Saturday night contained a lot of firsts. It was the first time I ran merch, the first time we played in Germany, it marked the first appearance of the hot dog suit and the first time I said “fuck you, asshole” in German.
We got a late start on our trip from Antwerp, Belgium to Oelsnitz, Germany. Alarms weren’t properly set, showers were needed all around and the beds were comfier than they first appeared. Once we got our shit in gear (and loaded up on croissants) we were on our way. Ahead of us was one of our longest drives on the tour, a seven-hour voyage across country lines. The trip was punctuated by two pit stops; during one we saw a new bride run into the bathroom while still in her wedding dress.
A quick note on European bathrooms — they’re fantastic. You often have to pay for entry, but in many ways it’s worth it. We stopped in one gas station that had completed the checklist for being a dive. Porn mags on the racks? Check. Dirt and grime everywhere? Check. Attendants who seem to be hopped up on some sort of … something? You know it! So I wasn’t too hopeful when I dropped my 70 pence into the bathroom machine.
But man, oh man, was I wrong. The toilets are automated and include a self-cleaning system. It’s majestic. You can buy a vast assortment of sexual tools in the vending machine (part of the aforementioned checklist), but the rest of the bathroom was absolutely spotless. And when you’ve been on the road for four hours and nature comes a-callin’, this is a gift from on high.
Our GPS had us snaking through small German towns and we didn’t see anything resembling a venue. As we reached the end of the directions we still didn’t see anything. So we pulled up a little bit further and there it was: a graffitied beacon of Rock & Roll in the midst of beautiful German countryside. We had arrived.
We parked, met the promoter, met the support and got to unloading. I start grabbing the merch boxes and dove right in. And by dive right in, I mean that I stared at them blankly until Aaron came over and explained how everything worked and gave some suggestions on how to set up. From there, my retails skills came back and I became a folding, sorting and styling machine. I gave each style of shirt their own home in a box, put out a size run of each, spread out the small stuff and waited. And waited. And waited. And ate some homemade goulash. And waited some more.
Finally, the crowd began to build — and our game of “dibs” began anew — while we waited for our slot. Finally, the boys hit the stage and the crowd started to wake up. But, still, they needed a little push, a little something to get the mood just right. It was time for the hot dog costume. I slipped it on, ran to the front, got a laugh from the boys and the crowd and made my exit.
It seemed to have worked.
As the set wrapped up, the merch sales started to roll in. Thankfully, it wasn’t super busy, so I was able to get a feel for pricing, exchanging Euro change (who buys an EP with a 50€ note!?) and trying to translate thick German accents.
After the show finished, the party started up and it was a fun one. Nick was throwing down peppermint shots, courtesy of a fan. Ryan had to dodge the advances of two older women who had a bit too much to drink (and then drank some more on top of that). I, on the other hand, spent my time with a lovely young lady named Jenny and her friends as she gushed over her love of Barney Stinson and Nirvana. She also taught me all of the major German curse words and phrases when her friends got jealous of the attention I was getting. I wish I could’ve remembered some of the words; they will surely come in handy sometime on this trip.
Finally, the free beer was safely stowed in our bellies and it was time for bed. We found our hotel, made plans for the next day, stripped down and passed out.
This morning we’re on our way to Berlin for show number three. We actually left on time today so we should have some time to see the city (and replace Aaron’s broken double bass pedal) before we get down to rocking.
Spinal Tap moments: 4.
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
Jazz musician Brian Newman, Ohio native and graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, has become a New York City Jazz scene staple with his group’s popular residencies in the city. And he’s been popping up on national television a lot recently thanks to his role as the bandleader of Lady Gaga’s Jazz projects. Gaga has employed Newman’s group for various Jazz performances over the past few years, including surprise club gigs in NYC and the singer’s 2011 network TV special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving.
Newman and his group, which features fellow CCM grads (and onetime players in Cincinnati’s music scene) Steve Kortyka (saxophone), Alex Smith (piano) and Scott Ritchie (bass), have also been working with American music icon Tony Bennett, thanks to Bennett and Gaga’s recent collaborative album, Cheek to Cheek, released in late September. For live and promotional appearances, Gaga’s Jazz backers meld with Bennett’s.
Newman and Kortyka were recently seen backing Bennett on The Tonight Show (Gaga was unable to make the appearance, but taped an intro for the segment).
Newman was also the “guest bartender” on the popular Bravo show, Watch What Happens Live. The trumpeter got sucked into the action during the “after show” when his mom and dad called in; click here to check out the cute clip in which Newman thanks his parents for letting him do whatever he wanted and pursue his musical career.
