Starting this evening, Tropicoso will now play The Mad Frog the second Friday of every month (date in flier to the left). The shows are open to fans 18 and up and admission is $7. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more on Tropicoso visit tropicosomusic.com.
The recording is actually an expanded version of The Guitars’ phenomenal 2011 EP, High Action, with two bonus cuts — “El Alamein” and a cover of Billy Vera/The Remains’ “Don’t Look Back”— culled from an “Ultrasessions” live recording at local Ultrasuede Studios. The two cuts only serve to make the release stronger. The Guitars' songs have a timelessness — marked by non-pedestrian elements of Motown, Stax, The Box Tops and other vintage Soul Pop — that makes you feel, after just a couple of listens, that you've known these tunes all your life.
Oh, and in another tip of the vintage hat, this new Higher Action is being released on cassette by California indie label Burger Records (the label has put out material by The Black Lips, The GO, King Tuff and many others).
The Guitars are presently preparing to start recording new material with local artist/producer Brian Olive. Keep tabs on the band via their Facebook site here.
Here's the bonus-cut cover of The Remains’ “Don’t Look Back":
And here's the original release's addictive single, "Piltdown Man":
Louisville's 11th annual three-day fest welcomes The Black Keys, Flaming Lips, Grace Potter and more
Louisville's giant Forecastle music festival, taking place July 12-14 (the same weekend as Cincinnati's Bunbury Music Festival), today announced its preliminary lineup. Headliners include Avett Brothers, The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips, Animal Collective, Jim James, Crow Medicine Show, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Big Boi, Matt & Kim and Alabama Shakes. The festival is held annually at Louisville's Waterfront Park, though this year there will be special "off site" late night shows.
Below is the full lineup. For tickets (which go on sale Wednesday at noon) and complete information, click here.
The Black Keys The String Cheese Incident The Avett Brothers The Flaming Lips Alabama Shakes Jim James Animal Collective Old Crow Medicine Show Grace Potter & The Nocturnals The Forecastle Incident (with special guests) Young the Giant Big Boi Matt & Kim Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Purity Ring The Joy Formidable Datsik Dawes Griz Kurt Vile & The Violators Toro y Moi Bob Mould Band El-P & Killer Mike Baauer Bombino Moon Taxi Freakwater Foxygen Greensky Bluegrass Wild Belle Tift Merritt TOKiMONSTA Shovels & Rope Salva Night Beds MNDR Churchill Ryan Hemsworth Rubblebucket Alasdair Roberts & Friends Mona The 23 String Band Wheeler Brothers A Lion Named Roar The Pass
• Cinematic Indie alchemists Mountains perform a free show tonight at Mayday in Northside. Led by longtime pals Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, Mountains formed in Chicago and are now based in New York. The band, which electronically "abstracts" and manipulates cello, acoustic guitar, piano and other instruments into unique, ethereal sounds, is touring in support of its new album Centralia, its third for the esteemed Thrill Jockey label.
CityBeat's Jason Gargano writes that, on the new release, "it’s as if David Lynch and his longtime composer Angelo Badalamenti wrestled the eternally ethereal Tree of Life away from Terence Malick and injected a serious dose of mood-altering menace into its penultimate scene." Check out his full preview of the show here.
• Modern Roots music legends Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale (and a backing band) perform together tonight at the Southgate House Revival in Newport. Not "together" like a double-bill, but "together" as in they'll be doing tunes from their long in the works collaborative album, Buddy & Jim. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25. Singer/songwriter Max Gomez opens.
Talking from his Nashville home, Lauderdale told CityBeat's Brian Baker that the buddies began talking about making the record over 15 years ago.
“I ran into somebody recently that said they had seen footage of me after a gig in Germany and they were asking me what I was up to and I said that I was getting ready to do a record with Buddy Miller,” Lauderdale says. “It turned out that was in ’95.” Read the full interview here and check out this trailer for the album.
The 16th annual Cincinnati music celebration begins airing locally this Saturday
The 2013 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony/party late last month at Covington’s Madison Theater was filmed on high-quality video and this Saturday, for the first time in the 16-year history of the CEAs, fans who want to relive the performances and presentations (or those who missed it altogether) will have a chance to watch the show on television.
The show includes the short but very sweet live sets from Bad Veins’ Ben Davis, The Dopamines, Gold Shoes, Ricky Nye, Jess Lamb and Culture Queer, as well as an all-star presentation of songs from the Come Play the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams at Herzog EP put together by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation.
