Stepping into the decorated light cast from the looming ceilings of the Taft Theatre, it’s immediately apparent the space holds memory far outreaching your own. That is, of course, unless you’re about 100 years old and happened to be around Cincinnati in your early teens.
If that were the case, you’d probably remember the other awe-inspiring theaters that entertained the Queen City in those days: the Albee, Shubert and Capitol, to name a few — all astounding architectural representations of the heyday of local theaters. Sadly, the Taft is the only of those grand structures that still remains today, likely because it stands just far enough away from the heart of downtown, just missing out on the urban redevelopment that has defined the city for the past half-century or so.
Taft Theatre was opened in January 1928, inaugurated by lines of suited men and flower-hatted women who were willing to brace the 40-degree weather of the new year for the warm spectacle of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a shining new entertainment venue.
The theater is part of the Cincinnati Masonic Center, then called a temple rather than center, and is currently owned by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. In its early days it would host Broadway shows, ballets and traveling performers and artists, among other entertainment.
The name, contrary to what some might think, is not a nod to the former United States president William Howard Taft, although many likely know of the street we have to honor him. Rather, the theater was a tip of the hat to William’s older brother, Charles Phelps Taft, a major figure in the Cincinnati newspaper business and a high-ranking Mason who lived just down the street from where the theater now stands.
While it was very popular during its early days and became popular again in the new millennium, the theatre went through a largely dormant period in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, the Scottish Rite applied for demolition rights twice in the 1960s — although they were rejected both times — because they thought the theater would be too expensive to renovate and wanted to replace it with a parking garage.
Luckily, it hung on and didn’t fall into serious disrepair long enough for Music and Event Management, a subsidiary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, to take over in 2010. The company headlined a $3.2 million renovation, less than a third of the value the Masons had been quoted for renovations decades earlier.
The revamp, finished in 2011, increased the size of the seats, lowering the original capacity of 2,500 to about 2,300, as well as the size of the bathrooms — fewer venue seats, but more toilet seats (does this say something about the needs of folks in the new millennium?). They also took great consideration of modern concerns, spending a heavy load on hooking the building up with eco-friendly air conditioning.
Thanks to the restoration and rejuvenation of the old theater, it now holds about 140 shows a year compared to roughly 90 before renovations, and the annual attendance has also almost doubled. The theater is again one of Cincinnati’s hot spots for entertainment, hosting all kinds of musical concerts as well as theatre, being home to the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. With the upsurge in activity at the beautiful old Masonic Amphitheatre, the tall walls can keep holding and building memories of entertainment that life would be oh-so boring without.
Cincinnati is host to a great number of music festivals and it feels like every season adds another one. Midpoint is becoming nationally recognized for its ability to draw in heavy hitters, Bunbury has exploded in popularity in just a few years and Buckle Up had a great inaugural year this past summer, just to name a few obvious examples. It’s a great time to be a music lover and music journalist in this city.
But for this music journalist, there’s only one festival that gets my money, year in and year out: Ironfest.
Whereas most of Cincinnati’s festivals focus on the city’s vast assortment of Folk and Pop influenced artists, Ironfest is awash in the loud, angry and just plain aggressive side of local music. John “Black Arm” Gerhardt, the organizer of Ironfest, puts in a massive amount of time and effort to assemble a legion of acts that are all a little left of center, but still eclectic enough to bring in all types of fans. There’s only one place in town that you can see the darkened Electronic soundscapes of Black Signal alongside 500 Miles to Memphis’ Country Punk and Moonbow’s raucous brand of Heavy Metal, all under one roof, and that’s at Ironfest.
Nov. 14 and 15 marked Ironfest’s fifth year. It was founded as a celebration of the life of “Iron” Mike Davidson, a mainstay in Cincinnati’s music scene before his untimely passing. While this is still the case, Ironfest has grown beyond a simple memorial. In fact, many of the attendees nowadays didn’t even know “Iron” Mike — myself included. But if Davidson had so many talented friends in so many awesome bands, I’m sad that I didn’t.
Gerhardt has a knack for getting a great mix of bands together to take over Southgate House Revival’s three stages and this year’s iteration was no different. At any time, you could check out the bands listed above, along with the likes of Valley of the Sun, Smoke Signals, Martin Luther and the Kings, The Dopamines, Honeyspiders or out-of-towners like OC45 and Punching Moses (featuring ex-Banderas guitarist Jesse Ramsey), among many more.
