by Mike Breen
10 days ago
Northside record haven presents a string of in-store performances in honor of its 15th anniversary
In March of 1999, after running the Cincinnati-based Shake It Records label for several years, brothers Jim and Darren Blase opened a new record store in the Northside neighborhood. The store, also called Shake It Records, was an instant hit with local record-buyers, offering a huge chunk of vinyl alongside their CD stock, as well as books, magazines and various musical merchandise (among many other items).
Since then, word of Shake It’s awesomeness has spread far and wide — the well-stocked and unique shop has often earned nods in the national press as one of the best record stores in the country, and music heads from across the region always make trips to Shake It when in Cincinnati (or they make trips just to go Shake It). Indie Rock star/hardcore record lover Bob Pollard, for example, comes down from Dayton often and frequently leaves with a big stack of LPs for his (surely gargantuan) collection.
The beloved shop has also regularly featured in-store performances from both local artists and national touring acts (a Tegan and Sara in-store a few years ago drew the attention of local TV news stations because of the huge turnout to meet the Pop duo). To celebrate its 15th anniversary — a remarkable milestone considering Shake It’s rise coincided with the rise of digital music and the alleged death march of brick-and-mortar record stores — Shake it will be presenting a string of performances throughout March.
The free, intimate shows kick off tomorrow (Saturday, March 1) with a 7 p.m. performance from Cincinnati Pop/Rock guitar/songwriting legend Rob Fetters. Fetters, who kicked off the 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in January with a surprise performance, will be supporting his latest solo release, Saint Ain’t, and you’re bound to hear a few songs from his expansive songwriting legacy with the bands The Raisins, psychodots and The Bears.
Shake It recently released the schedule of in-store performances for the rest of the month, with more to be added. Not that an excuse is needed for a Shake It visit, but the following events are great chances to stop in and wish the store a happy birthday.
March 15: Cincy Honky Tonk ensemble Jeremy Pinnell & The 55's (7 p.m.)
March 19: Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars, supporting his third solo release, Rock ’n’ Roll Blues, which comes out March 18. (time TBA)
March 21: Northern Kentucky singer/songwriter Daniel Martin Moore, who’s released acclaimed material through the Sub Pop label, and “Friends.” (8 p.m.)
March 22: The Shake It label’s biggest success story, Cincy rockers Wussy, who will preview their new album, Attica, which releases nationally on May 6. (7 p.m.)
March 29: Covington Indie Rock crew Frontier Folk Nebraska, whose releases are distributed through the Shake It label. (7 p.m.)
Keep an eye on shakeitrecords.com — and sign up for Shake It’s e-mailing list — for the latest in-store additions and more.
by Brian Baker
Last night was a glorious night for music and glorious
music was made. Combinations don't get much better than that. Things
didn't start so well, though; a quick e-mail on Wednesday revealed that,
for a variety of reasons, my friend Matthew Fenton wouldn't be making
his annual pilgrimage from Chicago to our fair festival. And then the
drive down I-75 was infuriatingly stop-and-go for no apparent reason,
which had me grinding my teeth all the way downtown.
Every molecule of that dour energy was dissipated with the
first show of the night as Cody ChesnuTT hit the Washington Park stage
like a hydrogen bomb of positive vibration.
ChesnuTT's MidPoint appearance was also his Cincinnati debut and the sizable crowd that showed up to witness it
was completely enthralled with his potent blend of Neo Soul, Reggae,
Jazz and Pop.
ChesnuTT doesn't dress the part of Soul crooner; graphic
T-shirt covered in cassettes, red cardigan, black sweats and an army
helmet. The helmet is an odd sartorial choice, but ChesnuTT has
explained that he's "fighting to keep the soul alive." Not the musical
genre, but the spiritual essence at the center of all human beings.
That's a pretty big mission for a singer/songwriter to assign himself,
but last night's performance proved that ChesnuTT is more than up to the
Drawing strictly from last year's gorgeous Landing on a Hundred (he no longer does any songs from 2002's The Headphone Masterpiece,
feeling that he's moved beyond the events in his life that inspired
that album), ChesnuTT blew any trace of negativity into the stratosphere
and replaced it with a rock-solid groove (courtesy of his absolutely
stellar band) and a message of pure love. Not Barry White
let's-ease-them-panties-down love, but love of self, love of mankind,
love of life, which should ultimately lead to unconditional love for one
Not that ChesnuTT doesn't recognize the world's
dysfunction. In his brilliant "Everybody's Brother," he sings, "I used
to smoke crack back in the day/I used to gamble rent money and lose/I
used to dog nice ladies, used to swindle friends/But now I'm teaching
kids in Sunday school and I'm not turning back." On the album, the song
thumps along on a hearty Funk beat, but on stage, ChesnuTT delivers that
opening verse with a sermon-like intonation, and the band swells around
him with Gospel fervor and Soul intensity.
