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by Amy Harris 08.15.2013
Posted In: Interview, Music Video, Music News, Local Music at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
thorogood

Q&A with George Thorogood

Blues rocker plays PNC Pavilion Friday with the legendary Buddy Guy

Blues/Rock legend George Thorogood has done just about everything a musician can do over his 30 years on the road. Along with his vintage Gibson ES-125, the only guitar he has ever played, cared to play or even knows how to play, he has delighted audiences with a catalog of hits, like “Bad to the Bone” and “Move It On Over,” which he can still play every night to provide a familiar, comfortable performance any audience can love.

CityBeat spoke with Thorogood about his “wild” ride through Rock & Roll and his connection with his guitar. He plays at Riverbend PNC Pavilion on Friday night with Blues icon Buddy Guy.

CityBeat: Do you ever get tired of playing your hits like “Bad to the Bone”?

George Thorogood: I get tired, yes, but I don’t get tired of playing them. You see, we created those songs to play live. That was the whole purpose of them. I get asked that question a lot. I don’t understand it. Do artists make songs up and not want to play them a lot?

CB: Most of the time they say they love to play them and most bands wish they had songs like that.

GT: It has always made me feel strange because I thought if you worked really hard and made an automobile, like a BMW or something, would you get tired of selling BMWs? That is the whole purpose of making them, isn’t it?

CB: Yeah, to share them.

GT: I don’t get tired of playing them. What I would get freaked out about is if people didn’t want to hear the songs.

CB: You have been touring a lot this year. What is the biggest difference in touring now versus the 1980s when you started?

GT: Better cars, better seatbelts, better buses, better hotels, better accommodations, better food, better everything. That was 30 years ago. The world has changed.

CB: It seemed more fun then, though.

GT: Why would you think that?

CB: I think artists now are so freaked out with social media and people seeing everything and having access to people and things can get out very quickly. I think people are less likely to have fun sometimes.

GT: That part of it, yeah, but that part isn’t going away if you are famous. You can lose your money but you can’t lose your fame. That is going to be happening anyway.

News just gets to people quicker now than it did 30 years ago. It’s the yin and the yang of the whole thing, when you become famous. You have to take what comes along with it. That part is not a lot of fun. But if you quit and you stop, it’s still going to exist whether you play or not. If Harrison Ford retires tomorrow, people are going to be talking about it in some form or shape.

The other part of it is a lot easier. We have better hotels. There is air conditioning. We have buses. The venues are better — better for the fans, better for the bands. It’s a business now. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. They have put so much time and capital into the business to make it up on that level. In that way, I have survived that and I am part of it. That is something to be very proud of.

Let’s face it, the club owners and promoters and everybody are not going to be interested in you unless you are going to make a profit. We are a consideration and not an afterthought when it comes to that.

CB: Are you working on any new music while you are out on the road?

GT: Not really. We are working on putting together a record that has a combination of all the originals we have done over the years and adding one or two new ones to it. It’s a project on the table at this time.

CB: I know you are a big baseball fan. I am actually surprised you are touring during baseball season. The Reds aren’t going to be there on Friday. How are you feeling about baseball this summer?

GT: That’s a fun question. I have never altered my work schedule. I don’t know how that started. I took one summer off to play in a softball league and it was about 20 games, but I was active the whole time. If I took off during baseball season, I’d be broke. I wouldn’t be able to put 15 years together. It’s summertime. I have to go out and perform. There is no getting around it.

I don’t know any baseball players saying they are taking off the summer because Thorogood is touring.

CB: What is your favorite guitar to play live?

GT: I only play one guitar, a 125. It’s the only guitar I’ve ever played. It’s the only guitar I know how to play. Actually, I like to prance around on stage singing like Mick Jagger does, but I can’t sing as good as him. So the 125 is the only one I use.

Please tell people not to steal it. They don’t make them anymore and that is the only kind I can play.

CB: Have you ever lost any gear or had it stolen?

GT: Yeah, it’s been stolen a couple times, but we got them back. We finally put up a sign saying, “Stop stealing George’s guitars. They don’t make them anymore and it’s the only kind he can play.”

CB: I’ll make a note in the article. You mention Mick Jagger and I saw the Stones live for the first time last month and it was pretty amazing. I know you toured with them and you have had many great tours over the years, but what is your craziest tour story?

GT: Craziest? Like mental and I need a prescription from a psychiatrist?

CB: Sure.

GT: None. What’s your idea of crazy?

CB: Crazy fans, crazy parties, anything?

GT: I’ve never been to any crazy parties. There have never been any crazy fans, ever. The Rolling Stones are 100% professional outfit ran by Bill Graham. There is no time for any craziness. There was too much money involved.

The Three Stooges do crazy things. The Rolling Stones and Bill Graham do not.
Everything is professional. Everything was in ship-shape … they wouldn’t still be in business now if they didn’t do that. If they did anything crazy or wild, they did it while I was not around.

Sorry, but I do not know where all this comes from … but when I showed up, I am the only guy that can turn an orgy into a Boy Scout camp. When I show up, it is clean cut and above the board, all the way.

CB: No more fun when you arrive.

GT: It was total fun. It was all fun. It depends on what your idea of fun is. My idea of fun is playing on a stage and getting to see The Rolling Stones free every night. In that case, that was wild and crazy. That is as wild and crazy as I want to get.

CB: They were amazing. I was blown away. I had waited so many years to see them. I am glad I finally got the chance.

GT: Yeah. They are better now than ever.

CB: I have nothing to compare it to other than films.

GT
: Well I do, and you have to go see them now.

CB: If you could trade places with anybody for a month, who would it be?

GT: Trade places with anybody? Probably Michelle Obama.

CB: Why?

GT: I’d like to know what it feels like to be the most powerful person in the world, even if it is only a couple of days.

