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by Brian Baker 09.28.2012
 
 
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MPMF.12 Day 1: Sky is Dry, Beer is Wet, Music is Fantastic

The first night of MidPoint almost looked like it would be a typical rain-soaked affair, but the clouds relented and the festival’s kick-off was gorgeous and every bit as big as promised.

My first stop on the musical pub crawl that is MidPoint was not a band but a party...well, the whole bloody thing is a party, but this was an actual event thrown by the towering presence known as Brian Kitzmiller to celebrate the one year anniversary of his marketing company, Reveal Concepts. En route to Japp’s, I ran into bassist to the stars Sammy Wulfeck and guitarist/keyboardist extraordinaire Brandon Losacker, who were jimmying their bank accounts at an ATM for a little walking around green. Sammy dropped two bombshells; he’s going to be a father in less than two months, and Ric Hickey has returned from his soul-searching California sojourn. Birth and rebirth. I love synergy.

Brian’s party was a blast (any party with free OTRs is bound to be), populated by a wide variety of great people (detailed later), with incomparable Rock and Soul sides providing a brilliant soundtrack courtesy of DJ Bryan Dilsizian, the hardest rocking platter daddy in town. Now that’s a party.

I had intended to make my way to Grammer’s for Dressy Bessy but I was making rather merry at Japp’s and, to quote the legendary Shel Silverstein, I got stoned and I missed it. So I headed over to Mr. Pitiful’s for my first band of the evening, the Demos out of Rochester, New York. Head honcho/zen master Mike Breen yardsticked these guys against the likes of Wondermints, the Shins and Big Star, and I would be inclined to agree; the sextet’s facility for melancholy Pop melodicism, hooky jangle and stellar vocal harmonies is the equal to any of those lofty references. Naturally enough, in the live setting, some of the Pop subtlety of The Demos’ debut full length, last year’s Lovely, is jettisoned in favor of a more bracing sonic presentation, like the amped up Strokes-like storm kicked up on “Nervous.” This was The Demos’ Cincinnati debut, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as they were being enjoyed, hopefully a sign that they’ll be coming back our way soon.

After a stop at Mr. Hanton’s for the most delicious hot dog on the planet (no snouts, hooves or ass jelly in these bad boys...it’s a meal on a bun), and a quick chat with MidPoint co-architect/bon vivant Sean Rhiney, my intention was to head down to the Blue Wisp to catch Black Taxi (which I heard was incredible) but, having gotten little sleep the night before, decided to conserve energy and drop in at the Main Event to catch Saturn Batteries and stick around for Sohio, one of my longtime local faves.

Saturn Batteries is the brainchild of Brad Gibson, who’s done bass stints in Walk the Moon, Young Heirlooms and Charlie Hustle, and is now trying his hand in the frontman role. If last night’s performance is the standard, Gibson should have made the leap a long time ago; Saturn Batteries taps into classic melodic Beatlesque Pop with a sugary Pixies icing, resulting in a sonic confection that is powerfully energetic without being jittery or pointlessly arty. The quartet churned out a good set and provided plenty of evidence that time and fine tuning could gain them a large and loyal following, locally and well beyond.

Next up at the Main Event was Sohio, a band whose studio efforts I’ve reviewed positively and often but have somehow managed to miss consistently in a live context. Sporting a new bass player, Sohio tore shit up good and proper and proved why they’ve been a fixture at MidPoint for a good many years. It’s a rare band that can direct traffic at the intersection of Americana, Rock both rootsy and garagey, Blues, Punk, Pop and Country without having an eight-genre pile-up. Sohio is that rare band, deftly balancing the noise that rattles rafters and the subtlety that breaks hearts. Their relative obscurity may be a product of their own design, but Sohio can and should be the next big thing.

