Return of the Chicks

This weekend marks the return of the Chicks RockFest, the annual music festival that celebrates women in Rock music. On Friday and Saturday at Newport's Southgate House, CRF presents 30 artists acro

This weekend marks the return of the Chicks RockFest, the annual music festival that celebrates women in Rock music. On Friday and Saturday at Newport's Southgate House, CRF presents 30 artists across the club's three stages (each act features at least one female member). Music starts at 8:30 p.m. both nights.

Founded by local singer Jenny Schmidt (formerly of Tornado Green) five years ago, the fest began humbly, with Schmidt putting together a three-band show (that included her band, The Fairmount Girls and Ruby Vileos) at The Mad Frog and simply attaching a "festival" name to it. The event's unique angle helped it to grow into last year's first two-night affair.

Good promotion has also aided CRF's ascension. Word of mouth, widespread Internet press and promo and the ambitious "Chicks on the Road" national tour has put the event on the national radar, resulting in a reported 500-plus submissions from all over the country this year.

CRF 05 looks to be grabbing even more national attention. A book project, A Day in the Life of the American Woman, is planning to have people in town to cover the event. The book will feature the work of 50 esteemed female photographers who are being dispatched to document one day in the lives of different women around the country.

By coincidence, the "day" chosen to chronicle is April 8, fitting perfectly with the CRF's timeline and estro-centric theme. American Woman is planned for release this fall on Bullfinch Press, with exhibits and other promotional tie-ins slated to coincide.

Like last year, the event features acts from all over the country plus a heaping dosage of local acts. The fest kicks off Friday in the Southgate House's "Junie's Lounge" with New York City's Emily Zuzik, followed by Los Angeles' Corday, West Virginian Holly Spears, Dayton's Jayne Sachs Band (see Short Takes, page 36) and Nashville singer Jonda (formerly of the band MINK). On the second-floor parlour stage, check out Columbus AltRock band Deco Halo, Cincinnati electronic duo Pale Beneath the Blue, Athens' Red Dahlia, local cross-genre specialist Abiyah and long-running Cincinnati faves The Fairmount Girls. Friday's ballroom sets include local newcomers Backseat Virtue, Louisville's Waterproof Blonde, Wisconsin's Sunspot, Atlanta's Fabrik and local Hard Rock crew Soul Casket, who recently debuted a new lineup.

On Saturday, the lounge presents New Englander Julie Loyd, local Soul/Pop faves The Walker Project, entrancing Cincy "Trip Pop" duo Hungry Lucy, Astoria, N.Y. singer/songwriter Allison Tartalia and local foursome The Gregory Morris Group. In the parlour, it's Foxy McCoy (see Locals Only below), Charlotte, N.C. quartet Stephanie's Id, Cincinnati's Whitney Barricklow Band, Dayton/Cincy singer/songwriter Emily Strand (with her band, The Town) and Chapel Hill AltRock trio The Pinkslips. Down in the ballroom you can see L.A.'s Paperboy Jack, locals Crankbox, NYC's The Outside, Pittsburgh's Adam Evil & the Outside Royalty and Boston's FLUTTR EFFECT, whose past performances here have built them a solid Cincinnati-area following.

Tickets for the event are available at the door or online (a two-day pass can be purchased for $15; one-day tickets are $8). For ticketing and schedule info, go to chicksrockfest.com.

More Local Notes
· The people behind popular Northern Kentucky Rock space Radio Down open their new venue, The Mad Hatter, Friday and Saturday. Carrying on with the same original local and national music theme as Radio Down, the 18-and-up club debuts Friday with a local bill featuring Denial, Junior Revolution and The Strongest Proof. On Saturday, the Hatter welcomes Cari Clara, The Great Depression, The Turnbull AC's (a new project from Denial frontman Dan Mecher) and Death In Graceland, who recently added guitarist Tim Elsey and are gearing up for another national tour. (madhatterclub.com)

· After being shut down for a few months to repair smoke damage suffered from a late February fire, coffeehouse/music venue Rohs Street Café (which distributes its profits to various social programs in the community) re-opens Saturday. The free re-opening night show features singer/songwriters Zach Breedlove, Brian McCabe, Bill Littleford, Brooke Trisler, Josh Hill and Messerly and Ewing. Showtime is 8 p.m. (rohsstreetcafe.com)

· Local Folk hero Jake Speed and his band, The Freddies, host the sixth annual "Dust Bowl Bonanza" celebrating Woody Guthrie's famed "Dust Bowl Ballads" on the 70th anniversary of the country's worst dust storm, at 2 p.m. Sunday at Shake It Records. The band will perform the Ballads (and other Guthrie material), and the event includes various raffles for handmade (by Speed) Guthrie souvenirs like snowglobes, ornaments and postcards. (freddiesmusic.com)

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