Monty is...cruisin to CLOONEY!
Not THAT Clooney. No, my Perez Hilton, HuffPo, Twitter-fiend readers. Cincinnati has had stars on her streets for much longer than the time so many people recently spent casually stalking stars on 4th Street downtown a few months back. I'm taking you to a simpler time, when crooners relied not on Auto-Tune or digital production, but their finely-honed talent. Such was the kind Rosemary Clooney had.
Born in 1928 in Maysville, Kentucky, Clooney's early life was filled with strife and hard times. Her mother moved to California, taking her brother Nick (who would later become a news anchor/television host/Cincinnati personality in his own right) but leaving Rosemary and her sister, Betty, behind. After their father left them to survive on their own, the girls won an open singing audition in 1945 for local Cincinnati radio station WLW. Their powerful pipes wowed the suits at WLW so much, the duo earned their own late-night spot on-air and became known as "The Clooney Sisters". Their charismatic crooning attracted the attention of Tony Pastor, an Italian bandleader, who was passing through Ohio. The sisters were invited to join his orchestra as featured singers and toured with his band, contributing to several recordings for Columbia Records, until 1949.
Rosemary decided to try her luck as a solo artist and moved to New York. She struck pay dirt and was now signed as a solo artist to the same Columbia Records. Her first single, "Come On-a My House", was released in 1951 and was a kooky, cheese-tastic, pseudo-Italian song of double-entendres that Rosemary did not like, but her audience did. The song was a hit and Clooney began her "girl-singer" ascent alongside Doris Day, Kay Starr and Peggy Lee among other soulful crooner-types. In 1954, Clooney starred in "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, her most publicly-recognized role. This opened even more doors for Clooney and her career continued it's red-hot blaze, with more recordings (including a popular version of "Mambo Italiano") and films, eventually culminating in her own half-hour variety television show in 1956, The Rosemary Clooney Show. She even made the cover of Time Magazine in 1953: "Keep it simple, keep it sexy, keep it sad". Check out her telegram thanking Time Magazine's Jim Murray.
Clooney performed and recorded with many notable personalities in the Jazz-crossover era of the 1950s and '60s and enjoyed success in her later career with continued album releases on the Concord Jazz record label, television commercials, a 1994 duet with Barry Manilow and an Emmy award nomination for her guest appearance on her nephew George's (yes, THAT Clooney) television show, ER. In 1999, Clooney founded The Rosemary Clooney Music Festival in her hometown of Maysville at which she performed every year until her death in 2002. Clooney was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in February of 2002, shortly before she died of lung cancer.
How fitting that Rosemary Clooney returned to her roots, from a hardscrabble-start to a shining end.
MidPoint Indie Summer Series :: July 159:30pm :: Eat Sugar
I cannot tell a lie. I have a slight obsession with the lead singer of Eat Sugar's voice. Aidan Bogosian could tell me to eat pencil shavings and I probably would. Such is the magnetism he projects over top of sexy bass lines and driving drum beats. A healthy serving of tasteful synth provides the perfect final note to this Cincinnati-based four piece. Oh, and there aren't any guitars to be found in this seductive electro-retro-rock outfit. Not that you'd miss them. In fact, I didn't even notice upon first listen. That's some true talent. These boys are simultaneously infectious and aloof, a combination that only makes you want more. While I suggest getting your hipster-dance on to each and every one of their songs, Clap Your Hands and Shadowside in particular are my new favorite Saturday-night-going-out-to-the-riverboat-hoe-down jams. And I'm pretty sure they'll be yours. Although you won't be coming to the same party. (It's pretty exclusive, riverboat-folk only. Sorry guys.)
8:15pm :: The Pass
Once upon a time (this past January), I went to a show at a local bar (in Northside) to see a much-hyped band play. I had no idea what they sounded like, so my expectations were nonexistent. I also knew nothing about the supporting acts. I was blown away by the second band with all the awesome lighting effects and really tight, crisp, well-constructed synth-pop tunes. Lo and behold, that band was (is) The Pass, and a fan was born that night. This Louisville four piece has distinctive vocals, creative synth lines, steady drums, solid guitars--basically, a recipe for the best electro-pop confectionary goodness to slide down my ear canals in quite a while. As an old-timer, I appreciate that The Pass combines elements of trends in music and classic stand-bys to create a unique, undated sound. Hey. That kinda sounds like me! I approve.
7:00pm :: Starfox
I think I may have found the missing link between old school early 2000s indie melancholia and indie rock 2011 dance awesome. And that would be Starfox. This Cincinnati-based five piece band incorporates plaintive vocals, well-crafted guitar and bass lines and exciting drums into a melee of alternative rock that sounds fresh and new. Soaring from musical intricacy to acoustic accessibility, these boys put elements of almost garage-rock, fluid indie sensibilities, hints of dancey-synth and their own clever outlook into a blender and leave us with the finished, delicious product. Make sure you scoop up some to take home for later--Starfox will have two new, unreleased tracks available on Fountain Square during their performance! I know what I'm spending the money I won in that bet against Mark Twain on (told ya the world wouldn't end May 21, old friend. Not in Cincinnati, not anywhere! Ha!).
Big MPMF.11 festival announcement coming soon - stay tuned, fellow MPMFers!
Tickets on sale now!
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:: Fountain Square only during MidPoint Indie Summer Series while supplies last (only $39!!)