Pennsylvanian Folk/Americana trio The Stray Birds perform tonight at Newport’s Southgate House Revival. Australian Indie Folk singer/songwriter Jordie Lane opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.
After self-releasing their debut album in 2012, The Stray Birds scored wide-spread acclaim (NPR put it in its Top 10 of Folk/Americana albums released that year) and began to build a following on the road. The hard work (and engaging music) paid off in the form of contract with the esteemed Yep Roc label (home to artists from Nick Lowe, Robyn Hitchcock and Paul Weller to Fountains of Wayne, The Rev. Horton Heat and The Apples in Stereo), which released the band’s Best Medicine album in October.
Click here to read Brian Baker’s full preview of the show from this week’s CityBeat.
Here is the title track from The Stray Birds most recent LP:
Masterful Cincinnati Funk musician Freekbass and his band The Bump Assembly debuted their new music video for the track “Never Enough” this past weekend during a show at Newport’s Southgate House Revival (which also featured a reunion of Freekbass’ old crew, SHAG). This morning, the clip made its public debut.
The groovy video is the third one released from the most recent Freekbass album, Everybody’s Feelin’ Real (which you can stream/purchase here). The video was directed by Gary Templeton and features a cameo from Jennifer Hartswick, the singer/trumpeter for the Trey Anastasio Band, who provided vocals on “Never Enough.”
The hard-touring Freekbass and The Bump Assembly (who play Brooklyn tomorrow night and a special unplugged session for Relix Magazine in New York City tomorrow afternoon) don’t currently have any local shows scheduled (though they will be in Louisville and Lexington right after Christmas), but keep an eye here for the latest show announcements.
Veteran Cincinnati band Wussy saw a huge boost of its national profile (and sales) over the weekend when the band was featured on CBS This Morning on Nov. 29. The band’s network TV debut included an entertaining and funny interview segment, spliced with live footage (including shots filmed at this year’s MidPoint Music Festival, where the band opened for The Afghan Whigs in Washington Park). The featurette also showed band members Chuck Cleaver, Mark Messerly and Lisa Walker at their day jobs in Cincinnati and Shake It Records (the Northside record shop whose label branch releases Wussy’s albums) also makes an appearance.
The band’s appearance also included a performance of “Teenage Wasteland” from Wussy’s latest album, Attica! A bonus performance of another song from the album, “Beautiful,” was also filmed. Watch everything below.
The appearance had an immediate impact on Wussy’s sales. CBS’s Anthony Mason (who conducted the interview) tweeted that Attica! entered the iTunes album chart at No. 89 after the airing. Amazon sold out of its stock of Attica! CDs.
Wussy’s next local show in on New Year’s Eve at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine. Find out more about Wussy here. And check out CityBeat's most recent profile of the band here (and our very first feature on the band, in 2002, here).
For the 2015 edition of CityBeat's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (to be held in late January), the public now has a chance to be involved in the process of choosing the nominations from Greater Cincinnati’s amazing music scene. Previously, nominations came directly from the nominating committee, which consists of a variety of local music aficionados (writers, bloggers, club owners, etc.). The nominating committee members still have final say in who gets nominated, but for the first time ever they will be presented with your feedback before making their final decisions.
The ballot will close on Dec. 5. Here are some basic guidelines from the nominations ballot:
For the first time ever, fans will have input into the nomination process for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. For each genre category, please enter the name of the performer you feel is deserved of a CEA for their work in 2014. Recordings released publicly between November 2013 and November 2014 are eligible for Album of the Year nominations. The New Artist of the Year category is for artists who have emerged in that same time span (they don’t have to have formed in that date range, just broken through for the first time).
Nominations are reserved for artists from Greater Cincinnati making original music. Please, no straight-up cover bands. You may only fill out one ballot per email address; additional ballots will be discarded.
A list of the top vote getters in each category will be presented to the nominating committee members. The members will not be restricted to voting only for artists nominated by the public, because some deserved acts may not actively campaign for nominations and the CEAs honor output and accomplishments and not just who has the biggest Facebook friends list or the most followers on Twitter. But the “long list” compiled from public votes will get more artists’ names in front of the nominating committee and help their chances for making the final “short list” of nominees.
Once the nominations are compiled, the final ballot will be placed online for public voting.
Be fair. Be nice. And happy voting!
Stepping into the decorated light cast from the looming ceilings of the Taft Theatre, it’s immediately apparent the space holds memory far outreaching your own. That is, of course, unless you’re about 100 years old and happened to be around Cincinnati in your early teens.
