Music on Ludlow Avenue

Rose Room

There’s some exciting and free music coming in the next few days at Sitwell’s, starting with the Rose Room on Monday, April 1, at 8 pm. Two of the four members of the Rose Room – George Cunningham on guitar, and Don Aren on upright bass – are also in the Faux Frenchmen, so as you might expect their music explores a period of jazz whose roots preceded bebop.

There’s less of a gypsy jazz, emphasis, however, and more of a focus on swing, with clarinetist Joe Lukasik echoing the days when Benny Goodman was all the rage. Chris Arducer, a veteran of the Bears, rounds out the group on drums.

It also bears mentioning that the Faux Frenchmen will be performing Wednesday, April 3 at 8 pm. They’re at Sitwell’s almost every Wednesday, and I’ve never walked into one of their shows when there wasn’t a crowd. Those Wednesday night gigs are a cheap (i.e., free) and very convenient way to hear some great music and mingle in a low-key setting. Continue reading “Music on Ludlow Avenue”

William Ackerman Interview in The Absolute Sound

I began writing for a magazine called The Absolute Sound about five years ago. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Absolute Sound (hereafter referred to as TAS), it was founded in 1973. Primarily TAS focuses on audiophile stereo equipment; it also contains a music section, and I publish reviews, interviews and feature articles in that part of the magazine.

Writing about music is something I’ve always enjoyed, and from the beginning contributing to TAS was fun. Quickly, though, I grew to love it. Partly that’s due to a coincidence: I was a vinyl record lover even when records bordered on extinction, and shortly after I joined the magazine a vinyl resurgence began taking place. It turns out I was at the perfect place to celebrate that  surprising bit of news. I doubt any magazine on the planet grumbled more about the fact that vinyl had become an endangered species; now we celebrate both analog and continually improving digital recordings.

That’s part of what I love about the magazine. Also, I chat a lot on the phone and email back and forth with people from around the world who are connected to the music industry in one way or another. As opposed to corporate behemoths, these folks selling music, stereos, record cleaners and other accessories work on a smaller scale, emphasizing quality over quantity. Often they’re testing unknown waters and taking risks, and they do so because they’re driven by a passion. Examples include the Rune Grammofon label, whose new deluxe 7-LP release by Norwegian musician Arve Henriksen epitomizes the labor of love record-making can involve. The Lithuanian label NoBusiness Records also come to mind; in a few years this new small label has put out dozens of avant-garde jazz records on vinyl. I’m also impressed by the Paris-based Sam Records, whose passion for reissuing killer jazz LPs includes recreating album covers from the original artwork. And there’s Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland, a record pressing plant that didn’t even exist a few years ago. People must have thought they were crazy to open a plant at that time; now they need two full-time shifts to keep up with demand. Continue reading “William Ackerman Interview in The Absolute Sound”

Annette Shepherd, Eclectic Torch Pop Singer

For the first time ever I stepped foot in The View Cucina Friday night, and as soon as I walked in I thought, why haven’t I come here before? A lounge-y kind of cocktail-y vibe quickly came over me, to the point where I half-expected Dean Martin or Julie London to come peeking out from behind a corner.

What enhanced the vibe was the music, which seemed to fit the space and the ambience so well you mighta thought the music was created first and then the room was designed to complement that. On guitar was Brian Lovely, who along with a host of other musical pursuits performs every Wednesday at Sitwell’s with the Faux Frenchmen. As with that ensemble, Lovely combined jazz with a gypsy style, and he blended in perfectly with a female vocalist who was unfamiliar to me. After one song (a cool rendition of a Dean Martin’s “Sway”)  the band went on break, whereupon I learned that she was Annette Shepherd, who I’d read about in cyberspace but never heard before. While I was able to hear another set, and enjoyed it (especially the cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”), I was disappointed to learn that I missed, in the previous set, her take on “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Continue reading “Annette Shepherd, Eclectic Torch Pop Singer”

A New Delivery Service – What a Great Idea!



A door hanger ad appeared on my doorknob a couple days that, when I looked at it, sparked this thought: Shazam, that’s a good idea!

It’s one of those ideas that many of us have imagined at one point or another—especially when it’s late at night and we have the munchies but we’re too tired to go out for food—but it’s one thing to imagine something and another thing to do it.

The Midnight Express (513.462.1562) is a new business serving the Clifton and downtown area that delivers food and beverages from nearby restaurants from midnight to 6 am seven nights a week. On their door hangar they throw out suggestions that include fast food (White Castle, Skyline) and fancier fare (Shangai Mamas); they also deliver from places like Walgreens and CVS, which means they don’t limit what they can deliver. As the mastermind behind The Midnight Express (Cassidy Mullen, aka “Dr. Midnight”) put it when we chatted on the phone, “You tell me what you want the Midnight Express to be, that’s what we will be.” Continue reading “A New Delivery Service – What a Great Idea!”

Guitarist Peter Banks Passes Away

Today I learned that Peter Banks, the original guitarist for Yes, passed away a few days ago. Because Banks belonged to Yes before The Yes Album, their first big-seller, he’s not nearly as well-known as his successor, Steve Howe. A musical footnote he is not, however, as I learned when, ages ago, I purchased a copy of his first solo album, Two Sides of Peter Banks. The two things you would fear from guitarists—their own bad vocals plus a never-ending display of virtuosity—are absent. The record is entirely instrumental, and it’s also quite tasteful, with some sweet acoustic work as well as some colorful electric guitar. Vinyl enthusiasts who enjoy this track from Two Sides should be aware that the record isn’t expensive or particularly rare, which underscores my belief that, while records that are worth a lot acquire a certain mystique, there are all kinds of mind-blowing albums out there that you can snag for a few bucks. And while Peter Banks made other good records (the first Flash album also sticks out), Two Sides of Peter Banks is a good place to start. Here’s “The White House Vale” from that album: Continue reading “Guitarist Peter Banks Passes Away”

Chris Comer Trio at CCAC This Thursday

It’s going to be a very musical evening this Thursday at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, with Cincinnati jazz artists the Chris Comer Trio performing from 7 to 8:30 pm. For this special engagement the trio will be adding saxophonist and flautist Dan Barger. Dan plays all over the place in Cincinnati and is in several bands, including Los Honchos, Frequency, Don’t Fear The Satellites, Iolite and some of the local salsa bands that play frequently at Fountain Square. Because the event will be held in the top-floor auditorium, “where the sunset streams through the windows,”  the concert is part of CCAC’s “Sunset at the Center” series.  Tickets are available here:


Underscoring the musical nature of the event is the special preview of the Dick Waller Retrospective: Music at an Exhibition, which will have its full opening celebration on March 17. Along with founding the Linton Chamber Series and being principal clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Dick Waller has developed a style he calls free association painting. A chief source inspiration for Waller’s painting has been the classical composer Bela Bartok. Continue reading “Chris Comer Trio at CCAC This Thursday”