Zappawen at Urban Artifact Saturday

Zappaween poster

This Saturday, October 31st, the first annual ZAPPAWEEN will take place at Urban Artifact! That means a superband with some of Cincinnati’s finest musicians will be performing a very special Frank Zappa album in its entirety on the most twisted night of the year. There’s no cover. The mystery album will be performed live in its entirety beginning at 9pm, and a set of Zappa favorites will follow at around 11:30. Expect wildness and frivolity–and join in the freak show yourself, wearing your craziest costume and acting like characters in Frank Zappa songs. To slightly misquote a song from the first Mothers of Invention album, “Who could imagine…that they would freak out…in Cincinnati?”

Exactly what Frank Zappa album will be performed, it turns out, is a bit of a mystery. Actually it’s more than that: it’s a great BIG mystery, and I was hoping that, since I knew Dominic Marino personally and have from time to time offered him a little support in the form of social media, he might give the inside scoop if I promised to keep a secret, but his lips are sealed. And that’s a bit troubling, as Zappa’s discography consists of exactly 100 albums. Nonetheless, I put on my detective thinking cap and, along with the help of some other Zappaphiles, made some deductions. When analyzing the clues that Urban Artifact has been leaking about the mystery album, it seems to us that it must be Joe’s Garage. Can we expect a live performance of acts I, II, & III? Will there be more theatrics than just a musical performance? How are they going to pull off things like the Central ScrEnutinizer, Sy Borg, and difficult tunes such as “Keep It Greasy” and “Wet T-Shirt Nite”?

The instrumentation of this Cincinnati superband also suggests that this album may be Joe’s Garage, the musicians in questions being Brad Myers (Ray’s Music Exchange, Jeremy Pinnell & The 55s, Aja), Brandon Scott Coleman (local jazz guitarist who has been playing with EVERYONE lately), Steve Goers (adjunct professor for CCM’s Musical Theater program and session keyboardist around town), Kristin Agee (Us, Today, The Lovers), Devon Leigh (The Qtet, Eclipse), Aaron Jacobs (the busiest bass player in Cincinnati), and Dominic Marino (Blue Wisp Big Band, The Cincy Brass, and founder of Urban Artifact).

The event promises a live performance of the mystery album at 9pm, plus a second set of “Zappa favorites” to follow—and from the special guest appearances list, it seems to me we should expect a horn section for the second set.

This is the first ZAPPAWEEN in what Urban Artifact hopes to be many; let’s make it one to remember!

Zappaween another picture to use

Live at the Ludlow Garage: The Facts


live at ludlow garage image 1

Everywhere I go people are talking about Live at the Ludlow Garage, the new performance venue that opens next week in the Gaslight District. Because I live in the neighborhood, people assume I know everything about it; no end of questions have come my way, and at first all I could say was, “I don’t know any more than you do.” Gradually, though, I’ve pieced together some facts with the help of Scott Crawford, the owner of the Garage, and Kevin Blum, who books the shows. Since people still ask where it is, I should start by saying that that it’s located at 342 Ludlow Avenue, where Olive’s used to be. Other frequently-asked questions include:

What kind of performance venue will it be? Live at Ludlow Garage will offer a unique concert experience. Expect an intimate, up-close concert experience with superb acoustics. With only 262 seats, it will be like seeing the national acts in your own living room.

How do I buy tickets? That’s simple: go to the website,, clicks the EVENTS tab, which will reveal the acts scheduled to perform there; beneath those pictures you’ll see the word BUY; from there it’s self-explanatory.

Can I buy tickets at the door on the night of the show? Yes, but because these are national acts playing a small venue, many shows will sell out before the night of the concert.

What kind of music will be featured? The list would include roots music of every style (including folk and blues), world music, pop music, jazz, rap and reggae (Matisyahu), and acts like the California Guitar Trio or Jake Shimabukuro, both of whom play a very eclectic style of music. In keeping with the intimate atmosphere, you’ll mostly hear acoustic instruments, some by musicians who always play acoustic, and—in the spirit of MTV Unplugged—some by musicians who welcome the opportunity to perform in a more stripped-down setting.

When does it open? Oct.29th is the opening night; it kicks off the Grand Opening, with four nights in a row of live music.

How do I find out who’s playing there? On the website, click the EVENTS tab, and you’ll all the upcoming concerts. And to learn about newly-added shows as soon as they’re added, click the op-in for email updates on the homepage of the website

Now that we’ve got some details out of the way, let me say something much more subjective. Those of us who live in the Gaslight District are thrilled to see the Garage coming to fruition. Being able to walk to see national artists in an intimate venue, have a drink and dinner before and after – does it get any better than that?  It’s great for the neighborhood, and it’s great for the whole city. There’s nothing better than a great concert, and when it’s up close and personal it’s even better. Welcome, Live at the Ludlow Garage!

live at ludlow garage image 2

Ludlow Garage Facts 001


The Latest at Petey’s Pet Stop: Go Get Grover Groomed!

The groomer, Suzanne Whitaker, with the scene-stealing and perpetually photo-opping Breezy and Annabelle
The groomer, Suzanne Whitaker, with the scene-stealing and perpetually photo-opping Breezy and Annabelle

About two months have passed since Petey’s Pet Stop opened in Clifton’s Gaslight District. Petey’s was an instant hit in the neighborhood, and it’s nice to have such a fun new addition to the small businesses that make the Gaslight District a special to live. You can read about some of the services it offers in this blog entry. This week it began offering a new service: grooming. The newly-hired groomer, Suzanne Whitaker, has over 15 years of experience with dog grooming as well as a lifelong passion for animals. Suzanne trained at Nash Academy of Animal Arts in Lexington, Kentucky. She has groomed at several grooming salons in Greater Cincinnati and owned and operated Your Best Friend Pet Salon in Hebron, Kentucky for several years. She’s at Petey’s every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well as some Saturdays. You can make an appointment for a grooming session or try a walk-in; she’s available for walk-in nail trims no matter what. Although it’s not essential, Suzanne encourages first-timers to meet her beforehand and discuss how they like their pet groomed. Price varies according to breed and size. Sounds like Suzanne was, like the store, an instant hit—when I checked in at the end of her first work day, she said she was busy the whole day. Petey’s is located at 311 Howell, right next to–very conveniently–Howell Avenue Pet Hospital. Hours for Petey’s are Tuesday through Friday 9am to 7pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm. Their phone number is 513.221.7387.