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.
"Bohemian Rhapsody," one of the trademark songs by legendary rockers Queen, was fittingly released on Halloween in 1975 and its strange, epic Rock operatics were an instant success across the globe (it only reached No. 9 on the U.S. singles charts initially, but a re-released version on the heels of its appearance in Wayne's World made it to No. 2 in 1992). Though a bit silly, history has treated the tune well — it's regularly included in innumerable "Best Rock Songs Ever" lists and polls and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.
Here's the beginning of BBC's The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody for some background (the rest of the parts of the program are in the right column if you click the "Watch it on YouTube" link).
The song has been covered numerous times over the years (though mostly not until the ’80s/’90s, likely due to its "untouchable" status in the minds of some; how many "Stairway to Heaven" covers are there?). Sometimes the versions are cheeky parodies (of COURSE Weird Al recorded "Bohemian Polka"), while other times it is presented fairly straight up (like P!nk's live version).
This young month has already seen the issuance of two new(-ish) covers of the song. The Flaming Lips tackled the track in 2005, recording it for the Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen compilation. But yesterday, a new video of the song was posted to the group's YouTube site. It's fairly faithful, with just a little of the Lips' freaky glaze sprinkled on top. The new video is a bit more glazed — and decidedly NSFW (due to female nudity).
Puscifer, one the side-project bands from Tool frontman Maynard James Kennan, has recorded the song as well, set for release on a new EP, Donkey Punch the Night, due Feb. 19. It's a strong version, but even more faithful to the original.
Who does it better?
Personally, I don't think it gets better than this — The Muppets version of "Bohemian Rhapsody," released in 2009 (and currently boasting over 30 million views on YouTube). Animal steals 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.
For a band that is called fun., I sure find it ironic that their music sparks nothing close to that feeling.
I admit comfortably that when I was 16, I was a fan of Nickelback, Disturbed and other bands that would fall under that “Cock Rock” territory. That’s a pretty bold statement.
While I’d say that (most) of that fandom is long gone, I have been finding myself coming back to a lot of the bands the shaped my childhood and early teenage years. Yes, partly for nostalgia (although no amount of that could ever make me listen to Nickelback again), but I think this is mainly because I am finding more and more that I am losing my place in the ever-changing world of music, specifically alternative and indie music.
Three years ago, I was always into the cutting edge of what is “now” — what many others and myself thought was good. I survived Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs winning Album of the Year at the Grammy’s, braved the great King of Limbs debate of 2011 and forced myself into thinking that a band like Chevelle actually sucked.
I read Pitchfork religiously to stay on top of music’s latest and “greatest” new bands. I even pretended that I loved Bon Iver, but that fell short when it was revealed that for about a year I thought Bon Iver was one person. Sorry I’m not sorry Justin Vernon.
Truth be told, I hate Bon Iver. I also think Neon Bible is a much better Arcade Fire album and even a Radiohead album like The Bends was better than King of Limbs. I think Chevelle kicks ass, but you’d never hear me say that out loud until now.
I guess I’ll stop brown-nosing my ego and get to the point. I like music that is accessible and fun. No, not the band. My friends and I, “We Are Young,“ but if that’s your idea for a great indie party song, then your parties suck.
I use fun. as my main example, but this also applies to Mumford and Sons, Gotye, Imagine Dragons, Lumineers and others. I find my friends and acquaintances throwing it against the wall and, beyond my understanding, I’m seeing it stick. It might be just me, but I find these bands depressing. Not in an Alice in Chains “I’m a heroin addict and I don’t know how to stop ruining my life,” kind of way either, but more like a Simple Plan, “My girlfriend left me and now I can’t stop complaining about it” kind of way. Yes, I just compared Mumford and Sons to a pop-emo band from the early 2000s.
There’s a difference between depressed and depression and these bands embody that very essence of momentary sadness that really doesn’t matter in a few months.
Despite the very real and very dangerous depression of the guys who fronted Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Butthole Surfers and several other bands during the ‘90s, the final product of that excessive drug use was great and often fun music to listen to.
You don’t put a hand on your heart and shed a tear for Kurt Cobain when he screams out the lyrics to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Of course not! You crank it up to 11 and scream loud and out of key with the guy.
Fun has become such a dirty word in alternative music and it’s not because of any form of stereotypical pretentious hipster nonsense. I really think the reason is, well…just because. I don’t think there’s a reason why Mumford and Sons’ Pop-Folk-with-a-Bluegrass-flare fusion is striking big, while Old Crow Medicine Show has been doing that for years.
What do I know is this: I miss when indie music was something new, exciting and fun to listen to. When I think of indie, I think of the playful lyrics like “We could go and get 40s” from the song “12:51” by the Strokes, the iconic bass line of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and the voice-raising howls of “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire.
I realize this is all personal interpretation, but indie music has become something of a boring passé before it even got old to begin with.
Bands have no foreseeable longevity because songs like “We Are Young” will be replaced faster than you can say “something that I used to know.” Ha, see what I did there?
And while Mumford and Sons have proven to have some lasting factor on modern music, I find their songs empty, repetitive and lacking any real expressiveness. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. “Little Lion Man” and “I Will Wait” are the same damn song.
They just don’t make good indie like they used to anymore, but then again maybe I’m getting too damn old for it anymore.
Anger, pain, jealousy and atheism, but tell me this song doesn’t get you going! I dare you!
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.