When Hot Club of Cowtown coalesced as a trio in 1996, fiddler/vocalist Elana James and guitarist/vocalist/avid 78 collector Whit Smith had already worked together in two other big Swing bands doing '20s/'30s Hot Jazz, Western Swing and Tin Pan Alley classics. After breaking up to pursue solo careers, they reformed HCOC in 2006 and continue to display a broad range of tastes.
We might not have a Bonnaroo or a Lollapalooza, but Cincinnati is pretty rich when it comes to music festivals. Especially if you're a fan of local music. One of these great opportunities for exploration is the Cincypunk Fest, which celebrates its ninth anniversary Friday and Saturday on the many stages of the Southgate House.
This year's fest again keeps the quality bar high, with nearly 40 bands performing, ranging from established crowd favorites to the latest up-and-comers. Saturday headliners include The Lions Rampant, The Pinstripes, Alone at 3AM, The Guitars, Slow Claw, Loudmouth, Two Inch Winky and De Los Muertos.
Don't be fooled by the festival's name. Punk plays a part, but the genre boundaries are pretty loose, with bands playing everything from Folk and Ska to Indie Rock and Hip Hop. Friday headliners include The Seedy Seeds, The Harlequins, State Song, Small Time Crooks, Duppy a Jamba, Hazle Weatherfield and This American Life.
Matt Caughthran's near-death life experiences tie into The Bronx's MO: seek destruction out, let destruction come to you and channel the havoc into Hard Rock-tinged Hardcore Punk. The band's sound is driven by the thrill that comes with spitting in the face of impending doom.
When "Dixie" Dave Collins ponders the question of how Weedeater has changed since its 1994 birth, he has an unusual answer. "We're definitely a lot more tired, beat up a little bit and minus one toe," Collins says in his dry North Carolina drawl. "I blew off half my toe about two months ago. I was getting ready to clean a shotgun and doing too many things at once, having drinks."
Henry Rollins has made a cottage industry of his different facets. Author, publisher, columnist, actor, DJ, spoken word artist, social activist and now stand-up comic, there's barely a moment left over for him to make music, which, in fact, he hasn't done in quite some time. Since the mid-'90s, music has been a side project as Rollins has concentrated on his spoken word performances, which have morphed from book readings into his unique Punk version of stand-up comedy.
Alejandro Escovedo's career has been a successful one, but the acclaim — and public support — for him has come slowly, without any one major hit. If anything, at age 59 his following is still growing as he finds his groove as an Austin-based Roots musician capable of explosively rockin' out one minute and writing a doleful, tuneful string-accompanied romantic ballad the next.
Formed back in 1996, Jedi Mind Tricks has been an ever-evolving force in underground Hip Hop. From its influential debut album to the trilogy of "Army of the Pharaohs" projects (the latest, much-anticipated 'The Unholy Terror' comes out the day of the Southgate House show), the men of JMT have set a high bar with creative, imaginative tracks and crafty, powerful lyrics that mesh modern social commentary with old-school Hip Hop's swagger.
Trampled by Turtles is no ordinary Bluegrass band. The Duluth, Minn., quintet coalesced seven years ago when vocalist/guitarist Dave Simonett and mandolinist Erik Berry started moonlighting as an acoustic duo outside of the confines of their local Rock outfits. They're about to release their fifth studio album, 'Palomino.'