· Former Metal haven Never on Sundays in Silverton has switched ownership and management. Now called Play By Play Café, the venue has been completely remodeled, adding a party room, kitchen, patio and other perks. But it's the eclectic lineup of local original music we've been digging. This Friday, the club presents local Pop/Rock mavericks The Swarthy Band and Earle Grey, the new band from former Afghan Whigs drummer Steve Earle (Earle has moved out from behind the drum kit and now sings and plays guitar). On Saturday, the club presents Middletown's Uncle Daddy and the Family Secret, a seven-piece, progressive Roots act that is supporting its new album, Ondefor. Fans of the Alpha Dawg recording artists will also want to tune in to Gary Burbank's show on WLW this Friday, between 4:30 and 5 p.m., as the band sits in with the mysterious Blues legend, Howlin' Blind Muddy Slim. (playbyplaycafe.com; myspace.com/theothersteveearle; swarthyband.com; alphadawgrecords.com)
· The East End Café in Columbia-Tusculum has also reopened and adjusted its format, mixing some original music in with its cover band offerings. This Saturday, up-and-coming local Jam band Lawndart (who mix Rock and Reggae covers with their own original tunes) performs, along with rockers The Myths, featuring former members of the '90s local band Slur. (theeastendcafe.com; wearethemyths.com; lawndartband.com).
· Though not up and running fully just yet, a new music-and-java spot is offering a sneak peak this Friday and looking for a little help to get itself open by the end of the summer.
The Cup — in the former Clifton-area home of Buzz Coffeeshop & CD-O-Rama, as well as Rock clubs like Kilgore's, at 2900 Jefferson Ave. — is hosting a benefit concert for itself Friday, starting at 5 p.m. and featuring musical acts like The Sheds, The Factories, The Categorical Imperative, The Gamet and several others. Music runs until 1 a.m. (myspace.com/benefitthecup)
Speed Has a Woody For Woody
Local Folk-singing favorite Jake Speed presents his seventh annual "Woody Guthrie 'Dust Bowl Bonanza" this Sunday at Shake It Records in Northside. Music starts at 2 p.m. and it's free to get in. As in past years, Speed (joined by his band, The Freddies) will perform Guthrie's legendary songs about the debilitating 1935 dust storms in Oklahoma, including "I Ain't Got No Home" and "So Long," as well as some other tunes from the musical icon's influential songbook. Attendees will also be able to win Woody-centric artwork made by Speed, including Guthrie snow globes, postcards, ornaments and "Do Not Disturb" signs. Also available — free chili (a favorite of Woody's).
Like Guthrie, Speed is an intuitive, socially-aware songwriter in his own right. Don't forget to check out his weekly "songatorial," Speedy Delivery, where Speed tackles the events of the day in song form. Recent tunes/columns have dealt with the immigration debate ("Jose, Can't You See?"), steroid-induced, Folk-singing supermen ("Pumped Up As Folk") and the stirring "Walk Away," which urges action in the beleaguered Uganda and Darfur regions. A fresh Speedy Delivery is available each Wednesday at citybeat.com, where you can also listen to Speed's entire collection of songatorials so far. (freddiesmusic.com)
More Local Notes
· Memorial Day weekend brings the Taste of Cincinnati festival back to the streets of Downtown and a nice range of local acts has been booked. Musical highlights from the three-day (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) shindig include Bootsy Collins' "Hall of Fame Block Party," featuring Animal Crackers, Freekbass, D-Jizzle, i-Candi and Mr. Collins himself, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday. Also on Saturday, be sure to check out Hip Hop acts Phiyah and Watusi Tribe, as well as rockers Gardenhose and Roots rebels Kentucky Struts. Sunday, we recommend Soul/Funk juggernaut Marvin and the Experience, Country act the Danny Frazier Band (with Casey Jamerson), World Funk crew Baoku and The Image Afro-Beat Band and the Rock acts 500 Miles to Memphis, The Kevin Fox Band, Wussy and Heartless Bastards. Monday, you don't have to work, so you should go see The Sonny Moorman Group, Kamikaze Saucers, Hyde Park Outrage, The Swarthy Band and — holy crap! — Uncle Al and Captain Windy. For performance times, go to taste-of-cincinnati.com or check this week's CityBeat for the event's official guide.
· Former local Jazz player Brian Newman — now working in New York City — returns to the area this week for a couple of performances with his old bandmates, TOAsT. The group plays Baba Budan's in Clifton Wednesday night, and Saturday the ensemble partakes in the multi-media extravaganza, "Gloss Me Up," at the Southgate House (the DAAP-designed event features a broad mix of visual art, fashion, dance and music). (myspace.com/newmanjazz)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com