by Charlie Harmon
125 days ago
Posted In: Music History
at 04:32 PM | Permalink
into the decorated light cast from the looming ceilings of the Taft Theatre,
it’s immediately apparent the space holds memory far outreaching your own. That
is, of course, unless you’re about 100 years old and happened to be around
Cincinnati in your early teens.
were the case, you’d probably remember the other awe-inspiring theaters that
entertained the Queen City in those days: the Albee, Shubert and Capitol, to
name a few — all astounding architectural representations of the heyday of local
theaters. Sadly, the Taft is the only of those grand structures that still
remains today, likely because it stands just far enough away from the heart of
downtown, just missing out on the urban redevelopment that has defined the city
for the past half-century or so.
was opened in January 1928, inaugurated by lines of suited men and
flower-hatted women who were willing to brace the 40-degree weather of the new
year for the warm spectacle of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a shining
new entertainment venue.
is part of the Cincinnati Masonic Center, then called a temple rather than
center, and is currently owned by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. In its
early days it would host Broadway shows, ballets and traveling performers and
artists, among other entertainment.
contrary to what some might think, is not a nod to the former United States
president William Howard Taft, although many likely know of the street we have
to honor him. Rather, the theater was a tip of the hat to William’s older
brother, Charles Phelps Taft, a major figure in the Cincinnati newspaper
business and a high-ranking Mason who lived just down the street from where the
theater now stands.
was very popular during its early days and became popular again in the new millennium,
the theatre went through a largely dormant period in the second half of the 20th
century. In fact, the Scottish Rite applied for demolition rights twice in the
1960s — although they were rejected both times — because they thought the theater
would be too expensive to renovate and wanted to replace it with a parking
hung on and didn’t fall into serious disrepair long enough for Music and Event
Management, a subsidiary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, to take over in
2010. The company headlined a $3.2 million renovation, less than a third of the
value the Masons had been quoted for renovations decades earlier.
finished in 2011, increased the size of the seats, lowering the original capacity
of 2,500 to about 2,300, as well as the size of the bathrooms — fewer venue
seats, but more toilet seats (does this say something about the needs of folks
in the new millennium?). They also took great consideration of modern concerns,
spending a heavy load on hooking the building up with eco-friendly air
the restoration and rejuvenation of the old theater, it now holds about 140
shows a year compared to roughly 90 before renovations, and the annual
attendance has also almost doubled. The theater is again one of Cincinnati’s
hot spots for entertainment, hosting all kinds of musical concerts as well as
theatre, being home to the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. With the upsurge
in activity at the beautiful old Masonic Amphitheatre, the tall walls can keep
holding and building memories of entertainment that life would be oh-so boring
by Mike Breen
137 days ago
Avi Buffalo plays a free show tonight at MOTR Pub at 10 p.m. Cincinnati’s Founding Fathers open.
Avi Buffalo began when Californian teenager Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg began home-recording songs in high school. After completing high school, he had a full band and an offer from esteemed indie label SubPop Records quickly followed. Avi Buffalo’s sublime, ethereal Indie Pop wowed critics and fans alike upon the release of the band’s self-titled SubPop debut in 2010. There’s a sense of wonder, romance and mystery in Zahner-Isenberg songs, something even more evident on the group’s highly anticipated sophomore full-length, At Best Cuckold, which was released in early September and drew even higher praise from critics. Fans of The Shins and Grandaddy will appreciate the wispy, beautifully melodic genius of Avi Buffalo’s songs, which caress the eardrums as they burrow into the listener’s cranium.
• Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s Indie Chamber Pop project San Fermin returns to Cincinnati tonight for a show at the new Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine. The ensemble performed one of its first shows ever at last year’s MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati; despite their debut album not being out yet, the concert still sold out. Check out Jason Gargano’s interview with Ludwig-Leone from last week's CityBeat here.
Tonight’s show at the Woodward kicks off at 8:30 p.m. with a performance by Mikhael Paskalev. Tickets are $17.
• AltPop singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson plays the Taft Theatre tonight. Chris Koza opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30.Michelson has built a large fan base and experienced chart success since her self-released debut album, Slow the Rain, came out in the middle of the last decade; her next album, Girls and Boys, was her breakthrough, garnering mainstream attention after various tracks were used on TV shows (most notably, Grey’s Anatomy). Despite offers from big corporate labels, Michaelson has remained largely a DIY artist, putting albums out through her own Cabin 24 label (though she now has distribution through the notoriously artist-friendly Mom + Pop Music imprint).
Here is the recently unveiled video for “Afterlife,” the second single from this year’s Lights Out album. The new LP was her most collaborative yet; written and recorded after bouts with illnesses and other issues that left her in a dark place, Michelson collaborated with a range of producers and fellow songwriters.
