Tonight's installment of the free "American Roots" concert series on Fountain Square — which generally hosts weekly Tuesday performances by some of the best of the rich local Americana music scene — serves as a preview of the upcoming third annual BrownGrass Festival in Rabbit Hash, Ky.
The benefit is headed up by veteran musician David Rhodes Brown, who started the event three years ago as a way to help raise money for local radio outlet WNKU (the name is taken from the title of Brown's most recent solo album, Browngrass & Wildflowers, some proceeds from which also went to WNKU).
BrownGrass 2012 takes place July 21 and features a stellar lineup of local and regional acts, including DRB and his BrownGrass Band, The Tadcasters, Magnolia Mountain, The Leo Clarke Band, Greg Schramm & the Radio King Cowboys, Blame Bersch, Mack West, Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups, Beth Farmer, Davey O, Dan F. Hill and many others. The festival runs from noon-11 p.m. along the riverfront in Rabbit Hash. (Read about the first and second year of Browngrass here and here).
On Fountain Square tonight, BrownGrass Fest participants Ruthie & Grace Lincoln perform at 8:30 p.m. followed by Brown and his BrownGrass Band, as a preview of the fest. (The fun starts at 7 p.m. with some World Choir Games festivities.)
For complete details on the BrownGrass Festival 2012, visit the official website here.
Here's a nice video overview of last year's BrownGrass and some audio samples from Brown's solo effort.
The inaugural Bunbury Music Festival — three days of top-shelf Alternative music at Cincinnati's riverfront Sawyer Point Park — is just three days away. All this week, CityBeat's music blog will be featuring samples from some of our "sleeper picks" for the fest, artists who some may not be as familiar with as they are Weezer or Death Cab for Cutie or Jane's Addiction.
Our next "sleeper" is Alberta Cross, performing Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on the Globili Stage.
Alberta Cross is the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Petter Ericson Stakee and bassist/vocalist Terry Wolfers, British expatriates now based in Brooklyn. The duo, fleshed out by a variety of rotating personnel, started the band six years ago and quickly secured some impressive gigs; in 2008, the band opened for Oasis on its massive UK tour and, in 2009, the year of their full-length debut Broken Side of Time, Alberta Cross played the festival trifecta: Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Stakee’s tremulous voice has been favorably compared to Jim James and Neil Young, a perfect complement to the band’s expansive Pop/Rock vibe that suggests a confluence of The Verve, Smashing Pumpkins and Brian Wilson. Songs of Patience, the anticipated sophomore album from Alberta Cross (the band’s name is an as-yet unrevealed anagram), will be released next week; advance notice hints that it could be among the year’s best.
Click here for the full stream of Songs of Patience (via Rolling Stone) or check out the album's first track, "Magnolia," below.
The inaugural Bunbury Music Festival — three days of top-shelf Alternative music at Cincinnati's riverfront Sawyer Point Park — is just four days away. All this week, CityBeat's music blog will be featuring samples from some of our "sleeper picks" for the fest, artists who some may not be as familiar with as they are Weezer or Death Cab for Cutie or Jane's Addiction.
Our next "sleeper" is Imagine Dragons, performing Saturday at 5:15 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage.
Founded in Las Vegas four years ago by primary songwriter Dan Reynolds, Imagine Dragons went through a variety of permutations before settling on the current line-up (guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, drummer Daniel Platzman). Since 2009, Imagine Dragons has turned out a quartet of impressive EPs, including the just-released Continued Silence, featuring the YouTube sensation “It’s Time,” all of which is a preview for the fall release of the band’s debut full-length, Night Visions. A quick spin through Continued Silence — the band’s first work for Interscope since signing last year and, like the new album, produced by renowned British Hop Hop boardsman Alex Da Kid — is like panning in a creek bedded with gold nuggets; glints of Coldplay, Everclear, Train and any number of other chart-topping Pop icons, but with a discernibly beat-driven Indie edge. As epic as Homerian poetry set to a U2 soundtrack and as intimate as a candlelight dinner in the Nevada desert.
The inaugural Bunbury Music Festival — three days of top-shelf Alternative music at Cincinnati's riverfront Sawyer Point Park — is just four days away. All this week, CityBeat's music blog will be featuring samples from some of our "sleeper picks" for the fest, artists who some may not be as familiar with as they are Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie or Jane's Addiction.
Our first "sleeper" is 1,2,3, performing Saturday at 2:15 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage.
