CityBeat Blogs - Live Music http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-35-10.html <![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: The Wonders of Gaff Tape]]>

Today, I wanted to write about something that all five of us share on this trip. Something we all cherish, hold close and respect more than anything. I want to talk about something that holds us all together on a daily basis. The love of Rock & Roll.

Ha ha! Just kidding, I’m talking about gaffer’s tape.

Some of you may be asking what gaffer’s tape (aka gaff tape) is. Others of you may be saying that gaff tape is just like duct tape. To the first group, I will say that gaff tape is a wondrous roll of tape with properties that make it perfect for a touring band’s needs. To the second group, I will say, “Shut up, no it isn’t.”

Gaff tape comes in a large roll similar to duct tape, is generally black (shiny or matte) and adheres to just about anything. The non-stick surface and a Sharpie is a match made in heaven. And when you go sticky side to sticky side, nothing short of The Hulk (or a knife) will get that stuff separated.

But there is one attribute that makes it invaluable: it rips off the roll super easily. Anyone who has used duct tape knows what a struggle it is to get that stuff to part with the rest of the roll. OK, it’s not super hard to do, but when you’re half asleep, in some random European city, with 15 minutes till doors open and an entire merch area to set up, convenience is crucial.

To give you an idea of just how versatile gaff tape is, I want to share with you some of the myriad ways we’ve put gaff tape to work.

The first is makeshift signs. When you have to advertise what sizes we have left in stock on a shirt, gaff tape comes to the rescue.

We also use the black gold to hang our merch when no hooks or other devices are present.

 Sometimes we use it to keep our expensive tour banners from falling over.

Other times, we use it to patch together our expensive tour banners when a certain inexperienced merch guy breaks them.
Or even to just hold a water bottle and weigh down a set list on stage.
These are just a few of the many uses that gaff tape can accomplish. It truly is a tool that can be applied to almost any problem. I’m pretty sure that we could use it to close a grievous wound and I’d have confidence that it’d hold till we reached a hospital. And that’s accounting for the fact that none of us can say “hospital” in German, Italian, French or Swiss.

So here’s to you gaff tape, the one thing on this tour that’s always there for us (at least until we run out).

CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.

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<![CDATA[Weekend Music: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Busdriver and More]]>

Losing a key singer/songwriter in any band is a difficult proposition (see: Van Halen, multiple times), but popular Roots act Carolina Chocolate Drops haven’t missed a beat since their amicable split with Dom Flemons (now a solo artist). Singer/multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, the sole original member of the group, continues to drive the Drops, who began as a throwback/tribute to, as Derek Halsey writes in his preview for CityBeat this week, “the African American string-band tradition that flourished in the 1700s and 1800s.” Giddens has also been in the spotlight for her vital contributions to Lost River: The New Basement Tapes, a T Bone Burnett-helmed album featuring songs written around newly discovered “lost” Bob Dylan lyrics. The album, due for release on Nov. 11, also includes some heady company: Elvis Costello, Jim James, Marcus Mumford and Taylor Goldsmith.


Carolina Chocolate Drops perform tonight (Friday) at Parrish Auditorium on the Hamilton campus of Miami University. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $25. Click here for details.


Here’s a clip of the Drops performing “Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind” recorded this summer … on a gondola!


• Art Rap giant Busdriver comes to Newport’s Thompson House Saturday night for a 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $15 and Clipping, Milo, Kenny Segal, Counterfeit Money Machine, Eugenius and Evolve are also on the bill. 


From Brian Baker’s CityBeat preview of the show:

After the stellar cultural and musical eccentricity of 2012's Beaus$Eros, Busdriver's latest album, Perfect Hair, may be his most ambitious and satisfying record to date. On the new album's "Bliss Point," Busdriver asks the tongue-in-cheek musical questions, "Where exactly is Hip Hop going? Did Hip Hop have breakfast this morning? Does Hip Hop really have the body type to pull off that outfit?" In reverse order, the answers have to be, "Hell yes," "Hell no, it was this afternoon" and "Wherever the Busdriver is taking it." 


• Dynamic Jam band The Werks, who work a crafty Electronic vibe into their improvisational mix, play Covington’s Madison Theater Saturday night at 9 p.m. Zoogma and Peridoni also perform. Tickets are $15 in advance; $18 at the door. 


From Charlie Harmon’s preview for this week’s CityBeat:

Blending genres ranging from fat Funk and Blues to psychedelic Rock and Electronica, their guitar shreds, their keys and organs wail and their bass and drums form a pocket to create what they call “Psychedelic Dance Rock.” 


• Cincinnati singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ingrid Woode and her group The Woode Tribe Orchestra celebrate the release of a new CD/DVD package with a concert Saturday at the Fairfield Community Arts Center Theatre. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $12, which includes a copy of the new release, titled Going LiVe In FiVe. Tickets for the show and more details are available here.


Woode is an accomplished musician, having written for artists like Queen Latifah and Lalah Hathaway. She also performed her original composition “When This Life Is Over” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2011. The 11-piece Woode Tribe Orchestra (which includes five backup vocalists) gives the five tracks on Going LiVe In FiVe a full-bodied richness and depth. The music is best categorized as smooth and funky R&B/Soul, but there is an impressive diversity in the arrangements that takes it to another more intriguing level. 


Click here to read more about the release in this week’s Spill It.


• The Burger Records Caravan of Stars pulls into Southgate House Revival in Newport Saturday with a lineup of Burger acts that includes The Coathangers, together PANGEA, Cherry Glazerr, AJ Tavera & Terror Amor and Mozes & the Firstborn. Burger is a cultishly beloved DIY label known for its many cassette release. More recently the notoriously artist-friendly label has been growing and garnering wider attention; the label put out over 300 releases last year, outlets like The New York Times have been doing large feature stories on the label and a new Burger publishing branch was just announced.


In this week’s CityBeat, contributor Reyan Ali chatted with Meredith Franco from Caravan headliners The Coathangers about their evolution from an off-handed joke (something along the lines of, “We should start a band called The Coathangers!”) to international indie success story.

“We didn’t even know what type of music we were going to play. We’re not like, ‘Oh, we’re going to play Punk. We’re going to play Rock & Roll,’ ” Franco says. “Now it’s still the same thing. We just write whatever and that’s what it is. [When people ask] ‘What kind of band are you in?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I guess it’s Rock & Roll.’ ”

Here’s a music video for the band’s “Follow Me,” featuring the members of fellow Atlanta rockers Mastodon filling in for the ’Hangers.


Saturday’s show kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door.


• Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., Cincinnati singer/songwriter Maurice Mattei and his band The Tempers (currently featuring scene vet Jimmy Davidson on guitar, bassist Neil Sharrow, drummer Mike Grimm and Rick Howell on harmonica) will perform at Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge in honor of Maurice’s 21st release, the full-length Celebrity Issue. The event is free. 


CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with Mattei about the new release for last week’s CityBeat. Though Mattei generally shies away from “concept albums,” he admits a thread developed in the writing for Celebrity Issue, which features guests like pianist Ricky Nye, pedal steel player Cameron Cochran, multi-instrumentalist/Blessid Union of Souls bassist Dave Ramos, cellist Claire Timmerman, harmonica player Rick Howell and Mattei’s wife Korin on vocals.

“It’s inevitable when you write a group of songs in a finite period that you’re kind of documenting whatever experiences you’re going through at the time,” Mattei says. “A lot of the material talks about loss; loss of someone you knew or a relationship or an era, a time, a place. That’s what I get from it. It’s about how things change and how loss occurs.”