I ducked out of Sohio’s gig a little early to hit Below Zero for a taste of the Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, but the duo was still setting up when I arrived, so I witnessed a good deal more than I anticipated. TPDR is a wild rhythm ride, a gene splice of They Might Be Giants and Ween that’s been mutated into an Indie Rock mash-up of American Bandstand and Burning Man. The music is performed by a rotating cast of characters and programmed by Neil Fridd, and with the music safely stored on a hard drive, Fridd and his lovely partner (presumably Haley Riddering, but that’s a guess based on limited research done on deadline) are free to roam the crowd, form a conga line, fall into a suggestive pile on the dance floor, snake string lights into the pogoing audience and deploy a giant gray parachute for everyone to dance under like a silky umbrella. TPDR is a glittery interactive Indie Rock dance slam and if they should venture away from the Brooklyn, New York base and into our cozy confines again in the near or distant future, you would be well advised to get in line.

After TPDR, I headed back to the Main Event for the finish of Jody Stapleton and the Generals’ set. Sparrow Bellows big bass master Sammy Wulfeck is providing the pulse for the Generals these days, and the Black Owls’ Brandon Losacker is doing double duty on guitar and keys so I was curious to hear this new iteration of Jody’s sound. I was always a fan of the Stapletons back in the day, and the Generals are yet another fine example of Jody’s consummate ability to translate influence and inspiration into his own singular sound. The Generals’ frame of reference is the sunny Pop of ’70s AM radio and the roar of Classic Rock, dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Jody’s hushed singer/songwriter vocals are a subtle counterpoint to the frenzy kicked up by Sammy, Brandon and drummer Nick Mavridoglou (spell check is obviously doing me no good here), kind of like Ray Davies recording a tribute to Wilco’s Summerteeth.

Finally, it was time for the last show of the first night of the 11th edition of MidPoint (that sounded a little more biblical than I’d intended), which for me was the inspired garage tumult of Nashville’s Turbo Fruits. From the opening stomp to the last ringing chord, Turbo Fruits (at one time, a side project for the late, lamented Be Your Own Pet) were alternately mesmerizing and pulverizing, whipping the assembled multitude at the Drinkery into a writhing mass of humanity, baptized in sweat, sanctified by volume and praising the gods of Rock for allowing them access to the forbidden Turbo Fruits.

At one point, frontman Jonas Stein gave a mighty Rock kick move and lost his shoe in the crowd, which someone was kind enough to return to the stage. Stein thanked the shoe samaritan verily, because, as he noted, he’d only brought two shoes with him. It was unclear whether he meant two pairs of shoes or just two shoes, but his gratitude was commensurate with that of a guy who was looking at going barefoot for the remainder of the tour. At any rate, Turbo Fruits kept their feet (with or without shoes) firmly on the necks of the MidPoint crowd for the duration of their hour-plus set, leaving everyone wanting for more at the conclusion and perfectly teeing up expectations for Friday night.

MidPoint 2012 Thursday Night Notes:

• Brian Kitzmiller’s one-year soiree for his new marketing outfit, Reveal Concepts, was, as noted, a blast. Mere moments after hearing Sammy’s news about Ric Hickey’s triumphant return, I walked into Japp’s and was greeted by the prodigal son himself. His relocation to California was a journey of self-discovery, an attempt to reconcile his past, present and future and come to grips with what he truly wants and how to get it. Sometimes you have to go a long way from home to realize what home means. And for Ric, this is home. Welcome back, old friend.

• Also was introduced to longtime photographer and soundman Chuck Madden, a guy that I saw running the board at every Raisins show I ever attended but never actually met. We traded a few stories over Brian’s free OTRs, and he gave me his card; I hope that we can trade more stories and quaff more brewage in the very near future.

• I ran into the Generals’ Brandon Losacker and Nick Mavridoglou at the Demos’ show, which they were digging but Mr. Pitiful’s $7.50 Jack and Coke sent them down to MOTR for the Filament. On my way out, I spotted Magnolia Mountain’s Mark Utley at the bar, who was anticipating the Space Capone show at the Blue Wisp.

• Ran into my Kroger pal and Faint Signal keyboardist/guitarist Paul Roberts on my way to the Midway. If you lament the days when bands like Rush, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Yes were relevant, you owe it to yourself to check out the band’s self-titled debut. They’ve got a serious Prog vibe, but not in a wizardy, disappear-up-their-own-ass way.

