Blood, Sweat & Tears Coming to the Ludlow Garage

Blood Sweat & Tears is coming to the Ludlow Garage for two shows on Saturday, June 16. No history of late 60s and early 70s rock is complete without Blood Sweat & Tears. Their second LP was the #1 album for seven weeks, and it produced three top 5 singles. The album received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and it has been certified quadruple platinum, with sales of more than four million units in the U.S. Blood, Sweat & Tears also played Woodstock and, along with Chicago, who also added horns to their sound, helped create jazz rock.

Here’s a link to buy tickets to one of the two shows scheduled for Saturday, June 16:

https://www.ticketmaster.com/blood-sweat-and-tears-ludlow-garage-cincinnati-cincinnati-oh/venueartist/181027/2364012

Here is the leadoff single from BS&T’s #1 album, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”:

And here’s the second single from the album, “Spinning Wheel”:

Here’s the third single from that album to crack the top five, a song Laura Nyro wrote, “And When I Die”:

And here’s a link to buy tickets to one of the two shows scheduled for Saturday, June 16:

https://www.ticketmaster.com/blood-sweat-and-tears-ludlow-garage-cincinnati-cincinnati-oh/venueartist/181027/2364012

Ludlow Avenue In Pictures – A Magical History Tour

Recently I’ve set out to find old photographs of Ludlow Avenue, the Clifton Gaslight Business District, and the Gaslight District in general. Mostly I’ve been searching for photos of storefronts that have changed over the years, either due to cosmetic changes or new businesses replacing old ones. I feel as if I’m just scratching the surface so far, but I figured I’d trot out some photos just to get things started. As more photos become available, I’ll keep adding to this blog entry and perhaps create new blog entries that are narrower in focus. I encourage anyone who has photos (or knows where I can find more) to add to this collection to contribute. Eventually I suspect this will become a separate page on Gaslight Property’s website, gaslightproperty.com. These are some of the photos I’ve collected thus far. At first I was going to write a caption for each one – but after posting them I thought, it’ll be more fun for people to suss out where these locations are. So can you identify all the locations from the past and the businesses/spaces that have replaced them? And can you add some photos to the collection? In any case, enjoy this soon-to-be-expanded magical history tour.

 

 

 

New Hours for Gaslight Gourmet Cookies

It’s been almost three years since Gaslight Gourmet Cookies opened in Clifton, and it was an immediate hit, its baked goods, classic awning, and walk-up window adding that much more charm to the neighborhood. Along with serving walk-in or walk-up fans of cookies, macaroons, and coffee, the store has always had its share of loyal large-order customers, and demand is so strong in that area that it recently opted to trim its hours to be able to fulfill that need. So plan accordingly, cookie fans: new hours for the store, which is located at 272 Ludlow Avenue, are:

Wednesday: 7am to 4pm

Saturday: 7am to 6pm

Sunday: 8am to noon

When I spoke to the owner of the store, Tom Jacobsen, he said coconut macaroons are the most popular item on the menu, and it turns out they earned a “Best of the City” award in Cincinnati Magazine. The best-selling cookie is the dark cherry cordial cookie. When you speak to Tom, he makes it clear that the store is located in the perfect spot. “Clifton is the best neighborhood in the city,” he said, “and it’s been the best neighborhood for 100 years.”

And his civic pride extends to other Cincinnati neighborhoods. Tom donates cookies and macaroons for fund-raisers at St. Boniface, Fairview-Clifton German Language School, Roger Bacon, Elder, DePaul Christo Rey, and other local schools.

And if you’re wondering how to arrange large orders yourself, Tom encourages interested parties to text, all, or leave a message at (513) 602-5253. Also, you should check out his facebook page. Gaslight Gourmet Cookies is one more reason the Gaslight District is a great neighborhood and a great place to rent.

Thank You, Jerry Gillotti

The memory is still fresh of walking into Gilly’s for the first time. I had never been to a jazz club before, and my sense of excitement quickly combined with…well…desperation, as I was informed by the owner, a short, squat man sitting in the entrance and taking money, that the show was sold out. That man was Jerry Gillotti, the owner of Gilly’s. I told him the drive to downtown Dayton took over an hour, and my plea for sympathy worked—he let in me and my posse.