• Progressive Hip Hop/Jazz crew IsWhat?! presents a special multi-media showcase Sunday at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills. Dubbed “A Million Ways to Tell a Story,” the show will spotlight international artists from various disciplines and show how they tell stories within their own mediums. The night includes a screening of the short film Doradus by Italian director Fernando J. Scarpa, who IsWhat?! frontman Napoleon Maddox met while in Hollywood supporting the film Billie’s Blues, which was scored by Maddox. Experimental Japanese percussionist (or, as Maddox calls him, “sonic poet”) Tatsuya Nakatani will also perform, as will IsWhat?! and poet Matt Hart, co-founder/editor of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety and also a musician (you may remember him from such local acts Clifford Nevernew and Travel).  


“A Million Ways to Tell a Story” begins at 8 p.m. and admission is $7. Find more info on the show at iswhatonline.blogspot.com


Play It Forward, the local non-profit organization set up to assist (typically uninsured) musicians in their times of medical and/or financial need, presents a benefit concert this Sunday in the name of esteemed veteran local guitarist Larry Goshorn (Sacred Mushroom, Pure Prairie League, Goshorn Brothers). Goshorn has had a series of health issues over the past couple of years, including open-heart surgery. Sunday’s all-ages “Play It for Larry Goshorn” benefit concert runs 4-11 p.m. at Covington's Madison Theater


The show is being hosted by Cincy radio superstars Gary Burbank (Play It Forward’s founder) and Eddie Fingers and will feature performances by Pure Prairie League, The Goshorn Brothers, The Menus, The Bluebirds, Balderdash, Rob Fetters, George Powell and Dave Widow. Advance tickets are $20 (through cincyticket.com) or $25 at the door. All proceeds benefit Play It Forward. 


• Earlier this year, Cincinnati Pop Rock band Mixtapes announced they’d be going on indefinite hiatus after their current run of show dates, which wraps up on Halloween at the big Punk Rock festival Fest in Gainesville, Fla. Local fans won’t have to travel to Florida to see Mixtapes before their break (which seems like it could possibly be permanent). On Sunday at 7:30 p.m., the band plays its final hometown show for at least quite some time at a unique venue — Lucy Blue Pizza (1126 Main St., Over-the-Rhine). The show also includes Mixtapes’ current tourmates Direct Hit!, Elway and Lipstick Homicide, plus Cincy’s Boys and Kinder Words


Sunday’s show is open to fans of all ages and admission is $8 (advance tickets are available through cincyticket.com). 


Know of more good live music options going down this weekend in Greater Cincinnati? Let us know about it in the comments.


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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: We Were Promised Jetpacks and More]]>

It’s a double bill of Scottish Indie Rock at Bogart’s tonight as We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad pull into town for a free, all-ages 8 p.m. show. The concert was originally scheduled for Over-the-Rhine’s Woodward Theater, but was moved due to the new venue not quite being ready yet to host events yet (the legendary Ian McLagan’s Oct. 29 show slated for the Woodward has been moved to Southgate House Revival in Newport for the same reasons). The Woodward’s selling tickets to shows beginning Nov. 10, so hopefully it will be all set by then.

CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with WWPJP’s guitarist/singer Adam Thompson for a feature in this week’s paper. Thompson spoke of mixing things up on the band’s most recent album release, Unravelling

“It’s still got the same emotional pull as the last two albums, it’s just that the whole sound is a lot more varied,” Thompson notes. “It’s got a bit more groove or something and I think that’s what we were trying to achieve, but it’s still very much a We Were Promised Jetpacks album. If you don’t like the first two, you’re not going to like this one, but I do think it offers something different.”


Click here to read Jason Gargano’s preview of openers The Twilight Sad.


• While it’s true that “Ska Punk” had its mainstream flash-in-the-pan moment in the’90s, it’s a shame that Ska often gets dismissed today as a sort of punchline. (“Ha, remember when Ska and Swing music were popular?”) From its origins in late-’50s Jamaica through today, Ska has endured thanks to new, young bands rediscovering the music and a loyal cult following. 


America’s Ska kings are unquestionably The Toasters, who were formed in 1981 (just as the U.K.’s 2 Tone Ska craze was beginning to lose steam) by British ex-pat Robert “Bucket” Hingley. When The Toasters (who eschewed the distorted “Ska Punk” concept for a style more reminiscent of the pioneers and 2 Tone bands) were looking for a label to release their debut EP, Hingley formed Moon Ska Records, which became the top independent Ska label on the planet and was home to practically every America Ska band worth a listen.


The Toasters play a free show tonight at 10 p.m. at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub.



Irish music trio Socks in the Frying Pan, from County Clare in Ireland, is in the midst of its first tour of the U.S. and tonight the group plays Molly Malone’s in Covington. The young band is becoming known for its creative spin on traditional Irish music, which has earned it numerous accolades in its homeland (the Live Ireland Awards and Tradition in Review Awards both have named them New Group of the Year and Irish American News calls them “simply stupendous”).  


Tonight’s Covington show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. 


• A pair of great, rootsy singer/songwriters perform at Newport’s Southgate Revival tonight — in separate rooms and as part of separate shows.


Tommy Womack, once dubbed “Nashville’s best loved musical eccentric,” headlines the Revival Room at 8:30 p.m. with special guests Wild Ponies. Tickets are $12. 


• Meanwhile, the stellar Robbie Fulks plays the club’s Sanctuary room with guests Woody Pines. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. 


Fulks has long recorded for the esteemed label Bloodshot Records and his song “I’ll Trade You Money for Wine” is featured on the label’s awesome, recently-released 20th anniversary compilation, While No One Was Looking, which features a variety of artists performing songs from Bloodshot’s back catalog. Fulks’ tune is covered by Andrew Bird and Nora O’Connor.


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<![CDATA[Deke Dickerson Sings "Instrumentals" with Los Straitjackets]]>

The world’s greatest wrestling-masked instrumental musical ensemble Los Straitjackets return to the Cincinnati area tonight for a show at Southgate House Revival. The band is joined by Roots music fave Deke Dickerson, who collaborated with Los Straitjackets on the recently released LP, Los Straitjackets: Deke Dickerson Sings The Instrumental Hits

As the cheeky title suggests, the album features some famous instrumental tunes which Dickerson fleshes out with “lost or rewritten” lyrics. The track “You Can Count on Me,” for example, is The Ventures’ Hawaii Five-O theme with lyrics from Sammy Davis Jr.’s version.


Other instrumental-turned-vocalized songs on the album include classics like “Pipeline,” “Walk Don’t Run,” “Misirlou” and “Popcorn.” 



“If you're a record collector and music geek who’s been around long enough," Dickerson said in an interview with Billboard, "you start to realize that most famous instrumental hits either started out as vocal songs, or — even better — were written as instrumentals." 


Sadly, the Star Wars theme didn’t make the cut.



Showtime tonight is 8 p.m. Admission is $20 at the door. The B-Sides open.

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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: A Day in the Life of a Merch Guy]]>

Before I left, I had a lot of people ask me just what I’d be doing while on tour. The best answer I could give them was, “I don’t know, sell shirts I guess.” 

So, in an effort to give you a better picture of what a day in the life of Valley of the Sun’s illustrious merch guy/tour bitch, I give you a minute-by-minute breakdown of what will most likely be our busiest day on the tour. What transpires is a day with two shows and 10 combined hours on the road and yes, it’s as tiring as it sounds.