• As previously noted, just before hitting Mr. Hanton’s for another brilliant hot dog (they call them handwiches, I call them awesome), I crossed paths with Sean Rhiney at the Midway. His lovely friend Susan offered to buy me a beer, but Sean wound up paying for the trio of Goose Islands and I got the tip. Susan observed that it must be her feminine wiles, to which I responded, “I wish I had boobs. Wait, I do. I just don’t know how to work them.” Perhaps having another beer at this point was not a sound idea. At any rate, we had a nice chat about the old days (Susan could actually claim some ownership in MidPoint; she was dating Bill Donabedian and introduced him to Sean, and the rest is history) and the new days and kids (Susan was trying to recruit Sean into the wild world of parenting; he didn’t seem to be drinking the Kool-Aid), then we hit the night in opposing directions.

• Sohio’s Mark Houk bought me not one but two beers at the Main Event. I believed him to be a prince among men, but a two beer evening is proof beyond proof. I raise my hangover cure to you, my friend.

• No Matthew Fenton sightings on the first night. I tried to e-mail him this week but the message bounced. And I saw his name on the Twitter feed at Below Zero, but it wound up being a message from last year. Classic tweets from MidPoints past? As Mike Breen noted, that is retro at its most contemporary.

• Had a long talk with Sammy Wulfeck about the trials and tribulations of parenting. There is nothing more rewarding or more likely to make you want to stick your hand in the garbage disposal than having children. You can’t intellectualize it, you just jump. No one is ever ready to have kids. You can’t get old enough to be ready. You just do it. And it’s great, and it’s not, which is a capsule description of life. Sammy assured me he’d give me a call if he needed any advice … I fully expect the phone to ring right after they cut the cord.

• As I was walking by the line to get into the Dirty Projectors, I heard what appeared to be an able-bodied Indie Rock man say to his companions, “There’s going to be chairs in there, right?” Really? (In fact, they did.) Look, if you’ve got some physical disability not plainly apparent to the naked (or beer-clouded) eye, then by all means chair up. But you looked hale and hearty to me, so come on, dude, I’m 55 and I manage to stand my fat ass up for about 75% of the MidPoint experience. When I told this story later to CityBeat publisher Dan Bockrath, he smartassedly noted that I was seated while telling this tale. It’s not nice to pimp slap your elders, Dan. It is nice to buy them a beer … I’ll see you tonight.

• Ran into Mike Breen, Fairmount Girl/Culture Queer’s amazing Dana Hamblen, former Mad Anthony bassist Dave Markey and MA’s inimitable Ringo Jones at the Drinkery. Ringo, as he is want to do, put an enormous beer in my hand, which ultimately led me to regale Mike with the strange circumstances of my bygone days of chemical ingestion. He wisely slipped away when I went to the bathroom. That or I hallucinated him into being there in the first place. I’m never quite sure, and it’s happened before.
 
 
by Deirdre Kaye 09.28.2012
 
 
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MPMF.12 Day 1: Fear, Loathing and Vicodin

MidPoint Night 1 through the eyes of pain-killers

I’ve sprained my neck.* I’m taking Vicodin and Thursday night is the first night of MidPoint Music Festival. When my editor told me my review should be first-person and to “think, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” I snorted at just how closely it might come given my current intake of prescription drugs.

No longer stoked for the experience but realizing it’s far too late to get out of going, I texted my friend, Rachel, on Wednesday night. Was she going? Could I tag along with her? The buddy system seemed like a good idea this time around.  She immediately told me sure and that she had planned to see Andrew Bird, Best Coast & Dirty Projectors on Thursday.

Thursday evening, I stroll toward Washington Park. There aren’t tons of people out at 7:45, but it’s still early in the week and early in the night.  There are still enough people that it’s easy to walk mindlessly at the heels of a group of scarf-donning 20-somethings and end up where I need to be to meet my friends.