CB: What current music do you listen to? I know you have been inspired by many of the greats over the years. Do you listen to any current music?

GT: I am a little busy with my own. I haven’t really had a chance to sit and relax and listen to any current music for the last 40 years because I have been busy with my own business.

CB: What is your favorite guitar solo you have ever recorded?

GT: Oh, please, come on, the favorite guitar solo I’ve ever recorded. I’ve recorded so many I can’t even remember some of them.

CB: I know, but some people have an experience or something that stands out.

GT: Every one of them.

CB: What is the hardest part about being on the road?

GT: Being away from my family.

CB: What can the fans expect on Friday night?

GT: I’m sure they aren’t going to walk out there and say, “I hope George is OK tonight.” You go see the Cincinnati Reds, you expect them to win, don’t you?

CB: Of course.

GT: Well, there you go.

Thorogood's music video for "Willie and the Hand Jive," filmed in Corryville at the club now known as The Mad Frog:


 
 
by Mike Breen 08.14.2013
 
 
the-thermals

Full MidPoint Music Festival Schedule Available Now

New venues and a slew of new artists announce for this September's three-day event

Head to MPMF.com right now to see the full lineup and schedule for the MidPoint Music Festival, coming up Sept. 26-28 at various venues in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

Due to the legal wrangling over the management of The Emery Theatre (widely covered in CityBeat and at citybeat.com), the classic Cincinnati venue — a favorite from last year’s fest — will not be a part of MPMF in 2013. But MPMF’s footprint is expanding to include downtown’s Mainstay Rock Bar (which has participated in the fest in the past) and first-time MPMF venue The Ballroom at the Taft Theatre.

Like the activities on the MidPoint Midway, at the Contemporary Arts Center and in Washington Park, Taft’s Ballroom will be open to MPMFers of all ages. Tickets for individual Taft Ballroom MPMF shows will be available to purchase through Ticketmaster.com (with lower than usual ticketing fees, or avoid the extra fees altogether and buy them in person at the Taft box office). On Sept. 26, the Ballroom will be headlined by just-announced performers The Thermals; Murder By Death, Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons and Nicholas David perform at the Taft on Sept. 27; and, on Sept. 28, the lineup will feature Daughter, Bear’s Den and Cincinnati’s own Bad Veins.

At mpmf.cincyticket.com, you can buy three-day passes, VIP tickets and other “a la carte” tickets for single shows in Washington Park and at Grammers. Shuggie Otis and Cody ChesnuTT headline the Washington Park stage on Sept. 26; The Head and The Heart and Youth Lagoon head up the Sept. 27 lineup; and Sept. 28 in Washington Park will be “The Breeders Day Party,” which starts at noon, with The Breeders performing their seminal Last Splash album at 7 p.m. Saturday’s Washington Park lineup also includes Twin Peaks, Gauntlet Hair, Foxygen and Cincy’s Tweens, who’ve been doing numerous tour dates with The Breeders.

On the Dewey’s Pizza stage at Grammers (21-and-up only), Kurt Vile & The Violators, Snowmine and Cincinnati Psych Rock trio The Harlequins perform on Sept. 26, Warpaint and Secret Colours top the Sept. 27 bill and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, METZ and Deap Vally are slated for Sept. 28.

The Cincinnati music scene is well represented once again at this year’s MPMF. Here are some of the area artists confirmed for the fest: Eclipse; Seabird; The Pinstripes; Young Heirlooms; Us, Today; Saturn Batteries; Sun Country; Darlene; Jody Stapleton and The Generals; Electric Citizen; Magnolia Mountain; Allan Pray; The Tigerlilies; Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups; Public; The Ready Stance; Mad Anthony; Mama's Porch Band; Hickory Robot; Ben Lapps; Ohio Knife; Honeyspiders; New Vega; Archer's Paradox; The Perfect Children; You, You're Awesome; Goose; Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar; Plastic Inevitables; redkattseven; SHADOWRAPTR; Halvsies; DAAP Girls; The Cincy Brass; We Are Snapdragon; Black Signal; The Happy Maladies; ADM; Molly Sullivan; Come On Caboose; SOHIO; Wussy; Alone at 3AM; The Natives; Wussy; and The Kickaways.

And Cincy Indie Pop greats The Fairmount Girls are slated to make their record 12th appearance at the 12th annual festival.

Here are a few links for and visuals from some of the most recently announced national acts coming to MPMF 2013.

Hunters (Brooklyn)


Toy Soldiers (Philadelphia)


Deap Vally (Los Angeles)


Bare Mutants (Chicago; fronted by Jered Gummere of The Ponys and Jeanine O’Toole of 1900s)


Magnolia Sons (Nashville)


Sphynx (Austin, Tex.)

Sphynx - Hunger (Live in Austin) from Sphynx on Vimeo.


Dead Gaze (Oxford, Miss.)


The Kicks (Nashville)


Stay tuned for more updates on MPMF ’13, including details on some of the special bonus features on the MidPoint Midway and beyond. Follow MidPoint on Twitter and Facebook to get regular updates on the fest and its performers.

Click below the fold for the recent press release regarding the Biore Strip and MidPoint's continued celebration of women in music.

Read More

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.02.2013
 
 
bluesfest

PREVIEW: Cincy Blues Fest 2013

The Cincy Blues Fest returns for its 21st annual event this weekend

This weekend, the Cincy Blues Fest — presented annually by the Cincy Blues Society — returns for its 21st year, a remarkable accomplishment for a music festival of any sort. The festival kicks off tonight and continues tomorrow at Sawyer Point along the riverfront.

