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Cincinnati: Festivals, Music Concerts, & Events

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Coming Wednesday!  From the 9/19/04 Enquirer:

 

 

 

(The Enquirer/Brandi Stafford)[/size]

 

MidPoint Festival cranks up the buzz

 

Buzz. In the music world, it's hard to define and even harder to create.

 

This year, MidPoint Music Festival aims to be "Where the buzz begins." The slogan nails the event's goal of bringing the music of independent artists to potential new fans and industry supporters.

 

For the festival itself, the buzz started when it was launched three years ago by two Cincinnati musicians, Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney. And this could be the year, the two say, that the noise generated by the event reverberates loudly enough to prick up ears on the national scene.

 

Click on link for article.

 

http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/09/19/tem_sunlede19.html

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Well I didn't go last year but was kicking myself for not being supportive of the event so this year I've planned to go on Thursday night for sure. Then I'm out of town until Sunday . . . back home for the Bengal's game.

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Went down to the first night of Midpoint (a whole two blocks) last night and had a great time. We were only able to catch two bands at Barrelhouse, both were great. What I heard on the sidewalk from other venues made me wish the festival was spread out over two weekends so that one person can catch more than a small fraction of the acts. Sadly, I have to go out of town and can't make it out Friday or Saturday nights.

 

If you are in the Cincinnati area, I can't stress enough how awesome this event is. The vibe down on Main Street is amazing and the music even more so. This is not just a festival with a few cover bands and a Miller Lite stand.

 

www.mpmf.com

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For this year's event, they are teaming up with the CAC!  It should be quite an event.  A press release from the MPMF:

 

 

What: Contemporary Arts Center, MidPoint Music Festival Announce Partnership

 

MidPoint Music Festival early band registration ends April 30 ($19.95) Final band registration deadline is May 15 ($24.95); register online at: www.sonicbids.com/mpmf2005

 

When: September 21-24, 2005

 

Where: Cincinnati, Ohio

 

The MidPoint music industry conference and trade show will be at the Contemporary Arts Center. MidPoint concerts will be at clubs in the Main Street Entertainment District.

 

Contact:

 

* MidPoint: Sarah Hawkins, 513-509-0772 or sarah@mpmf.com

* CAC: Katie Taft, (513) 345-8415 or pr@cacmail.org

 

 

Contemporary Arts Center, MidPoint Music Festival Announce Partnership

 

MidPoint Music Festival and Cincinnati’s world-renowned Contemporary Arts Center have joined forces to rock Cincinnati. From September 21-24, MidPoint is expecting more than 50,000 people for three nights of concerts and its industry conference. This year the music industry conference and trade show will be at the CAC.

 

"The CAC is very pleased to work with such an exciting music festival," says Matt Distel, associate curator for the CAC. "We are particularly thrilled to be able to highlight the overlap of contemporary music and contemporary art."

 

MidPoint Co-Founder Bill Donabedian says this partnership with the CAC will create a music festival like none other in the country. "We're excited to hold the conference and trade show in such a great space,” he says. “The building is so cool. It's going to add to the whole MPMF experience, especially for out-of-town guests.”

 

Additionally, music-related exhibitions will open the CAC season, one of which explores Cincinnati's rich history of Soul and R&B music.

 

 

Cincinnati: Where Rock-n-Roll Was Conceived

 

Esquire Magazine (April 2004) ranked Cincinnati number 7 for “Cities That Rock”. Cincinnati has a long, proud, diverse musical heritage: from the 1950s when Cincinnati's King Records gave birth to the soul and funk music of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers James Brown and Bootsy Collins, to the 80s synthesized dance R&B of Midnight Star, through the 90s when Adrian Belew and The Bears, Afghan Whigs, Ass Ponys, and Over the Rhine pioneered the "Alternative" sound. Today, Over The Rhine, Ass Ponys and newer bands like Moth and breakout hip hop star J. Grams ("Big Spender") continue to make waves from their home base in Cincinnati.

 

 

MidPoint Music Festival: The Midwest’s Biggest & Best Independent Music Festival

 

Since its inception in 2002, Midpoint Music Festival’s attendance has grown steadily each year, and nearly doubled between 2003 and 2004. MidPoint 2005 will present 250 bands and solo artists to an expected 50,000+ music fans.

 

 

Midpoint Attendance figures:

 

2002: 10,000

2003: 25,000

2004: 40,000

2005: 50,000 + expected

 

Past Midpoint Music Festival industry conference keynotes include Art Alexakis (of Everclear) and Pat Dinizio (the Smithereens). The industry conference will continue to offer musicians the opportunity to get one-on-one advice from producers, managers and entertainment lawyers. Previous panelists include producer Ken Lewis, who has worked with hip hop artists ranging from Judakiss and Jay Z to the Beastie Boys, and Todd Sullivan, who manages Weezer.

