King Records’ 70th Birthday Festivities Begin

Plus, modern day indie label Phratry celebrates nine years, DAAP Girls unveil new video

Rendering of forthcoming King Studios site in Evanston (Photo: SHP Leading Design)
Rendering of forthcoming King Studios site in Evanston (Photo: SHP Leading Design)

This September marks the 70th anniversary of the launch of King Records

, the Cincinnati-based label that, for 30 years, released some revolutionary records in a variety of genres, including titles from James Brown, The Stanley Brothers, Hank Ballard, Tiny Bradshaw and Wynonie Harris. Founded by Cincinnatian Syd Nathan (who was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997), the label is widely credited as a pioneer of laying the foundation for Rock & Roll, releasing music by both R&B and Country/Bluegrass artists.

The label’s legacy has gradually gotten more attention over the past couple of decades and, especially locally, hardcore music fans have loudly trumpeted King’s historical significance. 

The original building still stands in Evanston (dilapidated but marked with a historical marker) and Xavier University (plus numerous boosters) is making plans for King Studios in the neighborhood. The “experiential learning” community center is set to feature interactive displays about King’s history, a recording studio (for local musicians to record and others to use for learning opportunities) and a community arts center providing visual art classes and more.  

The label’s 70th anniversary month is loaded with events throughout the city — from author visits and more at downtown's main Cincinnati Library branch ( to numerous King-related concerts.

Friday, King Records Month launches with a free reception at the Evanston Recreation Center, running 4-7 p.m., where the public can learn more about King Records and King Studios.

From 6-8 p.m. Friday, MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine hosts the opening of the art exhibit Royal Plastics: King Records Album Art, which features vintage King album covers “reshot” by local photographers like John Curley and Michael Wilson and starring local musicians like Bobby Mackey

, Jake Speed and Buggs Tha Rocka .

On Saturday at 7 p.m., The Playhouse in the Park in Mount Adams will present a reading of a new play about the label and its founder at 7 p.m. (read CityBeat

's feature on the play here).

And starting Sunday and running all September, Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge and Shake It Records in Northside will be offering deals on King’s releases. 

For the full run-down of King Records Month events and more on the project, visit 

Phratry Turns 9

Though it has a few years to go before catching up to King, Greater Cincinnati’s best independent Punk/Post Punk/Etc. imprint Phratry Records

reached an important milestone in August, turning 9 years old. The label began primarily focusing on local talent (putting out dazzling efforts by Mad Anthony, Knife the Symphony, State Song, Ampline and many others), but has progressively expanded its signings to include bands like Food (featuring members of fIREHOSE, Gumball and The Cynics), The Shanks (from Toronto, Canada) and an increasing number of other “non-locals.”

Friday and Saturday, Phratry takes over Northside’s The Comet for an anniversary celebration weekend featuring live sets by some of the label’s superb local signings (past and present). Friday, catch Mala in Se

and a reunion of The Strongest Proof ; Saturday, Arms Exploding reunites to perform with Swear Jar . Both shows start at 10 p.m.

In conjunction with the anniversary, Phratry and the online ’zine THWART! are giving away a free 29-track compilation of the Phratry tracks. Click for the download link and for all things Phratry. 

More Local Notes

• The reigning Cincinnati Entertainment Awards’ “New Artist of the Year,” DAAP Girls

, celebrate the release of the second music video from their glorious debut LP, Tape Songs , this Friday at 10 p.m. at Japp’s in Over-the-Rhine. The video for the song “Molly” is a stellar piece of art, the result of a collaboration between the Girls, visual artist Philip LaVelle, graphic designer Josh Jacob and videographer Sean Steininger. DAAP Girls will also perform Friday at the free event. You can get a sneak peek of the video on the music blog at Friday morning. (Read CityBeat 's interview with DAAP Girls here .) ( )

• The grand finale of the season-long MidPoint Indie Summer

concert series is Friday on Fountain Square . The free series concludes with internationally beloved/locally based Why? , plus Nashville’s Moon Taxi and Cincy’s Vito Emmanuel . Showtime is 8 p.m. There will be a one-time only special on tickets to the forthcoming MidPoint Music Festival 2013. Those purchasing tickets in person at the Square Friday can buy three-day passes for $59 ($10 off) and three-day VIP passes for $149 ($20 off). Visit for the latest on the fest and for tickets (if you can’t make Friday).

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @

CityBeatMusic or on Facebook here.