All the tables were full that evening, and the club was beyond standing room only—even finding a place to stand took some doing. While tripping over other people’s feet I noticed that the crowd at this dark, small club largely consisted of well-dressed black people who were a bit older than this white boy who might have been all of 19 by then. The band was already playing, and folks who think of jazz as background music should have felt the energy in that room. Leading the group was McCoy Tyner, who had played on the John Coltrane albums that I purchased after Carlos Santana and other rock stars raved about him in interviews. The group that night was on fire. Band members included the fire-breathing George Adams, a tall tenor sax player whose eyes rolled back into his head during his solos. Constantly switching instruments, Guilherme Franco would disappear and then reappear from behind a percussion rack and throw in other visual effects that seemed almost shamanistic. That performance was intense, and seeing it in a small club made it reverberate even more. I knew I’d be back.

Prior to that night my concert-going had mostly been limited to rock shows at big venues, which was fun, but at Gilly’s it amazed me that I could witness such a high level of musicianship, the playing so inspired and so intense, in such a small space. Although I never lived in Dayton, I drove from Celina, Oxford, and Cincinnati to see two other McCoy shows, Betty Carter, Woody Shaw, JJ Johnson, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Muddy Waters, Mose Allison, Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie, Flora and Airto, and many other artists.

Most of the shows I saw there were in the late 70s and the 1980s, when the more “out” jazz enjoyed some popularity and was part of the tour and festival circuit. During a performance by Old & New Dreams, (a group consisting of Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell), the second set opened with “Lonely Woman,” a beautiful and haunting Ornette Coleman composition, and sitting in the front row while listening to Charlie Haden droning, mournful bass solo was mesmerizing. On another night Sam Rivers brought a heady mixture of free jazz and funk. And there was Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition with David Murray, Arthur Blythe, and Peter Warren. The playing was so powerful that evening that increased my fascination with jazz, as it amazed me that I could walk into a room and hear such remarkably musicianship by guys who (other than DeJohnette) I hadn’t even heard of before that night. Later David Murry returned with a quartet that included Ed Blackwell.

One of the last shows I saw at Gilly’s was a series of duets by Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron. That was one of two concerts they played in America on that “tour,” and it was my only opportunity to see either of them. When Mal Waldron soloed, the smoke rising from his cigarillo behind his thick white hair while the spotlight shone down was jazz imagery at its finest. To think that, for years, Waldron worked with Billie Holiday in different formats, including duets, as the final verse of “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara describes:

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of

leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT

while she whispered a song along the keyboard

to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

The fact that Waldron played at Gilly’s begins to tell you some of the history that passed through the club’s doors.

About the time that I started hitting small jazz shows I caught wind of punk, with its DIY ethos, and something similar has always been at work in the jazz world. Certainly it was in Jerry Gillotti’s DNA. (And somehow it makes sense that Gilly’s hosted some early and now legendary punk and new wave shows when that scene was still in its infancy.) Although both Columbus and Cincinnati were larger cities, neither had a club comparable to Gilly’s. To put it simply, Jerry Gillotti booked bands who shortly before or after that gig were performing at the Village Vanguard. Jazz lovers within driving distance of Gilly’s were quite spoiled, as this was all about one person going out of his way to make something happen. Jerry Gillotti passed away on November 23, 2017, and it should be noted that even though he suffered from increasingly bad health he continued to run the club until the end of his life.

Memories of Gilly’s shows always return to his voice, which you’d hear before the show and between sets. (He also did the highly caffeinated phone messages announcing upcoming shows.) He had the perfect voice for a jazz promoter—energetic, enthusiastic, hip. “I always thought that if you did it right you could make money doing it but I was wrong,” he said. “You can’t make any money doing it.”

