Though eclectic enough to be considered “AltCountry,” Terminal Union captures the heart and soul of vintage Country on Making Arrangements. What puts Terminal Union ahead of many of their peers — and makes these songs so riveting — is the emotional weight the frontmen inject into the writing and performances. Being able to make an immediate emotional connection with listeners is not something you can learn; it's innate.
On the song "Magnificent Sounds," the group pays tribute to another pair of artists who also came off as instinctively talented and able to bring a soul-stirring levity to practically every note played, seemingly effortlessly — Miles Davis and Townes Van Zandt. Veteran local musician Michael "Mad Dog" Mavridoglou provides some bonus passion with his warm Jazz trumpet riffs on the track, which somehow sounds completely at home in the band's Country/Roots context.
Elsewhere, highlight tracks like “Comeback Kid” and “Devil’s in the Details” have the power of Steve Earle in peak form, while the piano-buoyed “One of the Ones” and “I Fell You” are wonderfully composed ballads that defy genre classifications — they are simply amazing, timeless songs.
Preview a pair of songs from Making Arrangements below. Visit terminalunion.com for more on the band and see them live this Saturday at Newport's York Street Cafe, where the group will be participating in the One More Girl on a Stage benefit show.
In late March 2010, All Time Low began recording their fourth studio album with producers John Fields and Matt Squire. It will be the band's first album released through Interscope Records.
I caught up with Alex after Bamboozle to discuss the band’s controversies this summer and their upcoming album.
CB: I have read that the band was named for a New Found Glory song, “Head on Collision.” Can you tell me the story about it?
Alex: It was right when we were starting the band, we had a list of terrible, terrible band names and we didn’t pick any of them. We ended up taking a line from the song that caught our ear and went with it.
CB: I recently spent some time photographing them and they were great guys.
Alex: Yeah they are good dudes.
CB: You have started recording your next album. When can we expect it?
Alex: As of right now we are shooting for an early 2011 release. We are about halfway finished with it and we need to figure out what to call it and go through all the steps to get it out.
CB: Can you talk about any of the new songs that you are excited about?
Alex: We are excited about them all and it doesn’t make sense to go into specifics because it is too early.
CB: You have recently had some controversy with Six Flags on this tour. Are you past it?
Alex: We’re past it. We had an issue there and Six Flags security didn’t handle a situation well. They didn’t like the fact that I voiced my opinion about it and have asked us never to come back, which is fine with me since I never want to step foot in there again.
CB: Is it that one or all Six Flags?
Alex: All Six Flags
CB: I’ve seen you a couple times and I see all
these young girls at your show and they are crazy about you guys. A lot
of them are really young, how do you stay out of trouble with the fans?
Alex: What do you mean?
CB: Well, they are obviously not 18.
Alex: We are not really in the business of having relations with our fans so I am not sure it is a problem.
CB: I photograph bands all the time and people
usually think rap concerts are dangerous, but I swear that your shows
have the most dangerous fans with the screaming little girls.
Alex: They are violent little kids and they are our fans. We love them.
CB: Who would be your dream band to go on tour with?
Alex: I would love to tour with Weezer and Blink 182 would also be an obvious choice.
CB: What has been your craziest Bamboozle tour story?
Alex: A negative one would be the Six Flags incident. We also got pretty crazy on Jack’s birthday and I destroyed several TV’s in the hotel. I lived the life of a rock star for a night which was a lot of fun.
CB: What did Jack do?
Alex: Jack was right alongside with me. It was his birthday and everyone was together.
CB: Who would be your favorite Indie band?
Alex: I don’t know. Phoenix is really good and Silversun Pickups are pretty sweet.
CB: Fill in the blank. I can’t go to sleep unless I …
CB: What is up next for the band?
Alex: We are going back to California to finish the album and then we are going overseas to do some festivals in Japan and do a show in Malaysia. We’ll be back in the US in the fall for a tour.
Boys Like Girls is a pop punk band from Andover, Massachusetts who gained mainstream recognition when they released their self-titled debut album Boys Like Girls. The group was formed in the final months of 2005, when vocalist Martin Johnson wrote a handful of songs he wanted to record. He recruited bassist Bryan Donahue and drummer John Keefe. Keefe brought along lead guitarist Paul DiGiovanni.
Boys Like Girls officially released their second album, Love Drunk, on September 8, 2009 and has been touring all year to support it. "Two Is Better Than One," featuring female country singer Taylor Swift was released off Love Drunk as the fourth single. Before performing in Cincinnati, the band and local radio had a contest where the winner from a local high school was chosen to sing Taylor Swift’s part in “Two Is Better Than One” live onstage at Riverbend with the band during Bamboozle.
I caught up with John and Bryan before their set at Bamboozle to discuss the tour and their recent trip performing on the Miss USA pageant.
CB: How has it been on the tour so far?
John: We have been having a great time with a bunch friends hanging out and playing music all day. Good times to start the summer.
Bryan: Every day is like the 4th of July. Lots of grilling and basketball every day and hanging with friends.
CB: What has been your biggest life change since you had your big hits?
John: Just being on the road non-stop is the biggest change. It is weird when we go home.
Bryan: When we go home it is awkward and it is hard to get into a routine. Doing laundry and grocery shopping is weird.
CB: What is the story behind the song, “The Great Escape?”
John: It is a story about getting out of high school and going to pursue other things.
Bryan: Taking the next step in your life. New job, new career, going to college, whatever the big change is in your life and how you are taking the next steps.
CB: What is your favorite song to perform live?
John: It changes all the time. Playing a hit song like starting the set with “Love Drunk” is awesome.
CB: It is the best feeling when they sing along, right?
John: Yes, it is so awesome.
CB: You recently performed on the Miss USA pageant. What was that experience like?
John: It was a dream, come true.
Bryan: Like kids in a candy store with the most beautiful women in the United States. We showed up the day before for rehearsal and they actually had to separate us from the girls. We were introducing ourselves to be polite and someone came up and told us to leave them alone. We were bummed.
CB: What is the biggest pet peave on the road?
John: We all pretty much get along, maybe someone being late and we are waiting when we need to be somewhere.
Bryan: A messy bus is bad, four, five, six guys with all their crap everywhere. It gets bad and we have to clean it up. It gets clausterphobic. A clear house means a clear mind.
CB: What has been your most memorable moment so far as a band?
Bryan: Nothing that trumps anything else. We’ll always remember the first time we hear our songs on the radio. We were all together when we heard “The Great Escape” on the radio. Martin was driving the van and we started screaming .We thought he was going to flip the van. Basically, anything we do together as a band is memorable.
CB: Who were your biggest musical influences?
John: It is across the board. Aerosmith and Nirvana were big influences.
Bryan: My dad was a bass player and he turned me on to a lot of really great music. I had to use his equipment when I started at 12 years old since I couldn’t buy my own stuff. My dad walked me through how to fix a string. I thought I had broke the bass and he calmed me down and said it was just a string and walked me through it. He bought me a lot of great music and was my biggest influence.
CB: I recently saw a band called “The Trouble with
Boys” and they are really young kids who rock out. I am always amazed
at how supportive their families are with their music. I guess your
parents were pretty supportive along the way.
Bryan: In the beginning they weren’t, but they are now. It took awhile for them to understand that I wasn’t going to college and that I was going to pursue music. They are very proud now. Parents are usually proud no matter what their kids do though.
