by Nick Grever
5 days ago
Post American Idol, Cincinnati’s Jess Lamb scales back but continues her teaching job
For some musicians, their 9-to-5 is little more than a means to an end. Pizza and guitar strings don’t pay for themselves, after all. Others take pride in their work, both on stage and in the “real world,” but view them as two parts of a whole.But for Jess Lamb, her twin identities as a musician and teacher are deeply intertwined. She works hard in both professional avenues and has put a large amount of effort into maintaining them, even during her post-American Idol influx of activities. It’s a balancing act with some unexpected complications that she is still learning to walk gracefully. But for Lamb, there is no other choice.“I think that the public has seen me as a teacher and I don’t want my name to be tainted by this other persona, this other career, this other life. So I don’t want to be slosh drunk. I don’t want to be like Jim Morrison in my experimenting with life. But at the same time there’s a whole other vibe with playing in venues, playing in bars and it is very different from the teacher thing,” Lamb explains.Before Idol, Lamb’s work as a musician and an ESL teacher were more easily separated. Nowadays, with the added exposure that Idol has brought to her and her late-night performances around town, she has had to go to greater lengths to protect the sanctity of both. A shot of Jameson may not be thrown back with the same careless abandon as a few months prior and photo ops are utterly devoid of the counter-cultural staples of, say, a middle finger or devil horns. This isn’t to say that Lamb was or is a reckless partier at night and a quiet bookworm during the day.Rather, what happens at night can bleed into the daylight hours and her work in one aspect of life can’t compromise the other. She has to take into account who her new audience members may be and how they learned of Lamb. Being a teacher requires maintaining professionalism at all times. When a teacher is shown on national television, keeping that even-headed mentality all day and all night becomes even more important.Considering all the time that Lamb has spent on her music after her Idol run, some may wonder why she doesn’t put the teaching on hold for the time being. Between the Idol recaps she does regularly for Fox 19 since leaving the show, the myriad interviews, the residencies at Japps in Over-the-Rhine and Jags in West Chester (as well as other shows), the studio work and all the other opportunities that have arisen, finding time for teaching is pretty much impossible at this point. In fact, Lamb has cut down her teaching work to roughly four hours a week, doing basic lesson planning and similar activities. But she still carves out time for her teaching for a very important purpose.“I don’t do it for the money, it’s not sustaining me. I do it for my spirit. It’s for something that feels important, I don’t know that what I’m doing all the time feels important,” Lamb says.She views being a teacher and an entertainer as two professions with two different contributions to society. Music and teaching both give something back to the community at large, but she feels that teaching impacts the public on a much larger scale. While singing in a smoky bar reaches a small amount of people, teaching has a much larger reach.Ultimately, Lamb is a musician and teacher in equal measure. At this point, the music is taking more of her time, but she is determined to not let it take all of it.“I don’t want to cancel out one or the other with a teacher persona that’s too square or a Rock star persona that’s too crazy and unstable,” Lamb says.For Lamb, finding a mix of her two professions and passions is an ever-present struggle. When Idol rocketed her music to the forefront, she has had to constantly work to balance it out with activities that are equally as fulfilling. It hasn’t been an easy process by any means but one that she sees as absolutely necessary. Just don’t be offended if she turns down a shot of whiskey next time you run into her in the Main St. district.Nick Grever is checking in periodically with Cincinnati-based American Idol contest Jess Lamb about her post-Idol life. Check out previous "Beyond Idol Chatter" posts here. Visit jesslamb.com for music, show dates and more.
by Nick Grever
23 days ago
Cincy's Jess Lamb talks American Idol ‘controversy’ and myriad projects on the horizon
Jess Lamb’s initial performance for the judges on American Idol’s bus tour was undeniably a show stopper. It wrapped up the episode and introduced America to one of Cincinnati’s brightest talents, while also moving her on to the Hollywood round after impressing the judges. Her second televised appearance, a group rendition of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” was considered one of the stronger performances of the Idol Groups round.
That is why it shocked many viewers when she was quietly cut from the show after the performance.
Allegations quickly followed blaming Lamb’s cut on comments that Jennifer Lopez had made regarding the age of some of the contestants, due to Lamb being one of the older performers in the competition (she is only 29). If there’s anything that Lamb would like to set straight it is this: Don’t believe everything you hear. And this is far from the end of the road for her.
“Honestly, I got nothing but really awesome comments from [Lopez]. No bad comments, nothing,” Lamb explains.
