CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[CORV Local Food Guide Release Party Tonight]]> The annual Central Ohio River Valley (CORV) Local Food Guide celebrates its release (find one inside this week’s CityBeat) and upcoming Earth Day with a party at Om Eco Café on Ludlow in Clifton. The CORV guide is a very complete directory of area food resources that connects residents of Greater Cincinnati, Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana and Northern Kentucky with local farmers, markets, producers, restaurants, wineries and fresh, local, healthy food. 

Download the 2014 guide here. It has a full list of farmers markets, a story about local artisan/cottage businesses, a harvest guide, a list of local CSAs and farms and more.

5-7:30 p.m. $10 donation requested. Om Eco Café, 329 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, eatlocalcorv.org. 

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<![CDATA[Arnold's Taps Great Lakes Cherry Vanilla Edmund Fitzgerald for Autism]]> Arnold’s has partnered with Great Lakes Brewing Company and Neltner Small Batch to host a fundraiser for autism, #BeerAutismHope. Great Lakes will be tapping a cask-conditioned firkin of their fabled, impossible-to-find and extremely delicious Cherry Vanilla Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. For each pint sold, a dollar will be donated to Lance’s Room, a charity to fund scholarships for people with autism. In addition to the beer, local artist Keith Neltner will be designing a limited edition, multi-layer Great Lakes Brewing Company art print, released exclusively for the event. A portion of those proceeds will also be donated to Lances’s Room. The Hot Magnolias will perform. 

9 p.m. Friday. Free. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

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<![CDATA[MidPoint Indie Summer Concerts Announced]]>

The first good sign that consistent warmth is on its way is the announcement of the lineup for this year’s MidPoint Indie Summer series at downtown’s Fountain Square. The concerts are part of the Square’s free PNC Summer Music Series, which showcases different types of music (played mostly by local acts) five days a week. (The lineups for the every-Thursday Salsa on the Square shows have also been announced; visit myfountainsquare.com for details.)

The eclectic, free Indie Summer shows take place every Friday throughout the summer. This year’s lineup is perhaps the series’ strongest yet, with some higher profile national touring acts and the usual array of top-notch local talent. 

Here’s the full rundown of Indie Summer shows so far (a few slots are still to be announced): 


• May 30: WHY?Yip DeceiverBad BoxesDark Colour 


• June 6: WussyThe TigerliliesHoney & HoustonMason School of Rock


• June 13: Betty WhoVito EmmanuelCaptain KiddPluto Revolts


• June 20: Those DarlinsThe HarlequinsThose Crosstown RivalsThe Frankl Project 


• June 27: Moon TaxiPeridoniNeveleAcarya 


• July 4: Local HNew StrangeMad AnthonyOne Day Steady 


• July 11: Soledad BrothersElectric CitizenPop Goes the EvilGrotesque Brooms 


• July 18: Wesley Bright & the Hi-LitesDAAP GirlsMardou 


• July 25: Clap Your Hands Say YeahPublicDanny & His Fantasy


• August 1: The Spiders (tribute to David Bowie); Honeyspiders


• August 8: Man ManInjecting StrangersOhio KnifeSkeleton Hands


• August 15: The Nightbeast (a co-headliner will be announced in July)


• August 22: psychodotsLemon SkyTonefarmerHeavy Hinges 


• August 29: IslandsThe PassThe YugosJoey Cook & The Keepers of the Secret


The Indie Summer series is sponsored by the MidPoint Music Festival, CityBeat’s popular annual music extravaganza, which returns to the clubs and venues of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine Sept. 25-27. (Though all MPMF-worthy, the acts are booked through Fountain Square, not by MidPoint.) There will be a MidPoint booth on Fountain Square every Friday where music fans can find the latest MPMF info and purchase tickets to the three-day festival. 


A limited amount of discounted early-bird passes for this year’s MPMF are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Nail down your three-day tickets (or VIP Experience tickets) before the prices increase. And be sure to stay tuned to mpmf.com and the fest's various social media accounts for the latest updates. 

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<![CDATA[Know to Announce 2014 Fringe Lineup Tonight]]> This evening at its Jackson Street headquarters in Over-the-Rhine, Know Theatre of Cincinnati will announce the lineup for the 11th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. The two-week festival begins on Tuesday, May 27, with the CityBeat Fringe Kick-Off Party, and continues through Saturday, June 7, presenting 33 productions — 17 plays, two musicals, seven solo performers, six dance presentations and one defined as “variety/other.” In addition, there will be four FringeNext productions, featuring area high school students, and an array of special events.

“We had a great mix of new producers and returning favorites in the applicant pool,” says Producing Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier. “The word continues to spread about our Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which has a national reputation for being the most artist-friendly festival. We’ve worked very hard on this over the years, and I believe that we’ve created something special for our artists and for our region.”

The pool of applicants, comparable to last year’s record-breaking number, has yielded a mix of local vs. out-of-town producers: 15 from Greater Cincinnati, including the return of Performance Gallery for the 11th consecutive year (it’s the only group that’s been in every Fringe) with a new piece, Heist, about three crooks of questionable ability. There will be 18 productions from beyond Cincinnati, including three international shows.

Vosmeier expects the festival to attract more than 8,000 visitors for 2014. If you’re one of those people who tries to see as much as possible, your best bet is a “Full Frontal” Fringe pass ($200) that gives you access to every event in the festival. Know also offers “Voyeur” passes ($60) good for six shows of your choice. If you can be there for one evening, a “One Night Stand” pass ($25) is available, offering access to any two performances in an evening and one drink at Know Theatre’s Underground bar. Individual tickets to Fringe Festival shows continue to be priced at $12; they’ll go on sale in mid-May.

Look for more information at CityBeat.com after the 7 p.m. announcement tonight. More info: cincyfringe.com.

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<![CDATA[A Tavola Madeira Now Open]]> Favorite OTR eatery (and this year's Best of Cincinnati winner for Best Pizza, non-chain) A Tavola opens its new Madeira location today at 4 p.m. 

