Mainstay Says, "Thank You, Good Night"

Plus, the good music fest vibes keep going with Bend in the River Art & Music Festival and Friendship Music Festival

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click to enlarge Mainstay Rock Bar (Photo: Lauren Willey)
Mainstay Rock Bar (Photo: Lauren Willey)

After five and a half years of owning the live, original music scene in its corner of downtown Cincinnati, Mainstay Rock Bar (301 W. Fifth St.) will close its doors for good.

Last weekend, the club (which had previously been The Viper Room, then The Poison Room) once again hosted a raucous three days of MidPoint Music Festival performances. This Friday and Saturday, the venue presents a final-weekend blowout doing what it does best — showcasing some kick-ass local music. (The venue above the club, Betty Bar, will continue to host private parties.)

This weekend’s farewell events are all free and feature many of the bands that found a welcoming performance home at Mainstay over the years.

On Friday starting at 8 p.m., live music will be provided by Founding Fathers, Pluto Revolts, Lemon Sky, Albatross, The Dopamines, Dueling Drums and Cincinnati Royals, a local Punk supergroup formed by members of DAAP Girls, The Dopamines, Tweens and Barrence Whitfield & The Savages. Saturday’s festivities also begin at 8 p.m. The lineup features Zebras in Public, The Guild of Calamitous Intent, Honeyspiders and Mad Anthony.

For the final night on Sunday, head to Mainstay to watch the Bengals beat the Patriots at 8:30 p.m. Many of the club’s favorite DJs will spin following the game until closing time.

Mainstay has stood strong for five and half years despite obstacles. Though development throughout downtown has been plentiful, there isn’t much else near the club’s location and attendance probably wasn’t what it would have been if it were a little closer to the city’s core or the bustling Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (like the recently shuttered Blue Wisp Jazz Club, it appears just being a block or two from “the action” can hurt an entertainment business). The club also tragically lost one of its owners, Travis French, earlier this year when he passed away after a battle with leukemia.

But in its half decade of service, Mainstay became a favorite among many local musicians and music lovers (visit the music blog at to read a personal testimonial about the club’s awesomeness by CityBeat contributor Nick Grever). Cheers to the Mainstay family — thank you for doing what you did so well. (

And the Fests Keep Comin’ …

Those jonesing for more music fest goodness after last weekend’s spectacular MidPoint Music Festival have some great options this weekend.

The Bend in the River Art & Music Festival debuts this Saturday and Sunday in Lower Price Hill (2104 St. Michael St., next to The Sanctuary: Center for Education and the Arts). The festival/fundraiser runs 5-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday with the goal of bringing the community together (and showcasing it to others) and raising money for the Community Matters ( and Education Matters ( organizations.

Along with food trucks and booths, beer from MadTree Brewing and Rhinegeist and a variety of vendors and artists showing their wares, local musical acts from a variety of genres will provide live music. Tim Caudill, Pike 27, Blue Caboose, Under New Order, The Part-Time Gentlemen and Ohio Knife perform Saturday, while Wild Carrot, Sibling Rivalry, Matthew Schneider and Phoenix (the local Rock cover band, not the internationally famous French Indie Pop group) play Sunday.

Admission to the Bend in the River Art & Music Festival is $7 or $10 for a two-day pass (Lower Price Hill residents receive a coupon to attend for free).

For more information on “Bend Fest” and the cause, visit and

• The Versailles State Park Bluegrass Festival returns with a new location and name: the Friendship Music Festival at the Old Mill Campground in Friendship, Ind. (, which hosts the very popular Whispering Beard Folk Festival annually and is only about an hour drive southwest of Cincinnati. Despite moving from the state park and changing the moniker, the fest will continue to spotlight some of the region’s finest Bluegrass and Roots music practitioners.

On Saturday, the music starts at noon with a lineup featuring Mamadrones, Common Ground, Rural Route 2, Lee Sexton with John Haywood and Brett Ratliff, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, The Tillers and Bradford Lee Folk & the Bluegrass Playboys. The music picks back up Sunday at 11 a.m. with Mt. Pleasant String Band, followed by James White & Deer Tick, Blue Mafia, Whipstitch Sallies, Rattlesnakin’ Daddies and Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys.

Weekend passes for the Friendship Music Festival are $10; one-day passes are $5. Camping is available. Visit for full details.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @


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