6:30 a.m.: Wake up before dawn in Frankfurt and get ready for a five hour drive to Munich. Take a shower in a hotel shower that has no door or curtain while using a shower head has no holder on the wall. Listen to Black Dahlia Murder to wake up.

7:30 a.m.: Make a to-go sandwich at the hotel’s breakfast bar.

7:35 a.m.: Help navigate the van out of a hotel parking garage that it shouldn’t have logically fit in.

7:47 a.m.: Begin a five-hour drive to Munich. Naps are taken by most. Breaking the speed limit is performed by others. Who knew a van could go triple digits?

8:50 a.m.: Pit stop number one: water, coffee and baked good acquired. Knifes and soccer hooligans are ogled.

10:43 a.m.: Pit stop number two: water and coffee are released, drivers are switched.

12:00 p.m.: Arrive at venue, take tour of stage and see backstage area. Find WiFi password and begin to use and abuse venue’s internet connection.

12:45 p.m.: Dig merch out of van for festival’s merchandise display. Freak out when an entire box of shirts cannot be found.

12:47 p.m.: Rejoice when the box of shirts are unearthed.

1:20 p.m.: Begin gear load in.

1:30 p.m.: Realize you’ve learned more gear terminology on this tour than in a decade of attending concerts and hanging out with bands.

1:40 p.m.: Rip an expensive tour banner.

1:52 p.m.: Sit around and surf through Facebook and Instagram while band sound checks.

2:45 p.m.: Check to see if ears are bleeding from sound check volume.

3:00 p.m.: Walk around the venue and people-watch to waste time before show starts.

3:25 p.m.: Set up Nick’s Go Pro cameras around the venue to capture the forthcoming insanity.

3:30 p.m.: Showtime. Festival attendees begin to filter into Valley’s show (Valley is the first band of the day).

4:00 p.m.: A circle pit breaks out for the first time in the band’s history. Horns are thrown liberally.

4:10 p.m.: Remember why Valley of the Sun is my favorite Cincinnati band.

4:15 p.m.: Raid the catering table for a sandwich, pretzel, banana and water. Plan to eat pretzel on the road as a snack.

4:30 p.m.: Settle merch sales with organizers, collect money, pile up CDs, LPs and shirts to load into the van.

4:35 p.m.: Eat pretzel before ever reaching the van.

4:40 p.m.: Call dibs on a festival attendee.

4:50 p.m.: Wait for Ryan to settle up event pay with festival organizers.

5:00 p.m.: On the road again for another five-hour ride to Seigen.

5:05 p.m.: Begin typing hourly breakdown in van to save some time on off day tomorrow and to give my phone a chance to regain some charge.

5:50 p.m.: Pit stop one. Beer from festival is released.

8:25 p.m.: Pit stop two. Water is released and drivers are switched.

10:30 p.m.: Arrive at second venue where bands have already started playing.

10:37 p.m.: Order a pizza at stand outside of venue while we wait for support bands to finish.

11:15 p.m.: Continue eating; this time it is chicken curry in the band apartment.

11:30 p.m.: Final support act has finished. Start mad dash to load gear in from the van to the venue.

11:40 p.m.: Set up last minute merch area in a now desolate bar.

11:43 p.m.: Wait for the band to take the stage.

11:55 p.m.: Sell first bits of merch to those still at the venue. Try to explain that pins are one Euro a piece, not one Euro per handful.

12:30 a.m.: Show starts.

12:50 a.m.: Play Tetris while band is performing and, therefore, no one is looking at merch.

12:55 a.m.: Earn new high score in Tetris.

1:10 a.m.: Band finishes after three encores. A fourth is requested but the band has literally no other songs left to play.

1:15 a.m.: Sell 132 Euro worth of merch in 10 minutes.

1:45 a.m.: Pack up merch once sales dry up.

1:55 a.m.: Pack up van and grab overnight bags.

2:20 a.m.: Prepare for bed after a 20-hour day.

2:25 a.m.: Sleep for 10 hours straight.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned about touring it’s that it’s defined by tons of dead time, punctuated by moments of massive amounts of activity. “Hurry up and wait” is the perfect way to describe it. We rush in the morning to squeeze everyone’s morning routine into a short period of time. Then we spend hours in the van to reach a venue, only to rush to get the van unloaded, merch set out and sound check completed, along with other pre-show rituals. Then we wait for the show to start, followed by the post-show rush to sell merch, load up the van and get to our lodging for the night.

It makes for long days and long nights, with little to no rest. It’s tiring, hectic and stressful and I’m having the time of my life. I could really use an actual shower though, that’s for sure.


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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Method Man and Redman, Unearth and More]]>

Between Wu-Tang Clan reunion shows and the seminal Hip Hop group’s forthcoming new album, two Wu members/affiliates have hit the road to headline the World Wide Rollers Tour, presented by The Smokers Club, a group of weed/Hip Hop aficionados that have booked five national tours and launched a clothing line and record label (smoking products will reportedly soon be added to the Club’s inventory). Joining the dynamic duo of Method Man and Redman on the tour are B-Real, frontman for cannabis-in-Hip Hop pioneers Cypress Hill, and up-and-coming MCs Mick Jenkins and Berner. 

The tour DJ is Cincinnati’s own DJ Clockwork, who’s now going by the name Clockworkdj. Clockwork, DJ for rapper Mac Miller and regular on MTV’s Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family reality show, recently released the solo single, “Clocktwerk,” on which he’s shows off his rhyming skills. Click here for more info on Clockworkdj.



Tonight’s Worldwide Rollers tour stop at Bogart’s kicks off around 7 p.m. Tickets are $37.80.

Madison Theater is Metal central tonight as several genre heavyweights pull into the Covington venue for a 6 p.m., all-ages concert. Tickets are $25. 


The show features Unearth, Darkest Hour, Carnifex, I the Breather, Origin, Black Crown Initiate, Requiem and Laid Bare


Boston’s Metalcore heroes Unearth are gearing up for the Oct. 28 release of their latest album, Watchers of Rule. Here’s the new album track “The Swarm”:


And here’s Carnifex’s video for “Die Without Hope,” the title track off of the Californian Deathcore band’s most recent album. 

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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: A Guide to Packing/Overpacking]]>

Remember in my first blog when I said I was worried that I had over packed? 

Guess what? I over packed. 

I’ve been on tour for a week now and these are a few things I’ve learned so far, in no particular order. Hopefully they help you the next time a Rock band drags you across Europe. Or on your next trip to Disneyland.

