by Nick Grever
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 Mike Breen
Posted In: Local Music
at 12:33 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati Funk artist inks deal with diverse and esteemed independent label
Veteran Cincinnati Funk bassist/singer/songwriter Freekbass announced this week that he has signed a deal with the esteemed Ropeadope Records. Freekbass’ next album — the follow-up to last year’s self-released Everybody’s Feelin’ Real (which you can stream/purchase here) — is currently slated for release on the label early this fall.
“I grew up listening to artists and music on Ropeadope and it's such an honor to actually be a part of the label now,” Freekbass said in a press release. Ropeadope began in 1999, originally created by founders Andy Hurwitz and John Medeski to release the Project Logic album by Soul/Jazz/Hip Hop turntablist extraordinaire DJ Logic. (At the start of this decade, Freekbass was a part of a side-project band called Headtronics that featured Logic, as well as Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz.) Ropeadope has since put out an impressively diverse array of unique music, including releases by Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Charlie Hunter, Phish’s Mike Gordon, Antibalas, Christian McBride and Fusion ensemble Snarky Puppy, which won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance last year for its collaboration with Lalah Hathaway on the song “Something.” (You can read more about the label’s history here.)Freekbass, who crafts a contemporary brand of Funk that mixes in shades of Electronica and Hip Hop, has been one the leading figures in the Cincinnati music scene for decades, starting with the popular ’80s Alt Rock band Sleep Theatre before holding down the bottom end for successful Funk crew SHAG in the ’90s. He started his solo career in the late ’90s and has released six full-lengths and toured relentlessly. His albums have featured some impressive guests; artists from Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell to Buckethead and DJ Spooky have appeared on Freekbass recordings. His stunning bass-playing skills have also lead to the release of several instructional videos and he was featured at the 2014 London Bass Guitar Show, heading up a master class/clinic and performing.
Here is Freekbass (with his band The Bump Assembly) in their most recent video release, for the song “Never Enough” off of Everybody’s Feelin’ Real.
Read more about Freekbass in CityBeat's 2014 feature story here.
by Jac Kern
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 Mike Breen
Cincinnati R&B/ElectroFunk group profiled on cable series Jan. 30
The sixth season of TV One's entertaining and informative Unsung series, showcasing artists who did well but didn't quite reach the heights many expected, kicks off tonight at 10 p.m. with an episode about the late, great Soul star Isaac Hayes. Next week, on Jan. 30, the series focuses on a group that was formed at Kentucky State University and ended up calling Cincinnati its home base — Midnight Star. The R&B/ElectroFunk nine-piece band was a major success in the ’80s, giving the music world massive hits like "Slow Jam," "No Parking on the Dance Floor" and "Freak-a-Zoid." But the band eventually splintered — due to "arguments over money and management," according to the Unsung synopsis — with Reggie Calloway and brother Vincent leaving and eventually forming Calloway (which had success with the smash "I Wanna Be Rich" in 1989). Midnight Star carried on and produced a couple more albums that featured R&B chart hits before taking a break. The "hiatus" ended in 2000 and Midnight Star continues to this day, performing most recently at the Macy's Music Festival last summer. Click here to read up on the band circa 2013.The Unsung series has a loose definition of "unsung" (as the Isaac Hayes episode suggests), but its profiles of various R&B/Soul, Hip Hop, Funk and Gospel artists are always fairly illuminating. The show has dedicated episodes to a wide range of successful artists, from The Ohio Players and Zapp to Kool Mo Dee and Big Daddy Kane to George Clinton, The Spinners and another Cincinnati-affiliated star, Bootsy Collins. Unsung (Documentary) - Bootsy Collins... by GENERATIONDISCOFUNKThe rest of Unsung's season six includes episodes on EPMD, Lou Rawls, Eddie Kendricks, The Whispers, Mint Condition, Johnny Gill and a special two-hour look at the Disco phenomenon. TV One is channel 217 for local Time Warner Cable subscribers (1217 for the HD channel).
by Mike Breen
Cincinnati born and bred legend Bootsy Collins is known for his collaborations, from James Brown, George Clinton and Deee-Lite to more recent (and more unusual) hookups, like William Shatner, Charlie Daniels and Dr. Cornel West. But his latest collabo might be his strangest — and most fun — yet. Last night, Collins joined The Roots, DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh, Biz Markie and Erykah Badu on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for a little jam session with the cast of the trippy, hip kids' show, Yo Gabba Gabba.
Improv meets Electronic cool in latest project from resident bass genius Freekbass
0 Comments · Monday, January 24, 2011
These days, Freekbass’ outrage is contextualized by his formidable musical skills, particularly on bass, the instrument that has earned him global attention. His local back story is well documented — befriended by Bootsy Collins, band gigs with Sleep Theatre and SHAG, a burgeoning solo career, sessions and tours with the likes of Buckethead, Bootsy and countless others — but his most recent project might raise his profile to previously unimagined heights.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Several Cincinnati-based artists and institutions are up for Ohio Hip Hop Awards, an annual event that honors the statewide Hip Hop community, culminating in a music conference/awards ceremony Sept. 17-19 in Cleveland. The event spotlights everything from MCs, DJs, break-dancers and graffiti artists to labels, radio, venues and promoters.
Sept. 4 • Madison Theater
0 Comments · Monday, August 30, 2010
Bootsy Collins has assembled a major party to pay tribute to his late older brother (and musical companion) Phelps "Catfish" Collins, one of the most influential guitarists in Funk history, who passed away on Aug. 6. This Saturday at Covington's Madison Theater, Bootsy hosts "The Catfish Nation Celebration" featuring appearances by Ray Parker Jr., Reggie Calloway, Freekbass, Wilbert Longmire and many others.
Classes now open at Bootsy Collins' online Funk U
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Bootsy Collins' latest project, Funk University, began classes July 1 and might just become the way to preserve Funk for the next generation to enjoy. "This Funk University will be the first of its kind to not only show love to the Funk but even more importantly to lift up live music in general," Collins says.
A message from the MPMF.09 head honcho
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Dear MidPoint Performer: Welcome to Cincinnati, the city I've enjoyed living, working and making music in for the past 20 years. I hope your experience is a great one. And I hope you don't leave. Really. Take a good hard look around while you're here. The rent is cheap, the architecture and geography are stimulating and the people are generally sweethearts. But Cincinnati is also building something, and we need more builders with your kind of tools.