Locals Only: : The Itch Is Back

After waiting 17 years to have sex, at least the cicadas will have a cool soundtrack to hump to

Seven Year Itch: Mating Songs Of Cincinnati USA



They rise from the earth. They sing. They mate. They die. No, it's not a VH1 Behind the Music — it's cicadas, and they're due to arrive in the Cincinnati area in a few weeks. Five billion of the insects will call the area home for six weeks, and there's no escape.

There is, however, a bright spot — the CD Seventeen Year Itch: Mating Songs of Cincinnati USA, a collaborative project presented by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Young Professionals of Cincinnati USA (YPCincy) and the MidPoint Music Festival.

The CD features one track each by Abiyah, Buckra, Jake Speed & the Freddies and The Walker Project. The CD also features a fifth "mystery" track by noted cicada expert Dr. Gene Kritsky of Mount St. Joseph College and his world-renowned "5 Billion in the Band."

The project was the brainchild of the Chamber's Raymond "Buz" Buse.

It struck him to tie in the city's music scene with the cicadas' song somehow. He approached MidPoint founders Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney with his idea; they suggested acts to appear on the CD and rounded them up to record songs about cicadas on demand, which brought a number of different reactions from the artists.

"It was a challenge to write a song about cicadas that we liked, learn to play it well and then record it in a limited amount of time," says Jacob Heintz of Buckra on their contribution, "Waited 17 Years (to Party)." "Our usual songwriting process takes months and even years to complete. Instead of creating a 'Sesame Street lesson' song on cicadas or talk about how annoying and gross they were, we decided to humanize them and look at life from the point of view of a bachelor cicada. The poor fella only has one month to procreate before dying. That's got to be a tough existence, and we wanted to pay tribute to all of the single cicadas out there."

Speed's track "Queen City Cicada" is a playful political jab that points out that we all share a common, insect-infested six weeks.

"It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, we're all going to experience this together," YPCincy's Melinda Canino says. "Kind of like Jake Speed's song says, these bugs can bring us together."

"The first thing we did when we heard about this project was laugh," says Chris Walker of The Walker Project, whose track is titled "Last Call." "The thought of a whole CD of songs about the cicadas just seemed silly at first. Our contribution is a love song about a little cicada guy looking for his little cicada girl before his time is up."

Abiyah's track, "Rise," doesn't feature any specific mention of cicadas at all but alludes to them repeatedly.

" 'Rise' parallels a recent relationship of mine that unfortunately ended," Abiyah says. "But while the relationship was going on, it mixed nicely with the emergence of the cicadas, so when I was asked to do the project it was serendipitous. It's about meeting someone a long time ago, losing them, finding them again in the present and losing them again. But if I hadn't reconnected with this person and then lost them again, I probably couldn't have written the song.

"It sucks as far as my love life goes, but I did get a really good song out of it."

Although the project would have ideally held an "open call" for submissions, Donabedian says the time frame they were working with was just too short.

"The bands we picked have proven themselves and are well organized and dependable," he says of the selection process. "We wanted to record the songs in one studio (DB Sound Design) with the same engineer so sonically it would be cohesive and professional. Considering the CD sounds awesome, the art looks just as good and we barely made the deadline, we definitely made the right decision.

"The national and international attention this is getting will bring attention not only to the bands on the CD but the entire Cincinnati Indie music scene as well."

Buse says the Itch CD shows the Chamber's commitment to local music and reflects the city's recent push to attract and keep young professionals in the city.

"(By working with) MidPoint and commissioning the four bands to go into the studio, paying for the studio time, paying for the production of the CD, marketing it — that's very 'un-Chamber-like' kind of work," he says. "It really cuts across the grain of what people expect from Cincinnati."

Through the efforts of the Chamber, YPCincy, MidPoint and especially the artists, the coming invasion will have a better soundtrack than the insistent whine of the cicadas themselves. My advice would be to put Seventeen Year Itch into your CD changer on continuous repeat for six weeks starting around May 20.

That, and carry a badminton racket.



