Cover Story: Top of the Stops

Our picks for the Top 10 music tour stops of the summer

 
Woodrow J. Hinton



If this spring's lineup and the announced touring itineraries so far are any indication, the local summer concert season has a slight edge over the past few years. The Riverbend season alone shows potential, short on the woeful, hastily reunited Classic Rock/Oldies acts and actually featuring some diversity.

This year, we decided to give you our picks for date-savers, concerts worthy of your hard-earned ducats and at least an interesting experience. We give you the good, the bad and the ugly — hey, Gene Simmons and KISS are on our list — as well as reasons to bag going altogether. Plus, since you should always be up for some local music chocolate in your peanut butter, we also present viable area music alternatives to the big-money bigwigs.

· ETTA JAMES AND THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, June 2 at the Cincinnati Zoo

WCIN celebrates its 50th anniversary in style with this concert amid the captured beasts, featuring the legendary R&B diva and some transcendent, soul-stirring Gospel.

Why you should bother: Despite her troubled life, James amassed a stellar run of great singles in her earlier years, including "At Last" and "Something's Got a Hold On Me," and she's still as productive as ever these days, releasing well-received albums that remarkably manage to avoid sterile Contemporary Blues shininess. Sealing the deal is the vocal quintet BBOA, who, after a 60-year career, are more famous now than ever, earning Grammys, Peter Gabriel album guest appearances and a broadening fan-base swayed by their pure, spiritual sound.

Why you should stay home and watch Family Guy reruns: The bitter talking dog is funny; the evil talking baby is delicious.

Local music alternative: The Queen City Blues Festival (Aug. 1-2) is usually loaded with the top names in local Blues and R&B talent.

Check cincyblues.org/fest.htm for lineup info, coming soon.

· SLEEPY LABEEF, June 13 at the Southgate House

A local crowd favorite, the Honky Tonk hero/Rockabilly powerhouse has been in the biz for nearly a half-century, sharing the stage with the likes of Elvis Presley, George Jones and Roy Orbison.

Why you should bother: While still kickin' in the recording arena, the "Human Jukebox" offers entertaining live shows that his fervent fans consider the epitome of the Sleepy experience.

Why you should stay home and read a book: You really should be reading more, buster.

Local music alternative: Ex-Star Devil Ed Vardiman's retro-fitted Straw Boss is a promising new entry for Cincy Hillbilly/Rockabilly fanatics. See them most Thursdays at Junie's Lounge in the Southgate House.

· SONIC YOUTH, June 21 at Bogart's

American icons Sonic Youth gave new meaning to the phrase "Freedom Rock" with their profoundly influential, boundless experiments in guitar music.

Why you should bother: SY's latest — the epic, beautiful-noise slab Murray Street — is their best album in years.

Why you should stay home and watch Wilco's I Am Trying to Break Your Heart DVD: Nothing against Bogart's openers, Quix*O*Tic, but if you're road-ready, save your money and get to Cleveland's Tower City Amphitheater (June 19), where SY teams up with hipster faves Wilco.

Local music alternative: Chalk, who throw keyboards and electronics into a warped, powerful mix that Thurston Moore and Co. would be proud of. (w3.one.net/~chalk01/)

· VAN'S WARPED TOUR, June 26 at Riverbend

Pro-skate exhibitions and more skate-friendly "Punk"-ish bands than a Hot Topic CD rack make this show the best "bang for your buck" deal of the outdoor summer show season. Bands scheduled for the local stop include Rancid, AFI, Andrew WK, Dropkick Murphys, Simple Plan, The Used and The Ataris, plus up-and-comers The Fags, Vendetta Red and Damone.

Why you should bother: There are some good bands on the bill, but it's also a great place to piss and moan about the watered-down state of Punk Rock today with living, breathing examples.

Why you should stay home and watch the latest in reality television: Uh, there is absolutely no good reason to ever watch that garbage.

Local music alternative: Northside's all-ages Punk/Indie venue The Void has Warped-Tour-sized lineups almost nightly, featuring the best in local and touring talent. (www.thevoid.cc)

· JAY-Z, SNOOP DOGG, 50 CENT, BONECRUSHER AND FABOLOUS, July 9 at Riverbend

Cincinnati usually gets passed over these days by the biggie Rap tours, so kudos to Riverbend for nabbing the "Rock the Mic" jaunt, which compiles three of today's most commercially successful Hip-Hop stars.

Why you should bother: Mr. Z is considered one of the greatest MCs of all time. Tours of this caliber are rare and — as the 2000 behind-the-tour flick Backstage showed — a lot of fun.

Why you should stay home and watch Monster Garage: Dude, that rolling, motorized half-pipe was rad! And 50 Cent thinks it's "fun" to get shot, so security should be oppressive.