Lamb is still unsure as to exactly why she didn’t move on to the next round — American Idol never provided her with a reason — but she does not believe that it was Lopez’s comments or her age that caused the cut. Lamb frequently questioned the editing of the episode and the presentation of Lopez’s comments while discussing the episode and the ensuing fallout.
While the cut was undeniably a blow to Lamb, it is one she is quickly recovering from. In fact, when the episode aired, she wasn’t even able to watch because she was working on one of her myriad new projects at the time.
“I’m busier since Idol than I ever have been. I’m working with Bootsy [Collins], writing with his backup singer, talking with his wife about a project she wants me to work on, preparing for [record label] showcases,” Lamb says.
While Idol’s promised record contract is now out of reach, that hasn’t slowed down Lamb’s work towards her goal of signing with a label and releasing a full-length album. In fact, Idol gave her the exposure that she needed to land on the radar of several big names within the Pop music community. “Grammy-award winner” is descriptor not often connected to people working with local music acts, but it applies in this instance. (Lamb can’t divulge too much information about certain facets of her industry interactions, so vague hints will have to do for now.)
Details are still being discussed and Lamb is still under Idol’s contractual obligations restricting her from signing with any labels before the show is over and a set period of time has passed since its finale. But Lamb is making the best of the time between now and May.
“I’m just trying to do what I’m legally able to do,” Lamb says.
While American Idol continues its search for the next American pop star, Lamb is determined to grow her career using many of the tools that she’s been using for years. She’s constantly attempting to break into new markets, make music with new people and perform for new audiences. The only difference is that she now has a national TV show appearance to help with promotion and publicity. The details of her release from American Idol may be shrouded in a bit of controversy, but ultimately what will endure are her fans’ memories of her performances. It is those memories that will be reignited once American Idol runs its course and Lamb is able to finally take the steps she’s been feverishly working towards putting in place.
And with several months till Idol’s run completes, Lamb has plenty of time to make some very big plans.
Nick Grever’s Beyond Idol Chatter blogs follow the post-American Idol activities, career moves and achievements of Cincinnati vocalist Jess Lamb.
by Nick Grever
35 days ago
Posted In: Local Music
at 10:12 AM | Permalink
Though no longer on the show, local singer Jess Lamb remains wildly busy after her American Idol stint
While Jess Lamb’s American Idol journey may be over, the show is still very much a part of her everyday life. Fans of the show know that the performers often leverage their appearances into work on other projects, such as backup singing or working with national acts in collaborations. It is a process that takes a great deal of time and effort but there is another aspect of being an Idol contestant (current and former) that many fans may not consider — namely, keeping up with the social media explosion that coincides with debuting on the show. It’s a deluge of activity that, initially, can’t be adequately prepared for and it’s one that Lamb experienced firsthand.
“At first, after my audition aired, my sites couldn’t keep up. My stuff was literally shut down,” Lamb explains.
As a local artist, Lamb was used to receiving a friend request on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram fairly often. She relied (and still does rely) on social media for the majority of her publicity regarding upcoming shows and releases. But after her premiere, the number and frequency ballooned in a very short period of time. Furthermore, friend requests from friends of friends or local fans morphed into a nationwide fan base that searched Lamb out on her social media outlets.
“It’s crazy that I can make a post about a song and get 90 likes and in two days see hundreds of streams,” Lamb says. “It’s actually reaching people who are friends of mine because they want to hear the music, not because they’re interested in the scene. They’re literally curious about what I’m doing — they want to hear more.”
But this influx of attention has heightened Lamb’s time on said social media, simply so she can keep up with all of the activity across her accounts, while still trying to maintain a public presence and keeping her fans up to date with her myriad projects. In fact, Lamb has had to cut back on the time she spends at her 9-5 job so she can answer fan requests and emails in between interviews, studio work and live performances.
It’s been a dramatic transition for Lamb who, before Idol, rarely used her social media for any personal or professional purpose. In fact, it was her fiancé who initially showed her the value of using social media to self-promote. Social media activity actually lines up with Lamb’s well established indie sensibilities. She takes pride in having a control over her public output, whether that be an Instagram photo or uploading a new song onto iTunes.
“I still own all the songs, I’m not going to get slapped on the wrist for releasing songs because I’m not releasing for a label —it’s still mine, it’s on me. If I fail, I’m the one filing bankruptcy. If I succeed, I get to hire more people,” Lamb says.
