MPMF FRIDAY SCHEDULE
Quick link: Mike Breen's MidPoint overview
Quick link: Thursday 9/25 band previews & critics' picks
Quick link: Saturday 9/27 band previews & critics' picks
Quick link: Wristband/ticket details
Quick link: Scion Streetcar Shuttle details
Arnold’s Bar & Grill
8:30 p.m. Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar (Cincinnati)
More of a stream-of-consciousness sonic experiment than a Jam Band, these guys are heavy on the Euro-Jazz and light on the string-plunking. Nick Mitchell takes the slanted keyboard wizardry and slice-n-dice compositional prowess that was so much of the attraction of his last project (The Terrors) and lets it off the leash. They’re groove monsters but more menacing than danceable. Mitchell is also the main man behind the annual Adjust Your Eyes music and art festival.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: Beck channeling Frank Zappa, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Hillbilly Mars Volta. (Ezra Waller)
9:30 p.m. Lucky Spaulding & the Zionites (Cincinnati)
In the 1990s, The Zionites were Cincinnati's premiere Reggae band — though they always have been much more than a Reggae band, incorporating elements of Pop and R&B into the rocksteady mix. The band broke up briefly, as founder Lucky Spaulding pursued a solo career. But recently the ensemble returned to the local club front, a welcome sign for the many Zionite-heads in the area.
Dig It: Third World, Steel Pulse, New Jack Swing. (Mike Breen)
10:30 p.m. The Emeralds (Cincinnati)
Members of The Trojan Rabbit and The Stapletons teamed with singersongwriter/guitarist Ric Hickey (CityBeat contributing writer) to form this rollickin’ Pop/Rock band, which quickly got an EP (An Alarming Rate of Speed) and East Coast tour under its collective belt. All of the musicians in this band are top-notch on their instruments (and three of ’em are damn fine singers, too). The songwriting is equally impressive.
Dig It: Rootsy, ragged-glory Power Pop, psychodots, Ric Hickey. (MB)
11:30 p.m. Jon Justice Band (Cincinnati)
It might well be that Jon Justice gets so much out of the Blues because he put so much into it. He started off as a teenage drummer, played Gospel and Bluegrass, and then switched to guitar and dropped out of high school. A move to Memphis kicked his ass and taught him valuable lessons, which ultimately led to his local win last year in the Cincinnati Blues Challenge. For his latest album, Justice gumboed up Led Zeppelin and Motown ... and made it work.
Dig It: Hard driving, Delta mudding, slow burning, high flying Rock/Folk/Country-ass Blues, dammit. (Brian Baker)
Aronoff Fifth Third Bank Theater
8 p.m. The Rosehips (Columbus, Ohio)
Somehow this all-girl Indie Rock outfit doesn’t remind us of any of the groups we thought they might. They’re more fuzzed-out that the Breeders, more melodic than Sleater-Kinney, tougher than Throwing Muses and more focused than Sonic Youth. But they borrow a little from all of those acts and more, suggesting that their older siblings had awesome record collections. Most importantly, they have the chops and attitude to pull off this style flawlessly.
Dig It: Dinosaur Jr. or Superchunk backing up Juliana Hatfield. (EW)
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Purrs (Seattle)
There’s a pretty good case to be made for The Purrs as the American Verve. Sheets of psychedelically jangly guitar against a pulsing backdrop of moody Brit-Pop rhythms and ’60s-meets-’90s angry young band anthemics cast the Purrs in the fluid light show of the new psychedelia. The on-the-rise band is fronted by Jim Antonio, a former Cincinnati musician who played with top local acts like Lizard 99, Oyster and Roundhead.
Dig It: The Dandy Warhols playing Big Star albums on the Velvet Underground’s turntable through the Verve’s speakers. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Say Hi (Seattle)
Eric Elbogen’s one-man band (formerly Say Hi to Your Mom) is on its fifth album, and thankfully not too much has changed. The beats are still bright and bouncy, the synth melodies are as catchy as ever and the lyrics are full of disarming wit. His Shoegaze vocals are soaring a bit higher, and the hooks are more direct. Along with the name change and relocation (from NYC) comes a new touring band lineup, rumored to be the strongest yet.
Dig It: The Decemberists, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Death Cab for Cutie. (EW)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Jukebox the Ghost (Washington, D.C.)
You can’t say piano Pop without invoking names like Ben Folds and The Fray, but Jukebox the Ghost is a different animal, even though their sound is also built around the 88s. Folds is snarkier, The Fray is Emo-ier but JTG is just right, churning out tunes that bristle with Indie Pop energy and youthful optimism as well as a sense of the top without going over it too much.
