nelson on upright bass, Kris Potts on Mandolin and Johnny Plott on banjo) uses the tools of traditional Bluegrass and the members clearly have a firm grasp on the music's rich history (not to mention some delicious chops and textured harmonies that'll send a shiver), but they let the songwriting go wherever their contemporary minds might take it. Fans of groups like Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon and The Infamous Stringdusters will love this Experiment.
Last year, the string band released its debut full-length, On Our Way. Here's the album's "Secret in the Seams":
Cincinnati Rock foursome Wussy had its biggest year by far in 2012, as the band traveled extensively for the first time, securing some great opening slots on tours by The Afghan Whigs and The Heartless Bastards. The band also gained a fan base in the U.K., where the label Damnably Records issued an acclaimed compilation culled from the band's previous albums called Buckeye (frontpeople Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker traveled to the U.K. to tour and promote the release).
With their press kit more overflowing than ever with international reviews and a variety of key radio appearances, Wussy's members are in a grateful mood. To say, "Hey, thanks," to their fans new and old, the group has issued Berneice Huff and son, Bill sings… Popular Favorites, a free compilation download that includes demos, rarities, b-sides and more.
Berneice Huff and son (named for that irresistible album cover travesty) kicks off with an intro from NPR's Terry Gross, taken from when Fresh Air did a piece on the group in 2009. The rest of the collection is a treasure trove for Wussy completists, with live radio sessions and interviews, a few cover tunes and the initial three-song demo that Cleaver took to Shake It in 2003 looking for a record deal.
Click here to download Berneice Huff and son, Bill sings… Popular Favorites and read more about the material included.
Here's one of the track from the collection, Coltrane Motion's remix of "Maglite," from the remix compilation This Will Not End Well, which featured several local artists' reworkings of Wussy songs (Coltrane Motion is based in Chicago but originated in Cincy).
On Thursday, Feb. 7, local promotional company The Counter Rhythm Group will debut a new "trade show" event that will offer local musicians a chance to check out a wide range of "good and services" available to them in the Greater Cincinnati area.
The first "Locally Insourced: Cincinnati Music Industry Trade Show" will take place at Rohs Street Cafe's large Sanctuary room in Clifton Heights. The event is free and open to musicians of all ages.
The MidPoint Music Festival is a sponsor of the event and will be on-hand to offer early registration for those wishing to be considered for a showcase slot at 2013's MPMF, returning to the venues of Over-the-Rhine and Downtown once again in late September.
Other vendors displaying their services for local musicians will range from video production companies, designers and photographers to promotional companies, poster and t-shirt makers, CincyTicket and many, many others. Locally Insourced looks to be a great chance for artists to explore the many options available to them in their own backyard and help them steer their careers in whatever direction they'd like.
Click here for more on the event.
Tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, it's an evening of ethereal Indie Pop atmospherics as Columbus quartet Fever Fever joins Oklahoma-bred sibling duo Clemency for a free, 9 p.m. show. Both groups have sounds that are big-sky spacious and slathered with chiming, The Edge-like guitar echoes and passionate vocals. And both groups give it up to God, though they are refreshingly light on any kind of didacticism in their music. (Read more about the groups from this week's CityBeat here.)
Clemency was formed by Yukon, Ok., natives Jason and Paul Watkins, who would relocate to Nashville in 2005 to kick of their careers in earnest. After the 2008 full-length debut, Vapors, the duo released the 2012 EP, My Heart is on the Eastern Horizon, which featured a short film to accompany each track.
Fever Fever released its first album in 2009, followed by a pair of EPs, which helped earn FF some music placement deals (recently, the NFL used the below single for one of its shows). The band is currently putting the finishing touches on a new acoustic EP that's due for release soon. Here is the Fever Fever single "Beautiful Dream" from the band's 2012 EP, Kingdom (download the track for free here).
• At the Blue Wisp Jazz Club downtown tonight, Colorado's Funky Fresh Trio lays down its brand of melody- and groove-driven original modern Jazz Funk. The trio features bassist Patrick McDevitt and drummer Alejandro Castano, plus composer/saxophonist Josh Quinlan, one of the busiest people in the Colorado Jazz scene thanks to his work as a college Jazz professor and his roles at the Dazzle Recordings record label, the Gift of Jazz organization and the Telluride Jazz Celebration Educational Program.
The Funky Fresh Trio members combine their love of early Jazz Fusion, James Brown, Hard Bop, Bob Marley, World music and new-school jazzers like The Bad Plus and Medeski Martin and Wood to come up with a fresh sound that's contemporary, accessible and dynamic, yet honors their musical forefathers and is performed with such grace and effortless flair, you know the members have chops to spare.
The band plays the Blue Wisp at 7:30 p.m. tonight before participating in a music clinic for students of the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music on Friday afternoon. Admission to the Wisp show is $7.
Here's the trio performing in Denver late last year.
For even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight, click here.
Later this month, successful Cincinnati singer/songwriter Kim Taylor will be headed to Park City, Utah, but not as part of any kind of concert tour. Taylor will be attending the annual Sundance Film Festival, one of the world's most prestigious film events, along with the other actors and participants from the new movie, I Used to Be Darker. The film was co-written and directed by Matt Porterfield, whose previous work, Putty Hill, drew scores of rave reviews.