She also leverages her public output to help other artists that she works with as well. For example, many of her fans have seen clips of Lamb’s work with local Electronica act Black Signal or marveled at her unique jewelry and clothing, much of which comes from local boutique Lulu White. Lamb has been repeatedly asked about her collaborations and takes great pains to make sure that her partners get the recognition they deserve. In doing so, she is able to shine a light on not just projects that she is personally a part of, but also projects that she is a personal fan of, showing her fans another aspect of her personality and artistic output.
In many ways, keeping up with her social media has become another job for Lamb, requiring large amounts of time and thought to be put into its upkeep. But it’s a job she enjoys doing and one that she has no intention of passing off to anyone else.
“I would prefer to spend my time doing the social media stuff, I really do enjoy it. It helps me to come out of my shell when I’m sitting behind the computer,” Lamb says.
For her fans this is great news, because they can be assured that anything they see coming from Lamb online is actually coming from her and not a hired gun. It’s a genuine correspondence, which in today’s pop music world is a rarity.
by Jac Kern
47 days ago
at 12:45 PM | Permalink
Weekly 'American Idol' recap featuring Cincinnati's Jess Lamb
Part two of
Hollywood Week aired Wednesday and Thursday, picking up right where we left off
— with group performances, specifically Alexis D. and her case of the vapors.
She got her shit together enough to perform with her group and ended up
advancing with Jax. The others, including Sal, were sent home. I guess American Idol my call to investigate his
real age. Sorry, Sal!
performed a slowed-down version of O.G. A.I.
Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone."
We saw Hollywood
Anderson spittin’ game on a bunch of ladies, including Jess Lamb. He made it
through to the next round.
There was a quick
look at Alexis Gomez and her group — they all advanced.
Then we finally
got to see a performance by Jess — the first time since her amazing audition in
Kansas City. Her group put a funky twist on the earworm “All About That Bass”
and got even more love from Harry Connick Jr.
They killed it! It
was honestly one of the most cohesive and entertaining performances of the
round. But only Jess and Lovey made it through; the rest of the group was sent
My dreams were
crushed when Garrett fell flat on his song and was eliminated.
The night ended
with a badass all-girl cover of Queen;s “Somebody to Love,” where we learned it’s OK to forget the words
to a song if you can incorporate a joke about it within said song.
With all the
groups finished, solo performances began on Thursday’s episode. The judges
began to cut approximately 80 contestants down to the 48 that will have to
perform in front of a live audience at the House of Blues in next week’s
episodes — that’s how the final top 24 will be determined. No feedback was
given immediately following each performance; instead,
Loren set the bar
high with her rendition of “Skyfall.” I know it’s not Jess, but she game me
goosebumps, so you need to watch it.
Daniel is also crazy good. His singing voice is about 4 years ahead of his
speaking voice, so that works for him.
Big Ron made a big
fool of himself talking shit on the music director before, during and after his
performance. Obviously, he was sent home. Loren and Baby Daniel advanced, along
with Shi (the girl with "the look"), Quentin (the guy with "the look"), Maddie (another supposed “teen” that looks like a very mature soap
opera actress), Trevor (the “geek” of the group), Jax (who got way too close to her parents
while singing “Let It Be”) and Nick (the old man of the group).
Alexis Gomez couldn’t
decide if she wanted to channel “Dirty” Xtina with white girl cornrows or young
Taylor Swift with crunchy curls, so she rocked them both. She made it, so we’ve
officially got some local talent in the top 48!
Jess Lamb is not one of them.
They didn’t show
her final solo performance but did dedicate a few clips to her as they
announced some of the more prominent folks leaving the competition.
We'll miss you,
Jess! Actually, we don’t have to miss her because we will be checking out her local performances. Jess is already working on new music — with fellow Idol contestant Hollywood Anderson and
the one and only Bootsy Collins!
This wraps up our
coverage of Jess American Idol, but we can all expect more on her in the months to
by Jac Kern
54 days ago
Posted In: Music
at 12:29 PM | Permalink
Weekly 'American Idol' recap featuring Cincinnati's Jess Lamb
With the news of
local musician Jess Lamb competing on the 14th season of American Idol, I’ve been watching and waiting for the initial
audition episodes to end so we can really get into the competition and see more
Jess. This week was the first half of Hollywood rounds, where some 200
contestants that received golden tickets during the aforementioned auditions
before the judges — Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. —
converged under one roof. The musicians and singers will perform solo and as
groups for the judges, who will gradually dwindle the crowd down to the top 24
locals (Spoiler Alert), we got about 30 seconds of Jess Lamb air time between
this week’s two episodes. But on the upside, she’s still in the game!
episode, the judges surprised a room full of contestants, telling them a
select few would be called onstage to perform right then. For viewers at home,
we’ve seen these folks before — they’re the ones we saw audition and receive
golden tickets (but keep in mind there were many
more than what we saw), the judges’ “most memorable auditions.” But they
don’t know that. For those in the crowd, it seems like random contestants were
pulled up to perform in front of their competition with no immediate feedback
from the panel of mega-stars. And the judges were continuously bewildered as to
why these kids were coming up scared shitless.
