Do you know about The Queen City?
Not sure how many of you are aware of the thriving Americana Music Scene in the Southern Ohio, Northern KY, Southern Indiana area. Wow, it is truly becoming a hotbed of music around us.
In my first ever blog I’m gonna try to focus on the music around Cincinnati/Northern KY metro area. Hopefully, it will spark your interest in checking out some of these great groups, causing you to lend an ear and maybe even plan a visit some day.
The music scene in Cincinnati is tremendous with all types of music ranging from hip-hop, to indie rock, jazz, to latin, and especially Americana and Roots. On any given night you can go out and hear multiple different types of quality music. And much of it is original. When I say quality, I don’t just mean that there are some good players and the bands are tight. I mean that there is some really good original stuff being written and performed around here.
Many Americana and Indie Rock fans around the nation have already heard of the Cincinnati groups Over The Rhine and The Heartless Bastards. Yes, The Heartless Bastards have recently relocated to Austin, but we still are proud to claim them. And I’m sure that conguring up the names of past groups like The Afghan Whigs, Ass Ponies, and Pure Prarie League will certainly make the top of many of your heads itch for a second or two.
However, I’m hoping to open your ears and hearts to many of the artists, places, and things that are happening in our little corner of the universe right now. And thus, here is a quick list…
Daniel Martin Moore recently released an album on Sub Pop along with fellow Kentuckian Ben Sollee called Dear Companion that is just fantastic. I had the pleasure of running the front of house mix on the Dear Companion tour’s stop in Northern KY and I must say they had the hairs on the back on my neck standing up more than once. And I cannot express how wonderful they were to work with. The show was opened by a fantastic set of music around one mic from the group Wild Carrot.
The Buffalo Killers are a rock band with a classic sound that has been making waves all around the country. Their most recent full length was produced by Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys and the band has done a lot of touring with The Black Crowes.
A couple years ago I was working the stage for a local benefit concert and got a first hand glimpse of The Hiders. It was one of those lucky nights when I was able to witness a band that was truly in the moment together. The groove was intoxicating and the Bill Alletzhauzer’s lyrics kept me focused for the entire set. At one point I felt as if Neil Young and Crazy Horse had stepped off the bus from 1978 and walked onto the stage for an intimate yet rockin’ performance. The Hiders’ music has been reaching far and wide with notable
The Tillers are another group on the rise. The string band has been performing all across the country and were featured on NBC special about Route 50. Their latest album is an absolute gem.
Magnolia Mountain just released a critically acclaimed double album, Redbird Green, and have been all over the place around here. They are starting to branch out with some out of the region gigs.
When I first moved to town in 2000, I was invited to check out the local CAMMY awareds show which was kicked off by a short set from local artist Kim Taylor. I was standing kind of far from the stage and immersed in conversation with some of my friends, but the sound caused me to quickly lose track of the conversation and focus on the stage. I soon found myself mesmerized by the sultry voice coming from this figure in a sundress at the front of the stage. I could never seem to get a fix on her face for it was half covered by her long hair. Only a hypnotic eyeball seemed to be staring at me (and everyone else) from the large video screens on either side of the stage. Kim has been allowing us all to enjoy her amazing voice and songwriting talents for many years. Her music is now quite frequently appearing on television shows and she embarks on regular short tours around the region and east coast.
Katie Lauer Bluegrass Band
Named after a local landfill, The Rumpke Mountain Boys have really found a niche in the jam scene with their bluegrass tinged take on jam music.
The Newbees have released 4 albums of great material and were headliners at this year’s Abbey Road on The River Festivals in both Louisville and Washington, DC.
The Comet Bluegrass Allstars are a bluegrass band that often is overlooked, but cannot be forgotten. With Edward P. Cunningham holding the reigns you know that you are always in for an amazing experience.
The Turkeys keep crafting amazing songs with intricate harmonies that you can’t help but to recall Simon and Garfunkel.
Unfortunately the city suffered a tremendous loss when Katie Reider past away in the summer of 2008. Katie’s career was blossoming as she was starting to fill venues from Cincinnati to Chicago to NYC. I believe that her music has the ability to become stuff of legend. I was lucky enough to be able to call her a friend. She was one of those people that made you feel like your best friend the moment you met her.
No small player in the success of many local Americana artists is 89.7 WNKU. The station readily plays quality music from local artists and also puts on many events that showcase the regions vast music scene. One example is their support for the Ohio River Way’s Paddlefest which has showcased many roots artists over the past couple of years.
Cincinnati Citybeat is also an incredible resource for the region’s music. They are the local entertainment rag (aside from some competition from the more nationally focused Metromix). Citybeat is constantly helping with creating events that showcase the music from the region.
The city is also home to one of the nation’s top music industry festivals in the Midpoint Music Fest. Every Sept, artists from around the world flock to Cincinnati to showcase their music to some 50,000 festival goers and industry folks as well.
Whispering Beard Folk Festival is not far from Cincinnati. The folks from the Beardo Society have put together quite an impressive lineup over the past couple years including national headliners Guy Clark
Jake Speed and the Freddies on Prairie Home Companion and hosting The Rivertown Breakdown.
Even the Cincinnati Reds have engaged the region’s original music with a season long concert series.
With no shortage of venues ranging from the 3 venues in the Historic Southgate House, to the 2000 seat Taft Theater the city offers a plenty of places to perform and/or catch a show. Other great places to check out original live music include The 20th Century Theater, The Madison Theater, Play by Play, The Northside Tavern, The Crows Nest, The Blue Wisp and the Comet (with one of their famous burritos of course!).
Not far down the road exists a place claimed to be the Center of The Universe in Rabbit Hash, KY.
Other nearby cities also are supporting very talented acts such and I plan on talking about them in future blogs.
I must say that it is a great place to be right now and I hope that some of you spend a little time and check out all this fantastic music.
There are so many more that it is hard to believe. If you like earthy music that has a bit of a harder edge then you absolutely must pick up the album called “Towering The Sum” by Noctaluca. It is an absolute masterpiece in my mind. The band is currently on an indefinite hiatus, but we’ve been enjoying their music for some time and the world should be a witness.
Raeggae fans would love to hear Selector or The OHMS.