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A Nice Pair

Cincinnati’s Mark Utley simultaneously drops the fourth Magnolia Mountain album and his solo debut

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Cincinnati Americana ensemble Magnolia Mountain has always exhibited a broad sonic diversity, moving easily from Country to Folk to to twangy Rock. Frontman Mark Utley has decided to use his solo debut as a repository for the more Country aspects of his writing spectrum, leaving the heavier, bluesier, funkier tracks for Magnolia Mountain.  
by Mike Breen 04.09.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music at 12:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Musicians Unite for Pete's Sake

Area Folk/Roots musicians team up to try and save Covington club/hangout Geez'l Pete's

Musician Matt Baumann, who performs as the Folk act WolfCryer, and several area Folk/Americana musicians are teaming up this Wednesday to help a local music venue that has given them a home over the years. The club Geez’l Pete’s (508 Madison Ave., Covington) is having financial difficulties to the point where the electricity has been shut off. This Wednesday, a “Save the Pete!” benefit will be held at the club, with music starting at 6 p.m. and running on three performance spots — busking on the street outside, “backporch” jamming and acoustic performances inside the club by candlelight. “Geez'l Pete's is a hub for many local musicians,” Baumann says, “and the only one that I know of that keeps a library and store on site for the albums from most of the local musicians.”There is a suggested donation of $5 and beer and booze will be available to purchase. Artists scheduled to appear include WolfCryer, Daniel Van Vechten, Dave Rohs, Tim Caudill and Tony Hall. Mark Utley of Magnolia Mountain headlines the night at 10 p.m. Click here for more info.Next Wednesday, April 17, Baumann and Co. will present another similar benefit at Geez’l Pete’s for the same cause. Kelly Thomas is the scheduled headliner, performing at 9:30 p.m.
 
 
by Mike Breen 12.13.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music at 11:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Two Thursday Night Cincinnati Roots Music Spectaculars

Mark Utley, Jeremy Pinnell and the 55's offer free local Americana primers every Thursday

Fans of live, homegrown American Roots music will want to keep their Thursday nights free for the next few weeks. Two strong, weekly events featuring several of the city's best musicians in the field (many of whom were recently nominated for 2012 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards) will continue (at least) until the end of 2012. Mark Utley (nominated for the best Singer/Songwriter CEA) of local Americana ensemble Magnolia Mountain (nominated for best Folk/Americana act) is December’s “artist in residence” at The Crow’s Nest in Price Hill, which has become something of a local clubhouse for area Americana artists. Utley performs solo (and with bandmate Renee Frye) every Thursday this month, each night joined by some top-shelf guests. The residency continues tonight as Utley is joined by David Rhodes Brown’s Kentucky Timbre and Kentucky Struts’ Todd Lipscomb join Utley, while Ed Cunningham of the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars and Amber Nash of Shiny and the Spoon are the guests Dec. 20 and Sassy Molasses’ Moriah Lawson and Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver join Utley and Frye for the Dec. 27 showcase. All Thursday shows at The Crow's Nest are free; music starts at 9:30 p.m. each night. Meanwhile, Country troupe Jeremy Pinnell and the ’55s have been hosting "Honky Tonky Thursdays" every week around the area for the past several months. The free event — currently held at Japp's on Main St. in Over-the-Rhine — has also showcased a plethora of special guests from the local Roots scene. Tonight is an especially strong lineup — the 55's will back up 500 Miles to Memphis frontman Ryan Malott (who just announced a Kickstarter campaign to finance his band's fourth LP) for a set of Country classics (and perhaps a few Malott gems) and fellow CEA best Country act nominee Tex Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys open up the night at 8:30 p.m. Pinnell and Co. today leaked a recording from the band's pre-production rehearsals for their debut album. Look for the LP next year. Here's the demo for "The Way Country Sounds." You can also, for a limited time, download the track from Soundcloud here. Cincinnati Entertainment Awards voting begins tomorrow at noon.
 
