WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Charlie Harmon 10.14.2014 15 days ago
Posted In: Music History, Local Music at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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These Walls Have Heard It All: Sudsy Malone's

When researching Bogart’s for the first of these columns, I discovered a place that used to be its side-stream neighbor. Sudsy Malone’s, which sat just across the street from Bogart’s until 2008, may be a well-known name to older Cincinnatians, but to those of my generation I imagine it’s a legend unheard. Sudsy’s, as those who knew it well referred to it, was more than just a bar or music venue. It was a laundromat. A gathering place of locals who fancied having a beer and hearing a tune as their clothes turned over in bubbly cleanliness. And while it was only open for a fraction of the time many of the big venues around here have been, it occupies a deep space in the history of Cincinnati and its local music scene. Refined searches and several page scrolls through Google turns up hardly anything on the former venue. I finally found a memorial Facebook page that further fascinated me, still only offering a brief and general history but filled with posts by former loyal patrons reminiscing of great times at the bar, offering tales of hilarious happenings along with images, videos and old posters to fill it all in with color. I wanted to know more in hopes of giving Sudsy’s its due place in Cincinnati music history. To understand where it all started and where it went from there, I talked to Janine Walz, a former managing partner who was around during the establishment’s heyday. Sudsy’s was originally owned by John Cioffi and opened in 1986. As I understand it, the idea was inspired by similar businesses popping up in the region such as Dirty Dungarees in Columbus. They serve beer, so you can sip some foam while listening to the groan of washers and dryers, but Dungaree’s was never quite a bar. They served drinks in more of a refreshment center style. Cioffi’s vision for Sudsy’s was different. The decision for the name came from a lot of scrawling and scratching by Cioffi and his family. “They just had a long list of names that they would write down as they were brainstorming, and then they started crossing names out until it was down to Soapy Tucker’s or Sudsy Malone’s,” Walz says. Michael Sharp, the highly adored Renaissance man known for his ballet career in Cincinnati and who sadly just passed away in September, designed the character logos. Soapy Tucker was a sort of motherly figure, whereas Sudsy Malone was a true gangster. He became the face of the place, with his one-eyed look, suds-filled beer and coin-flipping hand becoming the calling card of the bar’s sign. Upon walking in the front door guests faced a 40-foot bar. “We would have competitions to see who could slide a mug full of beer the furthest down the bar without spilling it,” Walz recalls with a smile. They had little round cocktail tables covered with dark blue tablecloths and standard bar stools. The ceiling undulated with the movement of fans under which each had a globular light, providing a sort of soft ambiance to the bar. At the back of the building sat the laundry area, a brightly lit room where the fluorescent lights glinted off dozens of top-of-the-line washers and dryers. “I remember some of the bands complaining after a while about the laundry room lights because they would glow into the bar and kill the mood for the crowd,” Walz says. “We strung up some Christmas lights and would just turn those on instead when bands were on stage at night.” When the place first opened, however, the stage didn’t exist. Live music had never even been part of the idea. “It was only intended to be a laundromat with frosty-mug beer,” Walz says of the original plan. Walz recalls being the second laundry customer when Sudsy’s first opened. She worked at the Perkins just up Short Vine, and happened to be John Cioffi’s waitress the day he sat down to get food with the liquor agent that was supposed to be approving Sudsy’s license. “When they were finishing lunch he asked me to come a few doors down to talk to him about a job,” she says. “I figured it was the same distance from home and might pay better, so I went. Next thing I knew I was hired on as a manager.” In other words, she was there from the start. Walz watched the bar being built, and she knew it when it was just a place for people to wash clothes and have a drink, the crowd rarely exceeding 10 people. Only months after the place opened, a local band called The Thangs approached the owners with the idea to play music. Essentially, they just wanted a place to gig when nowhere else would let them. After some hesitation, Sudsy’s let them do it, and much to their surprise the first show was packed with about 100 people. Sudsy’s wasn’t expecting this, and they completely sold out of every drop of beer they had stocked at the time. With such outrageous success, The Thangs wanted to come back. Before long, music became the detergent to Sudsy’s suds, responsible for consistently bringing in large crowds. At first they charged a very minimal cover, mostly so they had something to give the band, and offered a free soft-drink ticket with entry for additional incentive. By ’87 they were charging a $5 cover, although they would still let people in for free if they had a basket of laundry. This often resulted in washers full of abandoned clothes the next day, as people brought the clothes to get in and then simply forgot about them in the excitement of music and merriment. Over time, Sudsy’s developed a massive collection of forsaken threads. This memory sparked another for Walz: “I remember this guy that would show up about once every year driving a station wagon. He would take the clothes people had left over time and pack