What should I be doing instead of this?
by Mike Breen 05.06.2015
Posted In: Live Music, Music News at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rescheduled “Tunes & Blooms” Concerts Begin Tonight

Cincinnati Zoo reschedules three concerts after rain caused cancellations in April

 Every April, the Cincinnati Zoo presents an every-Thursday concert series called “Tunes & Blooms,” which showcases some of the finest local bands in Greater Cincinnati (as well as the Zoo’s Botanical Garden in full bloom). But for this year’s series, Mother Nature had different plans, as April showers brought cancelled concerts on April 2, 9 and 16.  The free concerts have been rescheduled and begin this evening (Wednesday) with local Folk/Americana favorites Hickory Robot and The Tillers. The next rescheduled date is tomorrow (Thursday) and features another pair of Folk dynamos — Jake Speed and the Freddies and Shiny and the Spoon. The final rescheduled show takes place May 13 with the fantastic Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle and Honey & Houston. The music begins at 6 p.m. all three evenings and runs until 8:30 p.m. There is no admission charge to get into the zoo after 5 p.m. (there is a $9 fee is you’d like to park in the zoo’s parking lot). Click here for more info. 

Archer’s Paradox Releases Debut Full-Length

Plus, the Western & Southern Open showcases local music, Chardez tours the city and Grasshopper Juice Records drops benefit comp

1 Comment · Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Cincinnati Pop/Rock crew Archer's Paradox show off their skills on debut album, Pyramid Lake, and play Friday's MidPoint Indie Summer concert with Bad Veins. Plus, the Western & Southern Open showcases local music, Chardez tours the city and Grasshopper Juice Records drops benefit comp.  
by Mike Breen 07.26.2013
Posted In: Festivals, Live Music, Music Video, Local Music at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Music Festival Kind of Weekend

Two very different weekend music fests kicks off tonight in Cincinnati

• Macy’s Music Festival — still often referred to locally as “Jazz Fest” as a nod to the fest’s roots (despite a complete lack of Jazz nowadays) — returns to downtown’s Paul Brown Stadium tonight and tomorrow. The festival is a Cincinnati tradition, a true “event,” regardless of what music is featured (which may explain the lackluster booking rut the fest was in for a while). But this year’s Macy’s Music Fest has one of the best lineups in recent memory. Tonight's performers include headliner Jill Scott, plus Charlie Wilson, TGT (Tyreese, Ginuwine, Tank), locals The Faize Band and a rare performance by Cincinnati legend, Funk superhero and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Bootsy Collins. Charlie Wilson is fresh off of receiving the BET Awards' Lifetime Achievement honors.             And here's the crowd rockin' to Charlie at last year's Macy's Music Festival.Saturday’s lineup features newcomer Leela James, KEM, Prince’s ol’ pals Morris Day and The Time, Fantasia and blockbuster headliner R. Kelly, an arena-worthy star fresh off of his odd but successful (despite the many "Pee on Me!" signs in the hipster audience) 38-song, headlining appearance at the Pitchfork music festival in Chicago. But … MORRIS DAY AND THE TIME! Morris Day and The Time - Jungle Love by DemonPreyerFind more about the fest at macysmusicfestival.com. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Prices range from $40-$85 (only single-day tickets are available). Showtime is 7:30 p.m. each night. • If your tastes trend more towards old-timey music and Bluegrass (and your wallet trends more towards empty), downtown's Arnold's is presenting the two-night Tito's Old Time Music Festival, running tonight and tomorrow. "Tito's" refers to sponsor Tito's Homemade Vodka, an Austin, Texas-produced spirits producer; Tito's reps will be on hand and Tito's drink specials will be plentiful. There will be also a chance to win an Epiphone acoustic guitar and purchase signed fest poster created by local poster-art great Keith Neltner. You don't have to be a vodka enthusiast to attend — there is some great local Roots/Americana music each night. Tonight, Western Swing crew The Sidecars kick things off at 7:30 p.m., followed by My Brother the Bear, The Goodle Boys and AltCountry greats Terminal Union, which just released an amazing debut album, Making Arrangements (look for a review on this here blog soon). Free Music Player for Myspace at ReverbNation.comTomorrow, the Tito's fest starts at 7:30 p.m. with great Roots/Americana group Hickory Robot, followed by Crowshot, Rattlesnakin' Daddies and The Part-Time Gentlemen. Tito's Old-Time Music Festival is a free event.

Monster Mash

Hickory Robot’s varied experiences and influences create an interesting Americana gumbo

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
 The Cincinnati-based quartet Hickory Robot is known for its acoustic music, blending Bluegrass-influenced grooves with other Roots music fare. However, on the recently released album titled Sawyer, the group opens up its sound by occasionally using electric instruments and percussion to bring new songs to life.  

New Cincy-Spawned Releases Celebrated This Week

Hickory Robot, Big Rock Club and Why? promote new LPs, plus Northside hosts Psych Fest and Savages

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Local bands Why?, Big Rock Club and Hickory Robot promote their latest releases this week. Plus, Barrence Whitfield & the Savages return to Cincinnati to play a few shows and record a new album and things get trippy in Northside with the inaugural Cincy Psych Fest at Mayday Saturday.  
by Deirdre Kaye 02.27.2012
Posted In: Music Commentary at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Band By Any Other Genre …

As musical genres become more fragmented, is it time to give them up completely?