CB: Who are your favorite Indie bands?
John: Great Big Planes and Cady Groves are on the tour and I have been checking them out.
Bryan: I was just handed a CD that is pretty cool called, “Colors.” I feel like it is summer and I should have more new music.
CB: What do you like to listen to in the summer?
Bryan: I like the classics. I am a big Joe Walsh fan. It is funny because I hate the Eagles, but I am in a big Joe Walsh phase right now.
Cady Groves is a 20 year old Oklahoma native who is touring with the Bamboozle Roadshow this summer. She is a multi-talented singer songwriter who has recently signed to RCA records.
I caught up with Cady after her set to discuss her current EP, The Life of a Pirate and what is up next for her as she forms her full band and begins recording her next album.
CB: You are the only girl on the tour. How has that been going?
Cady: I love it. The cool thing about being the different person is being the different person. Every other band can sort of mesh together. I am the girl and the outsider and that is fine with me. Everyone wants to be a gentleman and help me out.
CB: When you date, do you prefer to date musicians?
Cady: I try to be professional. I am not promiscuous at all. I was in a relationship with a musician before all of this happened, but we are just friends now. I could date a fan. I could date anyone. I just really need to have a connection with the person. I really like to be in love though.
CB: You write all your own music about personal experiences. What is your writing process?
Cady: I have a really weird writing process. I have an entire melody in my head with no music to it before I hum it to a guitar. I can hear it in my head. I usually sing all the time into a recorder. I write songs all the time. I actually made up one today.
CB: What is it about?
Cady: It is about my loyalty to people and how it sometimes gets me hurt.
CB: You were recently at SxSW. Do you have any crazy stories from there?
Cady: I got pretty crazy one night when I shouldn’t have. I am usually a stay at home person, but I had fun one night. It was a good night. I think some guy wrote I love Cady Groves on his chest but that is not that crazy.
CB: What is up next for you?
Cady: We have 2 weeks left in the tour and then I have 3 weeks off after that when I will be forming my full band. We will practice and meet lots of producers. Right before this tour I signed with RCA so I haven’t had a chance to hang out with them and get everything started. I will go to NYC, LA and Nashville to get started with them. After that I will be going back out on tour with Stereo Skyline on the “Stuck on Repeat” tour.
CB: Will you be coming back through the area?
Cady: Yes I think we will.
CB: I like the album title. Is there a story behind the pirate?
Cady: It kind of goes along with my life experiences. I have been on my own for awhile. I had a really bad habit of moving around. It is a bad habit that I am trying to break. I would live somewhere for a few months like in my car or on someone’s couch. I would get two jobs and try to make myself be complacent, but once I was, I would just leave. I would get up in the middle of the night and just drive 24 hours and start over. When you think about it, it is a horrible thing to do. It was making life a lot harder and more complicated than it needed to be. It was the life of a pirate. I kept leaving and living in my car. Just moving around.
CB: How long ago was it?
Cady: It was a couple years ago.
CB: So you were right out of high school?
Cady: No, I graduated high school super early when I was 16 and went to college.
CB: Where did you go to college?
Cady: I actually went to culinary school in Vegas. I love it and I think I want to move back there.
CB: Who would be your dream collaboration?
Cady: I want to collaborate with Alanis Morissette. I want my album with RCA to be half as good as “Jagged Little Pill.” I was the youngest of 7 kids. I was really shy and was 4 years old when my mom bought the CD the day it came out. We would ride in this huge van. I was always quiet as a kid. I had long curly hair and I would hide under the seat of the van and then I would just come out from under a chair and sing the whole album. My Mom thought it was the funniest thing. I still will pop in the CD and sing it at the top of my lungs.
Great Big Planes is a new Indie band on the scene
from Tom Rivers, NJ. The band played their first show last Sept, 2009.
Their self-titled album is currently available and features the song
The band consists of Josh Moran- Lead Vocals/Guitar, Patrick Campion- Lead Guitar, and Chad Sabo on Bass and Acoustic Guitar. I caught up with the band after their set at Bamboozle on their bus to talk about their experiences on their first national tour.
CB: You recently came back from Vegas, any crazy stories out there?
Chad: Why don’t you take this one since you were the big winner?
Josh: I won a little bit of money so we had a party at the Hard Rock in a villa.
CB: With the money?
Josh: No, we were with all the bands from the tour. It was fun for everyone to get together.
CB: It doesn’t sound that crazy?
Chad: It was crazy. We had Playmates there. We had a poolside cabana. It was like a Hangover suite.
CB: Anytime playmates are involved it is a good time.
CB: Who is your dream band to tour with?
Patrick: All of us probably have the same answer. I guess Radiohead is a big one for all of us.
Chad: I like Billy Joel a lot. It is not the same genre but I like him a lot.
CB: What is your favorite Indie Band?
Josh: No one really right now. I love Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, The Cure, Radiohead, Third Eye Blind, and The Verve.
Chad: We are into the 90’s stuff right now.
CB: I like the song “Lost One.” What is the story behind it? Where did it come from?
Josh: I was kind of going through a transition phase in my life. I didn’t know where I was headed. I was coming out of a tumultuous relationship. It is about letting go and trying to find a place to call home.
CB: What is your favorite song to perform live?
Josh: It is not one of my own. It is “High and Dry” by Radiohead.
CB: You guys just got started last year. What is the biggest thing that has changed in your life since you started out?
Patrick: The bus really. We have never had this luxury before.
Chad: This is our first tour and going National.
Josh: It is the first time we have toured with bands outside our scene. Hanson has been on part of the tour and they have been great. People automatically only think of them as “MmmBop,” but their new album is out and it is awesome. You should check it out. They have changed so much and are super talented.
CB: Finish the sentence I can’t go to sleep unless I’ve…
Chad: I watch Sports Center and make sure I know the scores of my favorite teams.
Patrick: I have to take off my socks before going to bed and sleep barefoot.
Josh: Not naked, just no socks?
Patrick: No, not naked just barefoot.
Josh: I can’t go to sleep unless I’ve shot the air assault gun outside. Last night we were shooting Third Eye Blind.
Check out Great Big Planes at http://www.myspace.com/greatbigplanes
LMFAO is a Grammy-nominated electro-hip hop group from Los Angeles, California that consists of DJ/rappers Redfoo (Stefan Gordy) and Sky Blu (Skyler Gordy). Both artists are related to Berry Gordy; Redfoo is the son of the Motown Records founder and Sky Blu is his nephew.
Their first single was titled "I'm in Miami Bitch” which peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. LMFAO also provided the opening theme to Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami and Jersey Shore. They last visited Ohio on tour with the Black Eyed Peas in early 2010.
I sat down with the two of them for an interview backstage at Bamboozle to discuss the tour and the upcoming album.
CB: You guys grew up really close to the recording industry. Did it give you an idea what to expect in the business?
RF: You know maybe on the business side, but not as far as touring. When we grew up our family was out of the business. The touring is new with things like being on the bus. We have adjusted really well. Now the bus is now like our home.
CB: What is your favorite track to perform live?
RF: The songs are like tools that will help you out in any situation.
CB: They make me smile.
SB: Smile tools.
RF: When you are at a party you have to play "Shots" to get the party started. Toward the end of the party you may want to say something nice to a girl so you may play, “Scream My Name.”
