James Gang Mural Now Hanging at Habanero’s

As we’re starting to see, Ludlow Avenue is being transformed into an art gallery devoted to great music.

The mural that went up this week is the second in a series of seven to appear on the street. Seven different artists chose to paint murals of a musician or band who played the Ludlow Garage in either its earliest incarnation or more recently.

The mural that appeared on the side of Gaslight Bar & Grill earlier this year portrays Captain Beefheart, whose bizarre-sounding music stood out even in the late 60s and 70s, when he first started to make records.

The new mural, which appears outside Habanero’s and was painted by John Maggard, depicts the James Gang. If you don’t  know the drummer Jim Fox or the bassist Dale Peters from the band, you probably know the group’s vocalist, lead guitarist, and main songwriter, Joe Walsh, who after the James Gang folded embarked on a successful solo career and then joined the Eagles.

By the time the James Gang performed a four-night stint at the Ludlow Garage (December 31, 1969–January 3 1970), the trio was a national act with an album on a major label and good press courtesy of the Who’s Pete Townsend. They were also a popular regional act based in Cleveland.

While many people associate Joe Walsh with his solo career and his work with the Eagles, the music he made with the James Gang should not be overlooked. At times sounding like a power trio and at other times performing warm acoustic ballads, the trio released three memorable studio albums plus a live LP recorded at Carnegie Hall.

Released in July of 1970, the group’s second studio album, Rides Again, belongs in every classic rock collection. Their biggest hits, “Funk 49” and “Walk Away,” are still played on the radio.

And the live LP is loud, crunchy rock and roll at its finest. Listen to this version of “Stop” and imagine this same trio in the more intimate setting of the Ludlow Garage.

 

Kasim Sulton Plays the Ludlow Garage March 14th

Kasim Sulton’s Utopia will perform at the Ludlow Garage on Saturday, March 14.

The music that evening will have a strong Todd Rundgren connection. Along with recording dozens of solo albums, Todd Rundgen was a member of two important bands. One group, the Nazz, recorded three albums between 1968 and 1971.

The other band, Utopia, released its first album in 1974, and continued to reconvene for the next few decades. There has been some shifting personnel in Utopia, but some of the musicians have remained band members for long periods of time, including Kasim Sulton, who joined Utopia in 1976. By then Utopia had become a four-piece where all four band members wrote, sang, produced, and engineered material.

It was Sulton who wrote and sang lead on Utopia’s biggest hit, “Set Me Free,” from Adventures in Utopia (1980). During its career Utopia played many different styles of music. Some songs were short, concise, and catchy but quirky pop confections while others reflected a progressive rock style.

Sulton will be performing music from all the different phases of Utopia when he comes to the Ludlow Garage. If you like Todd Rundgren, you’ll hear a lot of Todd that evening. If you like smart, quirky pop music, you’ll hear that too. And if you like progressive rock, you’ll hear that as well. Click this link to find out more about this show and order tickets.

Marc Cohn Plays the Ludlow Garage March 25

An intimate venue like the Ludlow Garage is an ideal setting for a singer-songwriter, and it’s hosted some of the best, including Judy Collins, Michael Martin Murphey, and Rickie Lee Jones. At larger venues you tend to lose some of the subtleties and nuances of singer-songwriters, but the Ludlow Garage offers both immediacy and superb sound.

So Marc Cohn’s performance on March 25 promises to be a special one. His hit “Walking in Memphis” was nominated for a Grammy for best song and best male vocal performance in 1991, and it reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Since then Cohn has written songs for himself and for other artists, including David Crosby, William Bell, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

If you’re wondering how Marc Cohn became such an in-demand songwriter, part of the answer might lie in his album Listening Booth: 1970. The album is devoted to cover version of pop songs that were originally released in 1970, a year that served as Cohn’s musical awakening and year that inspired him to write music. You’ll hear songs by Van Morrison, CCR, Simon & Garfunkel, the Grateful Dead, and others. His rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” is one of the highlights of the album:

To find out more about the show and order tickets, click this link to the Ludlow Garage’s website.

Sunday Brunch at the Ludlow Garage

Today I got together with a group of friends for Sunday brunch at the Ludlow Garage, which takes place every Sunday from 11am to 3pm. It was the first time for all of us, so everyone got something different and we did a lot of sharing. Turns out we picked a beautiful day to hang out there: the temperature got up to the high 50s – rare for the first day of March – and the sun was shining as bright as ever. Soon the Ludlow Garage will be opening the garage doors, adding that much more character to the establishment and to Ludlow Avenue. While we were sitting there today, it was easy to imagine the doors lifting and the sun warming the room.

