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American Originals at Cincinnati Music Hall – What a show!

Well I was right to be a “tad excited”, as I said in one of my earlier posts. The American Originals concert at Cincinnati Music Hall more than lived up to my expectations.

American Originals

 

First of all a word about the venue, what a building Cincinnati Music Hall is!

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We arrived there for the doors opening at 1 pm, which gave us a little time to have a wander round the building, and it’s magnificent. We’ll definitely be returning for a tour of the building. We had a look at the timeline, which was fascinating, particularly the list of artists who have performed there.

Another reason for arriving early was to catch Hickory Robot, who were playing in the foyer as we arrived. We caught them towards the end of their set performing a great version of The Band‘s classic, The Weight.

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Our seats were up in the Gallery,and I was somewhat worried about the view when I purchased the tickets, but my fears were unfounded, we had a great view. The set was interesting with a carpet, with a chair and a lamp at each end, with a bust of Stephen Collins Foster, in the middle.

Looking around the audience, it was interesting to see that at the age of 53, I was one of the younger members of the audience! I’m not sure whether that was due to the show being on a Sunday afternoon or whether the American Originals didn’t appeal to the younger generation, which would be a great shame. I have to say this is the first concert I’ve been to where I’ve heard an oxygen tank, three rows behind, being used throughout the performance! Fortunately, it was only noticeable during the interval and the breaks between the songs. I  would have hated to ask the user to turn it off!

As for the show itself, where do I begin, it was excellent from start to finish.

The first half opened with a rousing version of the Battle Cry of Freedom. There were many highlights in the first half of the show ,Over the Rhine‘s take on ,Why No One to Love,was beautiful, with Karen Berquist sounding lovely. Dom Flemons performing Old Folks Home was wonderful. Mind you I’m a big fan of Dom Flemons, so there maybe a slight bit of favoritism there!. Rosanne Cash just blew me away with Beautiful Dreamer, she also performed one of her father’s songs, which for the life of me I can’t remember the title of! The first half finished with another highlight,  Aoife O’Donovan singing Amazing Grace, ably supported by the Comet Bluegrass Allstars.

The second half had even more high spots! Dom Flemons performing Ring, Ring de Banjo was superb. Joe Henry, reclaiming the Love me Tender tune, for Aura Lee, was another high spot. But for me, Rosanne Cash, singing My Old Kentucky Home was the highlight of the old show. I had a tear in my eye and lump in my throat at the end of this and I’m a Brit who’s only just moved to Cincinnati, god know’s what it did for the Kentuckians in the audience!

The show ended with a rip-roaring version of Camptown Races, with all the performers on stage, contributing to a fitting finale. In fact, they performed it again for the encore.

It was an absolutely superb afternoon’s entertainment. I’m no musical expert, but the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, aka Cincy Pops, sounded incredible. I’m afraid I can’t remember the names of all the soloists, only the conductor, John Morris Russell, who did a fine job, not only of conducting the orchestra, but also of hosting the event. One thing’s for sure, this won’t be my last visit to Cincinnati Music Hall and I definitely want to see the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra again!

One last comment, and this will do my “street cred” no good whatsoever, there were buses outside waiting to take people back to their old folks home! That never happens at the Southgate House Revival!

 

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American Originals at Cincinnati Music Hall

Okay, I have to confess, I’m just a tad excited. Yesterday I got tickets for the Sunday afternoon performance of American Originals at Cincinnati Music Hall.

American Originals

 

So why so excited? I hear you say

Well, how about this for a line-up:

Rosanne Cash – One of my favorite artists, who’s album The River and the Thread was one of my top ten albums of 2014. I briefly saw her on stage at the end of the Americana Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium  in September 2013 and have been wanting to see her ever since.

 

Americana Awards 2013

Dom Flemons – Formerly with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who I saw when he was still a member, at the City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds, England in October 2012.  I also saw Dom Flemons late last year when he compered Pokey Lafarge‘s Central Time Tour, which was one of my top ten gigs of last year.

Pokey Lafarge Central Time poster

Over The Rhine – I’ve not yet seen Over The Rhine, but I understand they’re a Cincinnati institution, so it’ll be cool to catch one of my new home town bands.

Aoife O’Donovan – I’ve heard her a few times on Bob Harris‘s Radio 2 show and I’ve been wanting to see her live for quite a while now.

The other two acts on the bill are the Comet Bluegrass Allstars and Joe Henry. I’ve not heard of either of these, so a bit of research is required.

All these acts are going to be performing with the world-famous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

The show will be based around the songs of Stephen Foster, who reputedly was America’s first great songwriter. Being a Brit, who’s only been living in the States for just over a year, and in Cincinnati for four months, I’m not fully au fait with Stephen Foster, but being a music fan, I’m obviously aware of the Great American Songbook. I’m also aware of the black face minstrel tradition for which Stephen Foster is known for, as during my childhood back in the UK, there used to be a light entertainment program, on the BBC, called the Black and White Minstrel Show. The show was very popular and ran for 20 year and won a Golden Rose at Montreux for Best Light Entertainment program. However, after numerous complaints it finally was pulled in 1978.

This show introduced me to many of Stephen Foster‘s songs, including Oh Susanna!,Camptown Races,Swanee River & My Old Kentucky Home amongst others. So whilst the manner used, on the Black and White Minstrel Show, of showcasing the songs was abhorrent, it did contribute greatly to my love of music, and Americana in particular.

One added bonus of going on Sunday is that I get to see Hickory Robot again, as they’re providing the pre-concert entertainment. I saw them at the CincyGroove Music Festival last year, where they were excellent, so it will be good to see them again.

Another reason for the excitement is that this will be my first visit to the Cincinnati Music Hall. I’ve been in Cincinnati for four months and have been waiting for the right concert before making my first visit, and the American Originals fits the bill perfectly!

 

 

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Cincinnati Entertainment Awards

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.

The Tillers - Hand on the Plow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Hickory Robot-Sawyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 - Farewell to the Historic Southgate House

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tillers were nominated in three categories in the Cincinnati Music Awardsneedless to say they got my vote in all three!

 

 

 

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