I may be imagining it (the eternal optimist that I am), but it seems like ever since the Southgate House locked its doors at the end of 2011, many in the local booking world stepped up their game instantly. Though it's only been just over a month, it certainly doesn't feel as if the Greater Cincinnati concert market has been gutted by the loss of that one great club. And with several spots slated to open later this year (new venues from the brains behind the Southgate and Mad Hatter, plus whatever happens to the actual Southgate House building), it only looks to be getting better.
More good news on that front came out at the start of this week. On Feb. 10, an unexpected, big-time venue entered the mix — or rather, increased its presence in it. Downtown’s gorgeous Taft Theatre already this year announced some concerts by more “mid-level” groups like Trampled By Turtles and JJ Grey & Mofro, cult faves and Southgate alumni. Now, the Taft and promoter Music & Events Management Inc. are opening a new venue-within-a-venue that will allow the Taft to book artists who have outgrown small clubs but aren't quite ready for the big room.
The Ballroom at the Taft — located in the theater’s lower level — was designed to be, according to the press release, “a showcase style club venue that will play host to a variety of live entertainment events spanning all types of styles and genres.”
Locally born and bred musical icon Bootsy Collins celebrates his 60th birthday today! The living legend has a firm handle on his position near the top of any list of the most famous and important Cincinnatians, helping to design the blueprint for Funk music during his time as a crucial member of James Brown's band and, of course, his years holding down the low-end for Funk superheroes Parliament/Funkadelic. Those foundational years fiddling with the Funk recipe also made him one of the most crucial musicians in Hip Hop history — between his work with Brown and George Clinton (not to mention his solo work), there may not be another bassist on the planet whose riffs have been sampled more throughout Hip Hop's nearly 40-year history. In honor of Bootsy's 60th, enjoy a sampling of some of his many career highlights below, including the excellent Unsung documentary about the bass master.
A pair of Cincinnati Hip Hop acts have recently released music videos showcasing new material. Both are compelling, well-produced clips for solid new tracks.
Alternative Hip Hop group Valley High issued the video for "That One Too" at the start of the month. The clip was directed by SnowRowe (who plays keys in the group) and, according to the YouTube page, the track is from the Valley High or Die Tape, due for release today. The group is fronted by MCs Moxy Monster and M.O. Click here for more on Valley High.
Last year, area MC Puck released the high-pro video for "Gitit," the latest of several clips. Now, Puck has returned with a new track and video that's perhaps his strongest yet. "Jordan Vs. Bird" is built around a hook from a remix of the band Grouplove's song "Colours." The video was directed by Dan Gotti. Puck is offering a free download of the track via his Soundcloud page here. Find out more about Puck here.
Music Saturday: If Herman Munster had decided he wanted to play stand-up Country/Rockabilly bass, he'd have a gig in the band of enigmatic performer Unknown Hinson offered to him immediately. Despite the high camp of UH's persona (his bio says he looks like "Dracula's nasty little brother who spent some hard years drinking and working as a carnival barker for a second-rate freak show"), the super-charged, funny-as-all-hell Honky Tonk he and his band pump out is seriously kick-ass. Billy Bob Thorton has called Unknown one of his favorite songwriters and a "genius picker," Simpsons creator Matt Groening has lauded his guitar playing (and comedic sensibility) and Hank Williams III has Unknown's face tattooed on his arm — all high (and kinda weird, fittingly) praise. Combined, the image and sound make for a thoroughly entertaining concert experience. Read more about Hinson (who voices the character Early Cuyler on The Squidbillies) from this week's CityBeat here. Unknown Hinson is at the Southgate House in Newport Saturday with The Lewis Brothers. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door. And bring all your gal pals — "womens likes it," or so I've heard. Give a listen to a li'l Hinson holiday cheer in the form of "Black and Blue Christmas" below.
