Music Tonight: Unless you cut yourself off from all local media over the past week, you probably know that Paul McCartney is performing at Great American Ball Park tonight at 8 p.m., his first Cincinnati show since playing the Reds’ old Riverfront Stadium in 1993. (Latest hot dog news update for tonight’s concert: There WILL be non-veggie dogs served at concession stands, despite persistent “rumors” to the contrary. KyPost.com has the scoop.) But the rest of the city isn’t shutting down for Sir Paul and there are indeed other musical events going on, including the release party for the spectacular new EP by up-and-coming Cincinnati trio Valley of the Sun at the Southgate House’s Parlour.
The music on The Sayings of the Seers EP (the hypnotic eye photo above is the cover art) could be called “Stoner Rock,” the term given to the crop of super-heavy Hard Rock bands that stay true to Black Sabbath’s ominous, slow-groove template. But it’s hard to imagine hardcore potheads being capable of the skill, tightness and sophistication behind the music of some of the more progressive bands advancing the “Stoner” genre, including Valley of the Sun’s imaginative, highly effective spin.
After losing their guitarist and bassist, singer/guitarist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer went to New Windsor, N.Y., to record the EP with engineer John Naclerio, (My Chemical Romance, Senses Fail, Matchbook Romance). Now, with bassist Ryan McAllister in tow and armed with the powerful calling card that is Sayings, Valley of the Sun is perfectly set up to take the band as far as it can go.
Tonight, VotS will make the EP available in its physical format — 12-inch, colored vinyl (with accompanying download code). The show will also feature sets from like-minded locals Atlantis Becoming, Columbus, Ohio-based Small Stone recording artists Lo-Pan and Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus’ band Honky. Admission for the 9 p.m. show is $5 for attendees 21 and older; it’ll cost you $8 is your between 18-20.
Here’s a sample off Valley of the Sun’s debut EP from last year:
• Indie Folk chart-toppers The Decemberists are at Riverbend’s PNC Pavilion tonight for an 8 p.m. concert. Seattle Folk Pop twosome The Head and The Heart opens.
The Decemberists are touring in support of their latest releases: the brand new iTunes Session EP (featuring live, reworked faves from throughout their career) and The King Is Dead, which the Portland band crafted as a more straight-ahead, back-to-basics breather following years of constructing and promoting the grand conceptual, theatrical works the group became famous for. Though a potential self-inflected wound to the band’s career from a commercial standpoint, the group’s Folk/Roots directness didn’t hurt initial sales — The King Is Dead was the No. 1 album in the country when it was released.
Amy Harris has a Q&A with bassist Nate Query here.
Below is a live clip of The Decemberists performing the less epic but no less majestic song “Rise to Me” off of King.
• Elsewhere tonight, NYC Indie Pop buzz band The Pain of Being Pure at Heart also plays the Southgate tonight, headlining the venue’s main Ballroom stage. Check out CityBeat’s preview of the show here. … The long-running, free It’s Commonly Jazz music series begins this evening at 6 p.m. with something called “Jazz Alive presents WOW” in the lovely setting of Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion. (Click here for more details, including the performers for the rest of the weekly, month-long series.) … And it should be harder than usual to get tickets for veteran underground Hip Hop cult legend Tech N9ne’s concert at Bogart’s tonight after the huge national profile boost from a simple Lil Wayne shout-out helped his latest release, the star-studded All 6's and 7's, enter the album charts at No. 4 earlier this summer. Below is the music video for “He’s a Mental Giant” off the new release.
(Leave your suggestions/promote yourself or your favorites by telling everyone about your favorite music event recommendations for the day in the comments below.)
Momentous Happenings in Music History for Aug. 4
On this day in 1958, in an attempt adapt to the fast-forward evolution of the music industry and provide a more accurate gauge of the most popular songs in the United States, trade magazine Billboard unveiled the first “Hot 100” chart. Revolutionary at the time and still an industry standard, the chart ranked singles from every genre based on both radio airplay and sales.
The chart’s ranking formula has changed many times in the past half-century. When the chart began, Billboard was dealing with the declining popularity of jukeboxes, once important to monitor because what was played reflected what was popular with the kids.
The Hot 100 has since had to adjust to issues mostly having to do with the way consumers listen to and experience songs. The equation behind the rank has shifted to reflect things like the sales decline of physical singles (once the primary means used to distribute songs) and the rise in popularity of different formats and platforms.
The public’s tastes and practically every aspect of how music goes from the artist’s imagination to the ears of the masses have also changed enormously since the Hot chart debuted, as the below clips show rather drastically.
First, it’s the first No. 1 on that first Hot 100 chart — Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” — followed by this week’s Hot 100 chart-topper, LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” We’ve, uh, come a long way, baby?
Born This Day: Musically-inclined people you may know born on Aug. 4 include Metal guitarist (Soulfly, Sepultura) Max Cavalera (1969); Pop singer behind ’50s hit “Sea Cruise,” Frankie Ford (1940); Jazz musician/American-music-Mount Rushmore shoo-in, Louis Armstrong (1901); and legendary session musician, keyboardist Larry Knechtel (1940). Being underrated comes with the session player territory, something Knechtel (who began as part of masterful session team The Wrecking Crew and also became a fulltime member of Soft Rock poofs Bread in the early ’70s) knew back-of-hand well after years of going uncredited on many of the records he helped make. How many records? Enough that even Knechtel lost complete track of his work.
But he did (sometimes after stretches of time) receive credit and due for his work on many important records and he lived long enough to enjoy and appreciate the admiration. (Knechtel died from a heart attack in 2009.) When “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “God Only Knows” and “Light My Fire” are but a microscopic sampling of your contributions to the soundtracks of our lives, maybe credit isn’t even necessary.
Paste did a nice piece online when news of Knechtel’s death first surfaced and suggested “Five Songs to Remember Him By.” Check it out here. Below is a clip from The Wrecking Crew’s Musicians Hall of Fame induction ceremony featuring Vince Gill and Knechtel's guiding piano arrangement on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”