by Brian Baker
Shake It Records once again shines a light on Cincinnati's musical history with pre-war Blues compilation
Cincinnati enjoys a reputation as a city with a rich and colorful musical history, exemplified by the influential reach of Syd Nathan’s roster at King Records, a label that attracted and embraced every conceivable style of music and musician. And there’s a case to be made that King’s diversity was simply a reflection of the city’s broad creative scope — then, now and perpetually, it’s been difficult to hang a signature genre tag on Cincinnati’s sound.There aren’t many Cincinnatians who understand the area’s musical timeline much better than Darren Blase, co-owner of the city’s premiere record store, Shake It Records. Blase has long championed the King story; he did his thesis at UC on King Records and ultimately turned that mountain of information into a book and a screenplay, both of which remain undeservedly shelved. But like any curious student of history, Blase has never been content to concentrate on just the King legacy, wanting to connect the dots to see how it all related to his own firsthand Punk Rock experience in the ’80s. Equally important, he has always been eager to look to the city’s musical heritage before King Records, to discover the roots of Cincinnati’s unique musical culture.Blase and his brother/business partner Jim have long used their Shake It label as a vehicle to spotlight the incredible wealth of talent in the current local and regional scene, but their latest release time travels back to the early part of the 20th century to reveal Cincinnati’s amazing contributions to pre-World War II Blues with the double vinyl gem Play It Like You Did Back to George Street.As Blues historian Steve Tracy notes in his thorough liner notes for George Street, Cincinnati in the ’20s and ’30s didn’t necessarily exhibit a distinctive Blues identity like Chicago, New York or Memphis, but the artists that comprised the Cincinnati scene were a spirited and talented group that could have successfully infiltrated any Blues community in the country. Representing a specific period in Cincinnati musical history, from 1924 to 1936, George Street serves as evidence of the assertion that the city’s Blues profile was anything but nondescript. George Street’s ancient recordings (of varying but ultimately listenable quality) are filled with fascinating local references (“Court Street Blues,” “I’m Going to Cincinnati,” “Sixth Street Moan,” “Newport Blues,” “Cincinnati Underworld Woman”) and a host of area artists with a firm grip on the qualities that make for great Folk and Ragtime-tinted Blues. The collection takes its title from “Mama Let Me Lay On You,” where Walter Coleman exhorts his uncredited guitarist to reach for the passion and fire that typified performances on the long-forgotten street that was once the home to the city’s red light district and its attendant nightclubs; a good many of the lyrics to the songs on the George Street collection live up to that bawdy history.Coleman is a pervasive presence on George Street, primarily because he assumes so many recorded identities (Kid Cole, Kid Coley, Bob Coleman, Sweet Papa Tadpole, Walter Cole), but the album also shows off the obvious skills of Sam Jones (who also went by the name Stovepipe No. 1) and Jesse James (whose four songs on George Street represent his entire recorded legacy).George Street also offers a pair of talented jug bands. Coleman leads the Cincinnati Jug Band — “George Street Stomp” is a particular favorite – while Jones takes the helm with the King David Jug Band, typified by the rollicking “What That Tastes Like Gravy.”Play It Like Did Back at George Street, enticingly subtitled Music From Ohio Volume 1 and beautifully illustrated by renowned local underground cartoonist Justin Green, is clearly aimed at a specific Blues aficionado. If Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan are your Blues ideals, then this album will hold little interest for you. But if you’re fascinated by the sound of scratchy old 78s and the magic that erupts from the horn when the needle is dropped on a groove that dates to a time when flappers were the rage, George Street is your early Christmas present.Remaining copies of the initial pressing of Play It Like You Did at George Street (which went on sale for Record Store Day's Black Friday event) are available from Shake It Records (online here and at the store in Northside) only as a double vinyl album (for now), but the release comes with a download card for digital playback. The label is rolling out the record nationally in the next few weeks. To sample a trio of tracks from the release, click here.