The first time I heard Yo-Yo Ma was on the episode of West Wing when his White House performance triggered Josh Lyman’s PTSD. Obviously, this was a horrible first impression. It tainted my opinion of the cellist for nearly a decade. Recently, though, I’ve become rather fond of Mr. Ma. That fondness only multiplied when his new album, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, found its way into my hands. A “goat rodeo” is a situation where a thousand things must come together and go perfectly in order for it to work. The album, a collection of Americana/Bluegrass works, must have felt like exactly that when Ma sat down and began collaborating with bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickle Creek), and fiddler Stuart Duncan. The album contains only one song with vocals, sung by vocalist Aoife O’Donovan (who sounds a lot like Alison Krauss).
The Goat Rodeo Sessions is available for purchase now, but on Jan. 31, music fans across the country will have the chance to see it performed live.
On this day in 1970, a Cincinnati native (whose "celebrity" we do not celebrate locally, Nick Lachey-style) released one of the few albums we will gladly tell you to seek out and download illegally, should you need to hear it. Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, the "debut album" from singer/songwriter/cult leader/convicted murderer Charles Manson, was recorded on Sept. 11, 1967, and released just months before the murder trial of Manson and his "family." A year after the album was released, four Manson Family members (including Manson) were sentenced to death (in 1972, the sentences were reduced to life in prison after California abolished the death penalty in that state).
The album's original pressing reportedly only sold 300 copies, but subsequent reissues (proceeds from which were given to the families of Manson's victims) kept the notorious cult leader's weirdly experimental, psychedelic Folk Rock songs alive for future generations of musicians to cover. Guns N' Roses were the biggest band to ever cover one of Manson's songs. The convicted killer was an aspiring Rock Star who had schmoozed his way into the SoCal music scene of the late ’60s, most notoriously befriending Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson (The Boys' reworked one of Manson's compositions on the 1969 album 20/20).
Other artists covering Manson over the years include Marilyn Manson (no relation) and wacky actor Crispin Glover.
Here's the song GNR recorded for its 1993 covers album The Spaghetti Incident?, "Look at Your Game, Girl."
Click on for Born This Day featuring Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and more …
Grammy-winning Classical music ensemble eighth blackbird will be joined by Philip Glass tonight at Memorial Hall for Day 2 of the MusicNOW festival (which kicked off last night at the Christ Church Cathedral and Westminster Abbey assistant organist James McVinnie). Glass — also in town to check out the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's world premiere of one of his latest works Friday and Saturday at Music Hall — will join 8bb onstage for the performance of his piece, "Music In Similar Motion." The ensemble will also perform a piece by Glass protege Nico Muhly (likely to be in the audience or guesting at some point, as he's performing at tomorrow's MusicNOW event) and other material, including a specially-composed tribute to Glass.
The appearance is 8bb's birthday/thank you gift to the legendary, now 75-year-old modern composer.
“Our entire concert is a birthday present for Philip Glass,” 8bb flautist and spokesperson Tim Munro told our Anne Arenstein. “When we knew we’d be collaborating with Philip, we decided to create a program with three compositions that represent three times in his life. We also have four pieces by composers influenced by Glass.”
Read the full interview with 8bb here.
Sandro Perri is also on tonight's bill. Read Jason Gargano's interview with Perri here.
Deft local MC Buggs Tha Rocka, who balances his excellent solo work with performances and recordings with the group Gold Shoes, has become the first Hip Hop artist to participate in the ongoing "Emery Sessions," a series of excellent music videos, filmed in one-shot by world-class photographer Michael Wilson at the restored classic Cincinnati venue, The Emery Theatre. Audio was handled once again by local musicians Cameron Cochran and Henry Wilson.
The series not only celebrates local music but also showcases the grand old theatre, a century-old Cincinnati treasure that fell into disrepair but has recently returned to "active venue" status thanks to the work of The Requiem Project.
Buggs and DJ Ghost performed "Stephanie's Song" for their Session. Unlike previous clips (which have spotlighted a host of local artists, from Over the Rhine to Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s, as well as Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and many others), Buggs and DJ Ghost don't perform on the theatre's stage, but in another nook and cranny elsewhere in the building.
"Stephanie's Song" is from Buggs Tha Rocka's fantastic The Wrath of Zeus mixtape, which is available for free download here.
Take a look at some of the other Emery Sessions here.