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by Nick Swartsell 07.29.2015 122 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Deters to release Dubose shooting footage today; hotel on Purple People Bridge stalled; Boehner in trouble with House conservatives again

Good morning all. Here’s the news today. The biggest story is the possible release of a grand jury decision and/or body camera footage in the case of Samuel Dubose.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference about the death of Dubose at the hands of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing July 19. Deters has confirmed he will release the body camera footage of the shooting today, and may announce the results of a grand jury probe into that shooting. The University of Cincinnati will shut down at 11 a.m. in preparation for Deter’s announcement, suggesting something major will be divulged at the event. City leaders have scheduled a response news conference at 2 p.m.

""The University of Cincinnati will cancel all classes on the Uptown and Medical campuses at 11:00 a.m. today including all classes in session at that time," a UC e-mail to employees and students said. "Offices on these campuses also will close at 11:00 a.m. This decision is made with an abundance of caution in anticipation of today’s announcement of the Hamilton County grand jury’s decision regarding the July 19 officer-involved shooting of Samuel Dubose and the release of the officer’s body camera video. We realize this is a challenging time for our university community."

Questions continue over Dubose’s death. Tensing’s story is that Dubose started to drive off during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn over a missing license plate, nearly running him over. Tensing says he was then forced to shoot Dubose in the head because he was being dragged by the car and his life was in danger. Tensing suffered minor injuries when he fell to the ground as Dubose’s car rolled away. But Dubose’s family and some activists have expressed skepticism about that chain of events.

Yesterday was the funeral for Dubose. More than 500 people including Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black and State Sen Cecil Thomas attended the services at Church of the Living God in Avondale where the father, musician and entrepreneur was laid to rest. His mother Audrey Dubose and other family members remembered him as a kind and loving man who nevertheless had a deep, sometimes complicated independent streak. Some friends knew him as the man who started the Ruthless Riders, a black motorcycle club, and as a talented rapper and producer. The service and its immediate aftermath were at times somber, but devoid of anger. Family, friends and faith leaders called for answers to Dubose’s death, but also stressed they did not want to see violence or unrest in the wake of his killing. Dubose was buried at Landmark Memorial Gardens in Evendale.

Thus far, the prosecutor has declined to release video footage for the time being as his office presents evidence to a grand jury, causing protests. The grand jury could decide to indict Tensing on charges ranging from aggravated murder, which carries a potential death sentence, to negligent homicide, a misdemeanor. City Manager Harry Black has been briefed on that video and has called it “a bad situation,” saying that, “someone has been died who did not necessarily have to die.” Tensing, 25, hasn’t had major disciplinary actions on his record and his superiors have spoken highly of him. He started at UC last year after serving with the Green Hills Police Department, where he started as a part-time officer in 2011. Tensing has retained Stew Matthews, a Cincinnati attorney, for his defense in the event he is indicted.

Other news, real quick-like:

A $100 million hotel project on the Purple People Bridge between Newport and Cincinnati is likely off the table indefinitely, according to developers. In 2010, DW Real Estate made plans to build a 90-room hotel at the center of the 2,600 foot bridge. But disagreements about parking have kept the plan from moving forward. Developers say without the parking, the hotel is a no-go.

• Some Ohio state legislators are calling for the resignation of Ohio Schools Superintendent Richard Ross following the revelation that some Ohio charter schools aren't being held to proper state standards. You can read more about the controversy here. It's been a tough month for charter schools. Earlier this summer, it was revealed that a high-ranking Ohio Department of Education official responsible for holding charter sponsor organizations accountable had omitted a number of low grades for online charter schools because it would mask better performance from other schools. That official has since resigned.

• Looks like House Speaker John Boehner is once again in trouble with the more raucous members of his party. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina has filed a motion in the House to remove Boehner from his powerful perch as speaker. It's not the first time a cadre of conservative GOPers has come at our spray-tanned hometown hero with torches and pitchforks, and it's unlikely the move will gain enough support to  shake Boehner from his post. But it's a reminder that his control over the fractious House is tenuous and best, and that deep friction continues between the staunchly conservative tea party wing of the GOP and more traditional Republicans.

by Staff 07.29.2015 122 days ago
at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Food & Dining Events

CityBeat's throwing a pork and whiskey party

Most classes and events require registration; classes frequently sell out. 

Grilling with Ellen: A Tuscan Dinner — Italian sangria with Chianti and prosecco; shrimp, lemon and garlic bruschetta; sausage-stuffed mushrooms; steak panzanella; and pressed chocolate cake. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Burger Beer Wednesday at Fifty West — Every week Fifty West offers a Burger Beer Wednesday, which includes a burger and a beer for only $10. They also have BBQ Thursdays, with a different menu each week. 7669 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.

WineCRAFT Dinner — A five-course meal at La Petite Pierre, with wine from a boutique wine importer. 7 p.m. $85. La Petite Pierre, 7800 Camargo Road, Madeira, lapetitepierre.com.

The Five Master Skills— Using salt, heat management, simple sauces, tools, and proper ingredients. Each skill will be discussed and put into practice; a light meal is served afterwards. Noon-2 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.

Wings and Trivia Night — Last Call Trivia and gourmet wings from Renegade Street Eats at Mt. Carmel Brewing Company. 6-9 p.m. Wednesdays. Prices vary. Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, 513-240-2739.

