Though rootsier acoustic music seems to be almost trendy now (it’s a “fad” that seems to come around every 15 years or so, often as young people rediscover the music), the local organization Queen City Balladeershas been celebrating and nurturing Folk and Americana music for decades in the Queen City. Next year will mark the Balladeers’ (and their casual Sunday gatherings, Leo Coffeehouse ) 50th anniversary, a truly remarkable accomplishment.
The Balladeers formed and created the Leo Coffeehouse (an acoustic showcase that has been located in a few different venues over time) in 1963 during one of those earlier “trendy periods” for Folk music, giving University of Cincinnati students a place to check out this “hip, new style” and musicians a spot to perform, maybe try out new songs and interact with each other and the Folk music lovers in attendance.
The Balladeers haven’t stopped since.
The Leo Coffeehouse is currently held at Norwood’s Zion United Church of Christ Founder’s Hall every Sunday from September-May. But the Balladeers don’t take the summer off — instead, they work on their outdoor music blowout, EdenSong. In 1999, on the eve of EdenSong and the Balladeers’ 35th anniversary, then Cincinnati Enquirer music critic Larry Nager wrote, “If Leo Coffeehouse is the training ground, EdenSong is where local folk artists show off what they’ve learned.”
The 49th annual EdenSong starts this Friday and continues each Friday in July at the Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. The free concerts begin at 8 p.m. each night and run until 10 p.m. There is no admission and this year the neighboring Cincinnati Art Museum is allowing EdenSongers to park in its lot for free (except for the July 27 event).
The Balladeers have always done an excellent job booking a strong and eclectic lineup for each EdenSong, showcasing both veteran acts and newcomers, locals and touring artists. Though all the music can be generally placed under the Americana music umbrella, EdenSong is a great place to hear just how wide-ranging the music can be.
This Friday’s EdenSong’s kick-off event features Rabbit Hash String Band, Anna & Milovan , The Flock , Lisa & Glen Ginn with John Ford and Lagniappe .
On July 13, EdenSong hosts Shiny & the Spoon, Ma Crow & the Ladyslippers , Diana Chittester , Greg Schaber and John Kogge & the Lonesome Strangers . The July 20 EdenSong has Jerome Scott , Red Cedars , The Bromwell-Diehl Band , The Rattlesnakin’ Daddies and the finest jug-band in the Midwest, The Cincinnati Dancing Pigs .
EdenSong closes out its 49th season on July 27 with Lisa Biales, Neil Jacobs , Noah Wotherspoon & Jessi Bair , The Tillers and Ricky Nye .
I can’t wait to see what the Balladeers do for next year’s 50th anniversary EdenSong. For more info, visit queencityballadeers.org.
Northside Third AND Fourth Fun
A slightly younger annual live music festival with the potential to go on for decades is the Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival. Conceived in 2005 by MOTR Pub’s Chris Schadler and put into action in 2006 by Schadler and Leslie Scott, the event takes place the night before one of the must-see parades of the summer, the eclectic, sometimes eccentric Northside 4th of July Parade, which makes its way down Hamilton Avenue starting at noon Wednesday.
The free Rock n’ Roll Carnival in Jacob Hoffner Park (at the corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock Street) on Tuesday night will present “side-show” fun galore — everything from fire-breathers and sword swallowers to drag performances and burlesque.
But live music is at the heart of the carnival and the assembled lineup this year once again features a great, diverse mix of groups from Greater Cincinnati, as well as a few nationally touring acts. Locals playing the Rock n’ Roll Carnival this year are Cletus Romp, Jake Speed and the Freddies , Eclipse , R. Ring , The Tillers and You, You’re Awesome . Headlining is Nashville’s Pujol ; New York’s The Big Sleep and Nashville’s Turbo Fruits also perform.
Food and other vendors will also be rockin’ the Carnival and, of course, plenty of beer will be available. For more details on the Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival, visit northsiderocks.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or on Twitter (@CityBeatMusic)