I may be imagining it (the eternal optimist that I am), but it seems like ever since the Southgate House locked its doors at the end of 2011, many in the local booking world stepped up their game instantly. Though it's only been just over a month, it certainly doesn't feel as if the Greater Cincinnati concert market has been gutted by the loss of that one great club. And with several spots slated to open later this year (new venues from the brains behind the Southgate and Mad Hatter, plus whatever happens to the actual Southgate House building), it only looks to be getting better.
More good news on that front came out at the start of this week. On Feb. 10, an unexpected, big-time venue entered the mix — or rather, increased its presence in it. Downtown’s gorgeous Taft Theatre already this year announced some concerts by more “mid-level” groups like Trampled By Turtles and JJ Grey & Mofro, cult faves and Southgate alumni. Now, the Taft and promoter Music & Events Management Inc. are opening a new venue-within-a-venue that will allow the Taft to book artists who have outgrown small clubs but aren't quite ready for the big room.
The Ballroom at the Taft — located in the theater’s lower level — was designed to be, according to the press release, “a showcase style club venue that will play host to a variety of live entertainment events spanning all types of styles and genres.”
Last week, Cincinnati's stars-in-the-making Walk the Moon issued the first release under its deal with RCA Records. Though only three songs, the effort is illuminating and a hint of what's to come on the band's forthcoming, so-far-untitled RCA full-length debut (due to be released this May). The Indie Dance Pop foursome has seemingly been touring and doing business related tasks non-stop for at least the last year. Now that it has a release on RCA, that will only increase. The recording is called Anna Sun EP, named for the band's irresistible tune that (along with a stellar music video) helped initially generate much of the buzz they've received fairly consistently over the past year or so.The song "Anna Sun" is on the EP, but those who have i want! i want! (the group's stellar self-released LP containing the original track) might still want to listen. It's a new version of the catchy song, slicked up a bit for radio and seemingly (inexplicably) sped up.
Are you watching the Grammys alone tonight? Wishing you had someone there with you to enjoy the performances and award presentations help make fun of any and everything that deserves to be? Whether you're solo snarking, hanging out with a few pals, throwing your own Grammy mega-party or at the ceremony in person (we hear Taylor Swift is a big citybeat.com fan), join me tonight at this very cyber spot for some hot live blogging action. And when those witty comments pop into your head (or you become outraged with something I've written), feel free to post some comments of your own. The show airs live on CBS at 8 p.m.; pre-show red carpet festivities are probably going on now on E! And you can watch the program (and pre-show activities) through the Grammys site or through the Grammys YouTube channel.
Below is a little "pre-game show," addressing some of the more interesting story-lines this year, the saddest of which began just last evening when superstar Whitney Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room. Even though her tragic death occurred just over 24 hours before the Grammys were set to begin, Houston's shadow will loom large over the ceremony, if not overshadow it completely.
Northside's Mayday hosts a killer triple bill for fans of songwriters who shape their own boundaries of tradition to forge new, singular Roots music sounds. Headlining is soulful, raw and rootsy Rock quintet Alone at 3am, which is on the cusp of gaining a lot more attention outside of their hometown base here in Cincinnati. Tonight's free show (with solid support from local acts Wonky Tonk and Arlo McKinley and The Lonesome Sound)
is the group's last local one for a while as A@3AM hits to road for tour dates on their way to Denver. The band is gearing up for its first full-length nationwide release, Midwest Mess, which is due out in April, the group's first for Denver-based Suburban Home Records.
Do you like to be able to say "Oh, I saw one of that band's first shows!" to impress friends with your insider knowledge of the local music scene once that band builds up a nice draw? Then head to Northside Tavern tonight for a free concert headlined by slinky, sludgy local Rock & Roll machine Two Headed Dog and two brand new outfits with some familiar names and faces and a lot of potential.
First up is The Perfect Children, featuring phenomenal singer Kirsten Kreft (who said she formed the band after being inspired to write "a ton of music" after she left the J. Dorsey Blues Revival band), Mike Reeder from Blues/Rock powerhouse The Mudpies and drummer Adam Shelton, who bangs the skins for Progressive Jazz unit RX-2. (Kreft also handles guitar and keyboard duties and the band announced actress and singer Beth Harris will be sitting in with them tonight).
R. Ring, the acoustic duo project featuring veteran Greater Cincinnati musician/engineer Mike Montgomery (thistle, Ampline, The Light Wires) and Dayton, Ohio's Kelley Deal (The Breeders), is preparing a debut 7-inch single due for release in late spring, according to Tiberius Records (home to thistle, Ampline and many other solid acts from this area and beyond). The vinyl platter is set to be issued on the Misra Records imprint out of Dayton, which is notoriously artist-friendly (founded by artists in 1999) and has put out work by acts like Destroyer, Phosphorescent, Shearwater, Centro-matic, Jenny Toomey, Great Lake Swimmers and Southeast Engine.
Since our Morning News and Stuff writer hates football and refused to comment on the Super Bowl (not even the Puppy Bowl!), I thought I'd take a minute to discuss yesterday's huge game. Well, the music heard during the TV broadcast, anyway.
While I'm not a huge Madonna fan (I love the idea of her more than her music), I thought her halftime show was excellent. Then I looked on the internets and it told me that I was stupid and it was actually horrible and, even worse, offensive! Things I learned: Madonna is, like, really old; she may have lip-synced during portions of the performance; and MIA said "Fuck you, America" with her middle finger. (Like Janet Jackson's boob, I wouldn't have even noticed had it not been overblown in cyberspace.)
Oh, and MIA, according to the AP report, also "appeared" to say a cuss word. (She didn't, clearly stopping her line, "I don't give a shit," at "Shhhh" — nice reporting AP!)
Isaac Joel of local acclaimed Indie Pop band Pomegranates has issued a compelling new EP titled Back to Bassics. Written and recorded with just bass guitar and vocals, the EP's six tracks are melodic, ambient and psychedelic, at times encased in hovering atmospherics but also often defiantly minimalistic and sparse. It's a thoroughly engaging collection of songs, almost trance-like in its ability to suck the listener into its ethereal haze. Though bass guitar is the only instrument used, those self-imposed boundaries are not immediately obvious, as Joel conjures layers of effected textures. But it's often Joel's dreamy, gentle vocal melodies (also usually presented within layers of choral harmonies) that provide the hypnotic pull that will keep you listening from start to finish.
Yesterday, Cincinnati Indie Pop/Rock band The Minor Leagues dropped their latest album via longtime label Datawaslost (based in Chicago). The release — the group's sixth full-length — is another in the band's string of "concept albums." Titled North College Hill (after the local neighborhood), singer/frontman Ben Walpole says the theme is "all about where I grew up, missing childhood, passing of time … stuff like that." The band made the LP with a little help from their friends via a Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter page went a little more in-depth into the new release's concept: "During the course of a 10-song cycle, we address the notion of 'hometown,' while trying to cope with a childhood that seems to slip farther and farther away with every old store in town that goes out of business, with every old friend that splits town. Wow, that sounds pretentious. Perhaps it is. We‘d like to think of it as an artistic statement. With guitars!"