I cast my votes in the Cincinnati Music Awards for the first time last night. I’ve only been in Cincinnati four months, but during that time I’ve managed to catch The Tillers a couple of times, and both times they’ve been brilliant. The first time I saw them perform was as part of Pokey Lafarge‘s Central Time Tour. I’ll be doing a separate post about that superb evening, but The Tillers blew me away, so much so that I purchased their latest album, Hand on the Plow, straight after he gig.
It was on the strength of that performance that I decided to get tickets for the Cincy Groove Music Festival at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky. And I’m so glad I did!
First of all a word about the venue. The Southgate House Revival is located in the The Grace Episcopal Methodist Church, which dates back to 1866. The gig was taking place in The Sanctuary, one of three rooms in the building used for gigs. The first thing I noticed on entering the Sanctuary was an old pipe organ, which apparently is the original organ for the church. The next thing I noticed were the stained glass windows, which were simply stunning. I think I may well have to do some research on this building, both as a church and as a music venue. Anyway enough of the architecture, what about the music?
First up were Shiny and the Spoon who got the evening off to a great start, but for me it was the next band, Hickory Robot, who really got things going. The fiddle playing and vocals of Lauren Schloemer stood out amongst all four members of the group, who were excellent in their own right. The highlight of their set was a ten minute epic called Exhultation, from their latest album Sawyer, which reminded me of an old Lindisfarne song, Dingly Dell. I think it was partly due to the atmospheric nature of the song, but mainly due to the mandolin playing of Scott Carnder, that I connected them with Lindisfarne.
I was well impressed with Hickory Robot, which led to yet another CD purchase!
Next on stage was the only artist not from Cincinnati,Chicago Farmer, This is the name by which Cody Diekhoff goes by. He’s a folk singer in the Woody Guthrie style and kept the crowd well entertained despite an electrical hiccup at the start of his set. He was certainly topical, referencing the recent Ferguson murder in one of his songs.
He warmed the crowd up nicely for the headliners The Tillers, who from start to finish were simply superb. Having played the Hand on the Plow numerous times since buying it I was familiar with a lot of the songs in the set, but hearing them played live just took them to another dimension. Their interaction with the crowd created a great atmosphere and I can safely say this was one of my top gigs of the year.
And my wallet took a further hit when I purchased their live CD, Farewell to the Historic Southgate House, the title of which has made me more intrigued about this great venue.
The Tillers were nominated in three categories in the Cincinnati Music Awards, needless to say they got my vote in all three!