Revitalization group 3CDC's live music programming throughout the past few summers has helped turn Fountain Square into the heart of Cincinnati's increasingly active downtown area, drawing thousands to the Square every week to catch everything from Reggae and Salsa to Hip Hop and Indie Rock.
The group will be doing the same thing in Over-the-Rhine at the newly renovated Washington Park across from Music Hall. The Park officially opens tomorrow (July 6) with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. The christening will be followed by tours of the park, then a free 5 p.m. World Choir Games "friendship concert" at the Bandstand.
Like with Fountain Square, Washington Park's weekly music series will showcase local musicians, with live performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Wednesday will be "Bandstand Bluegrass" night, featuring some of the best area Bluegrass artists. The shows begin July 11 and will run every week, starting at 7 p.m., until Sept. 5. On Fridays, the Park features "Friday Flow," a night of R&B and Soul that starts July 13 and runs each Friday through Sept. 5.
The lineups for Wednesdays and Fridays have yet to be announced, but more details have been made available about the every-Thursday Jazz in the Park series. Beginning July 12, the lineup has been curated by local Jazz pianist Chris Comer, who held a similar role on Fountain Square last year. The first Jazz in the Park concert is July 12 and features Comer and his quintet, plus special guest Napoleon Maddox from the progressive Jazz/Hip Hop group IsWhat?!
Jazz in the Park performances run 7-9 p.m. through Aug. 30. Other shows in the series include the P&G Big Band (July 19); The Cincy Brass (Aug. 2); Steve Schmidt (Aug. 9), Ricky Nye Inc. (Aug. 16); and the Dick Sorice-Dan Jackson Quintet (Aug. 23).
Along with many other special concerts — like Over the Rhine's (the band) free show July 22 and the rare joint performance featuring Cincinnati Pops, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet — the Washington Park summer schedule is filled with other types of events, from community festivals to "dog programs" to movie nights and special "Curiosity Saturdays" for kids.
One of the coolest physical changes to Washington Park is the interactive Classical Music Walk of Fame, a project in conjunction with the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and InfoTrust which will enable visitors to use their smartphones and tablets to play various musical selections through the park's sound system or through the very cool "musical fountains," which will change appearance/flow/color depending on which music is selected.
Here's a quick overview of how the interactive Classical Music Walk of Fame will work.
To read about all of the things Washington Park has planned just this summer alone (remember, it will be a primary venue for the MidPoint Music Festival at the end of September) click here.
South Carolina’s Trevor Hall doesn’t make the kind of music you might expect to come from a native of the American south. Instead, Hall’s music has a Reggae streak, similar to the kind of tunes he may have heard growing up in the beach community of Hilton Head or later at the arts school he attended in California.
If you like Jack Johnson and Colbie Caillat and enjoy grooving to Bob Marley on occasion, Hall’s releases would fit nicely in your CD (or iTunes) collection. His newest album, Everything Everytime Everywhere, highlights everything that’s great about Hall’s music, with 12 tracks of summery, beach-y Pop with undertones of contemporary and classic Reggae.
Unlike Caillat and Johnson, Hall focuses on more than just sappy love songs. The love Hall is most willing to write and sing about is love for yourself and the world around you. Hall, who travels to India almost yearly to spend time in an ashram that houses underprivileged children, lives up to Marley’s “One Love” message better that most of his musical contemporaries. Everything even features snippets of sounds from an Indian street corner and a song introduction by one of the young girls from the ashram.
Hall has performed with Matisyahu, Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers, and is currently headlining his own tour. He plays on the Taft Theatre's Ballroom stage tonight with Justin Young and Pete Dressman. Tickets are $17.
Last night at Riverbend, I finished off some personal business for my 12-year-old self. I finally got to see Lita Ford sing “Kiss Me Deadly” live on stage, hear Poison play “Nothing But a Good Time” and catch Def Leppard perform “Pour Some Sugar on Me," live and in person, all on one hot evening by the river.
My parents believed that I was not old enough back in 1987 to make all of these dreams come true, but now my older self is able to make these types of things happen.
Def Leppard has been entertaining international audiences with their strong British sound for the better part of 30 years. They have provided American audiences with Rock anthems that have fired up arenas, like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Animal.” Over the years they have put out 12 albums, including their latest offering from last year Mirrorball: Live and More. The band is among the upper echelon of Rock acts that found success, continuity and growing support through the eras of fans.
CityBeat caught up with guitarist Phil Collen to discuss the band’s continued success before the Riverbend show last night. We discussed why the band is still able to keep it up after so long and what inspires him personally in his musical voyage.
