Steve Katz Plays the Ludlow Garage on April 9

blood sweat tears

The next time you’re playing the music edition of Trivial Pursuit, prepare yourself for this question: What member of Blood, Sweat & Tears collaborated with musicians from the Velvet Underground?

The answer is Steve Katz, who will be performing at Live at the Ludlow Garage on Saturday, April 9. If you sift through his discography you’ll find a sweet spot where it seemed like all he could do was contribute to classic albums.

After leaving the Blues Project, Katz was the guitarist (and sometimes vocalist and songwriter) for the early jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears. Their first album, Child is Father to the Man, impressed the critics while their eponymous second album was a commercial success and then some.

About the time BS&T was losing steam Katz collaborated with Lou Reed, producing Reed’s great live album Rock ’N’ Roll Animal and the studio follow-up Sally Can’t Dance. Suddenly Lou Reed was a commercial success instead of a genius who deserved a larger audience.

In the 70s Katz also formed the band American Flyer with Doug Yule from a later incarnation of the Velvet Underground.

More evidence that Katz had a habit of being in the right place at the right time: he also performed at the two most famous music festivals from the 1960s, Monterey Pop (as part of the Blues Project) and Woodstock (with BS&T).

On April 9 Katz will be performing in a venue that’s much more intimate but that also has a rich history, the Ludlow Garage. It’s a good bet that you know some of the songs Katz has either played on or produced, and if you’re familiar with the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears—the really famous one, that sold millions of copies and won three Grammy Awards—then you’ve heard this song that Katz wrote and sang, complete with a haunting melody, melancholy lyrics, and luscious harmonies:

What Would A Bookstore Bring?

Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 006

Recently on nextdoorclifton someone posed the question, “What store is missing?” in reference to Ludlow Avenue’s business district. Possibly over a hundred people have responded by now, and while the answers have been all over the place, there were some repeats. I was pleased—and quite surprised—to see how many people exclaim that they would love to see a bookstore return to the Gaslight District.

Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 007

In a way it seems funny that folks would long for something that in the spiritus mundi tends to be looked upon as antiquated and old-school. As our reading, like everything else, becomes increasingly electronic and digital, the physical book cast set aside for convenience, don’t bookstores have about as much of a place in our world as a zoetrope?

Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 008

Well, not so soon (and besides, I’d love to own a zoetrope). You may have noticed that record stores (and especially the independent ones) are suddenly all kinds of popular, after that three or four minutes when everyone was convinced that our musical future would totally revolve around our computers. Recently, and tellingly, I’ve seen ads promoting books as “the new vinyl,” which makes sense. And just as veteran Cliftonites remember what it’s like to have a bookstore in the neighborhood, younger folks brought up on walmart are acutely sensitive to the difference between zero personality and color.

Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 009

Having a bookstore (actually there were two at one point) added a lot to the Gaslight District. On nextdoorclifton.com someone mentioned—but couldn’t remember the name of—Kellerman’s, a store on Ormond that lasted, I don’t know, maybe a year or two. The owner of that store envisioned, but couldn’t quite pull off, a store like Kaldi’s (which, a few years later, pulled all the pieces together and became an enormous success). New World lasted decades, and the people in the neighborhood never took it for granted. Unfortunately, though, big box stores had a ravitational pull over the masses, and amazon could undersell anybody by a huge margin. Since New World folded ebooks entered the equation, providing even more competition to small bookstores, which folded all over America (it wasn’t just Ludlow Avenue).Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 010            Well, the big boxes are almost all gone, ebooks sales tapered off long before people expected them to, and amazon has built an actual brick and mortar store because it has learned something those of us with any sense have known all along: bookstores are the ultimate platform for marketing books. Not only do you find out that a new book has hit the shelves (I still remember when Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon appeared in New World’s window after everyone thought the famous postmodern novelist had pursued a permanent disappearing act), plus the atmosphere of books gets under your skin. A bookstore on Ludlow Avenue would never be able to offer big fancy amazon-level discounts, but people are waking up to the fact that where you buy something can be as important as what you buy. It can erode a neighborhood, or it can help support a neighborhood.

Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 012

If a bookstore were to return to the Gaslight District, it would have to do everything right. It should probably do the following:

  •           Include used books. This close to a university, people are constantly purging and collecting.
  •           Have a local authors section—and not just the new ones. How about books by Dallas Wiebe or (to go back a couple more years) Lafcadio Hearn?
  •           Include new novels. Those were popular at New World, and, here’s a case where bookstores + distributors had their system down.
  •           Sell gift cards. New World sold a lot of gift cards; they added up after a while.
  •           Sell records and compact discs as well. Records and compact discs could be both new and used. The new and already highly successful Plaid Room Records in Loveland handles a lot of pre-orders for vinyl, which is an ideal business model.

Bookstore on Ludlow Avenue 013

I worked part-time at both Kellerman’s and New World, and I still remember what bookstores brought to the neighborhood. Kellerman’s had lots of fun literary readings that brought together people in the literary community. I well remember how, on Friday nights at New World, people would walk in with ice cream cones asking, “Can I bring in ice cream?” (“That’s required,” I would answer). Some had had a drink or two before strolling in, and there was much frivolity on those nights. Sunday afternoons were quieter, with people sitting down and getting lost in a book. I got called in for New World during its last few weeks, and when people walked in the sense of loss to come was palpable. These are things I think about when I think about what a bookstore would bring to the Gaslight District. You can’t bring back the past, but you can start building new memories.

The Latest On Ludlow

Beads + Cookies 9

Now that the weather has warmed up a little, we’re starting to leave our cabins again. If you haven’t made it up to the Ludlow Avenue yet,here are some of the new sites that will greet you as you stroll down the street. First, it looks as if one of the storefronts has officially reached the getting-pretty-close-to-being-open phase; more on this development soon:

Beads + Cookie 1
Wonder what they’ll be selling…

 

Beads + Cookies 2
Could it be…

 

Beads + Cookies 3
C-o-o-k-i-e-s?

Also, if you’re wondering what happened to the Bead Joint, it has moved to a new location. It’s still on the same side of the street, this time at 314 Ludlow Avenue. It’s in a smaller space now, yet the new location is so neat and tidy that when you walk in you may scratch your head and wonder how they got everything together in such a short amount of time. Martha gave credit for that to her new business partner, Tabitha, who is super-organized and efficient and the perfect complement to Martha. As I snapped photos Martha told me some of her old customers don’t know yet about her new location, so here I am spreading the word and asking other people that the Bead Joint is up and running again, with a new location and the same cute canine/spiritual advisor as before. (Her name is Sunshine.) The hours for The Bead Joint are Wednesday thru Saturday 11am to 7pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. The phone number is 513.237.3725 and the email address is thebeadjoint@gmail.com.

Beads + Bookies 5

 

Beads + Cookies 7

 

Beads + Cookies 8

 

Beads + Cookies 9
Martha, Sunshine, and Tabitha

 

 

Esquire Theatre Hosts Live Music Every Wednesday

Esquire Theatre Live Music Every Wednesday

There’s no need to do suffer from cabin fever this winter, as there’s plenty of live entertainment on Ludlow Avenue. As you may have heard, Live at Ludlow Garage is up and running, already hosting sold-out shows by artists as esteemed as Rickie Lee Jones. Also, Lydia’s on Ludlow has open mics and featured readings three Thursdays a month; there are more details at this link.

And on top of that, the Esquire Theatre recently started hosting live music every Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm. The series features some of Cincinnati’s most popular musicians, including Ricky Nye, the Faux Frenchmen, and the Cincinnati Dancing Pigs. If you’re not aware already, the Esquire serves alcohol, including cocktails, so you can have a drink while you’re listening to the music (and popcorn!). The cover for each event is five dollars.  Here’s a link with more information about the series, and here’s the schedule:

JAN 27 -RICKY NYE & vocalist BEKAH WILLIAMS

FEB 3 – CHUCK & DEB WIGGINS with YVAN VERBESSELT on percussion

FEB 10 – RICKY NYE & CHRIS DOUGLAS on upright bass

FEB 17 – LAGNIAPPE

FEB 24 – THE FAUX FRENCHMEN

MAR 2 – HONEY AND HOUSTON

MAR 9 – THE LESS MOORE BAND

MAR 16 – THE CINCINNATI DANCING PIGS

MAR 23 – RICKY NYE & vocalist KATIE LAUR

MAR 30 – BUFFALO WABS & THE PRICE HILL HUSTLE

If you haven’t heard Rickie Nye before, check out this YouTube performance where he pays tribute to another Cincinnati blues musician; now that’s what I call the blues:

 

Never Mind the Bollocks, H-e-e-e-e-e-re’s Johnny!