The full CCM-schooled crew will be featured on Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek LIVE!, part of PBS’ “Great Performances” series. Filmed at Lincoln Center in late July, the hourlong concert special premieres on Cincinnati PBS channel WCET on Oct. 24 at 9 p.m.
It's the weekend, y'all.
And as it approaches 5 p.m. on a Friday, you're probably thinking to yourself, "What should I do this weekend?" Why not try one of these …
- Sauerkraut Pizza. Made by the Order of the Eastern Star Masons, the handmade pizzas come in whole pies or slices and are topped with tomato sauce, cheese, green peppers, onions and sauerkraut.
- Cabbage Rolls. For more than 30 years, St. Augustine's Church has cooked cabbage rolls for the festival — recently, more than 10,000 per weekend. Cooked cabbage leaves are filled with ground beef, rice and spices and covered in tomato sauce.
- Sauerkraut desserts. The Waynesville Chamber of Commerce will be serving up sauerkraut pie, sauerkraut fudge, sauerkraut brownies and sauerkraut cookies.
- Sauerkraut Balls. A classic: breaded and fried sauerkraut and bacon, served by the Waynesville fire department.
- German Sundae. This is a pile of potatoes, topped with kraut, sour cream, cheese, bacon and green olive. (Recipe below.)
Remember when Guy Fieri and his Flavortown mobile came to Cincinnati this summer to film Diners, Drive-ins and Dives? The Food Network star made appearances at several area restaurants from Corryville's Island Frydays and Northside's Melt to a bevy of spots in Over-the-Rhine. Melt and Island Frydays' segments have since aired; tonight, a special OTR-centric episode of DDD premieres.
Vine Street eateries Senate, Bakersfield and Taste of Belgium will all be featured in this "One Street Wonders" episode. Typically three restaurants from three different cities are compiled in each episode; tonight, the entire episode will be devoted to OTR's Gateway Quarter. Tune into Food Network at 10 p.m. Go here for additional showtimes and recipes from Senate and Taste of Belgium.
Diners Drive-ins and Dives is no stranger to Cincinnati. Before this summer's filming, Fieri had visited Terry's Turf Club, Blue Ash Chili and Virgil's Cafe for the show.
When I first met Valley of the Sun, one of the first things Ryan ever said to me was, “So you’re the enemy,” with a huge grin on his face. He was obviously referencing something and was extremely happy that he was finally able to do so.
I didn’t get it.
For those of you as clueless as I was, it’s from Almost Famous, the story of a young boy who gets to live his dream and follow a band on a nationwide tour while writing a story for Rolling Stone. In it, one of the band members continually calls his newfound follower the enemy because he sees everything — the good, the bad, the ugly, the drunken — and he can report on it all.
As I sit on a plane, 53 minutes away from Brussels, I finally get the reference (it doesn’t hurt that I watched Almost Famous for the first time the night before we left). So far I’ve watched Aaron drink wine straight from the bottle, seen Nick blatantly break the “no smoking” rule on international flights and learned just how cutthroat the game of Dibs can be. Ladies: Yes we are staring at you and yes we are claiming each and every one of you. Also, selfies. So many selfies.
It’s been pretty calm so far. Seating has been a breeze, Aaron and I prefer aisle, Ryan and Nick are window guys. Our connections have been effortless, leaving plenty of time for piss breaks and pizza runs. The flights were all smooth and filled with enough dibs-worthy frauleins to keep us busy the whole time. Even our luggage was fairly easy to manage. Only two gear bags needed some re-Tetrising, but it was easily corrected.
The trip out of the airport in Brussels was a bit more stressful. We had a hard time corralling our luggage, we couldn’t find our van and Ryan was stopped by an adorable drug dog and his less than adorable handler. But it was all sorted out and we headed out for Desertfest, our first show in Antwerp, Belgium.
The ride was short and we were the first band to arrive. We used our free time to track down some Belgian waffles; Arnaud’s bilingual skills helped us procure food that we actually recognized and pay for said food. We also sorted out usual tour things like reorganizing the van into less of a clusterfuck, catching up with old friends, making introductions to new members and passing out itineraries. Ryan was kind enough to provide us with a day-by-day breakdown of times and locations, all set inside a classy Lisa Frank folder. Because kittens are metal.
Merch is being sold by an outside agency, so I get the night to enjoy some of Stoner Rock’s finest acts, like Witch Rider and Truckfighters. I will be in charge of filming the band with Nick’s Go Pro cameras. No guarantee of quality can be made, but considering our mutual state of exhaustion, I think it’ll be forgiven. Tonight’s sure to be an interesting start to tour. We’ve each been given six drink tickets, we’re running on about 30 minutes of sleep apiece and the boys are playing to a sold-out fest with attendees flying in from as far away as Japan. It’s definitely a trial by fire scenario, but I think they’re up to the challenge. They just might need a caffeine injection between now and then.
