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by Mike Breen 05.29.2013
 
 
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MidPoint Music Fest 2013: Round 2 Lineup Announcment

Shuggie Otis, Youth Lagoon, Kurt Vile and more set for September festival

The second round of announcements for this year's MidPoint Music Festival lineup was featured in this week's issue of CityBeat, on streets now. For those outside of Greater Cincinnati (or you lazy folks who don't want to walk to pick up a newspaper), here's the official press release:

For Immediate Release

Artist Announcement “Round 2” for MPMF.13

Original Pioneer Shuggie Otis to headline Washington Park 

Opening Night 

Cincinnati, Ohio, May 29, 2013 —Last month, after almost 40 years, Shuggie Otis, released a new album.  

In September, MidPoint Music Festival (MPMF.13) will present Otis, one of the most mysterious figures in pop music history, as this year’s original pioneer.  He will headline in Washington Park opening night with Cody ChesnuTT.

According to the New York Times (NYT), Otis’s album, “Wings of Love” (Epic/Legacy), which includes 14 previously unreleased tracks, is being packaged a alongside a reissue of his previous and most celebrated recording, “Inspiration Information,” from 1974.  

“MPMF has always been known for the pioneering music we showcase, but I am especially excited and proud to present Shuggie Otis,” said Dan McCabe, artistic director of MPMF.13. “Unlike other original pioneers presented at past MPMFs like Ralph Stanley, Booker T. and Van Dyke Parks, Shuggie’s impact is only just now coming to light.  Shuggie Otis speaks directly to the MPMF artist who often sacrifices success and notoriety for their art.”

On May 3, the first 13 artists were announced for the twelfth edition of the downtown Cincinnati festival happening September 26-28, 2013.  Today, 14 additional artists are being released:

SHUGGIE OTIS/KURT VILE/ YOUTH LAGOON/ 

ON AN ON/ BATHS/ MURDER BY DEATH/ BLEACHED/ SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME/ SAN FERMIN/ SECRET COLOURS/ NAT BALDWIN/ WILD CUB/

THE SHILOHS/BIRDS OF CHICAGO

SHUGGIE OTIS: “He’s the unsung hero of blues and funk. His music is so potent that it only blossomed 30 years after it was first released.”  - Questlove

“…a missing link between Sly, Jimi, Stevie, Prince and Frank Ocean." -Rolling Stone

KURT VILE: One of Coachella 2013’s 10 Must See Acts – Rolling Stone

“Wakin on a Pretty Daze” is a SPIN essential and a real testament to putting a great deal of effort into making something feel effortless.” - SPIN

YOUTH LAGOON: “8.7 / BEST NEW MUSIC. Wondrous Bughouse looks inward and discovers the endless possibilities of imagination and introspection.” -Pitchfork

ON AN ON: Broke new ground on their latest recording with accomplished producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals, Los Campesinos!)  

BATHS: Just yesterday (May 28, 2013) second album Obsidian named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork.  Debut album Cerulean, blurs the line between post-modern pop and the LA beat scene and earned “Best Of” recognition from Pitchfork & The Onion’s A.V. Club.

MURDER BY DEATH: "They've cultivated a cult-like fan base via their unique sound, which mingles elements of country, indie rock and alternative music into collections of songs that are the sonic equivalent of 'No Country For Old Men.'"— PureVolume

BLEACHED: “…originally found cult status with their punk band Mika Miko. It's the ole "they've cleaned up, but are still same degenerates you know and love" trick. . – The Village Voice

SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME: The jubilant fun of Motown and Northern soul with a decidedly indie approach. 

SAN FERMIN: A pastiche of post-rock, chamber-pop and contemporary classical composition.

SECRET COLOURS: Revel in being the bastard seed of the '60s psychedelia and '90s Britpop bloodlines. 

NAT BALDWIN: Double bassist/singer-songwriter Nat Baldwin's spent years as the Dirty Projectors bassist and former disciple of free jazz legend Anthony Braxton.

WILD CUB:  “…[Wild Cub’s] brand of darkly-tinged new wave recalls elements of the youthful abandon of John Hughes soundtracks, the baleful allure of Greg Dulli, and the clockwork electronics of New Order’s middle period.” – KEXP

THE SHILOHS: The Vancouver foursome released full-length debut, So Wild earlier this year.

BIRDS OF CHICAGO: “They project organic gospel, hillbilly, folk and soul elements that bridge traditional and modern approaches." – Chicago Tribune

To view the whole list of artists for MPMF.13 to date, visit MPMF.com.

MidPoint Music Festival continues its 12-year tradition as the region’s frontline of music exploration, featuring an impressive and diverse lineup.  Music fans everywhere flock to Cincinnati in September to be a part of this long running music event that started in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), the Cincinnati neighborhood that’s as cutting edge as the festival itself.    