 

 

MidPoint Is Truly Independent

 

All-volunteer staff. No politics, no bartering, no pay-to-play label showcases. Just the best new music. MidPoint’s selection process utilizes judges from around the country with ties to the music industry - from radio DJs to music editors to recording engineers. Each band/artist is independently judged and scored by atleast two judges.

 

 

About the Contemporary Arts Center

 

Founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society by three visionary women in Cincinnati, the Contemporary Arts Center was one of the first institutions in the U.S. dedicated to exhibiting the art of our time. In May 2003, the Center relocated to its first freestanding home, the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid.

 

Throughout its distinguished 64-year history, the Center has earned a reputation for stimulating thought and introducing new ideas by presenting the work of diverse artists from around the world, including hundreds of now-famous artists such as Laurie Anderson, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Nam June Paik, I.M. Pei, Robert Rauschenberg, Kara Walker and Andy Warhol.

 

The CAC focuses on new developments in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media, presenting 8 to 12 exhibitions and 20 to 40 performances annually. Occupying the entire sixth floor of the new Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center, the Sara M. & Patricia A. Vance Education Center: The UnMuseum ffers children and families opportunities to experience the art of our time, including hands-on projects, school tours, after-school clubs, family days and other programs serving young people.

 

The CAC receives ongoing support from the Fine Arts Fund, Ohio Arts Council, City of Cincinnati, Delta Air Lines and AllOver Media. For more information visit www.contemporaryartscenter.org.

 

For more information on MidPoint Music Festival, contact: Sarah Hawkins at 513-509-0772 or sarah@mpmf.com.

 

http://mpmf.com/press.php

 

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Okay, we all know it's this weekend.  I thought a reminder wouldn't hurt.

 

Here's a listing of all of the articles I've seen about it recently:

* CinWeekly: MidPoint Music Festival (9/14/05)

* Enquirer: Best bets for MidPoint Music Festival (9/18/05) (includes list of acts)

* Enquirer: Comparing 5 big festivals (9/18/05) (behind the numbers of other festivals, including SXSW)

* Cin Weekly: MidPoint has no limits (9/21/05)

 

And, the story from the 9/18/05 Enquirer:

 

 

PHOTO: MidPoint attendance hit 40,000 last year. About 10,000 came to the first, in 2002.  Enquirer file

 

Last year's MidPoint hit a turning point

By C.E. Hanifin

Enquirer contributor

 

Last fall, MidPoint Music Festival vowed to be "where the buzz begins." This year, the frenzy of the independent music showcase and conference, which begins Wednesday, might sound more like a roar.

 

Consider the clamor of performances by about 300 bands from all over the country. Riffs and wails spilling from 18 venues. The footfalls of an expected 50,000 attendees rocketing from club to club.

 

Click on link for article.

 

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050918/ENT/509180315/0/back01

 

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MidPoint Festival swells to 50,000

Event wrapup

 

By C.E. Hanifin

Enquirer contributor

 

MidPoint Music Festival has always aimed to crank up the buzz about independent artists. This year, the noise generated by the annual event reached an unprecedented number of ears.

 

During its Wednesday-through-Saturday run, MidPoint attracted a record 50,000 attendees, said cofounder Bill Donabedian. Throngs of music lovers jammed 17 venues in the Main Street entertainment district and downtown for three nights of music showcases by about 300 bands from all over the globe.

 

Click on link for article.

 

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050926/ENT/509260310

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Right Here, Right NOW

MusicNOW festival founder/curator Bryce Dessner explains why Cincinnati is — and always will be — the right place

BY BRIAN BAKER | BBAKER@CITYBEAT.COM

 

CINCINNATI - Be honest. When you see the words "Chamber Music" on this page, do you quickly shuffle to another section, the newspaper equivalent of grabbing the remote to flip away from the PBS Classical special?

 

Does the whole Chamber/Classical music realm fill you with feelings of intimidation, inadequacy and confusion because you just don't understand the history, the motivation and the execution of the music itself? Do you avoid the live Chamber/Classical experience because you don't own a formal evening outfit, white gloves or an appropriate attention span?

 

Fear not, my tuxless/gownless friends. Your musical ADD is about to drift away on the wings of a soundtrack that's as versed in Rock as it is in Classical, that fuses elements of World, Pop and Chamber music in an atmosphere both casual and austere and that is both traditional and experimental...

 

 

http://www.citybeat.com/current/cover.shtml

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MusicNOW Schedule

Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine

 

THURSDAY

7:30 p.m.