Did that stop him? No. And why not? Because he loved jazz. The idea of starting a jazz club came to him at a Modern Jazz Quartet concert he attended overseas. That show must have moved him deeply, and that’s something that every jazz lover would understand. Somehow a myth has been passed along that jazz is all about massaging your cerebral cortex, but the truth is it’s a deeply human thing. One song that quickly wipes away the notion of jazz as Think Music is “Left Alone,” for which Billie Holiday wrote the lyrics and Mal Waldron, who decades later performed at Gilly’s, wrote the music. Although Billie passed away before they could record the song, Mal went on to play and record it for the rest of his career, not as a crowd-pleaser but as a deeply-felt tribute to Billie. Thank you, Jerry Gillotti, for bending the rules that first night and for bringing in so many great jazz artists over the years, including the guy who used to play with Billie Holiday. You made the world a better place.

Double Digits

On January 2, 2008, a group of people wearing caps and masks watched someone of similar attire plunge a knife into my neck. But the people gathered around me meant me no harm—in fact, they were trying to do me some good, as I had, it turns out, not one but two cancerous nodules inside my thyroid, so a complete thyroidectomy was in fact in order. The second nodule I never really told anyone about until now (other than some doctors) because I didn’t want to acknowledge it myself at the time, as two nodules is more worrisome than one and while #1 was the least dangerous form of thyroid cancer (papillary) #2 was some sort of papillary/other cocktail that increased the cause for concern (plus I was nearing 50, which for males especially makes those mortality charts change in ways you don’t want them to), that’s the stone cold scary truth.

I had woken up in an operating room before that day, so I knew what to expect: arctic temperatures (they help you to wake up) and chattering docs + nurses (that also helps). This time, though, I came to in a dark room by myself, and everything was silent. All I knew for sure was that I was still in a hospital. I couldn’t hear any voices, and no one was passing by in the hallway in front of me. I could tell it was dark outside, which seemed weird considering that my surgery began early that morning (or was it that morning?). What little voice I had kept asking if anyone was there. Finally a sixty-ish nurse entered the room. She stared bluntly at me and said in a most serious voice:

“You know what happened, don’t you?”

“No, and you don’t have to tell me,” I said.

She told me anyway: I had stayed under so long that standard post-operating procedure had been abandoned. My parents had left the building, and the hospital was now a very quiet place. Later, in my hospital bed, with plenty of morphine to keep me company, I watched television during the awake/asleep cycle that kept repeating itself that evening. In the middle of the night the local news showed some footage that looked like a helicopter crashing into the hospital where the surgery had been performed, and in my altered state I quickly imagined a narrative wherein, as the surgeon was about to make the first and biggest cut, the entire building wobbled. While that wasn’t entirely accurate (and in fact, I came to learn, the accident that occurred was slightly less dramatic than what I first assumed and actually took place the day before my surgery), I have sometimes embellished this story in order to impress my friends with just how tough I am. Much to my disappointment, thus far everyone has read through that particular tall tale.

Again, the date of that surgery was January 2, 2008, which makes it ten years ago today, which takes us to double digit years of cancer-free living, and that’s a really nice number. After the thyroidectomy, four months passed before we ran the tests that determined if the cancer had spread beyond my thyroid (it hadn’t), but I will always mark January 2 as The Big Anniversary because that’s the date (as we eventually came to learn) that cancer left my body. Surgery is no no fun, but those four months that followed were the hard part, and I’ll freely admit that during that time I experienced some good old-fashioned fear. Not a crazy amount, but it was tough sometimes. Everyone who has cancer handles it differently, and I’m well aware, as I’m sure you are too, that some folks respond to a cancer diagnosis with a burst of good karma and positive energy and do a superb job of dodging the heebie-jeebies. That’s a perfectly fine approach, but it isn’t universal, and if these words should happen to reach a person who either has cancer or is being tested for it, I hope you know you shouldn’t second-guess yourself if that diagnosis sends a shiver down your spine. It’s okay to worry, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

On the other hand, when it comes to the regimen of tests involved when suspicions of cancer arise and the treatment that’s required, you need to follow through on all that. Maybe you’re not the Rock of Gibraltar, but you need to give other people permission to save your life. One of the fringe benefits you’ll experience along the way is a deepening of friendships and other relationships that can only happen when you undergo such trials. I can vouch for that, and today, as I began a list of the people whose support during that time is still fresh in my memory, it really hit home how lucky I was to have them in my life. Here my mind travels first to Dr. Timothy Freeman, the primary care physician who ordered the test that revealed something we weren’t even looking for (“Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes” is how he put it); Dr. Fischer, the surgeon who performed the thyroidectomy, which included some intricate parathyroid work; Dr. Silberstein, the nuclear medicine specialist at UC Hospital; and my endocrinologist, Dr. Denny-Queen.