Despite it being her first foray into acting, Taylor has a leading role in the film, playing a musician named Kim whose marriage and relationship are falling apart just as her troubled niece shows up on her doorstep looking for a place to crash. Taylor's husband in the film is played by Ned Oldham, brother of cult music star Will Oldham and also a musician (along with solo work, he's the singer for the bands The Anomoanon and Old Calf).
Taylor knew the film's screenwriter, Amy Belk, from when she attended college in the ’90s in her home state of Florida.
"I met Kim Taylor in the ‘90s when we were both teenagers at Bible college in Florida, shortly before I got kicked out and she flunked out," Belk writes in the press materials for IUTBD. "She is the only person I still know from that strange, balmy with a chance of fire-and-brimstone time. I’ve followed her music career through the years, and shared her songs with Matt (Porterfield) when we started writing. He fell for them like I knew he would, particularly 'Days Like This' and 'American Child.' Even before Matt met Kim and had her read for the role, her music and grace informed the story we were crafting. In many ways, Kim was Kim from the start."
Taylor performs "Days Like This" (which was covered by Over the Rhine on their The Long Surrender album) and "American Child" (from her album Little Miracle) in the film. She and Oldham will be featured on the movie's soundtrack alongside tracks from several acts based in Baltimore, Porterfield's current hometown, including The Entrance Band, Dope Body and Dustin Wong.
I Used To Be Darker premieres at Sundance on Jan. 19 and screens multiple times throughout the fest. Click here for more on the film. Here's the trailer:
through her website here. Give it a listen below:
Taylor has completed her new album, Love's A Dog, which will include the Darker Mix version of "American Child." The album is tentatively scheduled for release in February or March.
• Bluegrass ensemble Hayseed Dixie began racking up fans upon its formation at the dawn of the 21st century thanks to its energized and entertaining live show and the contents of the band’s initial setlists and albums. Though all talented and experienced players, it was Hayseed Dixie’s novelty that initial drove attention its way. The group’s debut was a Bluegrass tribute to AC/DC, while subsequent albums have featured a wonderfully ridiculous array of the group’s Appalachian-spun Rock covers (they grass up everything from OutKast and Green Day to Neil Young and Motorhead). After wide exposure through musical- and comedy-world exposure, the Hayseeds began to introduce more and more original material (2008’s No Covers should be self-explanatory).
Hayseed’s members have individually gotten more busy with various interesting side projects while the main band takes a hiatus. As frontman John Wheeler works towards his more serious-minded debut solo album (scheduled for release early in this new year), banjoist Don Wayne Reno carries the Hayseed torch with his band Granny 4 Barrel, self-described as “Country music’s first and only shock Country Rock & Roll band.” If you thought Hayseed Dixie was outlandish, G4B takes it to the next level with their ridiculous outfits and a sound that retains Hayseed’s Rawkgrass attitude and turns the Rawk elements up to 11.
Granny 4 Barrel performs tonight at the Southgate House Revival as part of the opening for area visual artist Derek Toebbe’s “Urban Revival Art Show.” The event (which also includes DJ sets by the Devout Wax crew) is free and starts at 7 p.m.
Here's a sampling for G4B's crazy sound and stage show.
• Wildly entertaining (and wildly eclectic) ensemble The Duke of Uke & His Novelty Orchestra bring its self described "lyrical ukulele jazz-funk-motown popssical" sound back to Cincinnati tonight for a a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Drawing comparisons to artists as diverse as Tom Waits, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Amy Winehouse, the B-52s, and Captain Beefheart, the Urbana, Ill.-based septet has been winning fans all over the region with their energized, swinging live shows, which blend smart lyrics, four-part harmonies and diverse instrumentation (ukulele, violin, tuba, saxophones, Latin percussion). Read more about The Duke and Co. in Reyan Ali's preview in this week's CityBeat here.
Here's The Duke of Uke & His Novelty Orchestra's official music video for "Jump Back," a track from their 2012 album April's Empire.
• There were moments over the past few years where it seemed like bassist Nick Oliveri was on the brink of imploding, stuck in that weird, almost dreamlike universe (inhabited by the likes of Courtney Love and Katt Williams) where an entertainer’s fans ultimately just accept that there’s a good chance the performer might die any day. Oliveri’s ornery streak has been consistent but it started out manageable — just some usual Rock & Roll debauchery. Then, in 2004, Oliveri was kicked out of Queens of the Stone Age after Queens frontman Josh Homme suspected he had been physically abusive to a girlfriend.
Luckily for Oliveri, he had a few side-projects to fall back on, touring with his group Mondo Generator (who comes to Newport’s Thompson House Saturday night), as a solo acoustic act and with veteran Punk sensations Dwarves. But it wasn't enough to keep him out of trouble (click here to read more about Oliveri's various ups-and-downs over the past year).
But Oliveri seems to have rebounded, even reportedly making amends with his old bandmate Homme. Mondo Generator has been perhaps the most consistent part of Oliveri’s life since 1997. Blending the Hard Rock of his previous projects with more Punk Rock chaos, Mondo has built a strong cult following for itself. But, with the way things are going as Oliveri continues to rebound, it’s anyone’s guess if Mondo will go back to “side project” status at some point.
Mondo Generator performs Saturday at the Thompson House with Saviours, Wino, Bearer of Bad News and Mangrenade. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $18.
Here's Mondo Generator performing "Four Corners" live.