CityBeat: What do you think the secret to the band’s longevity is? I just read this morning that Van Halen just cancelled the rest of their tour. Why have you guys been able to stay together for so long?
Phil Collen: I think our motivation is very different from Van Halen’s. They broke up a while ago. They actually didn’t get off. We’ve actually experienced super-super highs, diamond albums, multi-platinum sell-out tours and all that with really bad lows, like Steve dying and Rick losing his arm.
I think we have been together more consistently than most families. We leave home for 18 months. I have been in the band for 30 years. It’s just that (it) really makes a difference if you can relate to each other on very much a personal level. You have almost a private little clique, an elite club only you can relate to.
I tell you, we have always been good. We have never gone away. We have never split up. We have never done reunions and I think that is the trick. If you have to do a reunion, I always ask “Why did you split up in the first place?” I think we still have got more to prove. We still have songs to write, great albums to make. It’s a whole new day, a whole new digital age, everything is changing, whole new sets of fans. It never really stops. There is always ambition there, and there is always plenty of stuff to do. If you really want to share your work, that’s one of the first things you do in the first place. You get to express your art, it’s an artistic release and the other thing is you actually share it with other people. We are still doing that.
CB: I know you guys have been talking about writing and wanting to release new music. What is the band's writing process?
PC: It is more difficult than it used to be. I think we have gone through every different variation. We have gone through a time when one person writes the song, one person comes up with an idea and someone finishes it off or someone has an idea or we just play on each other’s songs. That’s what Queen ended up doing.
We have done every different variation of that. The best stuff I think we have done was when Mutt Lange was involved and just the way he approached it. He had a lot more experience than us and just brought a whole bunch of things to the table. Again, it is very different, there are a couple things I am putting together that are almost finished and then I usually play them for someone else in the band and put together an idea for them and we just take it from there. That’s really how it works. It’s not rocket science and every song starts in a different way.
I think the most inspiring song is when you have a title and that’s all you got and the rest kind of writes itself around it. I have another band Man Raze and same deal with that. We actually wrote a couple songs for a movie that was The Showdown, which was about superbikes racing. Once I had the whole story I came up with the idea, “Take on the World” — it was racing and stuff, and the song wrote itself.
So it is very inspiring to start with a title or at least an idea and then you just color in by numbers almost. It can come from a million different places and that is one of the wonderful things about being an artist really.
CB: Do you have any regrets over the years?
PC: There are loads of things that we’d do differently obviously. That is the whole plan. You experience stuff and you don’t make the same mistakes again, hopefully, whether it’s driving, old relationships or whatever. You are always on this learning curve which is a different level than the past.
Yeah, you know, not really — (I don't have any) regrets, not even slightly. I love where I am right now and that is the happiest person in the world. I am having a great time. It’s really cool. None at all really.
CB: What is your craziest fan story over the years?
PC: There have been a bunch of crazy fan stories. I have always found the weirdest ones are when people get my face tattooed on their body. I remember the first time this happened years ago, this Italian girl said, “I’m going to get you tattooed on me.” I said, “No, no, no, no, have you told your parents?” And she said, “No, but they’ll be OK.” She got this tattoo done and over the years we have now seen this millions of times, you know, people show their tattoos of our likeness or face on their arm or back or wherever it is. I always try to discourage it because it is a tattoo. I have one tattoo and it is my wife’s name and she has my name tattooed on her and that’s it. I was 52 when I got that.
CB: When you've written songs in the past over the years, did you guys know when you had a hit on your hands?
PC: Some of them, but other songs you think you have a hit and they disappear. You can never really tell. It depends on the environment of the moment. Back then it would be radio. Right now, everything is about celebrity and fame and TV. It is a different one to judge. It is about getting out there. If you get something in a movie, it has more of a chance than something played on the radio. It has changed a lot. The more the music business has turned more into an industry than art, it becomes more difficult to predict (which songs will catch on).
CB: What is the best guitar solo of all time?
PC: I couldn’t put it down for one. There are a few — and it is obviously my opinion — that (have) really inspired me. A few by David Bowie. There are a few Hendrix ones — “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. There is a great guitar solo on a song “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur, a song from the ’70s (that) took me ages to figure out, then I realized there were more than one guitar doing it. There are millions of them that really inspire. I could go on all day but (there's) not one in any particular — all of those.
CB: Any current music you are listening to that you find inspiring?
PC: Yeah, my favorite artist is Skrillex. I am really into dance and Techno music, love it, Dubstep especially. I just think what Skrillex is doing sounds like Heavy Metal without guitars and Hip Hop without words. That’s what I get out of it. It is just very different. It is very pure. I love it.