Saturday at 9 p.m., thanks to the Intercommunity Cable Regulatory Commission, the full show will be aired on ICRC TV, available in select communities in the Cincinnati area via Time Warner Cable channel 4. The show will be rebroadcast on the same channel Monday at 8:30 p.m., March 1 at 10 p.m. and March 2 at noon. (Check here — in the column on the left — to see if the broadcast is available in your area.)
For those in Cincinnati proper, you can watch the CEAs on Time Warner channel 24 on Feb. 27 and on March 6 at 9 a.m. A Northern Kentucky broadcast is also in the works, as is the ability to watch the program online. Stay tuned to this here music blog for the latest updates.
If those air times don’t work for you, you can also purchase a copy on DVD. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about delivery and prices. (Program reference number is 16534.) To relive the ceremony in photos and words, click here.
Legendary musician/poet/artist schedules May 17 stop in Cincinnati
Contemporary Arts Center has officially announced that Patti Smith will perform The Coral Sea with daughter/pianist Jesse Smith on May 17, in connection with her CAC exhibit, also called The Coral Sea, that opens the next day and features work not previously seen in the U.S.
At the concert, Smith will also play selected material from throughout her career.
The CAC website says that "The Coral Sea performance work found its beginnings from Smith’s 1997 book of the same name, her requiem to her dear friend Robert Mapplethorpe (who took the cover photo of Smith’s debut album, Horses, among his many other accomplishments). With music arranged and performed live by Kevin Shields — of heralded British shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine — two separate performances were held at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in June 2005 and September 2006. In 2008 those performances were released as a live album."
Mapplethorpe's own posthumous photography retrospective at CAC, 1990's The Perfect Moment, became a major controversy when cultural conservatives led by now-retired Sheriff Simon Leis tried to shut it down for obscenity. In a famous trial, a jury sided with the CAC. The concert venue and ticket information will be announced soon at www.contemporaryartscenter.org.
I first wrote about Smith's art show coming to the CAC in CityBeat last year here.
Rock legends perform Rock Opera in full at KFC "Yum!" Center Saturday night
For a couple of decades, I've resisted going to concerts by legendary Rock bands and icons I've loved who keep touring without much in the way of new material. I'd rather remember The Rolling Stones via video footage of their ’60 and early ’70s peak. I'd rather see The Who when there was an element of chaos and danger, when Keith Moon might pass out and have to be replaced by an eager fan pulled from the audience at the last minute. I'd rather remember The Beatles circa their post-touring years, via footage from their post-"Fab Four" days, working on arty videos and even artier music.
I've seen a lot of footage from The Rolling Stones live in the past nearly 30 years ago and it really set this resistant tone for me. Even back on the tours behind Tattoo You, the Stones largely just seemed to be chugging along for the cash. The most infuriating thing to me has always been their double-speed rendition of classics like "Satisfaction," as if they're just trying to get them out of the way. (To their credit, they seem to be fond of dragging out some "deeper cuts" at more recent shows, which adds at least a little freshness to their stale cavalcade of hits.)
It has to be a bit of a dilemma for some aging legends. The majority of fans want just the hits; they're the ones who complain of Facebook that a certain show was "OK, but they didn't play ___________! So it sucked." The Rolling Stones have a little bit of new material every few years that they'll drop into the set to keep things interesting for the members (or they'll dig out those deeper cuts). Paul McCartney does a total crowd-pleaser concert, basically performing the same exact stage show for seemingly 20 years and running through those classic Beatles/Wings tunes that are guaranteed to bring any house down. McCartney seems more a "give the people what they want" showman, and his performance is note perfect and flawless. I've always respected British Punkish-Pop-turned-Classical-Pop singer/songwriter Joe Jackson for the way he found to keep things interesting — never play every song the same way on every tour. His great live album, Live 1980/86, featuring four concerts from different eras is a brilliant example of this — there are four totally different versions of "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" It's interesting to the players and the die-hard fans. (Casual fans would rather hear the version on the original recording without variation).
The Who has done greatest hits runs and has only released a handful of new recordings in the past 30 years. But they have enough ambitious, grand projects in their impeccable discography that they can pull out, they're capable of doing special shows like the one on their current tour which finds the surviving members (and friends) performing the Quadrophenia album in full.
The Who's sporadic tours of late have often had some special "hook" that, presumably, keeps things interesting for the members who have played "My Generation" approximately 4 billion times. Townshend often makes some comment after a tour that it might be the last. He doesn't seem interested in the greatest hits revue. At Louisville's concert and sports palace, the KFC Yum! Center, The Who — well, original living members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, plus a cast of backing musicians that included Ringo Starr's overachieving bad-ass drummer son Zak Starkey on the skins and Pete's brother Simon Townshend becoming more of a presence on guitar and occasional vocals — played Quadrophenia in full (as they've done with Tommy) and I couldn't help but think that the artistic challenge of performing the group's second notable Rock Opera in full was enough to get Townshend to sign on. And enough to keep The Who on the road.