Johnny Carson image

I’m not one to embrace new technology too quickly. Although I play CDs, vinyl is still the heart of my record collection, and I’ve never streamed anything. I record my songs not with Pro Tools but a cassette player.

One reason I’ve put off signing up for Cable TV is that I’ve gone for years at a time without a boob tube.

Last year, though, someone called to tell me that I could add cable to my Internet and phone package and actually pay less money, so for the first time I bit. By that point I had somehow amassed not one but two TVs.

In some ways the experiment has been successful. More than anything, Turner Classic Movies has helped satisfy my need for grainy black-and-white movies.

A couple months after I enrolled, however, I discovered that starting on January 1 Antenna TV—Channel 64.2 if you’re in Cinci—was going to show Johnny Carson episodes every night of the week. In some cities Antenna TV is available on cable, but with my cable provider you can only watch it with an antenna.

Somehow that just seems right.

So, I dug out an antenna and started watching Johnny Carson for the first time since his final week in 1992. At 11pm on weekends they show episodes from the 1980s and 1990s, and at 10 pm on weekend nights it’s shows from the 1970s. The weekend shows are 90 minutes long, a tradition that lasted until 1980.

No TV stations have rerun Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show since it ended. Even if you’ve watched clips on YouTube, returning to full episodes will spark a reappraisal.

Was it as great as you remember it being?

Absolutely. Carson is a master, and you can see it in the earliest 1970s clips through the episode that ran the other night with Elizabeth Taylor just three months before he called it quits.

Why was Johnny Carson such a natural as a talk-show host? In part it has something to do with his upbringing. Born in the Midwest, he was a down-to-earth guy who could have been your neighbor down the street.

Yet on the East and West Coasts—his shows took place New York and after that Hollywood—he exhibited a sophistication that was understated rather than flashy. Even the most famous entertainers Carson approached as an equal, and the interviews seem like real conversations as opposed to Hollywood glitz. We all know talk show hosts who are deferential or condescending, but that was never Carson’s style.

Something that becomes clear when you watch the show again is just how weird Carson’s humor could be. Obviously that’s a trait we associate with Letterman, but Carson got there first – somehow, though, with him that type of humor called less attention to itself.

So, the cable viewers whose providers don’t carry Antenna TV need to figure out how to hook their TV sets up the old-school way for an old-school show. And for those people who don’t watch cable, take note: the best show on TV is pure antenna.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A quick note: Antenna TV DOES show up these stations on cable in Cincinnati:

  • Comcast Ch. 253
  • Limestone/Bracken Cablevision Ch. 131
  • Limestone/Bracken Cablevision Ch. 18 (Mount Olivet)
  • Time Warner Cable Ch. 996

And they’re working on adding it to other cable providers.

Open Mic at Lydia’s on Ludlow

open mic 2 001

Good news from Lydia’s on Ludlow, aka Om Eco Café: two Thursdays a month the coffee house will host open mic nights, which means that anyone who wants to share their music, poetry, performance, fiction, or creative non-fiction is free to come up and perform. The readings will take place between 7pm and 9pm on the second and third Thursdays of each month, and the first will be on January 14. Already the buzz is on about this new series, which is sure to pull writers and musicians out of the woodwork from both the Gaslight District and throughout Cincinnati. The series will be hosted by Kelly Thomas, who earned an MA at Miami University and an MFA at Butler University and teaches English at NKU and Xavier. Kelly also happens to be a witty, provocative,energetic, and thoroughly unpredictable poet, as the poems on her website attest. Note also that Lydia’s on Ludlow is also going to have literary readings on the fourth Thursday of every month, only these will host featured readers instead of the open mic format – but I’ll save the details of that for a later blog entry. This should be fun, folks—and you can bet there will be a packed house, as ‘round these parts there’s all kinds of poets and fiction writers with no place to go—until now, at least!

 

Clifton Market Is A Go!

Clifton Market

Perhaps you’ve heard the news, or perhaps you haven’t. Even if you have, it’s worth hearing again, and in fact you may want to say it aloud a few times just to let it sink in:

Clifton is going to have a grocery store again.