by Mike Breen
Cincinnati label/record shop to issue anthology of Cincinnati Blues for Black Friday
Shake It Records is getting in on Record Store Day's national "Black Friday" promotion, which, like regular ol' Record Store Day in April, means hundreds of brick-and-mortar record shops will be stocking hundreds of unique new releases by artists and labels big and small. As both a shop and a label, Northside's Shake It will be issuing its own release, a special double-album compilation of Blues from the Cincinnati area circa 1927-1936. Play It Like You Did Back To George Street: An Anthology of Cincinnati Blues 1927-1936 contains 29 tracks of "pre-war" Cincinnati Blues, featuring unearthed gems by the likes of Sam Jones, Cincinnati Jug Band, Kid Cole, Jesse James, Bob Coleman and Sweet Papa Tadpole. The album — a limited-run, double-vinyl release with a card to digitally download the tracks — will be available Friday at Shake It's Northside store. Author Steve Tracy, who now lives in Germany, literally wrote the book on Cincinnati Blues with 1998's Going to Cincinnati: A History of Blues in the Queen City, so it makes sense that he'd pen the extensive and insightful liner notes for the compilation.In the liners, Tracy explains the local Blues scene of the era and makes the case that, while Cincinnati might rightfully be ignored by Blues scholars and historians, it was a scene that was "more representative of what a local Blues scene was like in most of America" at the time. In Cincinnati, he writes, "one could especially find a community of musicians whose concerns were the concerns of the anonymous black populace that shred the apartment stoops, bustling streets, fried food cafes and restaurants, earthy brothels, and storefront churches …"The compilation is branded with a "Music From Ohio" emblem on the cover and a promising "Volume One" tag. Shake It's Darren Blase says that "Music From Ohio" will be an ongoing excavation of Cincinnati's music history. "(Music From Ohio) will be a reissue series of Ohio Blues, Rockabilly, Garage, R&B and Soul, County Bop, Gospel and more," Blase says via email from Cambridge, Mass. (where he currently lives). "We have quite a few things in the pike. We have more stuff from Cincy, as well as Hamilton, Youngstown, Columbus and more."Here are a few sample tracks from the compilation. Cincinnati Jug Band - "George Street Stomp"Sweet Papa Tadpole - "Keep Your Yes Ma'am Clean"Walter Coleman- "I'm Going To Cincinnati"For a look at more Record Store Day "Black Friday" exclusives, click here.
by Mike Breen
Tonight's the big night for local fans of The Afghan Whigs, as the reunited rockers host a homecoming concert at Bogart's in Corryville. If you don't have a ticket, try an online reseller or hit up the Short Vine scalpers because the show sold out instantly. There are, however, still tickets available for the Whigs' New Year's Eve show at Bogart's (click here). Another one of Cincinnati's greatest musical exports, Wussy, opens tonight's show (the band has been doing several dates with the Whigs on this first leg of the band's U.S. tour). CityBeat previewed the Whigs' return with a cover-story package in our issue out last week. Click here, here and here to read up on the group, then click below for a playlist of Whigs music videos. And check this space tomorrow for a full report from the show.UPDATE: According to the Bogart's Facebook page, doors open at 7:30 p.m.; the show starts at 9 p.m. (previously stated showtime was 7:30 p.m.). • R. Ring, the duo project from Kelley Deal of Dayton's The Breeders and Northern Kentucky's Mike Montgomery of Ampline/thistle fame, performs a free show tonight at Shake It Records in Northside at 7 p.m. The in-store is in honor of the twosome's debut official release, an orange-vinyl 7-inch single from Misra Records. Check out the single's "Fallout and Fire" below and click here to listen to R. Ring's live session for Daytrotter. Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
by Mike Breen
Boston R&B/Funk/Soul/Rock crew with many local ties returns to Cincy to record new album
Boston’s Barrence Whitfield & the Savages have returned to Cincinnati in a big way this week. The R&B/Soul-rockin’ crew has several local ties, including employing prolific locally-based drummer Andy Jody on the skins. The group also features Peter Greenberg of pioneering Boston band DMZ (as well as The Lyres) and groundbreaking Cincy Garage rockers The Customs (fellow Custom Jim Cole records with the band but doesn’t play live). The Savages recorded two albums in the ’80s; their 1985 Rounder Records release, Dig Yourself, was their last until the group's recent reunion activities. "I met Peter at The Customs reunion in 2008, drummed for them the following year, which led to him contacting me to record Savage Kings upon the reformation of the original Savages," Jody says about his initiation into the band. The Savages are in town to record a new album, returning to Ultrasuede studios, where they recorded Savage Kings. "We decided to record here, partly logistics and partly in tribute to King Records," Jody says, "and it was the same studio where The Customs cut (their trademark tune) 'Long Gone.' "Last night, Whitfield & the Savages debuted some of the new material at Shake It Records. Shake It, the label, released the Savage Kings in the States; The Customs' "Long Gone" single was the first release on the Shake It imprint.The Savages will be warming up for recording this weekend with a two-night stand (Friday and Saturday) at The Comet in Northside. Both shows are free and kick of at 10 p.m. (Friday a DJ warms things up and Saturday Customs-inspired local rockers The Long Gones fittingly open the show). Click here for more info on the band. Below is a live clip filmed in Paris last year. And here's a clip (with performances and interviews) from the band's earlier days when they were featured on the BBC.
