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by Mike Breen 11.13.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music News, CEAs at 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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David Wolfenberger Returns to the Stage Tonight

Cincinnati singer/songwriter emerges for a rare performance tonight with Mark Olson

Outside of singing at his church occasionally, brilliant Americana singer/songwriter David Wolfenberger hasn’t performed in the area for quite some time. After working with the group The Marshwiggles in the late ’90s, Wolfenberger put out three stellar solo albums between1999-2006, earning him high praise both domestically and abroad. But besides occasional performances and scant new material (what he has released has been for charity), the 1999 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards winner for Artist of the Year has kept a low profile for the past several years.

Tonight, Wolfenberger is coming "out of exile" to join an old friend in concert.

Wolfenberger is re-teaming with Mark Olson, half of the brain trust behind the best work of The Jayhawks, at Newport’s Southgate House Revival. Wolfenberger toured extensively with Olson in the early ’00s as a member of The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers, the group Olson formed with then-wife Victoria Williams after he left The Jayhawks.

Wolfenberger opens tonight's show with a solo, acoustic set at 8 p.m. and he will also join Olson during his set (along with Olson's current touring partner — and wife — Ingunn Ringvold). Tickets are $12 at the door.

Wolfenberger has been posting some of his older material on his Reverbnation page and, in an email, he said he will be posting new songs "on occasion in the future." Here's one of his earlier cuts, "Tentatively Vince Foster," from his 1999 solo debut, Tales from Thom Scarecrow, released on the local Blue Jordan Records.


 
 
by Mike Breen 11.12.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: The Lone Bellow and The Sweep

• With a Country music base, Rock edge, R&B-inspired three-part harmonies and catchy but emotionally weighty songs, Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow emerged in 2013 as one of the next potential Americana breakthrough artists. The trio’s well received, self-titled debut — featuring songs written by frontman Zach Williams to help him deal with a tragic horse-riding accident that left his new wife temporarily paralyzed — was released last January on Sony imprint, Descendant Records, to high praise from many high-profile press outlets. (Read more about the group from CityBeat’s preview here.)


The Lone Bellow performs tonight at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 at the door. Here’s a one-shot video of the trio performing its song “Tree to Grow” in the hills surrounding Los Angeles for the online “SerialBox Singles” series:


• In the two years since Cincinnati Indie Rock band The Sweep released its third album, III, the group has been busy regrouping with a new lineup and writing and recording material for a new album. Sweep singer/songwriter/guitarist Nic Powers and longtime bassist Glen May are now joined in the band by guitarist Brendan Bogosian, who currently also plays guitar with veteran local crew The Tigerlilies, and drummer Joe Klug, who also keeps time for widely-acclaimed Cincy band Wussy. 


The Sweep continues its free, every-Tuesday-of-November residency tonight at The Comet in Northside at 9 p.m. The band is being joined by various special guests during the residency — last week’s opener featured the reignited Pillbug (from the forces behind The Fairmount Girls), while this week Halvsies joins The Sweep. For the Nov. 19 show, Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver will also perform and the Nov. 26 residency finale will feature a set from Fists of Love


Click here to sample/purchase The Sweep’s great III album.


For more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight, click here.  

 
 
by Mike Breen 11.08.2013
 
 
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WATCH: The MidPoint Sessions featuring The Ridges

Queen City Project release first video from MidPoint Music Festival day party

Besides the official music showcases at September’s MidPoint Music Festival, the 12th annual fest featured the most (and best) “satellite events” in MPMF history. These “unofficial” happenings — ranging from “day parties” to various musical presentations, like the free performances at Findlay Market — greatly added to the electricity MPMF brought to Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. It showed what can happen when creative people get into the MPMF spirit and try to come up with clever ways to add to it. 


Some of the best examples of this were found just off the MidPoint Midway area at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where programmers of the school’s gallery (with presenters Fotofocus) decided to run an exhibit of live music photography by area photographers called Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience during the fest, to capitalize on all of the music lovers flooding the streets of OTR. (Click here to read CityBeat's feature about the exhibit.)


Adding another layer of collaborative coolness to the proceedings was “The MidPoint Sessions,” intimate performances by four Ohio musical acts held at the photography exhibit on the Saturday afternoon of the festival. The great Athens, Ohio, Indie/Orchestral Folk ensemble The Ridges performed and curated the rest of the Ohio-centric lineup, which also included Cincinnati’s Molly Sullivan and The Happy Maladies, plus Columbus’ Indigo Wild. 


The MidPoint Sessions were filmed by The Queen City Project, a local organization that has set out to creatively document some of the interesting and unique things going on in contemporary Cincinnati. Here’s an entertaining, quick-cut look at MidPoint through QCP’s lens:

Queen City Project :: Midpoint Music Festival 2013 from the Queen City Project on Vimeo.

And we are thrilled to be able to share QCP’s first video from The MidPoint Sessions, featuring The Ridges. 

Queen City Project :: Midpoint Music Festival 2013 :: The Art Academy Sessions :: The Ridges from the Queen City Project on Vimeo.

Be sure to check CityBeat’s music blog every Friday over the three weeks as we unveil the rest of the Sessions series videos.


 
 
by Mike Breen 11.08.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: Drive-By Truckers, The Features and More

• Tonight at Covington’s Madison Theater you can catch two of the the best and most influential Roots Rock bands of the past 20 years. Drive-By Truckers and Old 97’s might not have had the expansive, obvious influence of, say, Wilco or My Morning Jacket (who also joined forces to tour this year, joined by some guy named Bob Dylan on the summertime Americanarama tour), but it would be foolish to overlook the impact these two bands have had on aspiring artists. 


While both groups recently announced the completion of new albums, their current tour together finds each act promoting some refurbished older material. The Old 97’s released the Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings EP in October. The release includes a pair of tracks recorded in 1996 with the Country legend (they were some of Jennings’ final recordings before he died), plus a few unreleased demos. Drive-By Truckers also did some vault-digging, reissuing a remastered version of the band’s third album, the long out-of-print 2000 live effort, Alabama Ass Whuppin’. (Read CityBeat’s Truckers preview here.)


Tonight’s show at the Madison starts at 8 p.m. and is open to all ages. Tickets are $27 at the door.

Here’s one of the Old 97’s’ collaborations with Jennings, “The Other Shoe”: 


• A pair of Detroit-area MidPoint Music Festival veterans — Jeecy and the Jungle (which played the Cincy fest this year) and Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas (who played in 2012) — return to the city tonight for a great double-bill at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Showtime is 10 p.m. and there is no admission fee. 


Both bands have varying elements of R&B, Funk and Soul, which they spin with their own distinct magic. Jeecy and the Jungle go for a gritty, spiky take on R&B reflecting the Garage and Soul spirits of Detroit’s rich musical history, while the Deltas make uniquely broad, evocative Alt/Indie Pop/Rock driven by Hernandez’s phenomenal vocals, which show a fantastic Soul influence. 


Hernandez & the Deltas have a new EP called Demons that is officially released next week, though you’ll be able to pick up the CD version at MOTR tonight. Paste magazine recently debuted the material; check out a track below:


• Seems like the Cincinnati area has become a favorite stop for touring artists from the exploding “live Electronica” scene. Arpetrio is a Knoxville, Tenn.-based, improv-happy guitar/bass/drums trio (with each member adding Electro ornamentation) that has been lauded for its trippy, Jazz-like take of live EDM, which touches on Trip Hop, Trap, Trance, Dubstep and other modern Electronic music elements. The group’s This Side Up EP is available as a free download here; get a sample below:


Arpetrio performs tonight at Corryville’s The Mad Frog. Showtime is 9 p.m. Also on the bill is Ethosine, a Cincinnati quartet featuring members of Skeetones, Bubble Life and The Jive Turkeys. The group also has a free EP you can download — click here or on the player below. 


• Nashville Indie Pop Rock crew The Features, which has built up a nice following in Cincy (and appeared at this past summer’s Bunbury Music Festival), returns to the area tonight for an 8:30 p.m. show at the Taft Theatre’s Ballroom. Locals Justin WW and the Even Tiles open the show. Tickets are $15.


The Features’ danceable, highly melodic sound is on glorious display on their most recent album, a self-titled affair released through Kings of Leon’s Serpents and Snakes Records this past spring. Here’s the music video for the album’s “This Disorder,” a clever song about the effect of modern technologies (i.e. smartphones) on our society:


• Classic Country Rock band Poco was formed in 1968 by Richie Furay after his band with Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, called it a day. Despite a lineup that has revolved pretty much since the band began, Poco experienced great success in the ’70s and beyond; its debut, 1969’s Pickin’ Up the Pieces, is considered one of the greatest Country Rock releases of all time. This summer, Poco — now led by co-founder Rusty Young — released All Fired Up, its first album in over a decade.


The current edition of Poco performs tonight in Northern Kentucky at the Newport Syndicate. The pre-show dinner buffet (included in the ticket price) begins at 6 p.m., with openers Kinsey Rose and Laurel Kincaid beginning at 7:30 p.m. Admission ranges from $35-$70. Click here for details.


Here’s the title track from Poco’s most recent LP:


Click here for even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.


 
 
by Mike Breen 11.07.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: GWAR and The Horse's Ha

• Mega Monster Metal superstars GWAR return to Bogart’s in Corryville tonight for a 7:30 p.m., all-ages show. “Earth’s only openly extra-terrestrial rock band” formed in the mid-’80s, developed an over-the-top live show that makes a KISS concert look like a children’s Halloween party (with B-movie horror film theatrics that look straight outta Troma) and have become one of America’s great cult bands. 


The group continues to churn out albums that unveil the mythology behind GWAR, the latest being this year’s Battle Maximus. What’s it about? Oh, you know, usual GWAR stuff:


“GWAR's Battle Maximus features twelve brand new tracks that not only honor their departed ally, but tells the story of GWAR's latest struggle against what may be their greatest enemy yet — the insidious "Mr. Perfect", who has travelled through time itself to steal the power of GWAR — the power of immortality, and use this power to mutate the human race into his twisted vision of what the "perfect" human should be. Once again GWAR finds themselves as the only thing standing between the human race and the latest super-powered shithead bent on the destruction of GWAR and the enslavement of their worshippers.”


GWAR front-alien Oderus Urungus recently showed that he does have a softer(ish) side. Here he is reading Goodnight Moon for the children of the galaxy. In his own way, of course (i.e. it’s NSFW):



• On the other end of the sonic spectrum, Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub welcomes Chicago’s lilting, folksy ensemble The Horse’s Ha to the club for a free show tonight. The band was formed in 2002 by Janet Bean, member of great Chicago acts Freakwater and Eleventh Dream Day, and James Elkington, guitarist (and drummer) for various acts, including Jon Langford’s band Skull Orchard. The group’s gorgeous slant on American and British Folk, laced with pointed harmonies and exquisite cello, has been showcased on just a pair of albums, including this summer’s Waterdrawn


Fans of talented acoustic guitarists will appreciate Elkington’s playing; he recorded a duo album of acoustic fingerstyle guitar pieces with Nathan Salsburg called Avos in 2011. Salsburg is opening tonight free MOTR show at around 10 p.m. 


Here’s a taste of the Ha’s most recent album:


Click here for more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati.


 
 
by Mike Breen 11.06.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: Jus Post Bellum, Dar Williams and More

• Brooklyn Indie Folk quartet Jus Post Bellum comes to Over-the-Rhine's MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. show with local headliners Young Heirlooms. Inspired by traditional American Roots, Blues and Country music, as well as modern Folk, the Civil War and American history in general, Jus Post Bellum (latin for "justice after war") features the captivating dual vocal approach of guitarist/keyboardist Geoffrey Wilson and Hannah Jensen and is fleshed out by the bass and cello of Daniel Dieber and drumming of Zach Dunham. The group's live shows are said to be quiet, mesmerizing affairs, so maybe keep your loudmouth drunkard friends at home for the night. 

Jus Post Bellum's second album, Oh July, is set for a Nov. 12 release. Here is the new album track "Gimme That Gun":

Jus Post Bellum "Gimme That Gun" from Jus Post Bellum on Vimeo.

• For Dar Williams' latest album, last year's In the Time of Gods, the veteran Folk singer/songwriter looked to the past to address modern challenges. The songs on the album, featuring guests Shawn Colvin and Larry Campbell, use characters and tales from Greek mythology to poetically examine today's personal, social and political issues. Always noted for her fantastic lyric writing (which often showcases her sharp wit), In the Time of Gods and its interesting device find Williams really challenging herself and, ultimately, succeeding on levels she hadn't reached before. 

Williams brings her Gods tour to Oakley's 20th Century Theater tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. The show is not general admission; seats are reserved by section. 

Here is the opening track from In the Time of Gods, "I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything":

• Impressive new Cincinnati band Temple plays tonight at Northside's Mayday, the launch of a mini-tour with Columbus Sludge Metal crew Bridesmaid. The band makes compelling progressive, psychedelic Metal and features members of local acts like Black Dove, Paralyzer, The Awakening and Ohio Knife. Tonight's show also features local band Crushed Velvet and kicks off at 10 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge. 