CB: It is like a progession through the night. Like a soundtrack.
RF: After "Shots" you would play, “Get Crazy.” They are like tools. So when we perform and we want to talk to the sexy ladies we sing “Scream My Name.”
CB: Craziest tour story with the Black Eyed Peas?
SB: Will got stuck one time up in the air during their performance.
CB: Did you guys rescue him?
SB: I was going to, but I didn’t want to put my drink down. The stage hands took care of him.
CB: You are working on a new album. When can we expect it?
RF: The new album is in the works. We are finally getting some momentum on it. Hopefully it will be out around November.
CB: Do you write your own stuff?
RF: Yes we have a lot of concepts that we are working on. It is a process to lay out the tracks. We have a studio on the bus and one at our house now in LA.
CB: You guys live together- roomies?
RF: Yes, we actually have a lot of houses and a lot of girlfriends.
CB: What are your party rules?
RF: You have to bring some Nachos.
SB: Nachos are girls that are “Not Yours,” not your ex, not your current girl, they are like pot luck. You have to take a shot when you walk in. You have to have a TBR- Take Back Room. It can be a bathroom but that can cause problems. These are the party rules.
CB: Who were your musical influences?
RF: Rick James
RF: JB- James Brown
SB: Red Hot Chilis
CB: What do you wish you knew five years ago that you know now?
SB: I wish I knew to put more stock into Apple.
RF: I wish I had read this book Going Against the Grain. It talks about how grains are not good for you. It is a revolutionary book. It explains how they are not edible in nature. I just stopped eating grains and lost 25 lbs in a month.
CB: Not just carbs
RF: No, you can have carbs like fruit and potatoes, just no grains like bread, pasta or anything made with corn. We even switched alcohol. Ciroc has grapes and Petron is a plant so they are approved.
SB: It is funny because in “Shots” those were the two we named.
MidPoint News and Updates: Are you ready for some MidPoint! The MPMF.12 kick-off celebration takes place TONIGHT. The pre-party is in The Hanke Building on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. Entrance is down Michael Bany Way, just across from the 12th and Main streets intersection. The party starts at 6 p.m. with a set of “MPMF mash-ups” by local DJ Ice Cold Tony. Always amazing local rockers 500 Miles to Memphis perform at 9 p.m. The kick-off shindig is free and open to everyone of drinking age (even if you think MPMF is “killing teh scene!”). There will also be free Vitaminwater and Eli’s BBQ; one lucky attendee will also go home with free VIP tickets to see The Afghan Whigs’ New Year’s Eve concert at Bogart’s.
Here's an early classic from 500 Miles to get your psyched:
The MidPoint Music Festival countdown is down to just one day. Yup, starts tomorrow. Here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks …
Chain and The Gang (Washington, DC)
Dinosaur Jr. (playing Friday on the Grammer's/Dewey's Pizza stage) isn’t the only MPMF band that was influencing today’s music-makers beginning in the ’80s. Ian Svenonius made his name with influential DC bands Nation of Ulysses and The Make-Up, wiry Punk Gospel group that he led with the possessed, wild-eyed intensity of a Southern Baptist preacher gene spliced with James Brown and Iggy Pop. His presentation of the “Gospel Yeh-Yeh” in clubs worldwide proved his reputation as one of Indie Rock’s greatest frontmen, night in and night out. Svenonius’ religious experience may never die; whenever a project ends, he simply finds new parishioners to help him spread the gospel and carry on.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War. (Mike Breen)
Chain and the Gang performs Saturday at midnight at MOTR Pub. Here's a video for the band's "Certain Kinds of Trash":
The Ridges (Athens, OH)
Orchestral Indie Folk
This Athens, Ohio-based Orchestral Indie Folk troupe has built a solid following in Cincinnati thanks to repeated show dates in town, including providing highlights at a few past MidPoint Music Festivals. So they're not exactly a "sleeper" (because I've seen them and they're great), not exactly a "Local Lock" (though their ties to Cincinnati run deep) and merely on the verge of being Big Shots. Regardless, you won't be disappointed should you add them to your MPMF.12 itinerary. The Ridges — who perform in different configurations, depending on which members are available (including string and horn players) — are currently prepping a full-length album (recorded here in Cincinnati), so fans may even get a few new songs
Dig: Soulful, acoustic Folk Rock that builds into emotive orchestral swells. (MB)
The Ridges perform at Know Theatre on the Biore Strip at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Here's a special video the band made just for the occasion, shot on a rooftop in OTR:
LOCAL LOCK PICK
The Grey Academy (Cincinnati, OH)
Cincy singer/songwriter Josh Hill first came to attention with his band Ellison, which introduced the region to a songwriter with impeccable chops for someone so fresh to the local music scene. The band’s wonderfully crafted Pop/Rock started earning Hill attention both locally and beyond, but in the midst of it all, the songwriter began writing different, darker songs that reflected his changing listening habits, which veered into the still catchy yet less calculated sounds of bands like Bloc Party, Interpol and The Killers. Hill has shown that his skills weren’t limited to Ellison’s instantly hooky style; with The Grey Academy, he brings the same sensibilities to a less predictable, more moody brand of Rock.
Dig: Interpol, Smashing Pumpkins, Death Cab for Cutie. (MB)
The Grey Academy plays MidPoint Saturday, 8 p.m. at Main Event. Check out the band's "In Stride":
Click here for full MPMF details via the official MidPoint site.
MPMF news and musings: Three-day wristbands are running low (get 'em here now, quick-like). If you miss your chance (or are broke like me), there are ways to win freebies. (It's the luck of the draw, so don't bank on it, but definitely worth a shot!)
The fine folks at local club conglomerate 4EG (which operates The Pavilion, The Lackman, Keystone, Righteous Room and several other bars around town) is giving away 10 MPMF 3-day passes. Click here for details. And seek out the CityBeat booth at Oktoberfest this weekend, harass our employees and sign up for s chance to win a pair of fancy-schmancy VIP tickets. (You can find the official Oktoberfest guide in the CityBeat on streets right now.)
And now, with the countdown down to just seven days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks …
Laetitia Sadier (France)
Fans of French Post Rock favorites Stereolab need no introduction to Laetitia Sadier. She was the co-founder of Stereolab and also founded Monade in the mid ’90s. Along the way, she was also a frequent collaborator, working with everyone from The High Llamas and Blur to Common and Mouse on Mars. In 2010, Sadier went solo, releasing The Trip on Stereolab’s U.S. label, Drag City Records. This summer, she followed up the record with Silencio, a dynamic album that runs from lush, orchestrated pieces to quirkier electronic Pop to warm Tropicalia, all driven by Sadier’s trademark sensual coo.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Nico, Jane Birkin, Stereolab. (Mike Breen)
Laetitia Sadier performs at the Contemporary Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 27, 11 p.m. Here's her new video for the Silencio tune "Find Me the Pulse of The Universe."
Denney and the Jets (Nashville, TN)
Denney and the Jets may be one of Nashville’s most mysterious bands. A Google search reveals almost no biographical information about them, just plenty of references to the quote on their Tumblr page. (“One warm night in July an angel came to me and said, ‘There is nothing I can do for you. Nashville is dead and so is Rock ’N Roll.’ ”), which brings up an interesting question: Do you need to know anything/everything about a band to enjoy their music? As far as Chris Denney and his Jets are concerned, the answer would seem to be a resounding “Hell no.”