Local music alternative: The now-legendary Scribble Jam showcase and expo show (Aug. 7-10) features much local Hip-Hop talent (from musicians to dancers to graffiti artists), and it also draws established acts and young hopefuls from all over the country who come in to network, perform and compete in the various MC and DJ competitions. It's the most talked about event of its kind in the entire region. Check out

 
Woodrow J. Hinton



If this spring's lineup and the announced touring itineraries so far are any indication, the local summer concert season has a slight edge over the past few years. The Riverbend season alone shows potential, short on the woeful, hastily reunited Classic Rock/Oldies acts and actually featuring some diversity.

This year, we decided to give you our picks for date-savers, concerts worthy of your hard-earned ducats and at least an interesting experience. We give you the good, the bad and the ugly — hey, Gene Simmons and KISS are on our list — as well as reasons to bag going altogether. Plus, since you should always be up for some local music chocolate in your peanut butter, we also present viable area music alternatives to the big-money bigwigs.

· ETTA JAMES AND THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, June 2 at the Cincinnati Zoo

WCIN celebrates its 50th anniversary in style with this concert amid the captured beasts, featuring the legendary R&B diva and some transcendent, soul-stirring Gospel.

Why you should bother: Despite her troubled life, James amassed a stellar run of great singles in her earlier years, including "At Last" and "Something's Got a Hold On Me," and she's still as productive as ever these days, releasing well-received albums that remarkably manage to avoid sterile Contemporary Blues shininess. Sealing the deal is the vocal quintet BBOA, who, after a 60-year career, are more famous now than ever, earning Grammys, Peter Gabriel album guest appearances and a broadening fan-base swayed by their pure, spiritual sound.

Why you should stay home and watch Family Guy reruns: The bitter talking dog is funny; the evil talking baby is delicious.

Local music alternative: The Queen City Blues Festival (Aug. 1-2) is usually loaded with the top names in local Blues and R&B talent.

Check cincyblues.org/fest.htm for lineup info, coming soon.

· SLEEPY LABEEF, June 13 at the Southgate House

A local crowd favorite, the Honky Tonk hero/Rockabilly powerhouse has been in the biz for nearly a half-century, sharing the stage with the likes of Elvis Presley, George Jones and Roy Orbison.

Why you should bother: While still kickin' in the recording arena, the "Human Jukebox" offers entertaining live shows that his fervent fans consider the epitome of the Sleepy experience.

Why you should stay home and read a book: You really should be reading more, buster.

Local music alternative: Ex-Star Devil Ed Vardiman's retro-fitted Straw Boss is a promising new entry for Cincy Hillbilly/Rockabilly fanatics. See them most Thursdays at Junie's Lounge in the Southgate House.

· SONIC YOUTH, June 21 at Bogart's

American icons Sonic Youth gave new meaning to the phrase "Freedom Rock" with their profoundly influential, boundless experiments in guitar music.

Why you should bother: SY's latest — the epic, beautiful-noise slab Murray Street — is their best album in years.

Why you should stay home and watch Wilco's I Am Trying to Break Your Heart DVD: Nothing against Bogart's openers, Quix*O*Tic, but if you're road-ready, save your money and get to Cleveland's Tower City Amphitheater (June 19), where SY teams up with hipster faves Wilco.

Local music alternative: Chalk, who throw keyboards and electronics into a warped, powerful mix that Thurston Moore and Co. would be proud of. (w3.one.net/~chalk01/)

· VAN'S WARPED TOUR, June 26 at Riverbend

Pro-skate exhibitions and more skate-friendly "Punk"-ish bands than a Hot Topic CD rack make this show the best "bang for your buck" deal of the outdoor summer show season. Bands scheduled for the local stop include Rancid, AFI, Andrew WK, Dropkick Murphys, Simple Plan, The Used and The Ataris, plus up-and-comers The Fags, Vendetta Red and Damone.

Why you should bother: There are some good bands on the bill, but it's also a great place to piss and moan about the watered-down state of Punk Rock today with living, breathing examples.

Why you should stay home and watch the latest in reality television: Uh, there is absolutely no good reason to ever watch that garbage.

Local music alternative: Northside's all-ages Punk/Indie venue The Void has Warped-Tour-sized lineups almost nightly, featuring the best in local and touring talent. (www.thevoid.cc)

· JAY-Z, SNOOP DOGG, 50 CENT, BONECRUSHER AND FABOLOUS, July 9 at Riverbend

Cincinnati usually gets passed over these days by the biggie Rap tours, so kudos to Riverbend for nabbing the "Rock the Mic" jaunt, which compiles three of today's most commercially successful Hip-Hop stars.

Why you should bother: Mr. Z is considered one of the greatest MCs of all time. Tours of this caliber are rare and — as the 2000 behind-the-tour flick Backstage showed — a lot of fun.

Why you should stay home and watch Monster Garage: Dude, that rolling, motorized half-pipe was rad! And 50 Cent thinks it's "fun" to get shot, so security should be oppressive.

Local music alternative: The now-legendary Scribble Jam showcase and expo show (Aug. 7-10) features much local Hip-Hop talent (from musicians to dancers to graffiti artists), and it also draws established acts and young hopefuls from all over the country who come in to network, perform and compete in the various MC and DJ competitions. It's the most talked about event of its kind in the entire region. Check out scribblemagazine.com for the details.

