· If you're a musician, it's already time to start thinking about the MidPoint Music Festival again. The music showcase/conference is set for Sept. 21-24 this year, when it will once again commandeer the clubs of the Main Street Entertainment District for a long weekend of local, regional and national independent music. The registration for artists has begun (as of Feb. 1). For details on how to be considered for a showcase slot, musicians should check mpmf.com (register by April 30 for an entry fee discount).
· Bands with at least one female member still have a shot at playing this year's "Chicks RockFest," which takes place April 8 and 9 at the Southgate House. Though deadline for submissions was Jan. 1, organizers of the fest are re-opening the call for entries for one day only, this Friday. For details, check out sonicbids.com/chicksrockfest. For even more on the event, go to chicksrockfest.com.
· Congrats to Cincy native Emily Strand, who has been selected as the "Grand Prize" winner in the Folk category of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition. Currently living in Dayton, Strand, winner of the final 97Xposure local band contest in 2003, was selected for her song "Lou," which is featured on her most recent release, Delay in the Connection.
Strand nabs an impressive collection of fabulous prizes (including thousands of dollars in equipment and a $5,000 advance on a single-song publishing contract with EMI) and has a chance to win the really big prize, $20,000, if she can win the "Maxell Song of the Year" phase of the contest. That winner will be announced this July. (emilystrand.com)
· Wojo, the Elliott Ruther Trio and a fuller Whitney Barricklow Band team up for a show at the York Street Café on Thursday. Barricklow recently added drummer Shawn Elsbernd to the group (the two also work together in Emily Strand's band), while Mark Szabo has switched from drums to lead guitar, for what Barricklow says is a more driving sound. Ruther and his triomates have completed a debut album for locally-based Brown Room Records (release date pending), while Wojo is working out new material for a follow-up to 2003's How To Try Without Succeeding.
· The Flying Pig Marathon is again looking for musical acts (and other entertainers) to perform (without pay) for runners and on-lookers along the race route May 1. Interested performers should call 513-929-4263 by Feb. 11 to be put "in the running." See flyingpigmarathon.com for more information.
· A second edition of the local music compilation CD series, Free Lap Dances, benefiting the animal-friendly Save Our Strays organization is in the works. Jacob Heintz, the guitarist for locals Buckra, is again putting the compilation together. Artists wishing to be considered for the disc (to be titled Free Lap Dances Vol. 2: Return of the Snuggler) can mail musical submissions to Jacob Heintz, 2017 Freeland Ave., #2, Cincinnati, OH 45208. The comp is open to all types of music. For more information on the project and the cause, go to soscincinnati.petfinder.com.
· The Gregory Morris Group is currently working on its first full-length CD at Group Effort Studios in Northern Kentucky. The band plans to do some regional and national touring when the disc is released this spring. The jazzy Folk/Rock group performs on Friday at the BarrelHouse, opening for Columbus-via-Cincinnati fave, Katie Reider. (gregorysmusic.com)
· Excellent acoustic instrumental group The High Water Trio has announced it will donate a portion of its CD sales until at least Feb. 28 to the victims of the recent tsunami disaster. The band performs Saturday at the Kenwood Barnes & Noble, starting at 7 p.m. Discs can be ordered through the band's Web site: highwatertrio.com.
· It's not often you get a multi-act all-Psychobilly lineup in Greater Cincinnati. So fans of the high-gear spin on Rockabilly might want to wander over to the Madison Theater in Covington on Friday for "Psychobilly Nite," featuring Covington's own Rumble Club, who are joined by Cleveland's Johnny Psycho and The Crypto Kats from Indianapolis. (rumbleclub66.com)
· Lunchbox, Subvinyl, Buckra, Sinamatic, Project Axiom, Burn, Jadis, The Pinstripes, Common Mood, Hollow Point and Fizzgig have advanced to the spring semi-finals of the international Emergenza band contest/showcase. The events are to continue at the Blue Note in Price Hill over the next several months, picking up on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with another batch of hopefuls (for a run-down of the stocked-full lineups for each night, go to emergenza.net). To move on to the "grand" final round in Germany, bands must defeat every other contender in the United States (only one artist from each of the 14 participating countries gets to go). So ... good luck with that.