Dig It: Ben Folds as the musical director for Queen (as long as he takes his antidepressant as prescribed). (BB)
Below Zero Lounge (Upstairs)
8:30 p.m. Artists & Authors (Cincinnati)
Andrea Summer was already a renowned Folk singer with mad piano skills when she hooked up with the Curbsquirrels’ Tye VonAllmen to create the forceful ambiance of Artists & Authors. Melding the edgy crunch of Alternative Rock with the gentle ripple of Folk/Pop, Artists & Authors craft a sound that manages to be aggressively loud and contemplatively quiet, sometimes in the same song.
Dig It: Imogen Heap fronting Jimmy Eat World, Punk/Pop’s Over the Rhine. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Otter Petter (Chicago)
Chicago quintet Otter Petter has been a regional favorite since the band formed three years ago. Their eponymous debut EP earned them an invitation from The Chicago Tribune to compete in their Metromix Rock ’N Vote competition, where they landed in the top four to score a gig at the famed Metro. Coming on the heels of a ton of regional touring last year, Otter Petter’s first full length, this year’s Fireflies and Lamp Lights, has been wildly and deservedly praised.
Dig It: Fountains of Wayne’s sense of Pop, Death Cab for Cutie’s sense of Fountains of Wayne. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Sailing (Dayton)
Epic doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of The Sailing’s meticulously crafted Art Rock. Their songs combine the overblown majesty of Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” and the quirky shape-shifting of Camper Van Beethoven. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the quartet that is as well-versed in science fiction and fantasy worlds as they are in music. Active since 2002, they finally completed a recorded debut this year, The Infinity Gate. Raw drumming and guitar thrashing provide the fist-pumping, head-banging undercurrents while frontman Tech Honors rocks the falsetto and coaxes classically-inspired hooks out of the keyboard. Their sound has a lot more Punk and straight up Indie Rock influence than most Prog, perhaps a sly tip of the hat to fellow Daytonians Guided By Voices.
Dig It: Radiohead doing the Flash Gordon soundtrack, Rush-inspired geekery with Snow Patrol hipness. (EW)
11:30 p.m. Go Motion (Omaha, Neb.)
Go Motion stands a really good chance of becoming the next band to break out of the fertile music scene in Omaha. The band specializes in powerful Dance/Rock, with Synth Pop quirks, comet-streaking guitar riffs and great, melodic vocals. GM’s pulsing, energized rhythms are sure to have Below Zero bumping — bring yer dancin’ shoes.
Dig It: Stellastarr*, Editors, Interpol. (MB)
Blue Wisp Jazz Club
[Lujo Records Showcase]
8 p.m. Critic's Pick: mouse fire (Lakeland, Fla.)
On their debut album, Wooden Teeth, and the subsequent demos that they’ve posted on their MySpace page, Florida’s mouse fire effectively combines edgy Indie Pop with a slickly defined Dance mentality. The results are infectious, engaging and darkly appealing, earning the trio a rabid fan base and tons of critical love.
Dig It: Modest Mouse, Spoon and Maroon 5 have a dance-off to see who gets to bitchslap Morrissey, just because. (BB)
9 p.m. The Dark Romantics (Lakeland, Fla.)
With a name like “The Dark Romantics,” you were expecting a Ska band? As their name suggests, this band makes a moody, mysterious noise that is danceable, sensual and often epic, with nods to ’80s synth-laden Post Punk. The band’s second album, Heartbreaker, was just released on Lujo Records and is destined to become a blog and college radio favorite.
Dig It: Pre-experimental Radiohead doing Cure covers with the lyrics replaced with Edgar Allen Poe prose. (MB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Look Mexico (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Look Mexico takes the basic tenet of Math Rock, which is intellectual precision, and turns it on its thinking head by injecting the form with an almost lethal dose of heart and feeling. As a result, Look Mexico’s just-released EP, Gasp Asp, is filled with circuitously algebraic beauty and melodic Pop deliberation that is both thrilling and compelling.
Dig It: Pavement and the Shins recreating Sharks vs. Jets routine from West Side Story. (BB)
11 p.m. Baby Teeth (Chicago)
Perhaps the best known of the Lujo bands, Baby Teeth make grand, majestic, quirky music in the vein of Queen, while citing Pop masters like Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren as major influences. The result is Pop music big on personality, with some charming Disco additives and soulful melodies.
Dig It: Scissor Sisters, ELO in Xanadu, Of Montreal lately. (MB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Pomegranates (Cincinnati)
One of the bigger success stories out of Cincinnati in the past couple of years, Pomegranates wowed local audiences right out of the gate, enchanted by the band’s eccentric diversity, youthful vigor and wise-beyond-years sophistication. They were quickly snatched up by Lujo Records, which released the fantastic full-length, Everything Is Alive, in May 2007. The band’s creative take on Pop is a nonstop barrage of unshakeable hooks, sweet earnestness and undying optimism.