  1. Backpack space is very important. In my backpack, I originally had a jacket, a neck pillow, my laptop, two books, two magazines and a front pocket full of random paperwork. Now, the jacket is always out and the neck pillow has disappeared because I needed the space for dirty clothes. There simply was no other space for them. Nick, who’s an experienced road warrior (he drum techs for Breaking Benjamin), basically lives out of his backpack, only digging into his carry-on when he needs to swap things in and out.
  2. Everything should have a home. When I packed up for the trip, I was very meticulous and I made sure to check off items when they made it into my bags (traveling puts me on edge). Now that I’m over here, I’ve found it easier to keep track of things when I put them back in the same place every time. Lazily throwing my sunglasses into a pocket only causes me to flip my shit when I can’t find them down the line. And scouring a van while it’s moving at 130 kph is not a fun experience, my friends.
  3. Creature comforts are nice, but not totally important. I brought a lot of reading material thinking this trip would have plenty of van time to catch up on my books. So far, I’ve reached for precisely none of them. I read my two magazines, sure. But one was on the plane and the other was only a day ago. While we still have over two weeks, so that might change, I wish I had used that space for something more important, like more clean socks.
  4. Jeans are amazing and should be respected. I only brought one pair of denim for three weeks on the road. The boys brought two: a live-in pair and a show pair (Rock & Roll is a sweaty affair). Jeans take up a lot of space and, as long as you don’t spill goulash on them or something equally as traumatic, they can last you for a long time in between cleanings. So if you’re ever on a long road trip, do yourself a favor and save some space. One pair is all you need, just Febreze them once or twice and you’re good to go.
  5. Cleanliness on the road can be hard, but don’t skimp. Road butt, swamp ass — call it what you will but sitting for hours on end will do harm to anyone’s rear end. And when showers are not always guaranteed — along with the supply of hot water, wash cloths or towels — then it’s important to keep some stop gaps handy. Baby wipes are like touring gold. They let you wipe down your pits and keep that fresh feeling in between shows and showers. Small bottles of hand cleanser are great too. Touring is dirty business, soap isn’t always on hand and when you’ve got five guys crammed into one van, germs could be disastrous. So toss a bottle in your bag and don’t forget to scrub up from time to time.
  6. Leave things at home that you don’t need. This was something I sort of already knew, but I didn’t understand the true extent till we got over here. For example, when I arrived I had my house key, my mail, two keys to my parent’s house, my car key, our tour laminate (geek out moment here: we have tour laminates!) and a few key chains. On Day 1, Arnaud added a van key to that pile. Later I learned that I would usually be keeping track of any apartment or hotel keys we got too. This added up to a key ring that was obnoxiously filled. I sounded like a janitor when I walked around. So I ditched all but the few that I actually need here. My states keys are safely stowed in my backpack and my pants aren’t weighed down with useless crap.
  7. Don’t leave home without a towel. South Park’s Towelie and Douglas Adams were right. I didn’t listen and I’m sorry that I didn’t.
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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: JEFF the Brotherhood and More]]>

Two of the leading lights from Nashville’s exploding underground Rock scene, JEFF the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet, perform tonight at Northside Tavern. Admission is $10 and the show starts at 9 p.m. Locals Gazer and See You in the Funnies open.


JEFF the Brotherhood recently released a covers EP, Dig the Classics, on Warner Brothers Records. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall picked six of their favorite tunes to record for the EP: Pixies’ “Gouge Away”; The Wipers’ “Mystery”; My Bloody Valentine’s “Come in Alone”; Colleen Green’s “Cujo”; Teenage Fanclub’s “Mad Dog 20/20”; and Beck’s “Totally Confused.” A new original full-length, the followup to the duo’s fantastic Hypnotic Nights LP, is currently being completed and is slated for release early next year. 


• Austin, Texas, Indie Pop trio The Please Please Me returns to town tonight, this time for a free show at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub. With a mix of cello, guitar and some spectacular melodies and harmonies, The Please Please Me has been working on its first full-length release, the followup to last year’s debut EP, Shake a Little Harder.

The Please Please Me - " Dreamin' " from Archimedes Media Lab LLC. on Vimeo.

Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.


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<![CDATA[Music This Weekend: Wussy, Cory Branan, Ben Frost and More]]>

Cincinnati greats Wussy continue to surge into the national spotlight, playing sold-out shows across the country and continuing to garner glowing press for their spectacular Attica! album. The band also recently posted several photos of the members filming something for CBS in New York City recently (more info TBA), which should escalate its status even more (a film crew was on hand she the band played the MidPoint Music Festival recently, as well). Can’t think of a more deserved local band. 


This evening you can catch the band live FOR FREE on Fountain Square as Wussy headlines this week’s happy-hour “Rocktober on the Square” series. Music starts at 5 p.m. with the fantastic Roots Rock ensemble Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound. 


Here’s Wussy’s full appearance on KEXP recorded earlier this year.


• Nashville rockers Those Darlins are also a band on the rise and their fan base in Cincinnati continues to grow thanks to their repeated visits to the Queen City (and their great sound and live show). The group plays a free show at Northside Tavern tonight with guests Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s and Even Tiles. Doors open at 8 p.m. 


• The two-night, “whole house” showcase at the Southgate House Revival in Newport celebrating local indie label Phratry Records kicks off tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is $5 each night. Click here and here for details. A documentary film about Phratry is currently in the works. Here’s the trailer: 


• London Pop band Bastille was supposed to play at Covington’s Madison Theater back in May but cancelled and then got HUGE (or HUGER — its music had already been selling big and the band appeared on Saturday Night Live in January). So tonight the group is playing its make-up date at our riverfront arena. A review of Bastille’s recent show in Toronto said the young crowd screamed a lot.


Fellow Synth Pop band Grizfolk opens tonight’s 8 p.m. show at U.S. Bank Arena. Tickets are $29.50-$35.


• It’s looking more and more like you’ll never get a chance to see Led Zeppelin perform live and in person ever again. But tonight you can see the “American Led Zeppelin,” Get the Led Out, at the Aronoff Center. Showtime is 8 p.m .Next best thing? If you go, let us know. It’s certainly going to cost you less than what it would to see the real deal — tickets are $33-$46. 


• Eclectic Americana singer/songwriter Cory Branan plays Saturday night at 10 p.m. at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery, one of the best newer live music clubs in the area. Local duo Rucca opens.


Branan has been drawing attention for his dynamic, boundless sound over the past 15 years, but his most recent album, The No-Hit Wonder, is earning him some of the best reviews of his career.


Writer Brian Baker spoke with Branan for a feature story in this week’s CityBeat. Branan said the diversity of styles that crop up in his songs just kind of happen naturally and is something never predetermined while a song is being written. 

“I try not to impose on the song,” Branan says. “I end up in much more interesting places if I follow and see where it’s going. I overwrite a lot and go back with a machete instead of clippers, so I can end up three songs down from the one I started with, and that’s the interesting place for me. Then I sort of let them tell me what clothes they want to go out in, even down to the studio. Like ‘Sour Mash,’ I always pictured it as a flat-picked barnburner with fiddle and banjo, and then we were doing the record and I found out that Joe Fick, who’s a Memphis boy, was up in Nashville and he’s just the best doghouse (upright bass) player I’ve ever heard, so I was like, ‘OK, we’ll go a little more Sun Records on this one.’ I pivoted at the last minute.”


• Chicago Blues singer/songwriter/guitarist E.G. Kight performs Saturday at the DownTowne Listening Room, the intimate, “listener-friendly” new venue downtown in the historic Shillito’s building. Born in Georgie and based in Chicago, Kight is a cult favorite and has worked with everyone from B.B. King and Koko Taylor to Merle Haggard and George Jones. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 (all proceeds from shows at the Listening Room go to the performing artists).


• Legendary British Folk artist Richard Thompson plays the Dave Finkelman Auditorium on the campus of Miami University-Middletown Saturday night. Amanda Shires opens the 7:30 p.m. concert. The show is a part of Thompson's current acoustic tour in support of Acoustic Classics, an album featuring acoustic takes on some of the songwriter's favorite songs from his storied catalog. Tickets are $35 and available in advance here


Check out Jason Gargano’s show preview for CityBeat here.


• Australian Electronic music composer/performer Ben Frost brings his tour behind his latest album A U R O R A to the Contemporary Arts Center on Sunday. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($10 for CAC members). 


