The Once and Future King

In an effort to boost Evanston, community leaders race to preserve its famous musical legacy

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Long before he was a Grammy-winning musician and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Bootsy Collins was a kid in Cincinnati looking to break into the music business. That quest led him to the door of then-bustling King Records in Evanston.   
by Steven Rosen 10.30.2014
Posted In: Visual Art at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
george rosenthal

The Search for a "Holy Grail" Photo at a FotoFocus Show

Brian 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. Visiting on 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. You can 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? Powers told 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 Rosenthal’s work. 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 located. “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 seen. 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 06.06.2014
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music History at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hip Hop Greats Perform in Honor of “Funky Drummer”

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).

Queen City Reading

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.   

The 'Q' Stands for 'Quality'

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.   

Kicking Off a Legacy

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.  

Twist of Fate

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.  

Bluegrass for a Good Cause

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.  

Savage Love

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.  

King Records’ 70th Birthday Festivities Begin

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.