While each year’s lineup is undeniably star-studded, Gerhardt also always seems to have one band on the bill that stands out above the rest and this year’s edition was no different. Closing out Saturday night was the reunion of Oxboard Drain, Iron Mike’s old band, with Valley of the Sun’s Ryan Ferrier filling in for the late bassist. I had never heard Oxboard Drain before that night but I got the distinct feeling that I missed something special. When a band still draws fans out that sing along to every word years after their dissolution, you know they made an impact during their tenure. Seeing Ferrier, Gerhardt and the rest of the band honor their friend by ripping through a powerhouse set was something to behold.
While the music at Ironfest is amazing and honoring Iron Mike’s memory is important, neither is the real reason I have attended the past three years. I go for the community that Ironfest celebrates and all of the people it brings together. My roommate attended this year’s festival for the first time this year; at the end of the show he commented that I seemed to know half of the attendees that night. While estimate may have been a bit of an exaggeration, the point is valid. For fans of the scene such as myself, Ironfest is almost like a high school reunion that you’d actually want to attend. New bands mingle with established acts, old bandmates and friends reconnect with each other, and the past and present of Cincinnati’s alternative music scene is celebrated over a weekend.
That’s what makes Ironfest so special. All of the other festivals that Cincinnati hosts every year celebrate the music and musicians contained within them. Ironfest celebrates the community itself that spawns around the music and musicians. It’s a two-day period where we can fondly recall the good memories of days gone by while still creating new memories for the next time we all converge at that old church.
It’s only been just over a week since Ironfest V wrapped up and I already feel like I’m in withdrawal. That much music, that many friends, that much fun in the photo booth (and, yes, that much booze) all adds up to a weekend that’s talked about until the next one rolls around. For many, “Iron” Mike’s passing was a horrible loss but his passing spawned an event that has kept people coming back for five years straight. And for that, I have to say, “Thanks ‘Iron’ Mike, and I’ll see you all next year.”
Besides sporting one of the best band names in recent memory, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. also makes wildly endearing, monstrously melodic Indie/Electro Pop. Detroit’s Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein started the project in 2009 as a home-recording venture, but a pair of EP releases the following year drew widespread attention, leading to a deal with Warner Bros. Records. The band released its debut full-length, It’s a Corporate World, in 2011 and followed it up last year with the acclaimed The Speed of Things. Paste named that album’s single, “Run,” one of the best songs of 2013 and also called them one of the Top 25 live acts around.
At the start of fall, the band released a new single, “James Dean,” a great slice of chilled-out, slow-jam Pop.
DEJJ plays Oakley’s 20th Century Theater tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.
• Chicago Indie Rock foursome Empires, a 2014’s MidPoint Music Festival favorite, return to Cincy tonight for a 10 p.m. show at The Drinkery in Over-the-Rhine. Great Cincinnati band Pop Goes the Evil opens.
Here’s Ben Walpole’s preview from CityBeat’s official MPMF guide:
Empires enters MPMF 2014 building something close to its namesake this summer. It started with strong showings at Bonnaroo and the Hangout Music Festival, continued with a June appearance on a little program called the Late Show With David Letterman, followed by a well-received four-song EP – all building toward the band’s major-label debut, Orphan, released this week on Chop Shop/Island Records. The album was produced by John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, The Black Angels and Explosions In The Sky, among others.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: A more up-tempo The National; an artsier The Killers; a less dramatic The Horrors.
Here is the video for “How Does It Feel” from Empires’ most recent release, Orphan.
• Stellar Cincinnati singer/songwriter Kim Taylor (read CityBeat’s 2013 profile of Taylor here) headlines MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. Joining Taylor is Boston Indie/Americana Pop band The Grownup Noise. The band opens the free show at 10 p.m.
The Grownup Noise debuted in 2007 with its inaugural release, a widely acclaimed self-titled full-length. The band recently returned with its three-years-in-the-making third LP, The Problem with Living in the Moment, which came out late last month.
The Boston Herald has this to say about the new release:
Calling the Grownup Noise’s new work — “The Problem With Living in the Moment” — “an album” seems like a slight. Declaring the folk/rock blend a symphony is overkill, but the 11 tracks have such a orchestral sweep — swelling strings, rippling piano lines, a harmony of percussion arranged with meticulous detail. Let’s call it a suite. That seems to fit.
