Cover Story: Curing the Summertime Blues

A look at some of the season's best independent, locally-produced music festivals

Jymi Bolden


Jake Speed brings local music fans down to the river for his annual Rivertown Breakdown festival.



AM Holiday
When: June 11-12

Where: Southgate House in Newport

What: AM Holiday is purely a celebration of independent art and music, fitting these days with corporations sweeping in and buying up beloved indie institutions like 97X. Entering its third year, the event features poetry readings, video displays and visual art exhibits along with a wealth of local (and some national) Indie Rock faves.

Staggered lineups allow for attendees to see every band performing on the Southgate's three stages. And, for the first time, AM Holiday now stretches across two nights. Proceeds go to the Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids (LINKS) organization, which refurbishes used musical instruments for students who want to learn but can't afford to rent or buy them otherwise.

Who: On Friday: Forget Cassettes, mallory, Chalk, Campfire Crush, Stylex, Spectacular Fantastic, Caterpillar Tracks, 4192, Goodnight Satellite, Pernicious Knifs, Chocolate Horse, The Invitational and Jeremiah. On Saturday: Pearlene, Ruby Vileos, The Sundresses, The Heartless Bastards, Viva La Foxx, Enduser, Readymaid, Coltrane Motion, johnnytwentythree, Wil-o-ee, Meadoe, The Woos and The Uprights.

Web info: amholiday.net

Rivertown Breakdown
When: June 18-19

Where: Southgate House

What: Most Greater Cincinnatians probably don't think much about that murky body of water they cross from time to time to get from Ohio to Kentucky and back. But the organizers of the Rivertown Breakdown certainly do. With the Roots and Folk music tradition of paying homage to flowing rivers, it's fitting that the festival — which features the best of the local Americana music scene — would be themed around the Mighty Ohio River.

Proceeds from the concert event (organized by local Folk singer Jake Speed, Josh Asbury of local Roots label 3rd Silo Records and Jeff Roberson of Americana powerhouse Len's Lounge) will benefit ORSANCO's River Sweep, an annual clean-up project that cleans all 981 miles of the Ohio. The two-day affair, split into "Diesel" (with more contemporary acts) and "Steam" (with the traditionalists) nights, is now in its third successful year; last year's Breakdown raised more than $2,500 for the Sweep. Each artist performing is being asked to perform at least one river-themed song.

Who: On Friday: The Hiders, High Strange Drifters, Me or the Moon, Tlips & Combs, Mill, The Ass Ponys, Len's Lounge, The Stapletons, Ma Crow & The Flock, Pike 27, Maurice Mattei, David Wolfenberger and the Foster Children, Cole Brothers and Rob Ervin and the High Strung Lifters. On Saturday: the Comet Bluegrass Allstars, the Katie Laur Band, Cincinnati Dancing Pigs, Jake Speed and the Freddies, The Side Cars, Ricky Nye and Nick Lloyd, Lagniappe, Robert Blake, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Wild Carrot, Harold Kennedy, Roanoke Ramblers, Rabbit Hash String Band, Swamp Fox and the Kenton County Regulators.

Web info:

Jymi Bolden


Jake Speed brings local music fans down to the river for his annual Rivertown Breakdown festival.



AM Holiday
When: June 11-12

Where: Southgate House in Newport

What: AM Holiday is purely a celebration of independent art and music, fitting these days with corporations sweeping in and buying up beloved indie institutions like 97X. Entering its third year, the event features poetry readings, video displays and visual art exhibits along with a wealth of local (and some national) Indie Rock faves.

Staggered lineups allow for attendees to see every band performing on the Southgate's three stages. And, for the first time, AM Holiday now stretches across two nights. Proceeds go to the Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids (LINKS) organization, which refurbishes used musical instruments for students who want to learn but can't afford to rent or buy them otherwise.

Who: On Friday: Forget Cassettes, mallory, Chalk, Campfire Crush, Stylex, Spectacular Fantastic, Caterpillar Tracks, 4192, Goodnight Satellite, Pernicious Knifs, Chocolate Horse, The Invitational and Jeremiah. On Saturday: Pearlene, Ruby Vileos, The Sundresses, The Heartless Bastards, Viva La Foxx, Enduser, Readymaid, Coltrane Motion, johnnytwentythree, Wil-o-ee, Meadoe, The Woos and The Uprights.

Web info: amholiday.net

Rivertown Breakdown
When: June 18-19

Where: Southgate House

What: Most Greater Cincinnatians probably don't think much about that murky body of water they cross from time to time to get from Ohio to Kentucky and back. But the organizers of the Rivertown Breakdown certainly do. With the Roots and Folk music tradition of paying homage to flowing rivers, it's fitting that the festival — which features the best of the local Americana music scene — would be themed around the Mighty Ohio River.