The Quadorphenia performance was excellent. The band played through without talking or really pausing for a breath, playing the double album from start to finish. This seemed to cause some uneasiness for some in attendance who didn't get the memo about the Quadrophenia-heavy performance and seemed just ready to hear "Teenage Wasteland" and "Squeeze Box." But the crowd, en masse, eventually warmed to the presentation, particularly the "hits" like "5:15," "The Real Me" and a jaw-dropping performance of "Love Reign O'er Me," the story-cycle's emotional climax and finale.
Part of making the medicine go down smoother was the barrage of video clips and photographs of, well, everything. There was plenty of old Who footage and lots of clips of late members Keith Moon and John Entwistle, plus some interesting visual effects involving rain and ocean waves during interludes (like on the album, but visualized). They also included a pair of lengthy montages from the entire history of Western Civilization since WWII. We were treated to images of the Berlin Wall falling, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and other U.S. presidents, war footage. It was a history class presented quick-cut style.
While these video gimmicks were attention-grabbing — everyone likes to watch historical/pop cultural montages — it didn't make much sense in the context of the story. I mean, I suppose EVERY contemporary story told has SOME connection to the entire history of the modern world. But the band was playing a thematic piece of work that told a real, actual story. Why not advance that story? It's a good one, weaving a tale about a common 1960s young man trying to find his way in the world and eventually becoming disillusioned and losing his mind. Maybe they wanted the words to do the talking … in which case, the footage (while visually compelling) was pointless wallpaper.
But most importantly, the band played the album well. It was in essentially the same arrangement as the original album, but with a few interesting added elements. The group's tribute to Keith Moon on "Bell Boy" — during which Moon's vocal part was stitched in seamlessly, with him floundering about in concert with his headphones and sticks to grab the mic and sing (via video) — was touching (and also not spoiler-alerted during the group's performance of it during the Sandy Hook benefit concert). The vocals were laid in over top of the band, so they were basically doing the Elvis-via-film "concerts" where "he" plays with his old bandmates. But it was touching (Daltrey gazed at his old friend lovingly) and an emotional high point of the show.
As was the tribute to the group's stunning bassist John Entwistle. The band gave The Ox a "solo" mid-song and it was disorienting in its brilliance, as Entwistle performed a spine-tingling barrage of bass acrobatics — of course with his trademark deadpan stare making it looking even more effortless. The footage was shot on cameras at an old show placed at the head of his bass and in front of him. Watching his fingers move across the frets was like watching a ballet of finger-work. Greatest Rock & Roll bassist of all time — no contest.
I developed a new appreciation for how hard Roger Daltrey works singing a two-hour plus concert. Unlike Entwistle, he made it look hard … but it was valiant and he hit almost ever note. A few lines would be "jazzily" redirected to avoid a few of the harder notes … but he nailed most of the important ones. By the time they got to love "Reign o'er Me," one of Rock's best, more underrated vocal performances ever, I had to tip my hat. You can tell he's doing everything he can to keep that voice in the best shape possible — there was a warning posted on the screens before the show announcing Roger's allergies, which, it said, would have a detrimental effect on his singing (the notice playfully suggested sticking to brownies). He had some sort of humidifier looking device behind him pumping steam the whole show and, though he played it off like a pro, he seemed a little lost when his in-ear monitors broke down twice during the performance. During the second-to-last song, "Won't Get Fooled Again," Daltrey stopped singing at one point and the band seemed thrown, but quickly recovered. Roger didn't look happy but he eventually came back to better spirits.
Pete Townshend has long been my ultimate Rock & Roll hero — he embodied Rock & Roll to me growing up and I've never grown tired of his songwriting. Pete has a rep for being a grump, but he was downright jolly in Louisville, windmills flying regularly. He joked towards the end about how he could now "jump up and land at the same time," promising to go nuts and act like he was 16 again for the next tune. He never quite managed lift-off — a trademark of his old days, when he'd tuck his knees and jump a good five feet straight up, landing on a big chord or final note. He's technically a senior citizen – the fact that he could roam around the stage and show some intensity is impressive enough. (And, as the man who has written Tommy and "Substitute" and "A Quick One," I'd give him a total pass if he'd decided to play laying down on a bed in the center of the stage.)