Dig It: Vampire Weekend minus the AfroPop, early Modest Mouse minus the darkness. (MB)
Buddakhan’s Classic Rock Cafe
8:30 p.m. Rosella (Cleveland)
With a sound begging for Rock radio play, this Northern Ohio five-piece formed just a couple of years ago, releasing the well-received Seasons in 2006. The band is currently wrapping up recording their next release, which is being produced by Jim Twirt, whose early work and friendship with Incubus led to their worldwide rise.
Dig It: double-bass drum fills, a less arty Deftones, Incubus meets STP. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Fizzgig (Cincinnati)
Fizzgig’s years as one of the preeminent Power Pop bands in Cincinnati has really paid off in 2008. In peak form, the band’s solid Reset LP has grown their fanbases in the U.K. and Japan, where they have distribution. It’s easy to hear the attraction: Fizzgig are all about big, catchy melodies, like Weezer minus the Rock Star schtick and Offspring-like gimmicks of late.
Dig It: Power Pop of the past, meet Power Pop of the now. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Kink Ador (Nashville)
Just a couple of years ago, bassist/singer Sharon Koltick moved her band from Lafayette, Ind. to the Music City. They’ve flourished there and have even been playing shows with Big & Rich’s Muzik Mafia. Don’t ask us to explain this, as Kink Ador’s sound is firmly entrenched in the Indie-Rock-goes-New-Wave category, nowhere near Country. Must be proof that Koltick’s driving bass and bratty chanteuse vocals can probably woo any crowd.
Dig It: Blonde Redhead fronted by Debbie Harry & Gwen Stefani’s love child. (EW)
11:30 p.m. Jared Mahone Band (Columbus, Ohio)
At first blush, Jared Mahone might seem like he’s working Dave Matthews’ angle, but Mahone’s band songs bristle with neo-Soul energy, while his solo work sighs with the heartworn wonder of David Wilcox. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition and Mahone makes it work effortlessly.
Dig It: Lenny Kravitz gives up the glammy ’70s for the folky G. Love ’90s. (BB)
8:30 p.m. Tyler Traband (Milwaukee)
Keyboardist Tyler Traband works a soulful groove that blends Beatlesque Pop and Billy Joel’s sense of the dramatic with a quirkier approach overall. Traband’s Pop cred is indisputable; his last album, 2005’s Leftovers from South 2nd Street, and his most recent EP, Re-Issue, were produced by Ambrosia’s Joe Puerta.
Dig It: Ben Folds writing songs for Jon Bon Jovi on Broadway. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Buckra (Cincinnati)
I can’t for the life of me understand why Buckra isn’t the biggest bloody thing between the coasts. They swing like mad, they Rock harder than a coke boner and Dylan Speeg is without question one of the most entertaining frontmen in the city. Buckra’s new disc, Camouflage Playboys International, is their best yet (in addition to all their other best works). See them and agree.
Dig It: The Tubes reimagined in a fever sleep by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Cari Clara (Cincinnati)
Eric Diedrichs has perfected a method for welding anthemic Pop Rock to hushed Indie bedroom ballads without diminishing the ethereal qualities of either. Conceived digitally by a solo Diedrichs in 2002, the all-star band he assembled to convey the songs live have added greatly to the project’s palette. They allow Cari Clara to construct more texturally dense and organic music, as evidenced on last year’s You Better Run EP.
Dig It: Bright Eyes with no twang, Mazzy Star with no chick, Dream Pop with no equal. (EW)
11:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: Cavashawn (Chicago)
Although Cavashawn hail from Chicago, the band is fronted by expatriate Ohioan Scott Salmon, who clearly has some Raspberries in his DNA. Cavashawn favors a crunchy brand of Pop that accesses the sweet brilliance of the ’70s, the wavy swing of the ’80s and the minor key edginess of ’90s-to-now, making their debut EP a thing of anthemic Pop beauty.
Dig It: Eric Carmen fronting Weezer to contribute to a Jellyfish tribute. (BB)
8 p.m. Tracy Walker (Cincinnati)
It’s really hard for any of us at CityBeat to be objective about Tracy Walker because she’s been a part of the paper’s family for so long, so at the risk of destroying the illusion of objectivity let’s just say that our Ms. Walker is in the top two of acoustic Folk entertainers in this area. And she’s the other one, too.
Dig It: Tracy Chapman gets her Folk in Natalie Merchant’s Pop, creating the world’s first Reese’s Folk/Pop Cup. (BB)
8:45 p.m. Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla.)
One of the great mysteries this year at MPMF world headquarters is why Florida Indie Pop singer/songwriter Alex Diaz has three names (Xela Zaid, Ho Chi Minh and his birth name). Then we heard his music and didn’t care. Diaz makes supple songs with guitar, bass and drums, plus some sublime electronic ornamentation. But it’s the songwriting that will knock you off your feet, something that should be front and center at Mr. Whateveryouwannacallhim’s MidPoint showcase.