Click here to check out a pair of songs from the band, or just hit the play button below:

• Tonight's show at Bogart's in Corryville featuring star rapper Yo Gotti has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the point of purchase. 

Click here for more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati. 

 
 
by Mike Breen 11.05.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: The Winery Dogs, Lotus, Black Crowes

The Winery Dogs released their first album in July, but if you are a serious fan of Progressive Metal and Hard Rock, you were likely already familiar with the virtuosic instrumental prowess of the trio’s members — drummer Mike Portnoy (cofounder of modern Prog legends Dream Theater), singer/guitarist Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big) and masterful bassist Billy Sheehan, who has played with David Lee Roth, Mr. Big and many others. The Dogs sport a heavy, Classic Rock-influenced sound akin to Led Zeppelin but distinct due to the players’ flashy, progressive riffing and drumming. 


The trio plays Corryville’s The Mad Frog tonight. Doors open at 8 p.m. and Sixxis is the opening act. 


Here’s a nice review of the Dogs’ show in Cleveland over the weekend. Check out the band’s music video for the track “Time Machine” below:



• The instrumental quintet Lotus is one of the leading forces in the Livetronica movement, which features artists taking an Electronic and Dance music core and turning it inside out, mixing in plenty of other influences and leaving arrangements wide open for live-show improvisation. Embraced by the “Jam Band” community, groups like Lotus (which dips into Rock, Funk, Jazz, Post Rock and beyond on its musical adventures) are helping to push the boundaries of improvisational music in a modern context. 


The band’s 2013 album Monks is another great example of Lotus’s creative membership pushing forward without any genre anchors around their necks. The LP is a compelling Hip Hop record featuring numerous guest MCs, including Mr. Lif, Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born and several others. The album is available for free download here


Lotus performs at Covington’s Madision Theater tonight with exquisitely monikered (and musically like-minded) Electro trio Cosby Sweater opening things up at 8 p.m. Admission is $20 at the door.


Here’s the Monks track “Cloud 9,” featuring Philly MC Ras Arcane and Digable Planets’ Doodlebug:



• After all the reported in-fighting, hiatuses and breakups they’ve been through, it seems like rockers The Black Crowes have finally realized that, both creatively and financially, they need each other. The band have become a bit like The Rolling Stones in that way — after so many years and so much chemistry, even though Mick and Keith often seem to despise each other, they keep the Stones flag flying because it’s what they do. The Crowes are in an interesting position, where they can still go out and just play their “hits” and fan favorites, continually drawing big crowds thanks to the cultishly loyal fan base they’ve built up over years of amazing live shows. 


That’s just what the Crowes will be doing tonight when they return to the Taft Theatre tonight for an 8 p.m. show. There’s no new album (the most recent Crowes release was 2010’s Croweology, a retrospective consisting of mostly acoustic versions of their finest songs), so expect a fan-friendly set of Crowes faves, a cover or two (the band has been doing Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” on this tour) and lots and lots of jamming. Though the continued success of the band on the road suggests this is far from the band’s last tour, the Crowes have said this will be their last jaunt for a while as they tend to other projects outside of the band.


Here’s a big chunk of a Crowes’ performance in Virginia this past September: 



Click here for even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.


 
 
by Mike Breen 11.04.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: Distant Correspondent and Love X Stereo

• After four albums on which he played every note, David Obuchowski’s Distant Correspondent project morphed into an actual “band” this year with a self-titled debut album release and the launch of its first full U.S. tour. Obuchowski had been operating the DC project on the side, with his main band, Indie Metal powerhouse Goes Cube, taking up most of his time. Distant Correspondent started to blossom when Obuchowski began trading recordings and collaborating with Michael Lengel over the internet. The collaboration grew to include other members, including Emily Gray from the U.K.’s Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia and acclaimed solo artist Edith Frost. 

Fans of Goes Cube should know that Distant Correspondent’s music is a different beast entirely, emitting evocative, hypnotic soundscapes that have landed them the “Dream Pop” tag. For the band’s first full American tour, Cincinnati’s Margaret Darling, whose popular local band The Seedy Seeds announced an indefinite hiatus this past summer, joined the group, taking the place of Frost, who was unable to tour. (Read Brian Baker's DC preview for CityBeat here.)


Distant Correspondent, Darling and openers Mack West perform tonight at Mayday in Northside. The free show starts at 9 p.m. 


Here is Distant Correspondent’s music video for the new album track “Shatter.”


• This past September at Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival, South Korean rockers Love X Stereo were one of the more anticipated international acts in the lineup. But due to some travel issues, the band was unable to get out of Korea in time to make the festival. The group, which plays highly danceable Electro Rock music heavily influenced by ’90s American Alternative music and Punk, promised to make it back to Cincinnati as soon as possible and, tonight, Love X Stereo makes good on that promise. 

The band performs a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Eclectic Bloomington, Ind., Indie/Psych Pop/Rock trio Fluffer — which did perform at this year’s MPMF — opens the show at 10 p.m.

Here is the audio for Love X Stereo’s “Lose to Win,” the lead-off track on the band’s new EP, Glow, which was put together for the group’s first U.S. tour.

Click here for more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight. 


 
 
by Mike Breen 11.01.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music News at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Return of Pike 27

Cincinnati Rock crew returns tonight after a six year absence with a new lineup and sound

Greater Cincinnati Rock band Pike 27 was a staple on the local club circuit in the early-to-mid-’00s, playing sweaty, raucous live shows to a dedicated following (headlining and opening for the likes of Dave Alvin and Chuck Prophet) and releasing the acclaimed full-length, Falling Down Hard, in 2001. But in 2007, frontman/guitarist/singer/songwriter Dave Purcell left Cincinnati for Northern Ohio, taking a job as a sociology professor at Kent State. 


This past summer, Purcell returned to Cincinnati and resurrected Pike 27 with a new lineup. Returning to his role as Pike 27's bassist is Sean Rhiney, formerly of Clabbergirl (in which Purcell played rhythm guitar) and co-founder of the MidPoint Music Festival. New to Pike are guitarist Mike Fair (Wojo, Mike Fair & the Adventure Seekers) and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Killen, a professor at Cincinnati State. 


The “new” Pike 27 has moved away from the Americana/Roots Rock style it was known for, a reflection of the new songs Purcell has written for the band. (The group is also reviving some older material for its upcoming live shows.) Purcell says that while working on the new songs, the members have remarked that the material is more in line with artists like Robyn Hitchcock, The Kinks, Graham Parker and Grant Lee Buffalo — still smart, catchy and rockin’, but with the twang dialed back. 


"How do you pin down REM, Elvis Costello or Glen Hansard?" Purcell says of Pike 27’s less easily categorizable style. "We hope to land in there somewhere — jangly, smart, sometimes noisy, joyful. Good to raise a pint to."


The band makes its official like debut tonight at MOTR Pub, opening the free show headlined by Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion (click here for more on the duo). Pike kicks things off at 10 p.m.


 
 
by Mike Breen 10.28.2013
 
 
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Music Tonight: The Toasters at MOTR

New York City Ska legends The Toasters were the bridge from the late ’70s 2 Tone Records-fueled Ska revival in the U.K. to the one that brought Ska into the American mainstream in the ’90s. Easily one of the most influential Ska acts of all time, The Toasters were formed in 1981 by Robert “Bucket” Hingley, a U.K. native (and the group’s lone constant member) who had just moved to The States, taking inspiration from the 2 Tone Ska being created in his homeland (The Beat, The Specials, The Selecter, etc.). 

The Toasters, in turn, helped inspire multitudes of Ska bands to form, something that ultimately led to the development of so-called Ska Punk. Having a hard time finding a label, Hingley formed his own, Moon Ska Records, which grew to become the major American Ska indie imprint, releasing music (via albums or the label’s popular compilations) by The Slackers, Dance Hall Crashers, Mustard Plug, Less Than Jake and No Doubt, among many others. The Moon label was a road-map to quality American Ska when the music was more underground; the imprint, which was artist- and consumer-friendly (like Punk label Dischord, Moon always kept prices low), experienced its greatest success during the ’90s Ska boom, but when the music fell out of mainstream favor, the label faded away. Hingley moved to Spain, where he formed another label, Megalith, to continue releasing Toasters albums.

The Toasters were the cool elder statesmen of the Ska scene and they’ve survived the fickleness of musical trends and an ever-changing music industry for over 30 years now by doing things on their own terms and keeping true to their vision. 

The Toasters play a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Northern Kentucky’s great Ska/Reggae/Punk ensemble Newport Secret Six opens the show around 9 p.m. 

Click here for more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight. 


 
 

 

 

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by Brian Baker 09.30.2014 24 hours ago
 
 
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MPMF 2014 Day 3: Last Dance, Last Chance for Love

The last day of MidPoint is like a lot of endings in life; the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the year, the end of a piece of cherry pie, the end of the line. This is the end, my only friend, the end. 


And it had the chance to be the perfect end of perhaps the most perfect MidPoint in the festival's history, from the lineup to the weather to the experiences. And you know what, Aunt Em? I think it was. You were there, and you were there, and so were you. And so was I. I'm fairly sure of it.


I had a lot of possibilities circled on my MidPoint program for Saturday night, allowing for the chance to leave something I wasn't crazy about or merely the opportunity to see a couple of great things in the space of an hour. All of that happened and so much more. Saturday night was more sampler platter than focused attempt to see a set number of bands and it turned out pretty well. And for the first time since I began doing this daily wrap-up thing God knows how many years ago, I didn't take a single note all night as an inadvertent experiment in appreciation recall. Success or not? You be the judge.


As I was finding a parking space, I was listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage. The former Silvio Dante had been playing snippets of Groucho Marx bits from the Marx Brothers' movies, and finished with a hilarious Groucho interview about how the moustache came into existence. Moments later, as I was walking across Central Parkway on my way to the first show of the evening, I heard a horn honk and saw a massive arm wave from a Kia Sol. Of course, it was the semi-ubiquitous Jacob Heintz, the pope of MidPoint, giving me his blessing from his diminutive popemobile. Saturdays at MidPoint don't begin much better than that.


First up on my last day's dance card was Cincy’s The Ready Stance, who were slotted as the first show of the evening on the Midway stage. When the band began, I was still near the food court, and as the music cranked up, I would have sworn that the production staff was pumping some Marshall Crenshaw through the sound system for a level check. Within seconds, I realized this was no lost Crenshaw track but the Stance in full Pop jacket mode. The Stance churns out classic Pop/Rock informed by the '90s college Rock histories of guitarist/vocalist Wes Pence, bassist Randy Cheek and drummer Eric Moreton and the contemporary classicism of guitarist/vocalist Chase Johnston. As the foursome ran through a set that was evenly divided between tracks from their 2012 debut Damndest and new songs that may wind up on the band's in-the-works sophomore album, the Stance's numerous gifts were evident.


Pence and Johnston play with a two guitar/one mind synergy that crackles with intensity, Cheek lays down a massive groove that could be tracked from space and Moreton has the malleable sensitivity to control tempo and volume with a flick, a roll or an outburst. These guys are working stiffs on the old day job/night Rock treadmill, and the gears turn slowly in that world, so the new album may be on the far horizon. But as good as they were Saturday evening — Goose's Jason Arbenz pronounced them "Cincinnati's Jayhawks" and I wouldn't dispute it, although I'd toss in occasional nods to Mitch Easter and Ray Davies — the anticipation can only grow.


I bailed on the tail end of The Ready Stance's set to see OK Go down at beautiful Washington Park, and that may have been a mistake. I could have easily seen the entire Stance set and still made it in time for OK Go, as the band started close to 20 minutes late (It's a festival, boys … check the clock on your Jetson phones). When they finally hit the stage, the confetti cannons went off, they did two songs and then launched into … a question and answer session with the audience. 


I did get to see "Writing on the Wall," a pretty good tune which is accompanied by one of the band's most inventive videos, and a track called "Obsession," also from their impending new album. But it was already time to hit the next thing on my slate, and as I walked out of Washington Park and heard frontman Damian Kulash taking an inordinate amount of time to teach the audience how to sing along with whatever was coming up next, I knew I'd bailed in the nick of time. I like OK Go, a lot, but this was a massive disappointment.


If I was feeling somewhat burned by OK No (cheap shot? Perhaps …), that feeling was almost immediately dissipated by Chicago trio Bailiff, who were just taking the Midway stage as I approached up 12th Street. The band had been recommended by my friend Paul Roberts, who had seen them at their last local appearance at MOTR, and he was lathered up by the prospect of seeing them again, so I added them to my list of possibles. Boy, was that the right thing to do. 


Bailiff is not easy to pin down to a specific genre, but they play the living hell out of everything they do and they do just about everything. At one point, they were grinding out a Prog/Pop vibe that suggested the sound of King Crimson with Adrian Belew at the helm and Robert Fripp in a support capacity, a pretty neat trick considering Josh Siegel is the only guitarist in the band. Or they'll take a left turn into a tribal Jamaican/African reverie, or Art Rock bluster with the classicism of Talking Heads and the future shock of Radiohead. I kept wondering if there was a keyboardist behind the amp and out of my line of sight, but no such accompaniment was present, just the Siegel's sinewy guitar acrobatics, bassist Ren Matthew's Entwistle-meets-Pastorius lead runs and drummer Owen O'Malley's baby Bonham antics. The trio was drifting between their 2011 debut, Red Balloon, and their just released Remise, and it was all over much too soon for anyone's taste.


