by Leyla Shokoohe
Ahhhh, MidPoint! I look forward to it every year. September, for this lady, holds promise, romance, intrigue and MPMF. I started my MPMF.13 off right: grabbed a baller parking spot right after work in front of Coffee Emporium, grabbed a baller iced Americano and grabbed my (you thought I was going to say baller? How presumptuous) press pass. I think I did say out loud to myself: Let's GOOOO.The first band I wanted to see was my pal Molly Sullivan at 8:15 p.m. at Japp's Annex. I had some time to kill, so I hung out on the Midway. Sidewalk Chalk was still grooving; they've got a rocking brass section, shimmery drums and soulful singers. I previously saw them on Fountain Square last year as part of the Indie Summer Series, and really enjoyed everything they had to offer. Great fun way to kick off MPMF. I wandered around the Midway for a bit, checking out the numerous box trucks that comprise the Box Truck Carnival presented by ArtWorks. The Midway itself is pretty awesome, easily accessible and kind of reminds me of a corral for progressively more intoxicated adults. I don't mean that in a derogatory way; I, too, enjoy consuming beer freely in the open on 12th Street. The Box Trucks this year held a lot of potential — I wrote about the Midway for the MPMF Guide in CityBeat a few weeks back, so I was well-briefed on what to expect. Well, kind of.The first truck I checked out was the Glam Rock Box Truck. Anyone who knows me is aware of the siren call the word "karaoke" holds, so of course I went in.The premise was great (for karaoke nerds like me), but box trucks just don't do karaoke justice, honestly. There are a number of songs to pick from, but not as many karaoke staples as one might expect. And for being called the Glam Rock truck, I didn't really see any Glam Rock hits on the list. The ladies running the truck seemed to be having a good time, though, so I did my best version of "Semi-Charmed Life" and went off to continue leading mine. I wandered around the Midway some more, stopping in the Short Order Poetry Box Truck, which was 19 kinds of adorable. You step inside the truck, get paired with a stranger who asks you random questions (hi Adam!) and then they'll create a poem, on a typewriter no less, just for you, ready in just about 10 minutes. Mine had a lot of death and blood and dream imagery, just how I like 'em. I listened to a few minutes of stand-up in the comedy Box Truck before heading to Lucy Blue's. I notoriously put off eating until I'm ravenous, so I decided to carb-up on pizza in preparation for the long night ahead. I met up with friends at Japp's and we ordered drinks and chatted before wandering to the Annex to hear Molly Sullivan. Every time I see Molly perform, I'm more and more impressed. She's really fleshed her sound out (the addition of friends on the drums and bass is the perfect complement to her singer/guitarist combo), and lots of people are noticing — she recently won the Last Soloist Standing contest at FBs, grand prize being a large cash sum. Molly's a charming vocalist; her voice is flexible and searching, and she's always been good at melancholy intonation. I heard a fresh version of "So It Goes" from the No No Knots days, and some of her newer material had an almost Jewel-when-she-still-had-a-snaggle-tooth quality to it. I really, really dug it. So did a number of other people — quite a dedicated following was there. I'd say Molly Sullivan's first solo show at MPMF was a great success. I had been planning all week to see Kurt Vile at Grammer's, but there was about half an hour before he was supposed to go on and I ran into my pal Caitlin, who told me the mythical history of Shuggie Otis. I was intrigued, so I walked with her to Washington Park. I still don't know how I feel about the fact that they've moved the stage to the permanent pavilion instead of in front of Music Hall; there's such a grandiosity to playing in front of that gorgeous building that just isn't matched by the pavilion — and I know there are lots of sad Instagram accounts crying right now — but I understand the convenience. We'll see how I feel about it tonight. Anyway. Shuggie Otis. Skyrocketed to fame by age 21 and receded into the abyss of obscurity? And then he joins David Byrne's label and comes back? Tell me more. Shuggie had a groovy Soul/Funk sound brought to life by a huge backing band, complete with a stellar saxophonist. Glad I caught a few minutes, but I was on a Kurt Vile MISSION, so I started the trek to Liberty Street and Grammer's.Well, by way of my car. I grabbed a jacket and was headed north, but as I walked by Below Zero Lounge, I heard a