UPDATE: Since the official guide went to press, we dug up (i.e. got a press release with) info on the group. From their PR:
Frontman Chris Denney began writing songs in the Spring of 2008, recruiting Wes Traylor (Natural Child), and Jake and Jamin Orrall (of JEFF The Brotherhood) to be the very first of his Jets. After each member parted ways to pursue their own individual careers, Chris signed on Daniel Pujol (eponymously of PUJUOL) and Joe Scala. After Pujol's departure, Denneysolidified the lineup by adding longtime friend Sean Cotton on lead guitar, Joe's little brother Evan Scala and most recently bringing in Ric Alessio on keys and sax. Denney and The Jets have turned songwriting into a full realized communal process and have grown in to one of the South's finest.
After releasing a 7" single and EP (a limited Cassette only release) on JEFF The Brotherhood's Infinity Cat Recordings, the band returns with their new 5-song Self-Titled EP on Miami, FL-based label Limited Fanfare Records -- Recorded in the Spring of 2012 with Producer/Engineer Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, The Parting Gifts) -- with "Close The Blinds" recorded at Cleft Music by Nashville legend, Loney Hutchins. The result is an insanely fiery batch of tunes that Nashville Cream calls "[Straight-up rock and roll music] — not bastardized, compromised, corrupted or contaminated."
Dig: Bob Dylan and Paul Westerberg get drunk on bathtub gin and listen to Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys. (Brian Baker)
Denney and the Jets play MidPoint on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11 p.m. at the Cincinnati Club. Dig the vintage swagger on this track, "Fun Girls."
LOCAL LOCK PICK
Jody Stapleton and the Generals (Cincinnati, OH)
Jody Stapleton has always had an ear for the past and a finger on today's pulse. With the Stapletons a decade ago, Stapleton made Psych-fueled Garage Rock that sounded vaguely phase shifted from another time and yet completely fresh, a talent that earned them CEA awards for Best New Act and Rock Band of the Year in 2001 and 2003 respectively. With his new outfit, Jody Stapleton and the Generals, Stapleton is similarly tapped into bygone days, this time the sunshine-on-your-shoulder days of '70s AM radio Pop, combined with a modern sensibility and approach.
Dig: Paul Westerberg listening to a transistor radio tuned permanently to 1973. (BB)
Jody and the Generals perform Thursday, Sept. 27, at Main Event, 11 p.m.. Here's a few tunes from the band's recent debut release.
Click here for full MPMF details via the official MidPoint site.
MusicNOW, the popular new music festival founded by Cincinnatian Bryce Dessner of internationally acclaimed Indie Rock band The National, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year when the fest returns March 11-15 at Music Hall, Memorial Hall and first-time venue Woodward Theatre.
On March 10, the Over-the-Rhine fest will be celebrated with the digital release of a compilation album featuring musical highlights from MusicNOW’s first nine years. MusicNOW- 10 Years will feature previously unreleased performances by Dirty Projectors, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Grizzly Bear, My Brightest Diamond and others.
The album’s “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” by Sounds of the South, a project featuring Vernon, Sharon Van Etten, Megafaun, Matthew E. White and Fight the Big Bull, was recently released as a preview.
“The first track ‘Trials, Troubles, Tribulations’ gets at the spirit of the compilation and the event. It is an American bluegrass gospel song written by Estil C. Ball. Here it is performed by Sounds of the South, a project featuring Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir), Sharon Van Etten, Megafaun, Matthew E. White, and Fight the Big Bull. The project, organized by Megafaun, initially appeared at Duke Performances in North Carolina and MusicNOW in Cincinnati, Ohio, and subsequently traveled to Sydney Festival in Australia.”
In the press release for the album, Dessner says, ““Many of my most significant memories as a musician have taken place in Cincinnati during the MusicNOW Festival over the last 10 years. When we started, we were driven to create an intimate music festival that was as much a creative refuge for the artists as it is for the audience to partake in intimate and rare performances. We have celebrated works in progress and new commissions, new collaborations and detailed music of all kinds regardless of genre or popularity."
This year’s MusicNOW festival features appearances by Stevens, Nico Muhly, So Percussion, Timo Andres, concert:nova with Jeff Zeigler, Cloud Nothings, Will Butler and more. The National will also perform at the festival on March 13 at Music Hall with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Click here for full details and ticket info.
Sounds of the South "Trials, Troubles, Tribulations"
Robin Pecknold "Silver Dagger"
Sufjan Stevens "The Owl & The Tanager"
eighth blackbird "Omie Wise"
My Brightest Diamond "I Have Never Loved Someone"
Dirty Projectors "Emblem Of The World"
Tinariwen "Imidiwan Ma Tenam"
Tim Hecker "Chimeras (Live) 2011"
Colin Stetson "Nobu Take"
Owen Pallett "E Is For Estranged"
Erik Friedlander "Airstream Envy"
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy "Love Comes to Me"
Grizzly Bear "While You Wait For The Others"
The Books with Clogs "Classy Penguin"
Andrew Bird "Section 8 City"
Justin Vernon "Love More"
Hinder is a wildly successful Oklahoma Hard Rock comprised of members Austin Winkler (lead vocalist), Joe “Blower” Garvey (lead guitarist), Mark King (rhythm guitarist), Mike Rodden (bassist) and Cody Hanson (drummer). The band blew up in 2005 with the release of its debut studio album Extreme Behavior, which featured popular hits “Get Stoned” and “Lips of an Angel.”
The band is climbing the charts again with the single “What Ya Gonna Do” off their third studio album, All American Nightmare. CityBeat caught up with the band prior to their performance at RockFest in Cadott, Wisc.They had time to discuss the new album and the festival life. The band will be rocking the entire summer hitting rock festivals all across the country.
CityBeat: You’re out here in the metropolis of Wisconsin. What did you guys do last night?
Austin: We played a show in Indiana.
CB: So you were on the bus last night?
CB: Is this your first time at RockFest?
Austin: I don’t think so. I think we’ve played this before in 2007.
Blower: I know we’ve played this venue.
Austin: We played with Three Doors Down in ’07.
CB: What can we expect today from the set?
Austin: Rain and Lots of wetness.
Cody: We’re going to get the chicks wet tonight.
Mark: God is doing it for us.
CB: That’s the line of the day. You guys were just at Rock on the Range. What was your craziest Rock on the Range story?
Mike: I think I pissed myself that night.
CB: Any particular reason?
Mark: I don’t remember why because I was blacked out but I definitely woke up with some wet pants.
Cody: Shit I was so hammered that night, I might have pissed your pants.
Austin: I got so high, I didn’t know where the phone was.
CB: Did you guys go to Rocklahoma after that or did you just go on tour?
Austin: Yeah, we did Rocklahoma for the first time. That was pretty awesome. It was about time too because we are from there.
CB: I love the new album. It was one of my favorites that I listened to prep for Rock on the Range. I’ve been listening to it ever since. What’s your favorite tracks to play live on the album?
Mark: “Two Sides of Me” is one of my favorites to play live. It’s a good little rocker.
Austin: “What You Gonna Do” is one of my favorites to play recently.
CB: It’s catchy. I can say it with you.
Mike: Tell that to radio.