OTR remains a pivotal location, home to a number of MPMF.13 stages.  OTR is on the National Register of Historic Places and was voted best Cincinnati Neighborhood in CityBeat’s Best of Cincinnati publication in 2011 and 2012.  Since 2004 more than $255 million has been invested in the revitalization of OTR, including the $48 million renovation of Washington Park, which includes an outdoor music stage that serves as one of MPMF’s main stages. 

Ticketing

Advance tickets are on sale now at www.mpmf.cincyticket.com. All-access passes are $69 and VIP passes are $169

About MPMF 

Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival has developed a reputation as the place to find your new favorite band. MidPoint's embrace of emerging artists reflects the same pioneering ethic of Cincinnati's celebrated music history and its present day music-makers. The MPMF storyline continues to be diverse, dynamic and adventurous. Stay up to date at MPMF.com, like its official Facebook page, or by following the festival on Twitter.

MPMF.13 is made possible thanks to the generous support of its sponsors, including Dewey’s Pizza and Biore. 


 
 
by Mike Breen 06.18.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music News at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Over the Rhine to Play Free Washington Park Concert

Renovated park gears up for early July grand opening events

Veteran, internationally-acclaimed Cincinnati band Over the Rhine will be performing a free concert on July 22 in Over-the-Rhine (the neighborhood). The group is kicking off a series of "grand opening celebration" concerts this summer at the newly renovated Washington Park, which took 18 months and $48 million to complete. All events are free and open to the public.

The first big event is Over the Rhine's July 22 concert at Washington Park's permanent stage on the new "Civic Lawn." An opening act will soon be announced.

On Aug. 3, the Park will host a rare "joint performance" by the Cincinnati Pops, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet. The full Pops Orchestra will perform a program of Classical, Broadway and Pop tunes, joined by the May Fest Chorus, singers from the Opera and dancers from the Ballet. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

On Aug. 4, the Over-the-Rhine Community Festival returns to Washington Park. The 28-year-old fest was on hold last year while the park was under construction. The event will feature games, food, kids' events, DJs and live music (TBA). The fest runs 12-6 p.m.

Washington Park officially re-opens on July 6 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. There will be a free "Friendship Concert" in the park later that day (5-7 p.m.), presented by the World Choir Games.

Like on Fountain Square, 3CDC is bringing a full slate of weekly musical events (as well as Saturday night movies and family-oriented fare on the weekends) to Washington Park. Full details will come with the launch of the new Washington Park website in early July. Plans so far are to have Bluegrass on Wednesdays, Jazz on Thursdays and R&B and Soul on Fridays. Check out the park on Facebook here for the latest updates.

 
 
by Mike Breen 12.20.2012
Posted In: Local Music, Music News, Music Commentary at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Over the Rhine Band Co-Founder Issues Open Letter to NRA

Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine pleads with gun-rights group to change its ways

In the aftermath of last week's once unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, discussion about mental health services and gun control — thanks largely to social media — has grown to become the major topic of national discourse.

During campaign cycles, certain music fans complain loudly about artists expressing their opinions about candidates and causes, using the old "shut up and sing" line to insinuate that, as entertainers, one somehow loses the right to speak their mind.

Yet many other serious music fans understand that music and art are a reflection of our society — an artist can offer different perspectives that might help people understand some serious issue better or maybe even help them evolve their own views on particular subjects. I'm not saying we should follow artists blindly like some kind of cult. To quote Oasis, "Please don't put your life in the hands/Of a Rock & Roll band." But I for one am always eager to hear what musicians and other artists and writers I respect have to say about current affairs.

Whether within their own art or speaking out in public, artists have the same right as non-artists to express opinions. It seems that the ones with particularly large followings are the musicians attacked most often for expressing views on politics or other controversial world affairs. They fear the power an artist can have if they express an opinion divergent from their own (in much the way liberals and conservatives fear the power Fox News and MSNBC might wield).


Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist have never been afraid to speak up. The married braintrust behind longtime Cincinnati-based band Over the Rhine — which has a dedicated and loving international fanbase — has seen some backlash from fans for expressing "polarizing" viewpoints. Merely supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry 12 years ago was enough to trigger anger amongst a few fans. The group isn't known for delving into political issues in their lyrics too often, but they have said that the song "How Long Have You Been Stoned" (
"Takin' out Daddy's trash now ain't it a drag/Trippin' on Papa's brand new body bag") from 2003's double-album Ohio was inspired by the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq.

OTR never seemed to experience "Dixie Chicks-level" backlash (which nearly destroyed three musicians' careers); it's more similar to the recent hatred and disapproval aimed at Cincinnati natives The National, a globally successful Indie Rock band that angered some fans by campaigning for Barack Obama during the past two presidential elections. The worst (hopefully) that will ever happen in a case like that is the band might sell two or three less records and suffer insults on social media. For these artists and most like them, it's well worth the price.