every inch of his car, literally. He would do something with them, I think donate them.” As the place continually packed in people like foam to the top of a mug — thanks to the highly praised booking magic of Dan McCabe (Now of MOTR Pub) — problems inevitably occurred that now seem laughable. The carpet in the bar area became so matted and disgusting that it resembled tile, so Walz had it ripped out and replaced with wood. The men’s bathroom was a story of its own. Widely known as “Worst Men’s Bathroom,” Walz said she wouldn’t go near it, even almost buying stainless steel sheets to layer on it so she could just hose it down at night. At one point the fire department came in and completely cleared house, although there wasn’t a single flame or wisp of smoke. The building’s stated capacity was far under how many people they would pack in, and one night they had to count the crowd back in, one by one. Eventually they completely stopped the music for a period of time to get the building up to code. Despite its small size, Sudsy’s brought in now-major acts that were rising at the time — Beck, Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers — while also helping breed local acts like The Afghan Whigs and Over The Rhine. Almost all the music was original, save some special events like Grateful Dead night. Even on nights they weren’t playing themselves, members of bands could always be found among the crowd. The music scene at the time was like a circle, made up of bands and fans that truly appreciated music and enjoyed simply watching people express themselves creatively. Bands would come out and support other bands. Non-musicians would out come and support them all. Even bands and celebrities that were too big to play there live in the storybooks. Popularly known folks like Jackson Browne, "Weird Al" Yankovic and James Taylor stopped in to wash clothes or use the phone. Kate Pierson (B52s) and Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) came by during their Tide protest to pass out literature in affiliation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Walz recalls the afternoon before a Jefferson Airplane concert at Riverbend when the bar was pretty empty and there were four guys hanging out doing laundry and drinking a beer. They were worried about their cab not showing up and frantically trying to figure out how to get to their hotel — so Walz drove them. Only after dropping them off did she realize the reason the dudes were so worried about being late. Walz showed me the blueprint of the building, and again lit up when she pointed out the wash sink in the laundry room. “Some crazy celebrity took a bath in that sink one night,” she says. “I’m pretty sure it was Marilyn Manson.” And these stop-ins aren’t the only “celebrity” claims to fame for Sudsy’s. The bar itself was given awards throughout the years from Cincinnati’s former alternative weekly Everybody’s News, from “Best Looking Staff” to “Best Rock Club,” and even “Best Place to Ditch a Blind Date.” They were also named the best bar in Ohio in ’93 by Creem magazine, courtesy of The Connells. However, all the press, awards and celebrities aside, Walz says what really made the place special were the local patrons. “It was like a family, people were loyal,” she says. “They would look out for others, and for the bands, and would always defend Sudsy’s no matter what. Without the people, everybody, the people that watched the bands, the bands themselves, Sudsy’s was nothing.” The bar would even cater specifically to bands they knew well, for example stocking extra Hudy Delight when The Thangs would come back because their crowd loved to drink it. There were also folks she referred to as “family bums”. There was Archie Harrison, a local homeless man who would help clean at night for a little money. During the days he would just hang out, always being jolly and telling jokes sharing what little bit of anything he might have had that day to share. Then there was Sonny, a good-hearted man who hid behind a hulk of a body. Sonny would guard the back door, despite never being asked. “I remember one time one of the dryers was broken and the glass wasn’t in there to cover the hole,” she says. “We had an out of order sign but, you know, I guess it disappeared. No surprise there. Anyway, we had given him some money to do laundry and he used that dryer, just picking up the clothes as they fell out of hole and throwing them right back in. It was hysterical. When we asked him why he didn’t switch dryers he said he didn’t want to bother us and cause trouble.” As the Millennium rolled around, a lot of the core patrons began settling down and showing up less often. The crime in the area would keep people away, and the decline in the laundry business lowered their numbers even further. Walz had just put $12,000 into a new sprinkler system, still trying to keep the building code-worth, but she, too, was moving toward settling down. “I was pregnant at that pointm too, and I was just kind of done working in the bar business,” she says. That, along with clashes between Walz and McCabe about making money versus booking acts that would be huge for the scene led to Walz selling the establishment by 2002. While it seems that Sudsy’s wasn’t as glorious after that time as it once had been, the venue remained open until 2008, at which time it closed its doors for good. The old building at 2626 Vine Street remains a boarded up relic. One of the most revealing things Walz said during our talk about Sudsy’s was, “If you were there, you were part of the reason you are here talking to me today.” It saddens me that I didn’t have to opportunity to be there, but for all those who were, as well as for the others that might not have known what this place ever was, this is just a small piece of the big apple pie that was Sudsy Malone’s Rock n’ Roll Laundry & Bar.      
 