Click here for more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
by Mike Breen
One of the few “Alternative Revolution” bands left over from the ’90s, Primus, returns to Cincinnati tonight for a special show at the Taft Theatre. The veteran band is still one of the more unique and eccentric groups around that maintains a large fan base. That’s singularity might have something to do with their longevity. Primus has never had anything to do with flash-in-the-pan musical fads. Les Claypool and Co.’s latest is a blissfully oddball addition to an already blissfully oddball discography. Primus and the Chocolate Factory is a creative interpretation of the music from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film. Reviews from previous live shows on Primus’ tour for the album say the band opens with a set of Primus hits; the second set focuses on Chocolate Factory, replete with matching stage production. Check out Charlie Harmon’s preview of the show for CityBeat here.
Tickets for tonight’s show are $39.50-$45. Showtime is 8 p.m.
• One of Greater Cincinnati’s most unique annual music events, the Blues & Boogie Piano Summit, returns for its 15th year this weekend. For the 2014 edition, the showcase of international Boogie Woogie Blues pianists takes place over two nights (Friday and Saturday) at the Southgate House Revival.
The Boogie Piano Summit was founded by Ricky Nye, Cincinnati’s top purveyor of Boogie Woogie, a rollicking, highly rhythmic style of Blues piano that was influential in the formation and development of Rock & Roll and various styles of Blues, Jazz and Country music. This year’s edition of the Summit is dedicated to the “New Breed of Boogie Woogie,” showcasing three players all under the age of 30 (the same lineup performs both nights). The event features Switzerland’s Chris Conz, Iowa’s Chase Garrett and Germany’s Luca Sestak (watch clips from each below).
Click here for more on the show.
Tickets are $30 for a seat or $25 for standing room only. (Save $5 on tomorrow’s show by purchasing them in advance here.)
• The Rusty Ball, organized and starring fun, popular local ’80s cover group The Rusty Griswolds returns to the Duke Energy Convention Center tomorrow night at 8 p.m.. Tickets range from $75-$175. The show is the Griswolds' annual charitable event, with proceeds going to numerous local charities (the show has generated nearly $2 million for over 300 charities since it began in 2008). Special guest this year is ’80s/’90s Pop star Taylor Dayne. Click here for full details.
• Toronto Rock twosome catl. performs a free show Saturday at MOTR Pub. It’s a night of duos, as the Canadians are joined by locals Halvsies and Brooklyn’s Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne. Showtime is 10 p.m.
Here’s a clip for catl.’s bluesy, boogying “Gotta Thing for You” from their album Soon This Will All Be Gone. This spring the band released its fourth album, The Shakin’ House.
• Rootsy Nashville rockers The Wild Feathers play Oakley’s 20th Century Theater on Sunday. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $15 in advance or $17 day of show.
The Wild Feathers began at the start of the decade, when guitarist/singer Ricky Young and bassist/singer Joel King decided to put together a band that featured four lead vocalists, each as important as the next. The resulting ensemble, with the addition of guitarists/singers Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly (Ben Dumas plays drums) clicked instantly. The band signed to Warner Bros. and released its self-titled debut last year. Rolling Stone gave the album a glowing review, saying the LP brings to mind “everyone from the Allman Brothers ("Hard Wind") to the Jayhawks ("Got It Wrong”),” and that “the five-piece band fuses the essentials of rock, country, folk and blues into an intriguing new approach.”
• Influential British Metal crew Carcass performs Sunday at Covington’s Madison Theater. Considered pioneers of Grindcore and melodic Death Metal, the band was also a favorite of British taste-making DJ John Peel. Carcass split up in the ’90s but reunited in 2007 for a string of shows, leading up to their entire back catalog being reissued. In 2013, the group released its first album of new music in 16 years, Surgical Steel. Next week the band is releasing a five song EP, Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel, which features tracks recorded during the Surgical Steel sessions.
Here’s the lyric video for the EP’s “Livestock Marketplace”:
Read Brian Baker’s preview of the show here.
Carcass headlines the Madison Sunday with fellow Metal giants Obituary and guests Exhumed and Noisem. Showtime is 8 p.m. The show is open to all ages. Tickets are $25.
• The local chapter of the Guitars For Vets nonprofit organization, which provides musical therapy in the form of guitar lessons to military veterans at the local VA Hospital suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, presents its second annual benefit this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Jim and Jack’s on the River (jimandjacks.net). The event is free and features performances by noted local guitarists Sonny Moorman and Dick Buchholz, who will perform with Guitar For Vets students. There will also be a guitar auction and raffle to raise funds for the cause. For more information on Guitars For Vets, visit guitars4vets.org.
Click here for more live music events this weekend in Greater Cincinnati.
Friday • Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Les Claypool is what you might think of
as a dark magician of music. An accomplished though bizarre bassist and
vocalist, he is the driving mind behind the hardly definable band
Tuesday • Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The music bug bit Sarah Jaffe early. And hard.
Friday • The Ballroom at Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 10, 2014
While The Features have always
successfully translated their visceral energy in the studio, it’s their
live presentation that seals the deal. Get Featured in person.