Dig It: Beck, the eels, Gnarls Barkley with an Indie Pop soul. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Jayne Sachs (Dayton)
Jayne’s addiction might just be MidPoint, as she’s rightfully earned a slot practically every year in the fest’s history. The former TV reporter got her musical start while going to Ohio State, where she started doing open mics. In the early ’90s she found a band to start playing her original Pop Rock songs in Dayton, and she hasn’t looked back. Sachs can write a catchy hook as well as anyone, as evidenced by her numerous accolades (including her win in a recent John Lennon Songwriting Contest) and her latest album, Sutures.
Dig It: Tori Amos with a better sense of humor, Tracy Bonham, Lisa Loeb. (MB)
10:15 p.m. Alyse Black (Seattle)
It seems as though chicks with pianos are popping up with greater frequency but Alyse Black is no trendy wannabe Pop princess. Not many people can claim influences as broad as Nina Simone and Tom Waits and then come up with the music to prove it, but Black has done just that with her debut CD, last year’s smoky and seductive Too Much & Too Lovely.
Dig It: Norah Jones and Tori Amos thumb wrestling with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker for the last two Regina Spektor tickets in New York. (BB)
11 p.m. Elisa Nicolas (Columbus, Ohio)
Alternative Folk Pop
There’s a jazzy undercurrent to the breezy Folk Pop that Elisa Nicolas effortlessly presents on her latest album, Compass and a Pen. Nicolas swings with the the Jazz power of Rickie Lee Jones, sways with the Pop chops of Aimee Mann and spits with the authority of Chrissie Hynde, sometimes all within the same song. Unexpectedly captivating and simply elegant, Elisa Nicolas will own you by the end of her second song.
Dig It: Sam Phillips and Joni Mitchell try to impress each other by playing the other’s music through the thin walls of their apartment building. (BB)
9 p.m. IsWhat?! (Cincinnati)
Blends of Hip-Hop and traditional Jazz aren’t rare, but Iswhat?!’s marriage of stripped-down versions of each is unique and inspirational. Jack Walker lays down saxophone lines while Napoleon Maddox provides beat-boxing and socially-charged freestyle rhymes. The flexible lineup usually includes bass and occasionally other instruments and easily adapts for onstage collaborations. They make regular appearances at European festivals in addition to stateside touring.
Dig It: A Method Man and Sonny Rollins jam session with Mingus conducting. (EW)
10 p.m. Idaho, Alaska (Lexington, Ky.)
This oddly-named crew connect the dots between The Pixies, Built to Spill and Modest Mouse with their expansive, wiry-guitar-laced soundtrack. The sonics are watery and impulsive, flowing like a stream of consciousness and loaded with interesting textures and song shifts. While a mere two years old, the band is already hard at work on a second album. Kentucky’s Indie Rock fertility appears to still be as fruitful as ever.
Dig It: Modest Mouse, Indie Rock before it got all disco-y. (MB)
11 p.m. HotChaCha (Cleveland)
Girls just wanna have fun ... and Rock and Soul and guitars and volume are the most effective ways to get it for the scorching ladies of HotChaCha. Taking a shimmery cue from the New Wave of the ’80s and the antithetical Indie melodicism that followed, HotChaCha bring attitude and atmosphere in equal measure.
Dig It: Early R.E.M. bride of Frankensteined into the Cure with Exene Cervenka in appropriately high fright wig. (BB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Eat Sugar (Cincinnati)
Eat Sugar is further proof that Cincinnati is a hotbed of world class talent just waiting to be discovered by someone in the industry with a nervous system more sophisticated than a nematode. A raucous collision of New Wave jitters, Electro Pop bounce, Indie Rock concussion and Post Punk edge, Eat Sugar pushes all the right buttons, then shatters the button with a rusty old hammer they found in their rehearsal shed.
Dig It: Iggy Pop fronting XTC in 1979 then time tunneling ahead to now to stop Vampire Weekend from ever happening, only to take their place. (BB)
Inner Peace Center Stage
8 p.m. Romance of Young Tigers (Dayton)
Brian Eno once espoused ambient music as a form that could blend into the background, but Romance of Young Tigers take a diametric view. The Dayton trio (two guitarists, one bassist, no drummer) creates a swirling, reverbed, psychedelic atmosphere that obliterates background in noisy, magnificent sheets of aggressive Ambience.
Dig It: Curve curving, the Verve verving, Eno screaming. (BB)
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Winter Sounds (Athens, Ga.)