For reasons that will be revealed in the notes, I hung around the Midway for Alexander Giannascoli, aka Alex G, an impossibly young guitarist from Philadelphia with a pretty happening band around him. G's got a pretty good backstory, writing and recording at 12, posting songs online at 16, then lathering/rinsing/repeating into his current early 20s. He's got a wispy vocal delivery that rivals the late Elliott Smith for ephemeral atmospherics, and a Beck-meets-Robert-Pollard sense of Avant Pop, qualities that stand in clear and extremely appealing relief on his studio work, particularly his just released DSU. Unfortunately, a lot of those recorded subtleties and quirks are lost in the clatter and bash of their live presentation, and with the dynamic and emotional range smoothed and leavened, Alex G's largely mid-tempo odes don't offer much else to latch onto in the course of a set. This is most certainly not a case of good songs performed poorly, more like edgy songs with just a little too much of the edge sanded off. Alex G is obviously a considerable talent, and if I were to offer a bit of unsolicited advice to young G, it would be to either find a band that can recreate your basement lab concoctions or write for the live band you have, because they're talented players.


There was a considerable spike in the Midway energy level when Low Cut Connie took the stage. Typically just a duo featuring piano basher Adam Weiner and drummer/erstwhile guitarist Dan Finnemore, LCC tours with a full band complement and makes a mighty racket in the process. Weiner plays with the ferocity and brash confidence of early Jerry Lee Lewis at his most petulant — he even has a vestige of The Killer's untamed forelock of hair — and he sings with the raw animal magnetism of Iggy Pop. Weiner hops up on his bench, plays with his elbows and occasionally his ass and stands atop his piano threatening to do a strip tease as the band vamps on.  And when Finnemore steps to the front of the stage with his guitar, the U.K. native truly embodies his Punk/Garage Rock roots and influences. Low Cut Connie's songs are dripping with snarky humor but they stop well short of being mere novelties by virtue of being great bloody songs. The band's Facebook posting on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. stated, "On our way to mess up Cincinnati real good … tonight at #mpmf … gonna rip it." Damned if they didn't.


Once again, I had to tear myself away from Low Cut Connie's compelling Midway spectacle in order to take in a little of Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel down at MOTR. When working on their blurb for the CityBeat preview issue, I was absolutely captivated by the Brain Hotel's hypnotic Psych/Pop soundtrack and dark Carnival of Souls demeanor, and it translates well into the band's live performance. There are hints of the '80s Paisley Underground in the Brain Hotel's sonic profile, particularly the helium-tinged vocals of the Three O'Clock's Michael Quercio, but it's the band's visceral impact that is most satisfying. It reminds me of the first time I saw The Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967 and was completely mesmerized, not by royal lizard/frontshaman Jim Morrison but by hunched-over keyboard alchemist Ray Manzarek. Any band that can consistently access that hallowed memory from the dusty archive of my brain's pre-hard drive file cabinet has my undying devotion.


I had initially earmarked the 11 p.m. spot for the Bonesetters at Arnold's, but my bum leg was starting to throb a bit and the prospect of walking to Arnold's and then back to MOTR for Kid Congo at midnight suddenly seemed painful and ill-advised. For the sake of saving my leg for possible use on Sunday (and sort of forever), I opted to keep my spot on the MOTR dance floor and hang around to check out Corners. Deirdre Kaye's preview noted that the L.A. trio had been working a Surf/Psych angle but that they'd recently shifted to a Post Punk direction. That became evident with their first song, a blazing two-guitar/bass/synth percussion screamer that brought my last two years of college back to life like an acid flashback with a Synth Punk soundtrack. 


Corners bears all the marks of late '70s Electro Punk, somewhere in the vicinity of Joy Division and their post-Ian Curtis iteration New Order, with flecks of the Units, San Francisco's dour Synth Pop avatars, a splash of Gang of Four, a dash of Bauhaus and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and maybe a trace of the Sisters of Mercy and Killing Joke. All of this will most assuredly be reflected on Corners imminent new album, Maxed Out on Distractions, which provided the bulk of the songs for the band's MidPoint set, which was dark, vibrant and enjoyable. (Ironic fun fact: the entire lineup at MOTR on Saturday night will appear at Corners' L.A. record release party in early October.)


At last, it was time for Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, the last band of the last night of MidPoint, and brothers and sisters, the Kid and his compatriots were more than up to the task. The former Gun Club/Cramps/Bad Seeds guitarist has been staging some form of the Pink Monkey Birds for over a decade and this iteration (guitarist/keyboardist Jesse Roberts, bassist Kiki Solis and drummer Ron Miller) might be the best batch yet. Peeling any loose paint from MOTR's walls was absolutely no trouble for the Kid as he scorched away on selections from his latest album with the PMB, Haunted Head, as well as a couple of songs from their upcoming single and a bunch of old favorites, including The Cramps' "Goo Goo Muck," The Gun Club's "She's Like Heroin to Me" and his own brilliant "Black Santa" and "Killer Diller." 


The MOTR's dance floor was a boiling mass of rhythmically moving bodies, propelled by the Kid's blazing guitar runs and the Pink Monkey Birds' perpetual motion soundtrack. And since it was the band's last night of their current tour, they were not about to leave anything on the table, so after their standard club-clearing encore of "LSDC," the Kid and his Birds returned for one last brilliantly incendiary romp through The Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy;" I fully expected lightning to shoot out of the Kid's fingers and eyes as he overloaded every internal and external circuit in the joint. I don't think he could have given us any more and I'm not entirely sure we could have taken it even if he had any more in him. As the Kid and the Birds bid us adieu, I had to believe that this might have been one of the most spectacular last nights of my personal MidPoint attendance history. It will be hard to top going forward, you can bet your sweet ass on that.


SATURDAY NOTES


• Before the Ready Stance set, I ran into Ready Stance. The Midway seemed like a good place for that to happen. Wes Pence was first, busy with logistics on the phone, then in short order Randy Cheek and Chase Johnston. The Good Rockkeeping Seal of Approval King Slice was on hand for the madness, as were Paulie, Big Jim and Stufest (that's Stu to you and me). Also down in front for the Stance was Randy Campbell, formerly with Screaming Mimes and now with Faint Signal, who promised a new FS album coming shortly. I will keep you appraised of the situation. And once again, Eddy Mullet, my Class X comrade in Rock, sought to gain my attention by standing impossibly close to me as the Stance pulsed and pounded. Note to Eddy: For the record, 20 years ago, on a trip to Michigan, my best friend's wife, completely circuit fried on Xanax and Grey Goose, was dancing around their living room, grabbed my foot, shoved it between her legs and started hopping around in front of me like my shin was a stick pony from the '50s. With my foot in her cooch. Believe me, I'm not suggesting that you need to escalate to that DefCon level of weird, but it's safe to say that my threshold of the unusual is well above a bar you'd be willing to attempt to clear. And we're back. Accompanying Eddy was his most excellent daughter Jess, the smartest, most music savvy high school senior I know. Big things coming for that girl, I just know it.


• Down at Washington Park just before OK Go played, I crossed paths with Latha Mannava, former CityBeat worker bee and now more gainfully employed by F&W. Latha graciously introduced me to her friends by saying, "Whatever Brian recommends, that's what I go see." Ironically, I had written up the OK Go preview as a glowing endorsement, and Latha noted about two songs in, "These guys are doing nothing for me." Just to keep things in perspective, folks, the best hitters in baseball are only successful a third of the time, and that's a better percentage than some highly salaried and over-radared weathermen. I'm pretty sure my reputation is still pretty good with Latha.


• I spent a good deal of the evening on the Midway with Ready Stance drummer Eric Moreton and his wife Kristiana. Eric couldn't really go anywhere because someone in the band had lost his wristband (I don't want to assess blame but his initials are Wes Pence), so I just kind of hung around and had a lovely conversation with the two of them. I'm fairly certain I scared the living shit out of them with tales of my dysfunctional life and times and the epic tale of why I was on a self-imposed one beer limit throughout MidPoint (which I'm surprised wasn't tweeted about at some point during the weekend, with the suggestion, "Please shut up already, please"). In any event, it was nice, thanks for the company, and if either of you requires therapy after our compressed time together, I think my insurance will cover part of the cost before tying a cinder block to my waist and throwing me off the Big Mac Bridge.


• As I was headed into MOTR for the Brain Hotel experience, the wisdom of checking out this show was magnified a hundredfold with the appearance of the much-too-absent Matthew Fenton and his friends Kyle and Nicki (I'm guessing at her spelling, as I did with last year's Bunbury report). Matthew had also decided to stake out an early spot for Kid Congo, and a look at Corners' crazy Gary Panteresque T-shirt designs at the merch booth salted his decision. I love seeing shows with Matthew; they typically involve exchanges like this:


Matthew: Who is this again?

Brian: Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel.

M: Very Paisley Underground.

B: Remember the Three O'Clock?

M: (nods)

B: They need a go-go cage.

M: With you in it?

B: I don't dance.

M: You've gotta do something.

B: (Frankestein-then-master voice) "Arrrrhh!" "No, Caezar!" "Fire, bad!"

M: Well, not that. You can't just sit there sucking your fingers.

B: May I go to the bathroom?

M: No!

B: Thank you.


Pretty much endlessly. I love our time together. It's so pointless and perfect. And it usually has a pretty cool soundtrack.


• As Corners left the stage, Matthew's friend Ashley showed up with her friend Tone (again, guessing … it could be some Scandanavian derivation with no vowels and the symbol for magnesium as an accent, or it could be short for Tony), who was a super nice guy and a good hang for the Kid Congo show. Ashley mentioned that they were only there because of a bug in the MidPoint app that kept defaulting to Thursday; they thought they were coming to see Nikki Lane. But they both thoroughly enjoyed Kid Congo, so no harm no foul … but have I.T. check that app for next year, kids.


• Also taking in the raucous Garage/Punkabilly jailbreak that was Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds: Paulie, Big Jim and Sir Dan of MidPointville, who I'm beginning to believe was assigned my case and has been keeping pretty close tabs on me. For the record, I'm fine, and you can count the silverware. It's all there. I spotted Wes Pence at the very end of the show but when I did a quick walk through MOTR, he was gone. Cest la vie — see you again soon, my friend.


• On my way back to the car, I ran into the always fabulous Mike Sarason, dressed to kill after a friend's wedding, along with his stunning date Margaret. Mike mentioned that he had moved to New York, and that the hiatused Pinstripes were likely done, news that I had gotten from Pinstripes drummer John Bertke Thursday night at MOTR. It was great to see Mike, he's a world class guy and I certainly hope he continues to pursue a musical path because he's amazing, but the reality of the end of one of my absolute favorite bands and a perpetual highlight at this very festival made for a rather bittersweet end to the last day of MidPoint.


• And so one of the most nearly perfect MidPoints in the event's history is in the book. As usual, there is much credit to be spread around for the success of an undertaking with this much complexity and requiring this much planning. First and foremost to Dan McCabe, who somehow manages, year after year, to play the most intricate game of chess with artists, agents, publicists, labels and venues and then come up with a strategy where it seems everyone wins. 


• Obviously, MidPoint couldn't happen without the sturdy volunteer army that clockworks this potential mess every fall with very few glitches. This absolutely could not be done without your skill, patience and stamina. 


• Of course, there's everyone at CityBeat who helps facilitate and promote MidPoint and who are its main boosters well before and well after the event, from Dan Bockrath. Danny Cross and (now it can be told, cyborg) Mike Breen, right on down through the entire staff. Sting told me, every little thing you do is magic. 


• And obviously to all the bands who came from down the block, across the country and, in some cases, around the world to be here for the express purpose of entertaining us with their creative gifts. But most especially, thanks to everyone who attends MidPoint year in and year out, for showing up to experience the region's absolute best music crawl. This year’s may well have been the best populated Thursday night in the festival's history, and that couldn't happen without patrons who believe in the event and the promise of great music to be heard and that couldn't be done without all of the above. Funny how symbiosis works, isn't it? Thanks again to you all for a brilliant MidPoint 2014. Set your watches for late September 2015 … you'll know me, I'll be the thirsty one with a limp


 
 
by Brian Baker 09.29.2014 48 hours ago
 
 
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MPMF 2014 Day 2: Stuck in the Middle with View

The middle of the MidPoint weekend is like the middle of a lot of things; the middle of a movie, the middle of a book, the middle of life with an equal measure of glorious accomplishments and missed opportunities behind and the potential for great things still ahead, the middle of an exquisite jelly donut where the filling drips down your chin as you lick the pastry where you just bit with a sensual need for completion. 


What was I saying? Right, middle of MidPoint. So here we are in Day 2, quite possibly one of the most anticipated second days of the festival in its long and storied history.


