by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 11:26 AM | Permalink
Powers, the Cincinnati librarian who has done exhaustive work researching King
Records history, thought he had found a “Holy Grail” photo — of the West End
record store that Syd Nathan owned before starting King.
He knew it
had been on Central Avenue, but didn’t know what it looked like.
It was in
the Hebrew Union College/Skirball Museum FotoFocus-connected exhibit Documenting Cincinnati’s Neighborhoods,
which features George Rosenthal’s photographs, taken in the late 1950s, of the
West End before I-75 construction would dramatically alter it. Rosenthal’s
photographs, owned by Cincinnati Museum Center, hadn’t been shown at least in
50 years, if ever.
the exhibit’s opening day, Oct. 22, Powers saw one Rosenthal photo of a Central
Avenue record store at 1567 Central Ave. Just a small storefront with a homey
screen-door, it had what looked like neon signs that announced “Records All
Speeds” and then listed the choices: Spirituals, Classics, Pops, Rhythm-Blues,
Bop, Hillbilly & Western.
also partially see some letters and the initials “CO” at the top of the signs. Some
additional written information was on a window, and another sign offered television
sets for $29. Nathan wouldn’t have still owned such a store in this time period
— he started King in 1943 — but might it have carried on the same location,
more or less unchanged, with someone else in charge?
Henry Rosenthal, the late George’s son, about his hunch. And in his opening
remarks, Henry mentioned it. Henry was particularly proud because he owns the
desk that James Brown kept at King Records’ headquarters in Evanston. “It’s my
prize possession,” he said.
Among the Rosenthal family members at the opening, besides
Henry, were Jean Rosenthal Bloch, George’s wife; daughter Julie Baker; George S. Rosenthal and Roger Baker,
George’s grandsons; great-grandson Clay Baker, and cousin Ed Rosenthal. With
several hundred in attendance, it was an important moment in recognizing
Alas, when Powers (who didn’t attend the reception) later started
researching, he saw the record store in this photo wasn’t where Nathan’s was
“Syd’s shop was at 1351 Central Ave.,” he said via E-mail.
“The shop in the photo is at 1567 Central. It was called Mo-F-A Co. It’s listed
as a TV repair shop. It was owned by a guy named Ted Savage, who seemed to have
lived there with his wife.
“It looks like Syd handed over his store to Ike Klayman around
1945 to 1946. I don’t see 1351 Central listed after 1949. It may have been torn
down by then. It’s where Taft football field is now.”
Powers added that he has seen a photo of a record store
owned by Klayman, but believes it is at a different location
So the search for a photo of Nathan’s record store goes
on, but meanwhile this very evocative one is now — finally — available to be
The exhibit, which looks at what life in Cincinnati was
like in the West End and Downtown before much was torn down for controversial
“urban renewal” from the 1960s to 1980s, both in terms of their architecture
and the conditions of the poor, also features powerful photos by Daniel
Ransohoff and Ben Rosen.
It is up through Dec. 21 at the Skirball and Jacob Rader
Marcus Center on the HUC campus, 3010 Clifton Ave. Go here for details.
by Mike Breen
All-star “Alumni Tour” hits Evanston to commemorate the recording of one of the most sampled beats in Hip Hop history
Cincinnati’s King Records and its various subsidiary labels have been widely celebrated for its vital contribution to the development of popular music in the 20th Century. The legendary label’s groundbreaking, integrated roster of Roots, Bluegrass, R&B and Funk artists gave the world recordings that were integral to the development of Rock & Roll, Pop, Country and, though perhaps less obvious to some, Hip Hop.
Musical icon James Brown was King’s most well-known artist and without Brown’s Funk genius, it’s likely that Hip Hop wouldn’t sound the same today. Brown’s work is some of the most widely sampled in Hip Hop and one song in particular provided the backbeats for innumerable Rap songs over the years. That song, “Funky Drummer,” was recorded at King’s studios 45 years ago in Cincinnati’s Evanston neighborhood.
Samples of Clyde Stubblefield’s drum break on “Funky Drummer” have powered classic Hip Hop tracks by the likes of N.W.A. (“Fuck the Police”), Boogie Down Productions (“South Bronx”), Public Enemy (“Bring the Noise,” “Fight the Power”), LL Cool J (“Mama Said Knock You Out”), De La Soul (“The Magic Number”), Ice-T (“O.G. Original Gangster”), Dr. Dre (“Let Me Ride”) and countless others. That break’s influence has never waned, as Nicki Minaj, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def and many more producers and artists continue to find inspiration from the funkiest of funky beats. (And its influence extends beyond Hip Hop, having been featured on The Stone Roses’ classic “Fool’s Gold,” and tracks by everyone from Sinead O’Connor and George Michael to Aphex Twin and Korn.)
