Free Downtown, Over-the-Rhine Music Series Heat Up

Although summertime doesn’t officially begin until June 21, the popular free music series at downtown’s Fountain Square and Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park are officially in full swing starting this week.

click to enlarge The Buffalo Killers headline Fountain Square June 19.
The Buffalo Killers headline Fountain Square June 19.

Although summertime doesn’t officially begin until June 21, the popular free music series at downtown’s Fountain Square and Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park are officially in full swing starting this week. The concerts once again showcase a great mix of bigger-name touring acts and superb locals from a variety of genres.

On Fountain Square, Reggae Wednesdays begin this week with a performance by Areesaa Iyah & The Eastwind Band. The series (with shows beginning at 6 p.m.) features numerous regional, national and international acts, as well as local favorites The Cliftones, who play July 15.

The long-running Salsa on the Square shows got a jumpstart on the other series, kicking off in early May. The Latin music series continues this week with Clave Son, and will also feature locals like Zumba, Kandela, Tropicoso and Son Del Caribe throughout the summer. The events, which have dance instructors on hand to give pointers, begin at 7 p.m.

The MidPoint Indie Summer series starts Friday with headliners Surfer Blood and local acts The Yugos, Automagik and Harbour. The Indie Summer shows (sponsored by CityBeat’s MidPoint Music Festival, which returns this September; visit for more info) include numerous top-shelf national headliners this year, including The Ting Tings and San Fermin, and some of the city’s local bands drawing national attention. Buffalo Killers headline June 19, Tweens top the bill on Aug. 7 and Wussy is the headliner for the Aug. 28 show. Other great local bands are scattered throughout the series. Shows begin at 7 p.m.

The Saturday shows on Fountain Square put on by local promo/production group Self Diploma have consistently been some of the better-attended of the series. This year should be no exception, as the primarily Electronic music/Hip Hop/R&B showcases include headliners like Ja Rule and Nappy Roots. Local artists appearing at the 7 p.m. concerts include Trademark Aaron, DJ Drowsy, Diamond Star Russell, Puck and Oregonia.

On Tuesdays on Fountain Square, Americana music is celebrated with the American Roots series. The 7 p.m. shows continue this week with Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle and Wild Carrot. Along with national acts like Chuck Mead, The Quebe Sisters and Dale Watson, local artists performing during the series’ run include Josh Eagle and Harvest City, Wilder, Jeremy Pinnell and Straw Boss.

At Washington Park, the Thursday-evening Bandstand Bluegrass series (which showcases Country, Folk and Americana, as well as Bluegrass) begins this Thursday with local Roots act Mamadrones. Joining renowned artists like Country Blues favorite Charlie Parr and diverse Michigan ensemble The Appleseed Collective for the every-Thursday shows are area artists like Willow Tree Carolers, Casey Campbell, Mike Oberst (of The Tillers) and Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. Bandstand Bluegrass shows start at 7 p.m.

Washington Park’s Friday Fusion shows kick off this Friday with the local legends of Midnight Star. The every-Friday series showcases R&B and Jazz and includes appearances by the Marc Fields Quintet, Soul Pocket and Kathy Wade with the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. Nationally recognized artists Michel’le, Delfeayo & Jason Marsalis and Zapp Band are also slated to play Friday Fusion shows, which begin at 7 p.m.

For more info on the venues and the music series’ schedules, visit and

More Local Notes

• Cincy “blackened Doom Metal” band Siren releases its debut full-length, A Kingdom Aflame, in conjunction with a performance Saturday at Backstage Cafe (724 Madison Ave., Covington, 859-491-2445). AUTOMATON, Hell Scorched Earth, Slave Cable and Lexington’s Ford Theatre Reunion also perform at the 8 p.m. show. A Kingdom Aflame will be available to stream and download at starting Saturday.

• Cincinnati-based ’50s-style rock and rollers Keith Jones and the Makeshifts (think early Elvis Presley and Bill Haley & His Comets) celebrate the release of their debut album, fittingly titled Rock and Roll with Keith Jones and the Makeshifts, this Friday at Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Showtime is 9 p.m. and Blair Carman and The Belleview Boys and Straw Boss are also on the bill. For more on the headliners, visit

CONTACT MIKE BREEN : [email protected] or @CityBeatMusic .

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