I arrived at Washington Park just as Joseph Arthur was beginning his set. A lot of folks had been hoping that Van Hunt might be accompanying the evening's headliner, our own Afghan Whigs, since he had been touring with The Whigs recently, but Arthur is opening this next leg of the Whigs' triumphant return and so the honor fell to him. And yet the pleasure was all ours, as Arthur put on a brilliant one-man presentation with the help of loops and stomp pedals and a catalog filled with amazing songs, like the powerful "In the Sun" ("because all the best Rock & Roll happens in the middle of the day"). Clearly the most incredible moment of Arthur's set came at its conclusion, when he set up his loops and launched into "I Miss the Zoo," and began drawing an outline with a black paint marker, which almost immediately began to run, on a piece of what looked to be foamcore on an easel set up on stage. While Arthur sang verse after verse, he squirted different colors of paint on various spots around the board, and then picked up a brush and pushed the colors around and into the bleeding black. When he finished the song, he had finished the painting. It was quite astonishing, to say the least. I've been a fan of Arthur's for some time — I interviewed him many years ago — and although I knew he was renowned for his paintings, I had no idea he mixed his media in quite this fashion. It was thrilling to witness.


Next up on the bill was Wussy, quite honestly one of the most redemptive and satisfying second acts in Cincinnati music history. After the nonchalant major label dismissal of Chuck Cleaver's Ass Ponys in the '90s, he returned with a shambling vengeance with Wussy in the new millennium, partnering with Lisa Walker then adding Mark Messerly and Dawn Burman to the fold and making their studio debut with the patently amazing Funeral Dress in 2005. Wussy quickly became a critic's band, famously scoring a huge fan in renowned writer Robert Christgau, who cited both Funeral Dress and 2007's Left For Dead in his Top 10 best albums of the new millennial decade. The arrival of drummer Joe Klug in 2008 gave Wussy the powerful engine they required to hit the subsequent heights they have attained, first with 2011's magnificent Strawberry and now with this year's brilliant Attica! 


This latest string of Wussy shows is proving just how powerful and confident the newly minted quintet (with the arrival of former Ass Pony/pedal steeler John Ehrhardt) has become. Klug's presence as a muscular and reliable hammer is certainly one element, Messerly's evolution as an absolutely vital, melodic bassist is another, but in many ways this also boils down to the strengthening chemistry between Cleaver and Walker. The duo's already incredible synergy has morphed into a ferocious and purposeful partnership that yields more dividends with each set and session, and Friday's performance at Washington Park was evidence of Wussy's upward/onward trajectory.


After blazing through a killer romp on "Pulverized," Walker poked the crowd with a gentle threat: "I hope you like 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,' because we're doing all 13 verses … Gord's Gold 2, that's what we've been listening to, exclusively." 


Thankfully, no such root canal took place. Instead, Wussy ran through a selection of Attica! and catalog tracks that cemented the band's position as a formidable live entity. "Rainbows and Butterflies" was massive, dense and beautiful while "To the Lightning" howled with an anthemic power surge that accentuated its R.E.M. jangle and Yo La Tengo dissonance, and "Teenage Wasteland" was a showcase of Walker's incalculable gifts and her indispensible role in Wussy. And "Beautiful," like its studio predecessor, started out as a gentle meditation with a menacing undercurrent, but quickly built to a Crazy Horse squall that set off Cleaver and Walker's mantra-like intonation of "I'm not the monster that I once was." If all that wasn't enough, and it surely was, the fivesome finished their round with an unexpected and thoroughly engaging version of Joy Division/New Order's "Ceremony." This set was the best evidence yet that Cleaver may finally be ready to forget about the wounds inflicted by his first go-round with the industry and take his rightful place in the Rock pantheon along with his equally deserving Wussy mates.


At last it was time for the main event, the much-anticipated return of The Afghan Whigs. Each iteration of the Whigs' reclamation has been documented with a local show, but this tour in support of the Whigs' first studio album in a decade and a half, the jaw-dropping Do to the Beast, has been billed — even by some of the band's harshest critics — as the best live performances of their career. Local fans were justifiably amped up about the prospect of experiencing that rush for themselves. To say they weren't disappointed might well be an understatement on a par with "The Beatles kind of changed things."


Naturally, the majority of the set was devoted to Do to the Beast, as the band vaulted into the night air with "Parked Outside" and "Matamoros," guaranteeing that the album and live set opened with the same visceral one-two punch. But where frontman Greg Dulli sounded intense and focused in the studio, he was a coiled truck spring on stage, a spiral of wound up energy that unspooled with a nearly unhinged control. 


Surprise was the watchword of the evening. Dulli had hinted to CityBeat that an unexpected guest would be making an appearance and that apparently turned out to be Greenhornes/Raconteurs drummer Patrick Keeler, who proved to be more than up to the task of beating the Whigs' tribal drums and being the percussive foil for John Curley's perpetual bass clinic. And while much of the set list was anchored by Do to the Beast and Gentlemen, about to be reissued in a 21st anniversary two-disc package, there were a number of interesting twists and fan-centric fist pumpers.


The Whigs have always loved mashing up two or more songs, and last night there were a few corkers; Gentlemen's "When We Two Parted" drifting into Drake's "Over My Dead Body,” Do to the Beast's "I Am Fire," paired with a tubthumping take on Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" and the new album's "Lost in the Woods" bleeding into a melancholic shuffle through The Beatles' "It's

Getting Better." Elsewhere, the band partly covered Jeff Buckley's "Morning Theft" to great effect, and opener Joseph Arthur provided backing vocals on the stage front mic for "Can Rova" from Beast while Dulli took his place at the piano. 


The band has been running through stellar versions of "Debonair," Black Love's "My Enemy," and 1965's "John the Baptist" and did again, but the end of the Whigs' hometown set provided the greatest fireworks, starting with the almost never performed "Son of the South" from their Sub Pop debut and sophomore album Up In It, and eventually finished with an abbreviated encore, a blazing march through 1965's "Somethin' Hot" and Black Love's "Going to Town." With the 10 p.m. curfew bearing down, Dulli introduced the band and departed with a resounding, "We are the motherfucking Afghan Whigs! We'll see you next time." 


The Afghan Whigs have clearly grown to accommodate some of the massive stages they've inhabited as of late. Longtime Whigs fans may lament the loss of the band's less seasoned version, where every club show seemed to be played with the ferocity of rats fighting their way out of a corner. The Afghan Whigs of now feature the cumulative growth that Dulli and Curley have experienced over the past 15 years since the band's demise and that experience is considerable and fairly amazing. Songs that were once acid-etched screeds are now heart-pounding anthems, and that evolution seems neither contrived nor insincere in any way. Dulli still sings them with visceral conviction, but now he possesses a new understanding of himself and his long established mythology and Curley still underpins every song with eye of the storm calm and outer band intensity but now he invests every note with the unrestrained glee of the best second chance ever. It all makes sense to me.


One last observation; the red gels on the stage lights gave the curtain behind the band the blood red appearance of the velvet backdrop on the cover of Congregation. If you carry that metaphor to its logical conclusion, the Whigs were a beautiful naked ebony mother and we were her beautiful naked pale baby and we were all together on a beautiful night under a beautiful sky having a beautiful time. The Whigs' official return to us could not have been more appropriate or better appointed. And then there was Dulli's hopeful parting, “We'll see you next time.” God, I do hope so.


With the adrenalized rush of the Whigs still ringing in my ears, I headed over to The Drinkery to catch the last two songs from Across Tundras. The Denver-to-Nashville trio works a Doom/Stoner/Psych/Metal angle with a Southern twist that has appeal and volume in equal measures. I realized that I had some wiggle room built into my schedule so I decided to stick around and check out some of All Them Witches, also from Nashville and also working a similar corner as Across Tundras. Although at face value, the two bands seem identical, I'd give the slight advantage to ATW, simply by virtue of their incredible sense of melodicism through the crystal clear volume. There were moments of black hole heaviness that referenced contemporary purveyors like Dead Meadow and Mastodon, but in a Stoner Metal heartbeat they'd crank out a run steeped in the pot/incense smokehouse of early Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep. Amazingly, as loud as it was in The Drinkery's long, narrow space — and I'm quite certain ATW was burying the needles on sound equipment down the street, registering the volume like a Richter monitor — it was never distorted or sludgy or painful, just sheets of pure, beautiful volume and emotion.


I ducked out of the end of All Them Witches to hit the Know Theatre for Rubblebucket. I had picked them to preview based on a couple of spins through their recently released fourth album Survival Sounds and its live presentation did not disappoint. This was clearly a much-anticipated show in the area; the Know staff was counting wristbands by the time I arrived to ensure they didn't go over room capacity on the second floor, and it filled up quickly. Rubblebucket's dancetronic Art Pop/Ska/Soul comes across well in recordings with plenty of nuance and subtlety, but on stage the band is unadulterated fun, downplaying some of the studio filigree while amplifying their core sound. Former boss/friend-for-life John Fox noted the band's resemblance to our own Walk the Moon, and they certainly offer that same brand of infectious Dance Pop, but there is a complexity in Rubblebucket's sonic recipe that pushes them into a singular and perfectly erratic orbit, a place where Bjork and The B-52s and Fishbone and Talking Heads form an orchestra and fashion Play Doh instruments, Bjork whips out some Icelandic volcano magic and transforms them into playable utensils and they translate signals from Voyager into universal Dance Pop. 


Rubblebucket's complexity and oddballitry may never find favor in the mainstream, but it hardly matters. They have found the answer to any number of unasked questions and created a sound that everyone should hear at least once and that too many never will. The packed house at the Know on Friday night can revel in the secret knowledge that we have heard Rubblebucket, we get it and, like so many things in life, that will have to do.


I once again beat a reluctant retreat, leaving Rubblebucket before set's end to make my way down to Arnold's for the Jam/Roots splendor of Holy Ghost Tent Revival. When I turned the corner on 8th Street, I spied a small crowd bunched up at Arnold's front door and heard the most feared word in the MidPoint vocabulary: Capacity. In a rare moment of "fuck it," I strolled into Arnold's anyway (OK, it's not all that rare; I am my father's son, after all, and I suspect that I learned those two words first), and found that "capacity" was a malleable term. As I was chatting with the ubiquitous and ever welcome Wes Pence of The Ready Stance in Arnold's middle room, The Sundresses' Jeremy Springer, doing a typically bang up job in his role as server in the bar, inquired if my presence in the middle room and absence from the patio was a result of the capacity announcement. "Follow me," he said without hesitation, and planted me at the rear of the room as the band kicked off the last slot of the evening.


It was obvious that a good many people remembered the Revival's rambunctious appearance at MidPoint two years ago, or heard about it and wanted to experience it for themselves (I was in the latter camp). I get The Band/Flying Burrito Brothers references to HGTR's tangy, twangy sound, but there's so much more to it than simple Country revivalism. The horn driven sextet swings with the bristling energy of Squirrel Nut Zippers without the desire for that level of authenticity, while ratcheting up the Rock quotient to Phish-like levels of volume and instrumental proficiency. With those twin engines in place, Holy Ghost Tent Revival is aptly named; the band is passionately inspired and their songs are energetically executed with the soaring joy of the event in their name without any problematic or messy religious connotations. Allow the Revival into your consciousness for just a couple of songs and you'll be converted to their immaculate perception of Roots Rock, Stax Soul, horn-peppered Pop and adrenalized Indie Rock. The band, squeezed onto the narrow confines of Arnold's porch-like stage, blew through selections from their estimable catalog, concentrating on 2012's Sweat Like the Old Days and the just released and consistently excellent Right State of Mind, with both a sense of and a disregard for precision, making sure the feeling came across more than the chart. Come back to us soon, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, MidPoint or not; we are in need of slightly more regular baptisms.


FRIDAY NOTES


• Washington Park was absolutely jammed with humanity for Wussy and the Afghan Whigs. Pike 27's Sean Rhiney and Dave Purcell, along with Dave's wife Amy, were there early for the Joseph Arthur experience, the Black Owls' Kip Roe was wandering the grounds with son Kip Jr. at about the same time and scene vet Jay Metz was working the Whigs' merch booth with typical entrepreneurial flair. Wes Pence was in attendance with his son Wyatt, who got an invitation from one of John Curley's daughters to sit on the stage and witness the Whigs' splendor up close. To be 11 and cute again. Well, to be 11 again … I just looked at my sixth grade picture.


• Local singer/songwriter Josh Eagle strolled in to witness the Wussy set; Josh is just one more reason why Cincinnati's music scene is unmatched for its talent and its sense of community. Also ran into my old CityBeat boss and mentor John Fox, to whom I literally owe, at least in part, my career and current life. It is an unpayable debt and I try to acknowledge it every time I see him so he understands his importance in my history. He was hanging for the night with his buddy Don; we had a nice chat on the lawn and he was kind enough to buy me the one early beer that I had allotted for myself each night of the festival. That story may unfold in this forum at some point; I've related it 50 times already this weekend to friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Keep an ear out, you'll probably hear it secondhand before I tell it again.


CityBeat’s Mike Breen beamed in from the upper atmosphere for the Whigs extravaganza, so I'm two for two in the Breen spotting sweepstakes. I'm going for the hat trick on Saturday. The Owls' Brian Kitzmiller and Sohio's Mark Houk were also among the Whigsian throng, as were Paul, Big Jim and Stu: I learned from the shirt he was wearing that his given name is Stufest. Must be a passed-down-in-the-family thing. Great to see CityBeat theater critic Rick Pender, as well as CityBeat alum and local actor Rodger Pille and especially former Enquirer contributor and current MTV News hound Gil Kaufman. And I was introduced to a veritable platoon of additional people by some of the above, all of whom seemed like people I would like to have a picnic with anytime at all. I'm free next weekend, Brad and Amy.


