by Mike Breen
Acoustic guitar phenom Andy McKee performs downtown tonight at the Ballroom at Taft Theatre. Admission is $18 for the 7 p.m. show which, unlike most Ballroom performances, will be a seated affair. Though he works his magic with just wood and strings, technology played a big role in McKee’s success story. About seven years ago, McKee’s label at the time posted on YouTube a few low-production videos of the fingerstyle guitar instrumentalist showcasing his compellingly original approach, which involves a lot of rhythmic slapping, alternate tunings, unusual fret fingering and other atypical elements. Those simple videos launched McKee — who counts players like Michael Hedges and Preston Reed among his biggest influences — into the the upper echelon of viral video sensations, not because of something stupid (like most super-popular YouTube videos), but because of his gripping acoustic wizardry. The clip below, featuring his composition “Drifting,” was one of the first posted; it now has more than 48 million views (other clips have a similarly stratospheric number of views).
McKee had released two critically acclaimed albums before 2005’s Art of Motion, which featured the songs that would make him one of YouTube’s biggest musical success stories. By the time 2007’s Gates of Gnomeria was released, McKee was able to successfully tour the globe and play for large audiences everywhere he went, something that continues to this day (though he slowed down just slightly when he and his wife welcomed their first child). The Kansas native moved up to the Razor and Tie label for distribution and would go on to found the Guitar Masters Tour, sharing the spotlight with other acoustic alchemists and also helping the next generation of players with various guitar workshops. McKee’s most recent release is 2010’s Joyland; on his website in June, McKee said that he will be releasing new material gradually over several months instead of saving up material for a single album release. • Tonight in the Taft Theatre’s big room, Trampled By Turtles returns. The Minnesota band has built up a huge following by eschewing most of the traditional music biz support systems, like record labels. The DIY success story is ongoing as the progressive Americana/Bluegrass ensemble’s popularity continues to skyrocket. The band just released its live album/DVD package Live at First Avenue earlier this week. Check out CityBeat’s preview of the show and then take a look at a clip from the new release:
Tonight’s show at the Taft starts at 9 p.m. with Nashville Indie Roots group The Apache Relay opening.Tickets are $22.50.• While it’s likely that most area fans of EDM are going to be checking out the big Ubahn Fest downtown tonight (and tomorrow; click here for details and previews), The Mad Frog in Corryville is also presenting a showcase of diverse, progressive Electronic music. Named after a mini-game within Nintendo 64’s Mario Party video games — a nod to 8-bit and gaming culture influences — Shy Guy Says is the work of rising Electronic music artist Jarrod Linne, who works out of Bloomington, Ind. Linne creatively mixes Hip Hop grooves and other elements with a multitude of EDM styles (Glitch, Trap, Electro, Downtempo House, etc.), never allowing himself to be easily pigeonholed by constantly exploring new sonic realms. The next Shy Guys Says release is the EP The Hellephant, coming out through the Rad Summer label. Look for the EP on Beatport this Monday and everywhere else Dec. 2. On Wednesday, TheUntz.com previewed the new EP track “Round 1 (They Meet).” Check it below:
Shy Guy Says will be joined by Indianapolis’ Magnetic for tonight’s Mad Frog show. Taking the same genre-blurring approach as Shy Guy, Magnetic’s DJ sets blend remixes of other people’s music with original tracks and are said to be uniquely engaging and energized. Rounding out tonight’s bill is another Indy artist, Kodama, and Cincinnati’s own Kaiten (aka Kurt Heer), who works with the label/promo group/management agency, Massive Detroit Records. Doors open at 8 p.m. and music begins at 9 p.m. Cover charge is $5.• Country music star Justin Moore pulls his tour into Bank of Kentucky Center tonight in Highland Heights, Ky. After performing in bands and writing songs for others, Moore scored a deal with Valory Music Group (part of Big Machine Records) in 2008. After a few successful singles, Moore’s self-titled debut album was released in 2009 and promptly shot to No. 3 on the Country charts and No. 10 on the overall album chart. Moore recently released his third album, Off the Beaten Path, which hit No. 2 on the album chart (and No. 1 on the Country chart). Read more about Moore in CityBeat’s preview here. And here’s the video for the new album’s single, “Point at You”:
Tonight’s Bank of Kentucky Center show features openers Randy Houser and Josh Thompson. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $26.75-$39.75. Click here for more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
India.Arie resurrects her music career with a SongVersation
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 13, 2013
After a humbling tour as an opening act, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter India.Arie took a break from music before returning to the spotlight with her new album, SongVersation.
by Mike Breen
• The Winery Dogs released their first album in July, but if you are a serious fan of Progressive Metal and Hard Rock, you were likely already familiar with the virtuosic instrumental prowess of the trio’s members — drummer Mike Portnoy (cofounder of modern Prog legends Dream Theater), singer/guitarist Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big) and masterful bassist Billy Sheehan, who has played with David Lee Roth, Mr. Big and many others. The Dogs sport a heavy, Classic Rock-influenced sound akin to Led Zeppelin but distinct due to the players’ flashy, progressive riffing and drumming.