 
by Nick Grever 10.10.2014 19 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Live Blog at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: Brussels, Desertfest & Kitty Folders

When I first met Valley of the Sun, one of the first things Ryan ever said to me was, “So you’re the enemy,” with a huge grin on his face. He was obviously referencing something and was extremely happy that he was finally able to do so. I didn’t get it. For those of you as clueless as I was, it’s from Almost Famous, the story of a young boy who gets to live his dream and follow a band on a nationwide tour while writing a story for Rolling Stone. In it, one of the band members continually calls his newfound follower the enemy because he sees everything — the good, the bad, the ugly, the drunken — and he can report on it all. As I sit on a plane, 53 minutes away from Brussels, I finally get the reference (it doesn’t hurt that I watched Almost Famous for the first time the night before we left). So far I’ve watched Aaron drink wine straight from the bottle, seen Nick blatantly break the “no smoking” rule on international flights and learned just how cutthroat the game of Dibs can be. Ladies: Yes we are staring at you and yes we are claiming each and every one of you. Also, selfies. So many selfies.It’s been pretty calm so far. Seating has been a breeze, Aaron and I prefer aisle, Ryan and Nick are window guys. Our connections have been effortless, leaving plenty of time for piss breaks and pizza runs. The flights were all smooth and filled with enough dibs-worthy frauleins to keep us busy the whole time. Even our luggage was fairly easy to manage. Only two gear bags needed some re-Tetrising, but it was easily corrected. The trip out of the airport in Brussels was a bit more stressful. We had a hard time corralling our luggage, we couldn’t find our van and Ryan was stopped by an adorable drug dog and his less than adorable handler. But it was all sorted out and we headed out for Desertfest, our first show in Antwerp, Belgium. The ride was short and we were the first band to arrive. We used our free time to track down some Belgian waffles; Arnaud’s bilingual skills helped us procure food that we actually recognized and pay for said food. We also sorted out usual tour things like reorganizing the van into less of a clusterfuck, catching up with old friends, making introductions to new members and passing out itineraries. Ryan was kind enough to provide us with a day-by-day breakdown of times and locations, all set inside a classy Lisa Frank folder. Because kittens are metal.Merch is being sold by an outside agency, so I get the night to enjoy some of Stoner Rock’s finest acts, like Witch Rider and Truckfighters. I will be in charge of filming the band with Nick’s Go Pro cameras. No guarantee of quality can be made, but considering our mutual state of exhaustion, I think it’ll be forgiven. Tonight’s sure to be an interesting start to tour. We’ve each been given six drink tickets, we’re running on about 30 minutes of sleep apiece and the boys are playing to a sold-out fest with attendees flying in from as far away as Japan. It’s definitely a trial by fire scenario, but I think they’re up to the challenge. They just might need a caffeine injection between now and then. I think I’m going to wrap it up for today but I want to start a tally here that will hopefully carry on through the tour. We’re up to two Spinal Tap references/situations today. Check back in to see if we can run into any more locked doors later this week!CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
 