5 Rabbit Pint Night — 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, a Latin American microbrewery from Illinois, features five Latin-infused craft brews at BrewRiver GastroPub. 6-10 p.m. Prices vary. BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484, brewrivergastropub.com.

Bacchanalian Wine Society Summer Gathering — Bring a bottle of pinot grigio to Findlay Market for the Bacchanalian Society’s summer gathering. It’s a rare opportunity to spend time in the market after-hours, and raise funds for Dirt: A Modern Market, which will be a local-only year-round food market. 7-10 p.m. $15; $20 door. Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, bacchanaliansociety.com.

How to Properly Cook Scallops — Learn to prepare sea scallops with spiced corn and pickled red onion. 6-8 p.m. $30. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Summer Passport to Beer and Wine — Sample craft beers and wines with hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. 7-9:30 p.m. $29.95; $16.95 designated driver. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Springfield Township, greatparks.org.

Hops for Hippos — Head to Taste of Belgium in Corryville to drink beer and raise funds for the Cincinnati Zoo's prospective hippo exhibit. The day will be full of Belgian food, craft beer and special Cincinnati Zoo animal and staff appearances, including Thane Maynard. The restaurant will be tapping a special custom brew and West Sixth is taking over the taps at 6 p.m. 6-11 p.m. Prices vary. Taste of Belgium, 2845 Vine St., Corryville, authentic waffle.com.

WingFling — More than 40 different wing flavors with sauces ranging from mild, medium to stupid. Through Sept. 5. Prices vary. Washington Platform Saloon and Restaurant, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Date Night: Bacon, Bacon, Bacon — Make panzanella salad with crispy bacon vinaigrette, pan-seared shrimp with bacon corn cakes and pancetta risotto. 6-8 p.m. $155 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey Festival — Some people say there’s nothing quite as American as apple pie, but it could be argued that the national cuisine of the good ol’ U.S. of A is barbecue. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork — there’s a million ways to make it and it’s all delicious. Saturday, CityBeat is partnering with Horseshoe Casino to bring all of the Queen City’s best barbecue offerings to one place for a day of pork, beer and whiskey at the inaugural Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey Festival. Restaurants, including Eli’s, Velvet Smoke, Barrio Tequileria and Huit Craft BBQ, will be featured, along with more than 40 varieties of bourbon, scotch and whiskey, with master distillers and a whiskey chatter area for education and sampling. Grub to the sounds of live Bluegrass and Americana bands playing at the top of every hour, with local and national acts including Young Heirlooms, Magnolia Mountain and headliners Swear and Shake at 8 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Bow Tie Foundation. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Saturday. Free; food and liquor price vary. The Shoe at the Horseshoe Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendelton, citybeat.com. 

Cincinnati Distilled — Try four selections from a list of 10 spirits made locally. Wine and mead also available for tasting. 2-7 p.m. $12. Woodstone Creek Winery & Distillery, 4712 Vine St., Saint Bernard, woodstonecreek.com.

Summer Dinner Party, Italian Style — A Tuscan-inspired menu for outdoor dining, paired with wine. Dishes include citrus-flavored risotto, grilled asparagus and vanilla-scented panna cotta. Noon-3 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Date Night: Triple Thrill — Create crab cakes, panko-crusted shrimp with avocado aioli and peppercorn-crusted filet mignon with a sauté of snap peas. 5-7 p.m. $165 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Brunch at Gomez Salsa — A couple of weeks ago, Gomez Salsa and HalfCut teamed up for Sunday brunch. Try Gomez’s breakfast turtles, stuffed with syrupy waffles, eggs, meats and cheese, and wash it down with a Beermosa from HalfCut. And don’t forget Taco Tuesday night: a beer and two Gomez Salsa tacos for $10. gomezsalsa.com; halfcut.com.

Korean Lunch Buffet — A rare chance to dine on all-you-can-eat Korean favorites for one low price, benefitting CincyLiNK (Libery in North Korea). 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. $25; reservations recommended. Sung Korean Bistro, 700 Elm St., Downtown, sungkoreanbistro.com.

Just Another Craft Beer Festival — A craft beer festival featuring more than 25 Ohio breweries. More than 80 local crafts will be on tap, with a pig roast and live entertainment. Benefits ArtsWave. 2-6 p.m. $45. Thirsty’s Oasis, 5579 Ohio 741, Mason, justanothercraftbeerfestival.com.

Classic Indian with a European Twist — Fusion dishes with Indian, British and Portuguese influences. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Homemade Ravioli Workshop—Make your own ravioli, then fill half with herbed ricotta filling with basil pesto sauce and half with fresh mozzarella and sundried tomato filling with mushroom cream sauce. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

by Nick Swartsell 07.28.2015 123 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Dubose family hires Zimmerman attorney; Tucker's closed by fire; U.S. Bank to get big renovation

Hey Cincinnati! I'm Natalie, a new staff writer here at CityBeat covering news. You may have already seen a byline or two of mine. Expect to see more! I'm giving Nick a little break today and taking on my first morning round-up of headlines. Here's what's happening.

The family of Samuel Dubose, the man who was shot a week ago by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, has hired the former attorney of controversial neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in 2012. Attorney Mark O'Mara has already begun to question officials on the release ofTensing's body camera footage. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has declined to release the footage at this time, saying it could jeopardize a fair trial for the officer. O'Mara says he plans to join the lawsuit filed by the Associated Press, the Enquirer and four local television stations, but could file his own suit as well. Dubose was shot by Tensing on July 19 in Mount Auburn when he was stopped for missing the front license place on his car.