From Steven Rosen’s show preview in this week’s CityBeat:

This is Electronica, but it’s neither conventional Electronic Dance music, pure-noise Industrial nor (solely) peacefully Ambient droning. Noirish and foreboding, thrilling and involving, it aurally paints a landscape that has been compared to Blade Runner. It unfolds for 40 minutes, like an urgent story. The music can be lulling, even comforting, in its brooding introspection, but it keeps building — it’s complicated like a symphony. Overall, it’s tough and emotional, with moments of grandeur along with reverence to minimalism.


• Some other Australian musicians will also be in town Sunday night. Psych Folk/Rock band Immigrant Union — fronted by Dandy Warhols member Brian DeBoer — plays Sunday a 10 p.m. show at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub with guests White Violet. Like all MOTR shows, it’s a freebie. DeBoer describes the 10-year-old band’s sound as “Spiritualized being (baptized) in a river of Creedence Clearwater.” 


Click here for more live music events in Greater Cincinnati this weekend and feel free to promote other cool shows that were unmentioned in the comments.

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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: Venue Variety]]>

Let’s take a moment to talk about Rock venues in the States, shall we? In my mind, there are two distinct types: you either have the nice, well-kept venues that often lack a certain spark that make them truly special or the dives that feel like a Punk Rock haven but smell like a dirty sock filled with cheese. You have to choose between fantastic atmosphere or a bathroom that’s actually been cleaned since The Sex Pistols were the next big thing.

Well, my friends, it seems that you can get the best out of both worlds; you just have to hop the pond and check out European venues. On this trip, I’ve been in an underground hall converted into a bar, a warehouse covered in graffiti and stickers, a youth center filled with murals slapped in the middle of a small town (and next to a church) and a venue in Berlin filled with so many weird and wonderful knick-knacks, I can’t wait to get home and start redecorating a little bit. I wanted to share some pictures and highlights of what we’ve seen so far.

The venue in Freiburg was called The White Rabbit and it was located underground, down several flights of stairs. The entrance was narrow but opened up to a large, cylindrical structure. We guessed that it was used as a bomb shelter or wine storage but the real origin was even more intriguing. It was originally the town’s coal chamber; the building above it had been leveled during the war and had been rebuilt.

Hamburg’s venue was the most surprising so far. As a Metal kid through and through, the graffiti and sticker-laden walls of Hafenklang instantly appealed to me. It had an industrial air about it and it felt just dirty enough. The wall adornments actually gave the place an artistic element. Somehow, hundreds — if not thousands — of taggers managed to create a cohesive composition worthy of any modern art museum.

Berlin has the honor of housing my favorite club yet. The Bassy Club was full of odd and awesome artifacts. I’m a big fan of weird decorations and this place was absolutely chock full of them. When we walked in, we all went into full tourist mode and started snapping pictures left and right. I now fully intend on finding a cow skull and making him a new light fixture when I make it back to the states.

Special kudos goes to Berlin for being an awesome city. We got a few hours to roam around and we ran into some sort of festival and found an awesome “Horror Rock Bar” called Last Cathedral. Sadly, it wasn’t open when we were walking around, so Nick and I had to resort to pulling an Immortal pose in front.

CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.

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<![CDATA[Ten for 10: Phratry Records Celebrates 10th Anniversary ]]>

Though the traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin or aluminum (WTF?), a more fitting present for the Cincinnati label Phratry Records to congratulate it on its 10th year of service is your attendance at this weekend’s two-night Phratry showcase at Newport’s Southgate House Revival

Local musician Jerry Dirr (Knife the Symphony) launched the label in 2004 with the release of the debut album by Cincinnati’s Caterpillar Tracks. Since then, the label has put out around 50 releases, which are distributed nationally by Stickfigure Distribution & Mailorder.


Friday and Saturday’s anniversary showcase will feature a mix of Phratry signees (both local and out-of-towners), reunions and special guests. Here’s the lineup info from my Spill It column in this week’s CityBeat:

Friday night, the Phratry showcase will present non-Cincinnati signings Ultrasphinx (Akron, Ohio), Tyranny is Tyranny (Madison, Wisc.) and The Shanks (Toronto), plus currently active local Phratry bands Mad Anthony and Gazer. Friday will also see the return of Covington and thistle, whose own Tiberius Records teamed up with Dirr just as Phratry was getting started to release the compilation album Organelle. It will be thistle’s first show in three years. Friday’s lineup is rounded out by Indie Folk artist A.M. Nice, Reggae/Rock crew New Third Worlds, a reunion of former local Punk favorites Saturday Supercade and Jonathan Lohr & the Angel Shale, an AltCountry project that features former members of Caterpillar Tracks (whose debut album was Phratry’s first release).


Dirr’s own band Knife the Symphony plays the Phratry showcase Saturday, joined by one of the label’s most recent local signees Smoke Signals …, the hard-touring Ampline, progressive Post Punk/Metal band Mala in Se, State Song (which released the spectacular full-length Sleepcrawling earlier this year on the label) and blistering Punk group Swear Jar. Also performing Saturday are Pittsburgh-based Ed fROMOHIO, the former singer/guitarist of Mike Watt’s post-Minutemen band fIREHOSE whose more recent band Food records for Phratry, experimental unit Aperiodic and Heevahava, a former Greater Cincinnati band now based in Roanoke, Va. Saturday also features a pair of reunion shows local Punk fans should be pretty psyched about; both East Arcadia (which included/includes members of Phratry band Arms Exploding) and The Scrubs will reactivate their wonder-twin powers for the event.

In honor of Phratry’s 10th birthday, I’ve selected 10 of my favorite tracks from the label’s output so far. I hesitate to call these Phratry’s “greatest hits,” because everything the label puts out is excellent, but these tracks should give you a good idea of what the imprint is all about. You can peruse the entire catalog of available Phratry releases here.


Caterpillar Tracks - “Slippery Slope” from Scrape the Summer (2007)


thistle - “Ribbons” from The Small Hours (2008)


Humans Bow Down - “The White Sun” from A Mirror (2004)


Mad Anthony - “Sank for Days” from Sank for Days (2014)


Tyranny is Tyranny - “Manufacturing Truth” from Let It Come From Whom It May (2013)


State Song - “Skeleton Key” from Dear Hearts & Gentle People (2010)


Ampline - “Our Carbon Dreams” from You Will Be Buried Here (2010)


Knife the Symphony - “Rusted Satellites” from Dead Tongues (2009)


Arms Exploding - “Race Card Driver” from Ruminari (2008)


Gazer - “A Nurse for a Human” from Fake Bulbs (2014)

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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Ruthie Foster, Dreamers, Misfits and More]]>

Texas Blues artist Ruthie Foster plays Oakley’s 20th Century tonight with local great Kim Taylor opening. Foster’s first album came out in 1997, but her last two (2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster and 2012’s Let It Burn) really helped her make a name for herself; both earned Grammy nominations. Her latest is Promise of a Brand New Day, which mixes her Blues base with a variety of other influences.

From Steven Rosen's CityBeat show preview

The singer/bassist Meshell Ndegeocello produced Promise of a Brand New Day and her and Foster’s intentions are announced in the very first song, the Foster-penned “Singing the Blues,” on which Foster intones “A little bit of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland never gets old.” Bland, the great and dramatic singer whose voice could smoothly move from a whisper to a scream, proves a great inspiration for Foster. So, too, does Bonnie Raitt — Foster’s voice has the same level of warmth and generosity on some of the new songs.

