Despite Frank Ocean's deft leg-syncing and Taylor Swift's torture-porn-disguised-as-wholesome-circus, Akron, Ohio's Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys were The Grammys' big story last night, winning five trophies, the most of any artist.
While the Keys won the Grammys for Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, Auerbach scored two solo Grammys for his production work, winning the trophy for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) and also winning one for producing Dr. John's Locked Down, the Blues Album winner.
While Grammys for album winners are usually given to the producers, engineers, mastering engineers and artists, hopefully Cincinnati's Brian Olive will also score one for his work on the LP. Auerbach — who has produced albums by both Olive and Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers — enlisted Olive (an original member of Cincinnati's Greenhornes) to work on the Dr. John album. Olive has songwriting credits on every track on Locked Down, and he's also credited with playing guitar, percussion and woodwinds, as well as providing background vocals. (Check out CityBeat's profile of Olive from 2011, about his Auerbach-produced Two of Everything album, here.)
Kudos to Mr. Olive! That's him — the handsome feller with big side-burns playing sax (and a little guitar) in this video for the album's "Revolution."
Check out all the winners from last night's Grammys here, and click here or here for some extra musings about the show.
Tonight at Rohs Street Café in Clifton Heights, local musicians get an industry trade show of their very own. The “Locally Insourced: Cincinnati Music Industry Trade Show” is being presented at the venue at 6 p.m., organized by the Counter Rhythm Group and presented in conjunction with the MidPoint Music Festival.
Along with being able to register for showcase consideration at this year’s MPMF (you can also do so now via Sonicbids; click here for details), Locally Insourced is designed specifically with Greater Cincinnati musicians in mind and features booths representing various music entities in the area, from recording studios and merch makers to local labels, radio outlets and much more. Among the vendors participating: Modern Misfit Classic Genius, Southpaw Prints, Bearcast Radio, The SoundWorkshop Recording Studio, El Rey Effects, Moonbeam Studios, Moonlight Studios, CincyMusic.com, Play It Forward, Phratry Records, DMark Video Productions, Cincyticket, Coda Photography, QCA and Sebastian Illustration.
The event is free and open to all ages. Visit locallyinsourced.com for more details.
Counter Rhythm Group main-man Brian Penick has just launched a Kickstarter project for his forthcoming interactive and customizable e-book, Musicians’ Desk Reference. Here is the pitch video that explains the project very well; click here to visit the Kickstarter page and check out the various perks your donation can earn for you.
For even more on the book, attend tonight's trade show and be sure to keep an eye on this here blog, where Penick recently began guest blogging monthly updates about the project.
California native and acclaimed Jazz composer/saxophonist Donny McCaslin got a fairly big jump on his music career, performing with an ensemble of experienced musicians by the time he was 12. If there was any nepotism involved (the group was McCaslin’s father’s, a vibraphonist), the criticisms probably faded quickly as McCaslin started his own group in high school and managed to get them booked multiple years at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
The saxophonist studied intently and performed in youth orchestras that traveled the globe, all before earning a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He moved to New York City in the early ’90s and found work quickly, replacing Michael Brecker (a huge influence on the young musician) in the group Steps Ahead and going on to play with the Gil Evans Orchestra and many others.
By the mid-’90s, McCaslin — who had deeply explored the various aspects and possibilities of traditional Jazz — began to collaborate on more experimental Jazz projects, including the group Lan Xang and Ken Schaphorst’s big band (alongside John Medeski and other unique top players). McCaslin’s creative curiosity set the tone for his diverse solo albums, which have been widely acclaimed for the composer’s successful risk-taking.
When McCaslin plays the Blue Wisp Jazz Club tonight (with shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.), he’ll be supporting on of his most compelling releases yet, 2012’s Casting for Gravity. The album was inspired by McCaslin’s interest in Electronic music, an uncommon ingredient in most forms of Fusion. The album roams from textural, ambient explorations (particularly on a cover of Scottish electronica duo Boards of Canada’s “Alpha and Omega”) to quirky, funky meditations like the glitchy “Tension.”
It’s a recipe that shouldn’t work, but Casting for Gravity is a fascinating listen that makes one wonder if visionaries like John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman might not have pursued this direction if they were born 60 years later. It’s primarily a progressive Jazz album, with tasteful electronic flourishes. Instead of aping Electronic music nakedly, McCaslin seamlessly incorporates the arrangement spirit of Electro masters like Aphex Twin or more contemporary EDM artists into his own compositions.
