A New Bar Opens in Northside


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Tillie’s Lounge is a new bar located at 4042 Hamilton Avenue in Northside. About four weeks ago it opened in a building that dates back to 1881. In other words, it has some history, and its name reflects that: Tillie’s is named after a circus elephant who paraded down the streets of Northside in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


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When I walked into Tillie’s last weekend I’d heard nothing about it. I was just going there to hear a friend’s band. Generally I don’t like bars; usually after ten minutes my eyes glaze over as I think about how bored I am. But I quickly warmed to Tillies for these reasons:

  • Atmosphere: Talk about intimate. Tillie’s is a relatively small inside (although a good-sized patio out back adds some size); it seems like all the bars I actually like are smaller and more intimate. It has soft lighting and a nostalgic vibe enhanced by the old-school furniture, chandeliers, candelabras, and other details like the ceiling tile that gives the impression of a stamped-tin ceiling. I was also happy to see that the two large-screen TVs were both playing (with the sound off) old black-and-white movies; very appropriate.
  • Volume: There was a good-sized crowd that evening, but I didn’t have to raise my voice to be heard. That I attribute to room acoustics plus the fact that the psychedelic sounds of Kite and String were at much more moderate volume than with most live music.
  • Cocktails: The owner of Tillie’s are passionate about cocktails, and they’ll be happy to serve you a drink you’ve never had before, or even heard of for that matter. They like champagne cocktails, including the purple elephant, which combines Absolut Citron, Cointreau,  creme de violet, lime juice, and sparkling wine. All specialty cocktails are paired with macaroons from The Macaroon Bar in Over the Rhine. And note that on Throwback Thursdays cocktails are $5 all night long.
  • Patio: This offers an opportunity to smoke without leaving the bar, plus you can take in the night air.

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This Saturday, July 18, the self-described “eclectic torch pop singer ” Annette Shepherd will be performing duets at Tillie’s with Bob Ross from 8pm to 10:30pm ; there’s no cover charge. Annette is a very talented singer with an interesting mix of songs, as I noted in a previous blog entry.


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Hours are Thursday through Sunday from 4pm to 2am and the phone number is 513.541.1414. It’s run by the owners of Below Zero Lounge in OTR, and like Below Zero it looks to be a hit. While I was there last weekend, I videotaped the closing section of a Kite and String song, and while will accuse me of being a video pro, I like how it turned out, partly because the music sounds so good!


Watch the All-Star Game on Clifton Plaza!

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On Tuesday an All-Star Celebration will be taking place at Clifton’s favorite gathering place, the Clifton Plaza. Starting at 5pm, folks will gather at Clifton Plaza to watch the All-Star Game taking place downtown and to celebrate the history of both baseball and the Cincinnati Reds. Wear red and bring a chair as we celebrate being named one of ten top all-star neighborhoods in Cincinnati! The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Beer and local food trucks will be on hand, so you can pretty much plant yourself and enjoy the event.

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Clifton Plaza is a great place to watch the game, as the All Star Game is all about history and tradition, and so is Clifton. And we’ll have the perfect band on hand: One of the best roots and Americana bands in the area, Jake Speed and the Freddies, will begin playing at 5:30pm. You can bet that they’ll have plenty of songs about baseball in their setlist, as well as other great folk, country, and blues songs from the days of the mighty Red Stockings.

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This is a great idea. If they’re playing the All-Star Game outdoors with a crowd, heck, why not watch it outdoors with a crowd? Everyone is encouraged to don  Cincinnati Reds outfits…or newer Reds outfits…or baseball clothes in general…or dress like Peanut Jim. At 6:30 there will be a contest for the best baseball outfit. (There will also be a Baseball-Themed Photobooth.) So, you might ask, what did baseball players look like back in the day? And what was Peanut Jim’s outfit, exactly? These pictures should help give you an idea; it might not hurt, apparently, to buy some of that instant-handlebar-mustache-growing-cream that Mr. Haney’s been trying to sell you and that you didn’t think you needed.

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Live Salsa Music at CCAC This Wednesday

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Musically it’s been a lively summer for the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, with good-sized crowds showing up consistently for the free Wednesdays on the Green concert series.  The concerts are a good excuse for getting out of the house, mingling, and enjoying the nice weather; many people walk to the show from where they live. Last week I snapped some photos of a concert there, and as you can see, it’s a hit with the kids as well as the adults. This Wednesday, July 8, the salsa band known as Cla’ve Son will be performing.

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As always, there will be food vendors; on tap this week are Kaimelsky’s, Roll With It Café, and streetpops. The music starts at 7pm, rain or shine. (If there’s rain, the event will take place on the first floor of the CCAC.) And remember, Wednesdays on the Green takes place every week through August 12. Here’s some footage of Cla’ve Son in concert; come check them out this Wednesday!




Don’t Forget The Dead Tonight

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I was not among the lucky ones who got tickets for The Dead in Chicago tonight, and if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t either. But second-best ain’t bad: you can head down to Washington Park, check out some jam-oriented bands, and then, at 8pm, watch The Dead simulcast  on the big screen, with fireworks between the first and second sets. Here’s the schedule:

  • 3:00pm: The Almighty Get Down
  • 4:30pm: The Infinity Project
  • 6:00pm: Rays Music Exchange
  • 8:00pm: “Fare Thee Well”: The Grateful Dead Live at Soldier Field
  • 9:15pm: Fireworks show (between sets)
  • 9:30pm: Resume Grateful Dead Simulcast

In addition to games and face painting, hungry families can also enjoy $5.00 chicken sandwiches from The Eagle OTR. Washington Park’s concessions will also offer full bar service, coke products, and craft beer.

As you probably know, there’s been major hoopla about this event, all of which has me thinking about a college buddy we nicknamed Senator Birt, who has always had great concert karma.  The first time he saw the Grateful Dead – and the first time I saw them too – the Senator and I crammed into an MG with Gleason driving. It was quite cramped for two hours, and when we approached the venue I saw a huge sign that said GRATEFUL DEAD – SOLD OUT. It turned out the Senator knew – but didn’t tell me – about the sold-out status of the show. (The Dead was not as huge then as they later became, so sold-out was not a given.)  The Senator seemed unconcerned, and lo and behold we not only ended up with tickets, we had a small stack of them and were able to choose the best seats and sell, for what we paid for them (why be greedy when you get to see the Dead?).

Demand for tickets to the Chicago shows far exceeded supply, and people hoping to procure tickets have enlisted wizards and sorcerers and thrown I Ching in hopes that they would be among the lucky few in attendance. Somehow Senator Birt managed to get tickets for all the Chicago and California shows. He didn’t read his astrology chart or anything like that – I think he just kind of assumed that everything would go well, just like it did for that Columbus show. Because things went so well the first time I saw the Grateful Dead, I have always trusted the Senator to be in control of everything, even on the night that that cop pulled us over for going the wrong way down a one-way after that Neil Young show – well, we won’t go into that. Anyway, the Senator saw to it that I caught the Grateful Dead on about ten different tours. I was lucky to have him watching over me like that and making sure I witnessed one of the best bands America ever produced as many times as I did. So this one goes out to the Senator: the live version of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” that the Grateful Dead played as their encore at that first show we saw together in Columbus. That was a couple years ago or so, but the memory’s still fresh. Enjoy the show tonight, Senator; I’ll be looking for you on the big screen in Washington Park: