by Jessica Baltzersen
Posted In: Local Music
at 04:30 PM | Permalink
For most musicians, a trip to Hollywood to train with
a legendary Rock star would be nothing more than a dream, but for local
guitarist David Puthoff, it’s a reality. After winning a nationwide
competition, the 19-year-old was one of 10 top prize winners chosen to be flown
to Los Angeles to attend a VIP “Master Class” with
Avenged Sevenfold’s lead guitarist, Synyster Gates.
The Master Class with Synyster Gates of Avenged
presented by Guitar Center, was a nationwide search to find the country’s most
talented and creative guitarists. More than 1,500 contestants downloaded the
provided signature Avenged Sevenfold backing tracks of their choice, to which
they were challenged to re-write and add their own original guitar performance.
The competition was assessed in two parts: the
popularity of fan growth over social media and the skill of the contestant’s
performance, originality, style and technique by a panel of judges.
For his entry, Puthoff wrote and performed a refreshing
duo combining both acoustic and electric guitar. The unique marriage of his
classical guitar knowledge with his heavy-metal background worked in his favor,
as it was not only a fan favorite, but was hand chosen by Gates himself in the
final decision making process.
“It truly is a dream come true,” Puthoff says. “When
I got the call that I had won, my heart dropped. I was completely speechless.
With Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil album artwork inked on Puthoff’s forearm, it’s evident
that the group is his favorite band. The seductive dark tone of the Hard Rock/Metal
band allured Puthoff in the sixth grade and the rest was Rock history.
“I always admired the band’s extreme uniqueness and
use of tonality,” Puthoff says. But it was Gates’ rapid riffs and rhythms that
mesmerized then-12-year-old Puthoff, making him his ultimate guitar hero. “He’s
the reason why I wanted to play and get good at guitar,” he says.
to the trip, which has been delayed due to weather, Puthoff won a Schecter Synyster Gates Special electric guitar, a
behind-the-scenes tour of the Schecter factory and an Ernie Ball accessory
prize pack. Although the bells and whistles are an added bonus, he’s really just
looking forward to meeting and learning from his idol. “I really want to take
in everything he teaches us,” Puthoff says.
every piece of advice he can get, especially when it comes to how Gates got his
start and achieved success. As lead guitarist of his own band, The Requiem, Puthoff is looking
to use this trip as an opportunity to get an insiders point of view on how to
make it in the music industry.
the other four members of The Requiem have been working hard to make a name for
themselves here in Cincinnati. Performing at venues across the Tristate area
and winning second place in a local battle of the bands competition, they’ve
already built up a heavy amount of fan support and are currently working on
recording and releasing their first album.
Although Puthoff’s skilled playing looks effortless,
he’s been perfecting his craft and technique for over a decade. Fueled by
countless hours of practice, dedication and hard work, he’s always strived to
be the very best. At age 8, Puthoff started taking guitar lessons at Keller
Music on the Westside of Cincinnati. In 2005, when the owner wanted to sell the
store, Puthoff’s parents stepped in to purchase and take over as owners. As a
Westside favorite for more than 40 years, they wanted to keep the business
running so their son and daughter could continue to take lessons at their beloved
childhood music domain.
In 2012 Puthoff joined forces with the family to
become a teacher at Keller Music. The new and improved business recently
renovated and expanded their store where they sell retail and offer lessons in
guitar, bass guitar, drums, piano, mandolin and ukulele to adults and children
of all ages. “The youngest student I taught was 5 years old, and the oldest was
75,” Puthoff says.
Although Puthoff enjoys teaching, his real love is
performing. His dream is what any musical artist’s is: trying to make it big.
He hopes for The Requiem to catch their big break, move to the innovative land
of California and tour the world as full-fledged signed musicians. Although the
starry-eyed guitarist has dreams of his “big breakthrough,” it truly is the
music that ignites his passion and love for what he does.
“Music to me is a shoulder to cry on or a friend to celebrate
with that will always be there for me,” he says. "It’s one of the very few
ways where I can put my true emotion into something and hopefully
have others feel the same way I feel.”
Check out Puthoff’s winning entry video here.
by Zohair Hussain
It was sometime back in September that I
stumbled upon the story of Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry, and her piece in The
Guardian about the unfortunate realities she faced as a female musician. Only days
later, I heard the stories of classical composers wearing their own diadems of
misogyny. All these forces were crumbling away at what I once believed to be
the most progressive industry we had at our hands.