Located in a former bank that once housed a sushi restaurant, A Tavola has given the building a facelift with new flooring, lighting from Switch Lighting & Design, custom banquettes from Landeck Woodworking, a brand new patio and they've also installed a pizza oven from Naples, Italy, a solid-wood bar, a La Marzocco espresso machine and an Italforni Bull oven (which their Facebook says created the "First pizza made in A Tavola, Madeira, and first pizza made on an Italforni Bull in the U.S.!")

They don't take reservations and they're currently BYOB (with a corkage fee).

7022 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-272-0192, atavolapizza.com.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Takes Over New York City]]> Cincinnati's arts groups and chefs are road tripping it to New York City for a seven-day showcase highlighting the eats, arts and culture of the Queen City for Cincy in NYC.

The showcase, which runs May 6 through May 12, features events and performances from the Cincinnati Ballet, CCM alumni, the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Playhouse in the Park, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum of Art, Queen City chefs (Jean-Robert de Cavel, Julie Francis of Nectar, David Cook of Daveed's NEXT, David Falk of Boca, Jose Salazar of Salazar, chocolatier Jean-Philippe Solnom and Stephen Williams of Bouquet) and more.

According to an article in Cincy Magainze, the original idea was that just the Cincinnati Ballet would return to New York City for the first time in 30 years. But it turns out the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the May Festival Chorus were also scheduled to be in NYC, performing around the same time as the ballet's performance week at the Joyce. So, long story short, other Cincinnati-based art groups were recruited to head East and now there's a ton of Cincinnatians trekking to New York to show the city what the Midwest has to offer.

Events kick off on May 6 with a performance from the Cincinnati Ballet at the Joyce and round out with a performance by CCM's quartet-in-residence, the Ariel Quartet, at the 92nd Street Y. 

MAY 6
The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 7:30 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

CCM Jazz Alumni at Jazz at Lincoln Center — Past and present CCM big band alumni perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. $30-$45. Broadway at 60th Street, New York, jalc.org/dizzys.

MAY 7
Music and Words with Ricky Ian Gordon — The composer will discuss his work with moderator Evans Mirageas, the Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Opera. 7 p.m. Free for members; $20 for non. The National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, operaamerica.org

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 7:30 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

MAY 8
May Festival/Symphony Party — The May Festival and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra host a cocktail soiree. 6-8 p.m. $275 (patron); $200 (guest). New York Yacht Club, 37 W. 44th St., New York, cincyinnyc.com.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 8 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

MAY 9
Playhouse Staged Reading in Afternoon — Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park presents a reading of Fool, by Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck, creator of TV's Smash. The reading features an all-star cast of Cincinnati stars. 2 p.m. Free but tickets required. Pearl Studios, 519 Eighth Ave., 12th Floor, Studio D, 513-421-3888.

Cincinnati Night at Carnegie Hall — The May Festival Chorus and the CSO take the Carnegie Hall stage as part of the prestigious Spring for Music Festival with a program including John Adams' iconic "Harmonium" and the New York premiere of R. Nathanial Dett's "The Ordering of Moses." 7:30 p.m. $25. Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave., New York, mayfestival.com.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 8 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

Cincinnati Party for Young Professionals — Cincinnati-native YPs are invited to an evening of live music, mingling and an open bar. Dhani Jones will MC. 9-11 p.m. Free. Arlene's Grocery, 95 Stanton St., New York, cincyinnyc.com.

MAY 10
Queen City Chefs Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple — Jean-Robert de Cavel, Julie Francis of Nectar, David Cook of Daveed's NEXT, David Falk of Boca, Jose Salazar of Salazar, chocolatier Jean-Philippe Solnom and Stephen Williams of Bouquet head to the James Beard House in NYC to cook a seven-course dinner. While they planned the menu together, they're each responsible for a different course. 7 p.m. $170; $130 for James Beard members. James Beard House, 167 W. 12th St., New York, jamesbeard.org.

Cincinnati Art Museum's Eyes on the Street Panel — A panel discussion of street photography in the 21st century. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $5. Aperture Gallery, 547 W. 27th St., Fourth Floor, New York, cincyinnyc.com.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 2 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Tour — Enjoy a special docent-led tour of the Met's Rembrandt galleries, including Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair, on loan from the Taft Museum of Art. 2 p.m. $29. The Met, 1000 Fifht Ave., New York, taftmuseum.cincyregister.com/rembrandtatmet.

MAY 11
World Piano Competition Gold Medalists at the Carnegie — Performance by gold medalist Alexander Yakovlev, 2012 World Piano Competition winner. 2 p.m. $15. The Carnegie, 881 Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, New York,  carnegiehall.org/events.

The Cincinnati Ballet at The Joyce Theater — The ballet celebrates it's 50th anniversary with a week-long tour at the Joyce, where they'll be performing three New York City premieres: Hummingbird in a Box, featuring seven new compositions by Grammy-winner Peter Frampton; Chasing Squirrel, an eccentric work by Trey McIntyre; and Caprice, a new ballet choreographed by Val Caniparoli that features live musicians performing Paganini's Violin Caprices. 2 p.m. $19-$49. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, New York, cballet.org/newyorktour.

MAY 12
CCM's Ariel Quartet — The internationally acclaimed Ariel Quartet and CCM's quartet-in-residence perform Haydn's String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1; Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130 and more. 7:30 p.m. $30. 92nd Street Y, SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St., New York, 92y.org.

For more information on all the events and Cincy in NYC in general, head to cincyinnyc.com.
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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 4/11-4/13]]>

This weekend’s forecast includes warm weather, a bit of rain, a few clouds and tons of art. Whether you want to watch it, make it, buy it or just support local arts organizations, art is all around this weekend — starting with the last Macy’s Arts Sampler of the season, presented by ArtsWave.