(I listen to) just different things; I listen to everything. I listen to Jazz or Blues, Hip Hop, Metal, Rock, whatever Pop song, right across the board. It’s all amazing and stuff to draw on really.
Today, the free Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival brings a little pre-Independence Day fun to Jacob Hoffner Park (at the corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock St.) in Northside. Conceived in 2005 by MOTR Pub’s Chris Schadler and put into action in 2006 by Schadler and Leslie Scott, the event is also a warm-up for one of the must-see parades of the summer, the eclectic, eccentric Northside 4th of July Parade, which makes its way down Hamilton Ave. starting at noon tomorrow.
If you have not attended in the past, the “Carnival” in the event’s name is key, as organizers present “side-show” fun galore — everything from fire-breathers and sword swallowers to drag performances and burlesque.
But live music is at the heart of the carnival and the assembled lineup this year once again features a great, diverse mix of groups from Greater Cincinnati, as well as a few nationally touring acts. Locals playing the Rock n’ Roll Carnival this year are Cletus Romp, Jake Speed and the Freddies, Eclipse, R. Ring, The Tillers and You, You’re Awesome. Headlining is Nashville’s Pujol; New York’s The Big Sleep and Nashville’s Turbo Fruits also perform.
Here is the full lineup of event for today's Carnival:
2:30 p.m. Cletus Romp
4 p.m. Jake Speed & the Freddies
5 p.m. Eclipse
6 p.m. R. Ring
7:10 p.m. The Tillers
8:20 p.m. Turbo Fruits
9:05 p.m. Pickled Bros Side Show
9:40 p.m. You, You're Awesome
10:25 p.m. Incendium Fire Show
11 p.m. The Big Sleep
12:20 a.m. Pujol
The event is open to revelers of all ages. For more details on the Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival, click here.
If you are in the mood for some indoor (read: ACed) music while you're at the Carnival, be sure to duck into Northside Tavern for the July 4th Eve Rock and Roll Riot. Also free, the Riot gets started at 9 p.m. with Downtown Boys. The rest of the lineup features The Cave Girls, TEMPLE, Ohio Knife and DAAP Girls. Click here for set times and links to check out all the performers beforehand.
Tonight's free MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square is a bit different than most of the shows in the series. Not only is the bill all-local, it also represents three of the finest "Pop Rock" entities to ever emerge from the Queen City.
Despite sharing a knack for writing incredibly memorable songs exploding with irrepressible hooks, each group has its own distinctive sound and draws from varying classic Pop/Rock influences from throughout time, from The Beatles to Todd Rundgren to The Buzzcocks.
The Tigerlilies kicks things off at 7 p.m. The quartet has had a remarkable run over the past 23 years, despite the occasional upheaval — the group's lead guitarist slot occasionally seemed to reach "Spinal Tap drummer" proportions, but the ’Lilies balance that out by having the remarkable ability to enlist some truly amazing players who each have brought something unique to the group.
Current six-slinger Brendan Bogosian is no exception; the guitarist's (formerly of local bands like Cash Flagg and The Woos) expressive, serpentine style of playing has weaved its way into (and added new wrinkles to the sound of) The Tigerlilies' deft brand of early Punk/Post Punk inspired Power Pop seamlessly. The band is currently working on its next album, which they hope to have out this fall.
Next up (at about 8:15 p.m.) is the Roger Klug Power Trio, fronted (go figure!) by singer/songwriter/guitarist Roger Klug and featuring the great rhythm section of Mike Tittel on drums and Jamie Criswell on bass.
Klug (former member of popular locals The Willies) has amassed an impressive discography since his mid-’90s solo debut, Mama Mama ich bin in dem La La Land, a garage-y display of Klug's clever, instinctive songcraft, and the highly addictive follow-up, Toxic and 15 Other Love Songs. Those albums help Klug build a following amongst Power Pop die-hards, and not just local ones. His records found a widespread cult following thanks to distribution from modern Power Pop juggernaut Not Lame Records and breathlessly positive press from pretty much any critic who took the time to listen to a song.
After the ambitious (and creatively successful) Where Has the Music Gone?: The Lost Recordings of Clem Comstock in 1999 — a concept album featuring alleged "lost recordings" in a variety of vintage Pop styles (and credited to various made-up artist names) — Klug seemingly disappeared, putting out no new Roger Klug material for a decade and popping up only occasionally for area live shows. But in 2010, Klug fans were treated to an all-new LP, More Help for Your Nerves, which (somewhat amazingly) features some of his best tunes yet.