Tickets for tonight's shows are $20 (students can get into the 9:30 p.m. show for $15). Here is a clip of the band performing the latest album's track, "Stadium Jazz."
• The husband and wife duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, better known as Shovels & Rope, were slated for an appearance at MidPoint Music Festival here in Cincinnati last fall, but an offer to open for Jack White convinced them to bow out of the fest.
Given the hardscrabble road the pair has traveled over the past five years, it’s hard to argue with their choice. Denver native Trent and Nashville-raised Hearst had been in several bands before crossing paths in Charleston, S.C. (they’d met on tour over a decade ago), eventually playing in each other’s bar bands and becoming friends.
In 2008, the pair formalized their friendship by writing and recording the album Shovels & Rope and releasing it under their own names.
The duo ultimately decided to name its group after the title of that debut album and released O’ Be Joyful last summer to ecstatic press notice, with frequent references to Johnny Cash and June Carter and John Doe and Exene Cervenka (although they’re just as quick to namecheck The Cramps and the visceral pairing of Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello). (Preview by Brian Baker)
Shovels & Rope's success continues to rise, as evidenced just last week by their network TV debut on David Letterman's show (see below). But even on a local level, their ascent was obvious — tonight's appearance at the Southgate House Revival was moved from one of the smaller rooms in the venue to the larger "Sanctuary" room after it was clear that they could fill it. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $12 at the door (while they last).
A thousand words. That’s what I have to tell you everything about what I am doing, why I am doing it and how it may affect musicians and the music industry. At the end of it, you get to form an overlying judgment on both who I am and my reasoning. So here we go.
My name is Brian Penick and I am the founder of an artist development company called The Counter Rhythm Group and the author of the upcoming eBook, Musicians’ Desk Reference, an interactive and customizable eBook that establishes a protocol for progression through the modern music industry. Yes, that’s a lot — I’ll explain below.
But first I’d like to thank the kind folks at Cincinnati's CityBeat for giving me an amazing opportunity to guest blog about my world for the next couple months, raising nationwide awareness (and funding) for an eBook that will be released in October. We are very fortunate to have an entity such as CB here in Cincinnati that is willing to take a chance at promoting a startup project this early on, something that fewer individuals have every year with the closing of “altweekly” newspapers across the land. While I could go on for many paragraphs ranting about how important these outlets are to the worlds of the arts, small businesses and independent thinking in general, I simply implore you, if you have not done so in a while, to go pick one up and start reading. You won’t realize what you’re missing until its gone.
This book is a project that I am putting together out of both passion and necessity. I have been a touring musician for well over a decade now, having a large part of the business end in each of my projects, always trying to learn the ins and outs of the beast known as the music industry. I love giving advice to other musicians on whatever I can, and while I might not have the answer, I often have an answer, which is (usually) better than nothing. I enjoy seeing independent musicians thrive or “make it,” and I always hope that people who find success are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with those who have not … a utopian dream I have where the music industry becomes more of a community, eliminating the competitive edge that unfortunately drives musicians to greedy and selfish attitudes about helping others.
Throughout my personal experiences as a musician and running The Counter Rhythm Group I have found some parallels to the questions musicians are asking, most of which seem to have a natural progression to them.
For many, the music industry seems to be a labyrinth you have to face in the dark. Why does it need to be this way? I believe it doesn’t.
Musicians’ Desk Reference sheds light on the complexities. You’re still going to have to navigate your own path, but this eBook will give you some tools in your belt to have as good of a chance as ever. The inner workings of the book display information on several topics of the music industry, offering insight as to WHY, WHEN and HOW you can accomplish important tasks, all leading towards progression. But it doesn’t stop there, as the book gives you customized scenarios in chronological order that offer clarity on what exactly you need to do. In addition to all of this, there is an extensive collection of documents that are included — everything from templates and instructional guides to examples and video tutorials.
Again, I don’t have ALL the answers, but I do have some, which, combined with my desire to help more musicians than I presently can, is why I am in the position that I’m in. I would have loved to have a resource like this when I was coming up as an independent musician and I really hope this is a game changer for the music industry.
We’re about to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the project, something that makes me queasy just thinking about it. I have been on the fence about KS from the start; while I think it’s actually a great platform to help projects that extend the bounds of creativity come to fruition, you’re still begging for money, which I am not a fan of. I started The Counter Rhythm Group out of pocket and, while I would love to do the same for this, the costs are astronomical to produce a good (like this) vs. a service, and there is no way I can handle that at the moment.