Macy’s Arts Sampler Weekends bring free performances, workshops, tours and other art opportunities to venues across Greater Cincinnati. Saturday’s final installment includes concerts by the Cincinnati Children's Choir, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Cincinnati Men’s Chorus at St. John’s Unitarian Church; dance demo classes and performances at Covington’s Step-N-Out Studio; yarn-bombing 101 with the Bombshells of Cincinnati at 21c Museum Hotel and tons more events in College Hill, Butler County, Mariemont and other neighborhoods. Find a full schedule of free art to sample here.

Visionaries + Voices provides countless opportunities for local artists with disabilities. With locations in Northside and Tri-County, V+V helps these artists create, market and showcase their pieces. At the organization’s annual fundraiser, Double Vision, talented V+V artists exhibit and auction their works of art. Double Vision V takes place at Memorial Hall Friday — VIP and general admission ticket options available here. Art will be on sale via live and silent auctions, and attendees can enjoy drinks, snacks and music by DJ Mowgli.

Oakley’s Brazee Street Studios hosts a free art supply swap from 1-3 p.m. Saturday. Clean out your craft closet and bring any unwanted items such as paint, textiles and brushes, then stock up on other materials you may need. It’s all free and honor system-style — please bring at least two items if you plan on swapping. All extra supplies will be donated to Crayons2Computers.

It’s Northside Second Saturday time this weekend! Art, retail sales, food and drink specials abound throughout the neighborhood starting around 6 p.m. Highlights include shows at Northside Tavern and The Comet, gallery openings at Fabricate, NVISION and Northside International Airport’s Bathrool Gallery and a closing reception at Thunder-Sky, Inc.

Local electronic artist Charles Woodman is a founding member of video performance group viDEO sAVant and he currently has a show on display in Weston Art Gallery you can read about here. This Sunday viDEO sAVant presents Lateral Thinking, a unique, live multimedia performance at 21c Museum Hotel downtown. Video clips of both sci-fi and avant-garde films will play out as a soundtrack is composed live. This feast for the senses is free and begins at 4 p.m. Read more here.

Be sure to read our Best of Cincinnati issue for reader and staff picks on the city’s best restaurants, businesses, events and more.

For more theater shows, parties and other stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks and full calendar.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door: Green Day and More]]>

If you follow music coverage in CityBeat (hey, isn't that really why you pick up the paper?), you're certainly aware of Green Day's 2004 recording American Idiot. But since you're reading my weekend theater previews, you must be interested in other kinds of performance, so here's a tip: For two nights only, Green Day's American Idiot, a stage version of the powerful Punk score, will be onstage at the Aronoff. That's right — Friday and Saturday only, just three performances, much shorter that Broadway in Cincinnati's two-week presentation of touring Broadway musicals. I can vouch for this one, since I saw it a year ago during a similar tour stop in Dayton.

It's the story of three disaffected guys who take different downward spirals when confronted with the numbing boredom of everyday life — "alien nation" — as they sing in the opening number. The recording was conceived as a "Punk Rock Opera" and turned into a Tony Award-nominated Broadway show in 2010, with a lot of involvement by Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong (who actually appeared onstage in New York at various performances; that's not happening here in Cincinnati). There's a day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of $25 tickets; you need to show up two-and-a-half hours before the performance you're hoping to see (8 p.m. Friday, and 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturday) with a valid photo ID. Complete an entry form and wait 30 minutes to find out if you're a winner. If you prefer to just go ahead and buy your seats ($38-$91), you can call the Aronoff box office: 513-621-2787.

In the classic musical Gypsy, Rose has very concrete ideas regarding how to turn her daughters into stars (long before Green Day was punking out, to be sure): Back in the 1920s and ’30s she pushed her kids onto vaudeville stages whether they liked it or not. Things never went quite as she imagined, which was really a desire for her own fame and stardom. It's one of the great musicals, and the role of Rose has been compared to King Lear. That might be a bit of a stretch, but she's a tragic character who's fascinating to watch. There's a ton of great music, composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by a very young Stephen Sondheim and lots of humor along the way, especially the hilarious number by three strippers, "You Gotta Get a Gimmick." Cincinnati Landmark opened its production Thursday night, and it will be onstage at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts through May 4. Tickets ($21-$24): 513-241-6550.

Mary Chase's comedy Harvey won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize and had a four-year Broadway run (1,800 performances). The story of Elwood P. Dowd and his invisible friend, a 6-foot tall rabbit named Harvey, is perhaps best known for the 1950 movie featuring Jimmy Stewart in an Oscar-nominated performance. That's all well and good, but it's a show that audiences love to see live and in-person, and you can do just that at Covington's Carnegie for the next three weekends (tonight through April 27). It's directed by Buz Davis, who produced shows at the Carnegie when it was a dilapidated wreck back in the ’80s and ’90s. Now he's returning to stage Harvey in the beautifully renovated Otto M. Budig Theatre.
(Tickets ($17-$24): 859-957-1940.) Davis has assembled a strong cast for this family-friendly comedy, you can catch a few of them in this charming promotional video:



Still onstage are several recommended productions: The Mountaintop at Ensemble Theatre (final extended performance is Saturday evening; 513-421-3555); A Delicate Ship at the Cincinnati Playhouse (through April 20; 513-421-3888; CityBeat review here); and The Twentieth-Century Way at Know Theatre (through May 3; CityBeat review here.) And if Monday comes and you want still more: Check out True Theatre's next installment — True Dating (7:30 p.m. at Know Theatre). This round of monologues of real experiences will feature stories of dating that led to true love, and some that went off the tracks along the way. Tickets ($15): 513-300-5669.
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<![CDATA[Thoughts After Binge-Watching 'House of Cards']]>

Alfred Hitchcock made Psycho infamous by killing off the main character 30 minutes into the movie. Audiences were shocked — some even walked out of the theater. This had never been done before. Viewers had already invested 30 minutes into Janet Leigh. But her character’s death — as shocking as it was — created an essential space for Norman Bates to emerge and develop. The movie took a twist for the unexpected, and Norman Bates remains one of the most fundamental characters in the history of film.