• Cincinnati has a new Assistant Police Chief. Police Captain Eliot Isaac was sworn in to his position Monday afternoon. Isaac has 26 years experience with the Cincinnati Police Department and was chosen unanimously. He was promoted to captain in 2004 and his other previous positions include District 4 commander, criminal investigation commander, internal investigations commander and night chief. He's replacing Paul Humpheries, who left the department in June to head security at Coca Cola Beverages in Florida after nearly 30 years on the force.

• You’ll have to get your home fries and bacon elsewhere for a bit. Over-the-Rhine greasy spoon and 70-year-old community institution Tucker’s was damaged July 27 by a fire and is currently closed. The fire did extensive damage to the Vine Street fixture’s kitchen, and owner Joe Tucker says it’s unclear when it will reopen. Tucker’s parents opened the restaurant in 1946.

• After missing out on a huge political convention, Cincy's U.S. Bank Arena will be getting a huge renovation that could make the city more competitive in vying  for major events. Arena owners Nederlander Entertainment and AEG Facilities announced today that the renovation will increase the stadium's capacity by 500 to 18,500. It will also have up to 1,750 club seats — a vast improvement over current numbers — and add a new suite level closer to the stage. The lack of available suites was one of the major reasons that Cincinnati its bid lost the Republican National Convention to Cleveland. In addition to its increased capacity, the arena will also sport a new glass facade and other improvements. Cost for the renovations were not released by the owners.

• Covington is once again struggling to find ways to pay for its police and fire departments. Over the last 10 years, the city has reduced staffing for police and fire, and now some residents are worried there aren't enough to properly look after the city, which has a relatively small population for some of the challenges it struggles with including poverty and higher crime rates. The city's woes are long-running in this regard: Covington has been struggling to fully pay for basic services like law enforcement since the 1970s for a variety of social and economic reasons. Some there say it's time to raise taxes to make sure there are enough cops on the beat, while others have pushed back against proposed tax increases.

by Staff 07.27.2015 124 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Asian, Barbecue at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
casey at taft ale house

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Asian, beer and barbecue

Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Casey Arnold: Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to Findlay Market to see some live music and check out the barbecue competition (aka Smokin' Hot Weekend). Brian got a sampler from the Velvet Smoke booth, which also has a brick-and-mortar at the market. Totally chosen at random for being the closest booth taking credit cards. Thinking ahead, he brought his own gluten-free bun and turned his sampler, which was two heaps of meat separated by coleslaw, into a sandwich. He was stuffed after one pile, which was reportedly delicious and smelled amazing. As a vegetarian person, I picked up some lime cardamom sorbetto from Dojo Gelato, which was particularly refreshing in Sunday's heat. Next time you're at Findlay, here's a hot tip: Colonel De's truffle salt is totally worth $10 an ounce. Put it on your potatoes. Also everything. Take a deep whiff when you're feeling sad.
After that, we wandered over to Taft's Ale House for a pint and people watching. We hadn't been before and ended up staying about an hour just soaking in a Nellie's Key Lime beer and the beautiful space. Neither of us were hungry, but we peeked at the menu and eyeballed other people's plates. It seems great for gluten free (more piles of meat) but not so great for vegetarians — aside from a few salads. 

Sarah Urmston: After the boyfriend got off of work on Friday, we strolled around Over-the-Rhine with time to kill and bellies to fill. Since we've eaten in OTR almost every weekend of our overall relationship, we decided to just pop in somewhere new — no questions asked. And we were so lucky to have chosen to stop in for Asian street food from Quan Hapa, off of Vine Street. Although our service was a little funky, the chardonnay (only $6) was super delish, and their Hapa Ramen was absolutely off the wall with zest and just the right amount of substance to fill you without overkill. It consisted of tonkotsu broth, a poached egg, pork belly, green onions, narutomaki and shiso (two things I have never heard of in my life), and burnt garlic chili oil. Every flavor worked together so well, and I knew it really was wonderful after looking away for one minute and finding Bryan holding my bowl up to his own face. Come on, buddy. 

Maija Zummo: I went to my favorite three-year-old's birthday party yesterday and mom and dad ordered pizza from Krimmer's Italianette in North College Hill for everyone. I had had the pizza from the Silverton location growing up, but didn't know they had opened a second spot (which I hope also delivers to my house because no one ever does…). The pizza was good. Most pizza is good (especially if you've been drinking) but I liked Krimmer's kind of thick crust and pully cheese — the kind that makes strings when you pick up a slice, like in commercials. It also comes in a big family size — smaller than an Adriatico's Bearcat, but bigger than a regular large — which was great for feeding a medium-sized party, or for binge-eating on weekends.
by Nick Swartsell 07.27.2015 124 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Protests continue over Dubose shooting; Ohio marijuana legalization drama; Kasich goes PoMo

Hey all! Hope your weekend was grand. Here’s the news today.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are a number of events going on downtown to commemorate the historic federal law, which works to guarantee equal rights for those with disabilities. A rally and presentations about the history and impact of the law kicked off at City Hall at 9 a.m. this morning, followed by a march to Fountain Square, where ADA-related events will take place through this afternoon. We’ll have more on the events and the ADA’s legacy later.

