Overcoming multiple tragedies, Cincinnati Rock trio Mad Anthony immerses itself in a year-long release project
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 11, 2016
With a mix of Rock and Punk, plus a dash
of Pop sensibility, Mad Anthony has established itself as one of
Cincinnati’s most consistently eclectic and explosive recording artists,
something the group’s energized, fan-winning live show matches.
by Mike Breen
The 14th annual MPMF schedule is now available
The 2015 edition of the MidPoint Music Festival (owned and operated by CityBeat) is less than two months away, returning to various venues in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Sept. 25-27, and this morning organizers announced the release of the schedule and a few additional performers. New artists added to this year’s 14th annual event include The Besnard Lakes, Heaters, The Moth & The Flame, Alberta Cross, The Glazzies and Left & Right. A few more local acts — Mad Anthony, Bulletville and Culture Queer — were also added to the roster. Widely-acclaimed Cincy-area rockers Buffalo Killers will also perform at this year’s MidPoint. You can catch a preview when the group headlines a free show tonight on Fountain Square, part of the MidPoint Indie Summer series. The band is joined by Ohio Knife, Pop Goes the Evil and Go Go Buffalo for tonight’s 7 p.m. concert. The festival also announced new venues for this year’s fest. Woodward Theater and Maudie’s, plus an outdoor stage at the corner of 14th and Sycamore streets, join previous venues Washington Park, Taft Theatre’s Ballroom, The Drinkery, Mr. Pitiful’s, MOTR Pub, Christian Moerlein Brewery and Arnold’s to host this year’s 120-act lineup. Get a look at the schedule so far right here. Tickets are available here. And more info on today’s announcement can be found here. All details can be found at mpmf.com.
Plus, Thompson House offers pre-/post-fireworks live music and ticket prices for the MidPoint Music Festival increase Tuesday
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Cincinnati rockers Mad Anthony celebrate their first release since last summer's near-fatal van accident, Sank for Days. Plus, the Thompson House in Newport offers live music before and after the Labor Day fireworks show on the river and prices for three-day passes to the MidPoint Music Festival increase Tuesday.
Free summertime Fountain Square shows feature national headliners and lots of local talent
The first good sign that consistent warmth is on its way is the announcement of the lineup for this year’s MidPoint Indie Summer series at downtown’s Fountain Square. The concerts are part of the Square’s free PNC Summer Music Series, which showcases different types of music (played mostly by local acts) five days a week. (The lineups for the every-Thursday Salsa on the Square shows have also been announced; visit myfountainsquare.com for details.)The eclectic, free Indie Summer shows take place every Friday throughout the summer. This year’s lineup is perhaps the series’ strongest yet, with some higher profile national touring acts and the usual array of top-notch local talent. Here’s the full rundown of Indie Summer shows so far (a few slots are still to be announced): • May 30: WHY?; Yip Deceiver; Bad Boxes; Dark Colour • June 6: Wussy; The Tigerlilies; Honey & Houston; Mason School of Rock• June 13: Betty Who; Vito Emmanuel; Captain Kidd; Pluto Revolts• June 20: Those Darlins; The Harlequins; Those Crosstown Rivals; The Frankl Project • June 27: Moon Taxi; Peridoni; Nevele; Acarya • July 4: Local H; New Strange; Mad Anthony; One Day Steady • July 11: Soledad Brothers; Electric Citizen; Pop Goes the Evil; Grotesque Brooms • July 18: Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites; DAAP Girls; Mardou • July 25: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Public; Danny & His Fantasy• August 1: The Spiders (tribute to David Bowie); Honeyspiders• August 8: Man Man; Injecting Strangers; Ohio Knife; Skeleton Hands• August 15: The Nightbeast (a co-headliner will be announced in July)• August 22: psychodots; Lemon Sky; Tonefarmer; Heavy Hinges • August 29: Islands; The Pass; The Yugos; Joey Cook & The Keepers of the SecretThe Indie Summer series is sponsored by the MidPoint Music Festival, CityBeat’s popular annual music extravaganza, which returns to the clubs and venues of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine Sept. 25-27. (Though all MPMF-worthy, the acts are booked through Fountain Square, not by MidPoint.) There will be a MidPoint booth on Fountain Square every Friday where music fans can find the latest MPMF info and purchase tickets to the three-day festival. A limited amount of discounted early-bird passes for this year’s MPMF are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Nail down your three-day tickets (or VIP Experience tickets) before the prices increase. And be sure to stay tuned to mpmf.com and the fest's various social media accounts for the latest updates.