The weekend features two main stage acts with serious ties to Cincinnati’s Blues past. Educator, author, DJ, singer and harmonica player Steven Tracy returns to Cincy to play the main stage on tonight at 7 p.m. with his band the Crawling Kingsnakes. A Walnut Hills High School graduate, Tracy worked with local Blues icons like Pigmeat Jarrett and Big Joe Duskin, becoming a part of the scene he’d later dig deeper into in the 1993 book, Going to Cincinnati: A History of the Blues in the Queen City. His writing career is extensive — Tracy has written dozens of album liner notes and edited/wrote/intro-ed several other books on a variety of subjects. Today, Tracy is a professor of Afro-American Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Saturday at 6 p.m. on the fest’s main stage, Stacy Mitchhart and his band are slated to perform. Mitchhart grew up in Cincinnati and spent time playing music on the East and West Coasts before returning to his hometown in the early 1990s and forming Stacy Mitchhart and Blues-U-Can-Use, a staple on the local Blues scene for a few years. After a move to Nashville, Tenn., in the mid-’90s, Mitchhart’s musical career really took off. His albums have been widely acclaimed and done well commercially — his 2011 release, Live from B.B. King’s, debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Blues charts — and he’s received high-praise for his showmanship and remarkable Blues voice. In 2008, Mitchhart was the subject of the well-received documentary NashVegas Blues. 

Here is tonight's main stage schedule:

5:45-6:45 p.m. Dave Muskett

7:00-8:15 p.m. Steve Tracy & the Crawling Kingsnakes

8:30-10 p.m. Reba Russell Band

10:15-11:45 p.m. Watermelon Slim & the Workers

And here's the lineup for the Main Stage tomorrow:

4:15-4:45 p.m. Blues in the Schools (BITS) Band

5-5:45 p.m. The Juice

6-7 p.m. Stacy Mitchhart Band

7:15-8:30 p.m.  Nikki Hill

8:45-10:00 p.m. Honey Island Swamp Band

10:15-11:45 p.m. Ana Popovic (all the way from Serbia!)

Some of the coolest things at the Cincy Blues Fest can be found on the “specialty” stages — a “specialty” of the fest — which this year includes a “Women of the Blues” stage on Friday, headlined by national act EG Knight and also featuring locals Rio & The Ramblers, The Juice and Tempted Souls Band. 

Here is the "Women of the Blues" stage ((aka the Arches stage) schedule for tonight :

5:45-7 p.m. Rio & the Ramblers

7:15-8:30 p.m. The Juice

8:45-10:00 p.m. Tempted Souls Band

10:15-11:45 p.m. EG Kight

Saturday sees the return of the “Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame Piano Stage,” featuring an international cast of top-shelf Boogie Woogie pianists, including local favorite Ricky Nye and former locals (now Florida-based) Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues. The house band for the Boogie Woogie stage is Johnny Vidacovich (drums), George Bedard (guitar) and Chris Douglas (bass).

Saturday's Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame stage (aka Arches stage) lineup:

4:30 p.m. Ben Levin

5 p.m. Ari Borger

5:40 p.m. Ricky Nye

6:20 p.m. Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues

7:10 p.m. Bruce Katz

7:50 p.m. Al Hill

8:30 p.m. Axel Zwingenberger & Lila Ammons

9:10 p.m. Joshua Paxton

10 p.m. David Vest

10:40 p.m. Bob Seeley

11:20 p.m. Chris Conz

The Blues Fest again presents the St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage on both days of the event, always an excellent snapshot of the current local Blues scene. 

Friday's St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage schedule: 

5:45-6:45 p.m. Thomas Long & Blue Sacrifice

7-8 p.m. Noah Wotherspoon Band

8:15-9:15 p.m. Ralph & the Rhythm Hounds

9:30-10:30 p.m. Brad Hatfield Band

10:45 p.m.-12 a.m. G Miles & the Hitmen

Saturday's St. Vincent De Paul Local Stage lineup:

4:30-5:30 p.m. The Blue Birds Big Band

5:45-6:45 p.m. Jay Jesse Johnson Band

7-8 p.m. The SoulFixers

8:15-9:15 p.m. Doug Hart Band

9:30-10:30 p.m. Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project

10:45 p.m.-12 a.m. Leroy Ellington Blues Band

Here is a map of the Blues Fest grounds:

Tickets are $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday or $25 for a two-day pass (tickets can be purchased at the gates or here). Visit cincybluesfest.org for everything else you need to know about the festival. 

 
 
by Jason Gargano 08.01.2013
Posted In: Festivals, Reviews, Music Video at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
savages

REVIEW: Pitchfork Music Festival 2013

Chicago's Pitchfork fest thrills with Bjork, R. Kelly, MIA and a wonderfully eclectic lineup

It’s no secret that Chicago is a great place for music. Pretty much any touring band of note — and no doubt many a musical outfit that need not be noted — is sure to include a Chicago stop, and the city’s local scene remains rich and diverse, aided by a host of nurturing venues and an eager, uncommonly discerning base of listeners. That it’s only a five-hour drive from Cincinnati makes it an enticing destination for those of us who yearn to catch shows that skip the Queen City. 

Chicago’s embarrassment of musical riches has only grown in recent years with the addition of two high-profile three-day summer festivals: Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. The former needs little introduction — Perry Farrell’s unexpectedly fruitful brainchild is, almost undeniably, the inspiration for the explosion of summer fests over the last two decades, a trend that has grown even more robust since the turn of the century. Every weekend each summer now features at least one festival worthy of audiences’ ears. The trend has even reached Cincinnati, where Bunbury just finished its second successful year — and shared a headliner with Pitchfork. (Whether outdoor settings, marked by often difficult weather conditions and bright sunlight, is the best way to experience the type of music offered at such festivals is a different question.)