SEVENTEEN YEAR ITCH: MATING SONGS OF CINCINNATI USA is now available for presale through

Seven Year Itch: Mating Songs Of Cincinnati USA



They rise from the earth. They sing. They mate. They die. No, it's not a VH1 Behind the Music — it's cicadas, and they're due to arrive in the Cincinnati area in a few weeks. Five billion of the insects will call the area home for six weeks, and there's no escape.

There is, however, a bright spot — the CD Seventeen Year Itch: Mating Songs of Cincinnati USA, a collaborative project presented by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Young Professionals of Cincinnati USA (YPCincy) and the MidPoint Music Festival.

The CD features one track each by Abiyah, Buckra, Jake Speed & the Freddies and The Walker Project. The CD also features a fifth "mystery" track by noted cicada expert Dr. Gene Kritsky of Mount St. Joseph College and his world-renowned "5 Billion in the Band."

The project was the brainchild of the Chamber's Raymond "Buz" Buse.

It struck him to tie in the city's music scene with the cicadas' song somehow. He approached MidPoint founders Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney with his idea; they suggested acts to appear on the CD and rounded them up to record songs about cicadas on demand, which brought a number of different reactions from the artists.

"It was a challenge to write a song about cicadas that we liked, learn to play it well and then record it in a limited amount of time," says Jacob Heintz of Buckra on their contribution, "Waited 17 Years (to Party)." "Our usual songwriting process takes months and even years to complete. Instead of creating a 'Sesame Street lesson' song on cicadas or talk about how annoying and gross they were, we decided to humanize them and look at life from the point of view of a bachelor cicada. The poor fella only has one month to procreate before dying. That's got to be a tough existence, and we wanted to pay tribute to all of the single cicadas out there."

Speed's track "Queen City Cicada" is a playful political jab that points out that we all share a common, insect-infested six weeks.

"It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, we're all going to experience this together," YPCincy's Melinda Canino says. "Kind of like Jake Speed's song says, these bugs can bring us together."

"The first thing we did when we heard about this project was laugh," says Chris Walker of The Walker Project, whose track is titled "Last Call." "The thought of a whole CD of songs about the cicadas just seemed silly at first. Our contribution is a love song about a little cicada guy looking for his little cicada girl before his time is up."

Abiyah's track, "Rise," doesn't feature any specific mention of cicadas at all but alludes to them repeatedly.

" 'Rise' parallels a recent relationship of mine that unfortunately ended," Abiyah says. "But while the relationship was going on, it mixed nicely with the emergence of the cicadas, so when I was asked to do the project it was serendipitous. It's about meeting someone a long time ago, losing them, finding them again in the present and losing them again. But if I hadn't reconnected with this person and then lost them again, I probably couldn't have written the song.

"It sucks as far as my love life goes, but I did get a really good song out of it."

Although the project would have ideally held an "open call" for submissions, Donabedian says the time frame they were working with was just too short.

"The bands we picked have proven themselves and are well organized and dependable," he says of the selection process. "We wanted to record the songs in one studio (DB Sound Design) with the same engineer so sonically it would be cohesive and professional. Considering the CD sounds awesome, the art looks just as good and we barely made the deadline, we definitely made the right decision.

"The national and international attention this is getting will bring attention not only to the bands on the CD but the entire Cincinnati Indie music scene as well."

Buse says the Itch CD shows the Chamber's commitment to local music and reflects the city's recent push to attract and keep young professionals in the city.

"(By working with) MidPoint and commissioning the four bands to go into the studio, paying for the studio time, paying for the production of the CD, marketing it — that's very 'un-Chamber-like' kind of work," he says. "It really cuts across the grain of what people expect from Cincinnati."

Through the efforts of the Chamber, YPCincy, MidPoint and especially the artists, the coming invasion will have a better soundtrack than the insistent whine of the cicadas themselves. My advice would be to put Seventeen Year Itch into your CD changer on continuous repeat for six weeks starting around May 20.

That, and carry a badminton racket.



SEVENTEEN YEAR ITCH: MATING SONGS OF CINCINNATI USA is now available for presale through ypcincy.com. Release parties will be held May 14 at The Cavern (7 p.m.) and May 22 (1 p.m.) at the Cincinnati Zoo. For more info, go to the YPCincy site, gccc.com or mpmf.com.

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