 
by Mike Breen 10.10.2014 20 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Music Video at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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WATCH: Zebras in Public’s “Blown Away” Video

Cincinnati’s Zebras in Public recently unleashed a new music video for its hard-charging rocker “Blown Away,” a highlight of the band’s 2014 full-length release, Paradise Leg.  Directed by the band’s drummer, Chris Himes, the rumbling music is matched up with footage of the band members zooming around Full Throttle Indoor Karting in Springdale. The fast-paced visuals are a great match for the high-octane nature of the song.  Paradise Leg is currently available through most major online music retailers. Chick here and here for more on Zebras in Public. The band's next local show is Oct. 25 at Longworth's in Mount Adams. This spring, CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with the band about its history and the release of Paradise Leg. Check it out here. 
 
 
by Mike Breen 10.09.2014 20 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Festivals at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Mayesfest Music Event Moves Indoors

Bellevue Bluegrass/Americana festival cancels outdoor events, moves music to Moerlein Taproom

With cool, rainy weather in the forecast, this weekend’s planned Mayesfest Bluegrass & Americana Festival in Bellevue has been cancelled. But with artists traveling into Northern Kentucky for the outdoor, riverside event, and many fans excited for it, organizers have decided to present what they’ve called on their Facebook page a “mini Mayes,” moving the music indoors to Over-the-Rhine’s Christian Moerlein Taproom (1621 Moore St., near the Shell gas station on Liberty), which hosted two stages during the recent MidPoint Music Festival.   The event will now begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and feature a stripped-down but still excellent lineup of local and touring Bluegrass and Americana artists.  Here is the new lineup: FRIDAY                                             5 p.m. Price Hill Hustle                        6:30 p.m. Al Scorch                                 8 p.m. Morgan O'Kane                  9:30 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers            SATURDAY                                                         5 p.m. Honey & Houston         6:30 p.m. Jack Grelle            8 p.m. Woody Pines                            9:30 p.m. Morgan O'Kane Visit mayesfest.com or the event’s Facebook page for more info and further updates. 
 
 
by Nick Grever 10.09.2014 20 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Live Music, Live Blog at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Journey with the Valley of the Sun: An Introduction

CityBeat contributor heads to Europe with local Rock band, hopes he packed enough underwear