Depending on how specific you get with your generalizing, genres can be vague or finite. Generally speaking, one cannot be “in a relationship.” That relationship must be defined. Casual or serious?  Straight or homosexual? Open or monogamous? Films are Rom Coms, Thriller or Family. Nothing, though, has been more categorized than music.  Metal is no longer just Metal. It is Death Metal, Post-Metal, Heavy Metal, Black Metal, Metalcore, Doom Metal. A band cannot simply be “Pop/Rock.” They must be, “Psychedelic Indie Folk Pop.” What is “Pop,” anyway? Wasn’t “Pop” short for “popular?” If a band is truly “Indie” (i.e. independent from a record label), it’s probably not getting much air time. How is it popular? Today “Pop” means “fun, light-hearted” and “Indie” might suggest “mellow” or “artsy.” But, if “Pop” means fun and your Aunt Flo really gets a kick out of Chris Botti, wouldn’t that make him Pop? I can’t imagine that the King of Pop, MJ, would be OK with that. What about musicians like Jamie Cullum? The kid plays a mean piano … it’s pretty jazzy. But he covers Radiohead and Rihanna. Why only file him under Jazz? Genres can both help and hinder the expansion of a band’s listener base. In a previous post, a reader denounced my description of The Punch Brothers as Bluegrass. It wasn’t perfect, but it was intentional. To say, “They experiment with traditional Bluegrass instruments” might scare off some loyal Bluegrass listeners who have (somehow) missed The Punch Brothers. Humans are creatures of habit and “experiment” suggests the exact opposite. So, you tell them to listen to “Rye Whiskey.” That’s Bluegrass. They’ll like it.  They’ll buy the album, take it home and give it a whirl. At first “Rye Whiskey” will get the most plays, but as they busy themselves with dishes, bills and laundry, the album will carry on until the end. They’ll hear other songs that catch their interest. They’ll become a fan of the band, not just the song or the genre. As bands become less describable and more eclectic, what would happen were we to do away with the genres completely? Forget splitting up bands and musicians into their vague or distinct genres, just throw them all together and alphabetize them.  Assuming they carry the artist you’re looking for, you’ll still find the album at the record store eventually, right?  (Honestly, it might save you the hassle of looking for The Clash only to find some idiot electronics guy filed it under Pop.) If genres ceased to exist, what would happen to awards show categories? Billboard charts? Radio stations? To begin with, award shows would be a lot shorter. Instead of “Best Rock Performance” or “Best Pop Song,” can other, perhaps more meaningful, awards to be given? You could do the best of solo artists and groups. Or you could throw in things like, “Most Digitally Popular” and base it on YouTube and Spotify listens.  How many bands spent their entire year touring and selling out venues across the globe?  What about if “Best Solo/Group Performance” awards went to the musicians who sold out the most shows to the most fans? Would having less awards be a crime? Does Lady Gaga really need another trophy for someone to polish? Probably not. What about radio? The first time I was in the mood for some Country and someone threw some Kanye into the mix, I know I’d immediately regret the genre ban. I’d be equally flummoxed if I were in the mood for Rock and Sugarland popped on after Nirvana. Without genres, we can’t have radio stations that specialize in generalizing our music. That change might open a few minds to some new music. In the long run, though, we like to compartmentalize things. Banning genres would also negate nearly half of the Billboard charts.  On the surface, this seems like an excellent idea, but we’d run into issues with smaller artists. There are certain acts that will never break into the overall Top 200. They may, however, do well on the World chart or the Independent chart. In a genre-less world, those bands would have to fight even harder for accolades and fans. To quote Steve Carell (incorrectly) quoting John Lennon. “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not.” I had big dreams of banishing genres. But they just aren’t practical. As sick as I may be of the ever-more-obscure labels and subgenres bands put on themselves, they’re a necessary evil.  Music has, for a long time, been a very segregated art. As bands try to clearly define themselves with new labels, all they’re doing is breaking down the walls finite genres can create and bringing in new, diverse fans. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Besides, three-hour award shows aren’t really that horrendous.  I’ll sit through a million Taylor Swifts if it means I get to see Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl rock out to “Golden Slumbers.” *Jim Pelz from the local group Hickory Robot was kind enough to answer a few of my long-winded questions about a musician’s view of genres. This blog would have come to a very different conclusion without him. Check out his band. We call it Bluegrass, even if he doesn’t.

Listen to the 2010 MPMF Compilation Now

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Every year, a compilation featuring several of the artists performing at the MidPoint Music Festival is lovingly compiled to give an overview of some of the fest’s participants. MPMF10’s comp has been assembled and you can listen to it right here.  

Chris Walker, 1968-2010

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Chris Walker's stellar musical abilities were showcased all over the Cincinnati music scene for the past few decades. His cool, kind nature and mad bass skills earned him a place in innumerable bands throughout his career, and his talent knew no genre boundaries, as he seemed comfortable (if not masterful) playing almost any style of music. A memorial service for Walker, who died July 3 from serious injuries sustained in a 2007 car accident, will be held Saturday at the Crossroads Community Church in Oakley followed by a celebration of his life and music at Stanley's Pub.   

Hickory Robot CD Release Party

July 9 • Stanley's Pub

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Impressive Roots/Americana newcomers Hickory Robot host a release party for their debut album, the 13-track work 'Firefly,' Friday at Stanley's Pub. The band is joined by Jimmy King and the Rubber Knife Gang for the 9:30 p.m. show.