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.  
by Rick Pender 08.30.2013
Posted In: Theater at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door: The King Is Back

If 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. But 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.) Documenting 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.

Cincinnati King

New play chronicles the life and legacy of Syd Nathan and King Records

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Earlier this year, dozens of volunteers roamed Cincinnati, haunting record stores, clubs and coffee shops. The group was seeking stories about King Records, the legendary record label that made its home here in the Queen City.  
by Mike Breen 05.06.2013

Bus Tour to Visit Cincinnati Music Heritage Landmarks

Deadline to sign-up for first ever music-based Cincinnati Heritage Program is May 7

The Cincinnati Heritage Programs put together by the Cincinnati Museum Center have been going on for over 30 years now, taking locals and visitors to some of the Queen City's most important and/or interesting landmarks. The programs have included historical presentations and bus and walking tours to the various sites. This year so far, the Cincinnati Heritage Programs have shown and told the stories of radio pioneer Powel Crosley, "Grand Old Theaters" and Cincy local TV legends. This Saturday, the Heritage programmers present "Subway Talk and Walk," a nighttime exploration of Cincinnati's incomplete subway tunnel project. On May 18, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the Cincinnati Heritage Programs presents the first ever bus tour of various important (not just to the area, but to the world) musical landmarks. Dubbed "When the Queen City was King of Recording," the tour focuses primarily on a pair of historic recording studios that churned out records that would change the face of music. The bus will visit the original site of King Records, which released seminal albums from the worlds of Country and R&B, a gateway to the birth of Rock & Roll. The bus will visit the old King location at 1540 Brewster Ave. in Evanston, where city officials, the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CUMHF), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and others helped have an historical marker installed in 2008 to commemorate King's contributions.Here's James Brown's first single, recorded with his Famous Flames and released in 1956 through the King subsidiary, Federal Records:The tour will also visit the former site of the E.T. Herzog Recording Company, at 811 Race St., downtown. In 2009, the CUMHF and others also lobbied successfully for a marker to placed at the site, which now houses the organization's headquarters. The Foundation has turned the floor the studio once stood into a museum dedicated to the space's history, hosting receptions and recording sessions and showcasing a few artifacts (like the piano Hank Williams played when he was in town to record songs that made him a legend, including "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") and lots of old photos of the studio in action. The Music Heritage Foundation is currently hosting the photo exhibit, "Annie's Baby Had a Baby," which was part of the big, citywide Fotofocus photography showcase. The tour ends with lunch and some live music at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, a block from the Herzog stop.The tour costs $60 (or $50 if you're a Museum Center member) and some spots are still open. But you'd better act fast. Deadline to register for the "When the Queen City was King of Recording" is tomorrow, May 7. Make a reservation by calling 513-287-7031. And click here for the Museum Center's rundown of great city tours and more. You can read a couple of stories from CityBeat about Herzog and King here and here (check our archives; we've written about them a lot).

Herzog Happenings and Wussy Steps It Up

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
There has been more activity downtown at the former home of the historic Herzog recording studios than there has been since the studio’s heyday in the ’40s.  

King Records Museum Would Draw Tourists

0 Comments · Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Cincinnati’s King Records has an important enough history to merit a museum, especially since the original building is still standing at 1540 Brewster Ave. in Evanston. While it would take a lot of work to restore that site, it’s essential to save it. The most active supporters of a King Museum want a location in Evanston’s business district as an economic development tool.   

Ed Conley 1927-2012

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Covington native and legendary bassist on numerous crucial sessions done for Cincinnati’s King Records, Ed Conley, passed away on Jan. 5 at the age of 84. Following the private memorial for family a couple of weeks ago, friends and admirers this Thursday will gather at the Gwen Mooney Funeral Home (inside Spring Grove Cemetery at 4521 Spring Grove Ave.) at 1 p.m. for a public ceremony.  

Breaking Ground for Groundbreakers

Legendary guitarist Steve Cropper honors influence of King Records’ 5 Royales

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The list of Cincinnati’s King Records acts whose influence on future musicians — often some of the greats of Rock & Roll — has proved greater than their own enduring fame is still growing longer. The latest addition is Lowman “Pete” Pauling and The “5” Royales. The Rhythm & Blues vocal group recorded for King from 1954-1959 and was unusual in that Pauling, besides singing bass, played a stinging, bluesy lead electric guitar.  

A Royal Revival for King Records

Appreciation for pioneering Cincinnati-based label continues to grow

1 Comment · Wednesday, November 17, 2010
For years, Rock historians have said the reason Cincinnati's King Records doesn't have the enduring public regard that, say, Detroit's Motown or Memphis' Sun labels have is because it didn't have a readily identifiable sound. King recorded too many kinds of music — even too many kinds of R&B, its greatest strength — and so for every James Brown or Hank Ballard classic there was less distinguished stuff. But a new theory is emerging.  

Herzog Is Hallowed Ground

Historical marker honors recording studio with vital ties to Hank Williams and popular music's very evolution

0 Comments · Monday, November 16, 2009
"Lovesick Blues" became the most important song in Hank Williams' career and one of the most influential singles in Country and Pop music history. And it was recorded in downtown Cincinnati on Dec. 22, 1948, at E.T. Herzog Recording Company, on the second floor of 811 Race St. In all, the "father of contemporary Country music" would record eight songs there. Yes, before Nashville had Music Row (and even before King Records made its mark) Cincinnati had Herzog on Race.