What should I be doing instead of this?
by Jac Kern 02.13.2015
at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lamb Watch 2015

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! Another group 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 home. 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. Fifteen-year-old 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! Unfortunately, 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 come.
by Jac Kern 02.06.2015
Posted In: Music, TV/Celebrity at 12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lamb Watch 2015

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 finalists. Unfortunately for 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! On Wednesday’s 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. Highlights: 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. Fast-forward through what seemed like a million 15-year-olds that made me feel like a stale prune… 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. When these 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! Thursday’s episode 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 next round. 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). All remaining 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 reasonable timeline?  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. Check out Wednesday’s episode here; Thursday’s here.
by Nick Grever 02.02.2015
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond Idol Chatter: America Meets Jess Lamb

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.

Classical Blast

Branford Marsalis flashes his Classical chops with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra this weekend

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
While modern Jazz hero Branford Marsalis is slightly more inclusive in his musical activities than his brother, Wynton, he is no less a perfectionist in those pursuits.   

New in Town (Review)

Renee Zellweger stumbles in cliched romantic comedy

0 Comments · Friday, January 30, 2009
'New in Town' takes Renee Zellweger, a Miami corporate executive, from sunny beach runs and high-tower boardrooms to the chilly wilds of Minnesota to downsize a small plant. And you just know there's going to be something brewing between Lucy and labor union rep Harry Connick Jr. As the high-powered exec, Zellweger adopts a curiously awkward stance and gait intended to illustrate Lucy's stiffness that instead screams, "This is an acting tic." Grade D.