A Winter Sampler of Cincinnati Blues

Plus, the Autism Rocks benefit concert returns Sunday and Elementree Livity Project, The Cliftones and more celebrate Bob Marley's life

click to enlarge Kelly Richey plays the Winter Blues Fest this Saturday
Kelly Richey plays the Winter Blues Fest this Saturday

Cincinnati Blues was well represented at the 2015 International Blues Challenge late last month, where dozens of acts from around the world competed for top honors in a variety of categories. (Ohio Blues in general fared very well this year, with five of the 16 finalists hailing from the Buckeye State.)

Cincinnati’s The Whiskey Shambles and veteran IBC participants The Sonny Moorman Group competed amongst all of that talent, as did Noah Wotherspoon, whose group placed second in the “best band” category. Wotherspoon also scored the Albert King Award given to the top guitarist of the Challenge.

You can catch those three acts (each of which was nominated in the Blues category for the 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards; the Shambles won the award) and sample many others from Cincinnati’s rich Blues scene this weekend as the Cincy Blues Society presents the 2015 Winter Blues Fest at The Phoenix (812 Race St., Downtown, thephx.com).

Music will again be featured on three stages at the venue. On Friday, joining national headliner Popa Chubby in the third floor ballroom will be Doug Hart, The Sonny Moorman Group and The Beaumonts. On the second floor ballroom stage, The Blue Birds Big Band, The SoulFixers, Chuck Brisbin & The Tuna Project and the BITS Band (featuring young players from the Blues in the Schools program) will perform, while Friday’s first floor lineup features The Brad Hatfield Band, The Whiskey Shambles, The Cheryl Renee Project and The Medicine Men.

Saturday’s headliner is the U.K.’s Joanne Shaw Taylor (see our Taylor preview here), who will be joined in the third floor ballroom by The Juice, Kelly Richey and Tempted Souls. Saturday’s second floor ballroom lineup has G Miles and the Hitmen, Leroy Ellington Blues Band, Jay Jesse Johnson Blues Band and Johnny Fink & the Intrusion. On the first floor Saturday, you can catch the Noah Wotherspoon Band, Lil Red & The Rooster, Greg Schaber Band and Ricky Nye Inc. with Behah Williams.

Music begins at 6 p.m. each night. Tickets are available in advance through brownpapertickets.com for $20 (or $32.85 for a two-day pass). You can keep the schedule in your pocket by downloading the Cincy Blues Fest app, available for both iPhone and Android and featuring short bios on all of the performers.

For complete Winter Blues Fest details, visit cincyblues.org.

More Local Notes

• The sixth edition of the local Autism Rocks benefit concert takes place this Sunday at The Fairfield Banquet and Convention Center at Tori’s Station (74 Donald Dr., Fairfield, fairfieldconventionctr.com). Originally conceived to help a local couple with medical bills incurred from their young son’s treatment, the event soon expanded to raise money for other autism causes. This year, Autism Rocks benefits the Ken Anderson Foundation, formed by the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback to “build and sustain a community for adults living with autism” (visit kenandersonfoundation.com for more about the cause). Several local celebrities and former sports stars are expected to make appearances, and there will be silent and live auctions throughout the day to further raise funds.

Running from noon until around 7 p.m., Autism Rocks 6 features more than a dozen local acts, including The Sonny Moorman Group, Prizoner, Stagger Lee (with special guest Dallas Moore), After Midnight, Mr. Chris and the Cruisers, Devils Due, Mojo Rizin and 4th Day Echo. Admission is a $20 donation.

• If he hadn’t died in 1981 from cancer, music legend Bob Marley would be celebrating his 70th birthday this Friday. Fans across the world all year will be honoring the life of the man who popularized Reggae music, but this birthday weekend the Thompson House (24 E. Third St., Newport, thompsonhousenewport.com) is the place to be for local Marley lovers.

On Friday, the venue hosts the release party for the debut EP by Cincy Reggae/Rock/Jam crew Elementree Livity Project, You’re Not Ready. The lineup for the 8 p.m. show also includes fellow local Reggae acts The Cliftones and Know Prisoners. Besides their own performances, members of each band will join forces for a Marley tribute set. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

The Cliftones, who recently received another Cincinnati Entertainment Award in the World Music/Reggae category, keep the Marley tribute going on Saturday at the Thompson House, this time alternating sets with veteran Columbus, Ohio, Reggae band The Flex Crew. The 9:30 p.m. show is a part of the venue’s “1st Saturday Reggae Night” series. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 day of show.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @


Scroll to read more Local Music articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.