CB: It’s all over the radio. I’ve been in traffic coming into this place for a day and I think I heard it three times today. I think they got the memo that you were here. You guys have toured with some huge bands. Are there any other bands that you would like to tour with or play with?
Austin: I want to play with the Rolling Stones.That would be awesome.
CB: You guys did Aerosmith for a few dates right?
Austin: That was badass.
Mike: I’d like to play with The Doors, if that was possible.
CB: I had a question about “Striptease.” Any particular strippers or clubs that inspired that song?
Austin: I think it’s a lot of the bullshit that’s being shoved down people’s throats these days.
Cody: It’s more about a few of the pop artists and you can throw some reality stars in there.
Mike: Yeah, it’s kind of like they belong more in a strip club than they do on the radio or TV. That’s about how much talent they have.
Mark: Dude Ke$ha is talented, alright.
CB: In more ways than one right?
Cody: I doubt that. I did just see a picture of her online yesterday with her holding her tits and a big wad of nut underneath.
Group: Are you kidding me?
CB: Are we sure it was her?
Cody: Yeah, or it was some nasty bitch that looked just like her.
CB: So what has been the highlight of 2011 for you guys so far?
Mike: I don’t think we have any super-big highlights.
Austin: The fact we have our third record out is pretty awesome. Being well-received by our fans, I think that’s pretty badass.
Mike: We might just make a highlight tonight.
CB: I have to tell you. I was here last night and Rob Zombie made a highlight.
Cody: What did he do?
CB: The stage, as you know is two-tiered. He said, “Everybody is too far away. Come up on the stage.” So all the girls came up on the stage with them for four songs. He said, “If you behave. Don’t fuck it up.” Next thing you know I am running onto the stage and at John 5’s feet. So I think that shocked the security and the venue for a minute. So you guys can try it. Nobody got hurt.
Mark: They are a lot braver than us.
Blower: A lot more scary looking too.
CB: Any regrets over the years?
Mike: Yeah, we have lots of those. We have a whole bag of them.
Cody: We have tons of regrets and mistakes we have made over the years. Especially when you first start out being a band. You are green and you let outside people have a little too much control and make some bad decisions for you. If we could go back, we would probably have a lot more money.
CB: Do you guys all still live in Oklahoma.
Austin: I don’t. I live in California.
Cody: But the rest of us do.
CB: How often do you get home?
Cody: We just came from home. We have been home for quite a bit on this cycle. It’s been a little more relaxed. We’re out on this run for like seven weeks. So it’s good to be out.
CB: Do you guys prefer to play festivals like this and Rock on the Range or your own shows where you have your own, obviously your fan base is here too, but when you have your own shows, you know who is there?
Austin: Either way, we bring the same show. I guess sometimes when we play like Rock on the Range, we only get a certain amount of time. We come in and play 40 or 45 minutes, that kind of sucks. I wish we could play longer. Other than that, we bring the same show no matter what.
Mike: It’s kind of cool too, to have a break from the same tour every night and have a few festivals stuck in there because the lineup is different, there are different bands at all the festivals. So it’s cool to get a change from the everyday show.
CB: Anybody you are looking forward to seeing today?
Blower: I’ve never seen Kid Rock so I am pretty stoked about that.
CB: You guys are touring with the new album. Have you started working on any new music yet?
Austin: Not necessarily recording in the studio but we are always coming up with ideas and stuff on the road. We kind of never really stop writing.
CB: What’s your process? Do you guys do it together or separately?
Austin: Usually me and Cody will sit down with acoustic guitars and write the nutshell of the song and bring it to the rest of the guys and they put their thing on it.
CB: How does the feedback session go?
Mike: Pretty straight forward.
CB: You guys have been together forever so you can take it right?
CB: You guys had a ton of songs to pick from for this album?
Cody: We’re hoping to be able to recycle some of those and use some for the next record. There are some really great songs that didn’t make it. Hopefully we’ll pick some of them out for the next one.
A lot of people still call it “Jazz Fest” (a hold-over from some of its early names, like the Kool Jazz Festival) and more recently (as of last year) it went by the name of Macy’s Music Festival, but Cincinnati’s popular, long-running celebration of classic and contemporary R&B and Soul is now cutting to the chase and, for its 2015 edition, will be called the “Cincinnati Music Festival.”
The name and logo may be different (and the primary sponsor is now P&G), but not much else has changed. This year’s event takes place July 24-25 at Paul Brown Stadium on the riverfront. Tickets for the fest — which began in 1962 in Carthage as the Ohio Valley Jazz Festival and has featured everyone from Miles Davis and George Benson to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye — go on sale this Saturday through Ticketmaster.com.
This year’s lineup features Maxwell, Jennifer Hudson, The O’Jays, Joe and Luke James on July 24. For July 25, the event will feature longtime fest faves Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, plus Jill Scott, KEM, Avery Sunshine and Mali Music.
Click here for complete info on the 2015 Cincinnati Music Festival.
Saturday, Apr 28: Jubal's Kin Festival Grounds
Saturday at MerleFest broke hard and cold. Our camping neighbors had an impromptu jam session at 3 a.m., which is to be expected when camping at a music festival geared towards people who not only love to watch and listen, but also play. It would have been one thing to hear the soft strains of a string jam or the gentle harmony of "Wildwood Flower," but some dude shouting the lyrics to "Whipping Post" over badly tuned guitars played really hard … not the thing mountain dreams are made from.
So I sat, at sun up, reading and drinking coffee, plotting revenge and the instead of taking my revenge, made the accused coffee, read some more and generally moved real slow. Crustymarhsmellowman. I did get to play a couple tunes with Pete McWhirter as he moved past to grab some coffee on his way to open his booth.
Then I moved real slow some more.
Really real slow.
After lunch, I decided to make an attempt to see some music.
I had already missed Jim Lauderdale at the Creekside Stage. To bad, I like some Jim Lauderdale and it would have been a nice wake up, but there you are. I saw on the schedule Jubal's Kin at the Dance Tent, looked at the clock and … damn missed that, too. But what ho! There they are on the schedule at the Americana Tent immediately following their Dance Tent set. It's a MerleFest miracle! I grabbed my camera and another cup of coffee and headed out.
Jubal's Kin, all nerves and bad house sound on Day 1, was all smooth and in good voice on Day 3. They filed the promise I thought I saw at the Cabin Stage on what always seems like an eternity ago and delivered a set full of vigor, with pristine sound delivered by the sound person. Their originals are fresh with sparse instrumentation and the kind of tight harmonies that only siblings can deliver. Never lyrically embarrassing with overplayed earnestness or too casual observation, they meld in with beautifully arranged and originally considered traditional tunes. There's "The Cuckoo," that ancient English broadside, rendered as if Billie Holiday had spent some time in the Eastern Kentucky mountains. "Buffalo Gal" was reconsidered as a pop tune with a well delivered encouragement to jump in on the chorus and sing along. Gaelanne's fiddle playing is absolutely gorgeous in a John Hartford/Matt Comb's kind of way, though leaning a bit heavier on the front of the beat as opposed to sitting in the pocket. And her banjo playing is just delicious. They added one more member for this set — "Uncle Joe" on pedal steel and fiddle. With "Baby Brother" on bass, Jubal's Kin appears to be a family band.