My mind also travels my brothers and sisters (and I’ve got lots of ‘em), and I should also mention my brother-in-law, Ed Holder, who I saw during that time and was always supportive. Molly and Jack Bredl were there for me, as was Mary Jo Wilson. Greg Bredl and Kristin LaCroix, both cancer survivors, helped boost my spirits. And Jim Schwartzhoff, now deceased, was a pillar of strength.

The list of friends who helped me keep my spirits up during this time included Luke Domet, Pam Sweet, Laura Kristal (thank you for the flowers), Vivian Vinyl, Bill King, and Tom Wendel. The comedy team of Maarten and Ashu, whose wild antics during that four-month period kept me laughing, also deserve a shout-out. Also, Jeff King, who is now deceased, was a bedrock of support during that period.

My mind also travels to people I knew at work, including, definitely, Sonja McLaughlin and Anita Clary. And how lucky I was to have as an “officemate” Asmaa Gharbi Alami, who offered support and prayed for me—and made me laugh, for that woman has a wicked sense of humor. It’s been too long since the two of us have conversed, but we are friends for life, and she knows it.

Looking back on that time, I’m especially grateful for my parents, John and Gary Wilson, who, along with providing emotional and practical support, endured many inconveniences while dealing with the post-surgical logistics (and weren’t bothered a bit by it). Many decades ago, in Des Moines, Iowa, a friend of our family surreptitiously placed in front of our house a huge roadside sign announcing that it was my mother’s birthday and that anyone driving past was invited in for donuts and coffee. That sign brought in many visitors who were previously strangers, and it provided lots of laughs. Anyone who knows my parents will tell you that the same welcoming spirit so prominently on display that day has always defined them. Lest there be any mystery, that’s how we all should live.

Kamasi Washington at the Taft


Occasionally a jazz musician comes along who draws a crowd in both the jazz community as well as the music world in general. Esperanza Spaulding would be an example of such an artist, connecting with different audiences while retaining her jazz creds.

Similar words could be used to describe Kamasi Washington, whose work with such non-jazz names as Kendrick Lamar and String Cheese Incident—that and the blend of musical styles in his music—has added much to his visibility.

On Tuesday Kamasi played at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, and while the show didn’t sell out, there was an exceptionally good crowd for jazz as well as a buzz in the air, with rock concert-type yells during some of Kamasi’s fiery tenor sax solos.

The record that put Kamasi over was 2015’s The Epic, a release that, if you bought it on vinyl (and I noticed many concertgoers walking around with newly-purchased copies), was three LPs. No one will ever accuse The Epic of being false advertising, as it’s very big picture, hearkening back to the days when jazz musicians didn’t just record albums, they delved into current affairs and the cosmos. I’m thinking of the 60s and early 70s here especially, when much of the jazz you heard was often quite frenetic and also had a spiritual element. That music certainly resounded with me—two of the first jazz records I bought were Pharoah Sanders’ Village of the Pharoahs and John Coltrane’s The Other Village Vanguard Tapes.

You hear something similar on The Epic, along with a debt to Coltrane and other artists from that period, as well as a focus on civil rights that especially echoes the 60s and early 70s. That’s all well and good, but those are big shoes to fill, and there was never any guarantee that, all these years later, anyone would be able to step up and do justice to that heritage.

I’m a fan of Kamasi Washington and some of his bandmates (I think Cameron Graves’ Planetary Prince, which features Kamasi extensively, was one of the best jazz albums this year), but I had never seen him before Tuesday night. That concert confirmed my belief that he’s a worthy successor to the earlier jazz artists, both as a soloist and as a bandleader who has a penchant for choosing top-notch musicians.