While combing the ’80s for acts to compare with The Winter Sounds, it becomes apparent that their blend of soothing, hushed passages and explosive choruses owes more to ’90s Alt Rock. Frontman Patrick Keenan’s Morrisey-esque baritone pipes and his melodic bass lines haunt and sooth while layers of guitar and keys crash and recede. The drums are refreshingly live and particularly helpful in keeping the best tunes on their 2007 full-length Porcelain Empire from sounding like Death Cab knock-offs. Besides Keenan, the band’s membership has been fluid, but the current lineup looks to be full of keepers. The Winter Sounds’ newly released EP Pine Box will be available at shows on their fall tour, which is scheduled to hit several other festivals, including CMJ.
Dig It: The Smiths, The Bravery, Roxy Music. (EW)
10 p.m. Bottom Line (Cincinnati)
The sad tale of "young band gets major record deal, young band loses record deal, young band breaks up" in the music industry was nipped in the bud by this band, once signed to Maverick Records. Bottom Line, who play an incredibly catchy brand of Punk Pop, continued on when Maverick went under, trimming the lineup to a trio and immediately beginning work on a new CD.
Dig It: Taking Back Sunday, Jimmy Eat World, Brand New. (MB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Lonely China Day (Beijing, China)
Unlike Sigur Ros, you might guess this Ambient Dream Pop band’s country of origin by the tinges of Far Eastern melody in their songs. When singer Deng Pei lets loose with his smooth, yearning voice in his native Mandarin, the secret’s out. Delayed and ebowed guitars, synth runs and powerful live drums drive their sprawling, airy minimalism. LCD is one of those rare overseas acts that can truly innovate, not just imitate.
Dig It: Mogwai, The Album Leaf, Godspeed You Chinese Emperor (EW)
9:30 p.m. Boss Monkey (Cincinnati)
Boss Monkey has been on the local scene for only a year or so and the tracks on their MySpace page are so fresh they’ve just had their umbilical cords cut, but this jazzy Funk/Soul quartet are destined for the big damn time. Sturdy, high impact dancing shoes are recommended for anyone climbing the Boss Monkey rhythm tree.
Dig It: A Caucasian Fishbone with lots of early Funkadelic/Red Hot Chili Peppers fixations that the deepest therapy couldn’t (and shouldn’t) touch. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Taina Asili (Albany, N.Y.)
Taina Asili is the total package: singer/songwriter, poet, political activist, visual artist, teacher and mother. Asili’s current musical direction encompasses a blend of Hip Hop and Afro-Caribbean beats performed with her band, La Banda Rebelde. The songs on her latest album, Mama Guerilla, often address political and social issues arising from anti-colonial struggles in Puerto Rico.
Dig It: Joan Osborne sings the Blues of the Caribbean. (BB)
11:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: Scratch Track (Kansas City)
For the past eight years, Scratch Track has been captivating audiences and critics alike while defying any attempt to classify their sound. After all, the duo (DJ Lee on the mic, Jason Hamlin on guitar) has successfully opened for Jurassic 5, Living Colour, George Clinton, Will Hoge and Erykah Badu (among many others). Scratch Track’s latest album, The Legend of Wild Bill, is evidence of their astonishing range.
Dig It: Digable Planets and Timbuk 3 playing bumper cars at Jack Johnson’s hippie jam carnival. (BB)
Know Theater Downstairs
8 p.m. Goose (Cincinnati)
These dudes love them some baseball. Jason Arbenz and Paul Cavins previously performed together in Throneberry, one of Cincy’s great success stories of the ’90s, which was named after an infamous New York Met. Their current band (featuring Arbenz’s brother Jordan on guitar) is a nod to recent Hall of Fame inductee Goose Gossage. The band’s elegant, organic Rock songs feel timeless (Arbenz is one of this town’s finest and overlooked songwriters), just like America’s favorite pastime (no, not cornhole, baseball!).
Dig It: The Band on first, Elvis Costello on second and The Jayhawks on third, with Alex Chilton stepping up to the plate. (MB)
9 p.m. Culture Queer (Cincinnati)
For years now, Culture Queer has taken the elements of traditional Pop (sprightly melodies, unquenchable effervescence) and injected the proceedings with a quirky liquidity (Electronic experimentalism, Eno-like lyrical conundrums, New Wave energy, a wonderfully disguised darkness), resulting in a fascinating mash-up of style and substance. Culture Queer consistently provides the soundtrack for you to dance your ass off at the intersection of Think and Don’t Think.
Dig It: Brian Eno and Puffy Ami Yumi starring in the big screen musical version of Three’s Company (with Carl Newman and Neko Case as the Ropers). (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Swimmers (Philadelphia)
More decade-bending than genre-bending, this is filigreed Indie Rock that knows its roots and isn’t afraid to forge ahead. Their endlessly melodic debut, Fighting Trees, is assembled with Abbey Road precision, balancing powerful contributions from every instrument. Their sound echoes the group’s three years of chemistry as well as the years of experience they collected prior to this project.
