Outside of singing at his church occasionally, brilliant Americana singer/songwriter David Wolfenberger
hasn’t performed in the area for quite some time. After working with the group The Marshwiggles in the late ’90s, Wolfenberger put out three stellar solo albums between1999-2006, earning him high praise both domestically and abroad. But besides occasional performances and scant new material (what he has released has been for charity), the 1999
Cincinnati Entertainment Awards winner for Artist of the Year has kept a low profile for the past several years.
Tonight, Wolfenberger is coming "out of exile"
to join an old friend in concert.
Wolfenberger is re-teaming with Mark
Olson, half of the brain trust behind the best work of The Jayhawks, at
Newport’s Southgate House Revival. Wolfenberger
toured extensively with Olson in the early ’00s as a member of The Original Harmony Ridge
Creekdippers, the group Olson formed with then-wife Victoria Williams
after he left The Jayhawks.
Wolfenberger opens tonight's show with a solo, acoustic set at 8 p.m. and he will also join Olson during his set (along with Olson's current touring partner — and wife — Ingunn Ringvold). Tickets are $12 at the door.
Wolfenberger has been posting some of his older material on his Reverbnation page and, in an email, he said he will be posting new songs "on occasion in the future." Here's one of his earlier cuts, "Tentatively Vince Foster," from his 1999 solo debut, Tales from Thom Scarecrow, released on the local Blue Jordan Records.
Greater Cincinnati Rock band Pike 27 was a staple on the local club circuit in the early-to-mid-’00s, playing sweaty, raucous live shows to a dedicated following (headlining and opening for the likes of Dave Alvin and Chuck Prophet) and releasing the acclaimed full-length, Falling Down Hard, in 2001. But in 2007, frontman/guitarist/singer/songwriter Dave Purcell left Cincinnati for Northern Ohio, taking a job as a sociology professor at Kent State.
This past summer, Purcell returned to Cincinnati and resurrected Pike 27 with a new lineup. Returning to his role as Pike 27's bassist is Sean Rhiney, formerly of Clabbergirl (in which Purcell played rhythm guitar) and co-founder of the MidPoint Music Festival. New to Pike are guitarist Mike Fair (Wojo, Mike Fair & the Adventure Seekers) and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Killen, a professor at Cincinnati State.
The “new” Pike 27 has moved away from the Americana/Roots Rock style it was known for, a reflection of the new songs Purcell has written for the band. (The group is also reviving some older material for its upcoming live shows.) Purcell says that while working on the new songs, the members have remarked that the material is more in line with artists like Robyn Hitchcock, The Kinks, Graham Parker and Grant Lee Buffalo — still smart, catchy and rockin’, but with the twang dialed back.
"How do you pin down REM, Elvis Costello or Glen Hansard?" Purcell says of Pike 27’s less easily categorizable style. "We hope to land in there somewhere — jangly, smart, sometimes noisy, joyful. Good to raise a pint to."
So what the heck happened at the concert by the always dazzling Neko Case at the Taft Theatre last night? Case's biggest show ever in the Cincinnati area was musically solid, but didn't go as smoothly as planned thanks to flared tempers, the proliferation of smartphone cameras and some angry and/or obnoxious audience members. It's safe to say that you can add Case to the increasingly growing list of performers who are losing their patience with omnipresent smartphone use at concerts.
Case is fairly prolific with her Twitter account, but her tweets from yesterday showed no clear indication of the kerfuffle. Earlier in the day, she praised Iris Book Cafe for their hospitality and good grub and, post-show, she tweeted "Thank you, Cincinnati, you are kind folks," followed by some heart symbols. (Sarcasm?)
CityBeat contributor Keith Klenowski was there to photograph the show (not on his phone; he was credentialed) and says the problems started during the second song of the night, when Case stopped the show and asked everyone to stop taking photos with their phones because the flashes were bothering her. Things calmed down, people seemed to oblige and the show picked up again.
Several songs later, according to Klenowski, Case stopped the show again and appeared to be talking to a fan near the front of the stage about putting their phone away. Case made a comment about happily refunding tickets, adding, "Just put away the cameras. It isn't going to kill you, but it might kill me" and "You can boo and call me a spoiled Rock star. I am." Case claimed there were signs about cameras posted around the venue, though Klenowski says he didn't see any.