 

The Cla-Zels Rock on Second LP of 2012

Plus, Robthebank returns, Play It Forward presents photo show and Mark Ultey nests in Price Hill

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Diverse local foursome The Cla-Zels release their second full-length album this weekend, Robthebank returns with new LP after decade-plus break, Play It Forward presents a Rock & Roll photo show at The Redmoor and Mark Utley nests in Price Hill with some of his very talented friends.   
by Brian Baker 06.04.2012
Posted In: Local Music, Reviews at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Review: Magnolia Mountain's 'Town and Country'

When people are confronted with my ridiculously voluminous music collection, they are most often struck with its distinct lack of commonality. Growing up within 70 miles of Detroit in the ’60s will do that; anything you can imagine between and beyond Motown and The Stooges will generally light my sparkler. In reference to music specifically and to life in general, I have often remarked, “Specialization is for insects,” but if Mark Utley would like to borrow the phrase when he’s talking about his band, Cincinnati's Magnolia Mountain, he’s more than welcome. From the band’s beginnings six years ago, Utley has endeavored to reconcile his Rock past with his fresh love of all things Americana by investing his Magnolia Mountain output with a reverence for the Bluegrass, Folk, Country and Rock forms while investing them with fresh angles, lines and perspectives. Like a sculptor who has immense respect for the permanence of the stone but also implicitly trusts his chisel and creative vision, Utley shapes the raw material of Americana’s various stylistic permutations into songs that are comfortably familiar yet blazingly original. That ethic was a hallmark of Magnolia Mountain’s last double album, 2010’s Redbird Green, and it comes into even sharper focus on the band’s third and latest release, the aptly titled Town and Country.Part of Magnolia Mountain’s variance from album to album is at least partially due to the shifts in personnel that have affected the band from the start. At the same time, Magnolia Mountain has always been something of a rotating collective with guests becoming permanent members and members becoming guests. Town and Country follows that template, as Jordan Neff and Amber Nash (who left to devote full attention to their side project, Shiny and the Spoon) and David Rhodes Brown (who has defected from his numerous band affiliations to concentrate on solo/side work) appear sporadically on the album’s 18 tracks. And once again, guests abound on Town and Country, including piano master Ricky Nye, Tillers banjo ninja Mike Oberst and Americana chanteuse Lydia Loveless, among others. Utley’s grounding in and love of vinyl forces him to think of his dozen and a half songs in the context of four separate sides (which he also did on Redbird Green; both albums are available in double vinyl format), and the first side is indicative of the broad range of Town and Country. “Black Mollie” kicks things off like a traditional Folk ode, “One Waking Moment” is a classic Appalachian Bluegrass break-up jaunt and “Baby Let’s Pretend” is a bopping Country thumper that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Rodney Crowell or T Bone Burnett set. But just when you think you’ve got Magnolia Mountain pinned down, Utley and company (Jeff Vanover, Melissa English, Renee Frye, Bob Lese, Kathy Woods, Bob Donisi and Todd Drake) blister the paint with the wicked Blues menace of “Set on Fire,” with sweet “sugar, sugar” backing vocals, searing slide guitar and thundering rhythm section. That quartet is a mere hint at the broad spectrum of styles and approaches that Magnolia Mountain achieves on Town and Country, from the funky twang soul Blues of “Rainmaker” to the supercharged Roots Rock swing of “Shotgun Divorce” (Utley’s duet with Loveless) to the atmospheric swamp boogie of “The Devil We Know,” as well as superb covers of Will Johnson’s “Just to Know What You’ve Been Dreaming” and Wussy’s “Don’t Leave Just Now.” As usual, the brilliance of Utley’s songwriting is that he and Magnolia Mountain craft each track as a separate jewel that fits perfectly into the gorgeous crown that is Town and Country.(Click here for more on Magnolia Mountain)
 
 

The Midwestern Thing

Cincinnati’s finest Americana ensemble, Magnolia Mountain, releases 'Town and Country'

0 Comments · Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Thanks at least partially to our proximity to Appalachia, Greater Cincinnati has long had one of the finest Roots/Americana music scenes in the region. And the finest band from that impressive batch of artists right now is Magnolia Mountain, the band formed by Rock veteran and singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mark Utley about five years ago.   

Magnolia in Bloom

Magnolia Mountain goes lo-tech and high class on ambitious new album, 'Redbird Green'

0 Comments · Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Local Americana/Roots outfit Magnolia Mountain remembers the old days of record-making and wanted to connect with them in some significant way, so they're releasing their new ambitiously sized CD, 'Redbird Green,' in a double-album vinyl format. It was clearly a structure Magnolia frontman Mark Utley was working toward — the titles on the back of the CD are separated into four distinct sides.  

New Music from Mark Utley and Cash Flagg, Plus Other Notable News

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Though known for a wide-range of musical styles, Greater Cincinnati has always had an especially strong Americana/Roots music scene. With the release of 'Nothing As It Was,' Mark Utley and his band Magnolia Mountain should instantly jump to the top of any list of the city's best Roots practitioners.   

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