I glance around, but I don’t try too hard to find Rachel.  She’s one of those people you hear before you see. Instead, I find a spot near the sound booth between two relatively attractive and seemingly girlfriend-less guys, pull out my phone and begin to send texts and emails. 

By 8:10, I’m bitching, though.

She knows I’m jacked up on painkillers.  If I wander off with some heavily bearded rapist in skinny jeans, thinking he’s Rach, it’s all her fault. Mostly importantly, I’m absolutely distraught that I shaved my legs yesterday.  I’ve always had this strange idea that if I’m about to get raped, I’ll just say, “You don’t want me. It’s a hot mess down there.” I think he’ll be disgusted by my lack of feminine upkeep leave me alone. Now I’ll never know if that line works! Has anyone already tried it?  I’ll have to Google it later.

It's 8:20 and I still don’t see Rachel. I do, however, see a tall, lanky shadow near the ATMs and he’s laughing. It’s Dan. I text Rach for confirmation and then head over to find him with a few other people I know. (They have names, too, but they’re really irrelevant for tonight.)

We make a few bad jokes and then Andrew Bird starts with zero fanfare.  He just launches into his music, people applaud in surprise, and he carries on  It’s a beautiful view.  Andrew Bird has these slowly spinning art-installations that look like plumes of smoke and a very cool rotating double-Vitrolla-like thing. Above the roof of the stage glows the pretty, white flora-inspired window of Music Hall. Last time I went to Music Hall for the Opera, I was probably parked just about where my friends and I currently stood.

He’s good. His whistles have me staring at him in expectation. Where are the little animated birds fluttering toward him with ribbons for his hair and water for his face? It’s all just so pretty. I’m mesmerized.

Until my foot lands on something hard and round. Is it a sprinkler head? Yes. I know this without having to look at it. And yet, drop my head and try to find the small black circle as it hides out in the grass and my shadow. I don’t see it. But I feel it, right under my foot. It finally occurs to me that I should lift my foot and I immediately stumbled into Rachel and Dan, who shrug off my apologies. Figuring out how long I’ve known Dan requires higher math than I’m capable of, but he’s used to my stumbling into him.

The stumbling and bumping calls my attention to the fact that Andrew Bird is playing not only an entirely new song but also he’s in an entirely different spot. He’s near an upright bass, hovering over an old microphone and making music I love oh-so-much. Still, when it’s back to the usual stuff, I’m not the only one feeling the weight of his mellow music.

It’s decided that we need caffeine. Fast.

As half our group strides through back alleys and around clusters of people, Rachel tries, to no avail, to tell us that Yelp says Coffee Emporium closes at 8 p.m.  She’s like one of Andrew Bird’s birds, she sounds nice in all the chaos, but she’s having a hard time rising above it. In the end, it takes standing in front of Coffee Emporium’s darkened doors for Dan and I to admit defeat.

Ira’s (Iris? I can never remember) is closed, too. 

So, we do what any sensible, caffeine depraved people would do: We send Dan to his apartment to make us some while we go stand on Clay and watch Best Coast through a fence.

No one will ever convince me this isn’t the best view for their show.  Sure, you can’t see their faces.  But, you can still pick up on all their energy and hear things perfectly.  Mostly, though, you also get to see the rest of the crowd dancing like crazy fools, singing along and having an awesome time.  Standing outside that fence, I think I enjoyed the energy far more than I would if I were amidst those flying elbows and twitching hips.

Dan and, our friend, Erik are back. 

They brought camp chairs and no coffee.

We utilize the chairs and this awesome see-saw for a hot minute before Dan gets a text about Bluegrass at Mr. Pitiful’s and then we’re off, again.  I’m still not entirely sure what our friends were talking about at this point.  They came out giddy over the .5 seconds of music they heard that sounded Bluegrass and Irish.  (Despite knowing Dan for at least half my life, I’m still surprised by how absolutely stoked he is about this.)  They mentioned a name that I don’t see anywhere on Mr. Pitiful’s Thursday line-up.  However, on Friday we’re all meeting up at the Midway at 5p, where they are, apparently, playing again.

