Longtime David Letterman Bandleader Paul Shaffer Celebrates the Queen City's Musical Roots with the Cincinnati Pops

For the 'American Originals: The Cincinnati Sound' concerts at Music Hall this weekend, Shaffer and the Pops pay tribute to the Isley Brothers, Hank Williams, Mamie Smith and other artists who either hailed from Cincinnati or recorded seminal music here

click to enlarge Paul Shaffer - Courtesy of CBS
Courtesy of CBS
Paul Shaffer
In 2017 ahead of his scheduled (and ultimately canceled) show at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio, Paul Shaffer, longtime bandleader for David Letterman’s classic late-night talk shows was asked by CityBeat’s Steven Rosen about some of his most memorable moments from his time on TV and he cited backing up James Brown as “the most significant” performance.

Shaffer will get to pay tribute to Brown and other legends who recorded for Cincinnati’s King Records when he returns to Ohio this weekend to collaborate with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for a pair of special concerts celebrating the Queen City’s rich musical history. A part of the Pops’ American Originals series, The Cincinnati Sound concerts will celebrate the music of Brown, the Isley Brothers, Hank Williams, Mamie Smith, The Stanley Brothers and other artists who either hailed from Cincinnati or recorded seminal music here at King and downtown’s Herzog studios.

At Music Hall for the shows will be a special exhibit honoring King’s legacy and the concerts will be followed by a dance party in Music Hall’s foyer where DJ Bryan Dilsizian will spin some legendary Cincinnati-related platters.

Shaffer will handle keyboards (of course) and vocals for the shows and, along with the Pops orchestra (conducted by John Morris Russell), he’ll be joined by guest vocalists and musicians like his old Late Show bandmate Felicia Collins on guitar and local multi-instrumental wiz Bradley Meinerding on guitar and mandolin.

8 p.m. Saturday, March 7; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8. $25-$115. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.

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