We started our meal out with mimosas, Bloody Maries, and coffee…


…and then explored as many different options as we could on the menu. The menu for Sunday brunch alludes to the Ludlow Garage’s storied musical history, with such delicacies as Iggy Pop Tart Pancake and Humble Egg Pie on tap. The price was reasonable, the portions were generous, and – to cut to the chase – we’ll be back, for brunch, for concerts, for cocktails, and for the opportunity to sit upstairs while the doors are open on a beautiful spring day.


 

 

 

Rodriguez Coming to the Ludlow Garage

The Ludlow Garage has a storied history that goes back to its first incarnation, with musicians like the Allman Brothers, Santana, and BB King performing there.
Far from resting on its laurels, however, the new Ludlow Garage has been very ambitious in its booking. We’re lucky to be able to see artists like Rickie Lee Jones, Macy Gray, Jonathan Richman, and Adrian Belew in such an intimate space.
The venue should also be commended for hosting such interesting, forward-thinking bands as New Mastersounds, the Levin Brothers (they’re coming on Saturday, January 18th!), and Nektar. Suddenly music that usually skips over Cincinnati appears right in the center of town.
And this morning’s newsflash tells us that  the Ludlow Garage is going to host Rodriguez. That’s right, the legend whose story you may have seen on 60 Minutes or in the movie, Searching for Sugar Man. The concert will take on Valentine’s Day, which, better yet, is on a Friday this year. I have a strong hunch that many people’s Valentine’s Day plans just got a lot simpler. Tickets for the show go on sale at 10am on Friday, January 14. To order tickets, click this link. See you at the show!

 

 

Nektar Coming to the Ludlow Garage

Once upon a time, when you flipped through albums in record stores, you saw LPs by bands you never heard of with strange names and bizarre-looking album covers. Gong, Fireballet, Hawkwind, Kraftwerk, Can, Magma, Audience, PFM, and Caravan I’m played experimental and colorful music that bore resemblance to more well-known bands like Genesis, ELP, and Yes but was even less likely to get radio play. All the bands mentioned here were from Europe, but similar groups started to form in America .  The music was deemed “progressive rock,” and new bands continue to emerge eager to take us to that musical dreamworld.

And some of the old bands are still active after all these years. On top of that, some of them are touring, including the German-then-English band Nektar. I clearly remember reading about Nektar for the first time in Rolling Stone in the mid-70s. A full-page article had a picture of the band performing in front of a light show that looked a lot like the cover of the album Remember the Future, which appears at the top of this blog entry. That album, released in 1973, was their most well-known record, and it has come to be seen as classic Nektar. A few years later the group took an extended break (almost two decades), but they’re not only active again, they have a new album coming out on January 24, 2020. The Other Side is coming out on a label called Esoteric Recordings, and it actually consists of material that was conceived in the 1970s but wasn’t fleshed out until recently.

And it gets more interesting: Nektar is going to perform in Cincinnati, at the Ludlow Garage. The concert will take place on February 28. The newly revived venue has been pulling in interesting bands that normally come to Cleveland to Chicago, but nowhere closer, and because of that the Ludlow Garage has made Cincinnati  a more interesting concert city . If you like experimental music that blends genres and pushes the envelope – and has a very interesting history – take a listen to Nektar. Here’s the first half of Remember the Future:

 

Guess Who’s Coming to the Ludlow Garage?

The Ludlow Garage has reopened after remodeling that includes a new bar in the basement and removable chairs that allow for both sit-down shows and general admission concerts where the audience would prefer to stand. Dozens of shows have already been booked, and it struck me, after a friend asked me to recommend some of the upcoming artists, that I should do a one-song sampling of some (but not all) of the artists coming the next few weeks. Before I go there, though, I should mention the cover bands.  There are plenty of them – tributes to Eric Clapton, Bob Seger, the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, and Billy Joel are already scheduled – and those shows are always popular. Now to some of the other artists:

Adrian Belew has a musical resume second to none, including extensive work with Frank Zappa and King Crimson and a distinguished solo career. His solo tours have included some King Crimson songs, and here’s a live performance of a real gem:

Adrian plays Friday, October 4. On Friday, October 10, Michael Martin Murphey will perform at the Ludlow Garage. He’s an excellent folksy/country singer-songwriter who became a well-known name after his lush, dreamy single “Wildfire” became a radio hit:

On Tuesday, October 15 Macy Gray will take the stage. Macy is one of the most soulful singers you’ll ever hear. Many music fans first caught wind of her when she released “I Try.” But check out her cover of “With a Little Help from My Friends”:

What a cool lady! I hope to meet her after the show.
Talking about soulful, Rickie Lee Jones will play the Garage on Saturday, October 19. How blessed we are to see artists of her stature play such an intimate venue. Here’s the song that started it all:

Man, does that song have a sound! No wonder she was 1979’s breakout artist.
A very special show is coming on Wednesday, October 16. The New Mastersounds are a British four-piece who go in all directions as along as there’s some funk involved. They know how to get a  groove going and they make people dance. This show will be a real treat; we’re lucky to get them here. Here’s a lip of the New Mastersounds a great Billy Preston hit from the 70s, “Will It Go ‘Round In Circles”:

Other recommendations include John Pizarelli’s tribute to Nat King Cole (!), John Sebastian, and Marcia Griffiths – more on those later.  Here’s a link to the Ludlow Garage Facebook page and its website. See you at the show!

