Mason James EP to Benefit a Near, Dear Cause

James gears up for a release party Saturday benefiting the Children's Tumor Foundation; Hi-Tek pays tribute to the Cavs via music video; submissions open up for artists interested in participating in MPMF.16 and more.

click to enlarge Mason James’ Born Ready - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Mason James’ Born Ready

Country music artist Mason James, who scored the Cincinnati Entertainment Award for top area Country artist in 2012, is gearing up for a special new release that will benefit a cause especially close to the singer/songwriter’s heart. Hailing from nearby West Harrison, Ind. and a regular on the local club circuit, James (whose real name is Randy Houser, which also happens to be the name of another Country music star, thus the stage moniker) is issuing the eight-track recording Born Ready in conjunction with a release party Saturday at Bobby Mackey’s Music World (44 Licking Pike, Wilder, Ky., bobbymackey.com).

Saturday’s event begins at 7 p.m. and admission is a donation — in an amount of the attendee’s choosing — to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which will also get you a copy of the new EP. Those donations, as well as proceeds from Born Ready’s sale, are aimed at fighting neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder which James’ son, Mason, was diagnosed with by the CTF. Born Ready will be available digitally beginning July 12. Visit masonjames.org to pre-order the EP and also hear/download the EP track “Younger Man.”

As for the EP itself, Born Ready features eight strong, soulful Country tunes enlivened with a modern verve, but still steeped in the music’s rich tradition (Pop/Bro Country fans should probably look elsewhere). Highlights include the Rock-tinged “Don’t You Tread on Me,” a duet with fellow area Country music singer/songwriter Taylor Shannon, and the darker-hued, facing-mortality musings of the title track. James is backed by some superb musicians on Born Ready, including drummer Chip Coburn, bassist Jerry Wesley, organist Elton Clifton and the dazzling guitarist Harold Kennedy, whose playing throughout is typically spellbinding.

More Local Notes

• Though Cincinnati and Cleveland sports fans sometimes don’t get along, many locals swelled with Ohio pride after the Cleveland Cavaliers recently won the NBA championship. Cincinnati Hip Hop legend Hi-Tek is one of those Cincinnatians showing love for the Cleveland basketball team, fittingly in the form of a song. Tek (whose work can also be heard in recent commercial campaigns from Gatorade and Nike) pays tribute to the Cavs and Ohio music in the recently released track “Ain’t No Place Like This,” which features guests Donte (from Space Invadaz and MOOD), Macho Means and Midnight Star’s Belinda Lipscomb. The music video blends Cavs footage with clips celebrating Ohio’s major contributors to music, including Ohio Players, The Black Keys, John Legend and Bootsy Collins. Several Hip Hop sites have been sharing the clip; you can most easily find a link to it on Tek’s Twitter page (@HiTek) or check it out below.

• Submissions are open for artists interested in being considered for a slot at 2016’s MidPoint Music Festival, which returns Sept. 23-25 as an all-outdoor festival on four stages in Over-the-Rhine. Acts interested in participating can submit through mpmf.com/artist-submissions. It is free to submit, though a Sonicbids account is required. 

Submissions are open through July 19. For complete details on MPMF.16, visit mpmf.com.

• The winners of last month’s 18th-annual Cincy Blues Challenge were the Jay Jesse Johnson Band and, in the “Solo/Duo” category, Johnny Fink. The Blues Challenge winners earn slots on the main stage at this year’s Cincy Blues Fest (Aug. 12-13 at Sawyer Point); Fink will open the main stage on Aug. 12 at 5:30 p.m., while Johnson and Co. play Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. Both acts will also represent Cincinnati at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis early next year. Many of the other Challenge participants — including The Magic Lightnin’ Boys, The Leroy Ellington Band, The Doug Hart Band, Ralph and the Rhythm Hounds and The Blue Birds — fill out the lineup on the Blues Fest’s “Local Stage” this year. 

For the full Blues Fest schedule, tickets and more, visit cincybluesfest.org. The festival is also looking for volunteers to work the event; click here for details/perks.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] 

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