(Editor’s Note: CityBeat contributor Nick Grever leaves today for Europe, where he’ll be on tour with Cincinnati Rock group Valley of the Sun as the band’s “merch guy.” Nick has graciously agreed to blog about his journey for citybeat.com over the next three weeks. Below is his first installment, an introduction written last night when he was [possibly over] packing for the trip.)Hello, my name is Nick and since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve dreamt about living the Rock & Roll lifestyle. There’s just one problem – I can’t play music worth a damn. As a freelancer for this fine publication, I have been able to get a taste of my dream but one element has always eluded me: touring. So imagine my excitement when local rockers Valley of the Sun invited me to work merch for them on their second European tour. I just never expected to be touring the world in a hotdog costume.Maybe a little background is in order. I’ve known the Valley guys (guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier, drummer Aaron Boyer and bassist Ryan McAllister) for several years, culminating in a profile piece in the pages of CityBeat for their first full-length release, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. With that release (and my expertly devised words of praise, no doubt), the band has risen to new heights. Valley of the Sun signed with Fuzzorama Records and has already toured Europe once, in support of Desert Rock titans Truckfighters. Now it’s time for them to return for another three week tour for shows ranging from massive fests to small dives. We’ll be traveling throughout Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, joined by Valley’s sound guy across the pond, Arnaud Merckling. In their infinite wisdom, the band invited me along to run their merch; Mangrenade’s Nick Thieme is also on the trip, playing bass in McAllister’s absence.I’m writing this the night before we leave and I’m still not entirely sure what to expect. But here’s what I do know: I’ll be writing constantly, I probably over packed and Ryan, Nick and Aaron are really excited to see me run around in a venue in my new skeleton onesie (far warmer and more comfortable than it has any right to be) and hotdog ensemble.These blog entries will ultimately be a record of our trip but it’s going to be more than just a recap of the shenanigans we’re sure to get into and the excellent food we’re sure to eat — although expect a few Instragram worthy images of foreign cuisine, too. (I love me some sausage.) It’s going to examine all the parts of tour life that arise over the course of our trip. What is it like to sit in a small van with four other guys for eight hours when none of us have showered for three days? Is German beer really as good as people say? What happens at 4 a.m. when Ryan starts spouting off about the multiverse as we sit around a bar in Switzerland? Seriously, did I pack enough underwear? These hard hitting questions, along with my observations and insights, will fill these digital pages. Hopefully they’ll be interesting enough for you to come back and read some more. Expect updates at least every few days — it all depends on how reliable the wifi is in Europe. Hey, that’s another blog entry topic!
 
 
by Mike Breen 10.09.2014 20 days ago
Posted In: Music Video, Local Music at 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

WATCH: Founding Fathers’ ‘Welcome Home’ Video

Early this year, Cincinnati Indie Dance Rock crew Founding Fathers released a tease of their forthcoming debut full-length release with a music video for their funky track, “Stop Drop and Roll.” Last week, the band unveiled another cool video clip to accompany its fantastic new song, “Welcome Home.”  The clip, directed and edited by Peter House, starts off with a young man finding out he’s lost his job after he wakes up presumably hungover and his car won’t start. From there, the video follows his efforts to find a new gig, applying at local haunts like Mac’s Pizza Pub, Union Terminal and The Esquire movie theater to no avail. Frustrated, he returns home and loses himself in a wild party that happens to be going down. It’s a cool clip for an even cooler song, loaded with infectious hooks and grooves (think a tight mix of LCD Soundsystem and Walk the Moon), which should have fans and non-fans alike excited to hear more from Founding Fathers.  You can listen to earlier Founding Fathers material here, while "Stop Drop and Roll" and "Welcome Home" can be downloaded for free here. Keep tabs on the band through their Facebook page here for upcoming shows and updates. 
 
 

Public Celebrates New EP, Walk the Moon Tour Launch

Plus, Cincinnati Dronescape captures the sound of the city, Mayes Fest returns to Bellevue and Rocktober brings more local music to Fountain Square

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 8, 2014
AltPop trio Public celebrates the release of a new EP, Let's Make It, and its impending tour with Walk the Moon this weekend at Rohs Street Cafe. Plus, the new Cincinnati Dronescape project uses natural "found sounds" distinct to Cincinnati, Rocktober on the Square offers free live music every Friday and Mayes Fest 2014 comes to Bellevue.  
by Mike Breen 10.07.2014 22 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, New Releases at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Sounds of the City

A uniquely adventurous, location-based recording project will receive a fitting “listening party” this weekend