Dig It: XTC, The M’s, The Kinks. (EW)
Know Theater Main Stage
9 p.m. Nathan Holscher (Cincinnati)
Nathan Holscher grew up in Galena, Ill., with his newspaper editor/English professor father and stay-at-home mother. Music was a constant in his home — Bruce Springsteen was a big influence and he cleared the dinner dishes nightly to Dire Straits. He moved to Cincinnati a couple of years ago and recorded Even the Hills, a captivating, ethereal Americana album.
Dig It: Shel Silverstein writes ghostly Pop for Lyle Lovett. (BB)
10 p.m. Jake Speed & The Freddies (Cincinnati)
One of the busiest musicians in Cincinnati, Jake Speed has performed at practically every festival in town, from family-friendly events to big civic happenings to local music festivals (including his own impressive Roots fest, the Rivertown Breakdown). If you’ve seen him play, you understand the wide appeal: Speed is a charmer, full of good humor and an endless stream of vintage-sounding Folk tunes. He and his Freddies have released several albums of Americana virtuosity.
Dig It: Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack and other from Folk music’s breakout period. (MB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: A.A. Bondy (Birmingham, Ala.)
Former Verbena frontman A.A. Bondy has gone the solo route, shifting from edgy AltRock shouter to raspy acoustic balladeer without a hitch. Blending a contemporary Americana perspective with elements of Delta, Piedmont and Country Blues, Bondy has created a warm and engaging set of modern damned/saved Folk gems on his debut solo album, American Hearts, released on Fat Possum this past spring to an overwhelmingly positive reception.
Dig It: Ryan Adams channeling the spirits of Robert Johnson and Hank Williams and actually accepting their influence. (BB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: The Felice Brothers (New York City)
The Felice Brothers’ natural but fast rise in the music world started when the three eldest Felice boys took their folksy backporch ramblings from their Catskills homebase to New York City, where they lived in an old bus and busked for food money. A music writer stumbled across them on the street and spread the word, leading to — in fairly quick succession — U.K. and European tours, their first U.S. jaunt (opening for Bright Eyes, which had them playing Radio City Music Hall), a deal with Team Love Records, the Conor Oberst co-founded label based in NYC, and a fair amount of glowing critical acclaim. The band boasts an authentic, salt-of-the-earth Americana sound buoyed by an intimate, ragged energy.
Dig It: The Avett Brothers, Wilco on Mermaid Ave., Devendra Banhart. (MB)
8 p.m. Moon High (Columbus/Dayton)
These Ohioans make utterly transcendent Indie Folk that shimmers with organic grace. The five-piece should be the next favorite band of everyone entranced by the current Indie Folk revolution. Moon High’s self-titled album (recently released in a gorgeously-packaged, handmade second edition, complete with Moonflower seeds) has attracted a lot of attention, largely by word of mouth. The band has been the toast of several music blogs, the modern day equivalent of Alan Freed taking a shine to your record promotion man’s free and loose cash flow. Expect big things.
Dig It: Iron and Wine, Vetiver, Sparklehorse. (MB)
9 p.m. Troubadour Dali (St. Louis)
In a little over a year, Troubadour Dali has taken the St. Louis scene by storm, whipping up a Psych Pop frenzy that leans toward the fuzziest and fizziest of Kula Shaker and the Dandy Warhols. And they’ve been endorsed by legendary Midwest music maven Beatle Bob. Get enhanced and get entranced. Say, “Hello, Dali!”
Dig It: Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols kiss and make up. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Pearlene (Cincinnati)
We should drop to our collective knees and thank God (or the universe or whatever deity we individually offer a big thumbs up in response for perceived blessings) that Pearlene calls this region home and that we can experience them in all their ear-shredding, face-melting glory on a fairly regular basis. The quartet’s last album, For Western Violence and Brief Sensuality, couldn’t have been a more charged experience if it had come with an AC adapter, and the sounds emanating from the album are a mere hint of Pearlene’s jaw-dropping live presence. On stage, Pearlene will shatter your soul into a million little shards and then reassemble them in a new and much improved pattern, literally altering you from the inside out. Witness Pearlene and prepare to shift in your pants.
Dig It: The greatest ’70s Blues Rock performed by angels, fallen and otherwise. (BB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Buffalo Killers (Cincinnati)
Psychedelic Pop Rock
The Buffalo Killers hearken back to a time when the Blues was being interpreted by the generation after the seminal electric artists of the ’50s, a generation that was simultaneously being inspired by acid-fueled imagination. It is this trippy, shape-shifting version of the Blues and Psych Rock that the band inhabits so magnificently on their 2006 debut and their just released Let It Ride. The Buffalo Killers are making yesterday’s brilliant classic Rock today. The band is fittingly performing at the Lodge Bar — not sure if there’s any buffalo, but there are the heads of several other members of the animal kingdom mounted on the walls for inspiration.