And there’s something else that convinced me he’s a heavy hitter: his compositions. Yes, as a saxophonist he’s technically impressive, and he definitely emotes, but some musicians with the same qualities write songs that sound slapped together for the purpose of launching extended solos. Not so with Kamasi. A few of the highlights from last night: “Leroy and Lanisha,” a clever piece of songwriting inspired by the music from the old Charlie Brown specials; “Truth,” which presents five very different melodies at once—sounds interesting in theory, right?, but it also was very pleasant on the ears; and the closer, “The Rhythm Changes,” a gorgeous song with a nice groove to it. His ability to write music that does justice to his overall vision is central to his relevancy. Far from a flash in the pan, Kamasi Washington is that rare musician who can help battle the popularity-held notion that jazz exists in order to massage your cerebral cortex.

Funky Fridays with Freekbass is Back on the Air

Funky Fridays with Freekbass is a Cincinnati-based radio program that plays two hours of funk music every Friday from 6 to 8 pm. You can access it in one of two ways: if you live in Northside, you can catch it over the airwaves at 1660 AM; the rest of us can stream it online on radioartifact.com. Gaslight Property is a proud sponsor of the program, which basically picks up where the Friday-night funk show on WNKU left off.

Broadcast from Urban Artifact, Funky Fridays features funk, soul, disco, and hip-hop from all eras; interviews with George Clinton, Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr, Alan Light, Steve Arrington, Ghost Note, and Turkuaz, to name a few; and entertaining banter between the hosts of the show, Freekbass and Chris Donnelly.

Freekbass has been a staple of the Cincinnati music scene and beyond for decades. He formed SHAG in 1992 using the moniker “Freekbass,” a name bestowed by his mentor in funk, Bootsy Collins. Artists Freekbass has collaborated with include Bootsy Collins, Mike Gordon (Phish), Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads, P-Funk), DJ Logic, Steve Molitz (Particle), Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), and Buckethead.

Along with playing guitar in SHAG, Chris Donnelly is a sales manager at Sam Ash Music in Springdale. As a music history raconteur (you’d be amazed at how many musicians he’s met/promoted/provided moral support for) Chris is nonpareil, and he’s perfect for a radio program of this nature.

Does anyone else remember this? Back in the Sudsy Malone’s days, I used to see Freekbass perform in a band called Sleep Theatre. They packed the place every time, playing music that I might call dark wave…something like that. Those were good times. They put out one vinyl album, and one of the songs on it was this, “Flesh Instructs.” Even in this dark pop vein, there was no escaping the funk:

 

 

 

The Proud Rooster Keeps Crowing


An old-school mom-and-pop restaurant in the heart of the Gaslight District, the Proud Rooster has been getting a lot of attention lately. It recently topped a list of recommended mom-and-pops on the Only In Your State website. And last week 94.9’s Sandy and Holly “DJ’s and Diners” tour made its first stop at the Proud Rooster.

The praise is well-deserved, as the Proud Rooster, located at 345 Ludlow Avenue, provides good diner food and the kind of casual charm that befits a family-owned restaurant that’s been an integral part of Clifton’s Gaslight District since Eisenhower was President. (Before that, it was the Hitching Post.) The Proud Rooster is open for breakfast and lunch, and the hours are 8am to 2:30pm Tuesday thru Saturday and 8am to 1:30pm Sundays; it’s closed on Mondays. It serves breakfast staples like eggs, bacon, sausage, and home fries; lunch items include burgers, fries, and fried chicken.

The Proud Rooster has a relaxed vibe, and in the mornings you’ll see plenty of half-awake morning customers rolling in wearing shorts or sweats. While there, you’ll also see lots of sports memorabilia on the walls—photos of Bob Huggins, Sam Wyche, and other well-known coaches. And you’ll see photos and trophies of basketball teams once coached by the owner of the Proud Rooster, Bob “Chicken Man” Doll, who coached girls’ basketball for 28 years at St. Dominic in Delhi. The team won three city tournaments and were runners-up three other years.

