Cincinnati’s New All-Vinyl Record Label

I met Melvin Dillon at one of the record shows that take place once a month at MadTree Brewing. It quickly became clearly that his recently-launched label, Soul Step Records, was a direct outgrowth of his love for vinyl. He loves listening to records, but it’s also clear that, as the owner/founder of Soul Step Records, he has fun with them, as you can see by the pictures in this blog entry of some of the creative ideas he has for decorating platters.  The web address for the young label is, and the Facebook page is Recently, in a cyberspace Q&A, he told me a little more about Soul Step Records:

What’s unique about your label?

We are first and foremost, vinyl only. We sign independent artists to contracts that allow us to release music strictly vinyl format. After recouping our initial investment – we split any all profits evenly with the artists. It’s a win-win and much better than any other offer you’ll find in the record industry. We look to help support these artists so they can continue to chase their musical passions and dreams.

Are the records recorded analog or digitally? Where are they recorded, and where are the artists from?

Most have been recorded digitally. We’ve however had some recorded analog – and we love the sound. However not everyone can afford that! They are recorded all over the USA. Places have included Chicago, San Francisco, Charlotte, and Lexington, KY. Continue reading “Cincinnati’s New All-Vinyl Record Label”

Record Show After The Bengals-Browns Game

After the Bengals-Browns Game tomorrow (Sunday, September 29) a record show will take place at MadTree Brewing Company at 5164 Kennedy Avenue. From 5pm to 8pm people will be buying and selling records. There’s no charge for buyers; for people setting up a table, the charge is going to be five or ten bucks; and if you just want to bring one box of records to sell, that’s free. We had a good turnout at the last show, and in general record shows have been catching on around here as people realize that there are opportunities to find 33s and 45s that don’t always show up in record shows (and often at cheaper prices). Also, we’ve had people show up who simply want to sell their record collection, and that’s a quick, painless, and profitable way to do that. For more information, here’s a link to the Facebook page for the event.




Record Show at MadTree Brewing

Although the blog entry below was published in August 2013, MadTree Brewing will be hosting another record show on Sunday, October 27 from noon to 4pm.  There’s no admission fee for the event. People are also welcome to sell records. If you’re only bringing a box, there’s no charge, to sell and if you want to set up a table, the charge is minimal; I think it was five or ten bucks the last round, to help pay the DJ. If you have questions, email Tom Luce at

In olden days record shows in Cincinnati were notoriously bad, with the same overpriced and bland records trotted out every six months. Fortunately the show that took place in Northside last December seemed to break the mold, with lots of newcomers buying and selling 33s, 45s and 78s of every genre imaginable.

On Sunday, August 25 a record show will take place at the MadTree Brewing Company, a brewery at 5164 Kennedy Ave. in Oakley. Frankly, I’ve never understood why all the record shows don’t take place in bars, but we’ll address that another time. This is actually the second MadTree Vinyl Swap, and the people running it are going out of their way to keep recruiting fresh new dealers and have the return dealers restock with new stuff so that return buyers can continue to see something new.

The show will begin at noon and end at four, although the bar stays open until eight. Catch-a-Fire Pizza will be serving at 1pm, and DJ Grover spins from 2 to 4pm. If you have any questions for MadTree Brewing, call them at 513.836.8733, and if you’re interested in setting up for this or future shows, contact Tom Luce at

I encourage anyone who reads this and knows other potentially interested parties to pass the information on. The more people who show up as both sellers, buyers and swappers, the more interesting records (and record collectors) will come out of the woodwork.

The Acetate I Found: “Band Practice 1963”

The other day when I was flipping through some records I ran across two 33s that were recorded at 501 Terrace Ave., which is right down the street from me. One of the LPs is an acetate dated 1963, but between tracks at a couple points someone announces that some of the tracks were recorded a couple years before that. (Acetates, by the way, are made in very limited quantities, with no intention, usually, of a commercial release, so I’m always curious when I find one – but their quality declines quickly, and the next time a needle drops I’ll be downloading it digitally, to make sure the music survives.)

The music on the acetates consist of “traditional jazz” (Dixieland or “hot jazz” or other terms that are used to define this style). Presumably the music was never officially released, and of course I wanted to know who recorded it and what their history was. Did they play around Cincinnati, and did they continue to play music?

Fortunately two between-track monologues listed personnel (which underwent some changes) along with the instrument each person played. The musicians included: Bob Heidrich, trumpet (and apparently the tracks were recorded at his house); John Cantrell, clarinet; Jack Fessler, banjo; Jack Horning, drums; Jim Osborne, trombone; Bill Sporr, piano; Ken Steagman, sousaphone; and Tom Harter. (In most cases these spellings are what linguists refer to as a phonetic stab in the dark).

1963 was awhile ago, and there was no guarantee when I visited cyberspace that any information would surface about the musicians—but a quick search proved fruitful. It turns out that at least two of the musicians still play traditional music, although not in Cincinnati; I’m pretty sure I got the right people because their name, instrument and genre all matched.

Interestingly, one of the musicians is the father of Mark Boone Junior, who’s played (more often than not) a bad guy (including a crooked cop) in dozens of movies and TV shows. His biggest roles include the Christopher Nolan films Memento and Batman Begins and FX’s Sons of Anarchy, where he plays Bobby Munson.