Pittsburgh duo 1,2,3 (they go “full band” for live shows) took off fairly quickly, earning accolades in the U.K. that led to live shows abroad, all within a year of forming. One listen to the band’s debut LP for Frenchkiss Records, last year’s New Heaven, should make it clear why — 1,2,3’s songs hook listeners instantly with an uncanny sense of melody that suggests a lifetime of absorbing the magical Pop of the masters, from Bacharach and Nilsson to The Kinks and of Montreal. Add in Nic Snyder’s soulful and elastic voice and a dynamic backdrop of odd atmospherics, off-kilter beats and unexpected sounds and you have one of the more perfectly original Pop bands in America today.
Here's the band's music video for the track "Work":
Like every Friday, a great place to start your evening is Fountain Square, as the free MidPoint Indie Summer concert series continues with headliner Lydia Loveless. Loveless is an Ohio native who performed fairly regularly in the Cincinnati area (and elsewhere around the region) before she caught the attention of AltCountry/Modern Roots music institution Bloodshot Records with her natural blend of classic Country influences and more contemporary Rock flavors. Her debut for the label, Indestructible Machine was released last year and Loveless was one of the more buzzed-about names at last year's MidPoint Music Festival (even making the cover of CityBeat the week of the event. Loveless is currently working on new material.
Northern Ohio Roots/Blues artist Patrick Sweany and Cincinnati rockers The Ready Stance (check out our recent interview here) warm things up for Loveless starting at 7 p.m.
• Christopher Dexter Greenspan — better known as Bay Area Electronic artist oOoOO — brings his spectral beats and melodies to Northside's Mayday tonight for a 9 p.m. show with guests Fogger and Skeleton Hands. Admission is $12.
Greenspan's hypnotic, slanted mix of Chillwave and ethereal Trip Hop — at times sounding a little like Icelandic electronic act múm or a ghostly, gauzy version of M83 — was most recently showcased on oOoOO's second EP, Our Loving Is Hurting Us, which includes spacey vocals from singer Butterclock (as well as Greenspan's own voice, which delivers melodies slathered in a glaze of effects).
Here's the new EP track "Break Yr Heart."
• Former local musician GD Mills once again brings his raucous Minneapolis Garage Punk group Fuck Knights back to his former stomping grounds, performing a free show tonight at MOTR Pub with Muddy Udders, Children of the Emerald Fire and Martin Luther and the Kings. Showtime is 10 p.m.
How are Fuck Nights like Batman? Click here to find out.
Here's a clip of the Knights playing live last year (that's Mills singing and playing drums).
Revitalization group 3CDC's live music programming throughout the past few summers has helped turn Fountain Square into the heart of Cincinnati's increasingly active downtown area, drawing thousands to the Square every week to catch everything from Reggae and Salsa to Hip Hop and Indie Rock.
The group will be doing the same thing in Over-the-Rhine at the newly renovated Washington Park across from Music Hall. The Park officially opens tomorrow (July 6) with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. The christening will be followed by tours of the park, then a free 5 p.m. World Choir Games "friendship concert" at the Bandstand.
Like with Fountain Square, Washington Park's weekly music series will showcase local musicians, with live performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Wednesday will be "Bandstand Bluegrass" night, featuring some of the best area Bluegrass artists. The shows begin July 11 and will run every week, starting at 7 p.m., until Sept. 5. On Fridays, the Park features "Friday Flow," a night of R&B and Soul that starts July 13 and runs each Friday through Sept. 5.
The lineups for Wednesdays and Fridays have yet to be announced, but more details have been made available about the every-Thursday Jazz in the Park series. Beginning July 12, the lineup has been curated by local Jazz pianist Chris Comer, who held a similar role on Fountain Square last year. The first Jazz in the Park concert is July 12 and features Comer and his quintet, plus special guest Napoleon Maddox from the progressive Jazz/Hip Hop group IsWhat?!
Jazz in the Park performances run 7-9 p.m. through Aug. 30. Other shows in the series include the P&G Big Band (July 19); The Cincy Brass (Aug. 2); Steve Schmidt (Aug. 9), Ricky Nye Inc. (Aug. 16); and the Dick Sorice-Dan Jackson Quintet (Aug. 23).
Along with many other special concerts — like Over the Rhine's (the band) free show July 22 and the rare joint performance featuring Cincinnati Pops, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet — the Washington Park summer schedule is filled with other types of events, from community festivals to "dog programs" to movie nights and special "Curiosity Saturdays" for kids.