Lollapalooza is, alongside behemoths Coachella and Boonaroo, one of America’s biggest and best-attended summer fests, boasting more than 130 artists and an audience in excess of 150,000. Pitchfork, meanwhile, has quickly established itself as a singular presence on the summer circuit, a discerningly curated endeavor that’s an extension of the influential, taste-making webzine that runs it. (Chicago-based Pitchfork.com took over the business side of the fest in 2006 after curating 2005’s initial gathering, which was then called the Intonation Festival). Set in Union Park — a modest city-block space just west of downtown Chicago — Pitchfork now features nearly 50 artists, many of which are still unfamiliar to all but the most plugged-in Indie music connoisseurs. (Ironically, as a champion of cutting-edge acts on the way up, Pitchfork also serves as an early snapshot of future Lollapalooza lineups.)

This year’s Pitchfork, which ran July 19-21, offered one of its most curious lineups to date, especially as it pertains to the headliners, which included Bjork, Belle and Sebastian and, somewhat controversially, R. Kelly. Sure, there were several typically lesser-known acts on the bill, but almost all of them graced the Blue Stage, the smallest of the fest’s three stages. Whether this year’s more accessible bill might have been a reaction to last year’s fest, which gave relatively high-profile slots to such interesting but largely faceless artists as AraabMuzik, Purity Ring, The Field, Big K.R.I.T., Hot Chip and Chavez, among others, is anyone’s guess, but a realignment of sorts from Pitchfork’s powers that be seems plausible. 

More proof of a possible shift in booking philosophy: There were more veteran acts than ever this year. Beyond the headliners, each of which has been making music for more than two decades, there was Wire, The Breeders, Swans, … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Low and Yo La Tengo. The only comparable 2012 act in terms of longevity — admittedly not the best gauge when it comes to creative vitality, but we’re talking audience-drawers here — was Godspeed You Black Emperor, which headlined along with Feist and Vampire Weekend. All are solid acts, but none of them are likely to perk the senses of those looking for a little “star power.” Enter Kelly, one of the era’s preeminent hit-makers (more on that later). 

As usual, many of Pitchfork 2013’s most interesting artists emanated from the Blue Stage, which is the most intimate of the fest’s three stages — the larger Green and Red stages (note the refreshing lack of corporate branding, another sign of Pitchfork’s discerning nature), which are but 50 yards (or so) apart, alternate acts at the north end of Union Park, while Blue’s lineup overlaps with the other two. Tucked into a tree-laden area of the park’s southwest corner, the Blue Stage is something of a festival unto itself, its cozy confines offering a break from the spacious, open-air spots where the Green and Red reside. 

Multiple Blue Stage artists delivered strong sets, including Frankie Rose, a former Dum Dum Girl whose latest album, Interstellar, is a Synth Pop gem that wouldn’t sound out place alongside Beach House; Mikal Cronin, a little ragamuffin of a guy whose latest album, MCII, is a Power Pop keeper; Angel Olsen, whose Americana-flavored songs and swoon-worthy voice and visage compelled much of the audience during her late-afternoon slot; Metz, a Canadian trio coming to Cincy for this year's MidPoint Music Festival in late September, whose terse songs roared even more righteously in a live setting (think Nirvana on fast-forward); Minnesota mainstays Low, who seemed oddly out of place but still effective in the early evening light; and Trash Talk, a Hardcore crew from Sacramento, Calif., whose long-haired frontman delivered the funniest line of the fest after noticing a number of “old people” in the relatively sparse Friday-afternoon crowd: “I like old people. Old people make the world go around. They fucking had us and shit.”


Best of all — or at least the biggest surprise — was Brooklyn-based Post Punk quartet Parquet Courts, whose playful, twisty tunes recall everyone from early Pavement to the Minutemen to a far less trashed Guided by Voices. Frontman Andrew Savage’s voice is thin but endearing, and his dynamic guitar interplay with fellow frontguy Austin Brown had more than one rapt audience member shaking their ass in the Saturday-afternoon sun. 


One got the sense that the Parquet Courts dudes would have been just as happy performing on the street corner just beyond the fence behind them. The fact that they had a much bigger platform to deliver their slanted gospel is just one example of what has made Pitchfork so vital for those looking to experience something rawer and less polished than the acts that dominate other festivals. (Go get Parquet Court’s recent full-length, Light Up Gold, as soon as possible.)

Even the Blue Stage’s less successful performances were compelling in one way or another: while Julia Holter, Ryan Hemsworth, Andy Stott and Evian Christ — the latter three DJs who essentially stand behind a table — have issues in the area of crowd interaction and sometimes suffered from spotty sound mixes, each was able to convey its mood-altering music in ways that, at the very least, provided sonic respites from the relatively more conventional acts at the bigger stages, whose roar often bled into the Blue’s.

On to the two main stages, which drew large, unusually enthusiastic crowds all weekend. Long a champion of adventurous Hip Hop, Pitchfork again featured some intriguing purveyors of the form, most notably Sunday sets by Killer Mike and El-P. The pair released two of the best albums of 2012, and their stellar recent collaboration, dubbed Run the Jewels, dropped as a free download in June. After a sweaty set in which Mike ran through songs from his R.A.P. Music — including strong versions of the title track and the politically cutting “Reagan” — he joined his buddy El-P for a batch of Run the Jewels cuts that mixed verbal dexterity with a healthy dose of levity. Their record, simply titled Run the Jewels, is something of a break from the duo’s doomsday aesthetic as solo artists — Jewels is an exuberant, sonically diverse fun-ride that makes light of Hip Hop’s silly preoccupation with bling (the two performed with fake gold chains around their necks), among other Pop-culture oddities. (El-P later tweeted, “I’ll just go ahead and say @pitchforkfest is the most chill, fun ass festival around right now.)


Run the Jewels was an interesting transition into a set from the ever-vital Yo La Tengo, which mixed choice cuts from its vast back-catalog (including sweet reworked versions of “Autumn Sweater,” “Tom Courtney” and “The Hour Grows Late”) with several tunes from the New Jersey trio’s latest record, Fade. As usual, they didn’t interact much with the crowd, though frontman Ira Kaplan, who dropped in several impressive guitar freak-outs, did joke that it was “good to be opening for R. Kelly again.” 

