Local Exposure

WVXU's Local Exposure focuses on the thriving music scene in the Greater Cincinnati area.

You'll find interviews with local musicians as well as national artists coming to town, plus concert announcements, album reviews and other music news. Contributors include musicians, artists and a number of folks who have their finger on the pulse of the local and regional music scene.

Review: The Voyager Jazz Ensemble's Rites of Passage

May 22, 2020

The Voyage Jazz Ensemble recorded and mixed their new CD days before the pandemic closed everything down. The album, Rites of Passage is available now.

Sam Blakeslee On Stage at Caffe Vivace

Mar 11, 2020

NYC- based jazz trombonist/composer Sam Blakeslee's bringing his new chamber music jazz project, "Wistful Thinking," to Caffe Vivace on March 19th from 8-11pm.  An Ohio native, he spoke by phone with Ron Esposito on March 10th about his Wistful Thinking project, trombone influences, and playing an interesting blend of jazz genres.  Playing with him that night will be guitarist Brandon Coleman and bassist Matt Wiles.  

Due to coronavirus restrictions dictated by the State of Ohio and the Governor's edicts and Mt. St. Joseph University's suspension of on-campus classes and other non-essential gatherings, (they will beginremote classes on March 16), it is with deep regret that the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame announces that they are postponing the 6th Annual Induction/Jazz Concert that was to be held on March 22, 2020 at the Mount St. Joseph University Auditorium Theatre in Cincinnati, OH. A new date will be announced in the upcoming weeks. All tickets will be honored on the new date. “We regret having to do this, but the safety and health of our performers, volunteers, and fans is our #1 priority, “ stated Kay Casey, Founder and Chairman. “We look forward to the annual celebration and induction when it is rescheduled.” For more information about the postponed induction ceremony/jazz concert, contact Kay Casey at 513.207.0476 or kaycaseycinti@aol.com.  For more information about the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame go to http://www.CincyJazzHOF.org.

UPDATE (3/10/20): Just heard from Jeff that his Nashville concert with Jack Jones has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns, so he won't be bringing his Mapex drums to Cincinnati for the induction performance with the Blue Wisp Big Band.  

UPDATE#2 (3/11/20): Because of the coronavirus issue, the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Mt. St. Joseph University has been postponed until hopefully late May or early June.

Jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton's in much demand these days.  He's touring and recording with his two trios and as well as the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.  Some jazz fans were lucky to see his perform at Caffe Vivace with his Akiko/Hamilton/Dechter Trio, and he's returning to Cincinnati on March 22nd to sit in with the Blue Wisp Big Band as part of the 6th Annual Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Mt. St. Joseph University from 3-5pm that afternoon.

On March 4th, I spoke by phone with Jeff who's been a friend of mine since the late '70s when he first joined the LA4 playing with Ray Brown, Laurinda Almeida, and Bud Shank.  Since then, he's gone on to form the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with bassist John Clayton and has recorded with a long list of musicians like Diana Krall, Leon Russell, Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman, Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Streisand, Mark Murphy, and many more.

During our conversation, he talks about his contract with Mapex Drums, friendship with John von Ohlen, traveling with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, playing with the Blue Wisp Big Band, and mentoring young drummers. 

Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame 2020

Feb 19, 2020

Local musician Rick Lisak sat down last week with Elaine Diehl to talk about his new cd, Songs of the Ohio River Valley, recorded with Zach Rowe.  During the interview, Rick discusses how he and Zach came together to form Lisak & Rowe and also how they compose songs together. 

Recently, they've hooked up with Sherry Stanforth and Dick Hague for performances during readings from their collaborative anthology, Riparian.  Lisak & Rowe's next appearance will be Tuesday, February 11th at 6:30pm, Joseph Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion.

If you enjoy cover bands, a concert by The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute to the Beatles is coming to the Taft Theatre on Friday, February 21st.   

According to their press release, “The Emmy Award Winning Fab Four is elevated far above every other Beatles Tribute due to their precise attention to detail. With uncanny, note-for-note live renditions of Beatles' classics such as "Can't Buy Me Love," "Yesterday," "A Day In The Life," "Twist And Shout," "Here Comes The Sun," and "Hey Jude", the Fab Four will make you think you are watching the real thing… Their incredible stage performances include three costume changes representing every era of the Beatles ever-changing career, and this loving tribute to the Beatles has amazed audiences in countries around the world, including Japan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, The United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Brazil.”

Tickets are available at the Taft Theatre Box Office or Ticketmaster.

Guitarist Albert Lee's Coming Back To Town!

Dec 30, 2019

Guitarist Albert Lee's coming back to Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky, on Wednesday, January 8th.  Show starts at 8pm.

From England, Albert Lee joined Emmylou Harris's Hot Band in 1976, playing with Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs.  In 1978, he started playing with Eric Clapton for 5 years.  A Grammy winner, he's also performed at a Crossroads Festival.  

This'll be an opportunity to see a musician who's played with musical legends for decades.

I was saddened to get a call this morning from Jimmy Railey, one of James Brown's Famous Flames, whose daughter was killed this past weekend.  Donna Railey was killed crossing Reading Road this past Saturday, November 30th.  Visitation is from 10:00 am until 11:00 am, on  Saturday, December 14, 2019, at the Walker Funeral Home - Walnut Hills Chapel, 2625 Gilbert Avenue, Cincinnati  (45206).   The funeral service will immediately follow the visitation beginning at 11:00

All performances will be in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. 