Opening "marathon" concert featuring the U.S. debut of Flamenco guitarist Pedro Soler and world premieres by Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner with Clogs and percussionist David Cossin. Plus world premiere selections from Sufjan Stevens' Enjoy Your Rabbit album for string quartet and a new composition by Maria Huld Markan from Amiina.

 

FRIDAY

8 p.m.

Sets by Amiina and My Brightest Diamond.

 

SATURDAY

8 p.m.

Sets by Irena and Vojtech Havel and Sufjan Stevens.

 

TICKETS: Passes for MusicNOW are $60, which includes admission to all three days. Tickets can be purchased at Shake It Records in Northside and at www.musicnowfestival.org. There is a four-pass limit per customer. Each day, limited single-day tickets might be made available 30 minutes before show time for $25, depending on availability. MUSICNOW takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. See schedule above. For more information, visit www.musicnowfestival.org.

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I'm posting from my phone, so I can't search to see if this is already a thread somewhere - sorry!

 

Anyway, I'm sitting in Memorial Hall right now at the first intermission of the first night of the Music Now festival, and WOW...it's my first time in this building, and it's incredible...and we just heard Pedro Soler, a Flamenco guitarist from the ethnically Spanish part of southern France - just amazing...a fantastic night, with more to come...

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More updates on the Festival below!

 

New Main Street Venues!

 

For my urban bretheren and sisteren, this will be a chance to see 4 'new' venues on Main Street with the soft openings of Cue (formerly RBC), The Speakeasy (f/k/a Japps), and the aptly named Pizza Bar (Harrys). All of which will be open for business in October following the Festival.  In addition, Jardine Tapas Bar (Neons) which has opened for private parties, will also be hosting a stage under the stars. We're excited these venues are coming online and it will be a great chance for all of us to see their progress.

 

In addition to these great venues, check out cool spaces like Inktank and New Stage Collective Theatre which will both be hosting three nights of music stages AND serving beer! 

 

Thursday CityBeat Pre-Party: Superdrag@ The Exchange

 

The original Superdrag line-up (Don Coffey Jr., John Davis, Brandon Fisher, and Tom Pappas) are reuniting to play 6 limited tour dates in October and November, but they’re kicking off the Midwest’s only independent music festival first on September 27th. 

 

Friday CityBeat Pre-Party: Forget Cassettes@ The Exchange

 

Friday night’s MPMF party will feature Nashville based Forget Cassettes

 

Both preparty shows start sharply at 7:30pm!! Doors 6:30pm

 

How to Enjoy:

 

The 3-day Wristband is the definitely the way to go when it comes to MidPoint's 230+ showcases and preparties. For only $25, you have access* to all the CityBeat pre-parties and band showcases. But hurry...numbers are limited and you can only buy them online or at participating MPMF venues on Thursday, September 27. *Subject to venue capacity. www.mpmf.cmo

 

International Stage at the Know Theatre

 

ICB Audio and The Bamboo Room have made possible an international stage at the Know Theatre. All three days are dedicated to bands from abroad. But it's not the only place you'll find bands from outside the U.S. MPMF 2007 has more international bands this year than any year prior.

 

Conference Artist and Industry Keynotes

 

The MidPoint Music Festival announced 2007 Artist Keynote will be Superdrag vocalist and songwriter, John Davis. Davis will be part of an artist’s conversation on Friday, September 28th in the Black Box Theatre of MPMF’s Conference headquarters at the Contemporary Arts Center. In addition, the 2007 Industry Keynote will be former Minor Threat guitarist, Lyle Preslar. He will be part of an industry conversation September 28 in the Black Box Theatre of MPMF’s conference headquarters at the Contemporary Arts Center downtown.

 

Volunteer Registration Still Open

 

MPMF recruits over 200 volunteers each year to make the Festival happen. If you'd like to earn a free wristband, hop over to the site and sign up to volunteer for one night!!  www.mpmf.com

 

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For my urban bretheren and sisteren, this will be a chance to see 4 'new' venues on Main Street with the soft openings of Cue (formerly RBC), The Speakeasy (f/k/a Japps), and the aptly named Pizza Bar (Harrys). All of which will be open for business in October following the Festival.  In addition, Jardine Tapas Bar (Neons) which has opened for private parties, will also be hosting a stage under the stars. We're excited these venues are coming online and it will be a great chance for all of us to see their progress.

 

I'm excited about this! Especially since I live on Main 8-)

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You should be considered as Mrs. Cincinnati...you are literally EVERYWHERE!  :laugh:

 

I like it! 