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 Brian Baker
Cincinnati's The Sundresses expand to a quartet with impressive results
There is an old homily which quite wisely states that if something is operating properly, it might be considered imprudent to attempt a repair. Or, in a slightly less circuitous manner of speaking, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.For well over a decade, the Sundresses have been anything but broken. Brad Schnittger, Jeremy Springer and Makenzie Place have been churning out a visceral pretzel logic version of the Blues with elements of manic Swing, hot foot Jazz, brutal Punk and blistering Indie Rock, heated to the temperature of molten rock and detonated over unsuspecting audiences with an animalistic ferocity. A formula like that is both tremulously volatile and erratically perfect. Why would anyone feel the need to take a wrench to it?Needed or not, a-wrenching they have gone; for the first time in The Sundresses' long history, the tight-knit trio has added a new full fledged member with the hiring of former Dukes Are Dead drummer Dave Reid. The new lineup was unveiled on July 19 for the band's appearance at the MidPoint Indie Summer Series on Fountain Square, and then again a week later when The Sundresses tore through a set at the Mad Love for Mad Anthony benefit at the Southgate House Revival.Rabid fans and casual observers may have differing opinions on how Reid's addition will impact the Sundresses going forward, but one thing is certain; this was anything but a routine lineup decision. Bringing in a permanent drummer changes the group dynamic, eliminates one of the band's most popular and unique live features and may actually set the stage for broader success.After 13 hard fought calendars, the Sundresses have recorded sporadically — a few EPs, a split with Dylan Ewing's 4192, a pair of brilliant studio documents (2003's The Only Tourist in Town, 2008's Barkinghaus) and Off, their scalding and ingeniously marketed 2010 live album — and toured relentlessly, without a great deal of forward progress being notched. The trio has always generated a good deal of extremely positive press, and their string of five trips to Austin for South by Southwest has to stand as some kind of local record.My personal obsession with the Sundresses began at their first SXSW appearance in 2004, which coincided with my first trip to Austin for the festival. As it turned out, the band's gig at the Blender Balcony was only the ninth out-of-town show in their two-year history, and I felt as though I had just witnessed the cosmic birth of a great musical entity. I still feel that way. I drank more than a dipperful of The Sundresses' Kool-Aid that night, and I've been feverishly blathering on about them ever since to anyone who will listen.For whatever reasons, the brass ring of label offers and more tangible measures of success have eluded The Sundresses. At the same time, the trio has remained committed to the cause and continued to pursue their singular vision with an almost psychotic tenacity and zealous passion. And their focused determination may have made it difficult for those of us who love them unconditionally to admit that there was indeed a fundamental issue that may have been blocking their path.From the very start, Brad and Jeremy envisioned and executed one of their most cherished gimmicks, namely their patented guitar/drum switch; at their 2005 SXSW show, Jeremy informed the audience, "You were supposed to close your eyes..." It has long been an admittedly fabulous element of their live presentation, but it may have been so entertainingly original that it became a detriment.The basic issue may be that Brad plays drums with the subtlety and invention of a studied and seasoned beatkeeper and Jeremy plays with the brute force of a blacksmith hammering on an anvil. Both approaches to playing the drums have legitimate advantages and both clearly have a role in shaping the diverse sonic identity that the trio has been trying to define since forming The Sundresses in 2002.Although it may never have been perceived as a problem, the difficulty with rotating drummers is that Makenzie — who learned how to play bass in order to be a part of the band — has had to adjust her groove based on those two very distinct drum styles. In essence, the Sundresses' rhythm section has never really had an opportunity to build a discernible foundation. With Dave behind the kit, that opportunity becomes a reality. Based on the Sundresses' roaring set at the Mad Anthony benefit on July 26, the band's newly established rhythm section has already started paying dividends. Makenzie is now locked into a single percussionist and she and Dave collectively control the band's tempo. Dave has the latitude to incorporate Jeremy's power and Brad's nuance into his singular drum repertoire and Makenzie is learning the joy of shifting gears without changing cars.Relying on primarily new and largely unrecorded material, The Sundresses blazed through an all-too-brief ten song set with a rejuvenated energy that smacked of their early days. Opening with the swinging funky Blues of the brand new "Banker's Blues" and the loping howl of the equally fresh "Whisper Touch," the quartet bounced megawatt riffs through every body and against every conceivable surface in the Revival's sanctuary. They slowed down a shade for a spin through Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man," and Jeremy's quick documentary on the size of MA guitarist Ringo Jones' manhood before tearing into another relatively new track, "Zap a Deux," but it was all good in the hood regardless of speed or sonic profile. Finishing up with longtime faves "Hey! Hey! Bang! Bang!" and the propulsively jumping "Larry Nixon," the Sundresses gave both a glimpse at the sound of their much-anticipated third studio outing, hopefully coming out before the end of the year, and the direction they'll be taking as a quartet.Perhaps one of the more interesting side effects from The Sundresses' expansion is the fact that Jeremy and Brad are now playing guitar together, which means their distinct stylistic differences are blending and cross-pollinating rather than occupying discernibly different spaces within the set. As they become more acclimated to this arrangement, and as Makenzie and Dave fully tune up the engine they've just rebuilt, it's bound to have an incredible impact on the songs they start writing. As it stands, the songs The Sundresses have already written sound magnificent coming from the newly minted quartet, proving once again that even the best can get better