• On the verge of heading back to the Main Street core, I turned just in time to see the unmistakable frame of stage manager guru Jacob Heintz strolling across the Washington Park grounds in the post-Whigs glow. Of course, Jacob's working every second of the festival, but he mentioned that things had gone so smoothly for the first two days that he was afraid to say it out loud for fear of screwing up whatever good MidPoint mojo was lingering in the atmosphere. It just ain't MidPoint until I've gotten some face time with Jacob.


• Once installed at The Drinkery, I was joined by CityBeat master blaster Dan Bockrath, who had arrived in order to soak up the sonic boom-and-doom of All Them Witches. Like everyone in the audience as near as I could tell, Dan was captivated by the concussive volume yet melodic heart of ATW, and when he returned from a trip to the bar, he handed me an unbidden yet desperately desired tonic water and lime. Although the Hall of Foam is sadly off line this MidPoint, Dan continues to be a much appreciated buyer of liquid refreshment, and that, at the end of the day, is all that truly matters. Thanks again and always, Sir Dan of MidPointdom.


• At Rubblebucket, I crossed paths once again with John Fox, his pal Don and the ever inscrutable Mike Breen. I have searched my aging brain device and not come up with a single memory of seeing Mike twice in one night, so that could stand as the record. If I don't see him Saturday night, I may consider the hat trick achieved (with an asterisk). My buddy Brad Gibson, frontman for the Saturn Batteries, was on his way down as I was coming up, so not sure if he decided to stay. Not long after the band fired up, Sir Dan strode in with purpose and took his place alongside us. And there it was, the entire history of the CityBeat braintrust. And me, of course.


• Other than Wes Pence, the unofficial mayor of MidPoint, I didn't spot anyone in the Holy Ghost Tent Revival crowd that I knew until Sir Dan came in not long after the band got cooking. If it was anyone else, I'd consider a restraining order, but I know Dan is just looking out for me, and we share similar taste in music. And when HGTR frontman Stephen Murray asked the assembled multitude how they knew about the show, Dan responded with a lusty and pride-filled "CityBeat, motherfucker!" When I suggested that might make a nice tagline for the masthead, he seemed to consider the idea, leading me to believe that maybe Dan was done for the night. As I was headed out the door, Wes was talking to a friend at that very nexus, so I hung for a second until they'd said good night, then prepared to do the same. We started to chat when a face appeared at Arnold's front door and gestured toward Wes. Apparently it was his ride home, so he handed me his double bourbon and said, "Do what you want with it, I just want it to go to a good home." And so, valiant soldier that I am, I sipped for five minutes, then drained it. It mellowed my shit out like right now. Thanks, Dr. Pence.


 
 
by Brian Baker 09.27.2014 3 days ago
 
 
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MPMF 2014 Day 1: The First Night of the Rest of the Weekend

The first night of MidPoint is like a lot of firsts; first date, first kiss, first sex, first beer, first rectal exam by a hot proctologist. Hey, you have your firsts, I have mine. Anyway, MidPoint Thursday is always a magical time of reconnecting with old friends, making a few new ones along the way and experiencing an almost breathtaking amount of incredible music of every conceivable variety. 2014's version of that particular passion play lived up to and exceeded every expectation.

First up was a trip to the MidPoint Midway to witness the return of the mighty Pike 27. The band's late '90s/early '00s run included at least one EP and a great full-length in Falling Down Hard, but frontman Dave Purcell's shift into academia on the teaching side signaled the band's demise. Although Purcell's professorship at Kent State precluded him from actual band activities, he never stopped writing songs, and when he fortuitously returned to Cincinnati last year, he had an ass-pocket full of new material that suggested new horizons and possibilities. Purcell and original bassist Sean Rhiney (veteran and current member of any number of high profile bands and the co-founder of our MidPoint feast) resurrected Pike 27 with guitarist/local hero Mike Fair and drummer-and-more Dave Killen. 


This new iteration of Pike 27 is a powerhouse of scorching guitar, earthmoving bass and jackhammer drumming, and while there are vestiges of the band's Roots Rock history, everyone's balls are definitely within the vicinity of some wall or other and medal is being pedalled with controlled abandon. Start to stop, Pike 27 careened from song to song with the visceral intensity of The Old 97s and dashes of Alejandro Escovedo and Grant Lee Buffalo at their delicately nuanced and head-kicked obvious best. This seems to be a fertile period for long dormant bands to renew themselves and that can always be a problematic situation, but Pike 27 is clear evidence that having the right motivation to return can evolve into a stunning and most welcomed result.


On the heels of Pike 27's energetic and fabulous opening set at the Midway came the return of our beloved Black Owls, a well-documented force of nature in their own right. Pre-show, frontman David Butler promised that the Owls' set would be populated with nothing but new material with very few exceptions, and he was good to his word. Other than their recently installed cover of Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire" and set closer "Glorious in Black," from their 2010 sophomore album June '71, the oldest songs in the Owls' incendiary set were "Rook" and "Gasoline," the two songs from their most recent single. Everything else that followed an invocation from the inimitable King Slice was brand new and largely untested Owls material, perhaps all of which will be taken into Ultrasuede at the end of November in anticipation of a new album. It made for a set that crackled with energy and a certain ramshackle giddiness as the band roared through material that hasn't quite solidified. Butler is quick to credit the rise of guitarist Brandon Losacker's songwriting profile as the reason for the Black Owls' straightforward Rock shift and sudden prolific streak, but I'd be just as quick to point out the gelling of new (and perpetually fabulous) bassist Kip Roe, the malleable thunder of drummer Brian Kitzmiller and the continually developing chemical bond between Butler and longtime musical cohort Ed Shuttleworth as equal parts of the Owls' new equation. The band is clearly having an absolute blast with the new songs, and their joy is translating to performances that are pegging the needle past the insane levels the Owls had already established. Cincinnati's Black Owls, as Butler likes to refer to the band, is in the midst of a fertile and potentially explosive period of evolution.


After the Owls' incendiary set, it was a quick stroll over to the Know Theatre to catch the last half of the set from Cincinnati’s Darlene. The trio was firing on all badass cylinders to be sure, blasting out sheets of guitar squall with plenty of melodic counterpoint. A tweet from someone at the show asked the musical question, "Is Darlene the new Sonic Youth?" The answer provided by perpetual smartest-guy-I-know Matthew Fenton was a logical and correct "No." Darlene is a blistering Rock band, and guitarist Janey O'Laney is always teetering on the brink of a shred-fueled fit, with bassist Cuddly D (the infinitely busy Dana Hamblen) and drummer Robby D providing the slinky yet sturdy undercarriage. But the fact is that the trio, at its heart, is a melodic Pop unit. They probably hew closer to Yo La Tengo in their ability to go from pretty to visceral in a half a heartbeat, but Darlene isn't the new anything; they are Darlene, and that's an astonishing accomplishment. Besides, as Matthew rightly pointed out, Darlene may be the best-dressed band on any given night anywhere. Sonic Youth were never known for their sartorial splendor. So there.


After Darlene, it was time to cruise on down to Mr. Pitiful's to check out Steelism, an instrumental quartet from Nashville. If guitar, bass, drums, pedal steel and no vocals sounds like a crashing bore, you'd be half right. There was plenty of crashing; cymbals, sounds and gates, as a human stampede of MidPoint patrons made their way into Mr. Pitiful's to sample Steelism's wares. I know from experience that if a relative unknown doesn't grab a festival crowd in the first couple of songs, the crowd in question will leave fast enough to create a head-exploding vacuum in the area. If anyone left during Steelism's mind-melting set, they were more than offset by the several dozen who drifted in after the start.


Steelism is comprised of British pedal steeler Spencer Cullum Jr., Ohio guitarist Jeremy Fetzer, and a bassist and drummer whose introductions were lost in a crowd frenzy and a muffled mic (well, they weren't mixing for vocals, now were they?), who threw down a mighty and wordless racket, unless you count Cullum's talkbox vocals on the band's spin through The Beatles' "Something." You could call Steelism Surfabilly/Soulicana/Spaghetti Southern or you could just call it bloody good music; after running through a handful of originals from their new full length, 615 to Fame, and their cracking good 7-inch, The Intoxicating Sounds of Pedal Steel and Guitar, and covers of classics by The Ventures and Booker T. and the MGs, Steelism had the packed house at Mr. Pitiful's in the palm of their sweaty hands. At one point, Cullum indicated that the band was going to slow things down, and then offered the crowd a choice between a gentler vibe or "plowing on through." The overwhelming vote was for the latter, with Cullum noting, "No sensitive people here tonight." He certainly got a taste of what plowing through will get you in Cincinnati. Steelism finished up with a roaring take on the James Bond theme, which nearly pushed the frenzied multitude into religious conversion. I don't know what that church would be called, but they wouldn't have a choir; no words necessary when Steelism kicks open the doors of the sanctuary.


Then it was a quick jaunt down to The Drinkery to witness the Motor City madness of Flint Eastwood, a quartet of musical insaniacs from my home state to the north. In the studio, Flint Eastwood exhibits a certain heavy fisted subtlety that is charming and dancable in a visceral way. All of the relative nuance that is present on the band's EP, Late Nights in Bolo Ties, is tossed onto a bed of nails and jumped on until it experiences head-to-toe acupuncture in its live presentation. On stage, Flint Eastwood buries every needle in the red, thrashes about like lunatics after a napalm shower and entertains their audience at metaphorical knife point. Frontwoman Jax Anderson cajoled the crowd at The Drinkery to get involved in the show and when she got what she felt was a half-hearted response, she shrieked, "Nobody's too cool to have fun!" and put us through our paces like a Marine drill instructor on meth. She had us shouting then whispering "na na na"s, got us kneeling on The Drinkery's dance floor and then lifted us up like a demented preacher speaking in Rock & Roll tongues. All the while, the band was grinding out a gritty groove that sounded (and resembled) a full arena assault by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was draining and glorious and probably just another full-throttle 20-mile Rock & Roll hike for Flint Eastwood; it's pretty obvious these guys have one gear and it's "hellbent for bent hell." That's the Detroit method, bitches. Get used to it, get over it, get on it.


I reluctantly ducked out of Flint Eastwood's last two songs to hotfoot it down to MOTR for the remainder of Nikki Lane's set. Lane is a Country shitkicker with a decidedly different take on the genre, opting for a certain songwriting traditionalism while soundtracking it with a band that sparks and smokes with Roots Rock intensity and abandon and adopting a persona that suggests Wanda Jackson's pot-smoking, foul-mouthed twat of a granddaughter. Lane and the Thunder (she admitted the jury was still out on the name) roared through their MOTR set with equal parts ferocity and humor, as Lane used the space between songs to candidly muse about the intention of each one. "This is a love song," she noted appropriately prior to "Want My Heart Back," extending the title to, "I want my fucking heart back," and later opened "Sleep with a Stranger" with "This is a song about tonight, when you'll sleep with someone you don't know." Later, she dropped this indelicate observation: "This one's about my best friend. Sometimes she's a cunt, and I don't like that word, but she is. And when you're a cunt and your best friend is a songwriter, well, you get the short end of the stick."


Taylor Swift has written a lot of songs about the people in her life and I'm guessing she hasn't gotten around to any of her cunt friends yet.


Towards the end of her blistering and profanely hilarious set, Lane said, "We've got a couple more, then we'll pretend to go away, and come back for a couple more." She loves her covers as well; she hauled out a great take on The Byrds' "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," a loping yet intense version of Waylon Jennings' "Waymore Blues," and finished her encore with a blazing spin through a Tom Petty cover, not an old catalog chestnut but "Saving Grace" from the new album, a song that blends Petty's classicism with his well-earned experience. Lane clearly identifies with that stance, as she channels all of her Country influences through a blazing Rock filter, creating a sound that identifies with the past but erupts with white hot emotion in the here and now.


THURSDAY NOTES:


• To begin, a clarification for anyone who may attempt to buy me a brewski during MidPoint: For largely legal reasons, the Beer Buying Hall of Foam has been forced into a strike shortened year in 2014. I salute all who have so generously provided the nectar of the gods to a poverty stricken scribe on an annual basis and I promise that the commissioner will reinstate all practices and records next year, but for now, the Hall is strangely dark and quiet.


• In stark contrast to the Midway, which was lit up like a Kansas City whorehouse. Not that there were whores, but lots of lights. Boy, writing was easier with the Hall of Foam open. At any rate, within moments of arrival, I crossed paths with singer/songwriter par excellence Mark Utley and pianist to the stars Ricky Nye, who is in the throes of planning the upcoming Blues & Boogie Piano Summit, coming to the Southgate House Revival on November 7 and 8. After a quick chat, I headed to Mr. Hanton's for a heartstopping dog (not for health reasons but because it's so good … man, 2015 can't get here fast enough), choosing the Smokin' Hot Chick; my bill was cheerfully picked up by the always incredible Wes Pence of The Ready Stance, who joined me with a Smokehouse of his own. Can a Hot Dog Buying Hall of Fame be far behind?