 

all she has to do to get that title is marry tarbel

 

Tarbell is old enough to be my father!  Besides, I'm already happily married.  :)

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Nice article in the Post - unfortunately I might not make it this year:

 

http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070925/LIFE/709250367

 

Oh so cool

Midpoint Music Festival puts Cincinnati on music scene map

 

By Rick Bird

Post staff reporter

 

 

 

BRUCE CRIPPEN/The Post

 

Coletrain Motion from Chicago played at a 2005 Midpoint Music Festival pre-party. Bands from around the nation and the world will be at this year’s musical gathering in Cincinnati of unsigned groups.

 

 

 

 

Look out, Cincinnati. We might actually be getting cool.

 

The sixth annual Midpoint Music Festival, Thursday to Saturday, has become something of an overnight sensation that has suddenly put Cincinnati on the hipness map. Only 6 years old, it has quietly grown into the largest music festival in the Midwest devoted to showcasing unsigned, independent bands and has turned into a festival that needs to be reckoned with by the national indie music community.

Click on link for article.

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Indie Innovation

The MidPoint Music Festival stays alive by providing essential tools for fans and artists

BY DANNY CROSS | CITY BEAT

September 26, 2007

 

CINCINNATI - Every year Sean Rhiney and Bill Donabedian meet on Main Street to hang the MidPoint Music Festival banner a week or so before the fest. This annual event is the semi-formal symbol of another successful year for the 15-person all-volunteer staff, which spends 11 months of every year planning the event. Last week Rhiney and Donabedian climbed out the second-story window above the old Jefferson Hall to string the 23-foot banner across a steel cable.

 

Click on link for article.

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So I was out of town on Thursday but got back in to Cincinnati on Friday and wanted to make sure I caught at least some of the Mid Point Music Festival action.  On Friday I hit Mr. Pitiful's for most of their shows: 9:15pm – John Carter; 10:15pm – Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickups; 11:15pm – The Wrenfields; and 12:15am – Tupelo Honey.  Left during that last one and went to Below Zero and caught about half of the 12:15am – of god and science set and then most of the 1:15am – Ramsey set. I actually ended the night with a drink at Shooters and while there was no “show” associated with Mid Point, there were drag queens in the house.

 

On Saturday evening I decided to check out Mr. Pitiful's again before going to my usual Saturday night hangout.  Caught the 9:15pm – The Off Ramps and 10:15pm – Girls Guns and Glory sets.  There, I also ran in to another forumer.

 

I’m not a music critic, although of course I have opinions, and I actually liked many of the bands I saw.  Impressed with most of the quality all-around and I don’t remember feeling that way last year.  Local Kelly Thomas was my favorite at Mr. Pitiful’s on Saturday and Girls Guns Glory out of Boston was awesome on Saturday.  They were a “City Beat” pick and the show had a great crowd for being at 10:15.  Gotta’ love the washboard!  I was impressed by both bands at Below Zero on Friday and that is generally not my kind of music.  of god and science is from New Mexico and Ramsey is a local band.  I guess you would consider both Rock or Alternative but just an interesting sound and vibe. And I hadn’t seen Below Zero that crowded before so that too was fun to see.  City Beat has many reviews on their blog  http://blogs.citybeat.com/spill_it/ and they thought it was hot (temperature wise) at Below Zero.  I guess I didn’t notice it as much. Street action was great both Friday & Saturday.

 

I say this every year but I must go to more live music during the year . . .

 

As an aside, I wanted to hit the Washington Park Music Festival on Saturday but missed out.  Anybody go?  Findlay Market had a good crowd and saw ‘em getting ready in the Park when I passed by.  On Sunday I checked out the Reds v. Cubs for the last game of the season and then made my way up to Gateway via Fountain Square to check out the crowds for the Downtown Tour of Living and maybe do a little shopping at Metronation. Anyway, just a great weekend in OTR and downtown! I was on 'The Strip' in Las Vegas earlier in the week and it was so nice to be in a real place.

 

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So I was out of town on Thursday but got back in to Cincinnati on Friday and wanted to make sure I caught at least some of the Mid Point Music Festival action.  On Friday I hit Mr. Pitiful's for most of their shows: 9:15pm – John Carter; 10:15pm – Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickups; 11:15pm – The Wrenfields; and 12:15am – Tupelo Honey.  Left during that last one and went to Below Zero and caught about half of the 12:15am – of god and science set and then most of the 1:15am – Ramsey set. I actually ended the night with a drink at Shooters and while there was no “show” associated with Mid Point, there were drag queens in the house.

 

On Saturday evening I decided to check out Mr. Pitiful's again before going to my usual Saturday night hangout.  Caught the 9:15pm – The Off Ramps and 10:15pm – Girls Guns and Glory sets.  There, I also ran in to another forumer.