Proceeds from the concert event (organized by local Folk singer Jake Speed, Josh Asbury of local Roots label 3rd Silo Records and Jeff Roberson of Americana powerhouse Len's Lounge) will benefit ORSANCO's River Sweep, an annual clean-up project that cleans all 981 miles of the Ohio. The two-day affair, split into "Diesel" (with more contemporary acts) and "Steam" (with the traditionalists) nights, is now in its third successful year; last year's Breakdown raised more than $2,500 for the Sweep. Each artist performing is being asked to perform at least one river-themed song.

Who: On Friday: The Hiders, High Strange Drifters, Me or the Moon, Tlips & Combs, Mill, The Ass Ponys, Len's Lounge, The Stapletons, Ma Crow & The Flock, Pike 27, Maurice Mattei, David Wolfenberger and the Foster Children, Cole Brothers and Rob Ervin and the High Strung Lifters. On Saturday: the Comet Bluegrass Allstars, the Katie Laur Band, Cincinnati Dancing Pigs, Jake Speed and the Freddies, The Side Cars, Ricky Nye and Nick Lloyd, Lagniappe, Robert Blake, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Wild Carrot, Harold Kennedy, Roanoke Ramblers, Rabbit Hash String Band, Swamp Fox and the Kenton County Regulators.

Web info: rivertownbreakdown.com

Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test
When: July 23-25

Where: Southgate House

What: If you live in an infested neighborhood or have perused the local mainstream media in the past two months, chances are you're sick of hearing about (and sick of actually hearing) cicadas. But leave it to artists to put a new spin on Brood X. Organizers of the Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test are soliciting short cicada-themed films from local and regional filmmakers to be shown at the event along with other independently-crafted flicks (you can find entry forms at the fest's Web site). But cicadas are a miniscule part of the overall event.

Underneath Cincinnati will handle the film portion of the proceedings, and organizers have even secured the large wall across from the Southgate at Newport on the Levee to screen some of the "short-attention-span" films (features and dialogue-driven pieces will be screened in venue). Underneath Cincinnati will also showcase films from their most recent "Best of" show. Dan McCabe's Thigmotrope booking — which has brought to town everyone from The Strokes to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — will helm the music, meaning some solid national acts will be participating alongside the local faves. McCabe says he's planning on making the event a citywide, multi-cultural affair next year (with indie fashion and other additional elements) as they continue to help "define Newport as Cincinnati's Brooklyn."

Who: The full musical lineup will be announced in mid-June.

Web info: litebritetest.com

Cincy Blues Fest
When: July 30-31

Where: Sawyer Point Park, Downtown

What: Now in its 12th year, the Cincy Blues Fest will end its run as one of the few remaining Blues festivals of its caliber that doesn't charge admission. But fear not — $3 is all it'll cost you for each day of incredible Blues talent from around the country. Started by the Cincy Blues Society — the nonprofit, education-based organization striving to keep the strong tradition of Blues alive for future generations — this year's event returns the popular Arches Boogie Piano Stage on Saturday, which spotlights some of the world's best Blues ivory-ticklers (believed to be the only fest stage of its kind). The Heritage Stage will key in on Gospel, Folk and other non-Blues artists, an acoustic stage will help cut down on the electricity bill and various Blues workshops will be presented early Friday afternoon.

Proceeds from the event go to the Blues Society's Blues in the Schools program, Lonely Instruments For Needy Kids (LINKS) and the East End and Columbia Tusculum community councils.

Who: On Friday: Denise LaSalle, Texas Johnny Brown, Teeny Tucker Band with Sean Carney, Voices of Thunder, Cephas & Wiggins, Ernie Hawkins, Roy Book Binder, Anointed Sons of God, Blues Challenge runner-up Reverend Billy Rose & The Legendary SoulShakers and others. On Saturday: James Harman with Kid Ramos, Roy Rogers, John Primer Blues Band, Cedell Davis, Phil Blank Blues Band, Blues Challenge winners Cheryl Renee & T-Bone Blues, Sjuana Byers, P. Ann Everson-Price, The Rance Allen Group, Jay McShann, Clay Swafford, Bob Seeley, Rob Rio, Liz Pennock and Dr. Blues, Ricky Nye, Arthur Migliazza, Bob Malone, Big Joe Duskin, Mr. B, Charlie Booty and more.

Web info: cincyblues.org

Scroll to read more News Feature articles

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.