Thursday • Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In these mean and vulnerable times, a
little light is a rare and welcomed event. The Polyphonic Spree is more
than happy to break up the clouds and provide a few glorious patches of
Wednesday • Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Gin Blossoms blew up and deflated quickly, going from mondo-selling MTV staples behind the relentlessly catchy single "Hey Jealousy" — an era-defying Power Pop oasis in a desert of Grunge — to extinct by 1997.
by Amy Harris
Renowned guitarist plays the Ballroom at Taft Theatre Tuesday night
Eric Johnson is one of America’s great guitar players. A natural guitarists of sorts, he has been touring since his late teen years in the ’70s and has worked with many great acts from a variety of genres — including Rock, Folk, Alt Country and Jazz — over that time. His Grammy Award-winning pedigree makes him still a very in-demand session musician and his own new takes on classic songs has made him a favorite on the festival circuit.
Johnson brings his unique stylings to the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. (Find tickets/more info here.) This is a can’t-miss show, for guitar fans in particular.
CityBeat: Do you have a favorite guitar that you play?
Eric Johnson: Yes, I have an old Fender Stratocaster that I play a whole lot. It’s probably my favorite guitar.
CB: Is it always with you?
EJ: It is pretty much. Sometimes I’ll tour without it and use other stuff. Also I worked with Fender and designed my own signature guitar so I use that a lot too.
CB: What’s the longest you have ever gone without playing guitar?
EJ: I don’t know, maybe a couple weeks.
CB: What do you think the best guitar solo of all time?
EJ: That would be really tough to say. Probably something musical and interesting to listen to over and over. Maybe something by Jimi Hendrix like “May This Be Love.” I wouldn’t say it’s the best guitar solo ever, but it comes to mind as a really wonderful solo.
CB: Johnny Winter, your fellow Texan, just passed away. Do you have any thoughts about him or fond memories?
EJ: I got to meet him when I was a teenager and he was always really nice and complimentary to me. I was really surprised to hear that he had passed away because I had heard that he was doing a lot better and (was) healthy and on the upswing. It came as a sad surprise.
CB: I had just seen him at JazzFest in New Orleans in May. He played great and looked healthy. I was shocked as well.
EJ: Yeah I didn’t expect it at all because he was doing so well.
CB: Is there a group of people or person that was most influential to you or helpful to you during your early career days?
EJ: Well, when I started in my very early career, Johnny Winter said some nice things about me and that helped me a lot. Steve Morse from the Dixie Dregs helped me out. Christopher Cross kind of helped get things going, and getting to play with Carole King and Cat Stevens — that was a real and official help to me.
CB: It’s so different now for bands trying to make it. Do you have any thoughts on if it’s easier or tougher now for bands that want to play music?
EJ: I think it’s a lot tougher. People are reluctant to pay for music and there are so many bands out now. With the use of the internet and YouTube, anybody can be creative, which is good in a way. If you want to have a career, you have to have something pretty dynamic and unique that is captivating to people.
CB: Last time I saw you perform was on the Experience Hendrix Tour. I have seen that show a couple times. What was the highlight of the tour for you?
EJ: Different ones. I remember the first ones I did, it was playing with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell. Then Mitch passed away. Getting to hang out with Billy Cox is really a great thing. I liked Doyle Bramhall’s set, and getting to play with all those musicians is a treat.
CB: What do you do with your down time when you are out on the road?
EJ: I just chill out or practice or take hikes and explore the city. I hang out with friends or family if they happen to be in the town I am in.
CB: Do you have any Cincinnati stories from the past when you have played here?
EJ: I have always enjoyed playing there. I have a couple close friends from Ohio. I have gone and hung out around the rivers and stuff. Cincinnati has some really great music shops there as well.CB: What can fans expect from your show here at the Taft?
EJ: We are doing a couple re-workings of tunes I like to play. We change them up so much they are kind of their own deal. I have this live record that just came out, Live in Europe, and I will do some of those songs, but I will do some new tunes and some re-workings of old tunes and tunes by other people. It will kind of be a cross-section of different stuff.
CB: Are you constantly working on new music or do you take breaks?
EJ: I try to constantly work on it, some kind of thing, whether collaboration with somebody else or playing on somebody else’s recording or something on my own.
CB: I know you started out doing a lot of sessions early in your career. Do you do any sessions now or work with any other artists?
EJ: Yeah, pretty much all the time. I do one a month at least.
CB: Are there any current bands that you would like to collaborate with or work with from a live music standpoint?
EJ: I’ll tell you a lot of different things I like. I dig that band Explosions in the Sky. I like Grizzly Bear. I think they are great. Tallest Man on Earth is a great Folk singer as well.
Tuesday • Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Coming on the scene in the late ’80s/early
’90s as a new guitar hot shot, Eric Johnson lit up the frets and the
music world with a Grammy Award win for his original instrumental,
“Cliffs of Dover,” in 1991. Though a multi-instrumentalist of the
highest order, he is mostly known for his fluid guitar pyrotechnics.