• On the one-week anniversary of the University of Cincinnati Police shooting death of Samuel Dubose in Mount Auburn, protesters gathered yesterday outside UC’s Public Safety office to demand answers about the incident. More than 100 people showed up for the protest, many of whom later marched down Vine Street to the site of Dubose’s death half a mile away. Driving rain didn’t keep family members, friends and activists from gathering and remembering Dubose, calling for the release of tapes showing the incident, and the removal of UC Police Officer Ray Tensing, who shot Dubose. Officials say Dubose was stopped due to a missing front license plate on his car. His license was suspended at the time, and Tensing ordered Dubose to leave his vehicle. Dubose refused, according to police, and a struggle ensued. Police say Dubose started his car and began driving away, dragging Tensing with him. Tensing then shot Dubose in the head and fell away from the car. Family, friends and police-accountability activists, however, question this version of events. They say footage from Tensing’s body camera and possible security footage from a nearby building could tell a different story. At least some of that footage is now in the hands of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who has said he will not release it at this time. City Manager Harry Black made comments today about the shooting, saying he's been briefed about the video and that "someone has died who did not necessarily have to die." Black refused to elaborate further on the situation.

• The head of Ohio’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, one of the nation’s oldest and highest-profile marijuana legalization groups, was ousted in June, and he says his removal is due to his support of another legalization effort. Rob Ryan, who lives in Blue Ash, was removed as president of Ohio NORML after he came out in support of ResponsibleOhio, a ballot initiative that is seeking to legalize marijuana use for anyone above 21 and establish 10 legal marijuana grow sites around the state owned by the group’s investors. Now Ryan says he was dismissed due to his support for that group. But NORML officials say his removal had more to do with his personality, charging that he has been rude and even abusive to NORML members who don’t support ResponsibleOhio. The ballot initiative to create a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana has deep Cincinnati ties and has been very controversial due to its limitations on who can grow the drug commercially. The group is now also in a frantic, last-minute scramble to get more than 30,000 valid signatures from voters across the state after a past petition drive fell short of the 300,000 signatures required to land a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The group has until next month to collect those signatures.

• Northside is getting a new spot for cold, sweet treats. Dojo Gelato, a Findlay Market fixture for years, will move to its first stand-alone store at the old J.F. Dairy Corner on Blue Rock Avenue right around the time it starts getting warm again next year. Owner Michael Cristner lives in the neighborhood, and has been looking to set up permanent shop there for some time. I do really love Dojo’s affogato with the Mexican vanilla and Dutch chocolate, but I’m also a big adherent of Putz’s Creamy Whip down the street. Blue ice cream with a cherry dip, y’all. I guess I’ll just have to double my ice cream/gelato intake.

• Gov. John Kasich, it seems, can be downright postmodern in his view on today’s big policy questions as he tries to convince Republicans he’s their man to run for president. At recent campaign stops, Kasich has shrugged off the tyranny of the solid, sure answer for an acknowledgement that the world is absolutely insane, knowledge is illusory and none of us can really know anything. OK, so that’s a pretty big exaggeration on my part. But the guv has been uttering the phrase “I don’t know” a lot on the trail in response to policy questions. Does it show he’s honest? Still formulating his positions carefully and with intellectual rigor? Or is he just kind of a wimp who won’t commit to an answer? Time will tell. In the meantime, John, can I suggest some real page-turners by this guy Baudrillard? There is more and more information in the world, Mr. Kasich, and less and less meaning, and we both know it.

• Speaking of the complete shattering of the fallacy that the world is a rational place, new polls continue to show real-estate magnate and hairpiece-addiction spokesman Donald Trump leading the field of GOP hopefuls. He’s sitting at 18 percent in the crowded contest, three points above next-best contender, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and eight points ahead of the third-place contestant in this wacky gameshow, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Do I need to give another rundown of recent Trump events? He said former POW and Republican Arizona Senator John McCain isn’t a hero because he got caught by the enemy. He equated Mexican immigrants with criminals and rapists and received a death threat from notorious cartel leader El Chapo. Via Twitter. Give him this: the guy knows how to get attention and has never met a question he wants to answer with “I don’t know.”

by Anne Arenstein 07.27.2015 124 days ago
Posted In: Opera at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Review: Cincinnati Opera's Turandot

The Opera's 95th season closes Friday

Cincinnati Opera winds up its 95th season in truly grand operatic fashion with an opulent production of Puccini’s Turandot. The singing is (mostly) sublime, the spectacle is lavish and all the production elements are executed with stylish precision.

The opera is a fantasy based on a play by the Venetian Carlo Gozzi. Turandot is a Chinese princess bent on revenge for the rape and murder of an ancient ancestor. If a prospective suitor fails to answer three riddles, off with his head. That doesn’t discourage Prince Calaf, who manages to solve the riddles and melt the ice princess’s reserve. Oh yes indeed, this is a fairy tale.

It’s also Puccini’s grandest opera with fabulous music incorporating romance, drama and Chinese folk melodies. The score was unfinished when Puccini died in 1924; composer Franco Alfano composed the final section using Puccini’s sketches. Despite Calaf’s signature aria “Nessun Dorma,” the best music belongs to the chorus and the two female leads.

Biggest ups to the chorus. They sing with power, precision and a remarkable dynamic control thanks to Chorusmaster Henri Venanzi, who celebrates his 41st year with the CO. Unlike most other operas that feature one big choral number and that’s it, Turandot’s chorus is onstage for almost the entire piece.