No matter what vibe ChesnuTT is channeling at any
particular point in the show, he is a master showman, imploring the
audience to join him, engaging them to become an integral part of the
proceedings. And when he sings, when he digs deep into his creative core
and unleashes his soul though his vocal cords, sweet mother of all
that's holy, he sounds like the reincarnation of Marvin Gaye, the little
brother that Stevie Wonder didn't know he had and the lost Marley
sibling all rolled into one otherworldly package. Anyone who was not
smiling at the end of Cody ChesnuTT's performance last night is damaged
beyond the help of therapy and psychoactive drugs. Please come back to
see us again soon, Cody. If Foxygen's slot is still open, Saturday night
would be just fine. (Editor’s note: Cincy’s fantastic Wussy has claimed
Foxygen’s Washington Park slot tomorrow.)
After Cody ChesnuTT's splendorous opening, it was
Blues/Rock legend Shuggie Otis' turn to lead the Washington Park
congregation, which he did in scorching style. Otis was barely in his
teens when he started playing guitar with his father, R&B icon
Johnny Otis, ultimately leading to session work with Al Kooper and Frank
Zappa when he was just 16, and his 1970 debut solo album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis,
at 17. And while Shuggie has laid low for long stretches in his nearly
50-year career, his current resurgence is sweet vindication for those
periods when an indifferent music industry ignored his virtuosic
brilliance, forcing Shuggie to turn away from the industry.
Shuggie's set started a little hesitantly as he acclimated
to the stage set-up; at one point, he jokingly asked, "Can somebody
show me how to work this shit?" Somebody did and he was off, peeling off
incendiary riffs and razor sharp runs with a casual intensity. The
set's sole slow spot was a new song called "Special," that sounded like
Shuggie copying the numerous Pop artists who have copied him, but he
followed it with a blazing version of "Me and My Woman" that erupted
from the stage like a volcano and oozed through the assembled multitude
with the heat and inevitability of the resultant lava flow. Once he and
his stellar band got going, Shuggie Otis provided a transcendent moment
in MidPoint history, the redemptive return of an astonishing talent that
should never have gone away in the first place.
Only one thing could have dragged me away from the
hair-raising, slack-jawed wonder of Shuggie Otis, and that's the
triumphant return of Cincinnati’s Mad Anthony. Since the July van
accident that could have been the band's literal epitaph, drummer Marc
Sherlock was restrained by a neck brace and an order against all
relatively physical activity. Outside of a little rhythmic tapping to
keep his chops up, Sherlock was virtually drumless for three months,
while guitarists Ringo Jones and Adam Flaig hit the road for some
acoustic dates to keep the rent money coming, then set off for its first
cross-country tour, which culminated with last night’s homecoming.
And so Mad Anthony took the triangular stage at The
Drinkery, their first show with their full current lineup since the
accident that nearly cost them everything. Jones and Flaig brought
plenty of their patented frenzy to their acoustic gigs, but they've
clearly missed their hypertalented timekeeper, which was evident from
the visceral fury that permeated every note of last night's show.
Sherlock couldn't have looked any happier; with every roll, every cymbal
crash, every massive kick, his smile was a permanent fixture, and Jones
and Flaig responded with a tumultuous joy that was a palpable presence
in the room.
At a normal Mad Anthony show, the trio storms into an
audience's frontal lobe with incomprehensible power. If The Stooges ate
Black Sabbath and shit out three perfectly formed babies the next day
that grew up and absorbed Punk, Pop and Rock influences like a bar
towel, then wrung out those influences into shot glasses and downed them
one liquor/beer/sweat/adrenaline slug, that would be Mad
Anthony. Last night's return to The Drinkery was all that amplified to
the third power. Naturally, they finished with "We Love This Fucking
City." Naturally, this fucking city loves Mad Anthony. It's worked out
After the major nut-kick of Mad Anthony, I tooled down to
Arnold's to catch some Beatlesque sweetness courtesy of Canada’s The
Shilohs. They were really quite good, and I definitely wanted to hear
more of them, but they seemed intent on a mid-tempo set in the key of
"If I Fell," and I wasn't quite in the mood for that. So I headed back
to The Drinkery to catch locals Frontier Folk Nebraska's set.