The trio plays Corryville’s The Mad Frog tonight. Doors open at 8 p.m. and Sixxis is the opening act.
Here’s a nice review of the Dogs’ show in Cleveland over the weekend. Check out the band’s music video for the track “Time Machine” below:
• The instrumental quintet Lotus is one of the leading forces in the Livetronica movement, which features artists taking an Electronic and Dance music core and turning it inside out, mixing in plenty of other influences and leaving arrangements wide open for live-show improvisation. Embraced by the “Jam Band” community, groups like Lotus (which dips into Rock, Funk, Jazz, Post Rock and beyond on its musical adventures) are helping to push the boundaries of improvisational music in a modern context.
The band’s 2013 album Monks is another great example of Lotus’s creative membership pushing forward without any genre anchors around their necks. The LP is a compelling Hip Hop record featuring numerous guest MCs, including Mr. Lif, Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born and several others. The album is available for free download here.
Lotus performs at Covington’s Madision Theater tonight with exquisitely monikered (and musically like-minded) Electro trio Cosby Sweater opening things up at 8 p.m. Admission is $20 at the door.
Here’s the Monks track “Cloud 9,” featuring Philly MC Ras Arcane and Digable Planets’ Doodlebug:
• After all the reported in-fighting, hiatuses and breakups they’ve been through, it seems like rockers The Black Crowes have finally realized that, both creatively and financially, they need each other. The band have become a bit like The Rolling Stones in that way — after so many years and so much chemistry, even though Mick and Keith often seem to despise each other, they keep the Stones flag flying because it’s what they do. The Crowes are in an interesting position, where they can still go out and just play their “hits” and fan favorites, continually drawing big crowds thanks to the cultishly loyal fan base they’ve built up over years of amazing live shows.
That’s just what the Crowes will be doing tonight when they return to the Taft Theatre tonight for an 8 p.m. show. There’s no new album (the most recent Crowes release was 2010’s Croweology, a retrospective consisting of mostly acoustic versions of their finest songs), so expect a fan-friendly set of Crowes faves, a cover or two (the band has been doing Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” on this tour) and lots and lots of jamming. Though the continued success of the band on the road suggests this is far from the band’s last tour, the Crowes have said this will be their last jaunt for a while as they tend to other projects outside of the band.
Here’s a big chunk of a Crowes’ performance in Virginia this past September:
Click here for even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
by Mike Breen
Acclaimed singer/songwriter's Taft Theatre show last night got a bit contentious
So what the heck happened at the concert by the always dazzling Neko Case at the Taft Theatre last night? Case's biggest show ever in the Cincinnati area was musically solid, but didn't go as smoothly as planned thanks to flared tempers, the proliferation of smartphone cameras and some angry and/or obnoxious audience members. It's safe to say that you can add Case to the increasingly growing list of performers who are losing their patience with omnipresent smartphone use at concerts.Case is fairly prolific with her Twitter account, but her tweets from yesterday showed no clear indication of the kerfuffle. Earlier in the day, she praised Iris Book Cafe for their hospitality and good grub and, post-show, she tweeted "Thank you, Cincinnati, you are kind folks," followed by some heart symbols. (Sarcasm?)CityBeat contributor Keith Klenowski was there to photograph the show (not on his phone; he was credentialed) and says the problems started during the second song of the night, when Case stopped the show and asked everyone to stop taking photos with their phones because the flashes were bothering her. Things calmed down, people seemed to oblige and the show picked up again.Several songs later, according to Klenowski, Case stopped the show again and appeared to be talking to a fan near the front of the stage about putting their phone away. Case made a comment about happily refunding tickets, adding, "Just put away the cameras. It isn't going to kill you, but it might kill me" and "You can boo and call me a spoiled Rock star. I am." Case claimed there were signs about cameras posted around the venue, though Klenowski says he didn't see any. Case's reaction was met with a mix of cheers and boos; some people got really bent out of shape about her protestation. "I (saw) people put on their coats and walk out," Klenowski says. "One guy (flipped) her the bird and storms out."He says that not long after the second stoppage, a woman came down the aisle towards the stage and took a photo before immediately being escorted out by security. Before the band returned for an encore, Klenowski says he saw another skirmish that involved a man arguing with security as he was being kicked out. "Neko looked tired and even admitted at the start that it was time to wake up or something like that," Klenowski says, adding that the singer was apologetic to the non-heckling/non-photo-taking fans throughout the show and at the end of the night. "I got her frustration, but I have never seen anyone threaten to leave and stop a show because of it." Click here for Keith's photos from Case's Taft Theatre performance.