Closing out the live-concert primer on Cincinnati's catchiest homegrown music from the past four decades is, fittingly, popular trio psychodots (starting around 9:30 p.m.). The ’Dots are genuine local music legends whose origins date back to the ’70s when a quartet of graduates from Toledo's Sylvania High School — Rob Fetters, Bob Nyswonger, Chris Arduser and Tom Toth — moved to Cincinnati and, with a few adjustments in the lineup over time, went on to become one of the Queen City's most beloved bands, the raisins.
Local sensations of epic proportions, the raisins built up a huge (and hugely loyal) fan base in the city's clubs and, with its self-titled LP, scored a regional hit with the unforgettable, somewhat "New Wave-ish" "Fear Is Never Boring." If CityBeat ever does "Best Cincinnati Songs of All-Time," "Fear" is a lock for the No. 1 slot. There will be no debate.
Following the raisins' split in the mid-’80s, Arduser rejoined Fetters and Nyswonger — as well as the producer of that debut LP, globally acclaimed Covington native Adrian Belew — in The Bears, which spread Cincinnati's best kept secret well beyond city limits with a pair of well-distributed albums so strong they were like the Midwest's own Beatles. By the end of the ’80s, The Bears had split as Belew began investing more time in his solo and other outside work.
Perhaps sensing the end was near, Arduser, Fetters and Nyswonger (among about a bazillion other musical projects) began performing as a trio in 1988. The three masterful musicians officially became psychodots in 1991 when they released their self-titled album. The ’dots picked up where they had left off with the raisins and Bears and returned to their status as one of the city's most reliable original music draws.
Psychodots went on indefinite hiatus in the mid-’90s as the trio's members continued to explore a variety of projects (from the Arduser-fronted Graveblankets to Fetters' solo work to Nyswonger's jobs in Bucket and many other local units). While remaining prolific individually, the band seems to have found a way to balance all of their projects better; both The Bears and psychodots have returned to action for live shows and even new releases. (The raisins have also reteamed for a few one-off shows.)
The ’dots' live activity has been especially spare, limited usually to a couple of special shows a year around Thanksgiving time. But, along with tonight's appearance on Fountain Square, the trio seems ready for at least a little increased activity. After the Indie Summer show was announced, the psychodots were added as opening act for Cheap Trick's concert at the Taft Theatre next week, July 6.
If you're one of tonight's three performers' fans, you're likely well aware of their histories. But if you're unfamiliar with any or all of tonight's acts, be sure to be on the Square by 7 p.m. for a free musical retrospective of Cincy Pop at its finest. (Fun fact: Arduser, Nyswonger and Fetters — with The Bears — and The Tigerlilies were performers at the very first Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the mid-’90s.)
Locally based independent label Grasshopper Juice Records has been presenting the Adjust Your Eyes Music & Art Festival, an annual showcase of local visual art and some of the label’s artists (plus other Grasshopper-friendly acts from Cincy and around the region), since 2006. Along with showcasing some of the city’s most creative original music makers, the event has raised thousands of dollars for organizations like American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen For The Cure and Friends for Chris Walker (in support of the beloved late local bassist).
After a 2011 festival at Newport’s Southgate House (now Thompson House), the AYE fest (presented in conjunction with Far-I-Rome Productions and sponsor Soap Floats Recording) moves to downtown’s Mainstay Rock Bar for this weekend’s two-day blowout, once again spotlighting a diverse cross-section of musical styles and approaches.
The event runs tonight and tomorrow from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. and will feature more than 30 acts on both of the venue’s stages throughout both nights, as well as art installations prepared by BUNK News. Admission each night is $7.
Here's the full schedule for tonight and tomorrow's AYE merriment. Click on each act's name for a link to more info and music samples.
Don't be a-scared of a little heat; there's lots of live music to be heard out there today in the Cincinnati area. Should you choose an outdoor event, be sure to hydrate, sunscreen up and try not to complain too much.
You can work up a sweat in the comfort of AC at Covington's Madison Theater tonight. Successful local EDM/DJ/Dance promoters Next Era and Dub Collective present producer and recording artist Big Chocolate, a self-described "small white dude with the big name" who has risen quickly in the world of Electronic music. He'll have the Madison hopping with his blend of Dubstep, Drum and Bass and Electro, with a little help from like-minded support acts Krowd Khemistry, Lady Bandit and Project Rain.
Big Chocolate is also a prolific video blogger; check out his "Daily Vlog" channel on YouTube here.
Showtime for the all-ages show is 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.
• If you like a little "live Rock band" in your Electro mix, head to Corryville's Mad Frog tonight for a performance by Ithaca, NY-based group Jimkata. The band has a sound that's a mix of catchy modern Pop Rock with an ’80s lean via big hooks, danceable rhythms and ornamental synths. Showtime is 10 p.m.