If that were the case, you’d probably remember the other awe-inspiring theaters that entertained the Queen City in those days: the Albee, Shubert and Capitol, to name a few — all astounding architectural representations of the heyday of local theaters. Sadly, the Taft is the only of those grand structures that still remains today, likely because it stands just far enough away from the heart of downtown, just missing out on the urban redevelopment that has defined the city for the past half-century or so.
Taft Theatre was opened in January 1928, inaugurated by lines of suited men and flower-hatted women who were willing to brace the 40-degree weather of the new year for the warm spectacle of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a shining new entertainment venue.
The theater is part of the Cincinnati Masonic Center, then called a temple rather than center, and is currently owned by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. In its early days it would host Broadway shows, ballets and traveling performers and artists, among other entertainment.
The name, contrary to what some might think, is not a nod to the former United States president William Howard Taft, although many likely know of the street we have to honor him. Rather, the theater was a tip of the hat to William’s older brother, Charles Phelps Taft, a major figure in the Cincinnati newspaper business and a high-ranking Mason who lived just down the street from where the theater now stands.
While it was very popular during its early days and became popular again in the new millennium, the theatre went through a largely dormant period in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, the Scottish Rite applied for demolition rights twice in the 1960s — although they were rejected both times — because they thought the theater would be too expensive to renovate and wanted to replace it with a parking garage.
Luckily, it hung on and didn’t fall into serious disrepair long enough for Music and Event Management, a subsidiary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, to take over in 2010. The company headlined a $3.2 million renovation, less than a third of the value the Masons had been quoted for renovations decades earlier.
The revamp, finished in 2011, increased the size of the seats, lowering the original capacity of 2,500 to about 2,300, as well as the size of the bathrooms — fewer venue seats, but more toilet seats (does this say something about the needs of folks in the new millennium?). They also took great consideration of modern concerns, spending a heavy load on hooking the building up with eco-friendly air conditioning.
Thanks to the restoration and rejuvenation of the old theater, it now holds about 140 shows a year compared to roughly 90 before renovations, and the annual attendance has also almost doubled. The theater is again one of Cincinnati’s hot spots for entertainment, hosting all kinds of musical concerts as well as theatre, being home to the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. With the upsurge in activity at the beautiful old Masonic Amphitheatre, the tall walls can keep holding and building memories of entertainment that life would be oh-so boring without.
Cincinnati is host to a great number of music festivals and it feels like every season adds another one. Midpoint is becoming nationally recognized for its ability to draw in heavy hitters, Bunbury has exploded in popularity in just a few years and Buckle Up had a great inaugural year this past summer, just to name a few obvious examples. It’s a great time to be a music lover and music journalist in this city.
But for this music journalist, there’s only one festival that gets my money, year in and year out: Ironfest.
Whereas most of Cincinnati’s festivals focus on the city’s vast assortment of Folk and Pop influenced artists, Ironfest is awash in the loud, angry and just plain aggressive side of local music. John “Black Arm” Gerhardt, the organizer of Ironfest, puts in a massive amount of time and effort to assemble a legion of acts that are all a little left of center, but still eclectic enough to bring in all types of fans. There’s only one place in town that you can see the darkened Electronic soundscapes of Black Signal alongside 500 Miles to Memphis’ Country Punk and Moonbow’s raucous brand of Heavy Metal, all under one roof, and that’s at Ironfest.
Nov. 14 and 15 marked Ironfest’s fifth year. It was founded as a celebration of the life of “Iron” Mike Davidson, a mainstay in Cincinnati’s music scene before his untimely passing. While this is still the case, Ironfest has grown beyond a simple memorial. In fact, many of the attendees nowadays didn’t even know “Iron” Mike — myself included. But if Davidson had so many talented friends in so many awesome bands, I’m sad that I didn’t.
Gerhardt has a knack for getting a great mix of bands together to take over Southgate House Revival’s three stages and this year’s iteration was no different. At any time, you could check out the bands listed above, along with the likes of Valley of the Sun, Smoke Signals, Martin Luther and the Kings, The Dopamines, Honeyspiders or out-of-towners like OC45 and Punching Moses (featuring ex-Banderas guitarist Jesse Ramsey), among many more.