Following the recent shootings in Connecticut, Detweiler took to the internet to post an open letter to the National Rifle Association. Detweiler begins the post by writing, "
I’m a songwriter, and my first calling is to process the world in the context of my songs. But I felt compelled to write the following, because it’s been on my mind. If you find it useful, please share."

What follows is the open letter from Facebook which has been shared almost 400 times and "liked" nearly 1,000 times. The 200-plus comments are actually fairly civil even when there's disagreement (OTR has a smarter-than-your-average-bear following), though they're not without a few angry and rude missives (it IS the internet after all). In the end, Detweiler has added to the dialogue about a topic that for too long has seemingly been "off the table" due to the power of the NRA and some citizens' particular interpretations of the constitution. (The NRA, at least for now, seems to be self-aware enough this time around to not come out with an insensitive statement, instead echoing the President's call for "meaningful" discussion to help avoid future tragedies like the one last Friday.)


As always, Detweiler is eloquent in his words. No matter what side of the issue you come down on, I highly recommend giving it a read. And if you feel the need to weigh in, here is the link to the original post.
AN OPEN LETTER to the four million members of the National Rifle Association:

Dear fellow citizen,


The NRA released a statement yesterday on your behalf expressing that you all are “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the news of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Yes, we all are.


For years you have willingly given your money to an organization that has largely ignored pleas from policemen across our country to limit access to assault weapons and armor piercing ammunition.


You have spent countless millions of dollars silencing and vilifying voices that, while supportive of gun ownership, were calling for moderation in the distribution of weapons that could be used for mass destruction of human life, including the gun used by Friday’s killer that shot one first grader 11 times. And 19 other first grade children. And 6 adults in the space of a few minutes…


When previous heartbroken victims of gun violence who lost children or spouses tried to speak out to hopefully help prevent others from suffering similar unspeakable loss, you rallied for your rights, and gave the suffering no quarter.


For years you have marketed the idea to the citizens of this country that the US government is a potential enemy bent on harming its own citizens, and the only way we could all be safe was if we each purchased a private arsenal of weapons.


While you are reportedly “shocked, saddened and heartbroken,” how many of your members after Friday’s shooting have changed their profile pictures to images of guns, or tweeted messages like “I’m buying a gun the day after Christmas. Join me! #NRAlifelongmember” How many of your members boasted last Friday that they were going to take their kids to a firing range?


You continue to lobby in support of all of us carrying concealed weapons into schools, day care centers, movie theaters, and public squares. You argue that if only we could all walk around packing heat, our society could be safer and more peaceful. You lobby for wider “stand your ground” laws, so we can all load up and take the law into our own hands and play judge and jury (and God?) in the heat of the moment.


The members among you who call themselves Christian often bemoan the fact that
“God has been removed from our schools” and yet those very members ignore the direct teachings of Jesus as recorded in Scripture that call upon all followers of Christ to work to break the cycle of violence and not return evil for evil.

Too many of us have stood by silently while you’ve played the part of the playground bully in our public discourse, and distorted our constitution for profit. While we as a nation have improved upon the vision of our “founding fathers” to end slavery in this country, to allow women the right to vote, and to outlaw hate crimes, you cling rigidly to a few words written when the right to bear arms referred to a single shot muzzle loading rifle.


Your voice has been powerful and strident, and too many of us have remained silent in our disbelief of what we were hearing from you. Our silence has been deadly.


If you are indeed “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” consider the part (if you are able and willing to join the rest of us in searching our souls) your organization has played when it comes to last Friday’s shooting. Consider the fear that your organization markets. Consider the bitter fruit of your labors that we must all taste.


And please consider asking forgiveness, changing your ways, and offering whatever healing you are capable of to the hurting in Newtown, Connecticut, as opposed to condoning responding to violence with still ever more violence, ad nauseum.


Unless you can do your part (along with the rest of us), and change in response to Friday’s tragedy, there will be still worse to come.


I live on a small farm in Ohio, own two guns (and my own business) and have family members who are big game hunters. I am rethinking my responsibility as a citizen of this country. We all are. I invite you to do the same.


You’re holding your big press conference tomorrow. We’ll be listening. But I am confident that many millions of us will no longer be silent.


LJD

 
 
by mbreen 12.15.2008
Posted In: Local Music at 04:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Hank Williams, CityBeat and Music History

The efforts to erect a plaque at the site of the old King Records facility (as well as myriad events related to the past and future of the ground-breaking record label, including this year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards) hopefully turned a lot of people on to the fact that Cincinnati’s music history is as rich as any city in the country.

Now, some of the same people who sought to honor King’s legacy are turning their focus on another monumental happening that should further enhance Cincy’s reputation as a blockbuster music town.

