Grodeck Whipperjenny

A few days ago an article I wrote appeared in Cincinnati Magazine. The piece focused on a slice of Cincinnati musical history that wove together so many styles it would be impossible to say which genre was at the root of it all. It’s a story of a jazz group that ended up morphing into a psychedelic band for one album and a funk band for another; the jazz group also released, posthumously, a very experimental jazz album. All of these things took place in Cincinnati while James Brown was recording at King Records here, and the plot thickened as soon as he entered the picture.

As you might imagine, there’s a lot to the story. When I pitched it to Cincinnati Magazine I created what was quite possibly the longest query letter ever. I had never written for them before, and this was an out-of-the-blue pitch. There was some interest on their part, but there was no guarantee that it would be a good match.

I went ahead and wrote the article, all 5,500 words of it (the first draft, that is; eventually we trimmed it down to about 4,000). Shortly after I sent it an interesting twist of fate occurred for an article that very much hinges on the activities of James Brown: RJ Smith, author of the recently published JB bio The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, joined Cincinnati Magazine’s staff. Prior to that time RJ had never lived in Cincinnati, so that was a huge and quite welcome coincidence; he ended up providing invaluable assistance during the editing.  Also, the magazine did a great job of designing and laying out the piece both in print and online.

As I stated near the end of the article, ultimately this is a story about friendship, and I made several as I delved into this slice of Cincinnati musical history. The people I talked to the most were David Matthews, Carmon DeLeone and RJ Smith. It’s also because of this article that I was able to meet Lou Lausche, Carol McGary, Sean McGary, Phyllis Boyce and many others. I also benefitted from chatting with someone I already knew, Shawn Marsh, who I nicknamed “Shawn Marsh of Sound Museum fame” (sometimes shortened to “Sound Museum fame” or “Sound Museum”) for reasons that—well, I’ll let him explain it to you.

I’m going to write a couple entries on the musical side of this subject, but that will make a lot more sense after you’ve read the article. Here’s a link to the Cincinnati Magazine article:

Tomorrow Never Knows in Cincinnati Magazine


One Reply to “Grodeck Whipperjenny”

  1. Had a chance to read your article Jeff, and you did a fantastic job covering the musical history of Cincinnati! Listened to both of the tracks in the article and they were great choices as well. While it was quite a long read, it was well worth it. Glad they accepted your pitch, didn’t know the history of your story until I landed on this page! Anyways, keep up the hard work, looking forward to seeing more of your entries, hopefully Cincinnati Magazine will publish more of them! Thanks!

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