Marcy Stonikas is a formidable Turandot, physically and vocally. Her voice has the cold, steely edge for an ice princess but there’s a hint of warmth that fully emerged in the final scene to convey a sense of humanity. “In questa reggia” is Turandot’s big aria and Stonikas did not disappoint. Hers is one of the most exciting voices I’ve heard in a long time and I hope she’ll be back.

The role of the slave Liu usually steals the shows and this was no exception. French soprano Norah Amsellem sings with haunting delicacy and tremendous power. It’s a performance to savor, and she garnered the evening’s loudest ovations. And her limping on the stage was no act — she injured an ankle earlier in the week and was using a brace.

Frank Porretta’s Calaf was barely audible in the first act. He may have been having vocal problems because he powered up in the second act, but “Nessun Dorma” was under pitch and lagged behind the orchestra. Let’s hope he recovers for the remaining performances.

As the court officials Ping, Pang and Pong, Jonathan Beyer, Julius Ahn and Joseph Hu were genuinely responsive Puccini’s score, offering characters ironically comic and human as they sing of returning home. They also executed a vaudeville soft shoe routine with panache.

Bass Andrea Mastroni made an impressive debut as Calaf’s father, Timur. Tenor Chris Merritt sang the Emperor Altoum with poignant beauty.

Under the baton of Ramón Tebar, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra gave a stunning performance of this magnificent score. There are so many gorgeous subtleties, from the loudest of gongs to shimmering woodwinds and strings, and they were heard to wonderful effect.

Red is the operative color for André Barbe’s sets and costumes, with black and white running close seconds. A huge red lacquer arch is the main set piece, punctuated by huge white heads on pikes, reminders of the executed princes. The chorus, mandarins and dancers are swathed in black and red. Ping, Pang and Pong sport sky-blue robes, and Turandot and Emperor Altoum are garbed in white. It’s opulent but never excessive.

Most impressive are Renaud Doucet’s staging and choreography. The huge cast of choristers, supernumeraries and dancers move with confidence and precision. Fortunately for us all, the leads are equally graceful and they respond to each other with more than outstretched arms. Doucet creates stage pictures that, for all their scope, never lose focus on the performers. The dancers are a special pleasure. Their costumes with multiple flags projecting from the back don’t make for easy movement, but they make it look effortless.

Go see it. And go hear it. There aren’t many opportunities to see spectacle like this, unless it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber, who mined Puccini’s melodies for inspiration. Puccini did it way better.

TURANDOT continues Wednesday and Friday. More info here.

by CityBeat Staff 07.24.2015 127 days ago
Posted In: LGBT, Life, Humor, Fun, Food, Events, Comedy, Concerts, Culture, Music, Performances, Arts at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekenders: What We're Doing This Weekend

Each week CityBeat staffers share their weekend plans: from dinner and drinks or special events to out-of-town concerts and stories we're working on. And some of us just watch TV.
Maria Seda-Reeder: Friday night I will be checking out the work of Elise Thompson & Nathan Weikert at Boom Gallery in Evanston. I’ll head with the family to either MadTree’s taproom for some Catch a Fire Pizza or Mazunte Tacos because pizza or tacos are basically what we live on. Saturday I have a friend’s overnight bachelorette party in Batesville, Ind., so I will be lazing on a floatie in the middle of a lake all day with a bunch of ladies I adore — which sounds like heaven! But if I were still in town, I would be headed straight for C. Jacqueline Wood’s excellent continuing series of avant garde film screenings for her Mini Microcinema, Unbundled Detroit at People’s Liberty’s Globe Gallery.  The (FREE!) Saturday screenings have been way less packed than the Thursday evenings, and the films being shown are consistently awesome. If I get home in time on Sunday morning, I will be sure to attend Wave Pool’s Artist in Residence, Stairwell’s first two-hour Field Trip, “Head Over Hills”, a group walking tour exploring the steps around Eden Park and the Cincinnati Art Museum. I had a chance to meet and walk around town with the two artists, Sarah Hotchkiss and Carey Lin, this past week for several hours and they will be doing some really cool things to engage tour-goers with art, while they’re in town for the next few weeks.

Zack Hatfield: After reading CityBeat's article on iced coffee brews, I might have to head out to Trailhead or Deeper Roots and see what the fuss is all about. Then I'll migrate on my caffeinated iceberg over to By This River, the semi-new exhibit at the Weston gallery. Since I'm visiting my folks on the Westside this weekend, I'd like to visit Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant I've never been to before. Jesse Fox: Saturday I'm heading to Columbus to CD102.5's Summerfest to see FIDLAR and Bully with a few friends.  We'll be making the most important stop of all beforehand at Dirty Frank's, where I'll probably eat too many veggie dogs to even be able to have fun at the show. Other than that, I don't have a lot going on ... lazy weekend for me!Sarah Urmston: Since Friday is my sweet friend Alexa's birthday, we will be having brunch at Collective Espresso in the beautiful Contemporary Art Center, celebrating with mimosas, pretty scenery and great company. Later that night we will be dancing our butts off all over OTR, most likely shakin' it to John Lennon's Twist & Shout at Japp's Since 1879. Saturday I'll be spending money I don't have at the City Flea (!!!) because we're lucky enough to have it TWICE this month! The rest of the day I'll be paintballing, something I'm still really confused about. Either way, I'm ready to kick some ass and pray to God we're getting drinks afterward. Finally, Sunday afternoon will be dedicated to packing because I move to the beautiful heart of Covington only a week from today! This weekend is a busy one, but exciting nonetheless. 