The fest’s most curious social-media-stirring moment occurred Sunday evening as M.I.A., amid a garishly colorful backdrop of spinning wheels and neon lights, unveiled songs from her forthcoming album, Matangi. A sea of cell phones rose to record her entrance; many stayed aloft throughout. It was a departure in audience etiquette — somewhat unexpectedly, much of the festival was free of such ubiquitous use of technological interference. 

Clad in a flashy gold top and orange short-shorts, M.I.A. stalked the stage, often with dancers at her side, as bass-heavy Dance-Rap arrangements thundered through the ample soundsystem with almost netherworldly force. The ceaseless sonic assault pretty much drowned out whatever she might have been trying to convey in her new songs — which, based on the spottiness of her previous record and the delayed release of Matangi, might be a good thing. Only when her set was interrupted by technical glitches did she seem spontaneous or even all that engaged. It was a weird, disjointed set, the kind of whiz-bang spectacle that rarely rears its head at Pitchfork.

In contrast, Savages Saturday afternoon appearance was a model of lacerating intensity. The buzzed-about British quartet — whose recent debut Silence Yourself is a satisfying blast of atmospheric Post Punk — was one of the most anticipated acts of fest. They didn’t disappoint, delivering blistering versions of “I Am Here,” “She Will” and “Fuckers,” a new song about not letting the “fuckers get you down.” 


Jehnny Beth is a captivating frontlady, her no-bullshit stare and frequent high-pitched yelps lifting the music’s familiar elements — everyone from Gang of Four and Patti Smith to Siouxsie Sioux and PJ Harvey come immediately to mind — to uncharted heights. More unexpected was the band’s tendency to evoke ’80s-era U2, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even more curious was Beth’s evocation of Ian Curtis, both in terms of her appearance (lean with close-cropped hair) and in some of her mannerisms (as if the music were transporting her somewhere beyond the stage). 

Michael Gira, Swans’ longtime ringleader, was impressed, asking the audience, “How about them lady Savages?” before clapping in appreciation. Gira’s band immediately followed Savages, and it was an apt pairing, like opposite sides of the same coin. His crew of gifted Post Punk vets — which includes a hairy multi-instrumentalist named Thor and a suave German slide-guitar player who looks as though he’d be right a home in a David Lynch flick — conjured an unholy racket during a truncated version of “The Seer” and offered an inspired take on “Oxygen,” which featured Gira doing a spooky Indian-like dance throughout. While it was odd to witness Swans’ menacing, ebb-and-flow soundscapes in broad daylight, the outdoor setting still left those in attendance vibrating long after the band’s final drone leaked from the speakers.


That brings us to the three headliners. The festival’s mission — it attempts to highlight the most adventurous, zeitgeist-channeling acts on the current landscape — makes choosing an anchor to each day’s events a challenging dilemma for Pitchfork organizers. Given the esoteric nature of many such music-makers, there are only so many high-profile acts that fit the typical “headliner” criteria. Past choices have included such Alt-Rock mainstays as Flaming Lips, Spoon and Sonic Youth to more contemporary entries in the canon like TV on the Radio, Animal Collective and LCD Soundsystem. 

Pitchfork even had Yoko Ono headline one year, which makes the choice of R. Kelly as Sunday night’s festival-closer even odder one on multiple levels.  First, there’s the fact that Kelly — no doubt one of the most important R&B artists of the era, and a Chicago native to boot — is the most mainstream artist the festival has ever booked. Second, and far more troubling for many, is Kelly’s reputation as a serial misogynist who never got the legal reprimand he deserved. 

The most vociferous critic has been longtime music writer Jim DeRogatis, who broke the story of Kelly’s indiscretions while working at the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002. DeRogatis called Pitchfork’s decision to book Kelly and the subsequent excitement from “some (not all) paying customers” as being “fueled by irony.” 

No doubt there are legitimate questions about how an artist’s personal issues should impact the way in which we experience their music, but, for better or worse, those knotty questions were not going to be answered during Kelly’s Pitchfork set. 

In fact, based on the reaction of those in the massive crowd — probably the festival’s largest ever — irony was not as prevalent as DeRogatis wanted to profess. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance, which ranged from fortysomething African-American couples to teenage hipsters, seemed genuinely excited to be taking in Kelly’s sextastic jams. The performance itself, meanwhile, was largely standard-issue R&B stagecraft, as Kelly ran through much of his extensive songbook medley-style (38 songs!). Not even a steady drizzle of rain could dampen the mood, as many swayed and sang along straight through to a set-closing version of  “I Believe I Can Fly,” which was accompanied by the release of dove-shaped balloons.


If Kelly’s presentation was fairly straightforward, Bjork’s closing set on Friday was anything but. Or so it seemed — unless one was within 75 yards of the stage, it was hard to see what was going on besides fleeting glimpses of Bjork’s elaborate headgear, which looked like a porcupine lit up from within. Worse, the two video boards that flanked the Green Stage were mounted too low, rendering them almost useless to those they should intend to aid. 

No matter: Bjork’s expressive voice was just as fluid and otherworldly as one would expect on slightly reconfigured versions of “Hunter,” “Joga” “Pagan Poetry” and “Army of Me.” When rain and pending lightening and thunder prompted festival organizers to pull the plug after an hour, Bjork responded with this curio: “It’s calm. I don’t know. This wouldn’t be much in Iceland, I can tell you that much.”

It also rained on Belle and Sebastian Saturday night, but not enough to cut short what was the festival’s most overt nod to nostalgia. The Scottish crew ran through a career-spanning set that crested early with rousing versions of “I’m a Cuckoo” and “The Stars of Track and Field,” which had more than one thirtysomething couple embracing amid all the tuneful sweetness.


