The first good sign that consistent warmth is on its way is the announcement of the lineup for this year’s MidPoint Indie Summer series at downtown’s Fountain Square. The concerts are part of the Square’s free PNC Summer Music Series, which showcases different types of music (played mostly by local acts) five days a week. (The lineups for the every-Thursday Salsa on the Square shows have also been announced; visit myfountainsquare.com for details.)
The eclectic, free Indie Summer shows take place every Friday throughout the summer. This year’s lineup is perhaps the series’ strongest yet, with some higher profile national touring acts and the usual array of top-notch local talent.
Here’s the full rundown of Indie Summer shows so far (a few slots are still to be announced):
• August 15: The Nightbeast (a co-headliner will be announced in July)
The Indie Summer series is sponsored by the MidPoint Music Festival, CityBeat’s popular annual music extravaganza, which returns to the clubs and venues of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine Sept. 25-27. (Though all MPMF-worthy, the acts are booked through Fountain Square, not by MidPoint.) There will be a MidPoint booth on Fountain Square every Friday where music fans can find the latest MPMF info and purchase tickets to the three-day festival.
A limited amount of discounted early-bird passes for this year’s MPMF are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Nail down your three-day tickets (or VIP Experience tickets) before the prices increase. And be sure to stay tuned to mpmf.com and the fest's various social media accounts for the latest updates.
“We had a great mix of new producers and returning favorites in the applicant pool,” says Producing Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier. “The word continues to spread about our Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which has a national reputation for being the most artist-friendly festival. We’ve worked very hard on this over the years, and I believe that we’ve created something special for our artists and for our region.”
The pool of applicants, comparable to last year’s record-breaking number, has yielded a mix of local vs. out-of-town producers: 15 from Greater Cincinnati, including the return of Performance Gallery for the 11th consecutive year (it’s the only group that’s been in every Fringe) with a new piece, Heist, about three crooks of questionable ability. There will be 18 productions from beyond Cincinnati, including three international shows.
Vosmeier expects the festival to attract more than 8,000 visitors for 2014. If you’re one of those people who tries to see as much as possible, your best bet is a “Full Frontal” Fringe pass ($200) that gives you access to every event in the festival. Know also offers “Voyeur” passes ($60) good for six shows of your choice. If you can be there for one evening, a “One Night Stand” pass ($25) is available, offering access to any two performances in an evening and one drink at Know Theatre’s Underground bar. Individual tickets to Fringe Festival shows continue to be priced at $12; they’ll go on sale in mid-May.
Look for more information at CityBeat.com after the 7 p.m. announcement tonight. More info: cincyfringe.com.
This weekend’s forecast includes warm weather, a bit of rain, a few clouds and tons of art. Whether you want to watch it, make it, buy it or just support local arts organizations, art is all around this weekend — starting with the last Macy’s Arts Sampler of the season, presented by ArtsWave.
Macy’s Arts Sampler Weekends bring free performances, workshops, tours and other art opportunities to venues across Greater Cincinnati. Saturday’s final installment includes concerts by the Cincinnati Children's Choir, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Cincinnati Men’s Chorus at St. John’s Unitarian Church; dance demo classes and performances at Covington’s Step-N-Out Studio; yarn-bombing 101 with the Bombshells of Cincinnati at 21c Museum Hotel and tons more events in College Hill, Butler County, Mariemont and other neighborhoods. Find a full schedule of free art to sample here.
Visionaries + Voices provides countless opportunities for local artists with disabilities. With locations in Northside and Tri-County, V+V helps these artists create, market and showcase their pieces. At the organization’s annual fundraiser, Double Vision, talented V+V artists exhibit and auction their works of art. Double Vision V takes place at Memorial Hall Friday — VIP and general admission ticket options available here. Art will be on sale via live and silent auctions, and attendees can enjoy drinks, snacks and music by DJ Mowgli.
Oakley’s Brazee Street Studios hosts a free art supply swap from 1-3 p.m. Saturday. Clean out your craft closet and bring any unwanted items such as paint, textiles and brushes, then stock up on other materials you may need. It’s all free and honor system-style — please bring at least two items if you plan on swapping. All extra supplies will be donated to Crayons2Computers.
It’s Northside Second Saturday time this weekend! Art, retail sales, food and drink specials abound throughout the neighborhood starting around 6 p.m. Highlights include shows at Northside Tavern and The Comet, gallery openings at Fabricate, NVISION and Northside International Airport’s Bathrool Gallery and a closing reception at Thunder-Sky, Inc.
Local electronic artist
Charles Woodman is a founding member of video performance group viDEO sAVant
and he currently has a show on display in Weston Art Gallery you can read about
here. This Sunday viDEO sAVant presents Lateral Thinking, a unique, live
multimedia performance at 21c Museum Hotel downtown. Video clips of both sci-fi
and avant-garde films will play out as a soundtrack is composed live. This
feast for the senses is free and begins at 4 p.m. Read more here.
Be sure to read our Best of Cincinnati issue for reader and staff picks on the city’s best restaurants, businesses, events and more.
If you follow music coverage in CityBeat (hey, isn't that really why you pick up the paper?), you're certainly aware of Green Day's 2004 recording American Idiot.