voice too great not to stop. If Ryan Adams and Adam Levine and the bearded lead singer from Maps & Atlases had an Asian baby, it would be St. Lenox. He was just plain awesome. I wanted to hang out with him, I wanted him to sing an album of lullabies, I wanted to stay for his whole set, but I'll be damned if I wasn't going to see Kurt Vile.I didn't see Kurt Vile. Whoever guessed that two paragraphs ago knows that my ominous overtone was poorly done. I got stopped again walking by MOTR, this time by Fort Shame from Columbus, Ohio. I feel like so many times when a woman is a lead singer of a rock outfit, the instinct is to compare her to another female vocalist, but it has to be one who's personality is somehow perceived as similar, or stylistically akin (and I do mean clothes, not just shredding), so I'm not going to compare Fort Shame's Sue Harshe to anyone, because I don't think that's fair and, honestly, it's a little reductive. I'm just going to say that she does credit to anyone singing Rock. And the band had a star saxophonist, which was super fun. I did hear via Twitter that Kurt Vile sang the word "yeah" for like fifteen minutes at the beginning of his set, so I said it a bunch to myself as I walked back to the Midway to hear Ha Ha Tonka and didn't feel too bad about it.The first time I saw Ha Ha Tonka was two (or three? who knows) Midpoints ago at The Drinkery. These guys have all gotten hair cuts since then, but they sound even better. They sound like what folky Rock cut with a raucous night of varying emotions that ends with hanging out with friends and beer staring at the river would sound like. You know the kind of night I'm talking about. They're just the tops. Tight and talented musicality and great stage presence is only topped by their impeccable four-part harmony. Just magnetic. Second or third time's the charm, gentlemen. I finished my night seeing Bleached at the Know Theatre, which last year held all the buzz bands I wished I'd been able to get inside and see (something about being "at capacity"), and I wasn't disappointed. Punk Rock girls with a guy drummer. Ramones cover. Misfits cover. I thoroughly enjoyed my attempt at head-banging AND the fact that these girls didn't try too hard. I feel like a lot of Punk-esque bands nowadays are all like "I AM PUNK! LOOK, SEE, I AM!" but Bleached was more like, "Fuck Punk. We're just Bleached." Own it, dudes.And then I walked back to my car and went home and passed right the heck out. I'll see ya at MPMF for round two tonight.
by Mike Breen
Don't wanna walk the MPMF route? Bring a bike (or just rent one!)
With the addition of the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre and Mainstay Rock Bar, the footprint of this year's MidPoint Music Festival has expanded, stretching from East Liberty (where the Grammer's tent/Dewey's Pizza Stage is located) to Fifth Street, near Fountain Square. That's a hike, especially if you're trying to go from Over-the-Rhine to Downtown (or vice versa) to see another performer, and you need to do so a little more quickly than your legs will carry you. Soon, MidPoint will help showcase the currently-under-construction streetcar, which will be looping around the area and be a convenient way to speed from one stage to another. But for now, you're going to have to hoof it.Or bike it.You are encouraged to bring your own bike — thanks to a partnership between the City of Cincinnati and MidPoint, there will be tons of places to lock them up. Your bicycle can legally be locked up onto parking meters and sign poles throughout Over-the-Rhine and Downtown and, below, you can view a map that shows the 11 temporary bike "corrals" that have been added close to most MPMF venues this year. Those are in addition to the racks already available in the area. "We want to encourage festival goers to try going car-less this year. With all of the venues located in such a compact area in OTR and Downtown, this is a great opportunity to experience how easy it is to get around town on a bicycle," Michael Moore, Director of the Department of Transportation & Engineering, is quoted as saying in a press release. If your own ride is in the shop, you're coming in from out of town or you just don't want to worry about it, you can easily rent one at the fest. The Cincinnati Bike Center is offering discount bicycle rentals at a rental station set up at the MidPoint Midway, located on 12th Street, between Vine and Walnut streets. The rental bikes will be available at a flat rate of $15 for a four-hour rental.Here's a look at the map featuring the bicycle parking areas and MPMF venues. For your own PDF copy, click here.