 

 

 

Jim Tarbell’s 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Ludlow Garage


On Saturday, August 17, Jim Tarbell will host a concert celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Ludlow Garage. The event will take place at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. Admission is free, and here are some of the highlights:

At noon the event kicks off with a performance by Rob Fetters, a veteran of the Raisins, the Pschodots, and the Bears.

Don’t miss a rare performance by Sanday Nassan, a guitarist who attended Walnut Hills High School and played the original Ludlow Garage; that set starts at 1: 50 pm. Sandy recorded a couple fine albums back in the day, including a direct-to-disc LP and a record on the Embryo label formed by Herbie Mann.

And don’t overlook Haymarket Riot, a Cincinnati rock band that formed in 1965, continued into the 70s, and recently resurfaced.

A longstanding Cincinnati blues band, the Bluebirds will, after playing a set of their own music, be joined at 6: 15 p.m. by Tracy Nelson, who performed with Mother Earth at the Ludlow Garage during its original incarnation.

Then – and how cool is this? – Rick Derringer will close the concert. Born in Celina, Ohio, Derringer grew up in Fort Recovery. He was all of 17 when he sang “Hang on Sloopy” for the McCoys. That song has become a staple for home games of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, and the Rolling Stones even performed it the last time they played Columbus!

It only makes sense that this show would be the handiwork of Jim Tarbell, who, after all, ran the Ludlow Garage during its first incarnation.

And the Seasongood Pavilion, well, that has some history too. That amphitheater hosted many rock concerts in the late 60s, with such bands as the James Gang, Grand Funk Railroad, and the Grateful Dead performing there. And Janice Joplin was driving her chopper around Eden Park one day, as this album cover testifies:

Here’s the full lineup for the event:

  • Noon Rob Fetters
  • 12:55 p.m. Sonny Moorman Trio
  • 1:50 p.m. Sandy Nassan
  • 2:35 p.m. Robin Lacy & DeZydeco
  • 3:30 p.m. Haymarket Riot 
  • 4:25 p.m. Warsaw Falcons,
  • 5:20 p.m. Bluebirds
  • 6:15 p.m. Tracy Nelson with Bluebirds 
  • 7:15 p.m. Jeffrey Seeman of Wheels 
  • 8 p.m. Rick Derringer Band 

Blues Shows Coming to the Ludlow Garage

Two blues shows are right around the corner for the Ludlow Garage. On Thursday, November 29, the venue will host Savoy Brown, a British blues-rock group that, like John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, features one permanent member (Kim Simmonds) and a long list of sidemen with impressive blues creds. Savoy Brown received a lot of FM-radio airplay in the 1970s due to solid musicianship and songwriting, and “Tell Mama,” from 1971, is one of their signature songs:

That same weekend, on Saturday, December 1, the Ludlow Garage will host Canned Heat, who played Woodstock and also recorded an album with blues legend John Lee Hooker. Special guest artist that evening will be Sonny Moorman, a fine blues artist and a true entertainer. It will be a great, blues-drenched evening! Here’s one of Canned Heat’s biggest hits, “On the Road Again”:

For more information on these shows and others – including the reggae show by The Meditations that takes place on Friday of that week – click the link below and add it to your bookmarks. See you at the Garage!

https://www.ludlowgaragecincinnati.com/

 

 

Blood, Sweat & Tears Coming to the Ludlow Garage

Blood Sweat & Tears is coming to the Ludlow Garage for two shows on Friday, October 12. No history of late 60s and early 70s rock is complete without Blood Sweat & Tears. Their second LP was the #1 album for seven weeks, and it produced three top 5 singles. The album received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and it has been certified quadruple platinum, with sales of more than four million units in the U.S. Blood, Sweat & Tears also played Woodstock and, along with Chicago, who also added horns to their sound, helped create jazz rock. Here is You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” the lead-off single from BS&T’s #1 album:

And here’s the second single from the album, “Spinning Wheel”:

Here’s the third single from that album that managed to crack the top five, a song Laura Nyro wrote, “And When I Die”:

This will be a great night of music – classic songs and first-rate musicians. Here’s a link to Ludlow Garage’s website, where you can buy tickets for this and all other Ludlow Garage shows:

https://www.ludlowgaragecincinnati.com/