But then I started to realize that how important crowd funding is to something like this. Getting people to support this extends beyond the monetary value (more backing = cheaper book costs to users), because when someone backs this project it means that they believe in what we are doing and that it’s necessary. That is a very humbling thought to someone who has essentially shut himself away from the masses since starting this project and it makes this knot in my stomach start to slightly ease up.
Here I am about to enter the most important month of my life, one that will dictate at least the rest of the year, with the amount of sleep dwindling with each approaching night. I encourage you to read the story and watch the video at my Kickstarter page and if you feel compelled to, contribute and/or share.
Again, I am grateful for what I do and the fact that I get to do it every day, even if it means I get to help only a few. I love music more than most things in this world and I know many of you share that same sentiment. Thank you for reading. Here we go.
Brian Penick will be guest blogging for CityBeat monthly, leading up to the fall release of Musicians' Desk Reference. For more on the project, visit the official site here.
Contemporary "Newgrass" kings Yonder Mountain String Band return to the area tonight for an all-ages, 8:30 p.m. show at Covington's Madison Theater. Tickets are $25. Opening the show is the very cool Lake Street Dive, a "jazz-schooled, DIY-motivated and classically pop obsessed" quartet that formed at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Check out this clip of the group performing the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back."
In an interview with CityBeat's Brian Baker, YMSB's guitarist/vocalist Adam Aijala said fans might hear a new song or two at tonight's show. As for when you might hear a new album with new material, Aijala said the members have been having trouble finding time to get in the studio between familial obligations and touring. Read the full interview here and check out the group's 2010 appearance on CBS's Late Late Show. (There will be a pre- and post-show party at Stanley's Pub, which is also offering a bus ride to and from the Madison show. The CEA-winning Rumpke Mountain Boys will perform.)
• Eclectic NYC Indie Rock troupe Mice Parade marches into MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. appearance, the second date on its current tour. Formed as a solo project by Adam Pierce at the end of the ’90s, Mice Parade has featured various band members since and nearly every successive release has shown growth and a different side of Pierce's writing. Candela, Mice Parade's latest addition to its already stacked discography (released this past Tuesday), is one of Pierce's most compelling releases to date, showcasing a fascinating, psychedelic brand of "Shoegaze" Pop that is as unpredictable as it is riveting.
Check out CityBeat's preview of the show here. Below is the first single/video from Candela, "This River Has A Tide."
One of Cincinnati's finest Indie acts, the brilliant Bad Veins, has split in two. Last night, BV's singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist Benjamin Davis took to the group's website to announce that founding member, drummer Sebastien Schultz, has decided to "move on from his time with Bad Veins."
Schultz — previously the drummer for local Indie rockers Cathedrals — had been a member of Bad Veins since almost the very beginning; Davis' first Bad Veins show was a solo affair opening for late Cincy duo wil-o-ee. As the pair told me for a 2008 CityBeat cover story, Schutlz was at the show (though he left early) and joined shortly after. He's played on all of BV's releases, including the most recent LP, The Mess We've Made, and toured extensively with Davis for the past five-plus years.
Thankfully for BV fans, this is not the end of the group. "The show must go on!" Davis said in his website post, expressing excitement for Bad Veins' future:
"I’m going to use this opportunity to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and take Bad Veins in a bigger direction, adding others members, bass, keyboard etc. I’ve already received a number of offers from musicians to join but haven’t made any decisions yet. If anyone has any recommendations, hit me up! The plan is to get back on the road this spring!"
We had heard rumblings about the split prior to this past Sunday's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Davis ended up opening the show solo (with taped backing), closing his set with a great, orchestral version of The Muppets' "Rainbow Connection." (The CEA show was filmed and will be airing locally on cable; a special, limited-edition DVD will also be available — stay tuned.)
Bad Veins is booked to play an all-ages show presented by the Counter Rhythm Group on Feb. 16 at Rohs Street Cafe in Clifton Heights along with PUBLIC and The Ridges. More info is available here.
On Sunday night, hundreds of local musicians — as well as the many of the fans who love them — had Covington's Madison Theater packed to capacity to celebrate the 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.
It was another love fest, as the music, laughs, camaraderie and drinks flowed throughout the tight three-hour ceremony/party CityBeat founded over a decade and a half ago as a means of honoring Greater Cincinnati's music makers (and, originally, local theater artists and productions).
Though it has lessened over the years as more people have grown to understand the CEAs better, there is still plenty of griping about the awards every year. The vast majority of complaints are about who gets nominated. It's understandable in light of the talent that is overlooked annually. Having so many talented and deserving artists in our city making quality music is a good problem to have. But if every worthy musical act in the Tri-State area were to be nominated for a CEA each year, the categories would include dozens of nominees and the show itself would have to be a sleepover affair. You think the Oscars are too long? Sit through one 16-hour CEA show and you'll be begging for a witty Billy Crystal musical number.