Despite multiple pleas of, “Are you sure we shouldn’t support our friend?” and “We could at least peak in and say ‘Hi,’” we don’t make it into Mr. Pitiful’s to say reassuring things to Young Heirloom’s Chris Rob.**  For a brief second I contemplate making a stand.  I’ll stand like Superman and demand we give this musician-man our dues!

Except they’re talking about caffeine, again, and if they go too far, I’ll never find them.  Even not on my best of days, OTR is like that tricked out maze in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.  Except Lord Voldemort is played by a skinny, African American guy who comes up to Dan while we’re still on Main Street.

“Hey man, have you ever been tazed?” he asks my friend.

A bright light flashes and I’m terrified for my one-time best friend.  What’s that disarmament spell?  But it’s just a watch or a flash light or something and Dan, who I think I’ve only ever seen mad once (at me, of course), just shakes his head and tell the guy it’s not cool, he doesn’t even know him.

And then we’re just not there anymore.  We’re in 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab.

But, I don’t actually like either of those things. All I’ve wanted all this time was a pop or a chai. They have chai, though.  And they’ll ice it!  And, you know what else? It doesn’t taste like my coveted goodness from Fido, in Nashville, but I think it’s better than Starbucks. Holy Shit. This place needs a drive-thru.

I’m talked out of seconds by Rachel, who is bound and determined we make it to The Emery for Dirty Projector. I’m ready to give up the ghost.  I just want another chai…or 10. There’s a cheese plate that looks good, too. Mm, Cheese. But, I remind myself that I’m supposed to be writing about the music. Also, I have no idea which direction I’d go to get back to my car once I’ve been properly filled with dairy products. 

So, off we go, to the Emery.

It’s packed. Thank goodness Cincinnati is filled with some seriously sweet people.  A bit of rearranging and the seven of us are in one long row in the balcony.  We’re only forced to sit and hide yawns for a few minutes before the music starts.

I like Dirty Projectors and their quirky, disjointed Pop Rock. It makes me want to dance. Except no one in the balcony dances.  I can see hints of movement and excitement below. But the people around me, the ones near the rafters, are zombie-like. No one moves, except to yawn or to leave. It’s hot, too, and I swear on anything that it smells like Skyline up there. 

They should have played at Washington Park. Out in the cool air and in the open field, where there aren’t seats to lull the tired, drunken masses to sleep. That would have been better for everyone.

When I find myself trying to calculate the likelihood of my death if the balcony collapses, I know it’s time to go.  It’s been a short night, but I’m done. If I stay much longer, I’ll fall asleep. Or I’ll throw up. I pop a Tums for the trip back to my car and duck out.

Once outside, I’m far less concerned than I should be about the fact that I have only a vague idea how to get to my car. 

There is one thing I know for certain, though: I’m stopping for Skyline on the way home and I want extra cheese.

*Who knew that was even possible? Not me.

**That’s his name with us, whether he likes it or not.

 
 
by Amy Harris 05.03.2013
Posted In: Festivals, Reviews, Live Music at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Review: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Weekend 1

One could argue that New Orleans is one of the most fun places on the planet. You cannot beat the food, laidback attitudes and genuine hospitality. Combine all of that with some of the most talented musicians in the world and you have the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The New Orleans Jazz Fest kicked off in full swing last Friday, April 26, with thousands flocking to the New Orleans Fairgrounds to hear their favorite musical acts, see one-of-a-kind pieces from local artists and taste the flavors of New Orleans.

Local musical acts kicked off each morning on the 11 different stages around the fairgrounds, leading up to the first weekend's main acts, which included include John Mayer, Billy Joel and Dave Matthews Band, which closed out each night on the Acura Stage.

One of the most enjoyable parts of Jazz Fest for me each year is seeing “the bands before the main stage bands.” I always walk away with new music to listen to from legends and discover exciting new stage acts. This year I fell in love in the Blues tents with guitar legends like Sonny Landreth, Guitar Slim Jr., Lil Buck Senegal, Deacon John and Little Freddie King.