This coming Monday marks the 60th anniversary of a profoundly important recording session that took place at 811 Race St. in Downtown. Today, that building is home to CityBeat world headquarters, but 60 years ago, it was Herzog Studios.

Read More

 
 
by mbreen 11.22.2010
Posted In: Music News, Local Music, CEAs at 03:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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A Very Foxy 2010 CEAs

Something (or a few things) unanticipated usually happens at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards show every year. After all, it's a night where hundreds of local musicians are put together in a room with loud music and multiple cash bars.

But the biggest unexpected element of last night’s CEAs at the Madison Theater in Covington was its runtime. Not only a first for the CEAs but perhaps a first in the history of all awards show, the briskly paced show was over early — in about 2 and a half hours, 30 minutes sooner than expected. Efficient stage management and a more streamlined run of show that kept the focus on live performances and the 19 award presentations (winners listed below) helped the event wrap up in record time.

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by Mike Breen 05.10.2013
 
 
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Free Summer Music at Fountain Square, Washington Park

Outdoor Downtown/OTR hotspots present themed music nights several days a week

We told you a few weeks back about the lineup for the MidPoint Indie Summer concert series on Fountain Square, featuring numerous (primarily local) Indie and Rock acts every Friday this summer from 7-11 p.m. Click here for the full rundown.

But there are many other popular themed nights returning this summer to both Fountain Square and Washington Park, which re-opened after a major makeover in time to introduce live music nights last summer for the first time. (Both spots are managed by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC).

Fountain Square's PNC Summer Music Series will have live music five days a week, while Washington Park will host three themed music nights this summer. All events are free and a great way to enjoy our city's central districts. The concerts begin at the end of May/start of June and run through the end of August/start of September. Be sure to check the official websites of both venues for any updates, additions or cancellations.

Fountain Square

• Every Tuesday from 7-9 p.m., the Square presents "American Roots" night. This year, the lineup is the strongest its been, showcasing the best of Greater Cincinnati's rich Roots/Americana scene (as well as a few regional faves). 

May 27
8 p.m.: Magnolia Mountain
7 p.m. Terminal Union

June 4
8 p.m.: Kentucky Struts
7 p.m.: The Turkeys

June 11
8 p.m.: The Tillers
7 p.m.: Tom Evanchuck

June 18
8 p.m.: Dallas Moore Band
7 p.m.: Jamison Road

June 25
8 p.m.: Kentucky Timbre
7 p.m.: Tex Schramm

July 2
8 p.m.: Shiny and the Spoon
7 p.m.: Ten String Symphony

July 9
8 p.m.: Glossary
7 p.m.: Frontier Folk Nebraska

July 16
8 p.m.: Pure Grain
7 p.m.: Straw Boss

July 23
8 p.m.: Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s
7 p.m.: Arlo McKinley

July 30
8 p.m.: Great Peacock
7 p.m.: The Seedy Seeds

August 6
8 p.m.: Bulletville
7 p.m.: Ricky Nye & Chris Douglas

August 13
8 p.m.: Mason James
7 p.m.: Honey and Houston

August 20
8 p.m.: Bobby Mackey
7 p.m.: Blair Carman

August 27
8 p.m.: Robert Ellis
7 p.m.: Fifth on the Floor

Reggae Wednesdays return to the Square this summer, with wider-net bookings that include numerous regional and touring Reggae acts. Music runs every night from 6-10 p.m. and acts are teamed up with a DJ or DJ squad for each event. 

May 29
The Ohms
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

June 5
The Zionites
Summer Splash Happy Hour with Queen City Imperial Sound System

June 12
Cliftones
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

June 19
Seefari
Summer Splash Happy Hour with I Vibez

June 26
The Drastics
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

July 3
Jah Messengers
Summer Splash Happy Hour with Queen City Imperial Sound System

July 10
Dougie Simpson and Faith
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

July 17
Billbuckers
Summer Splash Happy Hour with I Vibez

July 24
Ark Band
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

July 31
Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew
Summer Splash Happy Hour with Queen City Imperial Sound System

August 7
Ras Dodirie
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

August 14
Ras Gato
Summer Splash Happy Hour with I Vibez

August 21
Nature
Summer Splash Happy Hour with DJ Frankie D

August 28
One World Tribe
Summer Splash Happy Hour with Queen City Imperial Sound System

• Salsa dancers and music lovers will be happy to know that Salsa on the Square is returning this summer on Thursdays, running 7-10 p.m. As always, dance instructors will be on hand to give you pointers (if you need 'em). Music is provided primarily by some of Greater Cincinnati's finest Salsa/Latin music groups. 