Grace Potter 
Photo: Hollywood Records
Grace Potter’s rise in the music world has been steady. She has toughed it out with tour after tour for years, opening for and collaborating with artists like Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and others. But now Potter is entering a new phase in her career; after years of being billed as “Grace Potter and The Nocturnals,” Potter is now a solo artist. And she’s jumped right into the role. In June, she opened two stadium shows for The Rolling Stones. And on Aug. 14, Potter is set to release her first solo album, Midnight. Grace Potter plays Friday at Taft Theatre. Tickets/more info: tafttheatre.org.

Jill Scott
Photo: Atlantic Records
Founded in 1962 as the all-Jazz Ohio Valley Jazz Festival, Cincinnati’s popular “Jazz Fest” has gone through a lot of changes in its half century-plus history. In more recent decades, the festival shifted focus to R&B and Soul acts and, even more recently, moved into the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium. This year, the fest also has a new name — Cincinnati Music Festival (the past few years it was called the Macy’s Music Festival) — but it is providing the same high-quality R&B acts over two nights. This year’s lineup features modern favorites like Maxwell, Jill Scott (pictured) and Jennifer Hudson, plus old-school crowd-pleasers Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and The O’Jays. This year’s fest also features up-and-comers like Avery Sunshine, Mali Music and Luke James. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $55-$125. Paul Brown Stadium, 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Downtown, cincymusicfestival.com

It seems today that all you see are sex-crazed talking teddy bears in movies and lewd cartoons on TV. But where are those good, old-fashioned crooners on which we used to rely? Luckily, there’s Seth MacFarlane.The creative mind responsible for the Ted movies, A Million Ways to Die in the West, American Dad and Family Guy (among myriad other contributions to film and television) is now on a limited tour of the country, showcasing his vocal talent as the frontman of a swingin’ Big Band; in Cincinnati, he’ll be backed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, conducted by John Morris Russell. Seth MacFarlane performs with the Cincinnati Pops Friday at Riverbend’s PNC Pavilion. More info: cincinnatisymphony.org.

It’s a rare opportunity — or should we say medium rare — that carnivores can delight in $5 gourmet and off-menu burgers throughout their city. Through Sunday, Cincinnati Burger Week pays homage to the American-cuisine staple by having chefs prepare burgers with their unique spin. Local restaurants from Anderson to Covington will participate in the beef extravaganza, organized by CityBeat, stamping your Burger Passports for special prizes. Don’t eat meat? Some places, like Nation in Pendleton, also offer a delectable black bean patty. Through Sunday. $5 per burger. Find participating restaurants at cincinnatiburgerweek.com.

Hot on the heels of SCOTUS’ landmark decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide (s/o to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), cincygayweddings.com, a compendium of LGBTQ+-friendly wedding vendors in the area, decided to turn their launch party into an entire weekend of activities, featuring eight parties over three days with more than 40 different sponsors. Events include Cocktails & Couture at Bromwell’s, a Sunday Jazz brunch at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, a dance party at Ivy Lounge and much more. Weekend events open to everyone; Scalia fans maybe stay away. All proceeds benefit Pride Cincinnati, Equality Ohio and the Human Rights Campaign. Friday and Saturday. Various prices; $40 weekend. Details at lovewinscincy.com

Joan Jett
Photo: Roger Erickson
For all the grumbling about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the induction ceremonies can often be revelatory and moving, occasionally serving as a way to view an artist from a different perspective and remind everyone why an artist is receiving the honor in the first place. The 2015 Rock Hall inductions had its fair share of goosebump-worthy moments. But it was inductee Joan Jett’s acceptance speech that made me most emotional, reminding me of my own deep-rooted passion for music in general, and Rock & Roll specifically. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts play Friday at the Lawrenceburg Event Center (Hollywood Casino). More info/tickets: hollywoodindiana.com.

Amiable Strangers
Photo: Provided
Painters Elise Thompson and Nathan Weikert exhibit new work at Boom Gallery in Evanston, which demonstrates their move away from figurative painting toward something more abstracted, taking cues from the American AbEx tradition. Thompson’s paintings are done on unconventional materials — forgoing canvas for chiffon, for example — and the painter hangs her work on walls, some pieces extending onto the floor or leaning on themselves in unlikely ways. Weikert, for his part, creates atmosphere and mood through the use of layers of stormy grays. Opening reception: 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Boom Gallery, 1940 Dana Ave., boomgallery.us

Fasten your seat belt — here comes the 2015-2016 theater season. Know Theatre gets bragging rights for being first out of the local theater gate with Hundred Days, a Rock & Roll show it played a significant part in developing. The Folk Rock odyssey was created by and features the husband-and-wife duo of Shaun and Abigail Bengson. It premiered at Z Space in San Francisco in February 2014. Hundred Days is the story of Sarah and Will, who fall in love only to have their time together cut tragically short by a fatal illness. Their romantic, defiant response to their fate: Compress the 60 years they had envisioned together into the 100 days they have left. Kate E. Ryan assembled the script for this powerful piece, which is an unconventional musical, Indie Rock opera and tragic romance. Hundred Days runs at Know Theatre July 24 to Aug. 22. knowtheatre.com.