Dig It: The James Gang trapped in the bodies of Blue Cheer, exorcised by Neil Young and Leslie West. (BB)
New Stage Collective
8 p.m. The Sloes (Cincinnati)
Acoustic Roots Rock
This acoustic duo has an extensive song list of covers they play at their local club gigs, where they put their stamp on everything from Neil Young to Miles Davis to the Stanley Brothers. That’s a testament to their skills as musicians and interpreters, but their debut CD, Desperate Train, showed their deft ability to incorporate all of that knowledge into a sublime collection of Folk Pop originals with tinges of Bluegrass and Jazz helping to set them apart.
Dig It: Jeff Tweedy acoustic, the thought of an acoustic Middle Eastern version of “Paint It Black” (yup, they do one). (MB)
9 p.m. ATHENS (Chicago)
Making Jangle Pop with dark and progressive leanings, ATHENS assaults your ears not with hooks and repetition, but with sprawling compositions that eschew verse/chorus/verse in deference to meandering melodies and poetic lyrical presentations. There are hints of Canuck Indie Rock and Brit-Punk on last year’s six song debut The Philosophers, but just enough to create some stylistic blurring to complement the amorphous arrangements.
Dig It: The Unicorns, R.E.M fronted by Lou Reed. (EW)
10 p.m. Rebel Red (Warwick, N.Y.)
Rebel Red is fronted appropriately enough by Red, a multi-instrumentalist who was born in New York and spent her formative years in England. Rebel Red’s sophomore album, Sex, Religion, Politics, is a prime example of her Roots Blues swing. The track “On My Guard” earned an honorable mention in the 15th Annual Billboard World Songwriting Contest.
Dig It: Bonnie Raitt hooking a ride through the Delta with the ghost of Ray Charles riding in Levon Helm’s truck. (BB)
11 p.m. Southeast Engine (Athens, Ohio)
Formed in 2000 by a pair of Dayton natives transplanted to Athens, Southeast Engine is a fascinating gene splice of the ’90s Dayton Indie Rock movement and the longstanding Folk scene surrounding OU. The quintet’s last album, Wheel Within a Wheel, landed on a number of 2007 Top 10 lists, and they’re currently at work on their fifth album.
Dig It: Nick Drake raised in Ohio, befriended by Robert Pollard, starts Rock band, lives. (BB)
12 a.m. Dane Clark Band (Pendleton, Ind.)
What are a drummer’s last words in a band? “Let’s try one of my songs.” That old joke most assuredly does not apply to John Mellencamp timekeeper Dane Clark, who happens to be a versatile multi-instrumentalist and a pretty amazing songwriter in his own right. Clark’s new album, No Apologies, might just give his boss a run for his money. (Personal note to DC: You should be the Dane Clark Five ... just a thought.)
Dig It: A pass-the-guitar jam with Mellencamp, Buddy Miller and Steve Earle. (BB)
Southgate House Ballroom
9 p.m. The Hiders (Cincinnati)
The Hiders have shifted personnel over the past two years, but a couple of things haven’t changed a bit: Billy Alletzhauser’s rootsy outfit still churns out great Roots Rock and The Hiders are still the greatest unsigned band in the country. From the clean Americana Pop of 2006’s Valentine is perfectly counterpointed by the raw Rock energy and quiet power of the band’s latest, Penny Harvest Field.
Dig It: Neil Young fronts Wilco for the Willie Nelson tribute/smoke-in. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Sadies (Toronto)
Playing on their reputation as top notch collaborators, between their last two studio albums, The Sadies made a Last Waltz style document with the live album, In Concert: Volume One, featuring friends and accomplices like Neko Case (whom the band has backed up for years), Kelly Hogan, Garth Hudson, Gary Louris and Blue Rodeo. But, as their latest Yep Rock Records release, New Seasons (co-produced by Louris) shows, these Canadians are a long way from being done. The long-running band has long been on the cutting edge of AltCountry and New Seasons is probably their finest album yet, cutting back on the instrumentals to showcase the Good brothers natural vocal harmonies and adroit songwriting abilities.
Dig It: Y’Alternative, eh? (MB)
Southgate House Parlour
[Tiberius/Phratry Records Showcase]
9 p.m. SS-20 (Cincinnati)
In the ’80s, no one was bigger than SS-20 in the local Punk/Hardcore scene (Hardcore meaning something quite different than it does now). Packed audiences chanted along to the band’s Punk anthems, which blended social consciousness with a wicked sense of humor (see: “The Pope’s on Tour,” “More Government Now”). The pioneering crew has carried on through the new millennium without losing any of that caustic wit and bash-n-pop vitality (the band was as influenced by The Who and likeminded bands as the Sex Pistols were). Best line on their MySpace site: “Well, we use to sound like the Dead Kennedys. Now (singer) Jughead looks like Ted Kennedy.”
