It’s the Most Winter Blues-iest Time of the Year

Winter Blues Fest returns and local artists and more unite to raise awareness for austism

Feb 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm
Brad Hatfield is one of over two dozen local and national Blues artists playing this weekend's Winter Blues Fest
Brad Hatfield is one of over two dozen local and national Blues artists playing this weekend's Winter Blues Fest

Greater Cincinnati hasn’t had a case of the “winter blues” as bad as this year’s for decades. Fear not. The Cincy Blues Society (which celebrates its 24th anniversary this year) has a (mildly ironic) cure — the Winter Blues Fest.

A satellite event to the Blues Society’s huge outdoor, summertime Cincy Blues Fest, the Winter Blues Fest — which returns to The Phoenix (812 Race St., Downtown, this Friday and Saturday — has truly grown into its own. This year’s lineup features two of the fest’s biggest national headliners yet. Celebrated Blues/Rock singer/guitarist Tinsley Ellis performs in the venue’s third floor Grand Ballroom on Friday at 9:45 p.m. Accomplished singer/songwriter Janiva Magness performs in the Grand Ballroom on Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

The Winter Blues Fest has also become a great way to check in on the state of Blues in Greater Cincinnati, showcasing many of the area’s finest players on four stages both Friday and Saturday.

Rounding out Friday’s Grand Ballroom lineup are G. Miles & the Hitmen, The Greg Schaber Band and The Blue Birds. On The Phoenix’s second floor, the Cincinnati Room will host Bob Dellaposta, Jimmy D. Rogers, Leo Clarke & Chuck Brisbin and the Dave Muskett Duo, while the Archway Ballroom will have Blue Sacrifice, The Juice, The Leroy Ellington Blues Band and The Blues Merchants. Friday in the first floor Presidents Room, catch The Heaters with Ben Levin, Bekah Williams with Ricky Nye, Ralph & the Rhythm Hounds and Ducttape & Dynamite.

Joining Magness Saturday in The Phoenix’s Grand Ballroom are The Tempted Souls Band, The Doug Hart Band and Rio & the Ramblers. On the second floor, the Archway Ballroom features performances by the Blues in the Schools Band, Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project, SoulFixers and Jay Jesse Johnson, and the Cincinnati Room will have Brian Keith Wallen, Greg Schaber, Johnny Fink & the Intrusion and The Twirlers. Saturday’s lineup for the first floor Presidents Room is Little Red & the Rooster, Ricky Nye Inc., The Brad Hatfield Band and The Noah Wotherspoon Band.

Music kicks off around 6 p.m. both nights. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Prices are $20 for one night or $32.85 for a weekend pass (there are smaller-than-usual service fees through the ticketing site). There will be food available and full-service bars throughout the venue.

Visit for the full schedule, artist details, ticket links, deals for special room rates at the nearby Garfield Suites Hotel (even great Blues music isn’t worth getting a DUI … or worse), volunteer information and much more. Blues lovers can sign up to become a member of the Cincy Blues Society at the door each night to receive Winter Blues Fest merch discounts and a free drink.

Rockin’ for Awareness, Cure for Autism 

Five years ago, after his 3-year-old son was diagnosed with autism and medical bills for his treatment began mounting, area resident David Kahle asked some of his musically inclined friends if they’d be interested in performing at a benefit concert to help raise funds for his son’s treatment.

The Autism Rocks event was such a success (and Kahle’s son was able to begin the treatment he needed), it has continued every year since (in the summer, Kahle also presents the Rockin’ for Autism concert).

For the past five years, the Autism Rocks concert has expanded greatly thanks to widespread community support and participation. The event has been held annually on the Sunday after the Super Bowl. For you non-sports fans, that means this Sunday, it’s time for Autism Rocks 5.

This year’s benefit kicks off at noon and will feature nonstop music all day at Lebo’s Bar and Grill (5869 Kellogg Ave., California, Proceeds from the event will benefit the nonprofit Autism Speaks (visit for more on what the organization does to raise awareness about the disease and help find a cure).

Autism Rocks will feature numerous items for raffle and silent auction, and several sports figures and area celebrities are expected to attend. The doors open at 11 a.m. and the music kicks off at noon. Performing at the concert will be local favorites Prizoner, Bad Habit, The Sonny Moorman Group, Stagger Lee, Relics, Slam’d, Dr. Phink and Russell Jinkins and the Sinners.

Admission to Autism Rocks 5 is $20 at the door (children 12 and under can get in for just a $10 donation).

Visit for complete information on the concert. If you cannot make it, the site has a link for donations and a live stream is being planned so Autism Rocks 5 can be viewed worldwide.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: or @CityBeatMusic.