After Mad Anthony's blistering presentation, I chatted up
Kelly Thomas for a few minutes outside The Drinkery, and she had noted
that Frontier Folk Nebraska was veering in a decidedly more electric
direction, rather a shift from their traditional acoustic roots. When
The Shilos didn't pan out for me, I decided to witness FFN's electric
evolution for myself. Good decision.
The new FFN is plugged in and ready to whip any ass in the
house. Imagine a world where The Ass Ponys channel Crazy Horse and the
Bottle Rockets and Uncle Tupelo and you'll be close to the barely
restrained muscle emanating from the new Frontier Folk Nebraska. All of
this was evident on the band's eponymous 2011 album, but it's magnified
to an incredible scale in the live setting. FFN recently lost founding
bassist Steve Oder to a graduate program, which could have seriously
altered the band's chemistry, but new bassist Matthew McCormick seems to
have settled in nicely, alternating between a pulsing beat and runs
that emulate lead solos, forming a slinky rhythm section with drummer
Nathan Wagner. Meanwhile, frontman Michael Hensley and Travis Talbert
create a tandem guitar attack that perfectly balances nuance and power. I
liked where FFN was and I love where they are.
After FFN, I found my car and took a drive down to the
Mainstay to catch London's blazing Rock power trio Leogun.
Vocalist/guitarist Tommy Smith is a revelation, a genetic hybrid of
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in one electrified body, wringing sounds
from his guitar that invoke all the greatest '70s translators of the
Blues while maintaining a firm stance in the 21st century. Anchored by
the thunderous rhythm section of bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Mike
Lloyd, as slippery and as solid as Entwistle and Moon, Leogun swaggers
and swings with retro inspiration and contemporary energy. They peeled
through a set filled with tracks from their phenomenal debut, By the Reins,
but one of the highlights was their completely unexpected and
timber-rattling take on Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie." Not sure
when they'll be back, but I'll be there when they return.
• Music editor Mike Breen informed me that publisher Dan
Bockrath was going to be making with the beers this year, but I had no
idea he would begin his hop blitzkrieg so quickly and voluminously. Dan
found me in the crowd at the start of Cody ChesnuTT's set and put a beer
in my hand immediately. And just as I finished that first one, Dan
reappeared at my side with yet another, claiming, "I feel so good I had
to double down." After this MidPoint, I may be able to build a new wing
onto the Beer Buying Hall of Fame with Dan's empties alone. You are a
god that walks among men, Dan Bockrath, and I hope to see you every
night this weekend.
• During Cody's lovely and moving "Love is More Than a
Wedding Day," he announced that it might be a good time to dance with
the one you love. I looked at Dan, Dan looked at me, but we dismissed
the idea. It is a testament to Cody's soulful presentation that I
actually considered it, though.
• Years ago, my good buddy Troy paid me the ultimate
compliment when he spotted me at a show. He clapped me on the shoulder
and said, "I know I'm at the right show when you're at it." The very
same could be said for the ubiquitous King Slice. His appearance at a
show is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Follow him and see
where he goes next. That's where the party will likely be the best.
• Also ran into Magnolia Mountain's Mark Utley, who's in the teeth of planning the next Music for the Mountains
benefit show. The second MFTM disc is chock full of traditional
goodness and the album and the concert will raise funds to help
eliminate the mining practice of mountaintop removal. As Mark noted,
"Nature gives women the ability to forget about the pain of childbirth
so they'll ready to do it again. That's how it was for me with this
concert." The pain is always worth it, man (says the guy who's not
feeling the pain) … good luck and God speed.
• And on my way out of Shuggie Otis, I chanced upon Jim
Blase, co-owner of Shake It Records and quite simply one of the finest
human beings I've had the pleasure to and good fortune to know.
• Lots of folks turned out for Mad Anthony's return,
including Kelly Thomas, who was an architect of two benefit shows to
help the boys get back on their feet (and who is actually collaborating
with the band on some new songs, which should be awesome). Also in
attendance was former MA bassist Dave Markey, and his ebullient mom, who
may have been the biggest fan in the room; I'm pretty sure she knew the
words to every song. It was a beautiful thing.