First up was Jax, who looks like a PG-13 Ke$ha that got puked on by Forever 21, but gave a really
cool cover of “Toxic” by Britney Spears.
Walking New York
stereotype Sal was also called. According to the show he’s 19, but this man is definitely
at least 45 judging by his voice, appearance and penchant for standards (his
name is Sal for crying out loud).
Afro’ed Adam — who
gave a boisterous performance of “Born to be Wild” in his audition — surprised
everyone with a softer side that the judges didn’t seem to like.
through what seemed like a million 15-year-olds that made me feel like a stale
And it was nice to
see Garret, the blind cowboy with a voice of a thousand Country angels. He so
needs to be in the top 24.
After making their
way through the list, the judges called everyone who performed that day to the
stage — around 38 hopefuls. Again, clearly many
more performed than what we had seen in the episode — including our homegirl,
Jess Lamb! Despite some shaky performances, they were all immediately advanced
to the next round. We didn’t get more of than a glance at her, but Jess is safe
this week! Everyone else in the audience — about 175 kids who were mostly
convinced at this point that they were garbage people — were also off the
chopping block for the moment, and would be performing later.
contestants returned, they lined up onstage 10 at a time to perform for the
judges. One by one, they gave a little spiel and gave a quick performance.
After each group of 10 performed, eliminations were immediate. The group of 175
was cut in half. Cue the crying footage!
At one point
toward the end of Wednesday’s episode, we saw JLo have a DIVA MOMENT (OK, not
really) and talking about how cold she was in the theater. Up pops
“19-year-old” Sal again, offering a coat he’s got back at his hotel room. “I
have a wonderful 2011 Merlot. We could split it,” he said. Can we please
investigate this guy, Idol? If
28-year-old Jess is at the end of the age spectrum, middle-aged men should be
prohibited. And if he is 19, the kid's got hooch in his room!
unfolded last night, and still no real airtime for Jess. It opened with the
remaining contestants (the non-memorable auditions — wah, waahh). Alexis Gomez,
a 22-year-old Dayton, Ohio resident, was shown performing — she advanced to the
In an off-stage
scene, it looks like there’s a budding romance between Jax and Dreadlock Pirate
a.k.a. Qassim (why why why is this happening).
contestants after cuts are brought onstage and asked to split themselves into
groups of four. With around 100 people, this was udder madness and horrible
planning that resulted in one person — another Alexis (Poor Alexis D.G.) — left
with NO ONE. So sad! I feel for you, Alexis D.G.! But don’t worry, Sal came to
the rescue and invited her to join his group to make a fivesome.
The groups of four
were given a song to perform a cappella-style and had one night to perfect it.
Some of the groups eventually went to their hotel rooms but many stayed up all
night preparing — something apparently none of these people had done before. They
were so loopy!
The next morning,
the foursomes began to take the stage. At this point, I have a lot of
questions: Are we cutting down to the final 24? Will these people go through
another round of cuts before the live shows begin? Does anyone else want a
Sal’s group was
about to go on when Alexis D.G. had some kind of panic attack or fainting spell
— seriously, none of these people have ever gone without sleep before — and got
real dramatic about it. She pulled herself together to go on with the group but
immediately got wobbly and needed to be carried off stage. Another DIVA MOMENT!
And that’s where the episode ends. Hope you’re OK, Alexis! But we’ll have to
wait to find out until next time [Ryan Seacrest voice] on…American Idol.
Wednesday’s episode here; Thursday’s here.
by Nick Grever
58 days ago
With her 'American Idol' journey, noted Cincinnati musician Jess Lamb is presented with numerous opportunities and challenges
For many Cincinnati natives, seeing Jess Lamb perform her audition in Kansas City for the American Idol judges was the first time they had ever heard her powerful and emotive voice or seen her honest, determined spirit. But for anyone who has their ears to the ground in Cincinnati’s local music scene (or has drunkenly wandered into Japps on a Tuesday night) knew that Lamb was more than ready for the limelight. Lamb has been performing all across town for years and has consistently turned heads with her stable of classics and originals, paired with her pronounced and technical work on the keys. (In 2013, Lamb was nominated for an R&B/Funk/Soul Cincinnati Entertainment Award and performed at that year’s ceremony, a mini-clip of which was used in her initial biographical segment on Idol.)