· LOLLAPALOOZA, July 16 at Riverbend

The lunkhead-favoring lineup picks up where it left off when it took a break following tours featuring such non-Alt acts as Korn and Metallica. This year's Cincy stop will include Jane's Addiction, Incubus, Audioslave, Jurassic 5, Queens of the Stone Age, The Donnas, The Distillers, Cave In and Pharoahe Monch. (See further Lollapalooza discourse at Cash and Perry.)

Why you should bother: It's spottier and more expensive than ever, but The Distillers, Queens of the Stone Age, Cave In and (if they're "on") Jane's Addiction might make the tour a bearable slice of '90s nostalgia.

Why you should stay home and watch old porno from the '70s: To jerk off or be jerked off, that is the question.

Local music alternative: Like a Localpalooza, the A.M. Holiday concert (June 7) features 15 local acts on three floors at the Southgate House. Artists participating in the show (which will benefit the Enjoy the Arts outreach programs) include Chalk, The Ass Ponys, Mallory, Campfire Crush (the new Opi Yum Yum), Hilltop Distillery, The Sundresses, Wussy, johnnytwentythree, Me or the Moon, Secret Safe, Color Test, Coltrane Motion, Burning Star Core, The Spectacular Fantastic and Fotos. Go to www.amholiday.net for the juicy details.

· THE DATSUNS, July 26 at the Southgate House

New Zealand Power Rock phenoms nearly tore the Southgate down to its foundation when they appeared earlier this year with their arena-in-a-club swagger and bombast.

Why you should bother: The legend spreading about their first show here is reason enough.

Why you should stay home and watch Iron Chef: It's sooo addicting.

Local music alternative: Belly up to The Gazelles, one of the few local acts who understand the element of danger's vital, long-missing role in Rock & Roll. (gazelles.hyperquake.com/)

· CROWN JEWELS OF JAZZ WITH DIONNE WARWICK AND KATHY WADE, Aug. 2 at Music Hall

Rekindled interest in Pop song genius Burt Bacharach has made his longtime mouthpiece a hot commodity. Bacharach and Hal David rejuvenated Warwick's already successful Pop music career in the early '60s with sparkling ditties like "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Do You Know the Way to San José."

Why you should bother: Music Hall's natural sonic-friendliness makes most music performed there sound heavenly. And it helps raise awareness for Wade's Learning Through Art Foundation(www.learningthroughart.com).

Why you should stay home and watch a Reds game: Is Griffey hurt again? Is the pitching staff's ERA below 14? The Redlegs take on the Mets at Shea, and the Mets really, really suck, so a win is practically a sure thing.

Local music alternative: Singer Kathy Wade — also the organizer of this event — has one of the most technically proficient voices in local Jazz.

· KISS/AEROSMITH, Aug. 13 at Riverbend

Like Cher, KISS began talking up their farewell tour several years ago now. Yet, here they are — older, paunchier, richer — dragging themselves (well, Gene and Paul plus whoever they decide to paint and throw onstage in support) on the road yet again. Aerosmith have maintained superstar status since their '70s start — though, contrary to the media's reconstructionist memory of the '80s, they didn't invent Hip Hop.

Why you should bother: Pyro-freakin'-technics out the hoo-ha. Elderly men spitting blood and breathing fire in Kabuki make-up. And elderly men trying very hard not to do drugs. Good times!

Why you should stay home and watch VH-1 Classic: Aerosmith haven't made a half-decent album since Done With Mirrors (and that was barely half-good); KISS have yet to achieve the feat. And VH-1 Classic might show that hysterical Styx video for "Heavy Metal Poisoning."

Local music alternative: Hmmm ... be grateful that we're short on the old-guys-in-spandex-and-face-paint scene here in the Queen City.

· SOLOMON BURKE, August 14 at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering

Soul music legend Solomon Burke makes his way to our region (opening for Blues singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi) on what is one of the biggest rolls of his long career. Alongside peers like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, Burke made his initial influence felt in the early '60s with his satisfying mix of R&B, Country and Gospel fervor, inspiring British Blues hounds the Rolling Stones, who covered songs like "Cry to Me" and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's musical life got a high-profile resurrection thanks to his overwhelmingly well-received 2002 album, the Grammy-winning Don't Give Up on Me, which featured songwriting contributions from Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Tom Waits.

Why you should bother: It's a Rock & Roll legend not playing a "Taste of Something or Other" festival.

Why you should stay home and watch a Simpsons repeat: They might show the astounding "Last Exit to Springfield" episode, but this is a rare opportunity not to pass up, you lazy sumabitch.

Local music alternative: Admiral Walker. The Reggae-flavored, multi-culti group has evolved into the best original Soul band in the city, and their fearlessness when it comes to musical-style flirtation makes them all the better. See 'em every Wednesday at the Mad Frog in Corryville. SF&M

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