Death from Above 1979
Photo: Pamela Littky
It’s easy to see why bands with lengthy histories and voluminous catalogs would consider getting back together, but those rationalizations don’t hold much water for Death from Above 1979. The Canadian duo featuring bassist/synthesizer-player/backing vocalist Jesse F. Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger got together in 2001 and released a sole album of original material, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, in 2004. The pair considered breaking up in the wake of tours with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails, but held off for a year to appease their rabid fans, label and inner circle. They did and a decade later they're back with a new record and new tour. Catch Death from Above 1979 Saturday at Riverbend. More info/tickets: riverbend.org.

The Cincinnati Opera closes its season with Puccini’s Turandot, the tale of Princess Turandot, an enigmatic beauty in ancient China who reigns with an iron fist and cold heart. All of her wooers must answer her riddles to win her hand in marriage, or face certain death. When a mysterious man passes her impossible test, will she finally open her heart to love? This kaleidoscopic production features stunning sets, costumes and choreography. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29 and 31. $35-$175. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatiopera.org

Greater Anderson Days
Photo: Provided
Just because Independence Day is over doesn’t mean the fireworks are. The 17th-annual Greater Anderson Days, a July jamboree consisting of music, games, rides, food and an “Anderson’s Got Talent” competition, will culminate with Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks on Sunday night. The pyrotechnics are a perfect way for the family to celebrate the summer, but also the community, as money raised benefits the Anderson Parks and Recreation Playground Fund. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5-10 p.m. Sunday. Free. Beech Acres Park, 6910 Salem Road, Anderson, andersonparks.com.

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by Nick Swartsell 07.24.2015 127 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Dubose incident report, dispatch calls released; Ziegler Park changes contentious; are state Dems still struggling with infighting?

Hey all. Here’s what’s happening in Cincy today.

University of Cincinnati officials yesterday released the police incident report and dispatch recordings related to the July 19 shooting of Samuel Dubose by officer Ray Tensing. Tensing shot Dubose after a traffic stop over the fact Dubose didn’t have a front license plate on his Honda Accord. The incident report claims that Tensing was dragged by Dubose’s car and says another UC officer witnessed the incident. You can read the report here and listen to the audio of the dispatch here. Dubose’s family has demanded that police body camera video and security footage from a nearby building be released to substantiate that claim. That footage is currently in the hands of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who has said he will not release it yet because that could bias a potential grand jury. Family and friends of Dubose gathered yesterday outside Deters’ office to protest that decision.

• Meanwhile, UC police will no longer patrol areas off-campus, according to university officials. Starting Monday, the university police force’s patrol policies will be amended in light of the shooting. Questions were raised about why Dubose’s traffic stop took place at the corner of Rice and Thill streets in Mount Auburn, which is half a mile away from the university. According to university police, Tensing initiated the stop much closer to campus and followed Dubose to the location where the stop, and eventual shooting, took place.

• Remember those hilariously fraught public meetings in Parks and Recreation? I attended one last night. A meeting held by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation and architects Glaserworks to discuss proposed changes to Ziegler Park, a popular space on Sycamore Street across from the former SCPA building, got a little heated as neighborhood residents and advocates questioned the need for an underground parking garage and the efficacy of 3CDC’s outreach efforts to the park’s current users, who are predominantly low-income. The meeting took place a block from the park at the Woodward Theater, a move that raised eyebrows for some activists at the meeting, including Josh Spring from the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Spring questioned why the meeting wasn’t taking place in the park itself so that it could more easily engage the park’s current users. At the meeting, 3CDC presented tentative plans for the park’s facelift, which will be funded in part by $20 million in Ohio new market tax credits. Those plans come from two past public input sessions, 3CDC says, as well as outreach to park users. Among the proposals: moving the existing pool to another location in the park, adding a splash pad, updating green space within the park, and tying the existing park facilities to green space across the street next to the SCPA. 3CDC’s concept includes putting a parking garage underneath this greenspace in order to free up land currently occupied by other lots. Also on the drawing board: maintaining a popular set of basketball hoops across the street from the park. Removal of hoops and the pool at renovated Washington Park on the otherside of OTR proved very controversial when that park underwent renovation in 2011. Some in attendance expressed concerns that two past meetings were not well-publicized. Other concerns were also raised about the green space neighboring the former SCPA building, which will soon be the site of luxury condos. That space once held structures used by Harriet Beecher Stowe as part of the underground railroad, and some at the meeting voiced wishes that the history there be commemorated and expressed anxiety about disrupting possible historic materials there. 3CDC anticipates holding another meeting to unveil more finished plans later this summer.

• The Ohio Democratic Party is still struggling with infighting, some say, despite new chairman David Pepper’s efforts to unify it following big losses in statewide campaigns in the last election. Democrats in Ohio lost major statewide races, including the race for the governor’s seat, by big margins last year. After that rout, former party chairman Chris Redfern resigned and was replaced by Pepper. Some of the internal tension that has hobbled the party has reemerged, critics say, in the party’s treatment of Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld, who is running against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for the Democratic nomination to oppose current Senator Republican Rob Portman. Former Ohio Democratic Party Chair Jim Ruvolo, who served in that role from 1982 to 1991, has blasted Pepper for “sidelining” Sittenfeld in favor of the more well-known Strickland. Ruvolo, who is a consultant for Sittenfeld’s campaign, says it does the party no good to push down young talent like the 30-year-old councilman. Pepper has made statements some have read as demeaning to Sittenfeld, including a suggestion that local officials focus on the jobs in front of them and “put in the time.” Pepper says those statements weren’t meant to malign Sittenfeld or discourage him from running. Pepper says he’s working hard to unify the party in time for 2016, when a major battle between Dems and the GOP will take place over Ohio, which looks to be a decisive state in the presidential election and the scramble for control of the U.S. Senate.