 

 

I'm surprised that we didn't run into you at Mr. Pitiful's.  We saw a little bit of the Girls Guns and Glory set.  This was my first year at Midpoint, and I had a great time.  We saw some really cool bands along with some crazy ones.  :) 

 

As an aside, I wanted to hit the Washington Park Music Festival on Saturday but missed out.  Anybody go? 

 

We did to this for a little bit.  They had a small part of the park blocked off, and the bands performed on the bandstand.  They served Christian Morlein beer, soft drinks, and food from Venice on Vine.  It was a nice little outdoor festival.  My suggestion to the planners would be to provide wristbands.  It  looked easy to sneak in, and they had the area blocked off with yellow caution ribbon.  They need to use something better.

 

Overall, it was nice to enjoy live music in the park.

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xumelanie - Huh, I can't believe we missed each other.  I was in the back (or the front?) by the windows to Main Street on the Lounge side.  Left right after (they said they were going to do one more but they said they couldn't) to head to Shooters so if you were up by the stage that's probably how we missed each other.

 

I always have fun.  Been the last few years. Missed one because of a vacation. Thanks for WPMF info.  I really wanted to go and at least check it out.

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My suggestion to the planners would be to provide wristbands.  It  looked easy to sneak in, and they had the area blocked off with yellow caution ribbon. 

 

it was free to get in, there was only a suggested donation

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My suggestion to the planners would be to provide wristbands.  It  looked easy to sneak in, and they had the area blocked off with yellow caution ribbon. 

 

it was free to get in, there was only a suggested donation

 

That's interesting.  We got in for free anyways because we had MPMF wristbands, but the people at the entrance made it sound like you otherwise had to pay to get in.

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Editorial from Citybeat

 

Bite the Hand That Doesn't Feed

BY John Fox | Posted 10/03/2007

 

What better represents Cincinnati: the Bengals on Monday Night Football or the MidPoint Music Festival?

 

Luckily for us Cincinnati is a big enough city that this isn't an either/or question. We can have both, even on the same weekend, and both can be successful.

 

Click on link for article.

 

http://citybeat.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A141947

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It's just over a month away. The time when the streets of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine (and one stage in Newport) will be brimming with local, regional, national and international musical artists. The 7th annual MidPoint Music Festival returns September 25-27 and this year promises true excitement for those wanting to get out and have fun in Cincinnati. Here are some questions I've been hearing...

• We’ve heard about this for a while, but uhh... When the heck can I get tickets?

 

Right now, oh anxious one.

Wristbands allowing admission into all venues for all three days of music are available now for $29. Wristbands are highly recommended and will save more dough for spirits and libations. It's a steal, no?

 

When planning your nights, think about arriving earlier to those “bigger” shows on your list. You'll probably know which ones (Robert Pollard, Mates of State). If it sells out, the club can’t legally cram in more people, wristbands or not. Pesky fire marshals. At least you'll have great entertainment for the entire night. Every band is headline-worthy.

 

• Stages in Downtown AND Over the Rhine? I’m lazy and can’t walk far. I didn’t think my itinerary would include travel time. What the #%$#!?

 

Ah, the challenged of foot.

While we all could probably use the walk, there is a solution for jetting between venues. MidPoint is working with those folks who support adding streetcars to the downtown landscape. They, together with MidPoint sponsor Scion, are providing 20 xB crossover vehicles to shuttle music lovers to the different areas. A handy map of the proposed streetcar route will be in each vehicle. Cool, huh? You only need to park once.

 

• Isn't Over-the-Rhine and Downtown kind of... dead?

 

Uhmmm, where have you been lately? It's been rocking all summer.

Find a full list of venues here. Venerable MidPoint spots like the Blue Wisp, Arnold’s, Courtyard Café and Know Theater are back. New in the mix are some surprising venues like the Aronoff Center, The Subway Bar, Buddakhan’s, The Lodge Bar, Inner Peace Holistic Center, New Stage Collective, Below Zero Lounge and Coffee Emporium.

 

I always feel that great satisfaction of city life whenever I get to hit so many clubs in one night. Choices are cool.

 

• Who is playing this year?

 

I guess you haven't heard the news? Well, too many to mention here. Find a full list here.

 

Some recent additions: Mates of State, The Sadies, local SubPop signee Daniel Martin Moore, Canada's God Made Me Funky, London’s Partyshank, Dane Clark (He's in Mellencamp's band. WNKU plays him a lot.), turntable masher Ruckus Roboticus and the lovely women of HotChaCha.

 

And for all those Cartoon Network Teen Titan fans out there, the actor who does the voice of Beast Boy rolls into town with his own reggae-pop band, Cipes and the People. I kid you not.