Tomorrow (June 7), some ’80s/’90s Hip Hop greats will honor the 45th anniversary of Stubblefield’s recording of that beat with an outdoor concert/block party near the site where it was recorded (in the 1500 block of Brewster Ave. in Evanston). The Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation, along with Eastwood Entertainment, Lando Chapman, City of Cincinnati and the Bootsy Collins Foundation, have joined forces to bring “The Alumni Tour,” featuring a variety of old-school Hip Hop greats, to town for the special event, dubbed “Lando’s Old School Block Party.”The concert will feature performances by Kwame, Dana Dane, Special Ed and Chubb Rock, each of whom understand the power and influence of “Funky Drummer.”
Saturday’s celebration will also feature appearances by the JB-approved “Young James Brown,” King artists Phillip Paul and Otis Williams and the Funkmaster General himself, Bootsy Collins. Showtime is 7 p.m. (gates open at 5 p.m.). Tickets are $25 and can purchased in advance here. (Only those 21-and-up are permited.) Proceeds from the event will benefit the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation’s ongoing efforts to draw attention to and preserve the legacies of Cincinnati’s rich musical past. The organization continues to do great things to honor downtown’s former Herzog Studios (where Hank Williams and many others recorded iconic tracks) and the group is currently supporting efforts to save and preserve the original site of King Records’ facilities and also attempts to have a permanent marker placed at the site of the old Riverfront Coliseum (now U.S. Bank Arena) in memory of the 11 fans who lost their lives in 1979 trying to get in to see The Who perform (a tragic event that led to the betterment of concert safety procedures throughout the industry).
A cornucopia of Cinci-centric books hits the market
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 29, 2014
It’s not so unusual when local authors
write books about this region — there’s a burgeoning market for it,
actually, in Cincinnati and elsewhere.
How Queen City Album got its groove back
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 16, 2014
After shutting down its vinyl processing in 1992, 60-plus-year-old Queen City Album (QCA) is back in the vinyl biz with a new plating operation.
Cincinnati played a crucial role in the career of Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Bare
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Last October, Bobby Bare was inducted
into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His long career featured some
twists and turns that found him leaving his southern Ohio home to try
and find success in California and elsewhere before eventually landing
in Nashville. Along the way, Cincinnati’s Fraternity Records played an
unexpected part in his success.
Chubby Checker returns to the birthplace of his career-making hit
0 Comments · Monday, March 17, 2014
How Chubby Checker took an under-promoted, Cincinnati-recorded song and turned it into Billboard's top song of all time.
Plus, King Records Month continues and more
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Bluegrass for Babies, featuring local artists Wild Carrot and Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, returns to Sawyer Point Saturday to raise money for the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Plus, King Records Month continues, CityBeat hosts a pre-MidPoint Music Festival party, Jerry's Little Band turns 20 and Abiyah Presents Hip Hop @
The Comet presents a special "open mic" edition.
Garage Soul troupe Barrence Whitfield and the Savages’ Cincinnati ties lead to this weekend’s two-night stand
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
R&B/Soul/Garage band Barrence Whitfield and the Savages celebrate their recent Bloodshot Records release and pay tribute to King Records with two shows at MOTR Pub this weekend.
Plus, modern day indie label Phratry celebrates nine years, DAAP Girls unveil new video
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Cincinnati-based King Records, a label that helped change the face of popular music in America, turns 70 in September and supporters have a month's worth of festivities to celebrate. Plus, modern day indie label Phratry celebrates its ninth birthday, DAAP Girls unveil "Molly" and MidPoint Indie Summer on Fountain Square ends Friday.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:45 AM | Permalink
you're a theater fan looking for something to do this weekend, you've
probably realized that the Labor Day holiday is not overflowing with
options. In fact, many theater companies are gathering their strength as
they prepare for shows that open next week.
there is one good choice available: a show about the King. No, it's not
an Elvis piece. It's about Cincinnati's own King Records, the recording
label that made history here in the 1940s and 1950s, launching the
careers of many early pop stars, including James Brown. Syd Nathan, a
Cincinnati native, launched his independent label in 1943, and for two
decades he and his employees did it all in house — recording, mastering,
printing, pressing and shipping the music that King produced. (Nathan
was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.)
this revolutionary enterprise — which employed blacks and whites in one
of our city's first integrated businesses — is CINCINNATI KING, a
kind of documentary theater piece based on interviews with people who
remember the business and the music. KJ Sanchez, one of the Cincinnati
Playhouse's artistic associates, has pulled this material together for a
90-minute reading that's offered one time, on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. (Read more in Harper Lee's feature story in this week's issue of CityBeat here.)
No charge for admission, but seating is limited in the Playhouse's Shelterhouse Theater, so reservations are required: 513-421-3888. It's sure to be a full house, so call in advance.