That splendid news spread like wildfire yesterday, after this email that was straight from the horse’s mouth: Clifton Market Closed on it’s Loans Today! With our loans coming online today we will be seeing construction starting in the new year!  

Construction is expected to be finished by summer.

It’s appropriate that it would occur during the holiday season and right before the dawn of a new year. This happened because the people of Clifton worked together and refused to give up. It was the same spirit that save the Esquire Theatre, which has been a great success and a cornerstone in the community. 2015 was a great year for our community, and 2016 will be even better!

 

David Bowie Tribute at Urban Artifact

David Bowie Tribute 001

Tonight (11/20/15) a tribute to the music of David Bowie will take at Urban Artifact in Northside, a new club that has quickly staked its claim as a venue where anything can happen, including one-time-ever projects like this one. The performance will take place from 8pm to 10pm, and it’s free. Where so many musicians seem to get lost in the shuffle as the decades float by, David Bowie has achieved a Mount Rushmore status with a new generation, and this event should make for a lively Sunday evening. The band performing hits from throughout Bowie’s career is the Just Strange Brothers, who recently performed a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone at Urban Artifact, and who, it should be noted, have a horn section, which leads one to suspect that they may hit on some of those funky, groove-oriented tunes from Young Americans and Station to Station—songs like this one:

 

Holidays on Ludlow This Friday

Blog Holidays on Ludlow 2015

Holidays on Ludlow is back! It starts at 6pm this Friday, Dec. 11, and there’s free parking after 5 in the Merchant Lot on Howell Ave. There are all kinds of fun free activities to choose from that evening, including:

  • Horse Carriage Rides
  • Strolling carolers: Transitions Barbershop Quartet & United Methodist Vocal Choir
  •  Kids Art Activities at Lydia’s on Ludlow, sponsored by CCAC
  • Children’s Photos with Santa, courtesy of Cincinnati EyeCare Team
  • Pet Photos with Santa, courtesy of Howell Avenue Pet Hospital
  • Refreshments at Hansa Guild
  • Wine Tasting at La Poste
  • Warm cider courtesy of Clifton Natural Foods
  • Cookies to nibble at Lentz & Company
  • Christmas Jazz performance by Clifton residents at Lydia’s on Ludlow
  • United Methodist French Horn Ensemble will be playing
  • SCPA Guitarist & Harpist will be playing at Live at the Ludlow Garage
  • Sale items at Mizti’s Shoes & Accessories, plus a chance to win a basket of Good Earth natural skin care products
  • Ludlow Wines, will be hosting their Friday night wine tasting

Not to pick favorites, but this is a splendid opportunity for folks to check out Live at the Ludlow Garage, where there will be musicians performing in the lobby (and a Leigh Nash and Gabe Dixon concert in their performing space as well).  If you didn’t know already, Ludlow Garage isn’t just a concert venue; you can have dinner and a drink there as well  Finally, check out the flyer below to find out what else is happening at Lydia’s on Ludow/Om Eco Cafe: 

Blog Entry Om Eco Dec 11 Christmas

 

Jim Lauderdale Coming To Live at the Ludlow Garage

Jim_Lauderdale

Live and Ludlow Garage is now up and running, with several concerts under its belt and many more scheduled; check the calendar for more info. Also, the Garage serves food and alcohol every night, regardless of whether music is playing. I wanted to highlight just one of the shows on tap, this one featuring veteran roots and Americana singer and songwriter Jim Lauderdale; the show is on Saturday, December 12. If you’re not familiar with Lauderdale’s music, I’ll bet you know some of his colleagues. He’s collaborated with Ralph Stanley and Buddy Miller, and he’s also one of the few musicians to work extensively with Robert Hunter other than, well, Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead. Robert Hunter, of course, is one of the great storytellers among lyricists, and just as Jerry Garcia turned those stories into unforgettable songs, Jim Lauderdale has also established a strong rapport with Hunter over several albums. In the intimate and acoustically fabulous Live at the Ludlow Garage, Lauderdale’s music will have an opportunity to really shine. Here’s a Hunter-Lauderdale gem entitled “Jawbone” (even the name of the song sounds like vintage Robert Hunter):