• “Foot-Stompin’ ” Country-tinged Rock duo Sundy Best, which originated in tiny Prestonburg, Ky., (and is now based in Lexington) plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15.
The band’s bio describes its sound as “music that re-imagines timeless classic rock of the ‘70s and ‘80s – think the Eagles and the smart, whiskey-voiced lyrics of Tom Petty and Bob Seger.” Along with critical acclaim from outlets like Rolling Stone and The New York Times, the band has found success on the road and satellite radio. and has even scored buzz via attention from the CMT television network. The duo is gearing up for the Dec. 2 release of its latest album, Salvation City.
Here’s Sundy Best’s video for “Lotta Love,” a track from the album Bring Up the Sun.
Modern Blues/Rock guitar hero Joe Bonamassa might not be a household name, but he has a gigantic fan base. Tonight, many of those fans will fill Music Hall to watch the six-string superstar do his thang. I just drove by Music Hall and he has multiple trucks and busses parked around back, one adorned with the motto, “Always on the Road,” a reference to how he has built such a big following.
Bonamassa does make records, though. His most recent is Different Shades of Blues. Here’s what CityBeat’s Brian Baker had to say about the LP in his preview of the show (click here for the full preview):
Bonamassa’s latest album, Different Shades of Blue, is a full-tilt electric experience, kicking off with a brief taste of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” — Bonamassa was peeling off Hendrix licks when he was 7 — and roaring into incendiary originals like the scalding “Oh Beautiful,” the funky “Love Ain’t a Love Song,” the relentless “Never Give All Your Heart” and the sinewy title track.
Tonight’s show starts at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $79-$125.
• Danish Dance Pop trio New Politics headlines a triple bill of up-and-coming bands playing Bogart’s tonight. The group joins fellow on-the-verge acts Bad Suns and SomeKindaWonderful for the show.
New Politics were in town this past summer to play the Bunbury Music Festival, alongside tourmates Paramore and Fall Out Boy. This fall the group teased new material with the release of the single “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens).” The group’s next album, Vikings, is slated for release next year.
• Reggae crossover star Shaggy plays the Thompson House in Newport tonight. Local band Elementree Livity Project and veteran Columbus, Ohio, squad The Ark Band open the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $17.
Shaggy became a superstar in the ’90s/early ’00s with hits like “Boombastic,” “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me,” a huge smash (you can still hear it on Pop radio to this day) from his six-times Platinum album, Hot Shot, from 2000. Shaggy has continued to release music and tour the world. Last year, Shaggy released Out of Many, One Music, an all-Reggae album that was produced by the legendary duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
Sonic adventurer Nils Frahm performs tonight at the Contemporary Arts Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20.
The German-born composer is touring behind his most recent album, 2013’s Spaces, which was compiled from footage from various performances over the previous two years. His live presentation is something to behold, as Jason Gargano writes in his CityBeat preview of the show:
Nils Frahm’s live performances are kind of hard to believe. He sits alone on stage, surrounded by multiple pianos and a few other gadgets. He moves back and forth between instruments, slowly building and altering the music as it unfolds, all of which is done without the use of loops or playbacks. It’s an impressive achievement, as Frahm’s sonic output is a whirl of intricately layered yet never fussy arrangements that bring to mind a meld of Steve Reich and Keith Jarrett.
Opening the show is Brooklyn’s Dawn of Midi, an Avant Garde trio that combines elements of Jazz, Krautrock, Electronica and experimental Rock music and has also been drawing fawning critical raves. Radiolab host Jad Abumrad said of them, “I've seriously never seen anything like these guys.”
Should be a fascinating night of music.
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band bring their tour behind their debut studio album, the recently released Intensity Ghost, to The Comet in Northside tonight. Heart of Palm and Public Housing open the free 10 p.m. show.
Forsyth, who co-founded the experimental group peeesseye in New York around the turn of the century, is an acclaimed guitarist known for his exploratory approach and compelling skills. He fell in love with the music of Television in high school and ultimately ended up taking lessons from that legendary band’s Richard Lloyd.
You can hear the influence of Television particularly in his work with Solar Motel Band (which was formed based on the guitarist’s acclaimed Solar Motel album from last year). Many critics have described Forsyth’s most recent all-instrumental music as a cross between Television and The Grateful Dead; Forsyth (now based in Philly) discovered the Dead while immersed in the New York experimental music scene and was immediately drawn to it, so it’s a fair comparison. Overall, it’s very engaging, hypnotic stuff.