With such revelations came a personal desire
for truth at a closer proximity. I honed in my lens and turned it on the state
of our own music scene, and the circumstances of female musicians in the Queen
I may have stumbled a bit the first time I saw Molly Sullivan perform. It could
have been the champagne. It could have been the wine. It could have been the
sheer, uprooting shock of such a sneakily sultry voice filling all the quiet
corners of a room.
It was 2011 and the setting was a birthday party at the neo-historic Marburg Hotel,
and local heroes Shadowraptr had just finished their set in the basement — a
lush and operatic performance of their usual brand of psychedelic Prog-Rock,
with Jazz sensibility. They didn’t disappoint with an expectedly raucous
presentation, and we didn’t back down as an ever energetic crowd. It was in a quiet
aftermath, among friends and fellows just as imbibed as our beer-soaked shirts,
that I wove my way through a hallway maze and sauntered into a living room with
an organ against its back wall. At its helm sat Molly Sullivan.
As she would come to tell me nearly three years later, “Going back to when I
first started playing out as a singer songwriter, I always felt this extreme
pressure and insecurity of being a female musician…whose music was tending to
be more on the delicate side of things, an emotionally driven side of things.
It required a little stillness from the crowd.”
But back looking back on that night in March 2011, stillness was inevitable.
Warm from wine and an approaching spring, the handful of us that sat in the
living room did so with an active passivity. But even as heads lolled against neighbors’
shoulders or against the walls at our backs, there was an intensity in every
pair of eyes that I glanced into; all were watching, focused, as Molly struck a
chord and then another, taking us through the coziest part of the evening with
two or three ballads of life, lovelorn.
It was an intimacy that couldn’t have escaped those of us even if it had tried,
and only a brief, drunken sampling of where Sullivan had started her story,
rising to the ranks of the recognized, respected and regaled. Before that, she
was front woman for the electronically infused No No Knots and a few months
after that, she would play out as a solo artist with a backing band, making a
stop at The Heights Music Festival and a New Year’s Eve show at the Southgate
House Revival in 2012, before a brief hiatus kept her choruses hushed.
Sullivan admits that a lot of the anxious cogs of her earlier years were
weighed on heavily by being a female musician in a primarily male-dominated
“I feel like it’s a lot
easier for men as artists,” Sullivan Says, “generally, because you have the
potential to be the heartthrob, and also it’s not necessarily a sissying thing
to go to for a guy. So I feel like there’s more of an audience inherently built
In the later months of 2013, however, she re-emerged, armed with a
loop-accentuated sound and a solo confidence that she speaks fondly of. Crafting
songs, sonically clad with vocal layering and solid to the string guitar work,
Sullivan took her one-woman symphony on the Cincinnati circuit, to high acclaim
— winning the solo artist bracket of FB’s local “Last Band Standing 2013”
battle of the bands, and earning herself a spot on one of the participating
MidPoint Music Festival stages.
Sullivan had dedicated time to playing earlier shows in spots she would
normally not perform, in venues and around crowds she would normally not
consider being her primary audience. She says she found new courage in taking
these risks. Though initially unsure about even participating in the event at
FB’s, Sullivan came to find her hesitation was unnecessary.
“I made some assumption about
the clientele there – it’s kind of known to be like a bro bar,” Sullivan
explains. “I was thinking, ‘They’re not gonna get my art.’ That ended up not
When asked about the
progression of her performance presentation, Sullivan says, “I think I’ve
actually come to learn — just by doing it when I’m in a bar and everybody is
silent — just like recognizing that there’s something captivating about the
simplicity and the emotion of being present with your songs. It’s a really
empowering thing when people are dedicated to listening and joining you in that
Sullivan also recognized the power of community, and the part that earnest
encouragement from within the Cincinnati scene played in her career as a
musician. One pillar in her support group is claimed by The Daughters of The
Midwest, an ensemble stage set of premier, female musicians dominating the
“I’ve definitely kind of
geared my energy towards being supportive of other female musicians,” Sullivan
says, “supporting Kelly (Fine), Mia (Carruthers), Maya (Banatwala). And now
that I’m back out there again, because of the support that I’ve been shown.”
“I think it’s a really powerful thing to have a female musician community to
support each other,” she continues. “And as soon as I got back into it, it made
it a lot easier to go with the flow and be excited for people wholeheartedly.”
