If you’re up for an outdoor music experience this week but weren’t able to score tickets to the hugely popular Lumenocity concerts in Washington Park, there are some alternatives. There might not be laser-light displays, but there will be some good music.
• The first Cincy Blues Fest took place in 1992 and featured local legends like Albert Washington, Big Joe Duskin and H-Bomb Ferguson. The Blues Fest has grown considerably since then, but the festival has stayed true to the Cincinnati Blues scene, and local artists maintain a strong presence at every Blues Fest.
The 2015 Cincy Blues Fest is no exception, as it returns Friday and Saturday to Sawyer Point (705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown). The touring headliners this year are especially impressive (Tommy Castro, Tab Benoit and more), but the local lineup is, as usual, also top notch.
Local acts at the fest are largely booked based on the Cincy Blues Society’s Blues Challenge, an annual, all-day “battle” which also determines which artists will represent the Blues Society in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. The winner in the band category of this year’s Challenge was Johnny Fink and the Intrusion, which plays at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Budweiser Main Stage. The “solo/duo” winner was Sonny Moorman, who plays the Main Stage on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Other area Blues artists performing Friday include the Kelly Richey Band (playing the Showcase Stage), plus Blue Birds Big Band, The Beaumonts, Silver Pocket Trio, Noah Wotherspoon Band and Erin Coburn’s Cosmic Chaos (all on the Belterra Park Gaming Local Stage). Saturday’s Local Stage lineup features The Juice, Leroy Ellington Blues Band, Jay Jesse Johnson Band, The SoulFixers, Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project and Doug Hart Band. Saturday, the unique Arches Boogie Piano Stage returns, featuring performances by local great Ricky Nye and some of the best Boogie Woogie pianists in the country.
Music begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday and 4:45 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20; two-day passes are $35. Visit cincybluesfest.org for details.
• This Thursday is the kickoff of the 30th-annual It’s Commonly Jazz series, presented each Thursday this month at Seasongood Pavilion (950 Eden Park Dr., Eden Park). The shows, which feature local, regional and national Jazz artists, are free and begin at 6 p.m.
Dan Karlsberg and The ’Nati 6 open the series Thursday. Karlsberg enlisted some of Cincinnati’s finest players (drummer Art Gore, trombonist Marc Fields, saxophonist Brent Gallaher and others) to perform on his recently released album, also called The ’Nati 6, which is one of the best Jazz albums of the year.
On Aug. 13, the series presents four trumpet greats — including Cincinnati’s own Mike Wade — who are teaming up as FAATS (Famous African American Trumpet Stylists). The trumpeters will pay tribute to legendary trumpet/flugelhorn player Clark Terry, who passed away this past February. Terry performed as part of the It’s Commonly Jazz series in 1997. The Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, which features several members of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music faculty, are the Aug. 20 headliners, and the series closes out Aug. 27 with a performance by Tia Fuller and her quartet. Fuller is a noted saxophonist and flautist who has explored the worlds of Jazz and R&B extensively (she was once a member of Beyoncé’s all-woman touring band and has released four acclaimed solo albums).
For more information, visit itscommonlyjazz.com.
From Harbour, ‘With Love’
Cincinnati Indie Pop/Rock foursome Harbour has developed a large and loyal fan base locally, and recent industry attention could mean that more love could be coming Harbour’s way on a much wider level. If the band’s new EP, With Love — with its abundance of instantly catchy hooks and buoyant, radiant Pop/Rock vibe — is any indication, grabbing the national spotlight is much more than just a pipe dream.
You can get in on the ground level as Harbour presents its release party for the new EP Friday at Dave & Buster’s (
11775 Commons Drive, Springdale). The band is joined by Automagik and Static Wonder for the all-ages 9 p.m. show. Tickets are $10 in advance (through cincyticket.com) or $12 at the door. A copy of the EP is included with the price of admission.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]