Local Rock crew Grand Oversoul release its anticipated sophomore album, A Long Way From Middle Creek, Saturday at Covington's Mad Hatter. The Subterraneans open the show, followed by two long sets from the headliners.
The title of GO's new album refers to the progress the band has made since their self-titled debut just two years ago. While that record showed great promise, with Middle Creek, GO does indeed now sound like a fully-realized entity. The album was recorded in May when the group took over the 20th Century Theater in Oakley for a week's worth of sessions.
There's remarkable warmth in the production, which has an intimate, live feel that gives the record the "classic" sound GO's music demands. The band plays expansive, progressive Rock & Roll, open-ended enough to encourage improv and noodling but structured enough to ring memorably in the listener's head. You hear echoes of legendary rockers like The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead and Black Crowes (even a little Pearl Jam at their broadest), but the performances have enough of their own personality to give GO its own distinctiveness.
The fluidity of the album is magnetic, as the songs gush with an engaging stream-of-conscious vibe despite the occasional tempo and rhythmic shifts. The beat diversity meshes well with the band's churning guitars and Andy Lenihan's enthralling organ and keyboard flourishes, GO's not-so-secret weapon.
There are elements of a variety of genres in their sound (mainly Blues, but also Funk and Reggae), though the group manages to morph them gracefully into their own style, so they aren't exactly jarring.
On "Down on the Delta," GO channels the Blues, but the smoky glaze it's hoisted upon turns it into a creeping, psychedelic rave-up, never falling into any clichés. "Bathtub Blues" is probably the album's most accessible track, with its powerful, soaring chorus hook, but the most interesting cut is the instrumental "BaDent," on which the band flaunts its Prog skills by recalling the circular arrangements of vintage King Crimson. With its organic, trippy, spacious and soulful slant on Classic Rock, A Long Way From Middle Creek is one of the best "Jam band" releases the Cincinnati area has ever produced. (grandoversoul.com)
Schmidt Happens (Finally!)
Jazz pianist Steve Schmidt celebrates the release of his new CD, Red and Orange, Friday and Saturday at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club downtown. Schmidt is joined by triomates Art Gore and Bob Bodley for the 9:30 p.m. shows.
As much of a fixture on the local Jazz scene as Schmidt has been for the past several years, it's remarkable that Red and Orange is his first official release as a band leader. For those into tasteful, well-played, timeless Jazz, it was worth the wait. Traveling to New York City for the recording sessions, Schmidt hooked up with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jeff Ballard, who do a fantastic job of giving the compositions just-right nuances and dramatic embellishments. Schmidt's elegant, flawless and emotive performances are the anchor to the album, while his arrangements are full of depth, dynamicism and intuitiveness.
The disc — which features loving liner notes from his pal, renowned pianist/composer Fred Hersch — contains a mix of sharp Schmidt originals (like the roomy title track, the Thelonious Monk tribute "Monkyside" and the melodically strong "Anthem") and a handful of solid cover selections (including tunes written by Wes Montgomery and Dayton's Tim Hagans). Despite not offering much in the way of inventiveness, Red and Orange is an impressively constructed slice of classic Jazz delivered by one of our region's finest Jazz players.
An all-star lineup of local performers tackles the fantastic songbook of music legend Willie Nelson Saturday for the "Where There's a Willie, There's a Way" tribute concert at the Southgate House. Your $5 cover charge goes, fittingly, to Nelson's Farm Aid Family Farm Disaster Fund, which gives assistance to farmers affected by the recent spat of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast (see farmaid.org for more info).
The benefit show features the following local acts: Ed Cunningham, George Cunningham and the Flammables, The Hiders, Shawna James, Toby Ellis, The Stapletons, Jason Arbenz, Ric Hickey & the Loose Wrecks, Swarthy, Ricky Nye, Jeff Roberson, P.J. Harrington, Jake Speed, Anna Scala, Rob Ervin & the High Strung Lifters and Los Amigos Del Jimmy D. Showtime is 9 p.m.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com