 
 
by Mike Breen 08.01.2013
 
 
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PREVIEW: It’s Commonly Jazz Series 2013

The classic, long-running Cincinnati Jazz series returns to Eden Park tonight

One of the oldest free series of its kind in the region, the It’s Commonly Jazz showcases have now been running for 28 years, presenting marquee artists like Eddie Harris, McCoy Tyner, Javon Jackson and David “Fathead” Newman. 

The free series — running every Thursday in August (lucky Jazz fans get five events this year) — returns to the outdoor Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park tonight. The opening show features renowned saxophonist Craig Bailey. 

Nice interview from Greece with Bailey:

Here is the rest of the It’s Commonly Jazz lineup for 2013:

Trinidad-born Etienne Charles, acclaimed for his mix of island rhythms and Jazz, plays Aug. 8.

Charles jazzing up Marley:

Young tenor sax wiz J.D. Allen performs at the Aug. 15 show. 

Allen and his trio play "The Matador and the Bull":

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/actor Gregory Porter on Aug. 22, presented with Learning Through the Arts, Inc. as part of the Crown Jewels of Jazz Heritage Festival. For tickets to (and more info on) the Crown Jewels fest — running at various venues in Over-the-Rhine and Mt. Adams Aug. 21-24 — click here. Here's LTtA's Kathy Wade explaining the festival:


Gregory Porter's official music video for "Be Good (Lion's Song)":

For the finale, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, who will be joined by his group of young Jazz lions, Wolfpack, comes to the ICJ stage on Aug. 29.

Warren Wolf's video biography:

Music runs 6-8 p.m. For complete info, visit itscommonlyjazz.com.

 
 
by Mike Breen 07.26.2013
Posted In: Festivals, Live Music, Music Video, Local Music at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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A Music Festival Kind of Weekend

Two very different weekend music fests kicks off tonight in Cincinnati

• Macy’s Music Festival — still often referred to locally as “Jazz Fest” as a nod to the fest’s roots (despite a complete lack of Jazz nowadays) — returns to downtown’s Paul Brown Stadium tonight and tomorrow.

The festival is a Cincinnati tradition, a true “event,” regardless of what music is featured (which may explain the lackluster booking rut the fest was in for a while). But this year’s Macy’s Music Fest has one of the best lineups in recent memory.

Tonight's performers include headliner Jill Scott, plus Charlie Wilson, TGT (Tyreese, Ginuwine, Tank), locals The Faize Band and a rare performance by Cincinnati legend, Funk superhero and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Bootsy Collins.

Charlie Wilson is fresh off of receiving the BET Awards' Lifetime Achievement honors.

           

And here's the crowd rockin' to Charlie at last year's Macy's Music Festival.


Saturday’s lineup features newcomer Leela James, KEM, Prince’s ol’ pals Morris Day and The Time, Fantasia and blockbuster headliner R. Kelly, an arena-worthy star fresh off of his odd but successful (despite the many "Pee on Me!" signs in the hipster audience) 38-song, headlining appearance at the Pitchfork music festival in Chicago. But … MORRIS DAY AND THE TIME!


Morris Day and The Time - Jungle Love by DemonPreyer

Find more about the fest at macysmusicfestival.com. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Prices range from $40-$85 (only single-day tickets are available). Showtime is 7:30 p.m. each night.

• If your tastes trend more towards old-timey music and Bluegrass (and your wallet trends more towards empty), downtown's Arnold's is presenting the two-night Tito's Old Time Music Festival, running tonight and tomorrow. "Tito's" refers to sponsor Tito's Homemade Vodka, an Austin, Texas-produced spirits producer; Tito's reps will be on hand and Tito's drink specials will be plentiful. There will be also a chance to win an Epiphone acoustic guitar and purchase signed fest poster created by local poster-art great Keith Neltner.


You don't have to be a vodka enthusiast to attend — there is some great local Roots/Americana music each night. Tonight, Western Swing crew The Sidecars kick things off at 7:30 p.m., followed by My Brother the Bear, The Goodle Boys and AltCountry greats Terminal Union, which just released an amazing debut album, Making Arrangements (look for a review on this here blog soon).



Tomorrow, the Tito's fest starts at 7:30 p.m. with great Roots/Americana group Hickory Robot, followed by Crowshot, Rattlesnakin' Daddies and The Part-Time Gentlemen.



Tito's Old-Time Music Festival is a free event.

 
 
by Mike Breen 07.18.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, Music News at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Ill Poetic Plots New Single/Video Project

Ohio Hip Hop artist Ill Poetic reaches out to fans for new music video funding

Last year around this time, Ill Poetic — the Hip Hop artist who grew up in Dayton, cut his Hip Hop teeth in the Cincinnati scene and currently lives in and works out of Columbus — dropped the fantastic video for his excellent track "Gone," which was loaded with Cincinnati references and guest appearances.



Now, Ill Po (who was formerly a columnist for CityBeat) is set to release the single "Silhouette," taken from his superb Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement release (just as "Gone" was) and he's reaching out to fans (established and potential) to help make the accompanying music video he and partner David Damen of Arris Production have dreamed up.

Ill Poetic has set up one of the cooler (and comprehensively explained; let it serve as a guide for those thinking about going this route) crowd-funding projects you'll see. There are lots of great perks for various donation tiers, but also prize perks (dedicated to various Ohio Funk greats, a huge influence on the Hip Hop artist) for those who simply share the project on social media.
You can even contribute via product placement if you're a business owner (at the artist's discretion, surely).

Find out everything you need to know about it at the Indie GoGo page here and check out the pitch video below.