It took me awhile to get into House of Cards. The series seems to pick up more steam the longer you watch. Kevin Spacey makes me uncomfortable (for good reason). I wasn’t hooked right away. Like Heisenberg in Breaking Bad, we are captivated by the villains — the evil doers. Frank and Claire Underwood are the political equivalent to Bonnie and Clyde. The audience is part of a first-person psychopathic journey through a politician’s road to world domination, and we’re frozen on the edge of our seats.

The turning point for many was the first episode of the second season, “Chapter 14.” Here we are, fully engaged with these characters, rooting for the journalists (I was rooting for the journalists) and waiting to see what amazing one-liners this series would come up with next. And then Zoe died. I had to re-watch the subway scene twice before I believed it was real. It was quick and dirty (just like Frank), an ingenious move on creator Beau Willimon’s part.

It’s the kind of moment where you think about criminal intent and defendants blaming their murders on “insanity.” Frank Underwood is an insane character with direct criminal intent. He didn’t get angry and frustrated and regret his decision. He saw an opportunity to get rid of a pesky journalist, so he took it. We all knew Frank was capable of stepping on anyone (Peter Russo) who was in his way. But this…this was different. This was a character that he had an established sexual and professional relationship with. And he killed her in two seconds. (It was so acrobatic and ninja-like.) That was the turning point for me, the point where I was hooked. Zoe’s death was a classic Hitchcockian move, only viewers had already invested an entire season into her.

The reason why Zoe’s death was so shocking to viewers is because we don’t believe our government officials to be capable of throwing journalists in front of trains when they are getting uncomfortably close to the truth. (9/11 truthers will disagree). In reality, dictatorships and corrupt regimes all over the world have the power to kill and do so regularly. Especially journalists. I find it so interesting that we are fascinated by a concept of unethical government and abuse of power when there is so much damn truth to it. We are romanticizing tyranny. We are making crooked governments into a drama series and it’s enticing and addicting because that’s not how we think we live. It’s dramatic to imagine Congress as a group of blood-thirsty criminals. Things like that “just don’t happen” in this country — so we make it into a TV show.

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<![CDATA[Ohio Ranks Poorly in Government Transparency ]]> Ohio scored fifth-worst in a nationwide government transparency survey conducted by a national consumer group focused on investigating and advocating for American citizens against powerful interest groups.

The group gave Ohio a “D-” ranking after its government spending transparency website earned 51 points out of 100 in U.S. Public Interest Research Group's fifth annual “Following the Money” report. 

“Ohio’s been kind of sinking through the ratings year by year,” says Phineas Baxendall, a U.S. PIRG senior policy analyst and co-author of the report released on Tuesday. “It used to do much better, which doesn’t mean they’re dismantling their transparency systems. It just means our standards get tougher each year and they’re more staying in place while other states are improving.”

Ohio’s the only state in the nation that doesn’t offer certain customizable search options including bid award recipients, keywords, agency and bulk download searches. Ohio’s poor score follows three years of ranking in the bottom half of the study.  

Researchers look for transparency websites to be comprehensive, one-stop and offer simple search formats. 

The nation as a whole is moving toward a more transparent approach to documenting government spending. Since PIRG began the study, all six categories it uses to compile rankings have shown an increase in states performing specific duties. The largest leaps in the past five years involve showing how a project benefits from taxpayer subsidies, which has seen an increase from two to 33 states, and how tax money is spent with an increase from eight to 44 states. All states now have ledger listings for transactions of any government spending on a website, compared to only 32 five years ago. 

Ohio’s score doesn’t reflect Cincinnati’s efforts to be transparent. In a 2013 study in transparency of the 30 largest cities in America, Cincinnati scored a “B+” for providing ledger listings for spending information, allowing Cincinnatians to view where money is spent, specific recipients of tax subsidies and the existence of a service request center allowing residents to notify officials about quality of life issues. 

Suggestions for improvement included making checkbook-level spending information searchable by the vendor who received the money and developing a comprehensive transparency website.

“We feel strongly that this isn’t a partisan issue, and the fact that states that do best in our rankings show no political pattern, with Texas and Massachusetts standing side-by-side, sort of speaks that this is one of those issues that should not be politicized,” Baxendall says. “We look forward to advancement in transparency in Ohio regardless of who is in office.”

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<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough]]>

The fellas of Mad Men showed off their mad manes (sorry) when Jon Hamm and Pete Campbell revealed some pretty epic ‘dos to the public this week.

Let’s start with Mr. Draper. Apparently in all my research of Jon Hamm (Read: browsing his free-ballin’ pics), neither I — nor the rest of the Internet — realized the star had appeared on the short-lived dating show The Big Date in 1996. The USA Network game show was hosted by Mark Walberg (the Antiques Roadshow one, not the triple-nipple one).

Then-25-year-old Hamm, identified on the show as a waiter, rocked the classic ‘90s parted shaggy ‘do (which I like to call the Shawn Hunter). And as if that wasn’t enough to confuse your boner (or ladyboner), just watch as he describes his perfect first date:

(Cut to the 2-minute mark for Hamm’s introduction, but seriously just watch the whole thing).


TOTAL FABULOUSITY! For some unknown reason that will go down as one of life’s biggest mysteries, Hamm did not go on to win a date. FOR SHAME!

OK, fast forward to modern times at the Mad Men premiere party last week. Vincent Kartheiser aka Pete Campbell showed up looking like he started to pull a Britney before changing his mind and running to the red carpet.

Apparently the actor shaves his bang area (why does that sound so dirty) so his character Pete can have a receding hairline  — because obviously — but couldn’t he achieve that look with makeup and a bald cap? Or why not just shave the whole thing? This is especially bothersome to me because, as a child, I was convinced you didn't need to "grow out" your bangs once you grew tired of them, you just had to cut them off. This could have been me:

                                       WHAT IS HAPPENING

Mad Men’s final season premieres Sunday night at 10 p.m. on AMC. Like Breaking Bad, this final season will be split between this year and next. Read more in this week’s TV column.