by Mike Breen
• The first time I saw Neko Case was a complete accident. I
was in Chicago around the most recent turn of the century and went to
see Indie Rock singer/songwriter Edith Frost at the small (but popular)
club Lounge Ax and Case and her “Boyfriends,” as her backing band was
then called (really Canadian Roots rockers The Sadies), opened the show
with a great set. Though I’d heard of Case, seeing her live was
revelatory — the singer/songwriter (also part of Canadian Pop collective
The New Pornographers) has one of the most soulful, mesmerizing voices
in music today and, once I’d heard it, I was hooked for life. Case’s
transcendent pipes are only comparable to legends like Patsy Cline
(though Jenny Lewis has made quite the solo career aping Case).
Working in a folksy musical realm (though not tethered to
any specific style), Case has yet to release a bad album, though her
latest for Anti- Records, the recent The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,
has received mixed reviews (likely more indicative of a press corps
bored with her astonishing consistency than the actual album itself,
which is excellent). I’ve seen Case numerous times since that happy
accident in Chicago — including dates at Chicago’s Metro and at
Newport’s Southgate House — and I’ve never left in any other state
Case comes back to the Cincinnati area tonight for a show
at downtown’s Taft Theatre (her largest local appearance yet) with
special guest and fellow red-headed singer/songwriter Karen Elson.
Tickets are still available for $35 at the door.
Check out Jason Gargano's feature story on Case from this
week's CityBeat. Here's the "lyric video" for The Worse Things Get track
"Night Still Comes."
• Over the past two decades, Built to Spill has become a legendary cult band, remaining a solid concert draw across the nation and
releasing some of the most brilliant guitar-driven Indie Rock albums of
the ’90s and ’00s. Led by singer/guitarist Doug Martsch, BtS formed in
Boise, Idaho, in the early ’90s, and worked with a lot of Pacific
Northwest musical institutions on its way up. In 1995, as the major
labels were winding down their signing frenzy in the wake of Nirvana's
huge success (signing seemingly every band even loosely associated with
the words "Seattle" or "Grunge"), Built to Spill inked with Warner
Brothers Records, which has released six stellar albums by the band
since 1997, including the crew's masterful debut for the label, Perfect
From Now On, and 2009's There is No Enemy, the group's most recent album.
Like label mates The Flaming Lips, BtS has been the rare
band that has sold consistently enough to remain signed to a major label
for well over a decade thanks to the consistent quality of its work,
heavy touring and an incredibly dedicated following. It's refreshing to
see a big-time label stay so loyal to a group that will probably never
sell a million copies and even more probably won't ever have a big hit
single. (Despite rumors, BtS is not breaking up; a new album is in the
works and expected by the end of 2014.)
Built to Spill performs tonight at Newport, Ky.'s
Southgate House Revival with guests Slam Dunk and Genders. Showtime is
8:30 p.m. and tickets are $25 at the door.
Singer/songwriter Neko Case offers a rare personal glimpse on her latest album
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Singer/songwriter Neko Case offers a rare personal glimpse on her latest album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You.
Cincinnati's annual MidPoint Music Festival notches 12th successful year
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
We here at CityBeat and others associated with the fest did a lot
of campaigning to get people into the smaller venues to check out some
of the lesser-known acts and MPMF-goers did better than in any previous
year showing love for artists who had yet to infiltrate their personal
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Back in 2006, Lewis Black told CityBeat
in an interview that the Bush administration and the GOP were “fucking
out of their minds.” So it is fortuitous that a recent interview took
place on the second day of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s filibuster to protest
the Affordable Care Act.