• Tonight and tomorrow sees the return of Ironfest, a huge two-night benefit concert in honor of late local music supporter and musician Iron Mike Davidson. This marks the fifth edition of the event since Davidson passed away in 2010.
Ironfest V, which continues to raise funds for Davidson’s family, takes over Newport’s Southgate House Revival both nights with a lineup stacked with local talent largely (but not entirely) from the worlds of Punk and Hard Rock. Friday’s lineup includes Mad Anthony, Martin Luther and the Kings, Kill City, Vampire Weekend at Bernie’s, Sweet Ray Laurel, Valley of the Sun, Lockland Brakes, Lohed, Subsets, Mala in Se, Black Signal and many more. Saturday at Ironfest, catch The Dopamines, Moonbow, Mudpies, We are Hex, Honeyspiders, Oxboard Drain, 500 Miles to Memphis, The Blue Rock Boys, Draculas, Ethicist, Cadaver Dogs and several others.
Tickets each night are $5 in advance (available at ticketfly.com) or $10 at the door. Showtime is 7 p.m. both nights.
• Tuvan throat singing string band Huun Huur Tu performs Saturday night at Parrish Auditorium on the Hamilton campus of Miami University.
Derek Halsey explains the unique music in his preview of the show for this week’s CityBeat (read the full preview here).
Tuvan throat singing describes the wild-sounding songs created by musicians in the southern Siberian and Mongolian Steppe region of Central Asia who, for want of a better explanation, use their throats as if they were a didgeridoo.
Not only does it sound cool — creating multiple notes at the same time using nothing but the human voice — but historically it was a way for humans to communicate over the vast plains in that part of the world, with different styles being created to represent different tribes.
Saturday’s show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (there are discount for seniors, students and “youth”) and can be purchased in advance here.
• Cincinnati Blues crew The Whiskey Shambles host a release show at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery in honor of their debut album, Loose Change for a Broken Man. The show is a benefit for the Save the Animals Foundation (where drummer Aaron Tyree volunteers). A $5 donation is requested at the door but you can be a jerk and not pay it; it’s technically a free show. JetLab opens things up at 9 p.m. and members of local choirs MUSE and Young Professionals Choral Collective are slated to make guest appearances with the Shambles.
CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with the band about their origins and the new release for this week’s issue. Brian describes the album and band’s sound like this:
While Loose Change exudes a contemporary vibe, the album bears the diverse hallmarks of the best ‘70s Blues Rock albums. Like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Free before them, The Whiskey Shambles channels first generation Blues subsets like Delta, Piedmont and Hill Country, combined with the members’ unique individual experiences to conjure an edgy, atmospheric vision of 21st century Blues.
• One of Cincinnati’s best bands, The Hiders, celebrate the release of their amazing new album Totem Saturday at Northside Tavern. The show is free. Singer/songwriter Ali Edwards (former bandmate of The Hiders’ frontman Billy Alletzhauser in Ruby Vileos) opens at 10 p.m.
• Unique Cincinnati Americana group The Tadcasters have released a new EP and on Saturday they’re playing Stanley’s Pub in celebration. The show features two other Roots acts that have recently issued new material — La Grange, Texas, Folk/Rock/Roots act The Youngest (supporting the new album Feral Road) and Oliver Oak, an Indie Folk sextet from Columbus, Ohio (supporting its new Sleepless Wilds release). Showtime is 9 p.m. and there’s a small cover charge at the door.
Here is “Chaingang” from The Tadcaster’s excellent new five-song EP:
• Sunday at the Southgate House Revival, friends of veteran local musician David Rhodes Brown are throwing a party in honor of his remarkable 50 years of playing music in the area. The multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter has been a part of numerous local acts in his half-century of service, coming into regional notoriety in the early ’80s with his long-running Rockabilly/Roots band The Warsaw Falcons (who will reunite and close out Sunday’s event) and going on to play with notable Greater Cincinnati groups like The StarDevils, Magnolia Mountain and numerous others. In 2010, Brown released his guest-laden solo album Browngrass & Wildflowers, and he’s played lap steel guitar with the popular Punk Pop/Roots Rock band 500 Miles to Memphis for the past several years.
Many of Brown’s friends and current/former bandmates will perform some of his songs at the event, including Ryan Mallot, Mark Utley, Wilder, Todd Lipscomb, Gregory Burton, Elle Crash and Pike 27. More friends and bandmates (including CityBeat’s own Brian Baker and should-be Hamilton Country Commissioner Jim Tarbell) will also give Brown the “roast” treatment at the party.