May 30: Son Del Caribe

June 6: Kandela

June 13: Zumba

June 20: Tropicoso

June 27: Grupo Tumbao

July 4: Clave’ Son

July 11: Kandela

July 18: Tropiscoso

 uly 25: Grupo Tumbao

August 1: Zumba

August 8: Azucar Tumbao

August 15: Clave’ Son

August 22: Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel 

August 29: Son Del Caribe 

• Before MidPoint Indie Summer on Fridays, local club/bar conglomerate 4EG (which operates several nightclubs in the area) will present 4EG Happy Hour from 5-7 p.m. Local DJs will spin every Friday (except for Aug. 2, when local cover band Snidely Whiplash performs). 

May 31:
DJ Ice Cold Tony

June 7:
DJ Jake the Ripper

June 14:
DJ E-trayn

June 21:
DJ Identity

June 28:
DJ Jesse the Ripper

July 5:
DJ D-Lo

July 12:
Fuseamania

July 19:
DJ Tina T

July 26:
DJ Will Kill

August 2:
Snidely Whiplash 

August 9:
DJ Scene

August 16:
DJ Simo

August 23:
DJ Spryte

August 30:
TBA

• One of the most popular nights on the Square during the summer is Saturdays' "Beats" night, booked by local promoter Self Diploma. The concerts run 7-10 p.m. and again feature an impressive mix of local and touring Hip Hop, Electronic and DJ acts. Among the national act highlights this year are Mod Sun, Hoodie Allen, Watch the Duck and DJ Jazzy Jeff. 

June 1
10 p.m.: Chuck Inglish
9 p.m.: Puck
8 p.m.: Olu
7 p.m.: The Natives

June 8
10 p.m.: DJ D-LO
9 p.m.: Cal Scruby
8 p.m.: SD Choice
7 p.m.: DJ Vizion

June 15
10 p.m.: Hoodie Allen
9 p.m.:D-Why
8 p.m.: Sam Lachow
7 p.m.: Ian J

June 22
10 p.m.: Mod Sun
9 p.m.: Trademark Aaron
8 p.m.: Junya Be
7 p.m.: Jean P

June 29
10 p.m.: Drummer vs Emulator
9 p.m.: Firecat 451
8 p.m.: Black Signal
7 p.m.: Catch Phrase

July 6
10 p.m.: Mutrix
9 p.m.: Milk N Cookies
8 p.m.: DJ X Nightmare
7 p.m.: No Limits

July 13
10 p.m.: T Mills
9 p.m.: Huey Mack
8 p.m.: Santino Corleon
7:30 p.m.: Round 2 Crew
7 p.m.: Nick Youngerman

July 20
10 p.m.: Collin Mcloughin
9 p.m.: Napalm
8 p.m.: X5ight
7 p.m.: DJ Sab

July 27
10 p.m.: Watch the Duck
9 p.m.: Gold Shoes
8 p.m.: Vincent Vega
7:30 p.m.: DJ Rhetorik
7 p.m.: Emari J

August 3
10 p.m.: Somo
9 p.m.: Arin Ray
8 p.m.: Eben Frankewitz
7 p.m.: Alabama Capital

August 10
9:30 p.m.: Stafford Brothers
8:30 p.m.: Davey C
7:45 p.m.: J Hollow
7 p.m.: 4 Grand

August 17
9:30 p.m.: Candyland
8:30 p.m.: DJ Prism
7:45 p.m.: B-Funk of Dave Rave
7 p.m.: Neon Medusa

August 24
9-11 p.m.: DJ Jazzy Jeff
8 p.m.: Joseph Nevels
7 p.m.: Erica P

Washington Park

After a successful inaugural summer of events last year, Washington Park brings back three music nights, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, plus several other entertainment offerings, including "Dancing Under the Stars," an every-Tuesday dance night, with lessons that focus on different types of dancing each week. (Click below for the concert lineups.)

Read More

 
 
by mbreen 11.14.2008
Posted In: Local Music, CEAs at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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Rip Off, Artists

I hate when hard working people get ripped off. These kind of injustices can range from phishing scams to pickpockets, insurance companies' denying claims by any means necessary to bank CEO’s using bailout cash for beer money. It’s heart breaking to hear the stories of identity theft leaving people broke and in perpetual debt, or stock- and 401K-holders losing their future to corporate malfeasance.

Not that it is by any means “worse,” but I get a special bug up my ass (I’ve named him “Tony”) when I hear about artists and musicians getting ripped off. Having written about music for 18 years and played music for over 20, I’ve seen all kinds of scams designed to make cash off of the creative endeavors of others. From “battle of the bands” contests with exorbitant, unnecessary “entry” fees to club owners deciding at the end of the night that a band’s performance fee suddenly didn’t fit his budget to record labels putting no money into a project only to blame the band for not selling more albums (and coming at them to “recoup” costs), not paying or actually taking money from artists is its own little cottage industry within the music industry.

