Tragedy has struck a local band and all those touched by them. Local visual artist, musician and singer/songwriter Sam Shipman, better known as Sam Nation, died late on March 4 after the car in which he and his girlfriend/bandmate Melissa Cox-Howard (aka Melissa Fairmount and Missy Teen) were driving was struck by a drunk driver in South Fairmount. Cox-Howard was uninjured, as was the driver of the other car. Nation was 47. His songwriting was at the core of the local band The Thirteens and tended toward the gritty, energetic side of Country and Roots music, from harmonica-blasted, Rockabilly-tinged rave-ups to soulful ballads like "When I Stop Dreaming." The Thirteens were preparing a full-length CD, which will reportedly still be out later this year. The disc, recorded by local engineer Steve Girton, is to be released on the locally based Tokyo Rose Records (the label's 2005 "iLove" compilation of love songs written and performed by local bands featured a track from The Thirteens as well). Friends and fans of the band have been leaving notes on the group's Myspace Web site (myspace.com/thethirteens), which also features several songs by the group. The Thirteens have been nominated for two Cincinnati Entertainment Awards — in 2005, they were up for the best Folk/Roots/ Americana award, while in 2004 they received a nod in the Best New Artist category. Our deepest condolences go out to Sam's family and friends.
Local Folk troubadour Jake Speed is now one month into his "Speedy Delivery" column at citybeat.com. Each week on the site, Speed delivers a fresh "Songatorial," a new song that offers his unique, humanistic look at current events, written and recorded on the Sunday before the Wednesday it appears. Speed has presented some amazing songs so far, as well as some insightful musings about each song's creation. Songs posted on the site in the "Speedy Delivery" archives include "When the Saints Return," about New Orleans attempt to get back to normalcy with Mardi Gras ("Like the saints marched in before/Like old Satchmo's trumpet roared/Like Tennessee and Faulkner penned/New Orleans will be home again"); "Up and Down," a singing response to the State of the Union address ("The State of the Union's up and down/Health care costs on the rise/Schools are in decline/Iran nukes starting up/National budget is a bust/Bird flu taking flight/Social security, good night"); and a clever Valentine's Day-timed love song, "Love Is the Screw" (If you were President/I'd be your wire tap/If you were three dollars/I'd be your gallon of gas/Some things go together better than Kim Jong Il and nukes/But I go together right with you"). This week, check out Speed's take on a religious "holiday," "Giving Up Lent."
Wussy Takes Off
Local Rock foursome Wussy have been earning some glowing national press for their debut album, Funeral Dress. Among other write-ups, the album has received praise from Harp, rollingstone.com and No Depression, and they seem to have found a huge fan in legendary music critic Robert Christgau, who followed up a grade-A review in the Village Voice by picking Funeral Dress as the 12th best album of 2005 in the Voice's "Pazz & Jop" year-end wrap-up poll. Before they head to Austin, Tex., for this month's South By Southwest (joining other local acts like The Sundresses, The Minni-Thins, Over the Rhine, Peter Adams, MOTH, Cathedrals and Pale Beneath the Blue), Wussy performs a free in-store set at Shake It Records in Northside this Friday at 7:30 p.m. (the band plays The Comet later that night as well). The event is part of the seventh anniversary festivities for Shake It, whose label division released Funeral Dress. Other events in conjunction with the anniversary include Ted Leo's show at the Southgate House on Saturday (see Sound Advice, page 37) and a free screening of the Townes Van Zandt documentary, Be Here to Love Me, on Monday at 7 p.m. at The Comet.
More Local Notes
· Local Punk band Eighty Sixed performs at Sudsy Malone's on Saturday with CxDxPx and FRA, plus Lexington's The Loaded Nuns and The Fallen. The Hamilton-based band's full-throttled sound is a throwback to classic, real Punk and not, as bassist Dusty Bryant calls it, "that ever present slosh of leftover sausage gravy in the fridge that local radio is calling Punk Rock." Bryant also compares the band's live show to "a ship full of drunken pirates preparing for mutiny." Ahoy! (myspace.com/eightysixedu)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com