Introductions and Returns

Circus of the Sun, Matt Mooney and Billy Catfish return to the stage

click to enlarge Matt Mooney aka Royal Holland
Matt Mooney aka Royal Holland

Some faces that should be familiar to die-hard local music fans will be returning to the stage in the next week.

• Local singer/songwriter Matt Mooney has been hard at work on his latest project since the end of his great Indie Rock band The Koala Fires, and next Wednesday, May 28, he’ll be debuting its “full production” set at the Southgate House Revival (

Since the start of this year, Mooney has been writing and recording (and hitting the open mic circuit) using the name Royal Holland, showcasing a rootsier approach, which he describes as “Dreamy Synth-Folk.”

Mooney will debut the full-on Royal Holland set during the final night of ex-Seedy Seed Margaret Darling’s month-long Wednesday night residency at the Southgate’s Lounge. The live show features Mooney solo with backing tracks and sequenced synth parts, as well as video projections. The musicians are also expected to offer up a full-album cover of Star, the 1993 debut album from Tanya Donelly’s band, Belly. (Darling and various special guests have been tackling a different favorite album each week during her appearances.) The free show kicks off at 9 p.m.

Look for Royal Holland’s debut four-song EP sometime before year’s end. You can keep tabs on the latest RH happenings (and hear a few demos) at

• Friday at Newport’s Southgate House Revival ( sees the return of Cincinnati ’90s/’00s rockers Circus of the Sun (CoS). The performance will mark the first time the gifted band (singer Marty Evans, drummer Dave Becknell, bassist Ashley Shepherd and guitarist Chuck Davis) has played in public since 2002.

CoS will be joined by another artist who left a mark on Cincinnati audiences “back in the day.” Mike Dillon, formerly of the gritty AltFunk group Billygoat (a touring favorite in the heyday of Corryville club Sudsy Malone’s), opens the show with his eponymous band at 9 p.m.

Davis says that while Circus of the Sun currently has no other plans to play beyond Friday’s show right now, he and his bandmates are open to performing again (and possibly recording) in the future.

The admission charge for Friday’s show is $10.

• Outside of a few appearances at the Whispering Beard Folk Festival, singer/songwriter Bill Furbee, aka Billy Catfish, has been largely silent on the musical front for the past few years. That changes this Saturday with the debut of his new band, The Fabulous Byurd Brains. The group performs at 10 p.m. at Price Hill club The Crow’s Nest ( The show is free.

Joining Catfish in the new band are Michael Hensley, Travis Talbert and Matt McCormick of the great local ensemble Frontier Folk Nebraska, as well as ex-West Ghost member Andrew Aragon and Steven Walls from Vampire Weekend at Bernie’s on “jug.” Occasional members also include singer/songwriter Josh Eagle (harmonica) and pianist Pete Nienabor, who performs with Noah Sugarman.

Find more info on The Fabulous Byurd Brains at

More Local Notes

• New-ish Cincinnati Blues band The Whiskey Shambles is ready to take on the world. The foursome (nominated in the Blues category at the most recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards) recently won the Northeast Ohio Blues Association Blues Challenge in Canton, Ohio. The victory earns the group a chance to compete at the huge International Blues Challenge in Memphis early next year. The Shambles are currently wrapping up work on their debut album, which they expect to release sometime this summer.

The band’s next show is June 8, when they’ll compete in a local Blues competition, the 16th annual Cincy Blues Challenge, presented by the Cincy Blues Society at Germania Park in Colerain. Start time is 1 p.m.

For more on The Whiskey Shambles, visit their website at

• Once again there will be more than just local food to taste at the 36th annual Taste of Cincinnati festival, which returns to downtown’s Fifth Street (between Vine and Sentinel streets) Saturday-Monday. There will also be a healthy dollop of local music from a variety of genres to sample throughout the three-day affair.

On Saturday, you can catch local artists like Tracy Walker, The Cincy Brass, Greg Burton, KY Myle, Azucar Tumbao, P. Ann Everson & the All Star Band, The Danny Frazier Band, Robin Lacy & DeZydeco, Pete Dressman & S.U.N., The Almighty Get Down, Ryan Broshear and more. Sunday’s lineup includes Kelly Thomas, Ricky Nye, Jamison Road, The Dan Varner Band, Kenny Welch Band and others. Monday’s closing day will have performers like Tana Matz, Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle, The Ingrid Rachel Project, Sonny Moorman Group, Leroy Ellington & the E-Funk Band, Rattlesnakin’ Daddies and much more. Music begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m. on Monday.

For the full schedule of performers (including several comedians on Saturday and Sunday), visit

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @


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