Upon completion, thanks to a distribution deal, the video will debut on VEVO. Here's the nut-shell explanation of the song and video project from the Indie GoGo page:

The centerpiece of my new EP "Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement" is a song called "Silhouette". On the surface, this is a pretty straight forward, light-hearted love song. This song, however, is directed specifically toward those ladies who are genuinely music fans. A lot of artists tend to marganalize women as a 'target demographic' they can sing some cliche love sh*t to, and forget they can be music-nerds just like most of us dudes are. The majority of females who dig my songs are genuine, intelligent music fans who often school me on records I should check out. "Silhouette" is dedicated to those women who go out to shows and buy records because music is their life.

My partner David Damen (of Arris Productions) and I have an amazing concept for the video, but we want it done right. We have shot 3 videos on shoestring budgets and have garnered over 60,000 genuine views, heartfelt emotional reactions (reactions of which people have felt in their heart) and critical acclaim (from critics who acclaim things).

Since we're starving artists who are by no means rich or corporate, we're bringing the campaign to you. We're DYING for the opportunity to shoot a video with upgraded cameras & lenses and a full video production team and we really want to tell you about it. Hence why you're reading this right now. But first, feel free to check out the 3 videos we've created to get an idea of exactly what we've already made with a strong team, no sleep, and few funds.


Check out the full Synesthesia release below and/or click on the player to grab your own copy.

 
 
by Amy Harris 06.28.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Interview, Music Video, New Releases at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Q&A with The Eli Young Band's Chris Thompson

Band in Cincinnati to open tonight's sold-out Kenny Chesney concert at Riverbend

The Eli Young Band brings a taste of Red Dirt music to the forefront of Country music. The band has an upbeat and distinct sound that has caught on quickly on a national scale. EYB saw mild success through the years touring on Jet Black and Jealous and hit a major stride with its most recent album, Life At Best, featuring the hits “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and ACM "Song of the Year," “Crazy Girl.” 

The Eli Young Band has now reached a new height, opening Kenny Chesney’s current tour (which is hitting mostly stadiums). CityBeat was able to catch up with band drummer Chris Thompson to get the band’s feeling on its new found success and life on tour with Kenny. The tour comes to Cincy tonight at Riverbend Music Center for a sold-out stop (the tour moves to Crew Stadium in Columbus on Saturday night). It is truly the most impressive tour in Country music.

CityBeat: How did the tour come about with Kenny Chesney?

Chris Thompson: A lot of people don’t know this but Kenny is really involved in who he picks to go on tour with him. In a lot of other tours, a record label will put someone on the bill or management will partner up with other management to find a tour that works with that kind of artist, but Kenny is super hands-on.

Two years ago at the Academy of Country Music Awards, we were nominated for "Song of the Year" and so was Kenny, and we actually beat him, we won the category. I guess shortly after, there was a text going around from Kenny to his management, “Who are these guys that beat me?” and “I want to find out more about them.” He started getting into our music and shortly after we got the phone call that we were invited to go out on tour with him.

It’s just a huge honor. Like I was saying, he hand picks the folks that are out here on the road with him. It’s the biggest tour in Country music and we are just happy to be here.

CB: I was there the night you guys won the "Song of the Year" award. I was so happy for you guys. I know you have worked very hard over the years. What was the highlight of CMA for the band this year in Nashville?

CT: We were only there for a couple hours really. We flew in that morning and did a signing for two or three hours and then had a couple meetings. Then, we were out of town.

We have been going to CMA Music Fest for seven or eight years now. Back in the day we would stay for three or four days and play a show or two and be able to hang and meet as many people as we could. It seems like more and more nowadays, especially with the tours we have been on and our headlining tours, we are only able to get in for a day and get out.

It is always fun to do the signings because you meet people from all over the country and from all over the world really who love Country music. They are so excited to meet you. They are die hard fans. They bring pictures from five years ago when we met. It’s just cool that Country music does that. We are the only genre of music that has anything like that where fans can go and interact directly with the artists and have one-on-one face time with them.

CB: Tell me a little bit about “Drunk Last Night,” the new single.


CT: I think “Drunk Last Night” is a lyric we can all relate to. When we all first heard the song, we were like, “Yes, this is a song for us."

A lot of people hear a title and automatically think it’s a drinking song. We went through some of that with “Crazy Girl.” A lot of people saw the title and went “Oh, I know what this song is about,” and I think they were wrong.

I think people will find this is not the standard drinking song. It is all about, I hate to sum it up as drunk dialing, but it is kind of like the thought of doing that and alcohol feeding that desire a little bit more than in daily life.
It is also a song that we went in the studio and recorded (and) as soon as we finished the session, we could go out and play (it) live right now because it’s a great track, it’s rocking, it’s in our wheelhouse and we actually did. We started playing it at the very beginning of the Chesney tour before it was even picked as a single. The crowd really seemed to dig it and now here it is, going to be a single. Good stuff.

CB: Do you guys know or do you have a feeling when you have a hit or when you hear a hit presented to you?

CT: Yeah. I think sometimes you hear a song, sometimes people say the song gives them chills and they know that’s the one. Sometimes you get that feeling in your gut. When you hear a song sometimes, you write a lyric and you feel that, it is almost like that feeling of falling in love. Your chest kind of swells.

When multiple people feel that way at the same spot or for the same song, then I don’t know if anybody can guarantee a hit, but you know that it is at least a lyric or a song that people can relate to and I think typically good songs are universal in that sort of way.

CB: I loved your “The Cuss Jar” video — I could buy a house if I implemented that process. I wanted to know if you had bought anything fun with the money?


CT: No, actually I think that era ended. The jar got too full and I think we used that jar for laundry money one day when we stopped somewhere on the road and had a few days off and emptied the whole thing for band and crew’s laundry. Then we got too lazy to keep up with it.

CB: What has been your craziest tour story recently?

CT: I think playing Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on the Chesney tour was probably the craziest thing because we are from Dallas and we have played every tiny bar around the stadium. To just get up on stage at the biggest stadium in America was totally wild. All of our families were there; it was craziness.