Dig It: Circle Jerks, Toxic Reasons, remembering the Jockey Club with fondness. (MB)
9:45 p.m. Alone at 3am (Cincinnati)
Delivering workingman, heartland Rock & Roll with a Punk Rock urgency, Alone at 3am released its debut album, City Out of Luck, earlier this year on the locally-based Tiberius Records. The fantastic songwriting is the key; singer Max Fender is an everyman poet able to convey common internal struggles with unquestionable sincerity. The hooks and energy will tear down any doubts you might have. It’s true Folk music for modern times; it just happens to kick major ass as well.
Dig It: Drive-By Truckers, Lucero, Bruce Springsteen born in 1983. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Caterpillar Tracks (Cincinnati)
Urgency drives every facet of the Caterpillar Tracks sound, from those pounding, precise drums to the slice-and-dice guitar to the desperate vocals, which singer/guitarist Shane Johnson delivers like a ransom note. The band’s latest release, Scrape the Summer, is a Fugazi-like slab of insistent Post Punk brilliance.
Dig It: “A camaro driving through a bar fight while giving a lecture on the role of the state,” or so says their MySpace. (MB)
11:15 p.m. Knife the Symphony (Covington)
Knife the Symphony make lacerating Post Punk that recalls the days when words like “Indie” and “Alternative” didn’t exist, and those types of musicians had to make due exclusively in the underground (which was fine by them). True to that D.I.Y. ethos, the band’s recent album, Crawler, not only came out on vinyl, but was released by Phratry Records, the local label run by the band members.
Dig It: Fugazi, Lungfish, Shellac. (MB)
12 a.m. Ampline (Cincinnati)
While they’ve since added some vocals, Ampline made their bones with magnetic instrumental Indie Rock that burns with Punk fire and bleeds as much emotion as most singers could ever hope to convey. The band has released several CDs (on both Tiberius and Shake It Records) and toured extensively across the country.
Dig It: Mogwai if they were from DC, Sigur Rios if they were from Boston, Jawbox if they didn’t have singer. (MB)
The Subway Bar and Lounge
9 p.m. DJ Sid the Apocalypze (Miami)
Citing influences from Public Enemy to Art of Noise to Prince, DJ Sid is a mixmaster of the highest order. Since 2005, he’s put out a string of releases, most of the instrumental variety, though Kung Fu and Sci-Fi samples are often prevalent. Sid, who has also participated in numerous mixtape releases, seems to find a theme or mood and expand on it, though the albums are anything but monotone, offering a wealth of variety. Sometimes jazzy, sometimes spacey, always funky, DJ Sid has come a long way since his DJ debut (as a party-startin’ eighth grader).
Dig It: RJD2, DJ Shadow, DJ Cam. (MB)
10 p.m. da muttss (Cincinnati)
Da mutts are still one of Cincinnati’s best Hip Hop groups, and that’s saying a lot, considering the group’s lineup is almost 100 percent different from the one that made its spectacular debut from a couple of years ago. MC/producer Bimu Bishop is the only original left (losing members to family, religious and career responsibilities) and he has brought da muttss into 2008 as strong as ever. The crew — which also includes DJ Apryl Reign, Kyle David, Peter Parker and El Born — released the impressive, creative album, The Sophomore Slump, earlier this year and it’s anything but.
Dig It: The Roots, Timbaland, OutKast. (MB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Seedy Seeds (Cincinnati)
Our beloved Seedy Seeds began in 2006 with the intention of writing and performing Japanese Pop songs. In just two years, Margaret Weiner and Mike Ingram have accomplished so much more. Utilizing accordion, kazoo, slide whistle, guitar and banjo (and anything else lying around), the Seeds have completely charmed the local scene; the duo is in studio working on their latest album, proof of a generous God’s existence.
Dig It: Brian Eno and Gillian Welch burn down the honky tonk and rebuild it with thrift store toys and instruments. (BB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Chico Fellini (Lexington, Ky.)
If you like your Rock with a smear of glammy make-up and plenty of vocal histrionics, grand gestures and feedback, Chico Fellini is your perfect rhythm storm. If the quartet is over the top, it’s in that appropriately controlled manner that Queen mastered all the way to platinum status back in the ’70s. Scaramouche, scaramouche, can you do the fandango? Oh, I think you can.
Dig It: The Dandy Warhols rocking the orchestra pit during a Broadway musical about David Bowie. (BB)