 

• You keep saying MidPoint has an international scope. You just mean you have a couple of bands from Canada, right?

 

Every year they travel from far and wide. Last year we saw a big Danish contingent. This year MidPoint features artists from China, England, Mexico, Israel, and drum roll please...Canada!

 

• Have you seen my cool jacket? I left it at MidPoint last year (I got too drunk, of course). It is red leather, with black and white racing stripes down the side and …

 

Let me stop your right there. This isn't the lost and found. Besides, if we found a red leather jacket, we would totally keep it for ourselves.

 

• My favorite local band wasn’t selected. Don't you want the best local bands?

 

More MidPoint acts come from Cincinnati than any other locale. In the past you had to put in a submission to play the event. The new producers of MidPoint, CityBeat, have expanded things a bit by “inviting” more bands with higher exposure.

 

Along with the national, signed acts, local artists who were nominated at last year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the “Critical Achievement” categories (Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, New Artist of the Year) were booked. These include are some great locals: Eat Sugar, 500 Miles to Memphis, Buffalo Killers, The Dan Karlsburg Group, Jon Justice, Joe Hedges and July for Kings, The Lions Rampant, The Read, The Seedy Seeds, The Chocolate Horse and Wussy.

 

• Well, you screwed up — where are the Heartless Bastards?!

 

Unable to attend. In the studio, I think.

 

• I only know my co-worker's sister's boyfriend's band is in. How am I supposed to know who to go see?

 

Check out the helpful guides published in CityBeat and CiNWeekly. They usually give you some good advice of what to check out. Profiles and such on every act.  Also, if you go to the list of bands, click on the name of any band and it'll take you to a MySpace page with songs to hear.

 

 

The main thing to do right now is get your wristband, call some friends, and plan to head downtown for some hip shakin' fun.

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The return of Midpoint!

http://www.soapboxmedia.com/features/32midpoint.aspx

 

Cincinnati again becomes the indie music headquarters of the heartland as the Midpoint Music Festival returns this weekend with a growing reputation as one of the nation’s most exciting band showcases to be found in a compact, walkable urban setting.

 

The seventh annual Midpoint Music Festival officially kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 25) with a free show on Fountain Square from up-and-coming local band Seabird. It ushers in three nights of 185 bands- most independent, unsigned artists- playing on 16 stages in Over-the-Rhine, the central downtown core and Newport’s Southgate House. Organizers hope for some 40,000 club hoppers over the three nights.

 

This year Midpoint is under new management. Alternative weekly, CityBeat, bought the festival from its co-founders Sean Rhiney and Bill Donabedian, who started it as a labor of love to support and showcase the region’s robust indie band scene. But the two had wanted out of producing the event because of the demands of their day jobs. (Donabedian works for Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. as managing director of Fountain Square; Rhiney is a professional development counselor at the University of Cincinnati Law School).

 

CityBeat, which had been heavily involved with Midpoint as a promotional partner, took over a well-conceived event that has earned an impressive national reputation in just six years. Thanks to Midpoint, in certain substrata of the nation’s rock music communities, bands have come of age knowing Cincinnati, not for its sports teams, riots, or world-class symphony, but as a supportive music town.

 

“Musicians know Midpoint as an independent festival where they will be heard by receptive ears. It also has a reputation as a good time,” says Dan McCabe, Midpoint producer and CityBeat promotions director. “Bill and Sean did a great job building a festival. Talking to bands through the submission process, it became apparent that groups really want to play at this.”

 

Producing the event is an opportunity for CityBeat to reinforce its branding as the media booster of the independent, original music scene. It may also provide an alternative revenue stream.

 

“We think we can make some money on it,” says John Fox, CityBeat editor. “It’s not like a music festival will make or break our company. But, like everyone else in this business, you have to figure out different ways to make money other than selling ads, which is getting harder and harder to do. Everyone is suffering, even us, but maybe not in ways the big dailies are.”

 

Fox said events like Midpoint let CityBeat offer companies a different way to connect with the young adult market other than buying a traditional ad. For example, Toyota will put out a 20-car fleet of its youth-friendly xB Scions shuttling fest goers between downtown venues (The Scions will be run a route designed to mimic the proposed streetcar system with ten pick-up points running along Main Street, west on 12th Street, back south on Walnut Street, and east on 5th).

 

In taking on the festival production, CityBeat organizers were confronted with the same problem that Donabedian and Rhiney had struggled with the last couple years. As Fox puts it: “The reality is Over-the-Rhine can’t support it any more. There just aren’t the bars.”