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by Brian Baker 07.24.2013
Posted In: Festivals, Live Music, Local Music at 03:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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ICYMI: The Bunbury Music Festival Rocked

After some reflection and recovery, CityBeat finally reviews Cincinnati's 2013 Bunbury Music Festival

BUNBURY MUSIC FEST: DAY 1

After months of rising anticipation and weeks of weirdly intermittent and torrential rain, Bunbury's first day looked to be a winner. A great announced lineup, no precipitation in the forecast and nothing but sunshine expected for the day; against all odds, that's exactly what we got. But it wasn't the rain to come that presented a problem, it was the rain that had already fallen; the area on the Serpentine Wall that had perfectly pocketed the Rockstar Stage last year was completely swallowed by the rising Ohio River, and the stage had to be moved to the opposite end of the field housing the all important Main Stage. It turned out to be a pretty decent fix, all things considered.

After securing my Level Three media pass (which, in the hierarchy of accessibility, I think meant that if any band needed help moving equipment, I was obligated to roadie for them), I headed for the Bud Light stage for Public. I had done a story on them back in January; they were home for Christmas so given their proximity, they came to my house and we did the interview in my basement. My daughter had answered the door and let them in, and for weeks afterward she was telling her friends about the cute guys I had interviewed at the house. Public's teenage girl effect was fully evident at their Bunbury appearance, as squealy females shrieked their appreciation for every song, and randomly shouted "I love you!"s arced over the rather sizable crowd. The trio did songs from their self-titled EP, a new tune called "Honey Bee" and, taking a page from the infinitely talented and creatively twisted Richard Thompson, offered a thunderously blazing turn on Britney Spears' "Toxic." In the studio, Public has the sound of a ramped up Modest Mouse, but in the live arena, they definitely blister and kick a little closer to the Led Zeppelin vibe they claimed as inspiration during our conversation, adding a dollop of harmonic Pop to sweeten the deal. If teenage girls are any indicator — and they usually are — Public could be headed for Walk the Moon territory pretty quickly.

Next up, it was Alone at 3AM at the Lawn Stage. I love these guys; super solid, crunchy heartland Indie Pop/Rock that states its case without a lot of unnecessary flash or padding. The band had plodded along for close to seven years before solidifying a dedicated line-up behind vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Max Fender and bassist Joey Beck and moving forward; a good deal of growth occurred with the additions of Sarah Davis on keys and Chris Mueller on drums (and business savvy). That in turn lit a fire under Fender, leading to a pair of albums in the last three years — 2010's Cut Your Gills and last year's Midwest Mess.

For A@3's Bunbury slot, the quintet was showing off their new guitarist; Clay Cason's recent departure left a gap which has been admirably filled by Jake Tippey, taking a busman's holiday from his howling duties in the Frankl Project and proving every bit as valuable in a Pop/Rock context. The band roared through songs from their most recent albums, introduced a couple of new songs (Chris mentioned after the show that A@3 would be working on an EP, and then tracking a new full length for imminent release) and even dipped back into their debut album, City Out of Luck, for a spin through "Mexico." Max's gruff voice sits comfortably in the Paul Westerberg/Bruce Springsteen range and it's the perfect vehicle for expressing his blue collar love-and-life songs. Can't wait to hear the new stuff in the studio, kids.

Before setting out for the Rockstar Stage, I caught the opening of Ohio Knife, one of Cincinnati's brightest new entities. Initially a side project for the Chocolate Horse, vocalist/guitarist Jason Snell, guitarist Andrew Higley and drummer Joe Suer — who all played together in Readymaid as well — ultimately put the Horse in the stable to concentrate on the Punk-scrubbed Blues of Ohio Knife, and with good reason. The trio is a sweat-soaked hurricane in the studio (their 2012 EP was a marvel), but the live translation hits with the force and heat of a flamethrower in an ammunition dump, and it won't be long before the CEA nominees for Best New Artist wind up taking home some bling. Where are we with the full length, guys?

After a quick shot of Ohio Knife, it was time to motor to the other end of the festival to check out the Dunwells. The UK outfit fronted by, logically enough, the Dunwell brothers, has found a good deal of success with their debut album, Blind Sighted Faith, and its ubiquitous single "I Could Be a King." When they played the single, frontman Joseph Dunwell thanked Q102 for their support, but it bears pointing out that, WNKU has been beating the drum for the Dunwells for quite some time now (just as they had for the similarly Folk/Pop toned Mumford & Sons). That being said, the age of the crowd seemed to indicate that Q102's demographic was probably best represented here today, so perhaps the win should be scored in their column after all. However the commissioner decides to rule, the Dunwells put together a crisp and wonderfully vibrant set that pays homage to the West Coast sounds of the Eagles and CSNY. The one exception to that sonic blueprint is the aforementioned "I Could Be a King," which offers an irresistable Pop edge that shimmers like the best of Crowded House. When brother David Dunwell strapped on the old five string to play the hit, he noted wryly, "I think every Englishman should at some point come to America and stand in front of an American audience holding a banjo with no idea how to play it." I think he was being graciously self-deprecating. The Dunwells seemed to go down a storm and I think they would find a large and enthusiastic audience if they returned outside of the auspices of the Bunbury Festival. Quick note: If you see a Dunwells album titled Follow the Road in stores (for you youngsters, a building where your parents buy music) or online, it is actually a re-sequenced and remixed version of Blind Sighted Faith, with a few alternate versions tossed in for flavor.