While each year’s lineup is undeniably star-studded, Gerhardt also always seems to have one band on the bill that stands out above the rest and this year’s edition was no different. Closing out Saturday night was the reunion of Oxboard Drain, Iron Mike’s old band, with Valley of the Sun’s Ryan Ferrier filling in for the late bassist. I had never heard Oxboard Drain before that night but I got the distinct feeling that I missed something special. When a band still draws fans out that sing along to every word years after their dissolution, you know they made an impact during their tenure. Seeing Ferrier, Gerhardt and the rest of the band honor their friend by ripping through a powerhouse set was something to behold.
While the music at Ironfest is amazing and honoring Iron Mike’s memory is important, neither is the real reason I have attended the past three years. I go for the community that Ironfest celebrates and all of the people it brings together. My roommate attended this year’s festival for the first time this year; at the end of the show he commented that I seemed to know half of the attendees that night. While estimate may have been a bit of an exaggeration, the point is valid. For fans of the scene such as myself, Ironfest is almost like a high school reunion that you’d actually want to attend. New bands mingle with established acts, old bandmates and friends reconnect with each other, and the past and present of Cincinnati’s alternative music scene is celebrated over a weekend.
That’s what makes Ironfest so special. All of the other festivals that Cincinnati hosts every year celebrate the music and musicians contained within them. Ironfest celebrates the community itself that spawns around the music and musicians. It’s a two-day period where we can fondly recall the good memories of days gone by while still creating new memories for the next time we all converge at that old church.
It’s only been just over a week since Ironfest V wrapped up and I already feel like I’m in withdrawal. That much music, that many friends, that much fun in the photo booth (and, yes, that much booze) all adds up to a weekend that’s talked about until the next one rolls around. For many, “Iron” Mike’s passing was a horrible loss but his passing spawned an event that has kept people coming back for five years straight. And for that, I have to say, “Thanks ‘Iron’ Mike, and I’ll see you all next year.”
Besides sporting one of the best band names in recent memory, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. also makes wildly endearing, monstrously melodic Indie/Electro Pop. Detroit’s Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein started the project in 2009 as a home-recording venture, but a pair of EP releases the following year drew widespread attention, leading to a deal with Warner Bros. Records. The band released its debut full-length, It’s a Corporate World, in 2011 and followed it up last year with the acclaimed The Speed of Things. Paste named that album’s single, “Run,” one of the best songs of 2013 and also called them one of the Top 25 live acts around.
At the start of fall, the band released a new single, “James Dean,” a great slice of chilled-out, slow-jam Pop.
DEJJ plays Oakley’s 20th Century Theater tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.
• Chicago Indie Rock foursome Empires, a 2014’s MidPoint Music Festival favorite, return to Cincy tonight for a 10 p.m. show at The Drinkery in Over-the-Rhine. Great Cincinnati band Pop Goes the Evil opens.
Here’s Ben Walpole’s preview from CityBeat’s official MPMF guide:
Empires enters MPMF 2014 building something close to its namesake this summer. It started with strong showings at Bonnaroo and the Hangout Music Festival, continued with a June appearance on a little program called the Late Show With David Letterman, followed by a well-received four-song EP – all building toward the band’s major-label debut, Orphan, released this week on Chop Shop/Island Records. The album was produced by John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, The Black Angels and Explosions In The Sky, among others.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: A more up-tempo The National; an artsier The Killers; a less dramatic The Horrors.
Here is the video for “How Does It Feel” from Empires’ most recent release, Orphan.
• Stellar Cincinnati singer/songwriter Kim Taylor (read CityBeat’s 2013 profile of Taylor here) headlines MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. Joining Taylor is Boston Indie/Americana Pop band The Grownup Noise. The band opens the free show at 10 p.m.
The Grownup Noise debuted in 2007 with its inaugural release, a widely acclaimed self-titled full-length. The band recently returned with its three-years-in-the-making third LP, The Problem with Living in the Moment, which came out late last month.
The Boston Herald has this to say about the new release:
Calling the Grownup Noise’s new work — “The Problem With Living in the Moment” — “an album” seems like a slight. Declaring the folk/rock blend a symphony is overkill, but the 11 tracks have such a orchestral sweep — swelling strings, rippling piano lines, a harmony of percussion arranged with meticulous detail. Let’s call it a suite. That seems to fit.
• “Foot-Stompin’ ” Country-tinged Rock duo Sundy Best, which originated in tiny Prestonburg, Ky., (and is now based in Lexington) plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15.
