by Mike Breen
54 hours ago
Besides sporting one of the best band names in recent memory, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. also makes wildly endearing, monstrously melodic Indie/Electro Pop. Detroit’s Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein started the project in 2009 as a home-recording venture, but a pair of EP releases the following year drew widespread attention, leading to a deal with Warner Bros. Records. The band released its debut full-length, It’s a Corporate World, in 2011 and followed it up last year with the acclaimed The Speed of Things. Paste named that album’s single, “Run,” one of the best songs of 2013 and also called them one of the Top 25 live acts around. At the start of fall, the band released a new single, “James Dean,” a great slice of chilled-out, slow-jam Pop. DEJJ plays Oakley’s 20th Century Theater tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.
• Chicago Indie Rock foursome Empires, a 2014’s MidPoint Music Festival favorite, return to Cincy tonight for a 10 p.m. show at The Drinkery in Over-the-Rhine. Great Cincinnati band Pop Goes the Evil opens.Here’s Ben Walpole’s preview from CityBeat’s official MPMF guide:
Empires enters MPMF 2014 building something close to its namesake this summer. It started with strong showings at Bonnaroo and the Hangout Music Festival, continued with a June appearance on a little program called the Late Show With David Letterman, followed by a well-received four-song EP – all building toward the band’s major-label debut, Orphan, released this week on Chop Shop/Island Records. The album was produced by John Congleton, who has worked with St. Vincent, The Black Angels and Explosions In The Sky, among others.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: A more up-tempo The National; an artsier The Killers; a less dramatic The Horrors.
Here is the video for “How Does It Feel” from Empires’ most recent release, Orphan.
• Stellar Cincinnati singer/songwriter Kim Taylor (read CityBeat’s 2013 profile of Taylor here) headlines MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. Joining Taylor is Boston Indie/Americana Pop band The Grownup Noise. The band opens the free show at 10 p.m.
The Grownup Noise debuted in 2007 with its inaugural release, a widely acclaimed self-titled full-length. The band recently returned with its three-years-in-the-making third LP, The Problem with Living in the Moment, which came out late last month.
The Boston Herald has this to say about the new release:
Calling the Grownup Noise’s new work — “The Problem With Living in the Moment” — “an album” seems like a slight. Declaring the folk/rock blend a symphony is overkill, but the 11 tracks have such a orchestral sweep — swelling strings, rippling piano lines, a harmony of percussion arranged with meticulous detail. Let’s call it a suite. That seems to fit.
• “Foot-Stompin’ ” Country-tinged Rock duo Sundy Best, which originated in tiny Prestonburg, Ky., (and is now based in Lexington) plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15.The band’s bio describes its sound as “music that re-imagines timeless classic rock of the ‘70s and ‘80s – think the Eagles and the smart, whiskey-voiced lyrics of Tom Petty and Bob Seger.” Along with critical acclaim from outlets like Rolling Stone and The New York Times, the band has found success on the road and satellite radio. and has even scored buzz via attention from the CMT television network. The duo is gearing up for the Dec. 2 release of its latest album, Salvation City.
Here’s Sundy Best’s video for “Lotta Love,” a track from the album Bring Up the Sun.
For more live music events in Greater Cincinnati tonight, click here.
by Mike Breen
12 days ago
The brand new Over-the-Rhine music venue The Woodward Theater had a public open house event this past Friday and now it’s time for the venue’s first official show. The Woodward — brought to you by the people who run MOTR Pub, which is just across Main Street from the new club — hosts acclaimed Grand Rapids, Mich., ensemble The Soil & the Sun tonight. The progressive, gorgeously ethereal Indie Chamber Folk group is joined by Wisconsin Country/Folk group Count this Penny for the 8 p.m. show. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is just $5.
For more CityBeat Woodward coverage, click here and here.
Here is a clip of The Soil & the Sun performing a session for the Audiotree series.
• Eclectic drummer/composer Dylan Ryan brings his Dylan Ryan/Sand project to Northside’s The Comet tonight. Ryan’s exploratory Jazz Rock trio will be joined by the Dave McDonnell Group of the free, 10 p.m. show. Ryan (now based in L.A.) and McDonnell (now based in Cincinnati) are both members of the “Prog Jazz” ensemble Herculaneum.
Click here for a full preview of tonight’s show.
Here’s “Tree, Voices, Saturn,” a track from Sand’s second album, Circa, which was released on Cuneiform Records in late September.