• Jim Blase was also hanging out at the Frontier Folk
Nebraska show, obviously showing support for Travis, who still puts in
some time behind the Shake It counter. I was about to head over to say
hello again but ran into old friend Danny Rupe, who I never get to see
anymore except at random and all to infrequent MidPoint shows. He put my
digits and e-mail add into his Jetsons phone, so maybe I'll hear from
him with a little more timeliness now.
• Slice, The Black Owls' Brandon Losacker, Dave Markey and
Ringo Jones were all hanging at the Leogun extravaganza. I was looking
for my Class X compatriot Eddy Mullet, who had designs on the show, but I
didn't see him so his plans must have changed. God, I hope it wasn't a
kidney stone; that's what derailed his Bunbury experience. After the
show, I had a quick chat with Tommy and Matt from the band as they were
packing up to go, and then Ringo and I closed the Mainstay, as he
regaled me with tales of Mad Anthony, and promises that their new
material is the best they've ever done. I know they'll prove it when the
by Mike Breen
Fifth annual celebration of Americana/Folk music new and old begins today
The summer music festival season is winding down, but area fans of Americana/Folk/Roots music of varying stripes have a big one to look forward to this weekend, as the fifth annual Whispering Beard Folk Festival returns to the Old Mill Campground in nearby Friendship, Ind., starting in just a few hours.Founded in 2008, Whispering Beard has showcased both the old and new guard of Americana, mixing legends, contemporary favorites and lots of Greater Cincinnati area artists. This year is no exception; in fact, it may be the best lineup yet. Check the full rundown of performers below, as well as video clips from each day's headliners. FRIDAY11:30 a.m. Easy Tom Eby12:20 p.m. Red Cedards1:10 p.m. Ben Knight2 p.m. Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound2:50 p.m. Rattlesnakin' Daddies3:45 Kentucky Struts4:40 p.m. Sassy Molasses5:35 p.m. Al Scorch6:30 p.m. Frontier Folk Nebraska 7:30 p.m. Charlie Parr8:30 p.m. Pokey LaFarge and the South City 3 9:30 p.m. Whiskey Bent Valley Boys10:30 p.m. Langhorne Slim Langhorne Slim - The Way We Move from Langhorne Slim on Vimeo.SATURDAY11:30 a.m. Jive Creek Ramblers12:20 p.m. Billy Catfish1:10 p.m. Terminal Union2 p.m. My Brother the Bear2:50 p.m. Shiny & the Spoon3:45 p.m. Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s4:40 p.m. Josh Eagle and the Harvest City5:35 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers6:30 p.m. Bloodroots Barter 7:25 p.m. Chicago Farmer8:20 p.m. Caitlin Rose9:20 p.m. The Tillers10:20 p.m. Justin Townes EarleSUNDAY 11 a.m. Rabbit Hash String Band11:50 a.m. The Blue Rock Boys12:40 p.m. Mt. Pleasant String Band1:30 p.m. Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers2:25 p.m. Uncle Mike Carr 3:20 p.m. Magnolia Mountain 4:20 p.m. Ramblin' Jack Elliott (check out CityBeat's interview with the Folk legend here)Weekend passes are $70 (it’s $40 for just Friday and Saturday and $20 for just Sunday). All-weekend on-site camping costs $40 or you can camp off-site for free (while spaces last). Old Mill Campground is about an hour west of downtown Cincinnati. Here's a map from Fountain Square to Friendship.View Larger MapFor complete info on this year’s Whispering Beard Folk Festival, visit www.whisperingbeard.com.
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The CincyPunk Fest has emerged as one of the most popular benefit concerts in the region, raising money for various charities since its inception a decade ago. For CincyPunk Fest 10, the event returns to Newport’s Southgate House this Saturday and Sunday under new management and with a lineup full of some of the top music-makers in Cincinnati. And, despite its name, the fest is again a showcase for much more than just Punk Rock.
0 Comments · Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The annual Rivertown Breakdown has been the finest showcase of local Roots music practitioners for nine years now. And the lineup for this year's event (Saturday at the Southgate House) once again provides a "Cincinnati Roots Music Scene 101" for Americana fans who might not realize what a strong scene we have right here along the banks of the Ohio River. The music ranges from Bluegrass and Folk to Jazz, Blues and beyond on all three Southgate stages.
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The Brothers and The Sisters feature singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell, whose work with The Light Wires and The Great Depression proved him to be one of the most soulful writers in the Folk/Roots arena. The songs are similar but presented in a different setting — instead of electric instruments or a stark acoustic-duo format, The Brothers and The Sisters use banjo, acoustic guitars and dobro (and drums and bass).