Satisfied my instincts were intact, I left the Americana Stage to catch some other music. I wondered into the Traditional Tent to catch some of mountain legend Red June. He was explaining to the audience what a jam session was. Have I mentioned the Traditional Tent smells like a barn? I don't think it's intentional, but the wet grass combined with an enclosed space has rendered an unfavorable impression. After the lesson on what a "jam" is, Red invited a local banjo player up to do a fiddle tune with the fiddle player who didn't bring a fiddle, but did bring a mandolin. Not to fear! You can play fiddle tunes on mandolin (or piano for that matter), so he requested the newest banjo player and the fiddle player with the mandolin decide on a tune they both knew and then play it. Five minutes of discussion and tuning followed. As I headed out of the tent I thought "Just like a jam session," and went down to the Creekside Cabin to catch the rest of the Snyder Family Band and the following act, Sierra Hull and Highway 111.
The Snyder Family Band is a family Bluegrass band (no irony at MerleFest!). Like all Bluegrass bands they have a banjo, sing harmonies and play Bluegrass. Of course they play it really well. People love them. Standing ovation.
I waited around for Sierra Hull and Highway 111 to take the stage. Sierra Hull, 5-foot-nothing and former wiz kid master of the mandolin is now a promising songwriter and ingenue. I'm familiar with this script and am bored not two minutes into the first song. Sigh. I stop in the field in front of the Watson Stage to hear some of "Assembly of Dust." Young Nashville Country script. Know it. Boring. Moving on.
It's coming up on 3 p.m. and time to give my sister a break in her booth in the Heritage Tent. Nancy Roberson is a weaver based out of Knoxville, Tenn. She's been showing, selling and demonstrating at MerleFest for about as long as there has been a MerleFest. She heads out for her afternoon nap (apparently a hardwired Roberson DNA trait) and I pleasantly meet the mass of retail customers streaming by and wondering into her booth.
Nancy makes shawls. Well kind of. Not only does she design each warp for the loom, but on these particular pieces of clothing, she has design the shawl itself. It's twisted, sewn up the back, and pulled over your head like a loose fitting sweater. The front gathers in soft bunches and hangs across the chest. The ladies love them. Woven of soft cotton and rayon with the occasional silk woven in for effect, the main color of each shawl is broken up with a rhythm of competing and sometimes complimentary colors. People can't help but be drawn in by the colors and when the reach out and touch them, you always get an "Oooooo, these feel so nice and are so beautiful." If you don't, it's a replicant — ready your phasers.
When Nancy returned, I checked the schedule and cheese whiz on a cracker if Jubal's Kin wasn't playing in the barn-like Traditional Tent. Finally a chance to catch this band in more intimate surroundings, smell be damned. I headed over, got there early and claimed a seat near the front. In short order the band was on stage, laughing and calling out songs. They moved though a load of traditional tunes, all rendered in a sweet, imaginative way, like "Dinah Blow Your Horn," with added lyrics and a new verse melody. The Carter Family's "No Depression" was delivered in soul rendering pain. About midway through the set, a guitar string broke enabling some spontaneous double fiddle and dancing. While the guitar player stepped off stage, "Uncle Joe" and Gaelanne tuned their fiddles and discussed which tune to play. In a matter of thirty seconds (this is no a jam session) launched into a Skillet Lickers number my dad probably danced to when he was their age. A friend jumped up on stage and launched into some spirited clogging. Not to be undone, "Baby Brother" put his bass down, peeled off his shoes and joined the Appalachian chorus line at the end of the stage with some well executed Buck Dancing.
Yes sir, these kids from Florida are the real shit. I've spent decades in front of poseurs, wannabees, shitty players and hopefuls. Using a foundation of traditional music obviously passed along from a family that loves this stuff at an early age, Jubal's Kin are making something very real, unique and personal that compels you to be a part.
This is why I come to MerleFest. Thanks, guys, for inviting me in.
Exhausted from a night of no sleep and a day of wandering and finding Jubal's Kin, I headed back to my book and coffee and called it a day.
A perfect day, hot enough but not so hot as to suggest the idea that the ghosts of dead ants broiled by sadistic children with magnifying glasses were somehow exacting their revenge from beyond the veil of ant Valhalla. Why, yes, the '70s were good to me. Why do you ask?
At any rate, the potential for another spectacular launch to Bunbury's first day was palpable as ID was proffered, the laminate was provided and the wristband was snapped into position. The game is afoot (or as my wife's podiatrist might counter, the foot is a game … but I digress. Why, yes the ’70s were good to me. Why do you ask?) and another spectacular Bunbury awaits.
The beginning of the day was essentially a sampler platter of roaming about and checking out a few songs from a variety of sources. I started off down at the Amphitheater Stage to check out The Upset Victory, who had drawn a pretty sizable crowd for their muscular U2-tinged brand of melodically gritty Roots/Punk. Then it was down to the Warsteiner Stage for a more lengthy taste of Snowmine, who return to the '80s/'90s with a 21st century vengeance, mining a thick vein of Depeche Mode, along with a '90s aggressive Ambient quality and a quietly powerful modern edge. Then it was down to the Main Stage for a quick shot of X Ambassadors, who blend big tribal drumming with a Punk-fueled Pop core, a little like Imagine Dragons with a few hundred thousand volts pumped directly into their hearts. Finally it was back to the Amphitheater for a few songs from the soon-to-be-large Let It Happen, who were delivering their Green Day-esque anthemics in the blistering mid-afternoon glare of the unfiltered sun.
Then it was time to hit the Lawn Stage for the triumphant return of 500 Miles to Memphis. Frontman Ryan Malott has streamlined the band down to a potent quintet (guitarist Aaron Whalen, bassist Noah Sugarman, drummer-of-the-gods Kevin Hogle and the lap-steel-and-all-round-magnificence of David Rhodes Brown) and turned up the juice to emphasize the Roots/Rock thunder and downplay the Country lightning. There's still plenty of twang in their thang, but the sizzle and the sound is turned up to 11 in the slimmer, trimmer 500MTM. The band was clearly itching to tear shit up; they've been hard at work for the last couple of years or more assembling their new album, the imminent Stand There and Bleed (the title is a Tombstone reference; if you know the movie, you know the exact scene, and if you don't, shame on you for missing the greatest Western depiction of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday ever, so go fix that before another hour goes by).
Malott and the 500 blew through a set that was stacked with great new material (particularly "Bethel," a tribute to Malott's hometown), but they didn't forget to give the master his due, pulling DRB up from his lap steel duties to haul out yet another chilling spin on Trent Reznor's "Hurt"; if the hair doesn't stand up on your neck when the Colonel's baritone rumbles out, "You can have it all, my empire of dirt," you've got one of those weird, hairless necks. 500 Miles to Memphis has been well out of the public eye for the last year as they concentrated on life pursuits and sporadic turns in the studio to finesse Stand There and Bleed, so there was an urgency to get their fresh live set across as a clarion call to let everyone know they're back. Are they ever.
After a quick stop to water my horse (namely, me), it was a fast walk over to the Acoustic Stage for an hour of blissful Roots/Folk brilliance from Aaron Lee Tasjan, whose sideman work with Todd Snider, the New York Dolls, Drivin' N' Cryin' and Tim Easton has earned him a reputation as one of Americana's most reliably astonishing guitarists. But it's his solo persona that is becoming even more fully realized, as his sterling EP releases — 2011's August Moon, 2012's The Thinking Man's Filth and the just released Crooked River Burning — have shown Tasjan to be a songwriter of depth and beauty will beyond his calendar age. Listen to any given ALT song and you'll hear hints of Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Will Kimbrough, Rodney Crowell and Ryan Adams in his delivery.