I briefly considered heading over to the Bud Light Stage to see some of Everest (a pick from Bunbury worker bee extraordinaire Jacob Heintz), but opted to check out a bit of Tegan and Sara at the Main Stage before making a definite decision. 

I've interviewed both Quin twins over the years — most recently, I talked to Sara the year after the release of 2009's Sainthood — and while I lean toward their early work as far as my personal taste is concerned, their last trio of albums have been fairly well stacked with radio-friendly Pop songs with the potential to reach a massive audience. The enormous turnout for their Bunbury set would seem to support their decision to go the pure Pop route, but the fact is that Tegan and Sara have been cultivating a large and diverse audience for the past decade and a half, and their synth-driven Pop direction was not enough of a departure to alienate any portion of their slavishly loyal fan base. Predictably, the bulk of their set was devoted to Heartthrob, along with faves from The Con and Sainthood; they also reached all the way back to 2002's If It Was You for "Living Room" and they threw in a cover of Tiesto's "Feel It in My Bones," on which they originally guested. As expected, the adrenaline and volume of the live experience ferments Tegan and Sara's sugary Pop confections into something with a little more bite. Even for those who weren't completely sold on their recent work (my hand is up), Tegan and Sara's live presentation could make you see the light.

After T&S, it was time to hit the Amphitheater Stage to see Buffalo Killers. If you missed seeing the James Gang in 1971, here's your chance. Because I'm old enough to have actually missed the James Gang (with Joe Walsh, that is; I was lucky enough to see the even rarer sight of the James Gang with Tommy Bolin. Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls …) that joke is only marginally funny. Luckily, Buffalo Killers have approximated the trio's fuzzy guitar assault and maniacally furious rhythm section here in the 21st century to give an indication of what Joe and the boys might have sounded like if they had stayed together a little longer and gelled a little better. And even though Buffalo Killers have managed to inject a bit of poppy sunshine into their bunker-busting sound, in the live arena the band still rumbles and shoots like a rhythmic Sherman tank. The Killers hit all of my teenage buttons (which were installed long ago and have never been fully deactivated, same as every man on the planet, I suppose) and any opportunity to witness their feedback-through-an-elephant-gun glory is a chance to time machine back to the days when electric dinosaurs roamed the earth and their squalling racket could be heard from sweaty and sparsely attended auditoriums to densely populated arenas. I love Buffalo Killers. They remind me that there is wisdom in remembering the past, joy in celebrating the present and excitement in anticipating the future.

After a brief stroll around the grounds to grab something to eat, it was back to the Amphitheater Stage for a healthy dose of Rock hard Americana with Those Darlins. The Nashville outfit has been down a Darlin since early last year when Kelley Anderson opted out of the band to pursue other musical projects (her new group, Grand Strand, got a good buzz after touring with Richard Lloyd last year), and her amicable departure has obviously changed the group's dynamic, particularly the absence of their signature three-part harmonies. The remaining Darlins — Jessi (Wariner), Nikki (Kvarnes) and drummer Linwood Regensberg — are carrying on with the-show-must-go-on determination; new bassist Adrian Barrera seems to be slotting in quite well and Those Darlins' core sound, along the lines of the Pandoras if they'd been influenced by Wanda Jackson and the Ramones, remains largely intact. Their Bunbury set did display a good deal more Rock and a good deal less twang than you'll find on their first two albums — 2009's Those Darlins and 2011's Screws Get Loose — and it's a safe bet that the new album they're currently working on will follow that blueprint as well. No one at the Amphitheater seemed too dismayed at the shift, particularly the hyperactive dance contingent in front of the stage. Two Darlins is clearly enough Darlins to make Those Darlins.

I bailed out of Those Darlins a bit early to make the long walk back to the Rockstar Stage to take in the Gypsy Jazz goodness of DeVotchKa. I've long been a fan of the Denver-based outfit (I came to them through 2004's How It Ends, fell in love with their version of the Velvets' "Venus in Furs" from the Curse Your Little Heart EP and adored their work in Little Miss Sunshine) but have never had the opportunity to see them in the flesh, and when I saw them on the Bunbury schedule, I knew there was little that could draw me away from their show. Luckily, their 9 p.m. slot meant they weren't programmed against anyone else, so the way was cleared for my first live DeVotchKa experience.