• From there, the Midway was a blur of humanity. CityBeat photographer and local music denizen Jesse Fox took a shot of me and Class X Radio host/local music aficionado/empresario Eddy Mullet, which apparently didn't damage her equipment in any significant way. In sort order, I was greeted by King Slice, his pal Justin, the always ebullient and sometimes menacing Venomous Valdez, the entire Broadway cast of the Black Owls, Paul Roberts, Big Jim and Stu (sans his I'm Stu hat, apparently confident in my recognition skills at this juncture), and Jet Lab guitarist Nick Barrows and his wife Robin. At some point in the Midway proceedings, I spotted the elusive and long-absent Matthew Fenton, along with Eric Appleby and Tricia Suit, motoring out of the Midway zone. They were gone before I could track them down (they must have see me coming, damn them), but when I mentioned the sighting to Nick, he said they were headed to the Chromeo set and would be back for the Black Owls.


• In the meantime, Owls guitarist Brandon Losacker took a mob of us (Owls frontman David Butler, Venomous, Slice, Justin and myself) to see his new conversion van, a behemoth from a bygone era. Cooler in the console, heated/cooled cupholders, TV, retractable bed, wood grain dash panel and a hundred other crazy features that makes it essentially a Swiss Army van. Incredible doesn't begin to describe it.


• Back at the Midway — a brilliant set up that, as the astute and ever fabulous Venomous Valdez noted, will have to undergo some changes next year with the advent of the rapidly progressing streetcar system — Sean Rhiney, Dave Purcell and Dave's wife Amy were hanging around to watch the Black Owls tear shit up. My Class X compatriot Eddy was back to witness the Owls' splendor, and at some point in the proceedings, my boss Mike Breen appeared like a magician's assistant. Breen sightings at MidPoint are like spotting nearly extinct species in the wild, so it's always great to know that he's an actual warm human being and not some weird holographic editorbot. (Editor’s note: I am both.)


• Over at the Darlene show, I caught up with the always effusive and entertaining Mr. Fenton, along with Eric and Tricia. They were planning a trip down to the Taft to catch the Ghost Wolves and Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, both of which I dearly wanted to see but my recently bum left leg, the long walk and the chance that the St. Paul and the Broken Bones show would sell out the venue kept me from tagging along. On the way to Steelism, three guys on the sidewalk ahead of me confirmed that the show had gone clean and there was little chance of entry. The gimp makes a good decision every now and again.


• Also at the Darlene show was Leyla Shokoohe, former CityBeat intern, current CityBeat freelancer and now Marketing Manager for the Cincinnati Symphony & Pops Orchestra. You couldn't script a lovelier or more personable human being than Leyla, and yet she is savvy beyond her lack of calendars. She's a marvel and the CSO should count themselves lucky to be the recipient of her passion and skill.


• Over at Steelism, I ran into fellow scribes Steve Rosen and Chris Varias. I've known Steve for quite awhile through CityBeat and we've talked music at many a holiday party/CityBeat event, and I've read Chris' excellent work in The Enquirer for many years but had never had the pleasure of meeting him until Steve's introduction at Mr. Pitiful's. I had interviewed Matthew and Eleanor Freidberger for a Fiery Furnaces story several years back and when they found out I was in Cincinnati, they asked if I knew Chris, which I did simply by reputation. It turned out that they had grown up together in a Chicago suburb. An unpaintable small world, indeed.


• Paul Roberts was digging the confrontational magnificence and sonic head blast of Flint Eastwood; he stuck around for the end, while I headed to the Nikki Lane gig, where Big Jim and Stu were ensconced at the bar. Paul was right behind as soon as Flint Eastwood dismissed him for the evening. Head CityBeat honcho and perpetual suds buyer Dan Bockrath had bought me an invisible beer at Steelism, which I downed with dry gusto, but he showed up at Nikki Lane and put a real tonic water and lime in my hand, which was much appreciated. I could pretend there was gin in there, and that somehow made everything okay.


• As we left MOTR, Sir Bockrath and squire Dan McCabe, the architect of our annual MidPoint joy, were out front and the boss upbraided me with a casual, "You'll have your blog copy in by 7 a.m., right?" Yeah, let's say that, I answered, muttering to Paul and Stu, it'll be 7 a.m. somewhere. The lateness of this posting will tell you that deadline came and went and came and went again. I have a theory that I'm better at writing when I'm slightly hungover because I just want to get it done so I can take an aspirin and lay down. Not happening this year. I guess I could still take the aspirin, for old times sake.


 
 
by Brian Baker 09.24.2014 6 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Reviews at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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REVIEW: WolfCryer’s ‘The Prospect of Wind’

If Axl Rose announced he was planning the next Guns 'N Roses album as a tribute to Tony Orlando and Dawn, that would be only slightly more surprising than Matt Baumann's left turn from his Ambient Jazz saxophone tone poetry to the sparsely appointed Americana released under his reimagined guise as WolfCryer


Oddly enough, when Baumann defected from saxophone to banjo, the quality that linked his two disparate musical directions was a spartan sense of atmospherics and an expansively moody palette; while the outcomes couldn't have been more different, there was a fascinatingly similar philosophical link between his two sonic identities.


As WolfCryer, Baumann has been slightly more in tune with the singer/songwriters to which he swore fandom back in his tone/drone Jazz days (Warren Zevon, Tom Waits and Jason Molina were particular favorites), and over the past three years of his newly established Folk/Roots persona, he has managed to amass a catalog of songs that more than amply proves the wisdom of his career shift. His 2012 self-titled WolfCryer debut turned a lot of heads in the local Folk community, and Baumann spent the subsequent year working on his chops and making a new name for himself in a crowded scene that always seems to make room for quality purveyors.


Earlier this year, Baumann released the fruits of his most recent labor, the four song EP Wild Spaces, which came on the heels of a pair of EPs in late 2013, The Long Ride Home and Hell's Coming Down. The three brief but potent releases showed Baumann expanding his sonic possibilities as he incorporated more acoustic guitar and harmonica into his songs and left the banjo as an infrequent but still welcome guest. Baumann's proposed full-length debut, originally slated for this past summer, hasn't yet materialized but in the meantime, he's whetted our appetites with a new eight-song WolfCryer EP, The Prospect of Wind.


Like many of his avowed heroes, Baumann turns his songwriting talents toward society's downtrodden on The Prospect of Wind, with a particular interest in the personally felt ravages of war. It is an age old topic of literature and song, because no matter how sophisticated mankind becomes at the destruction of life, the simple desolation of the survivors never seems to change to any great degree. To that end, Baumann channels his inner Dylan in the lyrics and the cadence of the EP's title track ("There's an ember in the kindling, from a cracked and careless hand/Just waiting for the moment to rise and scorch the land"), nimbly displays both his love for and his study of Warren Zevon on "The War" and "When I Go," and waves his Springsteen flag with pride and admiration on "Box of Bones" and "Both Hands on the Plow."


As has been the case from the start of his relatively short but extremely potent tenure as WolfCryer, Baumann has no trouble notching his songs with some of the characteristics of his favorite singer/songwriters, but he does it in the constant pursuit of his own musical identity. You may detect a glimmer of some of his monolithic predecessors in the songs that comprise The Prospect of Wind, but you'll come away knowing that you've experienced another great WolfCryer album.


WolfCryer's CD release show for The Prospect of Wind is Friday night at the Southgate House Revival in the Revival Room. Admission is $10 and the show starts at 9 p.m.


 
 
by Mike Breen 09.23.2014 7 days ago
 
 
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MidPoint Music Festival Critic's Picks: Saturday

MidPoint Music Festival 2014 kicks off this Thursday and we've been showcasing some of the Critic's Picks from our official MidPoint guide (which will be available throughout the fest). While most of attendees are likely very familiar with some of the bigger headlining acts, these suggestions mostly focus on some of the lesser known gems. (If you're in doubt, any act with "Cincinnati" next to their name is a slam dunk.)

Here are some recommendations for this Saturday. Click here to check out the entire official guide, which has write up on all 150 or so MPMF acts. Tickets are still available here.

12:15 a.m. @ Arnold's

Baskery (Stockholm, Sweden)

Alt Roots/Country/Americana 

Sweden’s Baskery formed in 2007, but the members didn’t have to go far to find each other. The group consists of sisters Greta, Stella and Sunniva Bondesson, who dub their unique spin on Roots/Country music everything from “Nordicana” to “Banjo-Punk.” But descriptions are especially difficult when it comes to Baskery; the trio’s third album, this year’s Little Wild Life, finds the sisters spinning a wide range of American Roots music styles into their own distinctive, wildly diverse sound. One second the group is showcasing its vocal harmony prowess a capella on the haunting “Northern Girl,” the next its strutting swamp boogie a la Southern Culture on the Skids on “The NoNo.” If you’re tiring of Roots music that doesn’t go off the same exact blueprints established a century ago, Baskery will show you just how far Americana can be taken.

You’ll Dig It If You Dig: The Dixie Chicks without boundaries, The Beatles reborn as a sister act fascinated by Americana. (Mike Breen)

7:15 p.m. @ Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. (Outdoor Stage)

Ancient Warfare (Lexington, Ky.) 

Psych Folk/Rock

Ancient Warfare’s dark and quiet intensity transcends the band’s tough-chick exterior. The quartet designs a sonic atmosphere the same way Saul Bass once designed logos: with elegant simplicity and ferocious creativity. The psychedelic aspect to Ancient Warfare’s presentation is more about texture than actual sound, as their languid, fuzzy melodies drift through their ethereal yet solidly constructed songs, like the heavy smoke in an opium den. The palpable weariness of Echo Wilcox’s gloomy vocals and haunted guitar, the intractable pull of Rachael Yanarella’s hypnotic violin, the subtle thunder of Reva Williams’ bass and the exquisite filigrees provided by multi-instrumentalist Emily Hagihara swirl and combine to make Ancient Warfare’s enveloping totality and assure that their imminent debut album, The Pale Horse, will be one of the fall’s most anticipated releases.

YDIIYD: Sixteen Horsepower reimagined as the Velvet Underground by P.J. Harvey, Aimee Mann and Hope Sandoval. (Brian Baker)

10 p.m. @ Christian Moerlein Brewing Company (Indoor Stage)

Apache Dropout (Bloomington, Ind.)

Garage Pop

Like all good college towns, Bloomington, Ind., is forever dishing up awesome bands with fresh, new music. In the case of Apache Dropout, that “new” sound is perfectly and thankfully reminiscent of some of the best music of the past. Their newest album, Heavy Window, comes from Magnetic South, co-owned by band member Seth Mahern. The guys pressed 1,000 copies of Heavy Window, one of their largest printings yet. Fun fact: The first half of those records feature glowing eyes on the eerie-cool cover. It’s the ultimate tell-tale sign of the drug-addled, paranoid Rock & Roll boogie on the inside.

YDIIYD: The Who on acid, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. (Deirdre Kaye)

11 p.m. @ The Drinkery 

Xoe Wise (Chicago) 

Singer/Songwriter/Electro Pop

At 19, Xoe Wise moved from her North Carolina home (the first song she wrote was for a sick goat on her family’s farm) to Chicago and immediately became a fixture in the city’s burgeoning scene. Wise’s debut album, 2010’s Echo, generated a pile of positive local press, while its follow-up, 2012’s Archive of Illusions, earned her a sell-out crowd at Schuba’s, a spot on WGN-TV and a feature in the Chicago Tribune. Wise’s third EP, Breakfast, hit the Top 20 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart and she’s currently at work on her third full-length, irresistibly titled Racecar Orgasm. Wise plays solo acoustic or with a full Electro Pop crew, but either way she creates a dreamy and undeniable vibe.

YDIIYD: Imogen Heap and Suzanne Vega play Twister on a musical game board. (BB)

11:15 p.m. @ Mainstay Rock Bar

The Tontons (Houston) 

Rock

Big-haired Texas and its Rock & Roll-loving youngsters have eaten up and loved every second of their time with The Tontons. Now the band is out touring the nation and conquering ears and hearts across the globe. The group’s sultry Rock is just good enough to make The Tontons Cincinnati’s favorite band, too. “So Young,” off 2011’s Golden, feels like a modern, youthful, rockin’ spin on elevator music or like Henry Mancini decided to start a female-led Rock band. Asli Omar’s one-of-a-kind voice and perfect squeal makes each song on this year’s Make Out King and Other Stories stand out.

YDIIYD: Blonde Redhead, wearing leather to Tiffany & Co. (DK)

8:45 p.m. @ Mainstay Rock Bar

The Nepotist (New York, N.Y.) 

Indie/Soul/Rock/Roots

Good luck trying to find a one or two word descriptor for the music made by NYC trio The Nepotist. Actually, don’t even try — the group’s uniqueness and sonic diversity is what makes them so enjoyable to listen to. The Village Voice called them “Alt Soul,” a term the band has embraced and works well enough given the soulful vocals and rewired Steve Cropper guitar riffs. But then you have a track like the recent single “Kids,” which has bubbling banjo and harmonies befitting a Folk band. It’s a delicious stew that is blissfully unpredictable. The trio (formed by brothers Chris and Hayden Frank) has only been together a couple of years but has already drawn loads of glowing press thanks to its pair of EPs and various singles released just this year alone. A full-length is due early next year.