• Diverse New Orleans Rock band The Revivalists perform at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater tonight. The show starts at 8 p.m. with special guests Black Cadillacs. Tickets are $17 at the door.
Click here for a preview of The Revivalists’ show from CityBeat’s Brian Baker.
Here’s the official video for “Criminal” from The Revivalists’ City of Sound LP, which was reissued by the band’s new label home, Wind-Up Records, earlier this year.
• One of the cool things about The Woodward Theater is that when shows there end, there will always be something going on across the street at MOTR Pub, which typically presents shows at 10 p.m. (and never charges a cover). Tonight’s a great opportunity to test that out as each venue has a great band performing. SubPop recording artists Jaill play MOTR tonight, after the Soil & the Sun show across the street, with guests Smut.
Formed more than a decade ago in Milwaukee, Wis., Jaill spent their formative years self-recording and releasing a variety of music on their own or for small labels. In 2008, the band put out its debut full-length, There’s No Sky (Oh My My) — which was reissued on Burger Records (the label also released a collection of early recordings called Cranes last year) — and caught the attention of SubPop.
The band signed with SubPop for 2010’s That’s How We Burn and then in 2012 released the magnificent Traps, a great representation of the group’s jangly, highly melodic Indie Pop. Pitchfork gave the album a positive review, comparing the band to Violent Femmes and the dB’s and describing it as “idiosyncratic pop-rock appealing to geeky outsiders and scene lifers.” I’d say it has a far wider appeal than that.
Click here for more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
Monday • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 5, 2014
In the case of The Revivalists, the group
didn’t coalesce under the banner of an irrefutable desire to make music
as much as an act of pure serendipity.
Saturday • Dave Finkelman Auditorium (Miami University Middletown)
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Richard Thompson has been playing guitar
since our current president was in diapers. For the mathematically
challenged, that’s more than five decades, a career in which the
Thursday • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Foster’s brand new album, Promise of a Brand New Day,
moves her forward — it’s as much accomplished R&B, mixed with
strains of Rock, Pop and Folk, as it is straightforward Blues.
Wednesday • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Don’t let the band’s angelically chubby
name throw you off. Cherub is slinky, kinky sex on a synth and they want
to show you their … show
by Charlie Harmon
52 days ago
Posted In: Music History
at 12:23 PM | Permalink
Oakley’s 20th Century Theater
has only been the venue it is today for about the last 20 years. When it
originally opened in August 1941, the now-vintage glowing sign that lit up the
era-glorifying name represented a simple one-screen movie theater. Its history
and how it changed from that to what it is today fits into the citywide and
national history of cinemas like a plastic rodent fits a Whac-A-Mole machine.
Willis Vance, a local
businessman that ended up owning a string of theaters and other establishments
around town, was the original owner of the theater. At the time of its
inception, no theater that housed more than one screen even existed. In fact,
as silly as it may sound now, that concept wouldn’t seriously surface in the
industry for a few more decades.
Cinemas would have a single
film they would play every night, generally whatever was very popular at the
time. When a new piece of black-and-white gold would come out of Hollywood,
they would swap it in, making it the new nightly showing.
Vance opened the theater with
the 20th Century Fox (see what he did there) production Blood and Sand. This may have been a thoughtful tribute to the
movie’s star Tyrone Power, an American box-office sellout actor that was born
in Cincinnati. While he didn’t grow up here, he did return to the Queen City in
his early teenage years, during which time he learned and honed his skills in
drama. He went on to become extremely well known and sought-after in the
industry, appearing in famous films such as The
Mark of Zorro, The Black Swan and
dozens of others.
The theater thrived for some
time, having hit the ground running with notable qualities like air
conditioning and valet parking. To people of my generation, that is a “What?”
factor, but it was actually the first theater in the city to keep your ass cold
during a movie. It also boasted being one of the first fire-proof buildings in
the city, taking that extra step in keeping the heat out.
But almost a decade after it
first lit its tower and opened its doors, the cinema industry began to slowly
A Canadian inventor named Nat
Taylor erected a second screen right next door to his theater in Ontario. He
showed the same movie on both for several years at first, simply upping his
audience capacity. However, he eventually got tired of swapping out movies for
new releases when the old movies were still making money, so he started selling
tickets to two movies.
I call the change slow
because although this idea was birthed mid-century, it didn’t begin to
significantly affect the industry until the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In 1963 Stan Durwood, AMC
owner, cinema pioneer and self-proclaimed inventor of the multi-plex, opened
the Parkway Twin Theater. It was the first theater with two screens under the
same roof, although not for long. The idea caught on and throughout the ‘60s
other dual-screen theaters began to pop up. Durwood expanded his Twin Theater
from two screens to four, then six.