by Mike Breen
Local Psych/Roots/Swamp Rock trio celebrates release today at Shake It
Cincinnati-spawned Psych/Rock/Pop trio Buffalo Killers' new album, the rockin' Dig. Sow. Love. Grow., is available at retailers (online or otherwise) today nationwide. The album — released on Alive NaturalSound Records — has already scored some great press praise. Magnet says the album "will no doubt beg the comparison to a handful of contemporary blues-rock bands like former tourmates the Black Keys and the North Mississippi Allstars," while Marquee Magazine's Brian Johnson gave the LP five out of five stars and wrote, "Dig. Sow. Love. Grow. sees the band absolutely stampeding back to their raucous rock sound, but it also goes the extra step by showcasing both the majestic side of the Buffalo Killers, while managing to convey the overwhelming and unbridled power of the group."Spinner has the full album streaming today on its site. Click here to give it a taste, then head to Northside's Shake It Records at 7 p.m. tonight to pick up a copy and listen to a few tunes performed live by the band in-store. The appearance is the official local "release party" for the record and kicks off the band's touring duties behind the release. Below, listen to the album's second track, "Hey Girl."
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Some readers are probably giddy with
excitement over Friday’s holiday (“4/20, dude”), while others are more
anticipating 4/21, otherwise known as Record Store Day. (More than a few
are probably psyched for both and have blocked out the entire weekend
for debauchery and music buying.)
by Mike Breen
Nationally-acclaimed Cincinnati foursome Wussy are set to release its fourth full-length album through Shake It Records, Strawberry, with a release show at Northside Tavern on Oct. 29. But if you pre-order the album now, you'll receive an instant download of the full release. Click here to download or just give a listen. There's also a free pre-release EP available that'll only cost you an email address here. The preview EP includes new album tracks "Pulverized" (check it out below, as well) and "Chicken," as well as "Crooked," off the limited release, Funeral Dress II. The national release date for Strawberry is Nov. 2.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Northside’s Shake It Records (often recognized as one of the best record stores in the Midwest) is again going all out with Record Store Day activities. Besides stocking most of the special recordings being offered exclusively on RSD (making it a daylong wet dream for serious record collectors), Shake It has put together a lineup of appearances for Saturday that gives some love to our local music-makers.
August 12 • Shake It Records/Riverbend
0 Comments · Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Most bands aspire to a large fan base that will eventually turn out in headliner-defining numbers, making its opening slot status a relic of leaner, hungrier times. The Canadian Indie/Folk/Pop twins of Tegan and Sara are certainly eager to attract more fans but they have absolutely no interest in abandoning their role as an opening act. They open for Paramore Thursday at PNC Pavilion.
Defining their career playing for audiences other than their own
0 Comments · Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Most bands aspire to a large fan base that will eventually turn out in headliner-defining numbers, making its opening slot status a relic of leaner, hungrier times. The Canadian Indie/Folk/Pop twins of Tegan and Sara are certainly eager to attract more fans but they have absolutely no interest in abandoning their role as an opening act.