This week in movie remake fuckery: The Goonies 2 is coming atchu.

David Letterman realized Leno wasn’t backing out of retirement this time, so he hopped on the bandwagon and announced he’d be leaving The Late Show in 2015. Chelsea Handler also recently revealed she’ll be leaving E! when her contract is up in a few months, and is one of many celebs rumored to be considered to take Dave’s place. (Her first change: Swap out Stupid Pet Tricks for Stupid Vagina Tricks. Or maybe just Stupid Tricks, a game show with hookers? Call me for more ideas, Chels!) Stephen Colbert is at the center of these rumors as well, as his Colbert Report contract also ends at the end of this year. Meanwhile Late Late host and Letterman follow-up Craig Ferguson waits in the shadows as 75 percent of Americans still think Craig Ferguson is "the black guy from The Office." Wah waaahhh

Iconic album art like The Beatle’s Abbey Road can transform ordinary places into fan destinations. Check out these classic record covers inserted into their respective Google street view locations.

Normally grown-ass women with a hardcore love for Disney turn me off — everyone’s entitled to a nostalgia fest every now and again, but you should not see Frozen three times in theaters if you do not have a child in your life. And there’s a new announcement for you:


Anna Kendrick hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time this weekend and her debut featured not one but two nods to Disney with her Beauty and the Beast-themed monologue and, later, a Little Mermaid bit. But — as you’ll see from the links — Kendrick’s stint was anything but basic. Bravo, Anna! This will certainly be a highlight episode of the season.

Could you use $500,000? Have you always wanted to be on TV? Are you either a soft-spoken racial minority or a loud-mouthed racist? Big Brother is casting its 16th season and the crew will be in Cincinnati next month to scope prospects. According to the online application, casting is curious about important personal information like applicants' weight, hair color and a “self biography” of a whopping 70 words. Those interested in being locked in a house, recorded 24/7 by 65 cameras and 98 microphones and pitted against some of the worst human beings on the planet can apply in person at Mount Adams Pavilion between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday, May 2.

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<![CDATA[Easter Brunch Specials]]>

A smattering of local restaurants offering special Easter menus and buffets on Sunday, April 20. Reservations required.

A Touch of Elegance: Entrees include beef tenderloin, honey-glazed ham, fish, chicken and vegetarian choices plus a traditional breakfast including goetta and smoked salmon. There will also be a baby chick display; after brunch, the chicks will be donated to Parky's Farm. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $23.95 adults; $20.25 seniors; $16 ages 4-10; free ages 3 and younger. 5959 Kellogg Ave., 
California, 513-231-2312, atouchofelegance.info.

Blinkers Tavern: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Easter choices featuring honey-glazed ham, oven-roasted Cornish hen and prime rib. 10:30 a.m. 318 Greenup St., 
Covington, Ky., 859-360-0840, blinkerstavern.com.

Crave: Hot and cold buffets with meat-carving stations, a pastry table and kid-friendly choices. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $27.95 adults; $12.95 children. 175 Joe Nuxhall Way, 
Downtown, 513-241-8600, craveamerica.com.

Crowne Plaza Hotel Blue Ash: Stations including an omelet station and a waffle station plus salads, fruit, cinnamon French toast, seasoned roast pork loin, baked fish and more. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $27 adults; $21 seniors; $12 ages 5-12; free ages 4 and younger. 5901 Pfeiffer Road
, Blue Ash, 513-793-4500.

Embassy Suites Blue Ash: Menu includes a carving station with glazed ham and beef. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $24.95 adults; $22.95 seniors; $9.95 ages 5-10; free ages 4 and younger. 4554 Lake Forest Drive
, Blue Ash, 513-981-3752.

Jag’s Steak and Seafood: Steak and seafood menus. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 5980 West Chester Road
, West Chester, 513-860-5353, jags.com.

Metropole: Chef Michael Paley offers dishes including milk-braised rabbit papparadelle and house-made sticky buns. Brunch cocktails include a salty bloody mary or Morning Glory, Metropole's spin on mimosa. 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 609 Walnut St.,
 Downtown, 513-578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com.

Oasis Conference Center: All sorts of stations including a omelet station, salad station, carving station, dessert station and a children’s buffet. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $22.95 adults; $17.95 seniors; $8.95 children. 902 Loveland-Miamiville Road, Loveland, 513-583-8383, oasisconferencecenter.com.

The Palace Restaurant: Executive Chef Joe West offers a traditional brunch buffet with carving and crepe stations. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. $42.95 adults; $32.95 seniors; $22.95 children. 601 Vine St., 
Downtown, palacecincinnati.com.

The Phoenix: Brunch plus complimentary photos with the Easter Bunny. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $28.95 adults; $16.95 children. 812 Race St.,
Downtown, 513-721-8901, thephx.com.

Riley’s Restaurant: All-you-can-eat smoked pit ham, fried chicken tenders, jambalaya, breakfast casserole, scrambled eggs and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $18.50. 11568 Springfield Pike
, Springdale, 513-771-3361, rileysgreatmeals.com.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse: New seasonal spring dishes plus children's options. Noon. $42.95; $13.95 children. 100 E. Freedom Way
, Downtown, 513-381-0491, ruthschris.com.

Schoolhouse Restaurant: Fried chicken, fish, carved roast beef, meat loaf, baked ham and spinach-stuffed chicken breast served with sides. 11:30 a.m. 8031 Glendale-Milford Road
, Camp Dennison, 513-831-5753, theschoolhousecincinnati.com.

Via Vite: A buffet with Italian items and drink specials. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $25; $10 ages 2-10; free for 2 and younger. 520 Vine St.,
 Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com.

