Conventional Concert

Downtown's Convention Center officially reopens Thursday as the Duke Energy Center with a big "grand opening" shindig featuring a wealth of local music talent, including two intriguing "allstar" col

Downtown's Convention Center officially reopens Thursday as the Duke Energy Center with a big "grand opening" shindig featuring a wealth of local music talent, including two intriguing "allstar" collaboratives.

Music kicks off immediately after the opening ceremonies (we're guessing ribbons will be cut, proclamations made) at 5:30 p.m. on the "Fifth Street Concourse Stage" with longtime Roots/Party Rock faves Robin Lacy and DeZydeco. At 7:30 p.m., the Queen City Queens take the stage. QCQ feature four of the city's finest female vocalists from varying genres and backgrounds — Soul/Folk troubadour Tracy Walker, Bluegrass great Ma Crow, versatile rocker Shawna James and Blues fave Cheryl Renee. Backed by guitarist Greg Schaber, bassist John Schmidt and drummer Bernie Phelon, each singer will front the band for a few songs, culminating in a finale featuring all four.

Also at 7:30 p.m., this time in the Center's indoor ballroom, another local supergroup debuts. The Dukes of Groove features piano master Steve Schmidt, guitar whiz Scotty Anderson, horn heroes Mike Wade (trumpet) and Brent Gallaher (sax) and the legendary Phillip Paul, who was the main session drummer on all of the big King Records hits. Pittsburgh-spawned Jam/Rock/World music group Rusted Root headlines in the ballroom at 9 p.m.

The performances on the Fifth Street stage are free and no tickets are required. While also free, you will, however, need tickets for the Rusted Root/The Dukes of Groove show. Tickets are being given out on local radio stations MOJO (94.9 FM) and WNKU (89.7 FM) and at noon on Thursday, 2,000 additional tickets will be made available at the Duke Energy Center.

There's a limit of two tickets per person, so get there early. Put "Duke Energy Center" in the search engine on Music kicks off immediately after the opening ceremonies (we're guessing ribbons will be cut, proclamations made) at 5:30 p.m. on the "Fifth Street Concourse Stage" with longtime Roots/Party Rock faves Robin Lacy and DeZydeco. At 7:30 p.m., the Queen City Queens take the stage. QCQ feature four of the city's finest female vocalists from varying genres and backgrounds — Soul/Folk troubadour Tracy Walker, Bluegrass great Ma Crow, versatile rocker Shawna James and Blues fave Cheryl Renee. Backed by guitarist Greg Schaber, bassist John Schmidt and drummer Bernie Phelon, each singer will front the band for a few songs, culminating in a finale featuring all four.

Also at 7:30 p.m., this time in the Center's indoor ballroom, another local supergroup debuts. The Dukes of Groove features piano master Steve Schmidt, guitar whiz Scotty Anderson, horn heroes Mike Wade (trumpet) and Brent Gallaher (sax) and the legendary Phillip Paul, who was the main session drummer on all of the big King Records hits. Pittsburgh-spawned Jam/Rock/World music group Rusted Root headlines in the ballroom at 9 p.m.

The performances on the Fifth Street stage are free and no tickets are required. While also free, you will, however, need tickets for the Rusted Root/The Dukes of Groove show. Tickets are being given out on local radio stations MOJO (94.9 FM) and WNKU (89.7 FM) and at noon on Thursday, 2,000 additional tickets will be made available at the Duke Energy Center.

There's a limit of two tickets per person, so get there early. Put "Duke Energy Center" in the search engine on cincinnati-oh.gov for more details.

Rumors, Lies and General Misunderstandings
· Sunday, restaurant/bar/music venue Allyn's Café is celebrating 15 years of service with an all-day Blues/Roots/Rock party showcasing some of the local artists who have performed at the Columbia-Tusculum club over the years. The party — which starts at noon and runs until 2 a.m. — kicks off with The Goshorn Brothers and also features Tickled Pink, Blue Lou and the Accusations, Snake Oil Salesmen, Sweet Alice Hoskins and The Blue Birds Big Band. Admission is $5 for the whole day. (allynscafe.net)

· The Greenwich in Walnut Hills presents an interestingly-themed, dual tribute show this Saturday. With last year's loss of Luther Vandross (who died last summer at 54) and the return of Stevie Wonder (who released A Time To Love, his first album in a decade), "Hello, Stevie ... Goodbye, Luther" honors both legends with several area artists playing the icons' songs in their own style. Participants include Contemporary Jazz/Pop composer/saxophonist Randy Villars, Blues/Jazz/R&B singer/guitarist Paul Caver, singer/songwriter/arranger Enoch Morgan and local R&B crew The Groove Society. Admission is $15 (or $25 per couple) and that includes a dinner buffet and valet parking. Music starts at 9 p.m.

· A musical benefit for the "Books 4 Prisoners" program takes place Saturday in the basement of the Clifton United Methodist Church (cliftonumc.com). The $5 cover goes straight to the locally-based organization, which gathers reading materials for inmates. The 5 p.m., all-ages show features local Experimental and Punk acts like Realicide, Evolve, Bludstone, Vivi C. Diem, Moon Collision and more.

· If you're tiring of the same old club concerts and love Latin music, be sure to look into this Friday's "Salsa Cruise," featuring music by Tropicoso. The Cruise down the Ohio River sets sail monthly this summer, featuring live music, dance lessons, food and drinks. Tickets are $20 and the boat boards at 10 p.m. at the Celebrations Riverboats landing in Ludlow, Ky. For full details, go to cincylatino.com.

· The Down Under in Covington hosts a benefit for the "Wags & Whiskers $25 Spay/Neuter Program" this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Music for the all-ages event will be provided by The Mudpies, Urban Creek, Blair Karg and Cawood & Mike. Proceeds go to the local non-profit spay/neuter program for cats and dogs. Bob Barker would be proud.

· No local bands played last weekend's huge, sold-out Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, but CityBeat did manage to send local musician (and CityBeat contributor) Ric Hickey down to the fest with photographer Keith Klenowski. Check out their wrap-up from the big event at citybeat.com.



CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com