The Cincinnati Dronescape recording project stemmed from an idea forged by local resident Isaac Hand over the summer. Hand and a friend went around town recording sounds that they felt were “quintessentially Cincinnati.” The found sounds, Hand says, included “the sound of the Western Hills Viaduct, the train yards, the hum of the (University of Cincinnati Medical Center), the Moerlein Brewery” and other location-specific noises.  They then distributed the sounds to various musicians, who mixed them into their own unique compositions. The results are featured on the mesmerizing and creative Cincinnati Dronescape album, which, along with Cincinnati Drones (an album featuring the original source-material soundscapes), is available to stream and download via cincinnatidronescape.bandcamp.com (see below; hard copies can also be found in local-music friendly record retailers in the area). The sonic adventurers featured on the album include ADM, umin, Molly Sullivan, Jarrod Welling-Cann, Zijnzijn Zijnzijn and several others. <a href="http://cincinnatidronescape.bandcamp.com/album/cincinnati-dronescape-2">Cincinnati Dronescape by Cincinnati Dronescape</a><a href="http://cincinnatidronescape.bandcamp.com/album/cincinnati-drones">Cincinnati Drones by Cincinnati Dronescape</a>This Saturday at 7 p.m., the project participants will gather in the West End at the intersection of Gest and Summer streets (near Union Terminal) and play Cincinnati Dronescape from several cars simultaneously. Copies of the CD will also be available for purchase at the listening party event. For more information on the project and listening party, click here.
 
 
by Mike Breen 10.06.2014 23 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Gentlemen’ Turns 21

Cincinnati band’s landmark album to get the “deluxe edition” treatment from Rhino Records

Yesterday (Oct. 5) marked the 21st anniversary of the release of Gentlemen, the major label debut from Cincinnati-spawned rockers The Afghan Whigs, which helped catapult the band into the international spotlight. To celebrate the album reaching drinking age, Rhino Records is releasing a deluxe edition later this month under the name Gentlemen at 21. For the album’s birthday last night, the band (which recently performed a hometown show at the MidPoint Music Festival and is in the midst of a tour behind its new album, Do to the Beast) played an expansive set at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg. With tickets priced at $21, last night's show reunited the Whigs with special guest Usher, doing a version of the superstar’s “Climax” (the entities first teamed up at last year’s South by Southwest fest in Texas). Due Oct. 28, the Gentlemen at 21 set will be available digitally and as a two-CD collection. A vinyl version of the original remastered album will also be released Oct. 28, followed by a three-platter deluxe vinyl edition with all of the bonus material, which is being issued for Record Store Day's Black Friday event on Nov. 28.Gentlemen at 21’s bonus material will include all of the original demos for the album, which were recorded in Cincinnati at bassist John Curley’s Ultrasuede studio. The set will also feature rarities, including radio sessions and B-sides. The Whigs’ version of fellow Cincy greats The Ass Ponys’ track “Mr. Superlove” (originally issued on a vinyl single from local label Mono Cat 7, with the Ponys covering the Whigs’ “You My Flower” on the flip side) is also slated for the Rhino release. Here is Gentlemen at 21’s full track listing: Disc One 1.     “If I Were Going” 2.     “Gentlemen” 3.     “Be Sweet” 4.     “Debonair” 5.     “When We Two Parted” 6.     “Fountain And Fairfax” 7.     “What Jail Is Like” 8.     “My Curse” 9.     “Now You Know” 10.   “I Keep Coming Back” 11.   “Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer”   Disc Two The Demos 1.     “If I Were Going” 2.     “Gentlemen” 3.     “Be Sweet” 4.     “Debonair” 5.     “When We Two Parted” 6.     “Fountain And Fairfax” 7.     “What Jail Is Like” 8.     “My Curse” 9.     “Now You Know” 10.    “Brother Woodrow” The B-Sides 11.   “Little Girl Blue” 12.   “Ready” 13.   “Mr. Superlove” 14.   “Dark End Of The Street” 15.   “What Jail Is Like” (Live) 16.   “Now You Know” (Live) 17.   “My World Is Empty Without You/I Hear A Symphony” (Live)   Tracks 1-8 Demos Recorded At Ultrasuede Tracks 9-10 Instrumental Rough Mixes, Ardent Studios Tracks 15-17 Recorded Live For KTCL At The Mercury Café, Denver, CO, May 10th, 1994 Also this past weekend, the Whigs’ YouTube channel debuted Ladies & Gentlemen, The Afghan Whigs, an hour and a half-long road documentary chronicling the band’s touring of Europe in the early ’90s. The film, produced by the Whigs’ longtime sound engineer Steve Girton, was screened at Newport’s Southgate House in 2005 during the Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test, but has otherwise only been circulated as a much-coveted bootleg. Check it out below:
 
 
by Nick Grever 10.01.2014 29 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Music News at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Mainstay Rock Bar Calls It a Day

