Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

The Cincinnati Entertainment Awards celebrates 15 years of honoring local music's past, present and future


he votes are in and the trophies have been constructed — now it’s time to party. 

Fifteen years ago, the first Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony was held at the long-defunct Over-the-Rhine nightclub Sycamore Gardens. The mission of the CEAs was intact from the start — spotlight Greater Cincinnati’s original music scene, engage our readers via public voting for nominees and put together a fun shindig/ceremony that people will talk about until ... at least the next year’s event. 

Mission accomplished. Fifteen years later, we’re still honoring the best of the local music scene and delivering a ceremony that has become a “must-attend” event for music lovers, thanks to high-quality live performances (this year from Wussy, Two Headed Dog and Pomegranates, among others) and the general merriment (or, if you’re lucky, debauchery) that ensues when you get hundreds of musicians and hardcore local music fans in the same room together. 

The 2011 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony returns to Covington’s Madison Theater Sunday night with those qualities in full force. But wait — there’s more! Members of the local Indie Pop band Fairmount Girls will once again host the “The Trashies,” playful red-carpet-style awards given to the best, worst and most interestingly dressed. The pre-show activities will be broadcast inside the Madison. 

Then there’s the legendary after-party, this year held at the nearby Mad Hatter (which will soon be closing). The Trashies will be doled out and some special musical guests will provide entertainment throughout the night. The after-party is free to anyone with a ticket from ceremony (all nominating artists are also welcome to attend). 

Proceeds from the CEAs have been donated to various music-affiliated charities over the years. For the 2011 edition, money from the show will again be given to the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation. The nonprofit organization has spent the past few years shining the spotlight on Cincinnati’s rich, often-overlooked musical past, reiterating the Queen City’s vital role in the development of so much popular music. 

More and more locals (and non-locals) are becoming aware of that rich heritage thanks to CUSAMHF’s work to honor such iconic musical institutions as King Records and Herzog recording studios. CUSAMHF (which counts the legendary Bootsy Collins among its board members) is now headquartered downtown at the site of the former Herzog facilities and the group was instrumental in having an historical marker placed in front of the building where Hank Williams and countless others recorded some of music’s most important tracks. 

Last year, the young organization lent its support to a group working to have a memorial marker placed at the site of the 1979 stampede before Rock legends The Who performed at Riverfront Coliseum (now U.S. Bank Arena). Eleven fans between the ages of 15-27 died in the crush to get inside. The Who Concert Victims Memorial Committee, members of whom appeared at last year’s CEAs, continue to push for the memorial and have a lot of support from local government. Plans are still in the works, but moving forward.

In honor of their efforts, CityBeat contributors Tom Bolton (artist) and Rich Shivener (writer) collaborated on a special “comic strip” about that fateful night on the riverfront, a watershed moment for concert crowd management. The first part of the strip can be found in the following pages; in honor of the victims, CityBeat will run the second part of the strip at on Dec. 3, the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy.

CUSAMHF launches its inaugural membership drive with this year’s CEAs. VIP packages for the ceremony include membership and induction into the CUSAMHF’s Funky Drummer Society, named for the beat of James Brown’s “The Funky Drummer,” one of the most used drum samples in music history. Visit for VIP ticket info; visit for details on CUSAMHF.

CUSAMHF’s latest activities offer a great example of the organization’s mission of bridging local music’s past, present and future, a goal shared by the CEAs and CityBeat. In a collaborative effort with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a special interactive educational program was developed, aiming to teach young students just how important Cincinnati’s musical history is in relation to the music they know and love today. The unique class focusses on King Records’ legacy and will be presented for the first time this Friday at the WCET studios for an invite-only audience, including students from SCPA and Cincinnati State. 

It’s yet another way of building hometown pride in “Cincinnati music” and, fittingly, it comes two days before the CEAs school us on today’s top music makers, as well as tomorrow’s potential big-timers.


2011 CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS are Sunday at Covington’s Madison Theater. Tickets for the all-ages show are $17 (through or $20 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m.; showtime is 7 p.m.

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