And looking outside of the just the female musician community, Sullivan
vehemently recognizes the support of Cincinnati as a whole. Sullivan expresses
an appreciation for her time playing with The No No Knots, as well as the
support she received from the members of Cincinnati’s Marburg Collective. As
she explains, "There’s mostly positive reinforcement floating around. There’s
kind of this really solid to the earth community here that exists that wants to
She admits that what hides
outside of Cincinnati is what scares her most. We traded stories and
conversations about recent revelations of ignorance and misogynistic skeletons
in some of contemporary music’s most renowned scenes, tales of classical
composers saying woman have no place in conducting pieces.
Sullivan acknowledges being
weary of “the whole, big wide world,” with such possibilities floating around
in clouds of reality.
“Cincinnati scares me in its
own ways,” she says. “Almost what scares me more is beyond what’s Cincinnati,
just the competitiveness that can be fruitful if you’re successful in the game.
And I think part of me has been afraid of success, because with that success,
you know what’s gonna come: it’s gonna be that banter online, all those
anonymous people hemorrhaging bullshit…Why bother?”
Even with such uncertainty for outside markets, Sullivan exhibits an insight
and strength that propels her forward, even more so because of her
acknowledgements of the bad that can come with the good. She says she’s
learning to navigate her way around “the hemorrhaging bullshit.” Her awareness
of everything that can dampen an otherwise well lit stage is what makes her
voice so definitive on the conversation about the regressive mentality of
misogyny that can still exist in our present day music-scape.
There exists within Molly
Sullivan a partnership between community appreciation and individualistic
impetus. She acknowledges the power of community backing, saying it’s a “powerful
thing to have a female musician community to support each other.” And she recognizes
the groundwork that’s been laid out in years past.
“We’ve seen the rise of a few
female fronted bands come through,” Sullivan says, “and people are more willing
to be excited for that and support it.” (She cites the Seedy Seeds and Wussy as
pioneers for female musicianship.) Sullivan is aware of where we’ve been and
where we are. But what’s more, she’s ready to take us to where we need to be.
And she’s ready to do that with a self-made spirit.
“I’m getting to a point where I don’t give a fuck really,” Sullivan says.
It was with a new impetus
that she’s approached her musicianship. “I’ve grown stronger as a female
musician,” she says. “Now I’m just kind of like, well, if you don’t want to
listen to it then fuck you, you don’t have to be here. It took me a long time
to get to that point, and I still kind of have some insecurity about it. But
most of the time I’m just like, ‘Molly, grow a pair, get over it.’ ”
Sullivan also explains the intentionality behind her current solo-set
performances. Much in the same vein of playing in new venues, under possibly
uncomfortable lights, she exhibits a drive to explore her boundaries, and
expand past her limitations.
“I’ve chosen to do these
things by myself,” she says. “If I’m going to play with a band later, I need to
be OK playing solo first. It’s been really empowering, doing all of that.” She proves herself to be relentless and,
though hurt, unscarred by the outside forces of misinterpretation and
misogynistic pressures. It’s with a knowing, weathered paddle that she navigates these future streams. And
it seems she couldn’t be more pleased with the direction she’s headed.
“So far, it’s been really
lovely being back.” She takes a moment, at the end of our conversation, to
reflect out loud. “Would you look at that? I did that. And I don’t need anybody
else. I’m all about collaboration, but it’s really good to know that I don’t
need anybody. I’m capable.”
by Mike Breen
Cheyenne Marie Mize at MOTR, plus Today in Music with OutKast and a James Dean musical tribute
Music Tonight: Louisville Indie/Folk singer/songwriter Cheyenne Marie Mize has been on a fast track in the music biz over the past year. A member of a couple of rootsy acts in the rich Louisville music scene, once she broke out on her own, she began to draw increased attention for her lovely, ethereal sound. Last year when Mize performed in town, she was on the verge of releasing a new EP, but it was delayed … for good reason. Mize had inked a deal with Yep Rock Records (home to Nick Lowe, Liam Finn, Fountains of Wayne, John Doe and Paul Weller) and that EP, We Don't Need, became her first release for the label. Just released Jan. 24, We Don't Need fleshes out Mize's wispy sound (particularly with some creative rhythmic additives), but that dreamy, ghostly soul still hovers above each of the five songs. Click here to read more about Mize then head to MOTR Pub tonight to catch her free show (with special guest Margaret Darling of The Seedy Seeds). Below, enjoy a session Mize did recently for LaundroMatinee.com.