One of the coolest physical changes to Washington Park is the interactive Classical Music Walk of Fame, a project in conjunction with the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and InfoTrust which will enable visitors to use their smartphones and tablets to play various musical selections through the park's sound system or through the very cool "musical fountains," which will change appearance/flow/color depending on which music is selected.
Here's a quick overview of how the interactive Classical Music Walk of Fame will work.
To read about all of the things Washington Park has planned just this summer alone (remember, it will be a primary venue for the MidPoint Music Festival at the end of September) click here.
South Carolina’s Trevor Hall doesn’t make the kind of music you might expect to come from a native of the American south. Instead, Hall’s music has a Reggae streak, similar to the kind of tunes he may have heard growing up in the beach community of Hilton Head or later at the arts school he attended in California.
If you like Jack Johnson and Colbie Caillat and enjoy grooving to Bob Marley on occasion, Hall’s releases would fit nicely in your CD (or iTunes) collection. His newest album, Everything Everytime Everywhere, highlights everything that’s great about Hall’s music, with 12 tracks of summery, beach-y Pop with undertones of contemporary and classic Reggae.
Unlike Caillat and Johnson, Hall focuses on more than just sappy love songs. The love Hall is most willing to write and sing about is love for yourself and the world around you. Hall, who travels to India almost yearly to spend time in an ashram that houses underprivileged children, lives up to Marley’s “One Love” message better that most of his musical contemporaries. Everything even features snippets of sounds from an Indian street corner and a song introduction by one of the young girls from the ashram.
Hall has performed with Matisyahu, Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers, and is currently headlining his own tour. He plays on the Taft Theatre's Ballroom stage tonight with Justin Young and Pete Dressman. Tickets are $17.
Today, the free Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival brings a little pre-Independence Day fun to Jacob Hoffner Park (at the corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock St.) in Northside. Conceived in 2005 by MOTR Pub’s Chris Schadler and put into action in 2006 by Schadler and Leslie Scott, the event is also a warm-up for one of the must-see parades of the summer, the eclectic, eccentric Northside 4th of July Parade, which makes its way down Hamilton Ave. starting at noon tomorrow.
If you have not attended in the past, the “Carnival” in the event’s name is key, as organizers present “side-show” fun galore — everything from fire-breathers and sword swallowers to drag performances and burlesque.
But live music is at the heart of the carnival and the assembled lineup this year once again features a great, diverse mix of groups from Greater Cincinnati, as well as a few nationally touring acts. Locals playing the Rock n’ Roll Carnival this year are Cletus Romp, Jake Speed and the Freddies, Eclipse, R. Ring, The Tillers and You, You’re Awesome. Headlining is Nashville’s Pujol; New York’s The Big Sleep and Nashville’s Turbo Fruits also perform.
Here is the full lineup of event for today's Carnival:
2:30 p.m. Cletus Romp
4 p.m. Jake Speed & the Freddies
5 p.m. Eclipse
6 p.m. R. Ring
7:10 p.m. The Tillers
8:20 p.m. Turbo Fruits
9:05 p.m. Pickled Bros Side Show
9:40 p.m. You, You're Awesome
10:25 p.m. Incendium Fire Show
11 p.m. The Big Sleep
12:20 a.m. Pujol
The event is open to revelers of all ages. For more details on the Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival, click here.
If you are in the mood for some indoor (read: ACed) music while you're at the Carnival, be sure to duck into Northside Tavern for the July 4th Eve Rock and Roll Riot. Also free, the Riot gets started at 9 p.m. with Downtown Boys. The rest of the lineup features The Cave Girls, TEMPLE, Ohio Knife and DAAP Girls. Click here for set times and links to check out all the performers beforehand.
Tonight's free MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square is a bit different than most of the shows in the series. Not only is the bill all-local, it also represents three of the finest "Pop Rock" entities to ever emerge from the Queen City.
Despite sharing a knack for writing incredibly memorable songs exploding with irrepressible hooks, each group has its own distinctive sound and draws from varying classic Pop/Rock influences from throughout time, from The Beatles to Todd Rundgren to The Buzzcocks.
The Tigerlilies kicks things off at 7 p.m. The quartet has had a remarkable run over the past 23 years, despite the occasional upheaval — the group's lead guitarist slot occasionally seemed to reach "Spinal Tap drummer" proportions, but the ’Lilies balance that out by having the remarkable ability to enlist some truly amazing players who each have brought something unique to the group.
