Unsung Hero Worship

Jeff Roberson, head honcho of local Americana mainstays Len's Lounge, has organized a tribute concert to a man who is hardly a household name, but whose songs, guitar playing and mentoring were inte

Jul 5, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Jeff Roberson, head honcho of local Americana mainstays Len's Lounge, has organized a tribute concert to a man who is hardly a household name, but whose songs, guitar playing and mentoring were integral to the growth of Folk, Folk Rock and the "singer/songwriter" movement. Fred Neil was a huge presence on the Greenwich Village Folk scene and artists like The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills and Nash (who reportedly at one point were to be called "Sons of Neil") all cited Neil as an influence. Though Harry Nilsson scored a huge hit with Neil's "Everybody's Talkin" (the theme of Oscar-winning flick, Midnight Cowboy) in 1969, Neil faded into obscurity not long after. (Learn more about Neil at fredneil.com.)

The seed for Roberson's "Do You Ever Think of Me? A Concert For Fred Neil" tribute this Friday at the Southgate House was planted five years ago, when Len's Lounge opened for Indie/Roots band Clem Snide. The show was two days after Neil died and Clem Snide's road manager slid Roberson a request for some Neil songs on a cocktail napkin while they were on stage. Roberson had covered Neil in the past, but hadn't thought of him in years and the request rekindled Roberson's "almost obsession" with his music.

Friday's tribute show will feature full sets from each performer, with at least one Neil song thrown in amongst their own material. The lineup includes Len's Lounge (now featuring new drummer Dan Baechlie), Wussy, 500 Miles to Memphis, David Wolfenberger, Nashville's Ed Pettersen and Scott Kempner (formerly of NYC bands like The Dictators and The Del Lords) and Dayton's Wil Cope and the Busted Lovers. The show also marks the debut of My Wife the Tiger, featuring Missy Teen and Mike Gregory, formerly of The 13's, as well as members of Kentucky Struts and Kenton County Regulators.

According to Roberson, the band was formed based on a suggestion from Sam Nation, the frontman of The 13's who was killed earlier this year after his car was struck by a drunk driver.

Music starts at 9 p.m. Friday with a "Hootenany" in Junie's Lounge featuring many of the performers and other guests. (murdercreekassembly.com)

More Local Notes

· Local duo Ellery released their organic Pop album, Lying Awake, in April on Seattle indie Virt Records, and instantly drew praise from publications all over the country, including Paste and Performing Songwriter. The twosome have been on the road since, playing shows from North Carolina to Los Angeles, and most points in between. Ellery return home this week, playing Rohs Street Café Friday. Check out the band's site (ellerymusic.com) for more on the their new release and click the "Journal" button for an inside look at their life on the road.

· Groovy Pop/Rock band Marking Twain have also been on the road lately, and they've been journaling along the way too (find links to their "tour blog" at markingtwain.com). The band is wrapping up a week's worth of shows (including stops in New York and Chicago) with a gig at The Poison Room Saturday. The band will be joined at the 10 p.m. show by their Nashville pals, Groove Addiction.

· Local public radio station WNKU (89.7 FM) presents the musical entertainment at this weekend's "Paddlefest 2006," a huge kayak and canoe festival on the Ohio River. Musicians perform Friday from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Four Seasons Marina in the Columbia-Tusculum area. WNKU DJ Mr. Rhythm Man starts spinning music at 4 p.m. and youthful Irish music trio The Hooley Band plays at 6 p.m., followed by Folk greats Jake Speed and the Freddies, Bluegrass heroes The Comet Bluegrass Allstars and The Rumpke Mountain Boys and rootsy rockers G. Burton and Hyde Park Outrage. The event is free. (ohioriverway.org/paddlefest)

· WNKU is also sponsoring July's legendary "Edensong" concert series in Eden Park. Every Friday in July at 8 p.m., local Folk/Acoustic music organization the Queen City Balladeers presents five acts at the park's Seasongood Pavilion. This Friday, "Edensong" — now in its 42nd year — showcases Ann & Phil Case, Greg Hansen, Barefoot in the Briarpatch, Chris Collier and Ma Crow. For full lineups and more information on the free concerts, go to qcballadeers.org.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com