 

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<![CDATA[Playhouse World Premiere 'Seven Spots on the Sun' Earns National Recognition]]>

Actors Theatre’s Humana Festival is indeed a launching pad for exciting new works. That makes its final weekend the perfect moment for the American Theatre Critics Association to recognize a set of outstanding plays produced at regional theaters during 2013. None of the 2013 Humana Festival shows was nominated, but one of the three works to win a significant cash prize ($7,500) was Martín Zimmerman’s Seven Spots on the Sun, given its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park last fall. The play blends magical realism and political issues in an affecting tale examining if forgiveness is truly possible. Set in a Central American nation ravaged by civil war, lust, plague and a consuming need for vengeance, it’s about a widowed doctor in a small village and a newly-married soldier charged with subduing dissent. Their journeys towards redemption converge in some painful ways.

The top prize ($25,000) went to Lauren Gunderson for her play I and You, about a cranky high school student who needs a liver transplant. A smart, athletic classmate recruits her to help him finish a school project focused on Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. As their unlikely relationship evolves, they explore the meaning of life and death without a shred of condescension or pretentiousness. I and You was staged last October at Marin Theatre Company in California, where Jasson Minadakis, who founded Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, is now artistic director and nurtured the development of Gunderson’s script. Her play Toil & Trouble was presented locally last summer by Know Theatre.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 4/4-4/6]]>

Ei8ht Ball Brewing hosts a party this Saturday that echoes most folks’ sentiments after the past few months. The brewery’s “F#$K Winter” bash features the tapping of Ei8ht Ball’s new double IPA, Preach, the grand opening of its patio, live music from Honey & Houston and a pig roast with all the fixins. Give Old Man Winter the proverbial finger by celebrating in true spring fashion — it looks like this monsoon will end today. Ei8ht Ball’s “F#$k Winter” party runs 4-8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance here.

If you’re looking for a fun way to introduce the kids to classical music and our local orchestras (or if you’re just an adult with an unabashed loved for children’s movies — no judgment), The Cincinnati Pops’ Pixar in Concert is definitely worth checking out. The Pops will be playing tunes from more than a dozen of your animated favorites including the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo and more. Concerts run all weekend, Friday-Sunday at Music Hall; tickets start at $12.

Cincinnati gets a little spring break flavor this weekend with Foam N’ Glow. You know those sketchy Panama bar parties where they flood the joint with suds and everyone goes wild, unaware of what bodily fluids they may or may not be exposed to? It’s just like that, only at Bogart’s. Expect DJs, light shows, foam shooters and way too many neon tank tops packed into Bogart’s beginning at 9 p.m. Friday. Get tickets here.

Monster Jam returns to the Tristate this weekend with a lineup of badass monstertruckers to entertain audiences with tricks and racing. U.S. Bank Arena gets down and dirty as it transforms into race track and obstacle course for Monster Jam Friday-Saturday.

Innovative chamber music ensemble concert:nova always presents fun, interdisciplinary concerts in atypical venues. This Saturday and Sunday, the group flips the traditional classical music gala on its head with RE:BEL — a performance and party at Rhinegeist Brewery. Lots of live music accompanies art installations and guests have the option of enjoying a three-course dinner. Go here for tickets and more details.

The 22nd Victory of Light Expo takes over Sharonville Convention Center this weekend for two days of workshops, lectures, art and music for the mind, body and spirit. Meet and mingle with psychics, healers, paranormal investigators, astrologists and other presenters with spiritual flair. The expo is also a great shopping spot for books, crystals and materials on Tarot, Reiki, aromatherapy and more. Tickets are $14 per day, $20 for a weekend pass.

Be sure to read our Best of Cincinnati issue for reader and staff picks on the city’s best restaurants, businesses, events and more.

For more art openings, theater shows, parties and other stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks and full calendar.

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<![CDATA[OTR Foundation to Host Property Rehabilitation Series]]> The Over-the-Rhine Foundation will host a series of upcoming workshops aimed at educating people interested in downtown living on how to rehabilitate properties.

Part of the nonprofit’s mission is to engage community members in the neighborhood’s future as a compliment to larger development companies’ efforts, which have largely shaped the neighborhood’s resurgence in recent years. This effort is specifically targeting those interested in moving to OTR, the Brewery District or Pendleton. 

“Lots of people are really interested and excited about the idea of rehabbing one of the buildings to live-in in Over-the-Rhine,” says Marilyn Hyland, a board trustee for OTR Foundation. “Then they get into it and find it’s really complicated. This is an opportunity for people of both professional and personal perspectives to help people who really want to do this with their families and to have the wisdom of experience as they go forward with it themselves.”

The first of the three workshops — which take place at the Art Academy of Cincinnati on Jackson Street — will take place on April 12 and include a lecture from owners who rehabbed their homes, followed by an optional tour of renovated homes.

A second workshop on May 10 delves into selecting and purchasing a building, working with various contractors, hidden costs and navigating planning, zoning and other regulations. A third on June 14 dives into the financial aspect of renovation.

People can register for the workshop series by going to otrfoundation.org. The cost goes up from $35 to $50 starting April 4. Space is limited and will close once 80 people have registered.

“We as a foundation are committed to revitalizing the diverse OTR neighborhood, and a key objective is building community by encouraging and promoting owner-occupied development,” Kevin Pape, OTR Foundation president, said in a statement. “These workshops will help individuals gain access to the resources, expertise, and development tools needed to ensure the success of their community investments.”

More information is available at otrfoundation.org/3OTR.

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<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough]]>

The stoner gods have answered our prayers by way of Taco Bell’s “first meal.” Now folks across the country can start living mas as soon as they wake up, because everyone's favorite south-of-the-border fast food chain now serves breakfast. Taco Bell giant unveiled the new morning menu with a commercial that takes a dig at the golden arches:

Taco Bell breakfast is served 7-11 a.m. — 30 minutes later than McDonald’s, yet still too early for their target demographic. When will fast food restaurants learn that the people who really want to consume waffle tacos do not typically wake before noon?

