We might not have a Bonnaroo or a Lollapalooza, but Cincinnati is pretty rich when it comes to music festivals. Especially if you’re a fan of local music. Throughout the year, locally-focused, multi-performer fests offer a chance for fans to see all their favorites at one event, but they’re also fantastic opportunities for curious newcomers to explore the talent our town has to offer. If you have a friend or family member who’s a local music virgin and you take them to MidPoint or Cincy Blues Fest or the just-completed Clifton Heights Music Festival, I guarantee they’ll have a newfound appreciation for homegrown music.
Another great opportunity for exploration is the Cincypunk Fest, which celebrates its ninth anniversary this Friday and Saturday on the many stages of the Southgate House.
The recipients of this year’s proceeds are the Animal Adoption Foundation in Hamilton and Cincinnati’s Friends of the Children. This year’s fest again keeps the quality bar high, with nearly 40 bands performing, ranging from established crowd favorites to the latest up-and-comers. (Note for the uninitiated: Don’t be fooled by the name. Punk plays a part, but the genre boundaries are pretty loose, with bands playing everything from Folk and Ska to Indie Rock and Hip Hop.)
Music is spread across the Southgate’s three stages.
Friday in the Ballroom, catch The Seedy Seeds, The Harlequins, State Song, Frankl Project, Small Time Crooks, Charlie Hustle and Situation Red. The Parlour lineup features Martin Luther and The Kings, Junkards, Animal Circles, Duppy a Jamba, The Tillers, Hazle Weatherfield and The Western. Holding down the Lounge are This American Life, Tuck Me In, Josh Elstro and Skeletone. Get all the Friday details here.
Saturday night in the Ballroom, rock out to The Lions Rampant, The Pinstripes, Alone at 3AM, The Guitars, Slow Claw, Weakness and The Javelin Dance. The Parlour will rumble with the Punk-heavy lineup of Pipe Dreams, Army Coach, Loudmouth, John Walsh, Two Inch Winky, DropkickmeJesus and Dopamines, while the Lounge has Sam Banta, The Never Setting Suns, De Los Muertos and Billy Wallace and the Virginia Blues. Get all the Saturday details here.
Are “regional sounds” dead in music? With the shrinking of the world via the Internet, it seems likely. Instead of being influenced solely by the peers in your town/region, artists today have the world at their fingers and can take from wherever they want. “Chicago Blues” or “Seattle Grunge” probably wouldn’t have developed in these times.
Hip Hop has always been known for its regional scenes and sounds. But young local Hip Hop artist Trademark Aaron is a great example of “It ain’t where you from, it’s where you at,” concocting a sound that embraces a wider range of influence, from Dirty South bounce to Chicago soulfulness, New York raw to Cali smooth. On Make Room, the Kentucky MC’s new 10-song album, the collision of influences makes for a great listen that suggests a truly talented artist on the rise. The tracks (from big bangers to silky slow jams) are well produced and highly accessible, with hooks aplenty. But Trademark Aaron’s strongest suit is his vocal flow and lyrical prowess — his words are smart and his rhymes are clever, but, most importantly, he comes off as a deeper thinker than your average dime-a-dozen boaster, showing a thoughtful and revealing side that is immensely relatable and appealing.
Make Room is available now at local indie-friendly record stores or you can download a copy for free at trademarkaaron.com. Make Room’s official release party is Saturday at Kaza’s in Covington (in the former spot occupied by Clique). Get show and venue details here.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]