 

Part of Midpoint’s unique reputation was its compactness concentrated in Over- the-Rhine’s Main Street Entertainment strip. Among the many band showcases in the country, none is in an area where 17 stages are a block or two apart. But that coziness was impossible to maintain with up to ten clubs closing in the Main Street district the last few years. The Main Street scene has struggled, never really recovering from the loss of patrons after the 2001 riots. Some clubs that have tried to reopen in recent months have failed.

 

CityBeat producers took the classic given-lemons-make-lemonade approach by expanding the event into the central downtown core while retaining some Over-the-Rhine locations. Other than the Southgate House site, it is still a walkable event utilizing a diversity of venues. In the process organizers have managed to cleverly connect downtown and Over-the-Rhine with the first music event to take advantage of an energized residential downtown.

 

To hear McCabe talk, all of downtown is a stage. He sees the area organically--the central business district is a rock concert venue. “There is an incredible infrastructure we have by using downtown and Over-the Rhine together,” he says. “We have large venues and small venues and now we have a transportation system. Fans can use the restaurants, hotels and Fountain Square. Next year we hope to put music on the square every night of the festival.”

 

The downtown venues range from the swanky 150-seat Fifth Third Bank Theater at the Aronoff Center to the more bohemian Inner Peace Holistic Center (Walnut and Seventh) and the Coffee Emporium (Walnut and Central Parkway). Such theme clubs as Cadillac Ranch and the Lodge Bar, which normally don’t feature indie music acts, have signed up. The only traditional Main Street club involved is the Courtyard Cafe. The shortage of Main Street venues has been filled by the alternative arts community with stages at the Know Theater, the New Stage Collective and InkTank in Over-the-Rhine.

In the past Midpoint needed to rock the suburbs to be successful, that is, convince people from outside the city to come downtown for a night of music and club hopping. McCabe says, with the revitalized downtown residential scene, he isn’t sure that is even a priority anymore. He sees this as an event the new urbanites will appreciate.

 

“The downtown population has exploded,” says McCabe. “Suburban living is on the out. It’s the walkable, urban living that is in and cool. That’s the future. For those folks this is a very consolidated festival.”

 

According to Downtown Cincinnati, Inc., the OTR/downtown population was about 8,100 at the end of 2007. That has grown by over 2,000 people since 2002. Most of that increase is made up of young professionals, who have been gobbling up the hundreds of downtown condos and apartments that have been built or renovated.

 

Indeed, downtown boosters now see Midpoint as a central business district showcase-- a club-hopping, party-scene version of the recent Downtown Tour of Living.

 

“Downtown has gone through a major transformation with residents. So, when we have an event like Midpoint, people’s interests are peaked to see the new downtown,” said Arlene Koth, DCI VP stakeholder services.

 

Other changes in CityBeat’s Midpoint structure:

  • Organizers were proactive in inviting bands to play, unlike past years where it was exclusively a submission process. That assures local fans can see some of Cincinnati's most critically-acclaimed acts. CityBeat booked bands that had been past winners at its Cincinnati Entertainment Awards who might otherwise not play Midpoint. They include Wussy, 500 Miles To Memphis, Buffalo Killers, Jon Justice, July For Kings and the Seedy Seeds.
  • It has booked national signed acts breaking with the tradition of a festival exclusively devoted to unsigned bands. “We felt we needed to build a little more of a national brand,” says Fox. Still the national groups are somewhat on the fringes for the mainstream music fan, but well known on the indie rock scene. They include indie rock icon Robert Pollard, Mates of State, The Sadies, Spectrum and Why?.
  • It has abandoned for this year the music industry panels and keynotes speakers that helped make Midpoint a networking business experience for out-of-town bands. McCabe says the rock convention aspect will return next year, perhaps under the auspices of the Chicago Grammy office. He says Grammy officials will be in town to observe this year’s Midpoint.

 

Your Soapbox Guide to Midpoint

The challenge and the beauty of the Midpoint Music Festival is: You are on your own. One needs to bring a sense of discovery, exploration and maybe do a little research to find which of the some 185 bands will suit your fancy.

 

The Midpoint Web site makes that easy with band profiles and YouTube/ MySpace links.

 

At Midpoint all bands are created equal and it’s difficult to  single out a must-see act. In fact, it’s hard to find a bad set, since bands bring their “A” games. After all, they only perform a 50-minute set so you can expect to see each group’s “greatest hits.”

 

With that in mind, here are five acts each night guaranteed to please a diversity of tastes, with a mix of national acts and locals:

 

Thursday

Seabird (6 p.m., Fountain Square): Catchy piano-driven power pop has landed this Independence, Ky. band prime-time promotional exposure in the ABC show “Pushing Daisies.” It’s “Rescue” will be the show’s theme song this season.