Q&A with MidPoint booking master Dan McCabe
2 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
With Cincinnati, when looking at the past
five to 10 years of growth, it’s hard not to give a lot of credit to the
artists and musicians who’ve consistently created intriguing art for
the citizens, as well as the fans and leaders who support and assist
Plus, news on some of the many "unofficial" MPMF activities going down this week
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It's MidPoint Music Festival week in Cincinnati! News on some of the festival's late-breaking additions, as well as a couple of the many "unofficial" MPMF events.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club re-emerges from some difficult, dark times with 'Specter at the Feast'
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
On Specter of the Feast, MidPoint Music Festival headliners Black Rebel Motorcycle Club showcases both the band’s buzzing Rock & Roll side and its more atmospheric approach.
by Mike Breen
Indie Orchestral Folk troupe from Athens to showcase twice during next week's MPMF
Athens, Ohio's Orchestral Folk Rock ensemble The Ridges has become a Cincinnati favorite thanks to frequent visits, including during several past MidPoint Music Festivals. The band is returning to MPMF this year for a pair of showcases. Since last year's MPMF appearance, the group has toured extensively (hitting the South, Midwest and East Coast hard), played seven (!) showcases at Austin, Texas' South By Southwest and, most recently, opened for Indie stars Ra Ra Riot. The Ridges will play MidPoint again this year, on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Mr. Pitiful's on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. The band made a promotional video for its official MPMF showcase, featuring a clip of an unreleased song called "Shadows." In addition to the official showcase, The Ridges have curated the musical lineup for FotoFocus Presents: The MidPoint Sessions, an afternoon "day party" to celebrate the concert photography exhibit Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience at the Art Academy of Cincinnati's Childlaw Gallery (1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, just off the MidPoint Midway). Though not officially affiliated with MidPoint, the showcase and exhibit are great examples of some of the cool auxiliary events that are scheduled around official MPMF events. The exhibit will be open longer during MidPoint; fans can check out the show until 9 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 10 p.m. on
Sept. 27-28. The exhibit
closes Sept. 29.For The MidPoint Sessions, The Ridges have invited some of their fellow Ohio musician pals (and fellow MPMF 2013 showcasers) to join in on Saturday, Sept. 28's event at the Art Academy. Cincinnati's The Happy Maladies and Molly Sullivan, as well as Columbus, Ohio's great Indigo Wild are also slated to play. The performances are being filmed by The Queen City Project; look for video of the artists' Sessions after MidPoint.
Plus, King Records Month continues and more
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Bluegrass for Babies, featuring local artists Wild Carrot and Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, returns to Sawyer Point Saturday to raise money for the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Plus, King Records Month continues, CityBeat hosts a pre-MidPoint Music Festival party, Jerry's Little Band turns 20 and Abiyah Presents Hip Hop @
The Comet presents a special "open mic" edition.
by Brian Penick
Editor's Note: Brian Penick of local music promotions company The Counter Rhythm Group has been guest blogging for CityBeat monthly to provide a behind-the-scenes look at his journey to release his interactive industry eBook, Musicians’ Desk Reference. Click here for his previous blog entries.Enough with the chitchat — let’s get down to business.For those of you that have been reading/following/listening/talking about Musicians’ Desk Reference
over the past several months, you might still have questions, and that
is OK. At times throughout this process I have even found myself taking a
step back to consider what exactly I am doing.
In reality, that is what this entire project is about —
questioning. Specifically, it's about the questions artists inevitably
are faced with in the music industry. You should question it all,
everything, all the time. That where this idea came from and, frankly,
how I live my life. And I would say it is working out pretty well.
But the time for questions is over — so let’s see some answers.
What is Musicians’ Desk Reference? It’s a music
industry progression eBook. What does that mean? It is an online
platform (website) that helps artists work through common scenarios in
the music industry, such as starting out, recording, promoting, touring
and building a team. It is a time management system that conforms to
your schedule and your level of interest. There is even a tool that
builds documentation for you, in addition to the packaging, including
several useful items, such as paper stock and labels for at-home
This platform is designed for everyone — from beginners to
professionals, and all those in between. You don’t like reading? That’s
fine; you can adjust it to recall very minimal information. You like
reading thousands of lines worth of information? Well, friend, you’re in
luck. Click away on our lists and just let us know you’re okay a few
months after filling your head with useful and practical information. If
you are a musician that is interested in furthering your career to any
degree — from a local to a national level — this eBook is for you.
Where did this come from? Me, actually. I am a musician
and have been for half my life. I have spent years in vans, trailers,
buses, airplanes, trains and even on boats playing original music all
over the world. I have always been fascinated with the music industry
and how it works, always wondering why things happened the way that they
This fascination led me start The Counter Rhythm Group, an
artist development/marketing/event promotion company — built by
artists, for artists — offering assistance groups that are younger and
newer than ones traditionally serviced. TCRG has worked to develop a
range of artists, from those that are still just starting out to some
that you can hear on commercial radio stations, all over the course of
almost three years. When the requests outnumbered the amount of work we
could handle, I decided to build a public platform based on our actual
working models. Fast-forward to the present day and you have Musicians’ Desk Reference.