YDIIYD: Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Dr. Dog. (MB)

10:30 p.m. @ Memorial Hall

Saintseneca (Columbus, Ohio) 

Folk Pop

When Saintseneca canceled an appearance at the Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus this July, the quintet made national headlines not for its music but for its social politics, because the members were against sex offender R. Kelly performing at the fest. Met with vicious protests, Kelly eventually pulled out (no pun intended) of the fest. This is one of many ways the folksy Appalachian Pop group has become famous this year, along with releasing the new record Dark Arc (produced by Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis), recording a NPR Tiny Desk Concert and gigging across the country. From grassroots house concerts in central Ohio to performing at national fests, it won’t be long now before everyone knows their name and music. 

YDIIYD: Weird instruments like the bouzouki, the dulcimer and a bowed banjo playing lilting harmonies with a Ben Gibbard-y vocal affectation. (Garin Pirnia)

9:45 p.m. @ MidPoint Midway Stage

Low Cut Connie (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Rock

If you think Piano Rock is all Billy Joel and Elton John, sorry will be a much easier word for you after you’ve experienced the 88-key onslaught of Low Cut Connie. Featuring the manic piano fireworks of Adam Weiner and the ambidextrous drum/guitar magic of Dan Finnemore (and a full band’s worth of mayhem on tour), Low Cut Connie entertains with a vengeance and accepts nothing less than total surrender. Their first two albums, 2011’s Get Out the Lotion and 2012’s Call Me Sylvia, are loaded with catchy numbers that feature a lot of humor but stop well short of being simple novelties and showcase the duo’s disparate influences (Jerry Lee Lewis and Iggy Pop for Weiner; British Punk and Garage Rock for Finnemore). Low Cut Connie’s latest triumph was a spectacular version of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” on the Nilsson tribute This is the Town earlier this year, and rumors of a third album continue to swirl. But right now, the play’s the thing. See Low Cut Connie and marvel at the things a piano was never meant to do but should have been doing all along.

YDIIYD: Ben Folds dipped in speed and forced to play Replacements and Stooges songs in a seedy cabaret. (BB)

8 p.m. @ MOTR Pub

Wyatt Blair (Los Angeles)

Power Pop

Power Pop gets short shrift in any serious discussion of music because of its relative simplicity and perceived lack of gravity, but nothing could be further from the truth. Coming up with hooks and lyrics that get the job done in under three minutes and stick in the head like brain taffy may be among the most difficult musical tasks. Wyatt Blair doesn’t seem to have any problem at all, and his latest album, the confectionary Banana Cream Dream, is solid evidence of his lo-fi Power Pop ambitions (he also works with Peach Kelli Pop and Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel). As Andy Partridge once noted so succinctly, this is Pop.

YDIIYD: Rick Springfield channeling T. Rex, produced by Tommy Keene. (BB)

10:45 p.m. @ Ballroom at the Taft Theatre

Earth (Seattle, Wash.)

Experimental/Post Rock

Much like the planet itself, the band Earth has been through a lot in the past 25 years. Guitarist Dylan Carson founded the primarily instrumental band in 1989, cribbing the name from one of Black Sabbath’s early monikers. The band’s 1993 debut, Earth 2, has long been considered the launching pad for what Carlson dubbed Ambient Metal, a feedback- and distortion-drenched drone that influenced a subsequent generation. In the mid-’90s, Carlson shelved the band to deal with heroin addiction; it would be nearly a decade before the release of 2005’s Hex; or Printing in the Infernal Method, which retained a Doom Metal structure but incorporated Country and Blues motifs and was also heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s novel, Blood Meridian. Earth’s next albums, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I and II, were shaped by Carlson’s love of Pentangle and Fairport Convention, while the just released Primitive and Deadly finds Carlson moving in yet another new and different direction, incorporating straight Rock and even Pop elements into his long droning jams. With 16 lineup changes in a quarter century, it’s not unusual that Earth would shift identities, but even if the personnel had been stable throughout, Carlson would have retooled the band’s sound in any event and made a new, glorious noise to confront the world.

YDIIYD: God’s guitar, Gabriel’s amp, the Devil’s road crew. (BB)


 
 
by Mike Breen 09.23.2014 8 days ago
 
 
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MidPoint Music Festival Critic's Picks: Friday

In honor of this week's MidPoint Music Festival we're showcasing some of the Critic's Picks from our official MidPoint guide (the print version of which will be available throughout the fest). While most attendees are likely very familiar with some of the bigger headlining acts, these options are mostly some of the lesser known on-the-rise acts. (Pro tip: Every Cincinnati band at MPMF is well worth your time should you find yourself with a hole in your schedule.)

Here are some recommendations for this Friday. Click here to check out the entire official guide, which has write-ups on all 150 or so MPMF acts. Tickets are still available here.

8:30 p.m. @ Arnold's

Honey Locust (Nashville, Tenn.)

Indie Folk

Honey Locust might hew a little closer to Nashville’s Americana traditions, but the Chamber Folk outfit still remains in the nether region between the city’s manufactured Country imagery and its Rock rebels. The band’s first EPs, 2012’s Fear is a Feeling and 2013’s Live in December, teed up its recently released The Great Southern Brood, Honey Locust’s quasi-thematic and dustily beautiful new album which uses cyclical cicada infestations to metaphorically examine the seasons of man. The Great Southern Brood cements the band’s singular position in its home scene, thrills its growing fan base and opens Honey Locust up to the wider Indie Folk world.

You'll Dig It If You Dig: An Appalachian Polyphonic Spree absorbs Bon Iver, The Lumineers and Morrissey to create a super Folk army. (Brian Baker)

12:30 a.m. @ Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. (Indoor Stage)

Watter (Louisville, Ky.) 

Post-Post Rock

Slint, one of Louisville’s quintessential Rock bands, released two albums in the late ’80s and early ’90s and then called it quits. The band’s seminal Post Rock album Spiderland is still considered one of the best in the genre. The quartet moved on to other projects but reconvened for a brief reunion tour over the summer. Between tour dates with Slint, drummer Britt Walford formed another band this year — with Grails member Zak Riles and Holy Grale bar co-owner Tyler Trotter — and they released the instrumental This World in the spring. Even though critics classify them as Post Rock and Post Hardcore, songs like “Rustic Fog” exude ambient melodies combined with Middle Eastern-y and synth tidbits.

YDIIYD: Slow building instrumentals, Krautrock, bands from Touch and Go Records. (Garin Pirnia)

9 p.m. @ Contemporary Arts Center

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor (Detroit) 

Psych Rock

A decade ago, guitarist/vocalist Sean Morrow, bassist/keyboardist Eric Oppitz and drummer Richard Sawoscinski came together under the banner of SikSik Nation, but quickly morphed into Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, which itself evolved from a standard Garage/Blues band into a darkly scintillating Psych Rock outfit befitting of their Motor City roots. In the past 10 years, the group has only released a pair of full-length albums (2009’s SOYSV and 2011’s Spectra Spirit; a third is on the way soon) but that doesn’t mean the trio hasn’t been busy. SOYSV tours relentlessly and founded Echo Fest, which highlights the best in Michigan Psych Rock. They would know.

YDIIYD: Sherman sets the Wayback Machine for 1968, Mr. Peabody takes the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test and has a vision of Syd Barrett fronting The Doors. (BB)

11 p.m. @ The Drinkery 

All Them Witches (Nashville, Tenn.) 

Stoner/Psych Rock

Have you looked skyward recently and shouted to no particular deity, “Hey, is anyone doing anything remotely different in Nashville these days?” All Them Witches has heard your prayer, or whatever the hell that was. The quartet’s most recent release is Effervescent, 25 minutes of Stoner/Psych/Blues bliss contained in the EP’s epic title track, which also happens to be its only track (it’s available for free download at Bandcamp), and it’s yet another stellar example of All Them Witches’ swirling love of acid-and-feedback-drenched Rock, Blues-tinted Psychedelia and a total lack of anything resembling sonic boundaries. Drink a Tab (or drop one), count backward from a million and prepare to, as George Harrison once so elegantly noted, arrive without travelling.

YDIIYD: The Doors and The Grateful Dead have a shared hallucination at a Black Sabbath/Iron Butterfly reunion/intervention. (BB)

11:45 p.m. @ Know Theater (Main Stage)

Rubblebucket (New York) 

Art/Soul Pop

Rubblebucket was born in Burlington, Vt., eight years ago when vocalist Kalmia Traver and trumpeter Alex Toth met in a Latin Jazz band. That sentence alone should be enough to convince you that the NYC-based quintet is destined to be one of this year’s MidPoint highlights. Rubblebucket’s first two albums (2009’s Rubblebucket and 2011’s Omega La La) and two subsequent EPs (Oversaturated and Save Charlie) showcased the band’s ultraswank Funk/Soul/Ska/Art Pop evolution, but its just released third set, Survival Sounds, is a veritable explosion of guitars, horns, loopy synths and quirky vocal gymnastics, all of it as danceable as any 40 minutes that ever ran on American Bandstand and as infectious as weaponized bird flu. Dancing will occur at a molecular level; be ready to go subatomic on your ass.

YDIIYD: Polyphonic Spree and Bjork join the Fabulous Flames and Talking Heads in a weird tribute to James Brown. (BB)

11:15 p.m @ Mainstay Rock Bar

Love X Stereo (Seoul, South Korea) 

Electro Alt Rock 

Of all the bands traveling to Cincinnati for MidPoint, Korea’s Love X Stereo might be coming from the farthest corner of the world. In their native country, Annie Ko, Toby Hwang and Sol Han are known for their mix of ’90s influenced Synth Rock, but the Western part of the world’s just getting to know them. Last year the band released its third EP, Glow, and just this year Love X Stereo recorded a cover of Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound” for an Indie Goes Pop compilation. Let’s be clear: They aren’t K-Pop, like that one guy who wrote that one huge hit a couple of years ago. For an unsigned band from Korea with big dreams of conquering the world — LxS has already played SXSW and CMJ (and was supposed to play MPMF last year but canceled due to travel issues) — it’s exciting to have the band traversing to our little town. 

YDIIYD: Listening to good Korean bands that have nothing to do with K-Pop, Manic Panic red-headed chicks. (GP) 

12 a.m. @ MOTR Pub

Landlady (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Art Rock

Originally formed in 2011 as the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Adam Schatz (member of the Man Man and Vampire Weekend touring bands), Landlady has added members since then, gradually becoming a quintet. Schatz’s was all solo when he released Landlady’s first album, 2011’s Keeping to Yourself, and with the full band in place the group released its second LP, Upright Behavior, this past summer on Portland label Hometapes. 

YDIIYD: Future Islands, TV on the Radio, Dirty Projectors. (Mike Breen)

11:45 p.m. @ Mr. Pitiful's

machineheart (Los Angeles) 

AltPop 

L.A. five-piece machineheart makes unabashedly epic Pop music with depth. The band crafts a compelling backdrop of guitars, big beats and tasteful electronic additives, but it’s singer Stevie Scott’s dazzling vocal presence and the ear-burrowing melodies that really pull the listener in. The band has only been together for a short time, first catching attention less than a year ago with a cover of The 1975’s “Chocolate,” but the limited tracks made available for public consumption (“Circles,” “Another Me,” “Snøw”) are so endearing, sophisticated and radio-ready, it won’t be long before machineheart catches fire nationally. This is one of those acts that we’ll all likely be saying, “Oh, I saw them at MidPoint in 2014,” once they breakthrough. 

YDIIYD: Sia, Charli XCX, Florence + the Machine. (MB)

8 p.m. @ Mr. Pitiful's

Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands (Greensboro, N.C.)

Gypsy Folk/Jazz/Pop

There is a theatrical element to Crystal Bright’s songs and her performance of them, which seems natural when you learn she’s a stage director/producer and performance artist (as well as music teacher, multi-instrumentalist and holistic nutritionist … so she eats well, too). Bright’s World music experience is almost beyond belief — she’s played in Chinese, Ugandan, Brazilian and Indonesian ensembles, among others — and she brings it all to bear with the Silver Hands, which she assembled four years ago. The band’s 2010 eponymous “experimental vaudeville” album was well received, as was its follow up, 2012’s Muses & Bones, a brilliant stylistic pastiche.

YDIIYD: Jane Siberry and Danny Elfman record a Gypsy Folk soundtrack to a Slavic noir detective movie starring Tom Waits as the gumshoe and Kate Bush as the dame. (BB)

11 p.m. @ Ballroom at the Taft Theatre 

Dessa (Minneapolis) 

Hip Hop/Spoken Word

Dessa began her musical journey as a part of Doomtree, the Minneapolis Hip Hop collective, as both versatile artist and business manager. She then established her solo identity with A Badly Broken Code and Castor, the Twin, albums that earned her the comparison of “Mos Def plus Dorothy Parker” for her flawless flow and incisive wordplay. Dessa’s latest album, the recently released and patently brilliant Parts of Speech, finds the Hip Hop chanteuse expanding in a dozen different creative directions simultaneously, incorporating diverse musical elements in her Hip Hop foundation while spitting some of her most powerful and compelling lyrics to date. You might not like Hip Hop, but it’s a safe bet that you’ll love Dessa’s intoxicating rhymes and genre alchemy.