by Mike Breen
Bluesday Tuesdays at Arnold's, plus Today In Music featuring Tom Jones, The Who, My Morning Jacket and the Forecastle Festival
Music Tonight: This Friday and Saturday, the Cincy Blues Society is presenting its annual Winter Blues Fest in its new location — four venues (the old Harry's Pizza space, the old R&B Cafe spot, The Drinkery and Below Zero) in Over-the-Rhine (after several years in Northern Kentucky). If you want to get in the mood, tonight at Arnold's you can check out the Cincy Blues Society's new every-Tuesday "Bluesday Tuesdays" series, featuring various Blues artists from the area. Tonight's performer is eclectic veteran writer/guitarist John Redell (who has played with such groups as Voodoo Blues, The Flock and Shepherd's Pi). Showtime is 7 p.m. and there is no admission charge. (Click here for more on the Blues Fest.)
by Mike Breen
The boys of Cincinnati's Foxy Shazam have done it again. The group's stunning new video for "I Like It" from its new album, The Church of Rock and Roll, debuted today and it's another mind-blower. The band — which recently played a packed album release show at Covington's Madison Theater — plays Irving Plaza in New York City tonight and then begins tour dates with Brit rockers The Darkness (who were just featured in one of the better Super Bowl commercials of 2012). Check the video below.
by Mike Breen
Mack West Trio in Northside, plus Gerry and the Pacemakers, Jools Holland and Bon Iver
Music Tonight: It's a slow night for touring acts, but a good one to catch a few local acts in a more laid-back-Tuesday-evening atmosphere. For example — Zach Mechlem of local "Alt-Western" group Mack West (pictured; Zach is second from the front) plays a free show at the Northside Tavern tonight with a pair of bandmates (officially, it's being billed as the Mack West Trio). Mack West's latest album, The Goodnight Trail, was one of the best local releases of 2011 and the best showcase yet of Mack West's unique, evocative spin on American Roots music. Mack West tunes have been used on History Channel's American Pickers, Discovery Channel's Auction Kings and in a commercial for AMC's The Man With No Name mini-series. Check out the title track from The Goodnight Trail below and read my review from when it was released here. Mechlem performs around 10 p.m. in the Tavern's front room.
by Mike Breen
The Dig and The Ready Stance at MOTR, plus Today in Music with Van Halen and Frankie Knuckles
Music Tonight: MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine hosts a solid Indie Rock double bill tonight (made extra appealing by MOTR's "never a cover charge" policy) as "buzz band" The Dig swings through for a show with Cincinnati's The Ready Stance. Featuring a couple of former members of onetime local music heroes Middlemarch, The Ready Stance is coming into the home stretch with its debut album, Damndest. The band currently has its sights set on a March/April release for its debut (check the group's site here for the latest). The Dig began in New York City's Lower East Side just four years ago; not long after forming, they were selling out shows in the Big Apple. After a couple years touring the States non-stop (with the likes of The Walkmen, The Antlers, The Editors and even a few bands whose moniker doesn't begin with a "the"), The Dig issued its debut, Electric Toys, in 2010; by the end of that year, the album would appear on numerous "Best Of" lists by critics far and wide. The Dig's follow-up is due very soon, so you'll likely hear a few newer songs at tonight's show. Check out Brian Baker's preview of tonight's show from this week's CityBeat here and then dig The Dig's video for Electric Toys track "You're Already Gone" below.
Dustin Smith eschews gimmicks to concentrate on good songwriting
1 Comment · Wednesday, May 6, 2009
It's the chicken/egg situation for every band: Which comes first, the gigs or the fan base? "We actually were turned down by every major venue in Cincinnati that we contacted for our CD release show," says Dustin Smith, the 22-year-old singer/songwriter behind Okay Lindon. He isn't complaining, though. He's simply explaining why his band had its CD release party at a local pizza place on May 2.
You don't know the experimental musical artist, but he knows you
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 18, 2009
It's all about the new 'Theory of Modern Isolation.' With the onset of all this break-neck advancement of technology, anybody can do just about anything, including music, with the touch of a button in even the most darkest of bedrooms, basements or converted living rooms. Fuxter Schittly tells me that DEVO wouldn't have come together if they had all these buttons, switches and power-strips around. I agree.
Record label revamps and thrives in a down economy
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 4, 2009
In biology class, I learned that evolution was the passing of traits from parent to offspring between specific species. In music, evolution is just good business and might be the difference between success and failure. In that spirit, Matthew Cooper and Evan Sharfe seek your attention as RaceCarProductions, a Cincinnati record label that's trying to put the city on the map using their sonic prowess.