We have worked tirelessly for months (beyond the almost
two years of development) building a robust product that is jam-packed
with information for the user and I can honestly say that we are still
impressed, even after staring at it for hours on end. We’ve even been
testing the specifics on a young Cincinnati-based band called PUBLIC,
and we are proud to say that things are going very well.
The best part is that the wait is almost over. I am very excited to announce that Musicians’ Desk Reference
will be available exclusively to the Cincinnati market at CityBeat’s
Midpoint Music Festival, three weeks ahead of the national launch in New
York City at the CMJ Music Marathon.
Hear that, Cincinnati? We love you so much that we are
giving you the opportunity to have this in your hands well before anyone
What’s that? You want more? All right!
We are also partnering with the fine folks at Midpoint
Music Festival as a sponsor, offering a complimentary full version of
the eBook to all showcasing artists. That’s right, you play and it’s
yours! But what if you did not get selected to the festival but still
want a copy? We will be on-hand all three days at our sponsorship tent— located at the MidPoint Midway Stage at Twelfth and Vine
streets (right next to the MPMF box office) — selling the eBook for 25%
off its regular retail price. We will also be presenting live demos of
the site with the development team available for questions.
I could not be more proud of the work that has gone into
this project and I am forever in debt to the dedicated folks that have
been behind me from the start (including CityBeat music guy Mike
Breen — someone please give that man a gift basket full of money for all
he does for the Cincinnati music scene). (Editor's note #2: Large, unmarked bills only, please.)
We really hope to level the playing field in the music industry with Musicians’ Desk Reference,
educating artists and helping them to build a strong foundation to work
from. We all have a similar goal for success in mind, however we define
it, and I want this project to give every individual that chance.
As artists, let’s take pride in our actions and help our
peers. Let’s step away from the competitive mentality and work together
instead of against each other. Let’s form a music community and
celebrate the opportunities that are available to us. This is our
industry and this is our time. Musicians’ Desk Reference: Empowering Artists to Progress Through the Modern Music Industry.Here is an introductory video for MDR's release:
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 Mike Breen
Cincinnati Darkwave duo releases creeping new clip for latest single
In February of this year, Cincinnati area
Electronic/Darkwave/Post Punk twosome Skeleton Hands released its
stellar full-length album, Gone (read CityBeat's review here). One of the standouts on the LP is the track "Oxygen," which encapsulates everything compelling about
the duo's sound — it's dark, danceable and moody, with synth
atmospherics, creeping melodies and vocals, electro-bass wobble and
shimmery guitar waterfalls.
Those retro/modern/futuristic urban-gothic sonics are
perfectly reflected in the brand new video clip for "Oxygen." The
ominous video — written by Thomas Stemrich (Director) and Josh Chiara
(Director of Photography) of local band Holy Beast — was shot over three
days in Northside and Over-the-Rhine.
The nutshell synopsis of the video: "In New Berlin, in the
basements of post-industrial mansions, lost youths pray to shrines for
nothing and participate in rituals that don’t matter. But tonight, one
of New Berlin’s daughters is through with the minutia, ready to dive
beneath the insincerity of cult posturing, and finally awaken the beacon
of change that swells beneath the city streets. Will this be another
lost night in Neverland or will she finally meet the beast of her
Stemrich and Chiara have made other music videos,
including "Night Drive" for the local act Polar Sky (Polar Sky and
Skeleton Hands both record for locally based Racecar Productions).
Sharfe says "Night Drive," and now "Oxygen," are unofficially akin to part
of a "series," with the Polar Sky clip setting the "New Berlin" tone
initially, and the Skeleton Hands' video taking it further.
"In the New Berlin videos, we see Cincinnati through a
dystopic lens," Sharfe says. "Prostitutes, cults, deities, people with
holes in their torsos. Strange stuff."
Skeleton Hands are currently taking pre-orders for copies of Gone
on vinyl. Click here to get in on the action. "Oxygen" will be
available as a single this fall through Racecar. The single release will
feature remixes, including ones by Kontravoid and the aforementioned
The duo also returns to the MidPoint Music Festival this
year, coming up towards the end of September in various venues around
Over-the-Rhine and Downtown. Skeleton Hands is slated to perform at 10
p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at MPMF venue Below Zero Lounge (on Walnut
Street, next to Emery Theatre). Click here for MPMF tickets (or visit
Fountain Square Friday night between 8-11 p.m., where you can buy
tickets in person — one night only — for $10-$20 off).