I’ve taken the initial steps in trying to track down some of the musicians involved with this project, and thus far it’s been a bust, but it’s still early in the process. I’m curious, though, if anyone reading this has any idea who any of the musicians are and how to reach them. I’d love to find out more about these musicians.

Nelson Slater Album Release Party Friday at Daniels Pub!

It was twenty years ago today that Nelson Slater first spoke to me about releasing his follow-up to Wild Angel, an LP that came out on RCA in 1976. I’m happy to report that the album has now appeared; it’s called Steam-Age Time Giant, and it came out (as should every album) on vinyl. Here’s a link to a recent blog entry I wrote about the record:

The New Nelson Slater Album

This Friday, April 12  Nelson will be playing at Daniel’s Pub, which is still there after all those wild years, at 2735 Vine Street. Great things have been happening on Short Vine lately (including some new developments at Bogart’s), and this will be an opportunity to bring some of the old spirit back. Going to Daniels will bring back old memories for us veterans and launch new ones for the newcomers. Folks, this is an event, let’s get out and show some support! The music starts at 9, Something Groovy will be Nelson’s special guests, and other performers include Grow Horns, Large Hadron Collider, and The Special People. Also, rumor has it (we’re not certain yet if this is just another one of those unfounded internet rumors) that Mr. Jerry Parker will be in attendance Friday evening.

Jazz at Schwartz’s Point (Plus Some Greenwich Tavern Footage)

So much time had passed since I’d visited Schwartz’s Point that the last time I was there it wasn’t completely…well, legitimate, to state thing euphemistically. During its previous incarnation, I felt kind of like I was at a speak-easy, which is a rare feeling since they don’t exist anymore. (Why did they have to do away with Prohibition? I’m sure it was more fun sneaking around to have a drink.) After dropping by last night I’m happy to report that it still kind of has a speak-easy like vibe to it: note the Oriental rugs in the windows, which along with cushioning the sound help give the club an exclusive vibe. A nice intimate club in a great old Cincinnati building: check the photo on their website and (if you don’t know already) you’ll remember passing it countless times and wondering what it was.

Continue reading “Jazz at Schwartz’s Point (Plus Some Greenwich Tavern Footage)”

New Nelson Slater LP Out on Vinyl!

Last night my friend Nelson Slater dropped by accompanied by his loyal and sometimes cantankerous canine Riley Martin. The three of us chilled out and played records, which is nothing new, except this time something special was on the turntable.

More than 35 years have passed since Nelson released his first LP, Wild Angel. The record was produced by Lou Reed, who roomed with Nelson at Syracuse University. The two of them played together in bands before the Velvet Underground formed and then remained friends. Since Wild Angel Nelson has continued to play music, and lots of it; every time I visit his house I see stacks of cassette tapes that contain music he and his cronies have taped over the years. But a new, full-length LP on vinyl has eluded him—until now, that is. Continue reading “New Nelson Slater LP Out on Vinyl!”

The New iswhat?! Album is Called things that go bump in the dark

things that go bump in the dark is the new full-length release by Cincinnati’s iswhat?!, a hip-hop band that has toured the US and Europe and performed with major jazz artists, among them Archie Shepp, Oliver Lake and Hamid Drake. It’s a fine record, and I’m happy to report that, along with being available as a CD or a download, this full-length release had come out on vinyl. Locally the CD and LP are available at Shake-It and Everybody’s; online you can buy it on cdbaby and iTunes.

If you’ve caught ishwat?!, chances are you’ve seen Napoleon Solo Vox fronting a trio. On things that go bump in the dark band members change and band sizes fluctuate with each song, and others artists share some of the vocal duties. My sense is that Napoleon is still the mastermind behind the music, but, like Kip Hanrahan, he constantly shuffles musicians in order to make the words and music come to life.

More than half the cuts feature Hamid Drake, who happens to be one of the best drummers in the world. He’s also one of the most versatile, and he’s as comfortable laying down a hip-hop groove as he is playing avant-garde jazz with Ken Vandermark or Peter Brotzmann. Continue reading “The New iswhat?! Album is Called things that go bump in the dark”

The Northside Record Fair: A Huge Success

It was great seeing how many people came out for the first-ever Northside Record Fair this morning. There were almost fifty tables of people selling vinyl, and there came a point when every crate in the place had someone pawing through it, and it stayed that way a long time. I have to think it was more fun for everyone because it was so dang overdue.

Chuck Cleaver from Wussy was selling records and memorabilia, and I bought publicity photos of Tom Waits and Elvis Costello from him. I also had a chance to talk to the owner of Phratry Records, Jerry Dirr, about some of his projects. It turns out he’s been extremely happy with Gotta Groove Records, the record pressing plant in Cleveland. He also spoke quite highly about the new Phratry release by Food, a band that includes Ed “fROMOHIO” Crawford, who was once a member of the fIREHOSE, a band that was once on the  SST label. The new EP is Four Pieces from Candyland, and it’s available here: Continue reading “The Northside Record Fair: A Huge Success”