When I asked Bob what he loved most about coaching, he said, “To see kids believe in themselves.” The work was all volunteer, and he made it clear that the benefits of playing sports—and his connection with the students—extended well beyond the end of the season.

“People say, ‘I don’t know if I can do that, I’m gonna quit”—well, that’s too easy,” he explained. “You gotta fight for it, and all my kids have done that.

“They start to believe in themselves. Every time I see them now, I think, that’s all my kids. They seem to achieve more when they get out.

“Twenty eight years,” he added, “and I wouldn’t trade a second for it.”

Just as he had an influence on St. Dominic’s eighth graders, Bob had had a positive impact on the Gaslight District—and for that he deserves a yet another trophy.

 

Taft’s Brewing Company Opens in Spring Grove Village


Located at 4831 Spring Grove Avenue in Spring Grove Village, Taft’s Brewing Company had absolutely perfect weather for its grand opening last weekend. The event drew a large crowd that including children eager to show their strength at the high striker. The 50,000-square foot space includes a brewery as well as a tap room (“brewporium”) with a wide assortment of beer. Taft’s Brewing Company also serves a New Haven coal-fired, crispy Neopolitan-style pizza and sandwiches. The building benefits from some glass garage doors, which look great and gives the brewporium an indoor/outdoor feel. While there I ran into friends from Spring Grove, Clifton, and Northside, which makes sense as Taft’s is within a stone’s throw of two of those neighborhoods and is part of Spring Grove Village, where new stores keep popping up lately, including Sally’s Treats & Treasures and Flamingo Haven—and I should mention that Flamingo Haven is hosting a community yard sale this Saturday. Taft’s Brewing Company is located near the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Mitchell Avenue. Regular hours for Taft’s will be 3pm to 10pm Wednesday; noon to midnight Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and noon to 9pm Sunday.

So Where Do You Buy A Book Around Here?

You may recall certain pundits proclaiming that books were dead – and by “books” we mean the actual three-dimensional objects with a spine and a cover and actual pages as opposed to words that appear on a computer screen. Turns out lots of people – way more than predicted, and not just the old-timey traditionalists – like the experience of reading an actual book, and now the online juggernauts are opening (whodathunkit) good old-fashioned bookstores around the country.

That’s all good and well, but that doesn’t wipe away that fact that the small independent (but infinitely resourceful) bookstore that used to be on Ludlow Avenue (New World Bookshop) is now gone. So if someone who lived ’round here wanted to purchase a book in an actual store nearby opposed to ordering it online (what fun is that?), aren’t they up a crick?

Well, no – but books aren’t always in the obvious places. One store that has expanded its book section considerably is Shake-It Records in Northside. And while you might expect music books (and Shake-It has ’em), the record store sells more books in other categories, including lots and lots of classic literature (including poetry and drama), plus philosophy and other liberal arts staples. Although Shake-It sells new books, it has greatly increased the number of used books it sells. It sells them cheap, and they have actually been surprised at how quickly they fly off the shelves, which is why their book selection and will only get larger. Here’s some photos I snapped at Shake-It a couple weeks ago, but I know for a fact that their selection has increased a lot (and sold) since then – but this’ll give you a taste:

Many people miss New World Bookshop, which only sold new books, but there is one place nearby that has lots of new books and is well curated. I’m talking here of the bookstore at UC’s university center, which along with a substantial local section had a lot of fiction, including lots of new novels, such as Sarah Domet’s The Guineveres – a humorous and intriguing debut novel by an author who grew up in Cincinnati and studied at UC.

And don’t forget Duttenhoffer’s, a used bookstore which has been around Clifton forever and is doing “extremely well,” according to the employee I talked to this morning. In fact, he said, other than December, which benefits from the Christmas rush, June of this year was the best month they’ve had since he started there five years ago. That’s good to hear. It seems like people are falling in love with books again. They’ve been referred to as “the new vinyl,” and like vinyl records books seemed passé for a minute but turned out to be timeless.