Showtime is 7 p.m. and admission is just $5.
In honor of CityBeat’s 20th anniversary, music editor Mike Breen and music section contributor Brian Baker (both of whom have been with the paper since the first issue) did an e-chat to discuss their experiences writing about music for the past two decades, from interview horror stories to the joys of covering Cincinnati musicians.
Mike Breen: So 20 years. We were both working (or, rather, volunteering) at Everybody’s News when we found out EN’s editor John Fox was leaving to start a new paper. I remember when he first told me, when it was still hush hush, and asked me to come aboard as the music editor while I was still in college. He pulled me aside as we were leaving the EN building after a day of work, told me (in hushed tones) about his plans and said he’d like me to be the music editor. I was excited because I believed in John’s broader vision — providing a liberal/progressive voice for the city, celebrating the arts and striving to create quality journalism — but also because I was going to finally be paid for my work. Do you remember when you first heard word about CityBeat's formation?
Brian Baker: Vividly. After John left EN, no one paid the slightest attention to me. I don't think they ran a single review of mine after his departure. At some point that following summer, John James, who'd been doing the Positively Yeah Yeah Yeah column, called me at my design day job and said John Fox wanted to have lunch to talk about something he's got planned. So the three of us met at this little seafood place on Reading Road and John (Fox) laid out the blueprint he had in mind for CityBeat. It sounded like a great idea, and my reaction was the same as yours. A byline and a check? Pinch me, I'm dreaming.
But John offered a single caveat, and it would have rather lasting implications. He said, "I can't use you as a reviewer, I need you as a feature writer. Can you do that?" I said yes, and that really changed everything regarding my writing career. In a very tangible sense, everything that's happened to me over the past 20 years is due to John's insistence that I write features, and I owe him a great debt because of that one simple clause in our contract.
MB: I remember months before the first issue of CityBeat I spent days putting together request letters to mail out to hundreds of record labels asking to be added to their mailing lists. Which is funny to think of now — we weren’t using email and, as opposed to receiving most review copies these days as downloads, we started getting dozens of CDs (and even cassettes at that point) a week. It’s crazy to me to think about doing research for reviews and stories in the very earliest days of CityBeat; I had a handful of “encyclopedias of music” books, but mostly we had to just rely on those press kit folders, which usually had a press release, a bio and then a stack of stapled-together photocopied reviews and interviews from other outlets. Now you can literally press a button and see every review and feature story ever written about an artist. It’s certainly easier now to be lazy.
What do you think has changed the most about writing about music over the past 20 years?
BB: No question that the internet has made the research part of our jobs a whole lot easier. And today's connectivity makes it almost (although not quite entirely) impossible for publicists to duck our requests for material and interviews. But remember tearsheets? Sending physical proof of my features and reviews to labels and publicists used to be enormously time-consuming, especially after I started picking up outlets other than CityBeat. Now it's like everything else: email a link.
Here's the thing about the new research paradigm. Back when my daughter was in 4th grade, her class and one other were doing a project on newspapers, where they split into groups, had editors and writers and each made their own version of a newspaper. Isabelle's teacher asked if I would be interested in talking to both classes about working on a real newspaper, which I happily agreed to do. The one point that I really tried to hammer home to the young journalistic minds in the group is that the internet has no editor, and you have to be incredibly careful with pulling what you think are facts from websites that may actually be offering little more than glorified opinions. In some ways, the internet has made everything incredibly easy, and in other ways, it has added in almost arcane levels of complexity that never existed before.
As I am often fond of pointing out, computers didn't make everything better, they made everything different.
MB: We’ll move on from computer-related stuff after this, but I want to vent about internet trolls so just humor me for a sec (haha). As I’m often fond of pointing out, the best thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice. And the worst thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice.
In the earliest days, we had one computer in CityBeat’s office that had web access, so people had to share time. My earliest memory of interacting with a “reader” online was when some asshole kid sent me this scathing note about something I’d written about Goth or Industrial music. He was a dick to me, so I was a dick right back (some things never change!). He threatened to “tell my boss” the mean things I said to him, which may have been the first time I did a computer-related “LOL.” It’s weird to think of now, in a time when online trolls are just par for the course. It’s probably the thing I hate most about the job, and it was evident in my very first experience communicating with someone online about something I’d written. (I should give credit to my first “troll,” singer/songwriter/funnyman David Enright, who, since the internet was still developing and Facebook was many years away from giving voice to everyone’s vitriol, made hand-written fliers eviscerating me, CityBeat and CityBeat’s music section for being lame. He stapled them onto telephone poles all over the Clifton area. I wish I’d saved one.)