• The popular Spirit Song music festival returns to Kings Island starting today. The three-day event has become one of the biggest Contemporary Christian music festivals in the Midwest and this year's lineup might be the strongest yet. The lineup includes a lot of "crossover" acts (like tonight's headliners Switchfoot) and artists mostly only known to CCM fans. Local Rock group Mosteller joins the biggies for today's Spirit Song opener. The concert welcomes all ages and begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are $48.99 (if you're planning on going multiple days, you can find bargains with multiday passes).
Before you go, be sure to ask yourself "HWJH?" ("How Would Jesus Hydrate?"). Hint: He wouldn't be turning that precious water into wine today!
• Also worth a good sweat is the free "Salsa on the Square" series at 7 p.m. today on Fountain Square. Today's featured Salsa music-makers: Son Del Caribe. As always, dance instructors will be on hand to assist you if you dance more like Franklin Delano Roosevelt than Franklin Diaz!
• Rock band Collective Soul, which had a string of hits in the late ’90s/early ’00s, performs "An Evening With …" style tonight at Bogart's.
From the press release: "The band plans to make each night unforgettable. In addition to Dosage, they will perform other songs from a catalog that has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and produced seven #1 radio hits during their nearly 20-year career. Those in attendance can expect to hear 'Shine,' 'December,' 'The World I Know,' 'Where The River Flows' and many others."
Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $20.25-$28.
Todd Snider & the Burnouts return to Cincinnati tonight for a hump-day show at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley with special guest Rosi Golan.
Snider is one of the more acclaimed songwriters of his time, earning early support from high-profile fans like John Prine and Jimmy Buffett. Releasing high quality albums since 1994, Snider continues to dazzle with his well-crafted songs and engaging lyrics (perhaps his most notable talent).
This year Snider released two new albums within a couple months of each other. The first, March’s Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables, was an embedded, sign-o-the-times album that featured an “Occupy” anthem, “New York Banker,” and other sharp-yet-everyday observations of current society. The most recent release was a tribute to a like-minded forefather; the Don Was-produced Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker featured guests ranging from platinum-selling Country star Kix Brooks to young Americana critic’s darling, Amy LaVere.
Showtime is 8 p.m. This is a seated show; tickets range from $18-$25, depending on where you sit.
Here is a video for Golan's "Underneath A Beating Heart" (which premiered earlier this month on Perez Hilton's site) followed by audio for Sinder's great "New York Banker."
• The Clifton Cultural Arts Center on Clifton Ave. has been presenting free, fun, family-friendly live music on its front lawn since The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars kicked off the "Wednesdays on the Green" series earlier this month. Tonight, the incomparable Tracy Walker performs her soulful Folk/Pop/Rock at the free, 7 p.m. event. Click here to check out the rest of the summer schedule, then listen to Tracy sing below — and shiver that good kind of shiver — to get you in the mood. (Get more Tracy Walker here.)
• Also on the free tip, Lucky 7 (led by former Zionites frontdude Lucky Spaulding and featuring his bro Seven Spaulding, guitarist Chris Madine and bassist Michael VanHorn) is the featured band on Fountain Square for this evening's 7 p.m. "Reggae Wednesday" concert. (Check out some tunes from the R&B/Reggae crew here.)
• And down at Yeatman's Cove (next to Sawyer Point), Party in the Park returns with one of Cincy's most favoritest cover bands ever, the always fun Rusty Griswolds 3 Day Rule. Party in the Park starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m.
Click here for more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati.
Several local acts have been notified in recent weeks that they have been chosen to perform at this fall’s MidPoint Music Festival. Organizers today revealed its second wave of national acts that will join them at the Sept. 27-29 fest — Andrew Bird, Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys (revealed a couple of weeks ago at a MidPoint Indie Summer concert), The Walkmen, The Antlers, Hospitality, Rich Aucion, Stepdad, Eternal Summers, White Arrows, Dirty Bourbon River Show, Hume, Sidewalk Chalk, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Kitten, F. Strokes, Wooden Wand, Hundred Waters, Golden Boy, Tim Easton and Army Navy.
Keep up to date with the latest MPMF news at mpmf.com and this here music blog at citybeat.com. Early Bird All Music Access and Loyalty Presale passes are sold out. A limited number of All Music Access Passes ($69) and VIP Passes presented by CVG ($169) now on sale. Washington Park Day Tripper passes will be available soon. Get your tickets now at CincyTicket.com.
Check out news songs from The Antlers and (previously announced MPMF band) Grizzly Bear at NPR here.
Here's the latest music video from The Walkmen, for their tune "Heaven."
And here's a recent CNN piece on Andrew Bird.