With the average shelf-life of a new music festival/conference being about two or three years, the growth and success of the MidPoint Music Festival — now in year five — can't be shrugged at. Nearly 300 bands will pack the clubs in and around the Main Street Entertainment District this week, hopefully providing a boost to Cincinnati's downtown nightlife scene, which has seen dwindling patronage and closed clubs and restaurants over the past couple of years.
Ever industrious, the MPMF organizers have found and/or created makeshift venues to replace closed ones, something they've proven to be good at from the very beginning.
Besides the showcases and panels — which are detailed in the following pages — there are plenty of other extracurricular events tied to MidPoint.
· In the fine tradition of unconventional opening stunts, MPMF will present local Rock greats MOTH opening the fest Wednesday with a bang as they play on the Contemporary Arts Center's terrace. Swing by on your lunch break and watch their noon-time set from the street like those unsuspecting gawkers who caught The Beatles' last-gasp rooftop performance in the Let It Be movie.
· A CD compilation featuring several MPMF performers will get a "release party" Wednesday night at Mr. Pitiful's on Main Street. MidPointers Vinyltones, The Kim Monroe Band and The Dirty Royals will rock the free party, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
· Thursday at Mr. Pitiful's, WNKU (the great local NPR station found at 89.7 FM on your radio dial) hosts a pre-fest warm-up party with music provided by the station's Mr. Rhythm Man, who's bringing his Rhythm Man Dancers along for the ride. Get your buzz on a little earlier at the 6:30 p.m. fiesta, where you can buy discounted $5 wristbands that will get you into all of the venues Thursday night.
· Friday at J Hall (formerly Jefferson Hall), CityBeat hosts a "StartingPoint" shindig at 7 p.m.
Get some free barbecue and a $5 wristband good for all Friday shows. Best of all, Erika Wennerstrom of the nationally acclaimed Cincinnati Rock trio Heartless Bastards is performing a rare solo set featuring just her guitar and that amazing, soul-stirring voice of hers.
· Also on Friday, Know Theatre of Cincinnati hosts a MidPoint Fire-Up Party at 6 p.m. with dinner-by-the-bite for $5. It's a fundraising event for Cincinnati Advance, the local YP organization that promotes the urban experience. Know Theatre's new Over-the-Rhine home will host two stages throughout MPMF.
· Local Rock radio juggernaut WEBN hosts Saturday's pre-fest warm-up at The Exchange, starting at 6:30 p.m. Music will be provided by Tim Krekle.
· Saturday at noon there will be a special MidPoint-affiliated outdoor music festival at Washington Park, near Music Hall. The concert is free if you have a MPMF wristband; a $2 donation to the Washington Park Community Partners is required if you don't. MidPoint bands playing the satellite festival include The Stapletons, Duwende, Campfire Crush, Shane Bartell and The Rockwells.
· Before you even leave the house, be sure to check the MPMF Web site, which has some new features this year, including a service that allows you to receive a customized schedule via text message; "Clickguide," which lets you put the sked on your iPod or PDA; a new blog; ringtone downloads from some of the MPMF performers; and a new "Sounds Like" search engine where you can enter the names of your all-time favorite bands to produce correlating MPMF acts. Also check out the new MPMF Podcast series, produced by local company Alvatech and featuring music and interviews with MPMF artists, founders and hangers-on (like yours truly).
Of course, the meat of MidPoint is in the club showcases at night. Read on for CityBeat's comprehensive guide. (Special thanks to my new best friends in the world — Brian Baker, Daniele Pfarr and Hannah Roberts — for their exhaustive help compiling blurbs on each of the 300 or so performers), plot our your itineraries and explore. We'll see you there!
If you're looking for something to do during the days and you can't extricate yourself from your computer, check out citybeat.com for photos and writeups of the previous night's performances. ©