Last year, I went to the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards with a friend I'll call Jimmy. This year, on the night of the same event, I went to his funeral. His death was traumatic and shockingly tragic to many. I feel for his family. I feel for his roommate and best friend, a sweet, pale woman who picked out the clothes he wore at rest in the open casket.
Vocalist/guitarist Michael McIntire and I met a long time ago (double digits) in a faraway land (a Clifton street corner). There, he busted out Acoustic/Blues/Gypsy Jazz with his Tom Waits-ish, down and dirty voice. Collecting stories, he still plays Ludlow Avenue, and he's known for his welcoming presence and affectionate attitude toward his guitar.
They've been together for seven years and their musical bond seems unbreakable through life’s changes — marriage, sickness, a robbery. In October 2007, a thief broke into vocalist/guitarist Mark Houk's house and the band lost seven guitars and other equipment (still a sore subject). But that weekend, they scrounged up borrowed guitars and played a gig at Northside Tavern anyway.
The Happy Maladies drip with talent and training, all five have done time at UC's College-Conservatory of Music. And they all shack up together except guitarist/vocalist Ben Thomas, who lives down the street by his lonesome. Five cats roam the band house, and even the cats contribute on "Animal Welcome," one of 11 songs on the band's debut full-length album, 'Sun Shines the Little Children.'
My car had been making a monster-like noise for weeks. I put on my Super Mechanic Woman Thinking Cap, so I knew it was steering or brakes, and I tried to ignore it, but I was getting worried. Finally, this past Saturday noise was too loud to cover up by cranking up the stereo. Of course, I picked a Saturday to freak out, and my normal garage wasn't open. So I headed to the closest place, a tiny tire joint I'd never even noticed before: Twilight Zone Tire.
Ronnie Vaughn kicks back in his coffeeshop chair, relaxing like he's beside a campfire, shooting the shit. He shoots, "When we started playing, we were against the cover thing. We'd play for hours, all original music, at places where they usually didn't have original music. Live is where we shine the most. We jam out a lot more, extending the songs."
With influences from The Grateful Dead (obvious) to Rap (not so obvious), Vaughn and Co.'s new album, 'Coming Home,' will hit the streets via a release show Saturday at Play by Play in Silverton. V&C took the "live approach" for the CD, performing the songs at shows first, deciding what worked, later adding the winners to the album lineup.
Yusef Quotah draws bunnies and monsters, box-headed characters that obscure the the faces of he and his band partner Kevin Bayer in all photos, putting emphasis on the music rather than looks. Accidentally discovered, the bunny drawings have become signature band artwork, part of the package. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, in 2000 Quotah came to the University of Cincinnati to study design at DAAP. Currently, he focuses on animation ... and electronic music with Bayer.
When I step into Reality Tuesdays, a Covington coffee joint, I scan the room for "band signs" — tattoos, Chucks, skate shoes, black clothes, wrecked hair or wicked T-shirts, the usual dead giveaways. Then I see two guys huddling in a booth — early twenties, whispering about sound systems. Bingo. Watson Park.
Late on July 1, I was folding clothes at the Laundromat when my mom called, and I complained that there were no stories that night. It was quiet. Too quiet. I sat on top of a folding table, my feet dangling, when Mom and I got on the topic of kids. I told Mom that I wanted to adopt a little boy. “If I had a girl, I might send her back,” I joked.