But a rise in local and national exposure brings a great deal of opportunities and challenges tied together. And it is those opportunities and challenges that my series of posts following Lamb’s experience will reflect upon. Lamb is an indie artist to the core; she writes and records with many different projects beyond her solo work. She plays all around town in the hopes of steadily increasing her visibility. But how does an artist used to local coverage deal with the sudden influx in national attention? What effect will American Idol have on local attendance or the reception at her shows? Will there be any long term changes or will this ultimately be a flash-in-the-pan experience for Lamb? These are the types of questions that will be explored as the show carries on.Of course, to answer where Lamb will be going, it helps to know how she even became a part of American Idol. It all happened by chance.“I went to Columbus for what they call the ‘Bus Tour.’ Basically you go down there and stand in front of executive producers of the show. From there, they just call you and tell you where to go next. You’re just playing the waiting game after that,” Lamb says.Lamb and her friend’s spontaneous trip to Columbus led to the next stage of the journey — performing for Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. (one of Lamb’s musical idols). There was a month in between both auditions, leaving plenty of time to think and speculate. After the audition in Kansas City and the announcement of her participation on the show, Lamb has been speaking to the media while still finding time for her day job and performing at night.With “Hollywood Week,” featuring the singers who made it past the initial auditions, approaching, Lamb’s Amercan Idol adventure is just about to truly take off. Here at home, she’s already seen a change in her local reception.“I’ve felt a lot of support from the people that I look up to. Frankly, I’m shocked at the support. I’m shocked that a lot of people see where I’m going with this,” Lamb says.After her audition aired, Lamb played a show in West Chester, where she was greeted by an entirely different type of crowd than the Main Street district mainstays. Instead of young people buying her shots, she was met by a group of older women who brought her flowers.The crowds aren’t just growing at her shows either; her online presence has grown as well. American Idol fans have flocked to Lamb’s Facebook, Instagram, email box and Reverbnation page. So many, in fact, that Lamb is having a hard time keeping up with all the attention.“There’s been so much [growth] on social media, so many great emails. I’m trying to respond to every email and I have to take hours out of every day to do it and it’s amazing, I love it,” Lamb says.In many ways, that excitement is indicative of Lamb and her Idol journey thus far. It’s been a whirlwind of activity that is guaranteed to grow as the show progresses. But she has taken it all in stride and is taking every opportunity the show has provided her. We’ll just have to tune in to see what other opportunities arise in the coming weeks.
The Hollywood Week episodes of American Idol air locally this Wednesday and Thursday on Fox 19.
by Jac Kern
76 days ago
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
American Idol’s 14th season
premiered last week and if you think you shouldn’t care because Ryan Seacrest
makes you uncomfortable, you are wrong. Well, not about the Ryan Seacrest part — he is
very distracting. Like, why is he still around? How much does he get paid to be
a weirdo to young singers? Is he actually a robot? What really happened to Brian Dunkleman? But you should be excited because Cincinnati’s own Jess Lamb is on it, and
there’s a very good chance she’ll go far in the competition.
I typically don’t watch the
music competition shows like Idol and
The Voice, because witnessing genuine
humans be embarrassed on television really upsets me. But when I heard Jess
Lamb had auditioned and got the golden Hollywood ticket, I had to give the show a
shot. Jess is a great local artist and I camped next to her at Bonnaroo one year, so I'm pretty much famous by proxy.Anyway, at 28 years old, Jess is painted as the mature one of the auditioning bunch, which is
probably going to make you feel like a shriveled French fry at the bottom of a
car. But with her age (seriously, I can’t) comes a breadth of talent and
experience. She writes and performs her own songs but — judging by her
audition — has no trouble with the traditional covers Idol necessitates.
Jess auditioned in Kansas
City, Mo., and got a great reaction from the judges, particularly crooner Harry
Connick, Jr. Check it out:
Auditions will continue
every Wednesday and Thursday for the next couple weeks, so we won’t be seeing
much of Jess again until the final 48 contestants are narrowed down to 24 after
a performance in front of a live audience (this has already been filmed). So, will
Jess make the cut? Idol teased us
with a “look” — or rather, listen — at the top 24. You can hear them sing but
can’t really make out anyone’s face. Judge for yourself.
All I can make out is a Captain Hook-looking dude with dreads. GO JESS.