In Tasjan's Folk world, there is no bellybutton introspection set to a strummed acoustic guitar; he'll peel off a solo worthy of Jimi Hendrix after telling a story about seeing Ted Nugent shoot flaming arrows into cardboard effigies of his enemies list worthy of Arlo Guthrie. There aren't many singer/songwriters (read that: any) who are writing tributes to the late, great Judee Sill, and fewer still who make incisive observations like "You can't play Beatles music with bullshit hair." Deals don't get any realer than Aaron Lee Tasjan, and you all need to make him a star at your earliest convenience. Go. I'll wait.
After ALT's hour of power, it was back to the Amphitheater for the transcendent magnificence of Lydia Loveless. She may have grown up in the hillbilly hinterlands of Coshocton, Ohio, but she is a city girl with enough Rock sass to satisfy any Indie hipster and enough twang to hold the interest of any Americana aficionado. In a set laced with electric greatness, primarily drawn from her latest album, Somewhere Else, Loveless and her brilliant band finished with an absolutely scorching take on "Boy Crazy," the title track from her 2013 EP. The song reached a fever pitch when guitarist Todd May, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth with noir-detective-meets-Bun-E.-Carlos nonchalance, sat on his feet in front of his amp at the back of the stage, coaxing an exquisite din of feedback from his guitar, while bassist/husband Ben Lamb concocted similarly haunted sounds by running his bass down Nick German's drum kit and Loveless herself fell onto her back on the stage and cranked out sheets of heart-stopping guitar madness. It was an extraordinary end to a truly amazing and all too brief set.
Exactly what is it about the Black Owls that resonates so completely with me? First, they effortlessly tap into that primal part of my brain that was developing during my teenage years when I was soaking up insane amounts of T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, David Bowie and the Stooges. Next, they punch forcefully into the neighboring brain cells, the ones that house the memories of discovering Television, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Talking Heads, New York Dolls and Be Bop Deluxe. And it's not that they sound like any of those bands (although occasionally they do), it's that they remind me of that beautiful, mysterious time in my life when there was still music to be revealed, and the visceral thrill that accompanied every new discovery. That is what it is about the Black Owls. They once again made that abundantly clear at the Lawn Stage when they tore through old favorites ("Wild Children," "Julias Morningstar," "Sometimes I Wish You Were a Ghost"), brand new classics in waiting ("Gasoline" and "Rook") and an absolutely hair-raising spin through Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire."
It was the standard Black Owls greatness, which is to say the quintet, as usual, presented their most familiar elements in new and unexpected ways so that even a grizzled old veteran Owls watcher such as myself was knocked back a pace and surprised by it all. Black Owls make me long for the days when bands put out two albums a year for not other reason than they could. Bassist Kip Roe continues to weave himself into the fabric of the Owls' sound and, as frontman David Butler pointed out, guitarist Brandon Losacker is proving to be a perfect songwriting foil for Butler and co-founding guitarist Ed Shuttleworth. The Black Owls seem to be entering a period of gritty reassessment, where dirty Glam riffs and anthemic chord structures are dominating the proceedings. Yes, please, and quite a bit more, if it's quite all right. And even if it's not.
Before I review the psychodots' Bunbury debut, perhaps a history lesson is in order. A good many years ago, music mogul and purported industry genius Clive Davis sauntered into Cincinnati with the stated goal of checking out The Raisins and perhaps offering them a lucrative and much-deserved contract. When Davis departed from our fair city without signing The Raisins, he explained the lack of a deal thusly: "They're an embarrassment of riches."
Please allow me to read between the lines and translate that five word headscratcher into layman's terms. What Mr. Davis was so obtusely attempting to convey was this: "The Raisins are a stellar band and I don't have the slightest idea how to market them without making them as smooth and textureless as Gerber's babyshit and as lame as a beggar in the Bible, essentially stripping them of the elements that make them unique, and if you think I'm going to dismantle and destroy this band or permanently stain my sparklingly legendary resume with the ugly reality that I was unable to sell the music of a gifted band to a quality-starved public simply because I didn't understand the complexities of either one, you've got several unpleasantly aromatic things coming in a flaming bag on your front porch."
Of course, The Raisins famously broke up, reassembling as the Bears with guitarist Adrian Belew and refashioning as psychodots without Belew. So in a very tangible sense, we owe the existence of psychodots to Clive Davis' short-sighted inability to recognize their root band's brilliance. I was devastated that The Raisins didn't make it and, after the 'dots' loosely tight/tightly loose set at Bunbury, I am relieved beyond measure The Raisins didn't make it. Success would have come at a great and terrible cost, and we would not have enjoyed 20+ sporadically splendid years of psychodots Power Pop bliss.
There may have only been 100 or so bodies at the Amphitheater Stage to witness psychodots' fabulousness (Fitz and the Tantrums were sucking up bodies like a UFO set to "harvest," and rightly so) but the 'dots never give less than 89%, and they were in full charge mode on Friday afternoon. There was Rob Fetters' squiggly guitar magnificence (I'd put him up against any guitarist in the history of Rock, and he'd be only mildly uncomfortable at being up against any of them), Bob Nyswonger's bass conjuring, using his instrument to evoke lead guitar and keyboard mayhem (and by instrument, I'm still talking about his bass) and Chris Arduser's master class in How to Drum with Power and Grace and Still Maintain a Smartass Attitude.
It was a delightfully eclectic set, with a number of old favorites ("Master of Disaster," "Living in a Lincoln," complete with Fetters' mom-inspired balloon-on-the-strings gimmick), a few quasi-oddities ("Candy," the rarely performed "The Problem Song") and a handful of non-'dots nuggets ("She Might Try" from Arduser's exquisite The Celebrity Motorcade, The Bears' "Veneer" from their last album Eureka, "Play Your Guitar" from Fetters' patently perfect new solo album, Saint Ain't, The Raisins' fist-pumping "Fear is Never Boring") and the band's always entertaining banter (Fetters apropos of everything: "Is anyone tripping?"; Bob Nyswonger after Arduser's observation that the evening was balmy: "Balmy," stretched langorously into two words). It was, in a number of words, a standard psychodots show, which means one of the best shows you'll ever see, local or otherwise. Long may they reign.
After the breathless 'dots set, I was torn between the Heartless Bastards' triumphant return to the area or the unlikely but much welcomed reunion of Veruca Salt's original lineup. With more than a couple of Bastards sets under my belt and the prospect of many more to come, I opted for Veruca Salt because, even if the reunion sticks, the possibility of the band's return to Cincinnati seems remote. The foursome did not disappoint, hauling out blistering favorites from their slim catalog in this iteration and reinforcing why we've loved their Glam/Pop brilliance for so very long. Whatever caused the rift between co-fronts Louise Post (who has kept Veruca Salt going in some form or other for the past 21 years) and Nina Gordon (who departed for a solo career in 1998), there was no evidence of any residual friction as the quartet blew like a hurricane through "Volcano Girls," "Straight" and their signature brain-boiler "Seether." The band even teased a couple of songs – including "It's Holy" from this year's Record Store Day single — from what was described as "their upcoming thing;" that thing cannot come soon enough. As final proof of Veruca Salt's newly minted reunion, Post and Gordon kissed at center stage amid a beautiful howl of squalling feedback. As the lights came up, the '90s called, they want their awesome back; they can blow it out their ass, because Veruca Salt is hanging onto it with all eight arms.