Through the next two decades
the multi-plex concept exploded, with competition for the most screens and best
accommodations running rampant. Nat Taylor, who also laid claim as the original
inventor of the multi-screen theater, cofounded an 18-screen Cineplex in 1979.
He garnered a Guinness World Record, it being the largest theater in the world
at the time.
These large cinemas wreaked
havoc on the industry for the small-time, local theaters. The charm of a little
art deco theater with free valet and air-conditioning no longer held up to the
By 1974 20th Century was
owned by Levin Services, a management company that also owned several
additional theaters and drive-ins around the area. Union strikes that year
brought mayhem to Levin. Angry union members broke into the Ambassador Theater,
just a block away from 20th Century on Madison Road, to destroy the seats, slash
the screen and split the speaker wires. They wrecked the projectors by ripping
out their innards with a crowbar, and poured cement into the reels of The Sting, the movie being shown at the
Levin closed the Ambassador
and several other theaters, including 20th Century. Most reopened after a few
weeks, at least for some time. The Ambassador eventually closed for a while
after became an Ace Hardware.
The 20th Century lasted just
under another decade, succumbing to the cloud of the multi-plex and closing its
doors as a movie theater for good in 1983.
But it wasn’t the only pebble
to be crushed by a boulder. F&Y Construction, the company that built the
Streamline Moderne style building for Willis Vance, built several other
theaters in the region. They built the Madison in Covington, Ky., the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts,
and the Redmoor in Mount Lookout. Those are the ones that remain open and
standing. Among others they built in the area were the Guild Theater, Hollywood
Cinema North, Marianne Theater, Norwood Theater, Sunset Theater, Westwood
Theater, Valley Theater and the Ridge Theater. All of these are now closed; two
of them have even been demolished.
I can’t say for certain that
the multi-plex led to the demise of each one, but its reasonable to assume the
industry change had great range. And on top of that, those are only the
theaters built by that single construction firm.
After 20th Century was closed
in ’83, it was left to neglect for almost a decade. It rotted through water damage
and vandals left their mark with graffiti and broken windows. To me, imagining
this conjures up a similar image to the Imperial Theater, the decrepit building
at Mohawk and McMicken that used to screen adult films and host burlesque shows
in the ‘60s.
The early 1990s rolled around
and found the community caught between demolishing the fallen cinema or pouring
money into restoration. Mike Belmont stepped up and went for the latter approach.
After extensive work, he reopened the doors of the building as Belmont’s
His business only remained in
the building he saved for a year, moving just down the street to the old Oakley
Bank where Belmont’s still resides in modern business glory. Apparently Belmont
had a thing for old buildings.
After he left the Cincinnati
Church of Christ, then a group just over a decade old, occupied the building
for 4 years before themselves moving on to some higher calling.
This brings us up through
this old cinema’s rise and fall to 1997. It was then that the building was
bought and 20th Century Productions rose like an entertainment-driven spirit
out of the floorboards. Devoted to special events and concerts, they have
turned the building into a beautiful venue that hosts almost anything from a
raucous rock concert to a quaint wedding reception.
In 2010 they took a final
step in the renovation of the building that had never been done. The 20th
Century Tower that stands over its doorway was given back its glow to
illuminate the night again, drawing in all who look to be entertained.
Here’s what’s coming up at
the old one-screen (now one-stage):Oct. 8: Cherub
Oct. 16: Ruthie Foster
Oct. 23: Paul Thorn Band
Oct. 29: Suicide Girls
Monday • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Over the past decade, the Wood Brothers
(which also features Jano Rix on a variety of instruments) have recorded
two live albums, an EP and five studio records, including last year’s
acclaimed The Muse.
Dealing with self-doubt and writer’s block, Brett Dennen rediscovered his muse in a familiar place
0 Comments · Tuesday, September 23, 2014
On tour behind his 2011 album Loverboy,
the singer/songwriter found himself wearing down, getting stuck
creatively and unsure about where to go with his music.
Wednesday • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Monday, September 15, 2014
So great and vast was the singer-songwriter revolution of the 1960s that we take for granted the long, steadily productive careers of many of its practitioners. That is the case with Chris Smither, who has put out 16 studio-recorded albums since 1970’s I’m a Stranger Too!