Like every year, the sport of CEA bashing is quickly forgotten once inside the venue for the ceremony. The awards celebration is the one time of the year where fellow musicians from every genre — some friends already, some friends-to-be, others perhaps only known via social media messages — gather in one place. There doesn't seem to be a ton of competitive spite within our music scene and the musicians I've talked and worked with, for the most part, are always pretty down to earth. (As if on cue, the griping returned right after the show — a comment on Sunday night's blog post featuring the winners of this year's awards deemed the whole program an embarrassment. Sixteen years of my life, wasted! Oh, anonymous trolls, where would you be without the internet?)
The CEAs can't help but become a communal love fest. (Yes, the drinking probably helps this quite a bit, as well.) In general, there seems to be a lot of internal support amongst local musicians, and it feels like external support and appreciation (outside of jerky, anonymous comments) is on an upswing. The CEAs are always a great reflection of that community spirit.
Ben Davis of Indie Pop duo Bad Veins kicked off the CEAs with his trademark taped accompaniment, but without bandmate, drummer Sebastien Schultz. Davis' performance was still compelling, capped off by that timeless ode to magic and mystery, The Muppets' chestnut, "Rainbow Connection." The singer/multi-instrumentalist set the tone (and the bar) for the night's performances, which included plenty of revelations and some fun, novel surprises.
Those unexpected moments are always the performance highlights of any awards show and this year's CEA lineup and production provided loads of highlights. Local Boogie Woogie torchbearer Ricky Nye rumbled through a great set of rollicking Blues, building up to a cool collaborative climax as Blake Taylor and Jonathan Reynolds of fellow CEA "Blues" category nominees 46 Long joined the pianist/singer. Nye and 46 Long had been embroiled in a mock online feud leading up to the show. Music heals! (Nye ended up winning the category.)
International Punk sensations The Dopamines gave the show a jolt with their explosive performance, launching into Guided By Voices' "A Salty Salute," but only after bassist Jon Weiner managed to insult nerds and "old fucks" in his introduction (they're "Punk," he reminded everyone later). From there, the trio launched into a mini-set of their own adrenalized anthems with fiery swagger. Fans were made.
The same can be said for singer Jess Lamb, the soulful vocalist who wowed the crowd with a few hypnotic songs, joined by her guitarist and bassist (who doubled on throbbing kick-drum). The sparse set-up belied the soaring sounds conjured, guided by Lamb's remarkable voice. Lamb was nominated for a CEA in the R&B/Funk/Soul category, a testament to her unique sound, which comes closer to resembling Florence and the Machine than, say, Usher. We may need to create an "Alternative/Soul/Rock" category to accommodate Lamb next year.
The Hip Hop/Rock band Gold Shoes are also keen hybridizers, and their CEA performance was a great display of the group's unique spin on Hip Hop fusion. The band provides a dynamic backdrop that's spiced with elements of Funk, Rock, Pop, Jazz and beyond. But the group isn't just providing a playground for frontman Buggs Tha Rocka to unleash his tight, captivating flow. The group writes melodic songs with strong, unique chorus hooks. Their CEA performance was a clinic on how to combine Hip Hop with other types of music without sounding like a cheap Pop grab (" … featuring Adam Lavine!"), Gym Class Heroes or, God help us all, Limp Bizkit.
The Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation, which provided a great experience for VIP ticket buyers in the balcony, reminded everyone of the Queen City's place in shaping popular music with a segment presented by the group's president, musician Marvin Hawkins. After talking a bit about the organization's plans to continue honoring the area's rich musical past in 2013 (expect a lot of King Records-related events in honor of the locally-based groundbreaking label's 70th anniversary), Hawkins joined a host of local Roots musicians for a spin through a pair of songs from the recent collection, The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, a project spearhead by Bob Dylan that involved writing songs from a cache of unearthed lyrics written by the American music icon. The all-star band assembled — including Magnolia Mountain's Mark Utley and Renee Frye, David Rhodes Brown and Sylvia Mitchell — expertly played songs they had recorded at the Music Heritage Foundation's downtown headquarters, in the same space once occupied by Herzog studios, the site where Williams recorded "Lovesick Blues" and other classics.
