by Mike Breen
Local band The Ohms' fest near Oxford showcases eclectic lineup of artists from Ohio and beyond
Cincinnati crew The Ohms have built an impressive career over the past decade-plus, starting out in the ’00s as a popular draw on the “Jam band” circuit as Four Ohms, before shifting gears and developing a surprisingly unique twist on the Rock-meets-Reggae hybridization, a pairing that everyone from Eric Clapton, The Clash and The Police to modern players like No Doubt, The Aggrolites and Matisyahu has flirted with and/or embraced since the ’70s. Changing the band name to simply The Ohms a few years back (and garnering some national industry attention), the now stripped-down three-piece is in top fighting shape, sounding better than ever, as their recently released second album, Press On, proves beyond a shadow of a spliff. They’re a lean, mean skankin’ machine with a fresh coat of Modern Rock paint glazed atop. Press On succeeds through careful and crafty, yet very natural-feeling, mixology — the Rock and Reggae elements never get in each other’s way, feel forced or fight for space in The Ohms’ groove-driven mix, a testament to the musicians’ abilities as arrangers and writers. The title track, for example, sounds like a perfectly natural jam session between Green Day and Rancid. A minute into the track, the Punk/Pop-like drive drops to a head-bobbing flow of buoyant, vintage Reggae rhythms, ’70s-styled songcraft and Ska horns. The album continues with that basic blueprint throughout, but few tracks are predictable and there are variations galore. “Vampire” is a voodoo strut that explodes into a huge, engulfing chorus, while elsewhere the band tinkers with the full range of Reggae sounds, styles and approaches (from Roots to Ska to Dub, grunting toasting to full-voiced, highly melodic melodies) and welds them together with the musicians’ excellent grasp of Classic Rock and top-notch musicianship.Reggae and Ska remain two of the more maligned genres in music (usually unfairly … and it always comes back around), but The Ohms have such an addictive energy, even the most hardened “Pfft — Reggae sucks” protestor won’t be able to resist bobbing along to the contagious beats and rhythm. Fresh on the heels of the release of Press On, The Ohms have been focused on this weekend's big Ohmstead music festival at Hannon’s Camp America (hannonscampamerica.com) near Oxford. Ohmstead is now entering its 11th year, which certainly puts the event amongst some of the longest running artist-built festivals of its kind in the region. For this weekend’s (Friday and Saturday, plus a little Sunday morning/afternoon action) Ohmstead blowout, The Ohms have joined forces with Wham Bam Thank You Jam fest to help manage and operate a big “Ohmstead Wham Bam Thank You Jam” conglomo-fest, which once again features an impressively diverse lineup of inventive music makers, mostly from across Ohio. The multi-act festival — with The Ohms performing both nights, as has become tradition — presents everything from progressive Psychedelic Jam Rock (Cincy’s Mr. Brown’s Mysterious Sounds), Kent, Ohio-based Ambient/Electronic/Industrial musician Pyrosonic, smooth acoustic guitarist Brian Henke (from Bay Village, Ohio) and fellow Reggae squad Soul Rebels (from straight outta Yellow Springs), promising Cincy Alt/Psych/Garage/Rock foursome Lemon Sky, retro-tinged local rockers Tattered Roots, popular touring “Hippie-Hop Jam Rock” outfit Boogie Matrix (Toledo) and Northern Ohio Jam band Aliver Hall, which showcases former Four Ohms member Alex Hall on guitar and vocals. Other artists slated to appear include Dayton-based Phish tribute band Oh Kee Pa, Dayton Funk rockers Magic Jackson, Oxford area Blues band Bad Men on a Mission and Nigerian-born/Cincy-based AfroBeat champ Baoku Moses. Here is the most recent 2012 Wham Bam Thank U Jam and Ohmstead lineup (with "city of origin"), posted by the WhamBam folks (who add that attendees should check the info booth because times will "likely change"): Friday3pm - Trench Foot - Dayton, Ohio4pm - Tony Herdman and Tracy Sax - Kettering, Ohio5pm - Gild the Lily - Dayton, Ohio6pm - Mr. Brown’s Mysterious Sounds - Cincinnati, Ohio7pm - Brown Street Breakdown - Dayton, Ohio8pm - Tattered Roots - Cincinnati, Ohio9pm - Subterranean House Band - Dayton, Ohio10pm - Prophets Mire - Dayton, Ohio11pm - Magic Jackson - Dayton, Ohio12:30am - The Ohms - Cincinnati, Ohio2:30am - Pyrosonic - Kent, Ohio Saturday (in the Barn)10am - Brian Henke - Bay Village, OhioNoon - Andyman Hopkins Band - Cincinnati, Ohio1pm - Bad Men on a Mission - College Corner, Ohio2pm - Soul Rebels - Yellow Springs, Ohio3pm - Elementree Presents - Cincinnati, Ohio4pm - Nine False Suns - Dayton, Ohio5pm - M 8 7 - Dayton, OhioSaturday (Wham & Bam Stages)6pm - S O L - Piqua, Ohio7pm - Happy Lemmy - Birmingham, Alabama8pm - Lemon Sky - Cincinnati, OhioFire Celebration Ceremony - at Dusk / Sunset - in Middle Earth9pm - Aliver Hall - Akron, Ohio10pm - Oh Kee Pa (Phish trib) - Dayton, Ohio11:30pm - Boogie Matrix - Toledo, Ohio1am - The Ohms - Cincinnati, Ohio2:30am - Baoku & the Image Afro Beat Band - Cincinnati, Ohio2:30am - Pyrosonic - Kent, Ohio - In the Barn!Sunday (in the Barn)10am - Tracy Sax Therapy - Kettering, OhioNoon - Steev Inglish - London, England1pm - The Finders - Cincinnati, Ohio2pm - Troll - Cincinnati, OhioThree-day passes are only $35. Visit whambamthankujam.com for info on how/where to buy tickets, the full rundown of performer links and a list of the various on-site vendors, plus perks like “Ohio’s Largest Fire Sculpture” and camping opportunities. For even more details, as well as info on The Ohms’ new Press On release, visit www.ohmsmusic.com. Here's a sample of the new material. <a href="http://ohmsmusic.bandcamp.com/album/press-on">Press On by The Ohms</a>
by Mike Breen
Seventh annual local music fest takes over Mainstay Friday and Saturday
Locally based independent label Grasshopper Juice Records has been presenting the Adjust Your Eyes Music & Art Festival, an annual showcase of local visual art and some of the label’s artists (plus other Grasshopper-friendly acts from Cincy and around the region), since 2006. Along with showcasing some of the city’s most creative original music makers, the event has raised thousands of dollars for organizations like American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen For The Cure and Friends for Chris Walker (in support of the beloved late local bassist). After a 2011 festival at Newport’s Southgate House (now Thompson House), the AYE fest (presented in conjunction with Far-I-Rome Productions and sponsor Soap Floats Recording) moves to downtown’s Mainstay Rock Bar for this weekend’s two-day blowout, once again spotlighting a diverse cross-section of musical styles and approaches.The event runs tonight and tomorrow from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. and will feature more than 30 acts on both of the venue’s stages throughout both nights, as well as art installations prepared by BUNK News. Admission each night is $7. Here's the full schedule for tonight and tomorrow's AYE merriment. Click on each act's name for a link to more info and music samples.FRIDAY First Floor Stage:8:30 p.m. Red Beard’s Revenge9:30 p.m. Majestic Man10:30 p.m. Dinosaurs and Thunder11:30 p.m. The Harlequins12:30 a.m. SHADOWRAPTR1:30 a.m. Lemon SkySecond Floor Stage:8 p.m. Greg Zoller9 p.m. Bull Dancer10 p.m. Gorges11 p.m. The MJ’s Blues12 a.m. Andy Cook & The Wanderloons1 a.m. Meth Girlfriend Andy Cook and the Wanderloons - My Life as a Rabbit from Kevin Monnier on Vimeo.SATURDAYFirst Floor Stage:8:30 p.m. The Stratfords9:30 p.m. Damn It To Hell10:30 p.m. Department Store Alligators11:30 p.m. Pharaoh Loosey12:30 a.m. Shotski1:30 a.m. Crazy Legs<a href="http://shotski.bandcamp.com/album/your-world">Your World by Shotski</a>Second Floor Stage:8 p.m. Rachel Mousie9 p.m. Cowgirl10 p.m. Sassy Molasses11 p.m. West Ghost12 a.m. Founding Fathers1 a.m. "Mystery Band"