Bill Murray can do whatever he wants. He can crash your party, drink fancy champagne on the rocks and, now, raid your dad's closet circa 1981.

Yeah, he wore PBR pants to a recent golf outing. NBD.

Murray’s Coffee and Cigarettes co-stars and South by Southwest buddies of the Wu-Tang Clan are causing a stir with the release of their new album…which apparently will consist of one single copy.

Of all the terrible reality shows I relish in, I have never been able to get into The Bachelor/ette. I’m not sure what separates this piece of trash from the heap of garbage I enjoy — it’s not like the materialistic, bratty children in Botoxed old lady bodies known as Real Housewives don’t perpetuate negative female stereotypes, but I enjoy shows that are somewhat self-aware and poke fun at themselves, and The Bach just doesn’t do that for me. So, any show in the vein of 2003’s Joe Millionaire that misleads women who signed up for a TV dating show is a winner in my book. In a new show coming to Fox, 12 women will compete for the affection of a man they claim to believe is Prince Harry, despite what the smallest amount of common sense and eyesight would prove — the dude’s just a redheaded imposter!

I Want to Marry “Harry” premieres this May. You know when the truth bomb is dropped on these hoes they’ll be all, “How dare this television show orchestrated to create ‘true love’ be fake?!” But in the meantime we can ponder which is worse: a woman trying to meet and marry a prince (of whom she’s obviously never even seen a photo) and believing British royalty would dare be seen on American reality TV or a woman knowing all this mess is some bullshit but riding that gravy train as long as possible?

In what must be the most fabulous robbery ever, three people were arrested for stealing a replica pair of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The shoes were on display in a Hilton Garden Inn lobby (which is kind of rude). The trio has been released without bail and is due back in court next month. If only clicking your heels got you out of jail.

Lakewood, Calif., Vice Mayor and Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Todd Rodgers is running for L.A. sheriff in an upcoming June election. Typically, county election campaign coverage wouldn’t have a place in a pop culture roundup, save for maybe making fun of an unintentionally funny low-budget ad. But those Hollywood types have connections on the West Coast. If I lived in L.A., it would be important for me to elect an official with not only celebrity endorsements, but a good sense of humor as well. Therefore I’d definitely vote for Todd Rodgers, who last week reunited (most of) the cast of Reno 911! for a series of TV spots.

Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ben Garant, Cedric Yarbrough, Niecy Nash, Carlos Alazraqui and Joe Lo Truglio all suited up in their khaki uniforms for the occasion. While the videos haven’t been released yet, you can see photos here.

You may be asking, “Why would a serious candidate for sheriff seek out the cast of a Comedy Central mockumentary?” or “Why wouldn’t he seek endorsements from actors on a show that is still actually on the air?” or “Isn’t Reno in Nevada? What does any of this have to do with a sheriff election?” The answers all lie in Lt. Dangle’s signature booty shorts. But seriously, Reno was filmed at Carson Station in L.A. from 2001-2006, where Rodgers was a captain at the time, so the cast was actually familiar with him and his work. We’ll take any excuse for a Reno reunion, though. Vote for Rodgers!

And here’s Samuel L. Jackson reciting some slam poetry about Boy Meets World.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 3/28-3/30]]>

The Cincinnati Art Museum’s monthly Art After Dark series is a really cool way to experience the historic art institution. Each final Friday, the CAM opens its doors after hours for a themed night of gallery tours, live performances and a cash bar with happy hour drinks and appetizers. Friday’s Art After Dark: Rococo Vibrations includes tour of Genius and Grace: François Boucher and the Generation of 1700 (members-only at 5:30 p.m., public tours at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.) and the Neo-Soul stylings of Tracy Walker from 6-8 p.m. The free event runs 5-9 p.m.; parking is $4.

Washington Platform’s Oyster Festival kicks off Friday. This 28th annual food fest features a menu of more than 40 styles of oyster dishes, including Smoked Oyster Salad, Fried Oyster Tacos, Oyster Stuffed Jalapenos, Oysters Mardi Gras and Nantucket Oysters. Guests can enjoy lunch, dinner and happy hour specials and pay to play various games for prizes, with proceeds benefiting the Saint Francis Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine. Washington Platform’s Oyster Festival specials are available 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 4-8 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Thursday.

Recent Grammy Award winners Roomful of Teeth perform at the Contemporary Arts Center Friday. The vocal group specializes in blending classical singing techniques with diverse World music styles for a completely unique sound — one of their songs is in a made-up language! The concert, which begins at 8 p.m., is just the latest offering from the CAC’s solid performance series. Tickets are $14, $8 for members. Read our story on Roomful of Teeth here.

This weekend is your last chance to check out Krohn Conservatory’s spring show, Avant Garden. The show features exotic flowers and shrubs with recycled materials in the landscape. Avant Garden closes Sunday along with the Conservatory’s spring plant sale. The anticipated annual butterfly show — this year it's Pura Vida: The Butterflies of Costa Rica — opens April 12.

Opening Day in Cincinnati is not only a city holiday, but a rite of passage for locals. It marks the first game of the Reds’ season (baseball’s first professional team), the unofficial start of spring and the return of one of the best parades of the year, the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade — now in its 95th year! Opening Day may not be until Monday, but Covington gallery BLDG is getting a jump on festivities beginning Friday.

199C: Cincinnati’s Opening Day is an exhibit of baseball-, Cincinnati- and Opening Day-themed art from more than 40 artists from around the neighborhood and world. The exhibit opening starts at 4 p.m. Friday with music from Automagik, food trucks, a live art installation, retro video game competitions and a pop-up Wiffle ball game on Pike Street. Find more info here.

Opening Day celebrations run the gamut from sports-related fun to art, bar events and food. Check out a roundup of Monday’s happenings here.

Be sure to read this week’s Best of Cincinnati issue for reader and staff picks on the city’s best restaurants, businesses, events and more.