CB: That’s such a special moment, I am sure you have plenty of those all the time. Do you do anything special yourself to keep the tour memories? Do you take photos or journals? Some bands blog or journal and do things to keep it fresh.

CT: Yeah, we have been fortunate on this tour, since the beginning of this year, we have had a guy out on the road with us that has started doing social media. Mainly he is taking pictures. Since January, this whole thing has been documented and we really appreciate that.

It is definitely hard for us to get good photos when we are on stage playing, when we are really in the moment, because we are playing, so he is out there doing that. This is the biggest tour we have ever done and just the momentum that this year is building, we are just happy about that.

CB: What does a typical day look like for you?

CT: On the Chesney tour when we are doing stadiums like we are doing today, we will go out and do a tailgating event, at 1 or so in the afternoon, we will all get into some golf carts and we will go out to where all the fans are tailgating and they will bombard us with jello shots and beer bongs and the local foods they have.

We hang out with them for an hour or two then we will start doing radio events where we will play a couple songs acoustic, sitting on our bus or backstage for various winners. Then we will do a meet and greet for about 60-100 people. Then, we will grab a bite to eat around then. Then we hit the stage and rock out for about an hour.

After that, we will go hang out with some radio folks or some friend that are in town and wind down about the time Kenny hits the stage so we can watch him. It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty unreal.

CB: If you could trade places for anyone for about a month, who would it be?

CT: Right now it feels like we are living the dream. I think the four of us are really happy with what is going on in our careers right now. We have had some national success. It feels like we have broken out of being a regional band and it feels like we are on the cusp of something more than that. It’s a great time for Eli Young Band and it is important for us to enjoy this. I probably wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone right now.

CB: What can the fans look for from you guys tonight in Cincinnati?

CT: We try to always bring a high-energy show. We were playing a show last night and there was this older gentleman almost in front row sitting in his chair arms crossed and it looked like he wasn’t really enjoying himself. About halfway through our set he leaned over to his wife and he points at us and he goes, “Those guys are workin’ up there.” Then he smiled real big.

We want to bring that energy. We want to get on stage and have a good time and fire up the crowd. We go on right after Kacey Musgraves. Kacey is real cool and laidback and all that when she does her thing and it’s great. Then we get to come in and kick the audience in the butt a little bit.

During our set we have some new music in there and some cover songs I think gets the crowd up and clapping. After that Eric (Church) comes up and burns it down. Then Kenny Chesney comes out and the place goes nuts.

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.28.2013
 
 
flyer-fountain-square-6-28-13

Music Tonight: MidPoint Indie Summer

Great homegrown songwriting on display tonight for free on Fountain Square

Tonight's free MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square has an element of contemporary local music heritage … and lots of ear-grabbing melody.

The show is being headlined by psychodots, one of the most popular (and locally influential) original bands to ever call Cincinnati home. Check the Pop/Rock trio's website here and a clip of the ’dots performing at Redsfest in 2006 below:



Cari Clara, the long-running project of Eric Diedrichs — who now lives in Lexington, Ky., but fronted Cincy Pop/Rock faves The Simpletons in the ’00s — plays the middle slot. Check out CityBeat's review of Cari Clara's most recent release, Midnight March, here and the album's "Battle Hymn" below.



The Ready Stance, featuring former members of wildly popular ’90s act Middlemarch (and former Ass Ponys bassist, Randy Cheek) opens the show at 8 p.m. Check out CityBeat's interview with the band from last spring here. And here is a sample from the group's debut album, Damndest:



For more info, go to myfountainsquare.com.
 
 
by Mike Breen 06.27.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
publicenemy_logo

Music Tonight: Kings of the Mic and More

The cross-country “Kings of the Mic” tour is technically an old-school Hip Hop exhibition, but the packaging of these particular artists — most of whom have been and remain vital and relevant today — makes it much more than just a 21st century version of an “oldies” revue.

And the fact that the three headlining artists’ classic music still sounds so vital today makes it more than just some nostalgia trip.

Headliner LL Cool J was one of Rap’s first superstars and, thanks in part to his acting/hosting career (and also his album releases), he remains a superstar to this day. Public Enemy’s smart, socially and sonically progressive sound remains as fresh today as it did when the group released 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back — one of the greatest albums ever made. Like P.E., De La Soul has remained artistically inventive and the trio’s influence is often underestimated. Rounded out by a pair of even earlier influential performers — Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick — the Kings of the Mic tour’s stop at Riverbend tonight is not just a history lesson, but the best party to start off your summer right.

Tonight's concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and tickets range from $18.50-$84.50.







• Bluesy, soulful British rockers Leogun return to Cincinnati tonight. The trio — which was scheduled to appear at Cincinnati's MidPoint Music Festival last year but had to cancel due to work visa issues — was influenced by the pure Rock sounds of artists like Jack White and Queens of the Stone Age. But it was an Eagles of Death Metal concert that kickstarted Leogun's career into overdrive. Singer/guitarist Tommy Smith talked his way backstage at the band's London show in 2009, where he met a guy who introduced him to Elton John's Rocket Music Management. The threesome quickly inked a deal with Rocket and then with Yamaha's record label.

The band is digging in hard in the States and touring on a consistent basis behind its just-released debut album. Catch Leogun tonight for free at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine at 10 p.m. Here is the band's first single, "Let's Be Friends."



• Tonight on Fountain Square is your chance to be a part of a Guinness World Record, as the weekly "Salsa on the Square" event invites dancers far and wide to come out and help set the bar for "Most Salsa Dancers" higher. The event starts at 7 p.m. (instructors are always on hand so don't worry about your lack of Salsa skills) and live music is provided by Grupo Tumbao. Click here for more details.

Here are even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati for tonight.

 
 

 

 

 
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