Dr. John, who is always a Jazz Fest highlight performed on Friday and had an Ohio native backing him. Dr. John recently restructured his band before Jazz Fest and kept only one former member, trombonist Sarah Morrow who grew up near Pickerington, Ohio, just outside of Ohio.

The New Orleans Fairgrounds filled to the brim Saturday with attendees showing up early to get the best seats to hear Bill Joel belt out his hits. Joel closed out his set by playing with New Orleans' own Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Sunday morning brought cloudy skies that soon turned into torrential downpours. But that didn't stop Jazz Fest goers from staking out spots for Dave Mathews Band. The skies cleared enough to dry off before the second wave of rain, soaking DMB as they played through the rain for thousands of diehard Jazz Fest fans. The dancing in the mud surely created lifelong memories for some attendees.

If seeing the Dave Matthews Band play an epic set in the rain was not good enough, you could make your way over the Blues tent and see the King play the Blues like it is the end of the world. BB King electrified as he took the stage in the Blues Tent to close out the first weekend of the festival. The legendary Allen Toussaint joined King on stage and, as BB began his set, belted out an a cappella Blues tribute to the King himself. King ended the set with a toast to the audience: "If I can't be with you next week, think about me some time."

Widespread Panic closed out my last day at NOLA Jazz Fest with a rainy two and a half hour set for their loyal legion of fans, all of whom seemed perfectly happy to dance in the mud at the Acura Stage.

Yesterday kicked off the second weekend of the famous festival and will feature performances by New Orleans native Mia Borders and Patti Smith.

I will miss New Orleans' music and food dearly when I go and will start the countdown to Essence Festival in July, when I return to the Big Easy for more music and fun times.

Click here and here to see numerous photos from the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

 
 
by Iain McDavid 10.05.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Reviews, Local Music at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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REVIEW: The National at Emery Theatre

Cincinnati, for me, has always been contradictory and confusing. After living here for so long I’m still ambivalent as to how I feel about it. The National certainly pushed me in the more positive direction with their show Oct. 4 at Emery Theatre. The Cincy-bred band summoned fans with a free show in support of President Obama and filled the historic venue, front to back.

The National’s set was evidently well thought-out, opening with the powerful "Mistaken for Strangers," with the vocals and drums seemingly soaring through the theater.  If you haven’t had a chance to catch a show at Emery Theatre (my first experience was last week), you should certainly make that a priority. The theater, coupled with a band like the National, truly makes for an unforgettable experience. The venue alone creates a sense of intimacy between audience and act, something that is usually sacrificed to see your favorite bands.

From the very start of the set, the audience was completely engaged with the boys on stage, bursting into cheers and applause at the every songs beginning and end (and even during songs at times). The only drawback for me was the fact that Matt Berninger would simply not let me forget that the show was political. It seemed as if in between every song some sort of Democratic rhetoric (not that the other side’s rhetorical strategies are any better) was interjected.  Something about the importance of voting, or how privileged we are, which is somewhat obnoxious at that point. It’s highly doubtful that anybody was suddenly converted by The National, and even more so that anyone in attendance last night was slightest bit unsure about their vote.

I suppose that’s mostly my fault, though — I should expect such from a campaign concert.

All that aside, the audience was left in a state of bliss by the concert's end, as The National closed out their set with an unplugged version "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks." Earlier in the night, I had spoken to a friend who had said the venue was acoustically pure, meaning that even without any sort of amplification, the sound would still resonate throughout the entire theater — and he couldn’t be more right. The sound was not hindered in any way (I was a few rows back) and it carried through the historic site as if I was the only one there. The closer truly unified the entire show into a ecstatic experience that I will certainly not forget. 

Click here for more photos from the concert.

 
 
by Alex L. Weber 05.05.2009
Posted In: Live Music, Reviews at 01:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Live Review: Cut Off Your Hands at the Southgate House

According to its government's Web site, New Zealand’s population density is 14 people per square kilometer. (The U.S. population is more than double that—31 people/km2.) Needless to say, concentrated masses of human beings aren’t particularly easy to come by out there.