That’s it for your truncated, Friday morning news today. As always, e-mail or tweet with news tips.

by Rick Pender 07.24.2015 127 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door

Hundred Days? Several hundred years? Theater has a lot to offer this weekend

Did you attend the Cincy Fringe back in 2011? If so, maybe you saw Abigail and Shaun Bengson perform a musical work in progress then called “Songs from the Proof.” They came back in 2012 to present a one-night concert of some of the songs. The work evolved into a show called Hundred Days, which had a staging in San Francisco in early 2014. It’s continued to evolve — and its next incarnation will be onstage at Know Theatre for the next month, opening on Friday and running through Aug. 22. It’s about a young couple who fall in love, only to have their time together cut short by a fatal illness. They decide to live the 100 days they have left as though it were 60 years they had hoped for. Lots of music and creativity have gone into this one, and it promises to be a powerful performance with some great tunes. (Read more in my Curtain Call column in this week’s edition of CityBeat.) Tickets: $25 in advance; rush tickets at the door ($10, if available). Free performances on Wednesdays, but reservations required: 513-300-5669.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s 2015-2016 season is beginning as it has for several years with a light-hearted abridgement — but this time it’s The Complete History of America (abridged), opening Friday night and continuing through Aug. 15. The show is the creation of the same nuts responsible for the hilarious Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). It’s the same format: Veteran comic actors Miranda McGee and Justin McCombs, along with newcomer Geoffrey Barnes, will take audiences on a whirlwind tour that sends up America’s greatest hits … and misses. It’s the kind of delirious summer entertainment we’ve come to expect the from our often-more-serious classical theater folks. Tickets ($22-$35): 513-381-2273

Last weekend I went to Stanberry Park in Mt. Washington to see The Complete Tom: 3. Abroad, presented by Queen City Flash, Cincinnati’s flash-mob theater company. It’s the third installment of its four-part play cycle of Mark Twain’s tales of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Jim, the runaway slave. It was charmingly performed by Dave Powell, Rico Reid and Trey Tatum — plus some amusing puppets (aka wooden spoons) and a few sheets for ghost stories. This charming episode features the threesome on a trans-Atlantic voyage in a Jules Verne-like airship, meeting a number of interesting characters along the way — played in quick-change manner by the three actors. Free performances begin at 8 p.m. but don’t go to Stanberry Park — they’ll be elsewhere this weekend. In fact, the outdoor locations remain secret until 4 p.m. the day of performance when an email is sent to ticket holders with a map and parking instructions. The show is a lot of fun and great entertainment for kids, and part of the adventure is figuring out where you’re headed. Take a chance! Tickets — no charge — can be reserved at QueenCityFlash.com

This weekend offers the final performances of 1776 at the Incline Theater (513-241-6550) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (859-572-5464). Both are worth seeing.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here. 

by Sarah Urmston 07.23.2015 128 days ago
Posted In: Playlist at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
monthly favs

Your Weekend Playlist: July

Monthly favorites I can't get enough of

Everyone gets hooked on a handful of songs they can’t seem to skip over during a period of time. Well, these are mine from the month of July.

“Crystals” – Of Monsters and Men

This song kicks complete butt. The heavy drum intro leads into the crashing of symbol waves throughout the entire track, while lead singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir’s voice carries the powerful lyrics along the melody. This entire album is unique to their previous style, developing lyrics on a more honest and open level. Seriously, listen for yourself.

“Red Eyes” – The War On Drugs

This retro Indie Rock band from Philly wraps their beat around modern-meets-’80s music, especially their on this, their most popular jam. The impeccable beat is bob-your-head worthy, in addition to the powerful voice of the longhaired lead singer Adam Granduciel. Such a cool dude.

If you’re taking a long drive through the night with flickering highway lights passing your cracked windows and a chill in the air blowing through ever so slightly, you’ll easily feel like you’re racing back through time. It rocks so hard you’ll find it hard to skip.

“Soul Is Fire” – Elliot Root

I dare you to play this at your desk and try not to tap your foot (I tried, and it’s pretty impossible).  Scott Krueger’s upbeat and unique voice is enough to turn any song into a party, especially this particular jam. It’s catchy, it builds and it’s just plain fun. Elliot Root got their own roots in the heart of Nashville, Tenn., but they’re not what you’d expect from the South. Give them a listen and dance around with your shoes off. It won’t be hard.

“Delilah” – Florence + The Machine

Delilah” is one of Florence + The Machine’s many singles sung by the beyond-badass Florence Welch and those incredible pipes of hers. This single, and two others that were released prior, are now featured on their latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The entire album just continues to follow up with Welch’s tough-as-nails attitude and lyrics, giving women the sense of ability and power they should all possess. Not to mention it makes you want to dance.

“Wolves” – Phosphorescent

We all remember 2013’s “Song for Zula,” right? Turns out Phosphorescent has other hidden gems, and I choose to listen to this gentle tune before I close my eyes for the night. It’s simple, genuine and repetitive in a way that doesn’t feel that way. The unique use of a ukulele as a long introduction pieced together with a soft, electric guitar and the thick sounds of an accordion subtly enter into the center of the song. Matthew Houck’s sad and sincere voice has that “cabin in the woods” vibe to it, similar to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. It’s overall a beautiful piece, even if it took me this long to discover it.