We’d always talk about how we sort of wrote in a vacuum — we’d write stuff, throw it out there and assume people were reading it, but, outside of the rare “letter to the editor” or meeting people in the flesh, we had no idea how people were reacting to the content. Now we can kind of see in real time what people are reading (online) and get instant feedback if it hits the wrong or right chord. But people seem to mostly respond only when something pisses them off, which is fine, but it’s almost always rude and insulting, which is maddening.
Anyway, you (wisely) stay off of social media, and I imagine you are spared a lot of this more annoying feedback. But over the years, what have your communications with both subjects and readers been like? Are they only mean to me or do you get some of that too? (For the record, most artists are very cool, even if a review isn’t especially glowing, and very few are anything but kind and polite when I meet them in person.)
Also, and this is mostly for my own curiosity really, why do you avoid social media?
BB: I think I've had maybe one or two weird trollish kind of events, and in both cases I tried to reframe my case for the sake of clarification and when that went nowhere, I just surrendered, which I'm guessing is probably the money shot for most of these boners, so you're welcome. The anonymity of the internet has made self-imagined giantkillers out of intellectual/emotional pipsqueaks, and it has become an occupational hazard for those of us who would dare offer an opinion to a great unwashed mass that now has the means to respond from the bliss of their ignorance at the click of a mouse. On the other hand, it has also given us an opportunity to have fascinating conversations with people who actually relish the thrill of debating divergent opinions without having to declare a winner. A fair trade, I suppose.
My experience with the artists that I review and interview has always been, as you noted, very positive. And when I get introduced to people at shows, events, county fairs, beauty pageants and hog calling contests, and they realize I'm "that guy," they're always overwhelmingly nice, typically working up to a comment that goes, in general, "I've always loved your writing," and it's always nice to hear. A woman recently wrote in with some rather lavish praise about my online coverage of MidPoint, and her compliments were were well received by my always conflicted ego, although I was slightly bemused by this admission: "I've not read any previous articles by Mr. Baker..." So thanks for your kind words on my MidPoint reviewage, and if you're so inclined, there's 20 years of this stuff in the archive. Knock yourself out.
As for my social media blackout, I'm neither Amish nor am I a crotchety old duffer who doesn't understand the platforms and just wants these damn kids to stay out of my internet yard. My avoidance of Facebook has become something of a cause celebre; I didn't join because I couldn't see the benefit weighed against the time involved in posting/monitoring/responding, and now I'm one of a dozen people connected to the modern world who is not on Facebook.
At least part of the reason for the rest of it is the electronic array in the Bunker is just a couple of steps above the radio that the Professor made out of two palm fronds and a coconut shell on Gilligan's Island, and my phone is the Flintstones to everyone else's Jetsons. I have, in fact, grown rather weary of swearing at my 10-year-old Motorola flip phone (I know, I know), and I will soon be upgrading to something more befitting the second decade of the new millennium. And when that happens, I will probably be tweeting and whatnot with the rest of humanity. Until then, you kids stay the hell out of my internet yard.
Avi Buffalo plays a free show tonight at MOTR Pub at 10 p.m. Cincinnati’s Founding Fathers open.
Avi Buffalo began when Californian teenager Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg began home-recording songs in high school. After completing high school, he had a full band and an offer from esteemed indie label SubPop Records quickly followed. Avi Buffalo’s sublime, ethereal Indie Pop wowed critics and fans alike upon the release of the band’s self-titled SubPop debut in 2010. There’s a sense of wonder, romance and mystery in Zahner-Isenberg songs, something even more evident on the group’s highly anticipated sophomore full-length, At Best Cuckold, which was released in early September and drew even higher praise from critics. Fans of The Shins and Grandaddy will appreciate the wispy, beautifully melodic genius of Avi Buffalo’s songs, which caress the eardrums as they burrow into the listener’s cranium.
• Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s Indie Chamber Pop project San Fermin returns to Cincinnati tonight for a show at the new Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine. The ensemble performed one of its first shows ever at last year’s MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati; despite their debut album not being out yet, the concert still sold out.
