Monty is... Lovesick?
Too often these days, great pieces of history lay unrecognized in the melee of this busy world we live in. I know my own great Queen City riverboat has made adjustments to keep up with the times (WiFi, cell phones) but the rich past and importance of tradition is something I strive to keep alive. To that effect, let's wander down the streets of downtown Cincinnati amid all the old and new beautiful architecture, and stop at 811 Race Street, the former home of Herzog Studios.
Herzog Studios was created to record artists who came to perform on Cincinnati's radio station, WLW, known as "the Nation's Station" and still in operation today (under a different format). Founded by WLW engineer "Bucky" Herzog in 1945, Herzog Studios attracted and recorded a long list of influential and talented Country musicians. The Pleasant Valley Boys (a wildly popular session band), Flatt and Scruggs (look up "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and you'll know it instantly) and most famously, Hank Williams. "Lovesick Blues" was recorded by Williams with the Pleasant Valley Boys and became his most notable song to date. Other greats recorded at Herzog included The Delmore Brothers and Bullmoose Jackson not to mention the various national record labels sent their artists to record at Herzog. The vibe was humming in Cincinnati, with Herzog Studios and nearby King Records (which we visited a few weeks ago) helping cement the Queen City's place in music greatness in throughout the middle part of the 20th Century.
While I don't necessarily believe this adage, sometimes it's true: All good things must come to an end. Herzog Studios closed forever in 1955, leaving a legacy that went unrecognized by those outside of the music world for quite some time. But times changed again, and in 2009, the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation sponsored the placement of a historical marker in front of the former Herzog Studios location (now headquarters for CUSAMHF and home to CityBeat/MPMF). And now every time I wander down past 811 Race Street, I pause briefly and pay homage to the ghosts of legends who, this time, will not be soon forgotten.
MidPoint Indie Summer Series :: July 1
I'll admit it, I love 'em. Opening a pomegranate in the kitchen nook aboard my fair vessel is akin to unwrapping a hotly-anticipated, non-religiously-affiliated-winter-holiday-present. The same goes for this four-piece band from right here in the Queen City. Eschewing conventional genre specifications, Pomegranates sweep from surf-rock reminisces to indie-pop sensibilities. Their particular brand of aural landscaping is just this: tart, sweet, sticky, and fresh. Effortless, at times hazed-out vocals from Joey Cook, driving drums, and adventurous guitar lines are all wrapped in a silky coating of dreamy reverb, making Pomegranates the perfect package. (I've also got a thing for alliteration.)
For a band named after a creation that amounts to a comic relief servant, this Cincinnati trio is no laughing matter. Michael Oliva's earnest voice runs the gamut from contemplative to hysterical, and his rabid energy keeps time seamlessly with pounding drums, exploratory guitar and tight bass lines as these boys trip the (psychedelic-rock) light fantastic. Lingering reverb and garage-rock tendencies zip back and forth over each other and will leave your feet dancing of their own accord. And a special congratulations is in order: The Harlequins are celebrating the release of their second EP, Midwest Coast! See if you can catch a glimpse of me hiding in the background of their music video (with a clever visual homage to the fickle nature of Cincinnati) for the eponymous song, showing before their set begins!
I don't know exactly who Lindon is (although I believe he may be a fisherman from Northern Kentucky to whom Mark Twain and I lost a bet), but I do know that this five-piece Cincinnati band is definitely more than just "okay". Lead singer Dustin Smith's melancholic, plaintive lyrics and delivery rise steadily above the pairing of straight-forward guitars with even-keeled, precise drumming that elicits a decidedly Midwestern sensibility. Minimal frills and effectively employed, subtle effects (such as the wistful piano line in The Truth About Everything, a song I really enjoyed) show us a silver lining that winks at solid indie-pop leanings. A hard-working attitude pervades each song by these home-grown boys that I admire and respect, not coincidentally something I look for when selecting my riverboat crew.
Thanks to these fine institutions, you can get your MPMF.11 tickets when you're out and about coffeeing, cocktailing, rocking and rolling:
Corner BLOC Coffee
Japp's Since 1879 Mole's Record Exchange
Park + Vine
Roebling Point Bookstore
Shake It Records
...more to come!
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