Tickets for tonight’s show (a “seats only” affair) are $22-$25.



• Buzzin’ indie rockers Dreamers play a free show tonight at 10 p.m. at MOTR Pub. Great Columbus, Ohio Indie Rock crew Indigo Wild opens. In promo materials, Dreamers’ sound is described as a “unique brand of grunge that is nostalgic for a space somewhere between art-school eccentric and the late 1970s punk scene” and Stereogum says, “They’ve taken little bits and pieces from the past six decades of rock and molded it into something fresh and interesting.” 


Dreamers’ self-titled debut EP is set for release Nov. 18. The music video for the EP’s “Waste My Night” recently premiered on Vice/Noisey. 



• For the past several years longtime local Pop radio station Q102 has been bringing in hitmakers to perform at its Bosom Ball concert, raising money for various breast cancer research and awareness organizations. The Bosom Ball returns tonight to Covington’s Madison Theater for its 10th annual event. 


This year’s concert features popular Pop Rock band O.A.R., British Pop singer Katy Tiz, the duo Alex & Sierra (winners of season three of The X Factor) and Mary Lambert, the Seattle singer/songwriter whose appearance on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit “Same Love” thrust her into the national spotlight (her debut full-length for Capitol Records, Heart on My Sleeve, was released Oct. 14). Bosom Ball proceeds are being donated to Susan G. Komen and The American Cancer Society’s breast cancer programs.


The show (open to those 21-and-up only) officially sold out earlier this week, but tickets are still available for the all-ages “Q102 Bosom Ball Underage Sound Check Party,” which takes place at 4 p.m. and features a performance from Alex & Sierra. Tickets are $10. http://www.cincyticket.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=2286



• Punk legends Misfits play Newport’s Thompson House tonight. The influential band was formed in 1977 by Glenn Danzig, who dissolved the band in the early ’80s when he formed Samhain (and then Danzig). Band members Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein and Jerry Only reactivated Misfits in the mid ’90s and, with various lineup changes, Misfits have continued to release albums and tour ever since. The current lineup of the band includes Only, singer/guitarist Dez Cadena (who spent some time fronting Black Flag in the early ’80s) and Eric "Chupacabra" Arce, former drummer for Murphy’s Law.


Here’s a track off of Misfits’ recent live album, Dead Alive!



Tonight’s show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.


• Dynamic Roots Rock crew Sons of Bill plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight at 9 p.m. with guests Brave Baby. Tickets are $10.


Sons of Bill recently released its new album, Love and Logic, produced by former Wilco member Ken Coomer. The music video for Sons of Bill’s “Lost in the Cosmos” single (a tribute to Big Star singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Bell) was recently premiered by Rolling Stone, which calls the new album “a classic roots-rock record for the modern age, filled with B3 organ, acoustic guitar, envelope-pushing arrangements and the sound of three siblings whose voices were born to mesh.”



Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.


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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Surfer Blood and More]]>

• Ohio Hip Hop crew Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are still kicking. The ensemble, called by MTV the “most melodic Hip Hop group of all time” (thanks largely to their deft ability to work melodies not only into chorus hooks, but also their rhymes), performs at Bogart’s tonight at 7 p.m. 


The group, which came into the national spotlight in 1993 when Eazy-E signed it to Ruthless Records, won a Grammy in 1997 for “The Crossroads” (a tribute to their late mentor). Bone Thugs’ current tour is their first in a while to feature all of the original members. The group recently made news when it started its own “TV channel,” which is actually an internet channel that will simulcast the crew’s homecoming concert in Cleveland tomorrow night (for a fee). The big homecoming show will feature backing from a full orchestra; proceeds from the pay-per-view broadcast benefit their hometown non-profit, Roots of American Music.


This should be one of the last times to catch the original Bone Thugs — the group has announced its next album and upcoming dates will be its last with the full lineup.



• Indie Rock heroes Surfer Blood perform tonight at The Southgate House Revival in Newport. The Florida-based band broke through in 2010, the same year Surfer Blood appeared at Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival (where so many people showed up for the show, many had to be turned away at the door). The band is currently touring behind its sophomore album, last year’s Pythons. Surfer Blood recently came off a tour with We Are Scientists. The two bands also released a tour-only split single; you can hear Surfer Blood’s contribution here.


Read Jason Gargano's preview of the show from this week's CityBeat here.



Virginia based trio Eternal Summers opens tonight’s 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $17.



• Folk/Roots duo The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank play a free show tonight at MOTR Pub. The Minnesota-based twosome’s 2013 album Number One Contender was called one of the best Minnesota-made albums of last year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. You can listen to it in its entirety below.


 


Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.




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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Tim Shelton ]]>

Singer/songwriter Tim Shelton, co-founder of the popular Bluegrass group NewFound Road, plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight in the venue’s Revival Room. 

Shelton’s solo career began when NewFound Road’s mandolinist decided he needed a break from the group. (Shelton was the only original member of the band at that point.)


“He’d been with me for seven years, so it caught me off guard,” Shelton says in his promo bio. “But I thought about it, and literally the next day, I decided, I’m done. I didn’t want to deal with reinventing NewFound Road, I’d been wanting to do other things musically, to go other places, and so I thought, now is the time.” (NewFound Road still does occasional tour dates.)


A southwestern Ohio resident, Shelton hit Ric Hordinski’s Monastery Studio in Walnut Hills this past summer to begin recording a solo effort full of material Shelton says will showcase a wider range of influence than just Bluegrass.


“I just want to make music that isn’t necessarily traditional Bluegrass. I love it, but I also love James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Rock, hard Rock, traditional Country — all of those. Just music. I think that people listen to the way I sing, and they assume I must be ‘going Country,’ but that’s not the direction I’m going. The vocals sound Country because it’s me, but I’m not setting out to try to make some huge-sounding, very produced record. I want it to sound good, I want the music to be played right, but I don’t want a wall of sound — I’m not trying to make a Rascal Flatts or Jason Aldean record.”


Shelton is offering a free download of his single “I Wish You Were Here” through his Facebook page here.


Here’s an earlier single Shelton released this summer called “Learning How to Live Alone”:



Tonight’s Southgate House Revival show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. 


Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.




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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: European Bathrooms Rule!]]>

Saturday night contained a lot of firsts. It was the first time I ran merch, the first time we played in Germany, it marked the first appearance of the hot dog suit and the first time I said “fuck you, asshole” in German.

We got a late start on our trip from Antwerp, Belgium to Oelsnitz, Germany. Alarms weren’t properly set, showers were needed all around and the beds were comfier than they first appeared. Once we got our shit in gear (and loaded up on croissants) we were on our way. Ahead of us was one of our longest drives on the tour, a seven-hour voyage across country lines. The trip was punctuated by two pit stops; during one we saw a new bride run into the bathroom while still in her wedding dress.

A quick note on European bathrooms — they’re fantastic. You often have to pay for entry, but in many ways it’s worth it. We stopped in one gas station that had completed the checklist for being a dive. Porn mags on the racks? Check. Dirt and grime everywhere? Check. Attendants who seem to be hopped up on some sort of … something? You know it! So I wasn’t too hopeful when I dropped my 70 pence into the bathroom machine.