Remember the uber-sleazy
Gaston from Beauty and the Beast? You
know the song, “No one's slick as Gaston/No one's quick as Gaston/No one does push-ups in the middle of an
amusement park like Gaston…” What? Yes.
Sia’s “Chandelier” girl
is back, and she’s dance-battling in a dirty cage with Shia LaBeouf, which some
people are NOT OK with.
Also, why did I just learn
that the little girl, Maddie Ziegler, is from Lifetime gem Dance Moms?!
Speaking of times when we
all get sucked into Wikipedia holes… Rapper T.I. is basically a suicide prevention
specialist. This isn’t news, but it’s new to me (please don’t ask why I’m Internet-searching
random rappers at night). Seriously, “Rescue of suicidal men” is a sub-section
on his Wikipedia page. In 2010, he stopped a young man from taking his life by
convincing him to not jump off a 22-foot Atlanta building. T.I. heard about the
situation on the radio, drove to the scene and asked police if there was
anything he could do to help. Pretty incredible. But before that, in 2006, T.I. discovered a struggling Scott Stapp
after the Creed frontman had jumped over his hotel balcony (whether this was a suicide
attempt or the result of insomniac hallucinations varies in reports). Can
we have T.I. intervene on Scott Stapp again please? Side note: Awesome reality
show idea. For real, though, dude seems like he needs it.
On a lighter note, here’s a
Larry David Lynch blog!
Parks and Recreation’s final season premiered last night. Jurassic World will be unleashed into theaters this summer. Chris
Pratt stars in both. Relevant:
American Crime Story casting news! If you recall, Ryan Murphy is spinning off on his American Horror Story miniseries
franchise with a true crime series. The idea is to explore a different criminal
case in American history each season, like how each AHS season explores fear and freaky folklore in a different arena.
The series’ debut will focus on the O.J. Simpson trial. Cuba Gooding, Jr.will play O.J., David "Forever Ross" Schwimmer will play Robert Kardashian and John Travolta will play Robert Shapiro. So much wut.This dog takes a bus to the
dog park and knows to get off at the appropriate stop — alone — which is more than I can
say about myself.
The Golden Globes, a.k.a Amy
‘n’ Tina’s Sleepover Party, were Sunday. The duo kicked ass in their final
hosting gig, don’t get me wrong, but overall the show left me wanting something
more exciting. Maybe it was the fact that the awards were so spread out. There
were big winners, for sure (Transparent,
Boyhood), but there were a lot of new
winners (which yields heartfelt but otherwise boring speeches) and no one show
or film truly swept.
If anything, it gave me a
bunch of new movies and shows to add to my watch-list. Peep the nominees and
winners here, if
you care, but the best part of the production was the monologue.
TinAmy were perfection. They
even killed it with a Cosby rape joke that certainly shook up the audience. Nothing
like seeing rich, famous celebrities panic over whether it’s OK to laugh.Other notes:
Leelah Alcorn — the local
transgender teen who took her own life earlier this month — got a shout out
from Transparent creator Jill Soloway.
The stars of Fifty Shades of Grey couldn’t muster enough chemistry to present an award, so that’s probably not a good sign…
George Clooney got a
lifetime achievement award and said nice things about his new wife.
Chrissy Teigen ugly-cried
when husband John Legend accepted an award with Common.
And that’s about it! Of
course, the Oscars are the pinnacle of awards season, and those nominees will
be announced Thursday.