YDIIYD: Ani DiFranco channeling Eminem. (BB)

 
 
by Mike Breen 09.22.2014 8 days ago
 
 
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MidPoint Music Festival Critic's Picks: Thursday

It's MidPoint Music Festival week! If you need some guidance as you create your MPMF itinerary (which you can build and keep track of through the live.mpmf.com app),  we'll be showcasing some of the Critic's Picks from our official MidPoint guide (which will be available throughout the fest). While most of attendees are likely very familiar with some of the bigger headlining acts of the fest, these suggestions focus on some of the great acts beyond the top-of-the-poster ones. Remember — MPMF is about discovery. (And if you find yourself with a blank spot on your schedule, any of Cincinnati's homegrown talent playing MPMF are a sure bet.)

Here are some recommendations for this Thursday. Click here to check out the entire official guide, which has write-ups on all 150 or so MPMF acts. Tickets are still available here.

8 p.m. @ Arnold's

Old Hundred (Columbus, Ohio) 

Indie Folk Rock

In 2012, Columbus’ Old Hundred was listed as one of “10 Ohio Bands You Should Listen to Now” by Paste Magazine. If you didn’t heed that advice at the time, you should do yourself a favor and do so immediately. Along with scoring slots at regional fests and playing with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Phosphorescent and Cake, the group has put out a pair of full-lengths and two EP releases, including this year’s remarkable I Don’t Want to Die. The EP shows the unpredictable diversity of Old Hundred, opening with the sweeping Folk instrumental “Catamount I” before moving into gritty, melodic Indie Rock of “I’ll Be There (When You Die),” the beautiful harmony-laden “I Don’t Want to Die” and “Catamount II,” which begins with haunting Art Folk minimalism and builds into a noisy cacophony that could’ve been composed by Explosions in the Sky.

You'll Dig It If You Dig: Fleet Foxes, Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Band of Horses. (Mike Breen)

10:30 p.m. @ The Drinkery

Alpha Consumer (Minneapolis) 

Indie Rock

Considering Minneapolis’ storied history, Alpha Consumer has created a cultishly devoted fan base among one of the most sophisticated and discerning music audiences on the planet. The trio has also made fans within its peer group, collaborating with Andrew Bird, Bon Iver and Brother Ali, while maintaining a unique musical perspective of herky jerky New Wave as filtered through a melodic Pop prism that fractures its light into individual rays of New York Punk, Psych Folk and contemporary Indie Rock. Alpha Consumer’s last full-length, 2011’s Kick Drugs Out of America, was a blast of Indie oddballery, but the group’s recently released Meat shows a great deal more subtlety and musical growth toward the melodic heart and soul that was evident on its predecessor. 

YDIIYD: Ray Davies, Paul Westerberg and Ween in the front row of a Devo concert. (Brian Baker)

10:30 p.m. @ Know Theater (Main Stage)

Fathers (Chicago)

Indie Rock 

Fathers is a band with branches in Chicago but deep roots in the Cincinnati scene. Its members played previously in such Cincy stalwarts as Enlou, All The Day Holiday and Cathedrals. It should be noted that Fathers sound virtually nothing like any of those bands, but instead carves out its own niche somewhere between ’70s Easy Listening and more modern, propulsive Indie Rock. Nearly every song demonstrates a mastery of the delicate art of dynamic and mood. Of course, that being said, the band says its live show is akin to “an out-of-control bus with a bomb strapped to the bottom that will blow if the driver slows down.” So come prepared for anything.

YDIIYD: Fleetwood Mac with vocals recorded in the My Morning Jacket reverb silo. (Ben Walpole)

10 p.m. @ Know Theater (Second Stage)

Violent Mae (Hartford, Conn.)

Indie Jazz Rock

As their bio reads, vocalist/guitarist Becky Kessler and drummer Floyd Kellogg were supposed to work on her solo album together, not form a band. Kessler moved from Outer Banks, N.C., to work on an organic farm in Connecticut, where she met Kellogg. The result of their work together is last year’s self-titled debut, influenced by noisy bands Sonic Youth and Pixies, but also possessing notes of Jazz icon Charles Mingus and a sprinkling of Jeff Buckley’s Folk Gospel. On the upbeat melancholy of “Hole in My Heart,” Kessler sings about heartache in her raspy voice that’s in the ilk of Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom. This winter they went method and recorded the song “Man in the Country” in an abandoned mining cave.

YDDIYD: The Heartless Bastards, Jeff Buckley without the high notes, New England in the fall, cave dwellers. (Garin Pirnia)

10:45 p.m. @ Mainstay Rock Bar

The Infatuations (Detroit) 

R&B/Soul/Rock/Funk

The high-energy Soul style of The Infatuations has made them a favorite in their hometown scene, which is saying a lot when you realize their hometown scene gave birth to Motown and scores of bands known for amazing live shows (MC5, The White Stripes, etc.). The group recently scored five Detroit Music Awards (out of 14 nominations) including Outstanding Live Performance. The Infatuations bring the party for its live shows and their recorded work captures that sweaty, dance-demanding vibe perfectly. This year, the group released its first full-length, Detroit Block Party, 11 tracks of high-octane R&B that’s almost as fun to listen to as it is to experience in concert. Almost.

YDIIYD: Motown, Stax, Marvin, Curtis, Otis. (MB)

Midnight @ MOTR Pub

Nikki Lane (Nashville, Tenn.) 

Alt Country/Rockabilly

With her unabashed bluster, Lane’s songs about jilted lovers and walks of shame generate either foot stomping or pensive swaying. (Note: She’s nothing like another Nashville “Country” artist who likes to write songs about exes, Taylor Swift.) Lane grew up in Greenville, S.C., then spent some time in NYC before settling in Music City, where she opened up a vintage store called High Class Hillbilly. That led to meeting and collaborating with Black Key Dan Auerbach, who produced her sophomore record, All or Nothin’. On songs “Man Up” and “You Can’t Treat Me Like That,” she lets those men know she’s the boss, all while never losing that alluring rhythm.

YDIIYD: Strong vintage female Country artists like Wanda Jackson and Loretta Lynn and newer country artists like Lydia Loveless. (GP)

10:30 p.m. @ Mr. Pitiful's

Steelism (Nashville, Tenn.) 

Instrumental Rock/Surf/Roots

Led by guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel player Spencer Cullum, Steelism is a wide-ranging instrumental band that takes from Surf rock greats, classical soundtrack composers and vintage Soul music and creates its own distinct and completely engrossing sound. You can use Santo & Johnny — the pedal steel/guitar twosome that had a hit with the mesmerizing “Sleepwalk” — as a starting point, simply because it is a provocative instrumental hit using the same instrument motif, but Steelism takes the concept to levels that duo only dreamed of. They can pull off gorgeous Country balladry, Krautrock weirdness, rollicking Rock & Roll boogie, R&B smoothness with equal grace, managing to have its own strong musical identity craft cohesiveness in the face of such disparate inspiration. And no, you get swept up enough that you won’t once wonder, “Would this sound better with singing?” In this case, singing would be distracting.

YDIIYD: The Ventures, Esquivel, Ennio Morricone. (MB)

10:45 p.m. @ Ballroom at the Taft Theater

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages (Boston)

Garage Rock/Soul

Barrence Whitfield is the kind of performer that the word “frontman” was devised to define who they are and yet doesn’t go nearly far enough in describing what they do. Whitfield is a human tornado of Soul and Rock, a witheringly energetic gene splice of Wilson Pickett, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Arthur Alexander, with moves and grooves that would sprain Richard Simmons’ optic nerve. And around him are the Savages, a musical Special Forces unit that storms stages with blitzkrieg passion and unhinged abandon. And we’ll let Boston claim them, because the band started there three decades ago, but we all know that half the Savages hail from the Queen City (ex-Customs/DMZ/Lyres guitarist Peter Greenberg, ex-Customs/Auburnaires keyboardist Jim Cole, ex-Pearlene drummer Andy Jody) and their last two comeback albums — 2011’s Savage Kings and 2013’s Dig Thy Savage Soul — were recorded with John Curley at Ultrasuede (and Savage Kings was released on Shake It, so there). But the band will be happy to tell you that it doesn’t matter where they’re from, it matters where they’re headed. And the best you can do to get ready is strap your ass on tight; Barrence Whitfield and the Savages might just rock it off.

YDIIYD: Little Richard mentors The Dictators, Wilson Pickett gives them a metric ton of Soul. (BB) 

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages The Corner Man Later with Jools Holland from TKA on Vimeo.

 
 
by Mike Breen 09.22.2014 8 days ago
 
 
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MidPoint Favorites The Ridges Return to MPMF ’14

Ohio Chamber Folk ensemble makes promo video in support of Memorial Hall performance

Over the past few years, Athens, Ohio’s Indie Folk troupe The Ridges have become a regular presence at Cincinnati area clubs, building up a nice local following. They’ve also become fairly regular participants in the MidPoint Music Festival (which returns starting this Thursday to the clubs and venues of Downtown/Over-the-Rhine) and they always provide fest-highlight-worthy performances. The band is returning to MPMF 2014 for its third visit to the festival, opening up the night at new MPMF venue Memorial Hall Saturday at 9:15 p.m. and rounding out a great bill that also includes anticipated MPMF sets by Saintseneca and Gardens & Villa. 


The Ridges (who’ve done several dates in the past year with Kishi Bashi, one of last year’s big MPMF breakthrough acts) often craft cool promo videos for their shows, particularly for bigger events like MPMF. The band’s video previewing its appearance at this year’s MidPoint was recently shot from the stage at Memorial Hall, giving a good look at the gorgeous venue for those who’ve never seen it.



“It’s always one of our favorite shows,” Ridges singer/songwriter/guitarist Victor Rasgaitis says about playing MidPoint. “The atmosphere is perfectly inspiring and the crowds are so incredibly receptive — we're lucky to have such an awesome festival here in Ohio.”


Tickets for MPMF are available here. For more on The Ridges, visit theridgesmusic.com

 
 
by Mike Breen 09.19.2014 12 days ago
 
 
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WATCH: The Yugos Perform “Follow You”

Before opening MidPoint Friday next week, local Indie rockers reveal a live video of their recent single

On their most recent tour, excellent Northern Kentucky Indie Rock band The Yugos stopped by Toledo, Ohio’s SixtyTen Recording Studio to record its latest single, “Follow You,” as part of the facility’s “SixtyTen Sessions” video series.

The studio version of the single, released earlier this summer, can be streamed/downloaded here.


One week from the day, The Yugos will be opening up MidPoint Music Festival’s Friday festivities. The band plays at 5 p.m. Friday on the MidPoint Midway stage, right before another of the fest’s most anticipated acts, Real Estate, performs. The Midway stage is free and open to the public (no tickets/passes required), thanks to stage sponsor P&G. It’s also an all-ages show.


Click here to hear more from The Yugos, and here to check out more sessions from SixtyTen.


 
 
by Mike Breen 09.18.2014 12 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music News at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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WNKU Supports Local Music, Local Music Supports WNKU

Cincinnati area musicians team up for Northern Kentucky public radio station’s fall fund drive

While commercial radio throws a bone here and there to homegrown musicians in Greater Cincinnati via specialty shows or segments, public radio station WNKU (89.7 FM; wnku.org) frequently adds songs from local artists to its regular-rotation playlist. And it has for years. The station also covers the local scene online with news and reviews, hosts local musicians for its live in-studio Studio 89 program and sponsors numerous musical events across the Tristate.


Local musicians are returning the favor by appearing on the new compilation album, Get Real Gone: Road Songs for Public Radio. In lieu of, say, a cliched tote bag gift, WNKU will be giving CDs of the album to those who donate during the station’s fall fund drive. Listeners who become “sustaining members,” paying just $8 a month, or those who donate $96 can score a disc of their very own. 


The compilation features tracks by Roger Klug, Brian Lovely’s Flying Underground, Eclipse Movement, Goose, The Newbees, Balderdash, Tim Goshorn, Kim Taylor, psychodots, Marcos, Graveblankets, Davis Kinney, Charlie Fletcher, Jeff Seeman and Bromwell-Diehl. 


This Saturday and Sept. 27, several of the Get Real Gone participants will perform live at WNKU’s studio. This Saturday, the lineup features Davis Kenney (10 a.m.), Balderdash (noon), The Newbees (1 p.m.), Roger Klug Power Trio (2 p.m.) and Graveblankets (3 p.m.). On Sept. 27, tune in to hear Kim Taylor (10 a.m.), Jeffrey Seeman (10:40 a.m.), Brian Lovely’s Flying Underground (11:30 a.m.), Goose (1 p.m.), Charlie Fletcher (with The Bluebirds; 2:30 p.m.) and the Bromwell-Diehl Band (3:15 p.m.). 


Click here for more info and here to make a donation.

 
 
 
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