But man, oh man, was I wrong. The toilets are automated and include a self-cleaning system. It’s majestic. You can buy a vast assortment of sexual tools in the vending machine (part of the aforementioned checklist), but the rest of the bathroom was absolutely spotless. And when you’ve been on the road for four hours and nature comes a-callin’, this is a gift from on high.

Our GPS had us snaking through small German towns and we didn’t see anything resembling a venue. As we reached the end of the directions we still didn’t see anything. So we pulled up a little bit further and there it was: a graffitied beacon of Rock & Roll in the midst of beautiful German countryside. We had arrived.

We parked, met the promoter, met the support and got to unloading. I start grabbing the merch boxes and dove right in. And by dive right in, I mean that I stared at them blankly until Aaron came over and explained how everything worked and gave some suggestions on how to set up. From there, my retails skills came back and I became a folding, sorting and styling machine. I gave each style of shirt their own home in a box, put out a size run of each, spread out the small stuff and waited. And waited. And waited. And ate some homemade goulash. And waited some more.

Finally, the crowd began to build — and our game of “dibs” began anew — while we waited for our slot. Finally, the boys hit the stage and the crowd started to wake up. But, still, they needed a little push, a little something to get the mood just right. It was time for the hot dog costume. I slipped it on, ran to the front, got a laugh from the boys and the crowd and made my exit.

It seemed to have worked.

As the set wrapped up, the merch sales started to roll in. Thankfully, it wasn’t super busy, so I was able to get a feel for pricing, exchanging Euro change (who buys an EP with a 50€ note!?) and trying to translate thick German accents.

After the show finished, the party started up and it was a fun one. Nick was throwing down peppermint shots, courtesy of a fan. Ryan had to dodge the advances of two older women who had a bit too much to drink (and then drank some more on top of that). I, on the other hand, spent my time with a lovely young lady named Jenny and her friends as she gushed over her love of Barney Stinson and Nirvana. She also taught me all of the major German curse words and phrases when her friends got jealous of the attention I was getting. I wish I could’ve remembered some of the words; they will surely come in handy sometime on this trip.

Finally, the free beer was safely stowed in our bellies and it was time for bed. We found our hotel, made plans for the next day, stripped down and passed out.

This morning we’re on our way to Berlin for show number three. We actually left on time today so we should have some time to see the city (and replace Aaron’s broken double bass pedal) before we get down to rocking.

Spinal Tap moments: 4.

CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.

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<![CDATA[Mayesfest Music Event Moves Indoors]]>

With cool, rainy weather in the forecast, this weekend’s planned Mayesfest Bluegrass & Americana Festival in Bellevue has been cancelled. But with artists traveling into Northern Kentucky for the outdoor, riverside event, and many fans excited for it, organizers have decided to present what they’ve called on their Facebook page a “mini Mayes,” moving the music indoors to Over-the-Rhine’s Christian Moerlein Taproom (1621 Moore St., near the Shell gas station on Liberty), which hosted two stages during the recent MidPoint Music Festival.  

The event will now begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and feature a stripped-down but still excellent lineup of local and touring Bluegrass and Americana artists. 


Here is the new lineup:


FRIDAY                                            

5 p.m. Price Hill Hustle                       

6:30 p.m. Al Scorch                                

8 p.m. Morgan O'Kane                 

9:30 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers           


SATURDAY                                                        

5 p.m. Honey & Houston        

6:30 p.m. Jack Grelle           

8 p.m. Woody Pines                           

9:30 p.m. Morgan O'Kane


Visit mayesfest.com or the event’s Facebook page for more info and further updates. 


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<![CDATA[Journey with the Valley of the Sun: An Introduction]]>

(Editor’s Note: CityBeat contributor Nick Grever leaves today for Europe, where he’ll be on tour with Cincinnati Rock group Valley of the Sun as the band’s “merch guy.” Nick has graciously agreed to blog about his journey for citybeat.com over the next three weeks. Below is his first installment, an introduction written last night when he was [possibly over] packing for the trip.)


Hello, my name is Nick and since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve dreamt about living the Rock & Roll lifestyle. There’s just one problem – I can’t play music worth a damn. 


As a freelancer for this fine publication, I have been able to get a taste of my dream but one element has always eluded me: touring. So imagine my excitement when local rockers Valley of the Sun invited me to work merch for them on their second European tour. I just never expected to be touring the world in a hotdog costume.


Maybe a little background is in order. I’ve known the Valley guys (guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier, drummer Aaron Boyer and bassist Ryan McAllister) for several years, culminating in a profile piece in the pages of CityBeat for their first full-length release, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. With that release (and my expertly devised words of praise, no doubt), the band has risen to new heights. 


Valley of the Sun signed with Fuzzorama Records and has already toured Europe once, in support of Desert Rock titans Truckfighters. Now it’s time for them to return for another three week tour for shows ranging from massive fests to small dives. We’ll be traveling throughout Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, joined by Valley’s sound guy across the pond, Arnaud Merckling. In their infinite wisdom, the band invited me along to run their merch; Mangrenade’s Nick Thieme is also on the trip, playing bass in McAllister’s absence.


I’m writing this the night before we leave and I’m still not entirely sure what to expect. But here’s what I do know: I’ll be writing constantly, I probably over packed and Ryan, Nick and Aaron are really excited to see me run around in a venue in my new skeleton onesie (far warmer and more comfortable than it has any right to be) and hotdog ensemble.


These blog entries will ultimately be a record of our trip but it’s going to be more than just a recap of the shenanigans we’re sure to get into and the excellent food we’re sure to eat — although expect a few Instragram worthy images of foreign cuisine, too. (I love me some sausage.) It’s going to examine all the parts of tour life that arise over the course of our trip. What is it like to sit in a small van with four other guys for eight hours when none of us have showered for three days? Is German beer really as good as people say? What happens at 4 a.m. when Ryan starts spouting off about the multiverse as we sit around a bar in Switzerland? Seriously, did I pack enough underwear? 


These hard hitting questions, along with my observations and insights, will fill these digital pages. Hopefully they’ll be interesting enough for you to come back and read some more. Expect updates at least every few days — it all depends on how reliable the wifi is in Europe. Hey, that’s another blog entry topic!


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<![CDATA[The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Gentlemen’ Turns 21]]>

Yesterday (Oct. 5) marked the 21st anniversary of the release of Gentlemen, the major label debut from Cincinnati-spawned rockers The Afghan Whigs, which helped catapult the band into the international spotlight. To celebrate the album reaching drinking age, Rhino Records is releasing a deluxe edition later this month under the name Gentlemen at 21. For the album’s birthday last night, the band (which recently performed a hometown show at the MidPoint Music Festival and is in the midst of a tour behind its new album, Do to the Beast) played an expansive set at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg. With tickets priced at $21, last night's show reunited the Whigs with special guest Usher, doing a version of the superstar’s “Climax” (the entities first teamed up at last year’s South by Southwest fest in Texas).

Due Oct. 28, the Gentlemen at 21 set will be available digitally and as a two-CD collection. A vinyl version of the original remastered album will also be released Oct. 28, followed by a three-platter deluxe vinyl edition with all of the bonus material, which is being issued for Record Store Day's Black Friday event on Nov. 28.


Gentlemen at 21’s bonus material will include all of the original demos for the album, which were recorded in Cincinnati at bassist John Curley’s Ultrasuede studio. The set will also feature rarities, including radio sessions and B-sides. The Whigs’ version of fellow Cincy greats The Ass Ponys’ track “Mr. Superlove” (originally issued on a vinyl single from local label Mono Cat 7, with the Ponys covering the Whigs’ “You My Flower” on the flip side) is also slated for the Rhino release. 


