by Mike Breen
Deadline to sign-up for first ever music-based Cincinnati Heritage Program is May 7
The Cincinnati Heritage Programs put together by the Cincinnati Museum Center have been going on for over 30 years now, taking locals and visitors to some of the Queen City's most important and/or interesting landmarks. The programs have included historical presentations and bus and walking tours to the various sites. This year so far, the Cincinnati Heritage Programs have shown and told the stories of radio pioneer Powel Crosley, "Grand Old Theaters" and Cincy local TV legends. This Saturday, the Heritage programmers present "Subway Talk and Walk," a nighttime exploration of Cincinnati's incomplete subway tunnel project. On May 18, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the Cincinnati Heritage Programs presents the first ever bus tour of various important (not just to the area, but to the world) musical landmarks. Dubbed "When the Queen City was King of Recording," the tour focuses primarily on a pair of historic recording studios that churned out records that would change the face of music. The bus will visit the original site of King Records, which released seminal albums from the worlds of Country and R&B, a gateway to the birth of Rock & Roll. The bus will visit the old King location at 1540 Brewster Ave. in Evanston, where city officials, the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CUMHF), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and others helped have an historical marker installed in 2008 to commemorate King's contributions.Here's James Brown's first single, recorded with his Famous Flames and released in 1956 through the King subsidiary, Federal Records:The tour will also visit the former site of the E.T. Herzog Recording Company, at 811 Race St., downtown. In 2009, the CUMHF and others also lobbied successfully for a marker to placed at the site, which now houses the organization's headquarters. The Foundation has turned the floor the studio once stood into a museum dedicated to the space's history, hosting receptions and recording sessions and showcasing a few artifacts (like the piano Hank Williams played when he was in town to record songs that made him a legend, including "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") and lots of old photos of the studio in action. The Music Heritage Foundation is currently hosting the photo exhibit, "Annie's Baby Had a Baby," which was part of the big, citywide Fotofocus photography showcase. The tour ends with lunch and some live music at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, a block from the Herzog stop.The tour costs $60 (or $50 if you're a Museum Center member) and some spots are still open. But you'd better act fast. Deadline to register for the "When the Queen City was King of Recording" is tomorrow, May 7. Make a reservation by calling 513-287-7031. And click here for the Museum Center's rundown of great city tours and more. You can read a couple of stories from CityBeat about Herzog and King here and here (check our archives; we've written about them a lot).
Annual celebration of Greater Cincinnati musicians enters 16th year
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment
Awards — honoring Greater Cincinnati's local music scene — take place at the Madison Theater in Covington this Sunday, featuring live performances from Bad Veins, The Dopamines, Jess Lamb, Gold Shoes, Ricky Nye and much more.
Reviving America's Honky-Tonk hero
0 Comments · Monday, November 12, 2012
For a guy who spent most of
his mental energy on comic books, “Hillbilly” singer Hank Williams
surely knew how write songs that connected with people from all walks of
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
There has been more activity downtown at
the former home of the historic Herzog recording studios than there has
been since the studio’s heyday in the ’40s.