I think I’m going to wrap it up for today but I want to start a tally here that will hopefully carry on through the tour. We’re up to two Spinal Tap references/situations today. Check back in to see if we can run into any more locked doors later this week!
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
If imitation really is the greatest form of flattery, WCPO's John Matarese should feel truly honored. Someone has created a parody Twitter account, @John_Mattress, devoted to Mr. Don't Waste Your Money. Like the real Matarese, fake John offers penny-pinching tips, like this helpful idea:
Who runs the account and why it only has 7 followers remains a mystery. The account's first post is dated Aug. 27, but we just discovered the page when "John" recently tweeted @CityBeatCincy.
Follow @John_Mattress for real Matarese retweets, money saving pointers and video game musings. Seriously, one of the funniest parody accounts we've seen in a while. Here are a few of our favorites:
Are you @John_Mattress? Know who is? Please email any details to email@example.com.
Oh wow it’s Friday, I saw pretty much the best show I’ve seen in months last night when Mirah played MOTR Pub and I just had a pretty great donut and tons of iced coffee. But this isn’t a baked goods or early 2000s music blog (I wish), so let’s get to the news.
Attorneys for the Greenpeace activists arrested for hanging a banner from P&G’s headquarters in March lost a legal tussle yesterday as a judge ruled jurors wouldn’t be able to take a tour of the crime scene. The defense alleges the activists didn’t damage windows when hanging the banner, and that other windows on other floors have similar damage that pre-existed the protest. The felony charges against the activists hinge on that damage. P&G says the company has made so many changes since the incident, including new security measures, that a tour of the building would only confuse jurors. The judge in the case sided with the company, because nothing is more confusing to jurors comparing windows than some extra security guards milling about. Eight of the nine protesters face felony burglary charges that could land them in prison for more than nine years. A ninth protester made a plea bargain over the summer.
• Imagine this: guidelines from a federal agency are vague and clouded, and local factions on both sides of an argument are using that ambiguity to make political points. Shocker, right? The streetcar funding imbroglio is a white elephant gift that just keeps getting passed back and forth between the mayor, transit advocates and news organizations. First, the mayor said the city may cut streetcar service if the project’s $4 million annual operational funding gap isn’t filled. Advocates for the project objected, saying that the federal grants used to build the streetcar prohibit the city from doing so. Then a Cincinnati Enquirer story last month said the hours would be up to the city, with the Federal Transportation Administration staying out of the mix. But it also suggested that the city couldn’t run it only for special events, as Mayor Cranley suggested on 700 WLW in what he later called an “extreme hypothetical.”
Hm. So, uh, can we just get some numbers up in this? Like, just how many hours a week does the city have to run the streetcar? In its various grant applications to the FTA, the city has promised to run the streetcar 16-18 hours a day, 365 days a year. Is the city tied to that number? The FTA’s response to the controversy doesn't totally clear this up.
“We expect Cincinnati to provide the nature and quality of service that
it proposed in both the TIGER and Urban Circulator grant applications,
which were a consideration in the selection of the applications for the
award of grant funding,” the agency said in a statement responding to recent questions from the Cincinnati Business Courier. Well, huh.
• The clock is still ticking on an effort to establish a co-op grocery store at the site of the former Keller’s IGA in Clifton, but the game is now in overtime. Officials with the group Clifton Cooperative Market announced they’ve signed an extension on a contract to purchase the building on Ludlow Avenue near Clifton Avenue, and now have 90 more days to do so. The group is trying to raise $1.65 million to buy the building by selling shares to community members. So far, they’ve got more than 800 co-op members and $600,000 banked for the project. The market will be an “uptrend” grocery, which I think means $3 bottled sodas, a lot of quinoa and kale as far as the eye can see. I’m not hating. I like all those things.
• Here's an interesting story about the way the city of Cincinnati collects property taxes, and how small-government conservatives passed laws back in the late 90s limiting the amount the city can collect to a specific dollar figure. The results have been a mixed bag at best.
• Cincinnati is one of the worst places in the country for irrelevant political ads, a new study has found. I mean, given the level of non-representation we’re getting out of our federal, state and local politicians and the appalling lack of options we have for most races, I’d say pretty much anything these jokers slap on a billboard is more or less irrelevant. But alas, the study says our ranking is because our market is split between Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and because candidates in one state often have to buy ads for the whole region.