The band’s bio describes its sound as “music that re-imagines timeless classic rock of the ‘70s and ‘80s – think the Eagles and the smart, whiskey-voiced lyrics of Tom Petty and Bob Seger.” Along with critical acclaim from outlets like Rolling Stone and The New York Times, the band has found success on the road and satellite radio. and has even scored buzz via attention from the CMT television network. The duo is gearing up for the Dec. 2 release of its latest album, Salvation City.
Here’s Sundy Best’s video for “Lotta Love,” a track from the album Bring Up the Sun.
Modern Blues/Rock guitar hero Joe Bonamassa might not be a household name, but he has a gigantic fan base. Tonight, many of those fans will fill Music Hall to watch the six-string superstar do his thang. I just drove by Music Hall and he has multiple trucks and busses parked around back, one adorned with the motto, “Always on the Road,” a reference to how he has built such a big following.
Bonamassa does make records, though. His most recent is Different Shades of Blues. Here’s what CityBeat’s Brian Baker had to say about the LP in his preview of the show (click here for the full preview):
Bonamassa’s latest album, Different Shades of Blue, is a full-tilt electric experience, kicking off with a brief taste of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” — Bonamassa was peeling off Hendrix licks when he was 7 — and roaring into incendiary originals like the scalding “Oh Beautiful,” the funky “Love Ain’t a Love Song,” the relentless “Never Give All Your Heart” and the sinewy title track.
Tonight’s show starts at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $79-$125.
• Danish Dance Pop trio New Politics headlines a triple bill of up-and-coming bands playing Bogart’s tonight. The group joins fellow on-the-verge acts Bad Suns and SomeKindaWonderful for the show.
New Politics were in town this past summer to play the Bunbury Music Festival, alongside tourmates Paramore and Fall Out Boy. This fall the group teased new material with the release of the single “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens).” The group’s next album, Vikings, is slated for release next year.
• Reggae crossover star Shaggy plays the Thompson House in Newport tonight. Local band Elementree Livity Project and veteran Columbus, Ohio, squad The Ark Band open the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $17.
Shaggy became a superstar in the ’90s/early ’00s with hits like “Boombastic,” “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me,” a huge smash (you can still hear it on Pop radio to this day) from his six-times Platinum album, Hot Shot, from 2000. Shaggy has continued to release music and tour the world. Last year, Shaggy released Out of Many, One Music, an all-Reggae album that was produced by the legendary duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
Sonic adventurer Nils Frahm performs tonight at the Contemporary Arts Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20.
The German-born composer is touring behind his most recent album, 2013’s Spaces, which was compiled from footage from various performances over the previous two years. His live presentation is something to behold, as Jason Gargano writes in his CityBeat preview of the show:
Nils Frahm’s live performances are kind of hard to believe. He sits alone on stage, surrounded by multiple pianos and a few other gadgets. He moves back and forth between instruments, slowly building and altering the music as it unfolds, all of which is done without the use of loops or playbacks. It’s an impressive achievement, as Frahm’s sonic output is a whirl of intricately layered yet never fussy arrangements that bring to mind a meld of Steve Reich and Keith Jarrett.
Opening the show is Brooklyn’s Dawn of Midi, an Avant Garde trio that combines elements of Jazz, Krautrock, Electronica and experimental Rock music and has also been drawing fawning critical raves. Radiolab host Jad Abumrad said of them, “I've seriously never seen anything like these guys.”
Should be a fascinating night of music.
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band bring their tour behind their debut studio album, the recently released Intensity Ghost, to The Comet in Northside tonight. Heart of Palm and Public Housing open the free 10 p.m. show.
Forsyth, who co-founded the experimental group peeesseye in New York around the turn of the century, is an acclaimed guitarist known for his exploratory approach and compelling skills. He fell in love with the music of Television in high school and ultimately ended up taking lessons from that legendary band’s Richard Lloyd.
You can hear the influence of Television particularly in his work with Solar Motel Band (which was formed based on the guitarist’s acclaimed Solar Motel album from last year). Many critics have described Forsyth’s most recent all-instrumental music as a cross between Television and The Grateful Dead; Forsyth (now based in Philly) discovered the Dead while immersed in the New York experimental music scene and was immediately drawn to it, so it’s a fair comparison. Overall, it’s very engaging, hypnotic stuff.
• Tonight and tomorrow sees the return of Ironfest, a huge two-night benefit concert in honor of late local music supporter and musician Iron Mike Davidson. This marks the fifth edition of the event since Davidson passed away in 2010.
