Bob Cushing is one of Cincinnati’s hardest working musicians, making his living by performing shows in clubs in and around the area for the past two decades-plus, armed with only his trusty acoustic, hearty baritone voice, wicked sense of humor and welcoming, lively corner-bar charm. Cushing is a human jukebox, performing from a seemingly telephone-book size list of cover song options (largely of the “Classic Rock” variety), and he’s also released a handful of recordings of original songs that reflect his knack for writing his own “Heartland Rock.”
Cushing performs on average six nights a week in venues across the city. It’s his job, his livelihood. On his Facebook (facebook.com/bob.w.cushing) “About” page, he writes, “My WORST day as a musician STILL beats the BEST day I ever had working a conventional job! I’ll retire when I’m planted in the ground.”
In his vocation, the perks are glaring (lots of free tequila shots and, of course, being able to do what you love most, all of the time, and be paid for it), but the downside is a little less obvious. There are no paid vacations, for example. If you miss one night of work, you miss part of your paycheck.
Another big negative is something a lot of us take for granted — health insurance.
In early June, Cushing was sidelined by emergency surgery for some exacerbating health issues he’d been dealing with for a few months. As such, he was unable to perform for about two weeks. Piled on to that possibly surmountable obstacle were the traditionally outrageous hospital bills. And he’s facing even more surgery in the coming months.
One of Cushing’s first gigs back was an unpaid one, a benefit concert to help another fellow local musician financially. It was far from the first time he’s done such charitable work — at times it seems like Cushing would play a benefit for a musician (or other causes) once a month, if not more.
Given his support for others, it’s no surprise that “Bob-A-Palooza,” a benefit for Cushing, took shape very quickly. And it would be even less surprising if the concert wasn’t totally packed.
This Sunday, Cheviot club Legends hosts the all-day benefit, featuring Rock, Blues, Country and more from the Sonny Moorman Group, Robin Lacy & DeZydeco, Cheryl Renée, Kelly Thomas, Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project, Rock Candy, Dallas Moore, Kenny Cowden and the man of the hour himself. The concert — which runs from 1-9 p.m. (doors open at noon) — will also include various raffles and silent auctions and is presented by Legends, cincyindies.org and Play It Forward, the local non-profit created for this very purpose — to help our local musicians out when they need us due to medical or other financial hardship.
For more details on the event, visit legendscincinnati.com and facebook.com/BobCushingBenefits. For advanced tickets or for those who’d like to donate but can’t attend, visit wepay.com/donations/168464. Donations can also be made at any Fifth Third Bank; just tell the teller you’d like to donate to the trust fund for Bob Cushing.
More Local Notes
• This weekend Cincy Groove, the excellent local music website/online ’zine created by ace photographer Scott Preston, presents its second annual Cincy Groove Music Festival at longtime downtown bar Arnold’s. The free, all-ages fest starts at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and features a great lineup of primarily local musicians, mostly from the Roots/Americana realm.
Friday’s festivities kick off with a pair of out-of-towners, The Salty Caramels (Columbus) and The Please, Please Me (Austin, Tex.), followed by local faves Hickory Robot and The Tillers. Saturday, things kick off with young guitar phenom Ben Lapps, followed by a solo set from The Sundresses’ Brad Schnittger, Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups and Shiny and the Spoon. (cincygroove.com)
• Creative and wildly entertaining newcomers Vaudeville Freud were nominated in the “Best New Band” category at the 2011 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Three days before the nomination was announced, the band split up.
Though the group went out with an uncharacteristic whimper, this Friday at the Madison Theater in Covington, Vaudeville Freud leader Paul O’Moore’s reconfigured group Vaudeville’s Dead is all set to return with a more fitting bang, performing on a great, eclectic bill with fellow locals The Harlequins, Jim Swill + Mavis Concave, DJ Benigma and a pair of Jersey bands — The Disconnects and Crazy and the Brains.
The show is open to all ages and begins at 9 p.m. For more on the rebirth of the self-described “Dark Psychedelic Acid Rock” crew Vaudeville’s Dead visit facebook.com/VaudevillesDead and keep an eye out for new music from the band soon.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or on Twitter (@CityBeatMusic)