After the group finished Quadrophenia, they didn't even leave the stage. Pete, like an orchestra conductor might, spoke to the audience about their performance and introduced the great back-up players (which included a horn section and a pair of keyboard wizards). The group then ran through a stream of hits that, at least in terms of intensity, fed into my old fears that seeing my idols past-prime might replace a good memory with bad ones. The versions of "Who Are You," "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Reilly" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," weren't "bad," but, miraculously, had a couple of sloppy moments. I actually liked that — I'd stay home and listen to the albums if I wanted perfection — but it seemed like the band was ready to go back to the hotel. The power chords more often than not lacked the "power" element. They just weren't stepping into it — they were lightly breezing through.
The full band left and Roger and Pete did one of their few newer songs, an acoustic number about growing older, friendship, tea … and theatre (apparently), called "Tea & Theatre." As on the Hurricane Sandy benefit show, it seemed an odd closer, though it was sweet. These two old friends who have hated each other at times over the years seem at peace with The Who's legacy and their own partnership.
Townshend announced that Roger had arranged the whole Quadrophenia performance, which immediately made me believe Daltrey brought the idea to Townshend, knowing he'd have a better chance presenting something his old mate would find challenging if he wanted to go on a "Who tour" again. Daltrey could've staged it himself, but I envision him going to Pete and saying, "I do this one my own, I'm doing casinos and theaters; you come with and it's a lucrative arena tour."
Like all bands with longevity, The Who have found a dynamic that seems to work. It's something every enduring band has to come to peace with – from The Stones to The Black Crowes to Pearl Jam, all bands that seem to have realized they need each other to do their job most effectively (and profitably). Once they find that peace, they seem much happier. The Crowes have split or taken long breaks numerous times, but they know their future is like Keith and Mick's — they need to tour together because that's what their fans (and customers) desire. And Pearl Jam fairly early on seemed to come to an understanding that their place is on the road and together. They seem happy these days and you rarely hear them complain about "fame" anymore (as Mr. Vedder had been known to do at one time). They even play songs they've played millions of times — like "Alive" and "Even Flow" and "Jeremy" and "Black" — with passion, fire and smiles on their faces. They have inherited a bit of "Uncle Paul's" crowd-pleaser genes.
All of these artists seem in a good place in terms of tending to their legacy, finding what works best for them. The Who seemed that way as well Saturday night in Louisville, but I left wondering "What's next?" Might this really be a farewell tour. They've been doing them since the early ’80s, but if Pete and Roger don't come up with an approach that satisfies their artistic/performance needs, I wouldn't be shocked to hear that they've decided to call it quits after this round of travel.
While my personal concerns about seeing some of my favorite artists before they are no longer able to perform have been both confirmed and assuaged at shows by The Who and McCartney, I'm still happy I've seen those artists play in my lifetime. I've now decided to look at it like those fans who wanted to see early musical icons like Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf or Charles Mingus or any legendary player play one more time before he or she passed away — I'm sure they might not have been spellbinding, but I'm also sure it gave great joy to those fans who saw them.
And I've also realized that there's nothing wrong with indulging your nostalgic instincts in these situations. There's room in most of our minds for multiple memories about the same people. I will remember Pete and Roger killing it on The Smothers Brothers show and I can remember them keeping the spirit live almost 50 years later in Louisville … and neither memory has to cancel the other out.
California native and acclaimed Jazz composer/saxophonist Donny McCaslin got a fairly big jump on his music career, performing with an ensemble of experienced musicians by the time he was 12. If there was any nepotism involved (the group was McCaslin’s father’s, a vibraphonist), the criticisms probably faded quickly as McCaslin started his own group in high school and managed to get them booked multiple years at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
The saxophonist studied intently and performed in youth orchestras that traveled the globe, all before earning a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He moved to New York City in the early ’90s and found work quickly, replacing Michael Brecker (a huge influence on the young musician) in the group Steps Ahead and going on to play with the Gil Evans Orchestra and many others.
By the mid-’90s, McCaslin — who had deeply explored the various aspects and possibilities of traditional Jazz — began to collaborate on more experimental Jazz projects, including the group Lan Xang and Ken Schaphorst’s big band (alongside John Medeski and other unique top players). McCaslin’s creative curiosity set the tone for his diverse solo albums, which have been widely acclaimed for the composer’s successful risk-taking.
When McCaslin plays the Blue Wisp Jazz Club tonight (with shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.), he’ll be supporting on of his most compelling releases yet, 2012’s Casting for Gravity. The album was inspired by McCaslin’s interest in Electronic music, an uncommon ingredient in most forms of Fusion. The album roams from textural, ambient explorations (particularly on a cover of Scottish electronica duo Boards of Canada’s “Alpha and Omega”) to quirky, funky meditations like the glitchy “Tension.”