Ironfest V, which continues to raise funds for Davidson’s family, takes over Newport’s Southgate House Revival both nights with a lineup stacked with local talent largely (but not entirely) from the worlds of Punk and Hard Rock. Friday’s lineup includes Mad Anthony, Martin Luther and the Kings, Kill City, Vampire Weekend at Bernie’s, Sweet Ray Laurel, Valley of the Sun, Lockland Brakes, Lohed, Subsets, Mala in Se, Black Signal and many more. Saturday at Ironfest, catch The Dopamines, Moonbow, Mudpies, We are Hex, Honeyspiders, Oxboard Drain, 500 Miles to Memphis, The Blue Rock Boys, Draculas, Ethicist, Cadaver Dogs and several others.
Tickets each night are $5 in advance (available at ticketfly.com) or $10 at the door. Showtime is 7 p.m. both nights.
• Tuvan throat singing string band Huun Huur Tu performs Saturday night at Parrish Auditorium on the Hamilton campus of Miami University.
Derek Halsey explains the unique music in his preview of the show for this week’s CityBeat (read the full preview here).
Tuvan throat singing describes the wild-sounding songs created by musicians in the southern Siberian and Mongolian Steppe region of Central Asia who, for want of a better explanation, use their throats as if they were a didgeridoo.
Not only does it sound cool — creating multiple notes at the same time using nothing but the human voice — but historically it was a way for humans to communicate over the vast plains in that part of the world, with different styles being created to represent different tribes.
Saturday’s show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (there are discount for seniors, students and “youth”) and can be purchased in advance here.
• Cincinnati Blues crew The Whiskey Shambles host a release show at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery in honor of their debut album, Loose Change for a Broken Man. The show is a benefit for the Save the Animals Foundation (where drummer Aaron Tyree volunteers). A $5 donation is requested at the door but you can be a jerk and not pay it; it’s technically a free show. JetLab opens things up at 9 p.m. and members of local choirs MUSE and Young Professionals Choral Collective are slated to make guest appearances with the Shambles.
CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with the band about their origins and the new release for this week’s issue. Brian describes the album and band’s sound like this:
While Loose Change exudes a contemporary vibe, the album bears the diverse hallmarks of the best ‘70s Blues Rock albums. Like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Free before them, The Whiskey Shambles channels first generation Blues subsets like Delta, Piedmont and Hill Country, combined with the members’ unique individual experiences to conjure an edgy, atmospheric vision of 21st century Blues.
• One of Cincinnati’s best bands, The Hiders, celebrate the release of their amazing new album Totem Saturday at Northside Tavern. The show is free. Singer/songwriter Ali Edwards (former bandmate of The Hiders’ frontman Billy Alletzhauser in Ruby Vileos) opens at 10 p.m.
• Unique Cincinnati Americana group The Tadcasters have released a new EP and on Saturday they’re playing Stanley’s Pub in celebration. The show features two other Roots acts that have recently issued new material — La Grange, Texas, Folk/Rock/Roots act The Youngest (supporting the new album Feral Road) and Oliver Oak, an Indie Folk sextet from Columbus, Ohio (supporting its new Sleepless Wilds release). Showtime is 9 p.m. and there’s a small cover charge at the door.
Here is “Chaingang” from The Tadcaster’s excellent new five-song EP:
• Sunday at the Southgate House Revival, friends of veteran local musician David Rhodes Brown are throwing a party in honor of his remarkable 50 years of playing music in the area. The multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter has been a part of numerous local acts in his half-century of service, coming into regional notoriety in the early ’80s with his long-running Rockabilly/Roots band The Warsaw Falcons (who will reunite and close out Sunday’s event) and going on to play with notable Greater Cincinnati groups like The StarDevils, Magnolia Mountain and numerous others. In 2010, Brown released his guest-laden solo album Browngrass & Wildflowers, and he’s played lap steel guitar with the popular Punk Pop/Roots Rock band 500 Miles to Memphis for the past several years.
Many of Brown’s friends and current/former bandmates will perform some of his songs at the event, including Ryan Mallot, Mark Utley, Wilder, Todd Lipscomb, Gregory Burton, Elle Crash and Pike 27. More friends and bandmates (including CityBeat’s own Brian Baker and should-be Hamilton Country Commissioner Jim Tarbell) will also give Brown the “roast” treatment at the party.
Showtime is 7 p.m. and admission is just $5.