 

Daniel Martin Moore (10 p.m., Aronoff Fifth Third Theater): Heart-felt folk pop from the Cold Spring, Ky. singer-songwriter about to make a national splash with a new album to be released in October by Seattle label Sub Pop.

 

July For Kings (10 p.m., Cadillac Ranch): A bit of a reunion for lead singer Joe Hedges and his band mates from Middletown. Hedges has honed a thrilling, passionate live show making his mark as a dynamic frontman as a solo artist and with JFK, which flirted with major label success once signed to MCA.

 

Why? (11 p.m., Aronoff): Cerebral, sonic psychedelic pop from these ex-Cincinnatians, now based in Oakland, Calif.

 

Oh My God (11 p.m., Know Theater): Atmospheric pop with great vocals of frontman Billy O’Neill and an absurdist sense of humor. As the band notes: “We are influenced by monkeys in Fellini-esque settings.”

 

Friday

SS-20 (9 p.m., Southgate house): A rare show from one of Cincinnati’s true punk pioneers; Three chords-and-a-cloud of dust with a delightful anarchic message.

 

Jon Justice (11:30 p.m. , Arnold's): The 26-year-old Flemingsberg, Ky. guitarist is cleverly bending the blues format managing to mix R&B, soul and hard rock into his own distinct groove. 

 

Jukebox the Ghost (11 p.m. Aronoff): The Washington, D.C. trio gets compared to Ben Folds with its catchy piano pop.

 

Lonely China Day  (11 p.m. Inner Peace Center): It’s Mandarin rock with this group from Beijing bringing its ambient, experimental guitar stylings with a mantra-like quality as they sing lyrics based on Chinese folklore.

 

Pomegranates (midnight, Blue Wisp): Irresistible, hook-filled, dreamy and intelligent pop from this Cincinnati quartet getting national attention with last year’s release on Lujo Records.

 

Saturday

Jeff Scott Roberson (9 p.m. New Stage Collective): Unwind a little with one of the great earthy Cincinnati singer-songwriters who has been making soulful, lonesome country/folk for almost two decades.

 

Wussy (10 p.m. Aronoff): Everyone from the Village Voice to Rolling Stone has discovered this richly textured Cincinnati group with the poignant lyrics of Ass Pony founder Chuck Cleaver and sonic vocals of Lisa Walker. Best described once as “high lonesome slash and burn” and an “articulated drone.”

 

Mates of State (10 p.m. Southgate House): Drums and keyboard. What more do you need? Not much when you have the unpretentious, toe-tapping, sweet melodies of this couple out of Kansas.

 

William Sides Atari Party (10:30 p.m.) Know Theater): And now for something completely different. A one man electronica band “performing” with an Atari Synthcart program and an array of synthesizers and other gadgets.

 

Flow (midnight, Cadillac Ranch): Traveling to Midpoint from Tel Aviv, check out the group dubbed Israeli’s “indie band of the year” with a collection of soaring and thickly textured anthems reminiscent of U2.

 

Stuff you should know:

A three-day wristband ($29), or a one-day wristband ($15), is good for admission to all the venues and allows you to ride on the free Scion shuttle system. You can also pay a $5 cover good for admission that night to a single venue.

 

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If the bands and crowd at the Inner Peace stage was representitive of Midpoint as a whole, I'd have to say last night was great opener.  The crowd size picked up earlierier than I was expecting for a Thursday night. The bands were great.

 

My favorite was the performance by "Eagle to Squirrel".  If you've never seen them I highly recommend it. Apparently their show was pretty popular at Fringe as well.  Their youTube videos , can give you a prety good idea of what they do, but you can really apreciate the full contribution of the dancers from the video due to the camera distance.

 

I also spotted a couple of fellow Urban Ohio-ers in the crowd.

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Spent some time at Arnold's supporting the Soapbox stage (courtyard was full).  Went to Know (up and down), Below Zero, New Stage Collective (kind of dead, and no booze?), and Southgate House.  Quite a lot of people spread among many (17) venues. You need to either (a) plan ahead and meticulously execute your plan with drill seargent precision; or (b) just go with the flow.  It's hard to get everywhere you need to be with short set times. 

 

The scions were great.  They were like a convoy rolling up Main. Just hail one and they pull over.  We didn't even bother with the prearranged pickup points.  Tonight and tomorrow will be different and I suspect they will be much more busy.

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Midpoint was fun.  I went all three nights, and I ran into several people from UO. 

 

The Scions were great, but it seemed that many of the drivers did not know downtown.  I had to give directions to half of our drivers.  We were with people who are not from Cincinnati originally, and they probably would not have been able to give the directions themselves.

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