by Mike Breen
All roadtrips are musical — if you're looking and listening for it
My life usually has a musical component, so it's not shocking that my vacations have many musical memories inexorably tied to the trips. I'm sure most music lovers have had similar experiences.My family went to Washington, D.C., every 4th of July for many years when I was growing up and The Beach Boys always played a free concert next to the Washington monument. These late ’70s/early ’80s gigs are what I've always considered my first concerts. The memories are vague but deeply entrenched. I'll never forgive my folks for not letting me watch opener Joan Jett (at her "I Love Rock & Roll" peak). I was about 11. And I was pissed!I have many amazing Lollapalooza road trips memories, from the first-tour Cleveland stop in 1991 when fans charged the gates as Nine Inch Nails played an early set to getting seriously beaten by bouncers (then evicted from the premises) after telling them not to be dicks during my trip to Indy for the Beastie Boys/Smashing Pumpkins headlining year (1994). I also had a personal rebirth on a trip to the standalone Lolla in 2007, feeling inspired by seeing Amy Winehouse, Iggy Pop and the Stooges and Patti Smith under the mammoth Chicago skyline.But many musical vacations aren't concert related, nor intentionally "musical." I vividly remember "Rhinestone Cowboy" being played on the radio nonstop during a trip to Atlanta as a child. If I hear that song now I can think of nothing but being 6 or 7 years old, flopping around in our un-air-conditioned, early ’70s VW bug's cubby hole, the small compartment between the backseat and the engine. We not only didn't wear seatbelts or sit in carseats back then — we were allowed to play in literally the most dangerous spot in the tiny death trap.I remember an L.A. trip the month the Beastie Boys dropped Check You Head. I played it nonstop on a Walkman and arrived in Los Angeles to discover everyone dressed exactly like Adam, Mike and Adam. I found the summertime wearing of winter hats hilarious. It seemed all based on one music video and an album cover. That same trip I developed a supernatural bond with Jane's Addiction's Nothing's Shocking and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish. I listened to both several times on that trusty Walkman as I sat alone on a Pacific Coast beach, mesmerized by the moon's reflection on the vast, dark ocean mirror, the sound of waves crashing perfectly in time with the music's hypnotic psychedelics, just figuring my life philosophy out, scared but excited for whatever the future held.I've had some great odd music-related coincidences on summer trips, as well. As I giddily drove over the horizon on my summer journey to New York City to intern for several months with an editor and caught my first glimpse of the always jaw-dropping skyline of Manhattan, the dance remix version of "Miles Iz Dead" by personal hometown heroes of mine, The Afghan Whigs, just happened to come on the terrestrial radio station to which we were listening. It would be the no-brainer soundtrack selection had it been a scene in the movie of my life.My vacation from which I just returned, a trip to the deepest-south Alabama, was filled with several interesting coincidences, all related to a single, singular musical icon, a fascinating man I learn more about every day. I only connected the dots when I got home. Had my memorial trail actually been evident to me as I journeyed along, I would have explored more, to connect even more dots.As it stands, it was a fun if inadvertent adventure, even in hindsight. An accidental pilgrimage of sorts.Gradually, I pieced together evidence Hank Williams spirit-guided me on my recent trip:1) Drove through Butler County, Ala., and saw signs for Mount Olive, birthplace of Hiram Hank Williams, as I later discovered.2) Drove past Montgomery twice, where Hank cut his teeth and launched his career.3) Drove a stretch of highway officially dubbed the "Hank Williams Memorial Lost Highway."4) Admired the massive shipyards along the bay in Mobile, where Hank worked during World War II.5) Held in my hands the heavy vinyl version of the The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (2011) compilation in the building headquarters of the record company that released it (Third Man Records in Nashville).6) Nearly bought a weird old Hank Jr./Hank Sr. split LP at another Nashville record shop and walked past Roy Acuff's record store (where the above photo was apparently taken).7) Touched and was awestruck by the grandeur of God's Own Listening Room, the Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry when Hank performed there (and was later banned for life).8) Roamed Broadway and the alley beside the Ryman where I am fairly certain Hank once frolicked pre- and post-gigs.9) Walked by the current Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Hank was among the first three artists to be inducted in the Hall's first class of inductees in 1961.10) Returned to work this morning, seated four floors above where Hank Williams recorded "Lovesick Blues," a crossover smash that cemented Hank's status as a superstar, as well as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and other classics. There's a piano down there Hank probably played when he was in town. I think I'd like to go down there, tickle those ivories and see if Hank's ghost wants to hang out and chat for a while.I do believe these are all merely fun coincidences. Maybe it was all subconsciously strung together to help keep my sobriety in check. Hank's a musical hero of mine, but not a role model. He's a cautionary tale; I am an alcoholic who would likely have met a similar tragic fate as Hank's had I not stopped boozing.Sometimes great vacations can take you down more than just literal new paths.But if Hank is my life journey's Sherpa, I'm more than ready. I only insist that he doesn't drink while we're driving; that shit's frowned upon nowadays. And it didn't end well last time.