For more art openings, theater shows, parties and other stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks and full calendar.

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<![CDATA[Opening Day Festivities]]> Opening Day is probably the coolest thing about Cincinnati. What other city has its own self-proclaimed, sports-related holiday respected by Fortune 500 companies, public school systems and private businesses alike? 

No one should have to do anything on Monday, March 31 except celebrate the upcoming Reds season and the fact that in 1869 some smart person assembled a full lineup of salaried players who traveled around kicking the crap out of all the amateur and semi-pro teams. 

The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade kicks off the festivities at noon, heading south from Findlay Market toward Fountain Square along a slightly altered route to avoid streetcar construction (south on Elm to Central Parkway, then south on Race). Big Red Machine shortstop Dave Concepcion will grand marshal the parade, along with dignitaries Teddy Kremer and Anthony Munoz. 

And plenty of locations around town will have specials and events on Monday to celebrate.

Rally on the Square: Give Back Cincinnati is partnering with Christian Moerlein and Local 12 for Rally on the Square. The event is a great way to enjoy the excitement before the game with food, drinks and music, all while supporting charity. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com. 

Opening Day Celebration: The celebrations continue at Washington Park with family-friendly activities, concessions and live music from local rock band Cherry on Top. View the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade from the park at noon and stick around to watch the Reds defeat the Cardinals on the giant LED screen. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org. 

Opening Day with Via Vite: Chef de Cuisine Joel Warner will be preparing authentic Italian dishes alongside drink specials on the restaurant's open-air Piazza Bar on Fountain Square. Get an Italian-style coney, veal and ricotta meatballs, Findlay Market grilled Italian sausage with peperonata plus Peroni drafts and Miller Light buckets. 520 Vine St., Downtown, viaviterestaurant.com.

Arnold's Opening Day: Arnold's Opening Day tradition continues with breakfast, keg tappings, live music, live theater and Jim Tarbell. The day kicks off with breakfast at Arnold's 9-11 a.m, plus seven keg tappings (Three Floyd’s Alpha King, The Brew Kettle’s White Raja, Founder’s Imperial Stout, Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA, Blank Slate’s Long Way Home Chocolate IPA, Rhinegeist’s Saber Tooth Tiger and MadTree’s Rounding Third and Heading for Home Red IPA) at 9 a.m. Random keg cups will be marked; if you get a marked cup, you can win more than 80 prizes ranging from free Cincinnati Reds rookie cards, game-used memorabilia cards, vintage cards from the '50s and '60s and autographed baseball cards. Starting at 11 a.m., pianist Todd Hepburn will play every baseball song you can think of, plus the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's Jeremy Dubin and Justin McCombs will be performing Casey at Bat and Who's on First. Tarbell will also be in the house dressed as Peanut Jim Shelton and playing the mouth harp. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

Opening Day at Neons Unplugged: Neons unlocks their doors at noon for a party debuting the Neons Anniversary Porter, brewed by Listermann Brewing Co. They'll also have plenty of MadTree's Rounding Third Amber IPA and selections from Revolution Brewing in Chicago. Taste513 starts the grill at noon, serving burgers and sandwiches. Mazunte Mexican takes over the grill at 6 p.m. 208 E. 12th St., Downtown, facebook.com/neonsunplugged.

The Opening Day game against the St. Louis Cardinals starts at 4:10 p.m.
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<![CDATA[Winterhymn Preps for Paganfest America Tour]]>

Spring has sprung, in name at least. For music fans, this means that more bands will exit from their hibernations and start scheduling shows and tours. Cincinnati’s own Folk Metal warriors, Winterhymn, have done exactly that, earning a slot on this year’s Paganfest America

The local sextet will be the only American band on the bill, spending from late April to mid-May crisscrossing the nation with Folk Metal heavy hitters Korpiklaani, Turisas, Chthonic and Varg. It is undeniably the biggest tour the young band has ever been a part of and members are asking for their fans’ help to fund the trip.


Winterhymn has set up an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of raising $7,500 to pay for travel expenses, merchandise, gas, lodging, tolls, insurance and other necessary expenses. The money raised will not see any members’ pocket — it is merely to help them be a little less broke when they return home from their voyage.


In exchange for donations made, Winterhymn has set a veritable treasure trove of loot for any fan who contributes. Perks range from a digital download of a five-track EP ($5) to a signed kick drum head that will be used on the tour ($300). Other swag includes armor, patches, CDs, custom artwork, t-shirts and much, much more. If you’re interested, it’s best to act fast; several of the largest pieces, including a $200 violin and $400 guitar, have already been claimed.


Since March 15, the band has raised over $1,800 and hope to reach their goal by April 13. Click the box below or visit the Indiegogo page here to view the band’s pitch video and check out all of the perks. Even if a contribution can’t be made, fans can spread the word about the campaign via Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtags #winterhymn, #paganfest and #paganfestamerica) and other social media.


Check out CityBeat’s profile of Winterhymn here and visit winterhymn.net for more on the band.


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<![CDATA[Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza Coming to Mason]]> Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, a fast-casual build-your-own pizza restaurant, is coming to Mason mid-May.

Using the assembly-line format (similar to Chipotle, Fusian, etc.), each guest can walk down the counter and create their own custom-built pizza, fired in a blazing oven and ready in 180 seconds. Each customer starts with a house-made 11-inch crust and then selects toppings — either from existing menu options or customized. Housemade sauces include classic red and white cream plus unique choices like barbecue or pesto. Toppings range from grilled chicken and crumbled meatballs to standard veggies plus arugula, pineapple and several cheeses, including vegan.

Every Blaze Pizza restaurant makes its own dough from scratch, using a recipe that requires a 24-hour fermentation period. But if you don't want that crust, they also offer a gluten-free choice. The menu also features fresh salads, signature lemonades and house-made S’more Pies. 

Order online or head to the 73-seat restaurant.

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, 9341 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, blazepizza.com.
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