DeVotchKa lived up to and surpassed all advance billing with a set that walked the wire between frenetic and atmospheric but maintained high energy from start to finish. Even when they slowed the pace, there was an electric tension in their presentation that made clear something explosive could happen at any moment. And it usually did. All four members of the band — Nick Urata, Jeanie Schroder, Tom Hagerman, Shawn King — play multiple instruments so almost any sound is available to DeVotchKa, including theremin, boukouki, accordion, trumpet and Melodica. And Schroder does the heaviest lifting, either plucking with power and subtlety on her enormous upright bass or blowing away like Dizzy Gillespie on steroids into a gigantic sousaphone that looks as though it would be the punishment instrument for getting bad grades in high school band ("Okay, Baker, D in Orchestra, 10 solos with the death tuba..."). It wasn't a performance to analyze or interpret, it was a Gypsy Jazz soundtrack for a magic show, a feeling to wash over you like cool waves on warm sand, a Slavic Rock and Roll dance party. More than a few people on DeVotchKa's Facebook page declared it the best show of Bunbury's three-day weekend. It was most assuredly one of them.

Finally, it was time for fun. Not the fun that we'd been having all day at Bunbury, but the fun. that's topping the charts and recently played Saturday Night Live and won a couple of Grammys this year. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the band. I like their sound to a certain extent, it's energetic and entertaining and I really like Nate Reuss' voice. I actually interviewed him a decade ago when he was fronting the Format; ironically and perhaps presciently, he used the word "fun" a half dozen times to describe his band at the time.

At any rate, I hung around to see the show to be able to report how it was to my daughter, and because the band clearly doesn't take itself too seriously. When they accepted their Record of the Year Grammy for "We Are Young," Reuss said, "I don't know what I was thinking, writing the chorus for this song. If this is in HD, everybody can see our faces, and we are not very young." All in all, I was expecting a pleasant if unassuming concert experience.

And that's pretty much how it started, with the "Some Nights" intro, the title track to their sophomore album (it would show up in its entirety during the band's two-song encore, leading into "One Foot" from Some Nights). In fact, fun. performed almost all of Some Nights (save for "All Alright"), and over half of their debut album, 2009's Aim and Ignite, perhaps best represented by "At Least I'm Not as Sad (as I Used to Be)" and the nearly eight-minute closer, "Take Your Time (Coming Home)." Of course, they saved their anthemic signature singles for the second half of the set, first "Carry On" and then, two songs later, the epic Grammy-winning Pop of "We Are Young." Sandwiched in between though was a very charming version of The Rolling Stones’ "You Can't Always Get What You Want," an interesting lead-in to "We Are Young," a song that would seem to sport a diametrically opposed message. By the time fun. concluded with "Stars" as the second song of their encore, they had fired a confetti cannon (there was still yards of fun. confetti on the field when The National played Sunday night), performed the majority of their two studio albums and put on a show that proved they were worthy of their first-night-closing status. While I think they should remove the rather severe punctuation from their name, I have to say I was at least slightly converted toward a fun. lifestyle.

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by 10.06.2008
Posted In: Local Music, King Records at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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King Records to Have Its Day

The city of Cincinnati is prepared to formally recognize King Records’ place in the city’s cultural history with a historic marker, a partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a King-oriented class or lecture series, a King Records Center on the campus of Xavier University and a prominent role in this year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Music (CEAs). City Councilman John Cranley, Bootsy Collins and others announced the plans at a news conference this morning at the former King Records site in Evanston.

[See photos from this morning here.]

Cranley read from a motion he introduced to City Council that asks for up to $10,000 in city funds to install a historic marker on the former King Records office/studio in Evanston to be unveiled on Nov. 23, with the remaining funds used to book a former King recording artist to perform at that night’s CEAs. This year is the 65th anniversary of the founding of King Records in Cincinnati.

The Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland has agreed to construct, donate and maintain the historic marker, and if Cranley’s funding request is granted the Rock Hall president has agreed to attend the marker unveiling and the CEAs. The institution also will work to develop a class or lecture series on King Records at Cincinnati State.

Other newsworthy items from this morning:

• Xavier officials are looking into developing a King Records Center on campus, a history exhibition that also could be a working recording studio for use by students and the public.

CityBeat Marketing and Promotions Manager Dan McCabe announced that the 12th annual CEAs for music will be the first event held at the reopened Emery Theater in Over-the-Rhine. The CEAs were the final public event at the Emery just before it closed in 1999.

 
 
by mbreen 10.28.2008
Posted In: Live Music, CEAs, Local Music at 08:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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Local MTV: The Tillers

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got to check out the muched-buzzed about band The Tillers, nominated for a Cincinnati Entertainment Award in the Folk/Americana category. Playing in the Southgate House's "lounge" room, the trio (playing stand-up bass, guitar, banjo and more) huddled around a single, vintage-looking, multi-directional mic and delivered their sweet, accomplished spin on traditional Folk, Country, Gospel and Blues.

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