Remembering the downtown live music club as it prepares for its final weekend

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Mainstay Rock Bar will be celebrating its final weekend before closing its doors after five and a half years in operation. As I prepared to write about the closure of my favorite local bar, I struggled to figure out just how to voice my sadness. I’m still not entirely sure how but I did think of a ton of stories that exemplify why Mainstay was so special to me. I started going to Mainstay back in college before it was even Mainstay. It was called The Poison Room and my friends and I used to go to their weekly ’80s dance night. My memories of those nights are fond (if a bit hazy), but I was too new to the scene for the closure to upset me too much. When the location reopened with a new moniker and a makeover, I was happy to have another place that catered to my musical tastes. But it took some time for my love of Mainstay to truly grow. Looking back, the closures of the original Southgate House and Mad Hatter in Northern Kentucky are what sparked my connection to Mainstay. With two of my normal haunts gone in the space of months, I needed another place to go and Mainstay was at the top of a fairly short list. I started only going for shows, but the bar soon lived up to its name. It transitioned from just a music venue to a reliable fallback to my first choice. Need a good burger? Mainstay. Want to sing some karaoke? Mainstay. Interested in hearing some Rock & Roll? Mainstay. Do you prefer bartenders that actually know what they’re talking about? Mainstay. Of course, a major part of Mainstay Rock Bar’s appeal to me was that middle word — the “Rock.” Mainstay has been host to some of the best local and regional bands the area has to offer. In recent years, the selection of bands and performances has also become more and more eclectic. There are few bars that can host a Hip Hop show one night, a burlesque performance the next and a Surf Rock show to round out the weekend. Mainstay has proven time and time again that its dedication to the local music scene is genuine by taking the time to champion bands on the rise and hosting all sorts of community events like the ubiquitous Midpoint Music Festival. And they’ve done it all without charging a cover on any shows save the biggest of the big. If you wanted to take a chance on a new band or genre, Mainstay was the place to go. At least you had a fantastic beer selection to console you if you didn’t like what you heard. For all of my wild and crazy memories, the ones I have of my time with the staff are the fondest. Memories like an interview being derailed when the entire band and I took a minute to stare at the hot new bartender (sorry Becky, hopefully Mangrenade and I tipped you well that night). Or pulling the curtain for Dandelion Death with Scary. Or riding Chris’s knee scooter to the bathroom, weaving in between a busy Friday night crowd. Or the little things, like Lena taking the time to listen to my post-breakup moaning and buying me a “girl’s suck” shot when it was all said and done. The staff (past and present) of Mainstay consists of an insane bunch of people who love the music, love the atmosphere and know how to have a good time. And that attitude coursed through the entire venue night after night. To be a part of it at any point in time was intoxicating. To be welcomed in as a friend and included in the shenanigans was humbling. As I became more of a fixture of the establishment, the more I grew to know the staff and feel accepted. I’ve frequently called Mainstay my Heavy Metal Cheers; it’s the only bar in Cincinnati where I can walk in and be greeted with a handshake or high five and see my favorite beer and shot sitting on the bar. As I reach the end of this article, I still don’t know how to say just what Mainstay means to me. It’s where I sang dozens of Danzig songs, watched hundreds of bands take the stage, spent several birthdays and drowned far too many brain cells. There isn’t a place in Cincinnati quite like Mainstay and its closing will leave a pretty big hole in my heart. But I wanted to say thank you for the five and a half years of memories and raise a glass – full of Jameson, of course – to the people that made that place so special.  For your final weekend, I’ll be sitting at the bar, enjoying a shot and a brew at Mainstay — where everybody knows your name… or at least your favorite drink.
 
 

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