For the evening's closer, Empire of the Sun, the Main Stage was nearly as packed with bodies and gear as the field in front of it. The band's epic stage show, which has been described as Cirque Du Soleiel without the airshow, requires a lot of moving parts, and the Bunbury crowd arrived in significant numbers to witness the Rock/Synth Pop/Electronic spectacle. Empire of the Sun's primary sparkplugs, Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, and a veritable army of players and dancers offered up a wall of Prince-like Glam/Pop guitar and a danceable solution of Depeche Mode Synth Pop menace, all updated to a millennial frenzy of Muse/Daft Punk proportions. But rather than non-descript and identity shielding space/BMX helmets, EOTS prefers elaborate tribal headdresses that look like giant pre-immolation phoenixes atop the principals' heads. At one point, the dancers were all playing fake neon guitars in a 21st century version of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video. All of this plays out in front of a constantly shifting projection of disparate and arty images and screen saver light squiggles combined with a choreographed and dazzling light show that is both compelling and distracting. That dichotomy within the Empire of the Sun presentation matches the broad spectrum of reactions to the band's Cincinnati debut (and one of only a handful of American dates); the majority of the crowd was fully engaged in the band's expansive Vistavision sprawl, while a few canvased friends offered up opinions that ranged from "That was as exciting as watching glitter paint dry," to "Meh, it's okay," to "I totally love this." Editorial critique aside, Empire of the Sun was every bit as epic as advertised, and everyone who looks for spectacle in their Dancetronic music mix got more than their money's worth with Friday night's Bunbury closer.
• I started the day with a deliciously smokey pulled pork sandwich from the geniuses at Eli's, a bun so overstuffed with barbeque goodness that it's actually a pulled pork sandwich with a side of pulled pork. It's as close to a religious experience as I've ever had outside of a church (where I have oddly never had a religious experience … go figure) or a music venue (where I've had plenty; I'm looking at you, Iggy Pop). Washed down with a Fathead beer, it was the perfect start to the third charmed Bunbury.
• At the Snowmine show, I ran into "Hey-look-everybody-it's" Stu, from Paul Roberts' Three-Amigos crew. Stu reported that Paul and maybe Big Jim would be along shortly. And, in fact, they were.
• On the way from X Ambassadors to the Amphitheater/Lawn Stage area, I ran into Eddy Mullet and his daughter Jess. Eddy is the volunteer host of the Friday night 6:00-8:00 pm shift at Class X Radio, where I have surreptitiously installed myself as his quasi-co-host; I do the weekly CityBeat Report, a rundown of weekend music events, and a segment I concocted called the Gang of Four Set, four songs that are connected by a theme of my own twisted design. Eddy is also the longstanding host of Kindred Sanction, the area’s longest-running local music program that was founded by Cynthia Dye Wimmer a fair number of years ago at WAIF. Cynthia brought the show to Class X six years ago, Eddy sat in occasionally as co-host and Cynthia backed out of the show to attend to her life. Eddy's passion for and knowledge of the local music scene is legendary, and anyone who has ever dealt with him knows him as a straight up guy and maybe one of the best boosters that local music has ever seen. Class X management has seen fit to cut the show's hours and alter the format, all of which is wrong-headed and counterproductive, but all that really matters to Eddy is spreading the gospel of greater Cincinnati's music scene. And Jess is turning into a Rock chick of the first order (not like that, you gutter-minded dimbulbs). Under Eddy's tutelage, she's becoming a pretty fair aficionado of local music herself; smart, funny and fearless, she will be a force to be reckoned with in some near future. At any rate, if you see Eddy wandering around, shake his hand and thank him for his long-suffering and often unappreciated work on behalf of local music.
• Eddy and Jess and I hit a run of shows together, including the ever amazing 500 Miles to Memphis, the astonishing Aaron Lee Tasjan (who Eddy hipped me to through his love of Drivin' n' Cryin'), the gear-stripping Lydia Loveless and the transcendent Black Owls. Eddy and I could talk music for days on end, which we do at every given opportunity. Eddy also introduced me to Aaron, who he'd met after a Drivin' n' Cryin' show; that kid is going places, if Eddy and I have anything to say about it.
• Finally ran into Paul and Big Jim at the Aaron Lee Tasjan set, with "Hey-everybody-it's" Stu in tow. These three are also a great bunch of music lovers and supporters, local and otherwise, with weird, esoteric tastes. In other words, my people. I love running into them, and swapping stories and having Paul buy me beers, which he most generously did during the psychodots' set.
• Also briefly caught up with the ever-stellar Kip Roe, freshly installed bassist for the Black Owls and a prince among men. His boys, Kip Jr. and Ben, were there to witness the Owls' casual brilliance (anchored by their dad's bedrock solid basslines), but post-show were anxious to head down to the Main Stage to witness the Soul/Pop frenzy of Fitz and the Tantrums. Kip and the boys won't be spending Saturday doing any Bunbury adventuring, as they're headed to a Modest Mouse show in Columbus (a bucket list event, as Kip described it), but they will be back for the Flaming Lips on Sunday. Kip's boys are huge Flaming Lips fans. God, I love Rock & Roll families.
• And speaking of such, my other favorite component of Black Owls shows is the chance to catch up with the Owl wives, Amy Butler, Carrie Losacker and Sarah Kitzmiller (and let's not forget Ed's girlfriend, whose name, like so many other things, slips my addled brain. Why, yes, I did enjoy the '70s. Why do you ask?). We were trying to come up with a name for their defacto support group; I propose the Owlettes, and given Friday's heat and humidity, the Moist Owlettes probably was more apt. At any rate, they are wonderful people to interact with, and I look forward to their company every bit as much as the Owls' soul-stirring, flashback-triggering presentations.
• And on that subject, Ed, his girlfriend and her daughter (again, names … I remember knowing them in some distant past; maybe if they had hats with their names on them. That's how Stu solved his dilemma …) caught up with me while I scarfing down a couple of cheese coneys before leaving Friday night and offered a heartfelt Rock & Roll tale. Ed's girlfriend's daughter (note to self: this would be better with names) is a huge fan of Walk the Moon and as fate would have it, frontman Nick Petricca happened to be in town and was catching the Empire of the Sun show. Ed's girlfriend's daughter spotted Nick, professed her undying love for Walk the Moon, they chatted for a bit and she got her picture taken with him. Nick is clearly one of the good guys and his very open and engaging response to a fan's sincere outpouring of love and support is one of the reasons for the band's incredible success. And, as I noted to Ed's girlfriend's daughter, "It's always nice when you meet your heroes and they're not dicks." Thus should it ever be.
• The only thing that could have made the night complete after that uplifting moment would be a quick run-in with Jacob Heintz, former Buckra guitarist and Rock volunteer of the gods, as his constant presence at MidPoint and now Bunbury will attest. Another one of the truly great people that define the Cincinnati music scene as one of best in the known universe. I am physically fading and spiritually soaring. It's a good feeling for the end of the first day of another fantastic Bunbury.