Here is Gentlemen at 21’s full track listing:

Disc One

1.     “If I Were Going”

2.     “Gentlemen”

3.     “Be Sweet”

4.     “Debonair”

5.     “When We Two Parted”

6.     “Fountain And Fairfax”

7.     “What Jail Is Like”

8.     “My Curse”

9.     “Now You Know”

10.   “I Keep Coming Back”

11.   “Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer”

 

Disc Two

The Demos

1.     “If I Were Going”

2.     “Gentlemen”

3.     “Be Sweet”

4.     “Debonair”

5.     “When We Two Parted”

6.     “Fountain And Fairfax”

7.     “What Jail Is Like”

8.     “My Curse”

9.     “Now You Know”

10.    “Brother Woodrow”

The B-Sides

11.   “Little Girl Blue”

12.   “Ready”

13.   “Mr. Superlove”

14.   “Dark End Of The Street”

15.   “What Jail Is Like” (Live)

16.   “Now You Know” (Live)

17.   “My World Is Empty Without You/I Hear A Symphony” (Live)

 

Tracks 1-8 Demos Recorded At Ultrasuede

Tracks 9-10 Instrumental Rough Mixes, Ardent Studios

Tracks 15-17 Recorded Live For KTCL At The Mercury Café, Denver, CO, May 10th, 1994

Also this past weekend, the Whigs’ YouTube channel debuted Ladies & Gentlemen, The Afghan Whigs, an hour and a half-long road documentary chronicling the band’s touring of Europe in the early ’90s. The film, produced by the Whigs’ longtime sound engineer Steve Girton, was screened at Newport’s Southgate House in 2005 during the Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test, but has otherwise only been circulated as a much-coveted bootleg. Check it out below:



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<![CDATA[Another Music Fest-Filled Weekend Awaits]]>

Those jonesing for more music fest goodness after last weekend’s spectacular MidPoint Music Festival have some great options this weekend. Bluegrass fans should be especially excited for a couple of them.

The Bend in the River Art & Music Festival debuts this Saturday and Sunday in Lower Price Hill (2104 St. Michael St., next to The Sanctuary: Center for Education and the Arts). The festival/fundraiser runs 5-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday with the goal of bringing the community together (and showcasing it to others) and raising money for the Community Matters (cmcincy.org) and Education Matters (emcincy.org) organizations. 


Along with food trucks and booths, beer from MadTree Brewing and Rhinegeist and a variety of vendors and artists showing their wares, local musical acts from a variety of genres will provide live music. Tim Caudill, Pike 27, Blue Caboose, Under New Order, The Part-Time Gentlemen and Ohio Knife perform Saturday, while Wild Carrot, Sibling Rivalry, Matthew Schneider and Phoenix (the local Rock cover band, not the internationally famous French Indie Pop group) play Sunday.


Admission to the Bend in the River Art & Music Festival is $7 or $10 for a two-day pass (Lower Price Hill residents receive a coupon to attend for free).


For more information on “Bend Fest” and the cause, visit facebook.com/bendfest and cmcincy.org.


• The DevouGrass Festival presents its first-ever event Saturday at the Devou Park Bandshell (1700 Montague Road, Covington). The family friendly event runs noon-dusk, and while there is no admission charge (even free parking is available throughout the park), organizers are asking for donations to the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky


Along with food trucks, other vendors, various children’s activities and performances by Circus Mojo and kids’ fave Joel the Singing Librarian, DevouGrass will also feature sets by area Roots/Bluegrass outfits Blue Caboose (noon), Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers (3 p.m.), Hickory Robot (3 p.m.) and the Downtown County Band (6 p.m.). 


For complete festival info, visit devougrass.com


• The Versailles State Park Bluegrass Festival returns with a new location and name: the Friendship Music Festival at the Old Mill Campground in Friendship, Ind. (facebook.com/oldmillcampground), which hosts the very popular Whispering Beard Folk Festival annually and is only about an hour drive southwest of Cincinnati. Despite moving from the state park and changing the moniker, the fest will continue to spotlight some of the region’s finest Bluegrass and Roots music practitioners. 


On Saturday, the music starts at noon with a lineup featuring Mamadrones, Common Ground, Rural Route 2, Lee Sexton with John Haywood and Brett Ratliff, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, The Tillers and Bradford Lee Folk & the Bluegrass Playboys. The music picks back up Sunday at 11 a.m. with Mt. Pleasant String Band, followed by James White & Deer Tick, Blue Mafia, Whipstitch Sallies, Rattlesnakin’ Daddies and Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys. 


Weekend passes for the Friendship Music Festival are $10; one-day passes are $5. Camping is available. Visit friendshipmusicfestival.com for full details. 

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<![CDATA[REVIEW: CHVRCHES at Madison Theater]]>

It was an eventful night at the Madison Theater in Covington when CHVRCHES came to town Sept. 29. A pretty good sized crowd turned up at Covington’s Madison Theater, which was a little surprising, since they shamefully receive almost no local radio airplay. Oddly, our local “alternative” station The Project sponsored a meet and greet contest with the band, even though the station has never played a CHVRCHES song. Across the river, WKNU has played them. Once. Five months ago, according to a search of the station’s online playlist.


The make-up of the crowd was another surprise. It was an almost teen-free show, with most folks falling between late college and near retirement. That could be due to the fact that CHVRCHES make modern Electronic music but with a very retro feel. And they’ve got tunes.


The Range (who opened for Chromeo at the MidPoint Music Festival) came on stage promptly at 8 p.m., and began his first song. After 45 minutes, that song finally ended. CHVRCHES were set to take the stage at 9:15 p.m., but just after 9 p.m., the fire alarms in the theater went off. Here’s a handy tip: when you’re in large venue, look not only for the nearest exit, but all exits. Security decided it would be cool to deny access to the fire exits at the back of the theater. What the fuck!? Do you not know what happened not three miles from here in 1979? Or in Rhode Island a few years back? Fortunately, everyone was able to file out safely, and pass the time in a well-behaved manner out on the blocked-off street while fire officials investigated.


According to theater management, who were very upset with the way the evacuation was handled, security was provided by the promoter. After the show, the two sides discussed in detail the proper procedures in order to avoid any such occurrences in the future. 


Once the all-clear was given, security did do a nice job of getting everyone back in quickly and efficiently. CHVRCHES thanked the crowd for their patience and apologized, saying the fog machine they were using is what likely tripped the alarm.


Coming out of the gate strong, the band launched its set with two singles, the very fine “We Sink,” followed by the popular “Lies.” Like many Electronic bands, they don’t move around a lot, with Iain Cook and Martin Doherty stationed at their synth racks, flanking singer Lauren Mayberry. This isn’t as visually limiting as it sounds. Ms. Mayberry is an outspoken critic of sexism and misogyny in music, so it feels a little awkward to point out that she’s quite lovely and very engaging in her stage presence. Flying around the stage a la Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, or Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails simply isn’t her style, yet she still holds the crowd.


Her mates weren’t chained to the instruments all night, at least not Doherty, who traded places with Mayberry while he sang “Under the Tide.” Mayberry returned to center stage for what is arguably the band’s most popular track, “The Mother We Share,” which is also one of the best songs of the past few years. 


The enthusiastic crowd of course wanted more, bringing the band back out for the obligatory, but much-desired, encore, wrapping up with “You Caught the Light” and “By the Throat.”


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