“New Zealand is pretty far-removed from anything that would warrant being in a band, and you can’t really tour there,” lead singer Nick Johnson says. So it’s little wonder Cut Off Your Hands waved goodbye to their island home and hit the road to tour the sometimes overcrowded yet always far more plentiful cities of Europe and the U.S.

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by Blake Hammond 09.28.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Reviews at 06:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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REVIEW: The Devil Makes Three at 20th Century

It was the first night of the MidPoint Music Festival on Thursday. This means that for at least the next three days, Cincinnati will be the U.S.’s musical Mecca of sorts. It’s not only a great opportunity for the city but also for the numerous Cincinnati acts that have been struggling and grinding for a chance at real recognition, a chance many are finally awarded this weekend.

But as the calamity of festivities began to unfold downtown, The Devil Makes Three was throwing a good ole’ fashioned hootenanny of their own, 15 minutes north in Oakley at the 20th Century Theater.

Before I delve into the logistics of how the Santa Cruz natives blew the top off the 20th Century, something must be said about the opening act, John Fullbright.

This young man out of Oklahoma is a one-man band in every sense of the phrase. With his acoustic guitar, harmonica, and foot-stomping rhythms, Fullbright attained his own brand of back-porch folk providing the perfect setting for his raspy, southern drawl croon, heavy hitting guitar, and virtuosic harmonica skills. His best song (also his first) is titled, “Gawd Above,” which goes into great detail about how God is a needy asshole, showcased the 24-year-old’s potential, vocally and musically, and really got the crowd revved up for the headlining act, The Devil Makes Three.

If you haven’t heard of The Devil Makes Three, they are a three-piece Folk band out of Santa Cruz, California that incorporates Ragtime, Bluegrass, and a Punk Rock attitude in their music. Imagine Johnny Cash getting out of prison, drinking a bottle of “Old Number 7” and going home to have sweet, unprotected sex with June while listening to Dead Kennedys records. Nine-months later, you’d get The Devil Makes Three.

Even though The Devil Makes Three is used to playing sold-out shows, the smaller-than-usual crowd didn’t stop them from putting on one of the best concerts I’ve been to in awhile.

The second Pete Bernhard, Lucia Torino, and Cooper McBean strummed the first chords of “Beneath the Piano,” to the encore (a cover), “St. James Infirmary,” they had complete and total control of the room, even if it wasn’t at maximum capacity (Thanks, MidPoint!)

Part of their great crowd control came from the fact that their set list was meticulously thought out (probably not, but at least it seemed that way). They kept the crowd going with up-tempo fan favorites like “Gracefully Facedown,” “All Hail,” “Statesboro Blues,” “Old Number 7,” and “For Good Again” while still incorporating new slower jams like the blues anthem, “Dragging All Those Chains.”

Their best track of the night, however, had to be “Aces and Twos,” for it was not only the height of the hoe-down that was happening in the crowd but was technically perfect and played blindingly faster than the studio version, despite its musical complexities.

The last song they played (before the encore) is a tune titled, “Help Yourself,” which had the every patron of the 20th Century Theater doing their booze-induced jigs and solidified the fact that The Devil Makes Three had helped themselves by garnering a wider fan base in the Cincinnati area.

Overall, the only think I think could have made this concert better is if they handed out overalls, straw hats and jugs of moonshine at the door. Just keep it in mind for next time, guys.

 
 
by Alex L. Weber 07.02.2009
Posted In: Local Music, Reviews at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Local CD Review: Moegly's 'It's Getting Hard to Find...'

Cincinnati singer-songwriter Moegly (a.k.a. Nicholas Moeggenberg) is one of those dreamy, skinny, intelligent boys who always go over well with the coffee shop crowd. His debut five-song (well, six with the hidden track) EP, It’s Getting Hard to Find Good People, is a smooth, gentle Indie Folk effort that sounds especially good in its jumpier moments.