Current six-slinger Brendan Bogosian is no exception; the guitarist's (formerly of local bands like Cash Flagg and The Woos) expressive, serpentine style of playing has weaved its way into (and added new wrinkles to the sound of) The Tigerlilies' deft brand of early Punk/Post Punk inspired Power Pop seamlessly. The band is currently working on its next album, which they hope to have out this fall.
Next up (at about 8:15 p.m.) is the Roger Klug Power Trio, fronted (go figure!) by singer/songwriter/guitarist Roger Klug and featuring the great rhythm section of Mike Tittel on drums and Jamie Criswell on bass.
Klug (former member of popular locals The Willies) has amassed an impressive discography since his mid-’90s solo debut, Mama Mama ich bin in dem La La Land, a garage-y display of Klug's clever, instinctive songcraft, and the highly addictive follow-up, Toxic and 15 Other Love Songs. Those albums help Klug build a following amongst Power Pop die-hards, and not just local ones. His records found a widespread cult following thanks to distribution from modern Power Pop juggernaut Not Lame Records and breathlessly positive press from pretty much any critic who took the time to listen to a song.
After the ambitious (and creatively successful) Where Has the Music Gone?: The Lost Recordings of Clem Comstock in 1999 — a concept album featuring alleged "lost recordings" in a variety of vintage Pop styles (and credited to various made-up artist names) — Klug seemingly disappeared, putting out no new Roger Klug material for a decade and popping up only occasionally for area live shows. But in 2010, Klug fans were treated to an all-new LP, More Help for Your Nerves, which (somewhat amazingly) features some of his best tunes yet.
Closing out the live-concert primer on Cincinnati's catchiest homegrown music from the past four decades is, fittingly, popular trio psychodots (starting around 9:30 p.m.). The ’Dots are genuine local music legends whose origins date back to the ’70s when a quartet of graduates from Toledo's Sylvania High School — Rob Fetters, Bob Nyswonger, Chris Arduser and Tom Toth — moved to Cincinnati and, with a few adjustments in the lineup over time, went on to become one of the Queen City's most beloved bands, the raisins.
Local sensations of epic proportions, the raisins built up a huge (and hugely loyal) fan base in the city's clubs and, with its self-titled LP, scored a regional hit with the unforgettable, somewhat "New Wave-ish" "Fear Is Never Boring." If CityBeat ever does "Best Cincinnati Songs of All-Time," "Fear" is a lock for the No. 1 slot. There will be no debate.
Following the raisins' split in the mid-’80s, Arduser rejoined Fetters and Nyswonger — as well as the producer of that debut LP, globally acclaimed Covington native Adrian Belew — in The Bears, which spread Cincinnati's best kept secret well beyond city limits with a pair of well-distributed albums so strong they were like the Midwest's own Beatles. By the end of the ’80s, The Bears had split as Belew began investing more time in his solo and other outside work.
Perhaps sensing the end was near, Arduser, Fetters and Nyswonger (among about a bazillion other musical projects) began performing as a trio in 1988. The three masterful musicians officially became psychodots in 1991 when they released their self-titled album. The ’dots picked up where they had left off with the raisins and Bears and returned to their status as one of the city's most reliable original music draws.
Psychodots went on indefinite hiatus in the mid-’90s as the trio's members continued to explore a variety of projects (from the Arduser-fronted Graveblankets to Fetters' solo work to Nyswonger's jobs in Bucket and many other local units). While remaining prolific individually, the band seems to have found a way to balance all of their projects better; both The Bears and psychodots have returned to action for live shows and even new releases. (The raisins have also reteamed for a few one-off shows.)
The ’dots' live activity has been especially spare, limited usually to a couple of special shows a year around Thanksgiving time. But, along with tonight's appearance on Fountain Square, the trio seems ready for at least a little increased activity. After the Indie Summer show was announced, the psychodots were added as opening act for Cheap Trick's concert at the Taft Theatre next week, July 6.
If you're one of tonight's three performers' fans, you're likely well aware of their histories. But if you're unfamiliar with any or all of tonight's acts, be sure to be on the Square by 7 p.m. for a free musical retrospective of Cincy Pop at its finest. (Fun fact: Arduser, Nyswonger and Fetters — with The Bears — and The Tigerlilies were performers at the very first Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the mid-’90s.)