by Amy Harris
Young Opera trio comes to PNC Pavilion Friday night
Il Volo — the popular Italian Opera trio from Sicily — features three teens with tenor voices so strong, they got America’s attention after one of the best guest performances in the history of American Idol, singing "O Sole Mio" last year. They formed in 2009 and were received very well in their native country, performing with some of the biggest international superstars in their short history. The group consists of Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble. They are now set for their second U.S. tour which comes through Cincinnati tomorrow (Friday) night.Il Volo is produced by long time industry veteran Tony Renis, who discovered the boys two years ago along with Grammy-winning producer Humberto Gatica (Michael Bublé, Josh Groban and Celine Dion). CityBeat caught up with Gianluca Ginoble this week by phone to discuss his love of touring and how much he enjoys getting to do what he loves every day. He is just learning English but was able to provide a little insight into to the band’s grueling tour schedule. Check out Il Volo at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion on Friday.CityBeat: I know you were introduced to opera from family members growing up in Italy. How important is family tradition to you?Gianluca Ginoble: My family is the most important thing because my Grandpa is my inspiration. It was him that introduced me to this kind of music. But I love others as well, like Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra. I love Opera, but I also I love other kinds of music too. To me family is the most important thing.CB: You guys are going to start a long tour being away from home. Is it hard being on the road being away from friends and family or what is the hardest part for you?GG: When I am home, I can’t wait to do another tour because this is now my life. For me, it is like funny work because this is my passion. I am doing what I love to do, but when I am on tour I can’t wait to come back to my house and my home because I miss the family, my Grandpa. My Grandma died six months ago and for me it was an amazing pain. He was very important for me.CB: I am sorry to hear that. Are there any places on the tour in the United States that you are specifically looking forward to playing, the location or the venue?GG: Yes, yes, yes. My favorite city is Los Angeles. New York as well, but Los Angeles is the city of the dreams and the star, the Walk of Fame, the Oscars. For me it is the best city.CB: What has been your rehearsal process for the tour? What has that been like for you?GG: We have prepared with eight or nine hour rehearsals daily.CB: Every day?GG: Yes, because this is our first concert and we are preparing. When we have the soundcheck before the concert it is just 20 minutes or 30 minute,s so we have major rehearsals to get ready.CB: How do you take care of your voices?GG: Yes always, our voices are the most important thing.CB: Do you ever see the band crossing over to pop music or do you think you will stay with Opera?GG: I don’t know. We are open to many things. We did an American tour and it was wonderful, amazing because there were teenagers everywhere and in the U.S., in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and this is beautiful because it was our goal and this is a dream come true.CB: Where do you see yourself or the band in 10 more years?GG: I don’t know. I hope all this can continue in this way but life is unpredictable.CB: What is your favorite song to sing and perform?GG: "Smile," a Charlie Chaplin song.CB: What can the fans look forward to in Cincinnati at the show?GG: It is going to be a very beautiful show with more surprises. We have changed some things and I think it is going to be amazing. We have three new songs, which are a surprise.CB: How do stay connected to your fans with Facebook or Twitter?GG: Always, always. I update my fans, our fans. I am always doing “Greetings from …" I upload the pictures.CB: What are you looking forward to the most on the tour?GG: The most beautiful thing is to meet the fans. When I look at the people and they are happy and when they listen to our singing and we can make them happy, it is just beautiful.
by Mike Breen
'Idol' grey fox wins and the only Cincinnati Bengal ever covered by Bon Iver turns 65
On this date in 2006, Taylor Hicks won that year's American Idol karaoke contest, laying waste to runner-up Katharine McPhee. Soul Patrol!!! McPhee would bounce back and is currently starring in the hit network TV show Smash. Hicks, of course, went on to superstardom, scoring major hits with songs like … oh, wait. What ever did happen to that guy? Best guess: manager of a suburban Applebee's somewhere? Post-Idol, Hicks did score a role in the traveling production of Grease and his self-titled album went platinum, but Hicks was dropped from his label in 2008 and hasn't been heard from much since. Last night, a fella named Phillip Phillips (no lie! that's his name!) won this year's American Idol, beating a lady named Jessica Sanchez. I must confess I've not watch one second of American Idol this year (or the year before, or the year before, etc.), but reading The New York Times story on him from today, it appears Phillips actually can play guitar pretty well and covered songs by Damien Rice and The Box Tops when he was allowed to chose his own material to perform. Will Philly Phillips be a star, post-Idol? These things are hard to predict (ask Taylor Hicks), but it seems — from my admittedly peripheral view — that Phillips is more David Gray or Dave Matthews than Clay Aiken or Adam Lambert. Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a May 24 birthday include creative Jazz saxman Archie Shepp (1937); American music icon Robert Allen Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan (1941); big-voiced and bigger-haired R&B diva Ms. Patti LaBelle (1944); producer and guitarist (with Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon and others) Waddy Wachtel (1947); singer/songwriter and eldest daughter of Johnny Cash's, Rosanne Cash (1955); frontman for Soul/Funk group Cameo ("Word Up"), Larry Blackmon (1956); former keyboardist for Beastie Boys pals Luscious Jackson, Vivian Trimble (1963); bassist for Redd Kross and current member of old-school Punk supergroup OFF!, Steve McDonald (1967); guitarist for rockers The Black Crowes, Rich Robinson (1969); and singer/songwriter and Country artist Mike Reid (1947).Born in Altoona, Penn., Reid attended Penn State, where he excelled on the football field. The tackle finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting his senior year (1969) and earned a Bachelor's degree in music. In the 1970 NFL draft, Reid was the Cincinnati Bengals' top first-round selection (seventh overall). Known for his pass-rushing, Reid was a dominant defensive player selected All-Pro at his position in 1972 and 1973 (both years he made the Pro Bowl, as well). In ’74, an injured Reid posted lower numbers and retired at the end of the season as the Bengals all-time leader in sacks with 49. (Remember, the Bengals had only been a team since 1968.)During the off-season, Reid played piano with orchestras in Utah and Dallas, as well as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. With some help from Larry Gatlin, he was ready to go into music full-time after retiring from professional football. Focused on songwriter, Reid won his first Grammy in 1984 for writing Ronnie Milsap's "Stranger in My House." We would go on to write several songs that hit No. 1 on the Country charts, including "Walk On Faith," the only No. 1 he also performed. Reid's songs were recorded by the likes of Etta James, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, Alabama, George Jones, Wynonna, Lee Greenwood, Kenny Rogers, Shelby Lynne, Shania Twain, Oak Ridge Boys, Collin Raye, Alabama and Tim McGraw over the years. But his "time capsule" tune has to be his 1992 hit with Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me," his biggest Pop chart success. Reid is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In honor of his 65th birthday, here's Reid's biggest song sung by himself, followed by a pretty chilling more recent version by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
by Jac Kern
SmartTalk ConnectedConcversations continues its women's speaker series tonight with Kara DioGuardi. You might recognize DioGuardi from her short time as a judge on American Idol Seasons 8-9, but you've definitely heard her work as a writer and producer with some of the biggest Pop stars of the past decade. DioGuardi has been nominated for a Grammy and won countless other music awards for her work with Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Santana. Tonight, she'll speak on "Surviving Life, Love and American Idol" at 7:30 p.m. at the Aronoff Center. Past speakers for the series include Arianna Huffington and Tim Gunn (the only male speaker of the series' history. He's a honorary lady.) Find some last-minute tickets here.If you miss Turntable Tuesdays at Clifton's Golden Lions Lounge, dust off your disco balls, because John O'Bryant and Hilly Kenkel are back! The duo who presented the weeknight dance party on Ludlow Avenue have relocated downtown. Now Mainstay Rock Bar will be the place to for weeknight partiers, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. on Thursdays. Most of us haven't even thought about prom for years, but for high schoolers, the dance season is upon them. Any girl can attest to the importance of a perfect dress, but for many local young women, purchasing one is not financially possible. Kenzie's Closet takes gently worn dresses (many of us wear a prom dress just once) and make them available for disadvantaged girls in Greater Cincinnati. Principals, social workers and counselors refer these students to Kenzie's Closet, where the girls are able to browse tons of gorgeous gowns – and pick one free of charge. Tonight, Downtown's PLAY hosts a fundraiser for the organization. Just bring $10 or a formal dress, (shoes, bags and accessories are important, too!) and enjoy specialty drinks, specials, prize raffles and more from 7-10 p.m. tonight. It's an excellent opportunity to help young girls in need and make room in your closet. Important People is a diverse collective of area writers that strives to bring together others through creative expression at organized events. Tonight's Important People Forget Their Lines is a night of staged works of poetry, theater and other performances. Forget Their Lines is an investigation of the stage as an environment for exposing human impulses like anxiety, absurdity, self-deprecation and vulnerability. Come to Museum Gallery-Gallery Museum in the Brighton Arts District from 7-9 p.m. tonight to check it out. Read more about Important People and tonight's performers here.Martinis and manicures might sound a bit messy (I can't go without smudging wet polish while I'm sober), but not when professionals are involved! Oriental Wok in Hyde Park hosts a pampering session tonight: mini-manicure appointments, two cocktails and mani-friendly appetizers for $35. All proceeds go to the Red Cross to benefit local victims of recent tornadoes. Order some tasty dinner to go when you're done. Go here to RSVP.If you happen to see a little more PDA than usual, it's because today is the first national make-out session. Officially headquartered on Fountain Square (though all are encouraged to participate in any public space), the event was created by an area man to replace commercial "love" holidays like Valentine's Day with real, public signs of affection. Like smooching. Events on the square have been going all day, including live music, speed dating and vendors. Acoustic music runs 'til 4 p.m., followed by DJ tunes. Another speed dating session will take place 5-6 p.m., so if you don't have a partner to lock lips with, maybe you'll find one! Luxe Nightclub hosts the after-party. At least stop by for some free condoms. More info here.Find more arts, theater and comedy events on our To Do page, and follow our music blog for nightly shows.