The CEA show itself ran smoothly and first-time host Ted Clark proved to be a great fit for the show. Clark's deadpan, sardonic humor — familiar to those who flock to his "live talk shows" at MOTR Pub — was reminiscent of Zach Galifianakis and sometimes he had great lines that were maybe to subtle for the CEA's "party atmosphere." But from those of us paying attention — bravo, Mr. Clark.
There was an array of entertaining acceptance styles from the winners, ranging from choked-up and sincere to pumped-up and enthusiastic to more matter-of-fact. Wussy had a huge night, taking home the Album of the Year (for Strawberry) and Artist of the Year CEAs, capped by some funny lines while accepting. Drummer Joe Klug joked that, for anyone doubting they deserved the Artist award, Wussy "played Little Rock, Ark., four times in the past year."
The award presenters — a collection of local music supporters and personalities, mostly from radio and press outlets, as well as sponsor reps — did a great job hammering home the "support local music" message of the CEAs' mission. But presenter and CityBeat Arts and Culture Editor Jac Kern provided one of the funniest bits in CEA history with her tribute to Beyonce — via a soon-cut-off lip-synced performance of the National Anthem.
Culture Queer capped off the show (or warmed up the after party?) with a set that captured the fun of the night, rocking out a trio of quirky, animated Electro Indie Art Pop gems with their trademark film backdrop. The sprightly CEA trophy hostesses came out for some dancing on finale "Born Again," their funky get-ups matching CQ's twitchy, offbeat anthem — and the jubilant, colorful energy of the entire night — perfectly.
After a run of over 14 years, the popular "Monday Salsa Night" at Corryville club The Mad Frog — featuring local nine-piece Salsa ensemble Tropicoso (and weekly free dance lessons) — will come to an end this coming Monday (Jan. 28).
"The change is of course bittersweet," says Tropicoso's Nicholas Radina (who also tours with Over the Rhine and has performed with several local Latin groups, including his own ¡Zumba!), "but (we're) proud that we held a wonderful 'house gig' for so long in Cincinnati."
A press release describes the "Monday Salsa Night" finale as the start of a "break" for the event, though it's unclear if or when it would return (it also refers to Monday's show as being the "finale"). Part of the reason given for the "hiatus" is that, though it has worked for over 14 years, fans were asking for an earlier start time, since so many people have to get up Tuesday for work.
In response, Tropicoso has arranged for a new regular gig at the club, set to begin next month. "Friday Salsa Night" — featuring Tropicoso and everything fans have loved about the night — will take place at The Mad Frog on the second Friday of every month. The new night debuts March 9.
This Monday's finale starts with dance lessons at 9 p.m. Tropicoso — which was nominated in the "World" category of the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards eight times (including this year), winning twice — starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 and the event is open to Salsa lovers ages 18 and up.
The band has started a Facebook page — "Mad Frog Salsa Night Memories" — and is asking attendees to share their favorite memories.
Last Friday at Bogart's, CityBeat and the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards presented a showcase featuring some of the best new local bands of 2012. (Check out some pics from the event here.) This coming week, four brand-new acts (featuring musicians from other established groups) will be playing their first shows ever. Here's a round-up of the new bands (possible nominees for next year's CEAs?) debuting.
• Joey Cook of Indie Pop greats Pomegranates has a new solo project called Danny and His Fantasy. Cook — who also headed up the side project Firs and has done a few solo shows with friends and bandmates — leaked the great track below via YouTube a couple of weeks ago. The piano-laden track "Too Out of Touch" is a great slice of dancey and wonderfully melodic Pop, highlighted by Cook's soulful falsetto, that wouldn't be out of place on an of Montreal record.
Danny and His Fantasy's debut show is this Friday at Mayday in Northside. Cook will be joined at the free show by Phil Cogley, the Indie Pop maestro from Columbus who performs under the name The Saturday Giant. Cogley's been making waves from our state's capitol, recently earning a slot on Columbus Alive's annual list of "Bands to Watch" for 2013. Locals Speaking Suns also perform.
• Also Friday, Pop Goes the Evil plays its first live show. The new crew debuts at MOTR Pub, playing a free show with Indiana rockers Left Lane Cruiser. Pop Goes the Evil is fronted by singer/guitarist Lucas Frazier, formerly of the popular, kick-ass local Rock outfit The Dukes Are Dead. The new group — rounded out by drummer Jordin Goff (also of The Yugos) and bassist Evan Roberts (organist for heavy local band Grey Host) — has issued a couple of great music videos, showcasing a swaggering, energized Pop/Rock sound that's not chasing any trends, opting instead for a more timeless appeal.
Here's the second single from Pop Goes the Evil, "Golden Apple."