by Mike Breen
Hank Williams debuts at Grand Ole Opry and Erika Wennerstrom is born
On this date in 1949, American musical icon Hank Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 25. It was the beginning of a very difficult relationship.Even though things soured, Williams' Opry debut was a career-defining moment. The singer/songwriter wowed the crowd so much, he was called back for six encores (the encores ultimately had to be halted so the rest of the show could go on). Williams' reputation for heavy drinking put off the Opry initially, but as his star continued to rise — boosted by the success of "Lovesick Blues" (recorded at the Herzog studio here in CIncinnati) — the Country music institution finally relented and invited him to perform. Williams continued to make Opry appearances over the next three years, but he was banished in 1952 for his alcohol-related issues. Hank died just a few months later, in January of 1953 at the age of 29. Over the past eight or so years, Hank Williams' grandson, Hank III, and other supporters have participated in a campaign to have Williams posthumously reinstated to the Grand Ole Opry. CityBeat also lent a hand, promoting the "Reinstate Hank" campaign during a tribute presented by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation in honor of Hank's historic recording sessions in Cincinnati (Herzog studios was located where CityBeat and the CMHF headquarters now reside). Check a clip below.The reinstatement campaign has yet to work and seems to have lost some steam. But click here to learn more about the attempts to right such a ridiculous wrong.Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a June 11 birthday include the least hirsute (ironically!) member of ZZ Top, drummer Frank Beard (1949); Soft Rock god with Air Supply, Graham Russell (1950); guitarist/singer of Southern Rock group .38 Special, Donnie Van Zandt (1952); Flaming Lips drummer-turned-guitarist Steven Drozd (1969); and Heartless Bastards singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom (1977). Though she and her band are currently based in Austin, Tex., Wennerstrom grew up in Dayton before relocating to Cincinnati. As Wennerstrom has grown, matured, changed and become more confident, so has her band's music. After releasing her first two albums, Wennerstrom headed to Texas and retooled the band, adding two different musicians also from our area — Jesse Ebaugh and Dave Colvin — who joined Wennerstrom in Austin. Since then, the Bastards' albums The Mountain (a more earthy, less balls-out effort) and this year's Arrow (a great combination of everything the band does well) have continued the trend of each successive HB album drawing the group higher praise and more fans. A happy 35th b-day to Erika. We miss you here in Cincy. Below, check out an interview and acoustic session recorded for American Songwriter.
by Danny Cross
Not that anyone really gives a [expletive] what Hank Williams, Jr., thinks about politics, but the country singer has gotten himself canned from Monday Night Football for saying insensitive things about subjects he doesn't know that much about. Williams yesterday told Fox & Friends that John Boehner's golf game with President Obama was "one of the biggest political mistakes ever," comparing it to “Hitler playing golf with (Israeli leader) Benjamin Netanyahu,” and then explaining that Obama and Joe Biden are “the enemy.”
by Danny Cross
Cleveland officials are apparently trying to outlaw flash mobs, describing them as violent, unruly terrorizing of communities and family-friendly events. That's not how AT&T presents them in this cell phone commercial.
Area label Sol Records is taking pre-orders now for the Dallas Moore Band’s next release, Hank To Thank, culled from the locally-based Country crew’s sessions one year ago with longtime Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne at the site of Cincinnati’s Herzog studios where Hank Williams laid down some of his early, big hits.
Steve Earle continues to write one of the best second acts in music history
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Sober now for 18 years, Earle has been on fire since cleaning himself up in rehab and prison. In fact, I would stand on Townes Van Zandt’s coffee table and argue that never before has an artist improved to such a degree after getting sober. The second half of his career has seen him release consistently great records.