by Deirdre Kaye
Great news, y’all! I made it through another MidPoint without getting raped or mugged. (Getting mugged might not be so bad, though. “No, officer, it was definitely not me who bought Duck Dynasty underwear at Walmart.”) I know you were concerned for my safety.I did MPMF quite a bit differently than I have in years past and I have to say, I think it contributed to it being the best one yet for me.First, I forwent going with friends. I like my friends in small doses and on a couch talking about TV and girlfriends/boyfriends. Trying to coordinate concert plans with them, though, has always been an ordeal. Some of us are more hipster than others. Going it alone sometimes feels slightly sketchy, but mostly I think it helped my experience. I wasn’t forced to stand in any hot, cram packed rooms to see bands I was less-than-thrilled to see.Second, I decided to spend my entire Saturday night in just one venue. I did this for a few reasons: 1) Everyone I wanted to see was in that venue; 2) Cheap parking close-by. Therefore, I spent my Saturday night either pacing around outside the Taft Theatre or swaying back and forth inside the Taft’s Ballroom. And, ya know what? I had a damn good time.The Taft is my favorite venue in town. Whether it’s in the seated portion or down in the basement, it just has an amazing vibe. I love those bright white bulb-lights out front around the marquee. It makes the whole place sparkle. It just looks like you could pick it up and sit it in the middle of Gatsby’s New York City. Downtown Cincy has plenty of art deco touches that I dearly love. However, nothing makes me feel more fancy and more ready for a special night than standing outside the Taft. In addition, the basement Ballroom, where all three of Saturday’s bands performed, has this comfortable, almost sexy darkness to it. You could get into a little bit of trouble in some of those shadowed corners. I wouldn’t judge you if you have. I might be disappointed you never invited me, though.Bear’s Den opened the night and, since I’d seen them recently, I didn’t feel too bad when I spent the better part of their set outside on the phone. It gave me the chance to people watch, which is always a ton of fun at MidPoint. MPMF pulls in a jumbled assortment of people to tramp around downtown with their wristbands. I saw people my parents’ age, dressed rather fancifully, chat with security and then slip down into the basement. I also saw an insane amount of frat guys, plus one very drunk Reds fan and his seriously concerned girlfriend. (I still don’t know why she unleashed her concern to me. But I really hope she finds a new date for next year. Like, maybe someone who won’t put her life in danger?) Oh! And I saw one seriously fabulous drag queen. (I appreciate your use of neon, girlfriend.)Despite missing London’s Bear’s Den, I know they rocked. Not just because I’ve seen them and I love them, but because they still had a line of fans waiting to meet them when the final act went on at midnight. I think Cincinnati fell in love on Saturday. I’m giddy for Bear’s Den and for Cincinnati. Good choice, my friends.I caught Cincinnati’s Bad Veins, though. Of course, I’ve seen them before, but I never mind the chance to see them again. Those two boys can make a ton of noise. Even with a few sound/mixing issues, they still managed to keep the room enthralled. That may have had something to do with Ben Davis’ bellowing into the microphone or climbing to the top of the monitors. I have no musical talent whatsoever and my balance is minimal at best, but I was envious as he stood towering above me with his hands on the ceiling and an entire room of people staring up at him in awe. The Veins are a genuinely good band. Not “good for a local band,” but good enough to root for them to keep gaining fans across the country. Later, I watched Davis stand in the back of the room talking to a couple people for a surprisingly long time. They seemed to devour everything he said. He has dangerous levels of charisma. It was fun to watch.As much as I love Bad Veins and Bear’s Den, I’d spent all weekend eagerly awaiting Daughter’s performance. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect many people to show. I guess because I remember when “Daughter” was just Elena Tonra. I slinked my way pretty close to the stage and gaped at Tonra as she charmed the pants off everyone in the room. When it got stuffy a few songs in, I turned around and was speechless by the sheer amount of people that had suddenly come in behind me. It makes sense, though. Jesus. Her voice is beautiful. If you were anywhere else in the city on Saturday night, you messed up. She sent heads to the shoulders of girlfriends and, shockingly enough, most cell phones managed to stay in purses and pockets. It’s not that she wasn’t worth capturing. It’s that she was too captivating for anyone to have any other thoughts other than keeping their eyes glued to her face and their ears filled with her voice. Oh. The bow across the electric guitar was a great (albeit not very new) approach, too. It added a nice eerie feel to Tonra’s already haunting voice.As I left, I had big plans to reflect on the concerts and do a little pre-writing for this review while walking to my car. One of my favorite former co-workers waylaid me, though. So much for avoiding my friends. Cincinnati is too small for that. I didn’t mind too much; I got all the dirt on who had left and who (sadly) was still around. Eventually, I said goodbye to my ex co-worker, wandered away from Taft Theatre’s bright lights and into the ever darkening street. As I meandered, it occurred to me just how much of a feat MPMF is for us. Cincinnati may be a city, but we’re not a very big one. How do we manage to talk so many stellar bands into visiting us every year? How is it possible we have something as beautiful as the Taft? How do we produce such a bounty of awesome local bands? My best friend likes to joke that Ohio has bred more astronauts than any other state. He says it’s because Ohio is awful and space was as far away as they could get. However, I think we’ve bred so many astronauts for the same reason we’ve spawned bands like Walk the Moon and Bad Veins and all of the other great acts playing MPMF and for the same reason we put on such an great festival. We’re small but mighty. We put our hearts into the things and the people we love. Even if they don’t deserve it. (I’m lookin’ at you, Bengals.)
Aly Spaltro searches for catharsis and a spot of her own as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
As Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Aly Spaltro is currently
earning attention for raw, poignant tunes that glow with gusto — both as
wandering, relatively skeletal acoustic-rooted numbers and feisty,
forceful electric-propelled tunes. In either instance, she decorates her
songs with imagistic, compellingly detailed and often innocuous lyrics
about troubled relationships and scattered trepidations.