The Cincinnati Entertainment Awards program was created by CityBeat 19 years ago as a way to celebrate our city’s sometimes underappreciated original local music-makers (and, initially, the work done on the local theater scene, before the theater awards split off into its own program and then was eventually retired). The event has moved to various venues since then — CEA ceremonies have taken place at the Taft Theatre, the old Sycamore Gardens, Old St. George church in Clifton Heights and the Emery Theatre — but every year the event has retained the same spirit of honoring our local artists and giving local music fans and players a good party with great live music. It’s always been an excellent way to bring musicians together from a wide range of genres — the only such happening in town where such intermingling occurs on a regular basis.
The performances are always the heart and soul of the event, with various nominees performing a few songs throughout the night, playing for people who may not have seem them before and often winning a few new fans in the process. Past CEA show performance highlights include Foxy Shazam, Over the Rhine, Five Deez, Wussy, The Almighty Get Down, Boom Bip, Bootsy Collins, Ralph Stanley, The Afghan Whigs, Buggs Tha Rocka, The Heartless Bastards, The Greenhornes, The Tigerlilies, David Wolfenberger, Ricky Nye and The Bears, among numerous others.
This year’s CEAs should be no different, with a solid lineup of some of the area’s best set to perform. The 19th-annual CEAs take place this Sunday at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at Covington’s Madison Theater (730 Madison Ave., Covington, madisontheateronline.com). Opening the show is Jess Lamb, whose national profile was raised considerably after becoming an American Idol contestant, though, as those familiar with her work pre- and post-Idol can attest, she has a richer talent and more adventurous spirit than most TV singing competition contestants. Lamb (who performed a mesmerizing set at the 2013 CEAs) is nominated for an impressive five CEAs, including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year.
Also performing are Blues nominees the Noah Wotherspoon Band (also nominated for Album of the Year) and The Whiskey Shambles (who are up for Best Live Act, too), creative Hip Hop artist Abiyah, Folk/Americana nominee Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle, high-energy Punk and Best Live Act nominees The Slippery Lips and perennial Bluegrass nominees (and often winners) the Rumpke Mountain Boys, who tour so often, they usually miss the CEA ceremony, but will be on hand to rock out this year. The show will, of course, also feature award presentations in 19 categories (winners for most were determined by public vote; the CEA nominating committee decides Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year). Matt Sledge, former WOXY radio host and current WNKU on-air personality, will serve as the host of the festivities.
Tickets for the all-ages show are $20 in advance (available at cea.cincyticket.com) or $25 at the door (cash only). There are also special VIP tickets available ($40 in advance; $50 at the door). The nonprofit Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation receives proceeds from the VIP sales and also hosts the 6 p.m. pre-show party on the venue’s balcony (where you can also watch the show). Eli’s BBQ and beverages will be available. VIPs also receive a year-long membership to CMHF, which gets you access to some of the organization’s unique events and recordings. Visit takingyoutothebridge.org for more on CMHF.
The CEA show is expected to wrap up around 11 p.m., but the fun continues at the legendary CEA after-party. This year’s post-show fun takes place right next door to the Madison Theater, at the Madison Live space. The great Skeleton Hands, up for the Electronic CEA this year, will provide the music.
More on the show and program can be found at the CEA hub at citybeat.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]