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by mbreen 07.12.2011
Posted In: Reviews, Local Music at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Fake Hands Release Debut Studio Effort

Saturday at the Southgate House’s Parlour, area Indie band Fake Hands celebrates the release of its first studio project, the EP Here We Are After Dark, which follows a pair of self-recorded and -released efforts.

The five-track release is an excellent introductory calling card for the relatively new band, which features four core members and a handful of others who add horns and other ornamentation to the band’s clever spin on Indie Rock.

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by Blake Taylor 06.01.2012
Posted In: Local Music, Reviews at 01:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
uphill_front_cover

Review: Brad Hatfield's 'Uphill From Anywhere'

Cincinnati is loaded with Blues talent. Always has been. Yet it is still a rare and noteworthy occasion when a Cincinnati Blues artist releases an album with primarily original music. Brad Hatfield has long been considered one of the area’s premier harmonica slingers. With his new release, Uphill From Anywhere, he also establishes himself as one of Cincy's most distinctive Blues voices — both as a singer and as a songwriter.

Richly produced by Jon Justice, who also shares many of the writing/arranging credits, and featuring Hatfield’s father, keyboardist Bernie Hatfield, Uphill From Anywhere is an album that will please lovers of standard Blues fare, as well as those who like their Blues flavored with a little gospel and groove.

The album begins with “Witness to My Misery,” a straightforward gut-thumping march, and then moves into “Fit to be the Fool,” a shuffle that will certainly please the Blues purists. All signs point to pretty standard Blues fare at this point, albeit it with heartfelt lyrics and sultry amplified harp tone.

But with the Justice-penned “One More Night,” we’re immediately snapped back to attention with percussive stabs, Hammond organ overtones and honeyed slide guitar reminiscent of the best Warren Haynes-era work from the Allman Brothers. Soulful and inventive chord progressions and equally soulful singing elevate this song a notch or two above the first two tracks.

Indeed, the brightest spots on Uphill From Anywhere are the departures from the 1-4-5 12-bar formula that are the bread and butter for so many Blues bands. “Livin’ Out the Lie” has a great Robert-Cray minor-key R&B vibe and “End of Time” has an uplifting Gospel feel, reminding us to not fret too much since “they’ve been talkin’ bout the end since the beginning of time.” The song makes you want to take the nearest woman by the hand, pull her close and dance like there’s gonna be a whole bunch of tomorrows.

Brad Hatfield has paid more dues than many of us have and for a decade he’s been widely respected as one of Cincinnati’s greatest Blues harmonica players. But the revelation of this album is how Uphill From Anywhere firmly establishes Hatfield as one of our city’s most poignant Blues vocalists. In fact, the second to last track, “Too Good to Give Away,” features guest harp work from New Jersey’s Dennis Gruenling. Harmonica players are a notoriously competitive and territorial lot, but Hatfield yields the instrumental spotlight and lets his voice tell the story with his husky, agile and often moving growl.

Appropriately, the album’s final cut is an a capella version of  “John the Revelator.” Brad Hatfield’s voice takes you to church, or the field, or to the mountaintop, and you believe every word he’s saying.

Sample the release below:

You can catch the Brad Hatfield Band in June at Saturday, June 9 at the Colerain Park Amphitheatre from 5-8 p.m., and Friday, June 22 at Geez'l Petes in Covington  starting at 8:30 p.m. Visit www.bhatfieldbluesband.com for more on the album and future shows.

 
 
by mbreen 06.01.2011
Posted In: Local Music, Reviews at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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You, You're Awesome's First LP: Awesome

You, You’re Awesome, the opening-night main act for this year's MidPoint Indie Summer Series (this Friday on Fountain Square), has earned its way to headlining status by building an ever-increasing following with its crafty, magnetic Electronica, a mix of modern, energetic rhythms (thanks to Kevin Bayer’s live drums and Yusef Quotah’s smart programming), catchy, clever samples and an assortment of snyths and electronics that bridges early, pioneering usage and today’s more stylized approach.

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