Let Them Clear Their Throats

Cincinnati’s Young Heirlooms have gratitude in their hearts and some stuff to get off their chests

Sep 26, 2012 at 11:31 am
click to enlarge Young Heirlooms (Photo: Shannon Williams)
Young Heirlooms (Photo: Shannon Williams)

There’s a very thin line between knowing what you want and being thankful for what you have. A few inches to one side could see you constantly unhappy with what you earn. An inch on the other side and you’re bound to never earn anything new.

Cincinnati’s on-the-rise Indie Folk duo Young Heirlooms walk that line. They’re overwhelmingly thankful for the support from Cincinnati and respect from their fans. Their gratefulness is conveyed nearly constantly, onstage and off.

But, just under the surface, they’re itching for more.

Wanting “more” is a reasonable request from Young Heirlooms. Both core members (they’ve performed with an extended band in the past, but decided the duo format worked best for the songs) work multiple jobs so that they can pay their bills and support their music careers. Kelly Fine went to school for graphic design and, aside from designing Young Heirloom’s awesome merchandise, she also does freelance. That is, when she’s not nannying for two families or working reception at a nearby salon. Her musical counterpart, Chris Robinson, bounces around Oakley working the 20th Century Theatre box office and waiting tables at Habit’s. And for aspiring musicians who still need to get down the basics, Robinson also teaches guitar.  

After everything they juggle, what Young Heirlooms want most right now is more time for music.

Oh, and they also want to set a couple things straight.

First, we should get the Walk the Moon thing out of the way. Followers of Cincinnati’s music scene might be aware that Robinson used to be a member of Walk the Moon. Just before they burst onto the national music scene, though, he left the band. He wanted to make music he was more comfortable with, something that felt more “him.” He thinks he’s found that in Young Heirlooms.

“This is the best thing I’ve ever done,” Robinson says. “Hands down.”

No one was screwed out of anything and there appears to be no hard feelings. Chris just decided to move on to something that suited him better artistically. 

Speaking of moving (this time “around” instead of “on), Kelly Fine would like the record to show that she is not from Dayton, thank you very much.

“We’re both from Cincinnati,” Fine says.  

If you need more proof, she went to Mariemont High School. For those of you that keep track, that means she’s an East Sider. She only lived in Dayton while she went to the University of Dayton to get her degree. It may seem like a minor misconception, but Fine is proud of her hometown, grateful for the support from Cincinnati and wants to make sure that credit goes where it’s due.

“We are thankful for the Cincinnati support that we’ve had at this point,” she says, before adding that they’ve played “some truly great venues.”

Last year, Young Heirlooms were asked to play Midpoint just a couple months after they began performing together. The night of their MPMF debut, Know Theatre was crammed with people. Since then, they’ve played to a packed house at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub multiple times, landed a regular gig at Habits and have played the renovated Washington Park.

“I feel like every show at Washington Park benefits Music Hall,” Fine says, speaking of being asked to play a benefit for the Cincinnati arts and how much they enjoy using their music to give back to their community.

Most striking about those performances are not the sounds that come from the speakers (though they are lovely, too) but from the atmosphere those sounds create. Fans stand in near reverence at Young Heirlooms’ shows. Their eyes are almost always locked on Fine and Robinson, not their cell phones. The room is almost always quiet. People prefer to experience Young Heirlooms — not just hear them in the background over a conversation with a friend. A couple songs in and even the most chaotic of venues has a sleepy vibe near the stage as listeners stand in silence and absorb the emotions of each song.

It won’t be long until fans can take the sounds of Young Heirlooms home with them, too. Somewhere on a computer is a nearly finished debut album just waiting for its finishing touches. There’s talk of it being pressed to vinyl, if they can afford it. The warmth would certainly benefit their sound. And Robinson is teasing a Halloween release party. They’ve also got a music video “in the can” that’s awaiting the final audio edit before they send it out into the world.

First, they have to get through MidPoint 2012. Though, at this point it should be a walk in the park. Fine will be performing at the fest for the third time. (Her first time was a solo gig while she was still in college.) For Robinson, this will be his fourth year after playing previous years with Come on Caboose (2009), Walk the Moon and Where They Landed (2010) and last year’s performance with Young Heirlooms. 

Prior experience doesn’t lessen the excitement, however, and it’s hard to tell if they’re more excited to perform or to check out other gigs.

“I like to make out a schedule and run to everything,” Fine explains. “However, things I will miss other bands for (are) Andrew Bird and Grizzly Bear. I wanna see their full sets. I will not walk away until they put their shit down and the lights are out.”

Beyond MPMF and the upcoming album, it’s hard to get them to admit what they want next. They know they’re still a relatively new band, compared to others on the Cincinnati scene, and seem almost afraid to ask for anything more than everything Cincinnati’s given them so far. A little pushing, though, brings out an answer or two.

“I love Cincinnati, but I want to be on the road,” Robinson begins.

“I want to be full-time music,” Fine adds. 

“However that paints itself, I just want to do what I feel like I’m supposed to do.”

How would they like to see more support?

“Buy a bird magnet,” Fine says, speaking of Young Heirlooms’ handmade merchandise. “Help us get to our next gig.”

YOUNG HEIRLOOMS perform at the MidPoint Music Festival on Thursday, 10:30 p.m. at Mr. Pitiful's.