But since you're reading my weekend theater previews, you must be
interested in other kinds of performance, so here's a tip: For two nights
only, Green Day's American Idiot, a stage version of the powerful Punk score, will be onstage at the Aronoff. That's right — Friday and Saturday
only, just three performances, much shorter that Broadway in
Cincinnati's two-week presentation of touring Broadway musicals. I can
vouch for this one, since I saw it a year ago during a similar tour stop
It's the story of three disaffected guys who take different downward spirals when confronted with the numbing boredom of everyday life — "alien nation" — as they sing in the opening number. The recording was conceived as a "Punk Rock Opera" and turned into a Tony Award-nominated Broadway show in 2010, with a lot of involvement by Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong (who actually appeared onstage in New York at various performances; that's not happening here in Cincinnati). There's a day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of $25 tickets; you need to show up two-and-a-half hours before the performance you're hoping to see (8 p.m. Friday, and 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturday) with a valid photo ID. Complete an entry form and wait 30 minutes to find out if you're a winner. If you prefer to just go ahead and buy your seats ($38-$91), you can call the Aronoff box office: 513-621-2787.
Alfred Hitchcock made Psycho infamous by killing off the main character 30 minutes into the movie. Audiences were shocked — some even walked out of the theater. This had never been done before. Viewers had already invested 30 minutes into Janet Leigh. But her character’s death — as shocking as it was — created an essential space for Norman Bates to emerge and develop. The movie took a twist for the unexpected, and Norman Bates remains one of the most fundamental characters in the history of film.
It took me awhile to get into House of Cards. The series seems to pick up more steam the longer you watch. Kevin Spacey makes me uncomfortable (for good reason). I wasn’t hooked right away. Like Heisenberg in Breaking Bad, we are captivated by the villains — the evil doers. Frank and Claire Underwood are the political equivalent to Bonnie and Clyde. The audience is part of a first-person psychopathic journey through a politician’s road to world domination, and we’re frozen on the edge of our seats.
The turning point for many was the first episode of the second season, “Chapter 14.” Here we are, fully engaged with these characters, rooting for the journalists (I was rooting for the journalists) and waiting to see what amazing one-liners this series would come up with next. And then Zoe died. I had to re-watch the subway scene twice before I believed it was real. It was quick and dirty (just like Frank), an ingenious move on creator Beau Willimon’s part.
It’s the kind of moment where you think about criminal intent and defendants blaming their murders on “insanity.” Frank Underwood is an insane character with direct criminal intent. He didn’t get angry and frustrated and regret his decision. He saw an opportunity to get rid of a pesky journalist, so he took it. We all knew Frank was capable of stepping on anyone (Peter Russo) who was in his way. But this…this was different. This was a character that he had an established sexual and professional relationship with. And he killed her in two seconds. (It was so acrobatic and ninja-like.) That was the turning point for me, the point where I was hooked. Zoe’s death was a classic Hitchcockian move, only viewers had already invested an entire season into her.
The reason why Zoe’s death was so shocking to viewers is because we don’t believe our government officials to be capable of throwing journalists in front of trains when they are getting uncomfortably close to the truth. (9/11 truthers will disagree). In reality, dictatorships and corrupt regimes all over the world have the power to kill and do so regularly. Especially journalists. I find it so interesting that we are fascinated by a concept of unethical government and abuse of power when there is so much damn truth to it. We are romanticizing tyranny. We are making crooked governments into a drama series and it’s enticing and addicting because that’s not how we think we live. It’s dramatic to imagine Congress as a group of blood-thirsty criminals. Things like that “just don’t happen” in this country — so we make it into a TV show.
The group gave Ohio a “D-” ranking after its government spending transparency website earned 51 points out of 100 in U.S. Public Interest Research Group's fifth annual “Following the Money” report.
“Ohio’s been kind of sinking through the ratings year by year,” says Phineas Baxendall, a U.S. PIRG senior policy analyst and co-author of the report released on Tuesday. “It used to do much better, which doesn’t mean they’re dismantling their transparency systems. It just means our standards get tougher each year and they’re more staying in place while other states are improving.”
Ohio’s the only state in the nation that doesn’t offer certain customizable search options including bid award recipients, keywords, agency and bulk download searches. Ohio’s poor score follows three years of ranking in the bottom half of the study.
Researchers look for transparency websites to be comprehensive, one-stop and offer simple search formats.
The nation as a whole is moving toward a more transparent approach to documenting government spending. Since PIRG began the study, all six categories it uses to compile rankings have shown an increase in states performing specific duties. The largest leaps in the past five years involve showing how a project benefits from taxpayer subsidies, which has seen an increase from two to 33 states, and how tax money is spent with an increase from eight to 44 states. All states now have ledger listings for transactions of any government spending on a website, compared to only 32 five years ago.
Ohio’s score doesn’t reflect Cincinnati’s efforts to be transparent. In a 2013 study in transparency of the 30 largest cities in America, Cincinnati scored a “B+” for providing ledger listings for spending information, allowing Cincinnatians to view where money is spent, specific recipients of tax subsidies and the existence of a service request center allowing residents to notify officials about quality of life issues.
Suggestions for improvement included making checkbook-level spending information searchable by the vendor who received the money and developing a comprehensive transparency website.
“We feel strongly that this isn’t a partisan issue, and the fact that states that do best in our rankings show no political pattern, with Texas and Massachusetts standing side-by-side, sort of speaks that this is one of those issues that should not be politicized,” Baxendall says. “We look forward to advancement in transparency in Ohio regardless of who is in office.”