• The accepted wisdom on millennials is that we’re all entitled Bard College grads working on our Tumblr poetry blogs and being snotty to baby boomers from our perch as lowly Starbucks baristas while we work to save up money to move to Bushwick. We really haven't helped ourselves in this regard, as we're pretty much a generation obsessed with branding ourselves as such. But hey! Did you know that two-thirds of millennials don’t have a bachelor’s degree? Did you know that many grew up facing deep poverty and lack of educational opportunity? This NPR piece gives a little more attention to young folks who you probably won’t see on an episode of Girls anytime soon. It’s a good read.
• Finally, I can't decide if this fake John Matarese Twitter account is trolling us or not. Or if it's even really fake. John, is that you?
CityBeat: When did you start getting into bar tending and creating craft cocktails?
Mike Georgiton: I’ve been a bartender for about 11 years. I was working for a while in fast-paced club kind of environment, and it wasn't until later that I got another job in a lounge. It was actually the worst job I’ve ever had; I hated it there. Eventually, the club changed hands, and the new owners brought some guys from Louisville to train everyone. I went through like 90 hours of training of cocktail history and that’s when I started making craft cocktails and started to enjoy the process. It wasn't until I started here that I began researching and getting creative. I started reading and figuring out more techniques and developing my own from there.
CB: What would you say is your technique/method in coming up with original cocktail recipes?
MG: I don’t like to read too many cocktail books. Books do help in getting kind of basic idea of what people are doing, but I like to get more inspiration from food and the way people pair food together. I ask myself, ‘How can I pair this food ingredient with a liquor?’ and that way I’m coming up with more obscure ingredients that are my own. Flavor combinations that chefs use in a lot of their dishes will push me to think, ‘Well, how can I tie in pistachios?’ or ‘How can I tie in this or that?’ I want to do something that’s completely different and inspired from my own source — something that no one else is doing.
CB: What’s your favorite ingredient to use in your cocktails?MG: My favorite ingredients are usually more food-type ingredients that chefs are also using in their dishes. My favorite liquor to use is Domaine de Canton, which is a cognac-based ginger liquor. I put it in a lot of drinks. It’s one of those that I love it because it goes good with everything, but I also kind of hate it because I want to put it in everything.
CB: Do you notice any changes in cocktail culture within OTR?
MG: I have noticed that, more than before, people are starting to get more creative in making original cocktails instead of just taking recipes from a book. People are using more modern techniques, and I think that’s great because that was always what I was more into than just traditional cocktails.
CB: What’s the strangest ingredient that you've ever put in a cocktail?
MG: Foie gras, which is stuffed goose liver. Hands down the most bizarre that I've done.
It's fatty and it’s easy. You cook it and render it down in a pan and add some cognac to it. I know cognac has always been a classic pairing with foie gras, so I thought it would be really interesting to come full cycle and put foie gras in the cognac. It was one of the initial cocktails that I did more of a direct food style. In the cocktail I added a fig emulsion, some black pepper tincture and sprinkled some nutmeg, which are all ingredients you usually find being used with foie gras. It turned out really great and is on the menu here [at Senate], but to get one great original cocktail you have to go through five horrible ones. It takes a lot of experimenting.
CB: What is one of your favorite cocktails served at the Senate?
Fidel Castro. It goes great with the fall season, and we have it pre-mixed and
ready to serve at Senate.
2 oz. oak-aged spiced rum
1/2 oz. pure maple syrup
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
1-inch piece of orange peel
Shake all ingredients together (except for orange peel) over ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir and strain into glass. Heat up orange peel with a lighter. Squeeze the peel over the glass, running the rim with it before adding to the cocktail.
Oak-Aged Spiced Rum
750 ml. bottle Bacardi Silver Rum
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 T. whole coriander, cracked
10 allspice berries, cracked
3 black peppercorns, cracked
2 whole nutmegs, cracked
1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 T. cardamom pods, cracked
1 star anise
1 T. sarsaparilla bark or root (optional)
3 4-by-1-inch strips of orange peel, white pith removed
5 slices ginger root
1/4 cup French or American oak chips
Combine ingredients in a large glass jar. Cover and allow to age, shaking every few days. It can be used after a few days.
Cincinnati’s Zebras in Public recently unleashed a new music video for its hard-charging rocker “Blown Away,” a highlight of the band’s 2014 full-length release, Paradise Leg.
Directed by the band’s drummer, Chris Himes, the rumbling music is matched up with footage of the band members zooming around Full Throttle Indoor Karting in Springdale. The fast-paced visuals are a great match for the high-octane nature of the song.
This spring, CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with the band about its history and the release of Paradise Leg. Check it out here.