Case's reaction was met with a mix of cheers and boos; some people got really bent out of shape about her protestation. "I (saw) people put on their coats and walk out," Klenowski says. "One guy (flipped) her the bird and storms out."
He says that not long after the second stoppage, a woman came down the aisle towards the stage and took a photo before immediately being escorted out by security. Before the band returned for an encore, Klenowski says he saw another skirmish that involved a man arguing with security as he was being kicked out.
"Neko looked tired and even admitted at the start that it was time to wake up or something like that," Klenowski says, adding that the singer was apologetic to the non-heckling/non-photo-taking fans throughout the show and at the end of the night. "I got her frustration, but I have never seen anyone threaten to leave and stop a show because of it."
The local music scene lost one of its veteran players this past weekend. Larry Malott — also a veteran of the Vietnam War — suffered a brain aneurysm last Wednesday from which he never recovered.
A gifted bassist, Malott (who was 65) was the low-end anchor of hard-working, popular local Blues band Them Bones. Along with regular gigs with the group around town (and beyond — the band has toured in Europe and represented Cincinnati at 2010's International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., placing an impressive third overall), Malott and Them Bones were also the anchor of the long-running Sunday night Blues jams at Newport club, Mansion Hill Tavern, hosting the weekly event since 2001. Many local musicians gathered this past Sunday at the open jam to pay their respects to Malott. Judging by the outpouring of grief and appreciation on social media the past few days, Malott was not only a great bass player and dedicated Blues supporter, he was also something of a mentor to other local musicians and incredibly supportive of his fellow artists.
Visit Malott's Facebook page to leave a message for his family and for info on upcoming funeral services (a public tribute appears to also be in the works). His family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, supporters make a donation to their favorite charity and/or one of the following ones — Sophie's Angel Run, Cincinnati Shriners Burns Hospital, Down Syndrome Association and/or Blues in the Schools.
Great Cincinnati-based experimental Jazz/Hip Hop group IsWhat?! is gearing up for another one of its frequent European touring jaunts, but before the group leaves, the members will be presenting a night of film, art, poetry and, of course, music, this Friday at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills, all curated by and/or affiliated with IsWhat?! in some way.
The animated short film Billie’s Blues, created by French artist Louis Jean Gorry and scored by IsWhat?! frontman Napoleon Maddox, will get its U.S. premiere at the event. Here's the trailer:
Here's IsWhat!?'s music video for "Hands Up Quick" (featuring a guest verse from Boogie Bang) off of the group's most recent release, Things That Go Bump in the Dark.
The CincyPunk Fest got its start in 2003, organized as an offshoot of Adam Rosing’s CincyPunk website. Since then, Rosing and the festival have raised tens of thousands of dollars for area charities and presented an increasingly eclectic lineup for its increasingly large audience.
The festival returns tonight and tomorrow, utilizing the three stages at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Ky., and featuring 35 performers, many from the Greater Cincinnati area, but also some top-notch national acts, like Diarrhea Planet and Pissed Jeans.
After a decade, it probably doesn’t need to be repeated, but just to reiterate – Cincy Punk Fest is not a Punk Rock festival. The lineup includes everything from Indie Rock to Americana/Folk to Soul to straight-up Rock & Roll, with a handful of acts you could legitimately label as Punk. It reminds me of the CBGB's "Punk" movement of the ’70s, when bands like Television, The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie were all lumped together under the genre tag, though they really couldn't have been more different, sonically. Like fest performers Frontier Folk Nebraska (who are neither Folk nor from Nebraska), CincyPunk Festival (which also isn’t in Cincy) has established itself and doesn't appear to be in any hurry to change its name to reflect the increasingly diverse lineups. Which is kinda Punk, so it all works out.
Tickets to CincyPunk Fest XII are $15 per night; advanced tickets are available here and here. The proceeds this year are being donated to the Save Our Shelter Dogs Rescue in Northern Kentucky. Music starts at 8 p.m. both nights. The event is open to fans 18 and up.
Below are Friday and Saturday's lineups:
And here are a few clips that give a good sense of the variety that can be found at the festival.