Check out Jason Gargano’s interview with Ludwig-Leone from last week's CityBeat here.
Tonight’s show at the Woodward kicks off at 8:30 p.m. with a performance by Mikhael Paskalev. Tickets are $17.
• AltPop singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson plays the Taft Theatre tonight. Chris Koza opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30.
Michelson has built a large fan base and experienced chart success since her self-released debut album, Slow the Rain, came out in the middle of the last decade; her next album, Girls and Boys, was her breakthrough, garnering mainstream attention after various tracks were used on TV shows (most notably, Grey’s Anatomy). Despite offers from big corporate labels, Michaelson has remained largely a DIY artist, putting albums out through her own Cabin 24 label (though she now has distribution through the notoriously artist-friendly Mom + Pop Music imprint).
Here is the recently unveiled video for “Afterlife,” the second single from this year’s Lights Out album. The new LP was her most collaborative yet; written and recorded after bouts with illnesses and other issues that left her in a dark place, Michelson collaborated with a range of producers and fellow songwriters.
Last month, several photos featuring the members of Cincinnati’s Wussy hanging out at the CBS studios in New York made their way to the band’s social media accounts. Turns out the band wasn’t just taking a studio tour; they were invited guests!
Wussy filmed an in-studio session and were interviewed for a feature on the band that will appear on CBS This Morning Nov. 29. The date was revealed on this past Saturday’s CBS This Morning. It will be the band’s network television debut, the latest milestone for Wussy, which has seen its national profile continually rise gradually over the past several years.
CBS This Morning’s Saturday edition has been doing weekly musician profiles for a while now on a segment called “Saturday Sessions.” The show has featured artists like The Head and the Heart, Trampled by Turtles, Delta Spirit, Gaslight Anthem and Counting Crows in recent months (British musicians Johnny Marr and James play the next two “Saturday Sessions,” respectively).
Here are the Cincinnati natives of The National performing a session for the show earlier this year.
The brand new Over-the-Rhine music venue The Woodward Theater had a public open house event this past Friday and now it’s time for the venue’s first official show. The Woodward — brought to you by the people who run MOTR Pub, which is just across Main Street from the new club — hosts acclaimed Grand Rapids, Mich., ensemble The Soil & the Sun tonight. The progressive, gorgeously ethereal Indie Chamber Folk group is joined by Wisconsin Country/Folk group Count this Penny for the 8 p.m. show. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is just $5.
Here is a clip of The Soil & the Sun performing a session for the Audiotree series.
• Eclectic drummer/composer Dylan Ryan brings his Dylan Ryan/Sand project to Northside’s The Comet tonight. Ryan’s exploratory Jazz Rock trio will be joined by the Dave McDonnell Group of the free, 10 p.m. show. Ryan (now based in L.A.) and McDonnell (now based in Cincinnati) are both members of the “Prog Jazz” ensemble Herculaneum.
Here’s “Tree, Voices, Saturn,” a track from Sand’s second album, Circa, which was released on Cuneiform Records in late September.
• Diverse New Orleans Rock band The Revivalists perform at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater tonight. The show starts at 8 p.m. with special guests Black Cadillacs. Tickets are $17 at the door.
Here’s the official video for “Criminal” from The Revivalists’ City of Sound LP, which was reissued by the band’s new label home, Wind-Up Records, earlier this year.
• One of the cool things about The Woodward Theater is that when shows there end, there will always be something going on across the street at MOTR Pub, which typically presents shows at 10 p.m. (and never charges a cover). Tonight’s a great opportunity to test that out as each venue has a great band performing. SubPop recording artists Jaill play MOTR tonight, after the Soil & the Sun show across the street, with guests Smut.
Formed more than a decade ago in Milwaukee, Wis., Jaill spent their formative years self-recording and releasing a variety of music on their own or for small labels. In 2008, the band put out its debut full-length, There’s No Sky (Oh My My) — which was reissued on Burger Records (the label also released a collection of early recordings called Cranes last year) — and caught the attention of SubPop.
The band signed with SubPop for 2010’s That’s How We Burn and then in 2012 released the magnificent Traps, a great representation of the group’s jangly, highly melodic Indie Pop. Pitchfork gave the album a positive review, comparing the band to Violent Femmes and the dB’s and describing it as “idiosyncratic pop-rock appealing to geeky outsiders and scene lifers.” I’d say it has a far wider appeal than that.