It’s a recipe that shouldn’t work, but Casting for Gravity is a fascinating listen that makes one wonder if visionaries like John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman might not have pursued this direction if they were born 60 years later. It’s primarily a progressive Jazz album, with tasteful electronic flourishes. Instead of aping Electronic music nakedly, McCaslin seamlessly incorporates the arrangement spirit of Electro masters like Aphex Twin or more contemporary EDM artists into his own compositions.
Tickets for tonight's shows are $20 (students can get into the 9:30 p.m. show for $15). Here is a clip of the band performing the latest album's track, "Stadium Jazz."
• The husband and wife duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, better known as Shovels & Rope, were slated for an appearance at MidPoint Music Festival here in Cincinnati last fall, but an offer to open for Jack White convinced them to bow out of the fest.
Given the hardscrabble road the pair has traveled over the past five years, it’s hard to argue with their choice. Denver native Trent and Nashville-raised Hearst had been in several bands before crossing paths in Charleston, S.C. (they’d met on tour over a decade ago), eventually playing in each other’s bar bands and becoming friends.
In 2008, the pair formalized their friendship by writing and recording the album Shovels & Rope and releasing it under their own names.
The duo ultimately decided to name its group after the title of that debut album and released O’ Be Joyful last summer to ecstatic press notice, with frequent references to Johnny Cash and June Carter and John Doe and Exene Cervenka (although they’re just as quick to namecheck The Cramps and the visceral pairing of Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello). (Preview by Brian Baker)
Shovels & Rope's success continues to rise, as evidenced just last week by their network TV debut on David Letterman's show (see below). But even on a local level, their ascent was obvious — tonight's appearance at the Southgate House Revival was moved from one of the smaller rooms in the venue to the larger "Sanctuary" room after it was clear that they could fill it. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $12 at the door (while they last).
In-studio concert series to include local faves and national acts from a variety of genres
Yesterday, Northern Kentucky independent radio outlet WNKU celebrated two years of expanding its broadcast to 105.9 and 104.1 FM (as well as the standard 89.7 FM). Today, the station announced the upcoming season of its great in-studio concert series, Studio 89. As usual, the lineup is a great, eclectic mix of local acts and national artists. Studio 89 begins airing Monday, live at 7 p.m., starting Feb. 18.
Besides your FM dial options, you may also listen to WNKU at wnku.org.
UPDATE: As always, WNKU also will have numerous guests in the studio to chat in the coming months. Here's a run-down: Ellis Paul (tomorrow, 3 p.m.); Shovels & Rope (Feb. 5; 2 p.m.), Matisyahu (Feb. 7, 2:30 p.m.); Trixie Whitley (Feb. 10; 3 p.m.); Red Wanting Blue (Feb. 16; 2 p.m.); Chicago Farmer (Feb. 22; 4 p.m.); Paul Bromwell (Feb. 23; 11 a.m.); Tom Kiefer (Feb. 27; 12:30 p.m.); Wake Owl (Feb. 27; 2 p.m.); Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale (Feb. 28; time TBA); They Might Be Giants (March 3; 3 p.m.); Papa Chubby (March 4; 4 p.m.); Kopecky Family Band (March 18; 2 p.m.); and Will Kimbrough (April 5; 2 p.m.).
Contemporary "Newgrass" kings Yonder Mountain String Band return to the area tonight for an all-ages, 8:30 p.m. show at Covington's Madison Theater. Tickets are $25. Opening the show is the very cool Lake Street Dive, a "jazz-schooled, DIY-motivated and classically pop obsessed" quartet that formed at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Check out this clip of the group performing the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back."
In an interview with CityBeat's Brian Baker, YMSB's guitarist/vocalist Adam Aijala said fans might hear a new song or two at tonight's show. As for when you might hear a new album with new material, Aijala said the members have been having trouble finding time to get in the studio between familial obligations and touring. Read the full interview here and check out the group's 2010 appearance on CBS's Late Late Show. (There will be a pre- and post-show party at Stanley's Pub, which is also offering a bus ride to and from the Madison show. The CEA-winning Rumpke Mountain Boys will perform.)
• Eclectic NYC Indie Rock troupe Mice Parade marches into MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. appearance, the second date on its current tour. Formed as a solo project by Adam Pierce at the end of the ’90s, Mice Parade has featured various band members since and nearly every successive release has shown growth and a different side of Pierce's writing. Candela, Mice Parade's latest addition to its already stacked discography (released this past Tuesday), is one of Pierce's most compelling releases to date, showcasing a fascinating, psychedelic brand of "Shoegaze" Pop that is as unpredictable as it is riveting.