Ticket information

Elaine Diehl spoke by phone with singer/songwriter Livingston Taylor on November 14th about his upcoming concert at the 20th Century Theater on December 4th.  He's also been teaching at the Berklee College of Music for 30 years.

Singer/songwriter Raye Zaragoza dropped by the studio on her way to her gig at Ludlow Garage on Tuesday afternoon, November 12th, where she opened for the Rising Appalachia band.

She spoke with Elaine Diehl about her 2017 album, what it's like being on the road so much, and her social activism.  Raye also talked about how nice it would be to take some time off after this tour and before the new cd drops to spend some time off at her home in L.A.

Rising Appalachia At The Ludlow Garage

Nov 5, 2019

The band, Rising Appalachia, is bringing their tour to Ludlow Garage on Tuesday, November 12th.  Elaine Diehl spoke with Leah Song about the group and their new release, "Leylines," by phone Monday, November 4th.  During the conversation, Leah said that this is their 7th album, not including the bootlegs out there.  She also discussed the band members and the recording process for this new album which was recorded in 10 days in a studio north of San Francisco on the Pacific coast late summer, 2018.  The band has also teamed up with social activists and non-profits to help make a difference with this tour.

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Local singer-songwriter Molly Sullivan is a bit of an enigma. Many of her songs have, so far, gone unrecorded, and she tends to limit her online presence. When she joined me in the studio, I had very little in front of me in terms of notes or prepared questions, so, I thought, "Let’s just start talking and see where it goes."

As it turns out, this interview ranks among one of my favorites; and as you join me as a witness to this conversation, you’ll see why; and hopefully, it will be one of your favorites as well. 

Harlem 100, featuring Mwenso & the Shakes, is a unique collaboration with the National Jazz History Museum in Harlem that’s currently on a 32-city tour around the country.  The event is a celebration of the 100th anniversity of the Harlem Renaissance.  The Harlem-based jazz band, Mwenso & the Shakes, will be on stage at Hall Auditorium in Miami University Saturday, November 2nd.

I spoke with Michael Mwenso, the bandleader and lead vocalist of the band, by phone Tuesday, October 22nd.  We discussed the tour, the events over the last 100 years in Harlem, Mwenso’s personal musical journey, and the components of the multi-media show.  He also talked about the band.

When asked about his personal story, Mwenso said he was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but grew up in London where he met many musicians and then Wynton Marsalis brought him to New York City to work with the Jazz at Lincoln Center group.

Celebrate Brooklyn performance    -   Tiny Desk Contest performance

Provided

Newport's Mentoring Plus is a small nonprofit supporting local high school students needing academic help but also providing a safe haven for friendship, food, and more. Local musician and former judge Mickey Foellger will be part of a fundraising music festival on November 2 at the Southgate House Revival. 

Holly Tutor Photography

Sawyer Fredericks is bringing his band to Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky, on Thursday evening, October 24th to promote the 11/9 release of their new single, "Flowers for You."  The album will be coming out in Spring, 2020.  The song was recorded at Dreamland Recordings in Woodstock and was written and produced by Sawyer.  

During his conversation with Elaine Diehl, they discussed his writing process, collaborations, and the members of his band.  His experience on NBC's, "The Voice," was also explored.  Sawyer said that the show scouted him for the auditions when he was only 15 years old.  He considered his time on "The Voice" as a valuable learning experience and is looking forward to working on this new album.  The playlist for their concert at Southgate House Revival will include the new single, songs he sang on "The Voice," as well as selections for his past albums.  

Blues guitarist Coco Montoya and his band are coming to the Sorg Opera House in Middletown on Thursday night, October 24th for one show only at 8pm.  Their sounds are surely going to rock out given the great acoustics in this hall which is loved by the musicians who play there.  It's an intimate setting, so the audience will be up close and personal to these blues musicians.

Their album, "Coming in Hot," is Coco Montoya's 5th album with Alligator Records and features studio musicians from the west coast as well as special guests including Jon Cleary.  But, he'll be bringing his regular band with him on the tour.

I spoke with Mr. Montoya by phone on Tuesday, October 15th about this new album, one of the songs on the album, a memory of working with Albert Collins, and his guitars.  I'd also like to thank Elaine Diehl for her assistance editing our interview.

The poet Francis Duggan called Death “The Great Equalizer.” No matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe, all of us will one day leave this existence.

Mike Oberst, one of the founding members of The Tillers, has released an 11- track solo album titled Six Feet Of Earth that examines that reality.

By combining traditional American and European folk songs with two original compositions - and an extraordinary Carole King cover, Mike explores themes that transcend our differences and finds those common bonds that define us all, ultimately, as human beings.

The movie, "The Mountain Minor," is coming to the Esquire Theatre on Thursday, October 17th and Sunday, October 20th at 7pm each evening.  There's a q&a session after each showing and an after party at Sitwell's on Thursday evening with live music, too.  The director, Dale Farmer, and two of the actor/musicians Ma Crow and Mike Oberst from the Tillers came into the studio this morning to talk about this film.

The film was shot in North Carolina for the most part with some scenes in Eaton, Oxford and the Southgate House Revival in Newport.  Dale cast real musicians for acting roles in this story about an Appalachian family who came to Cincinnati for jobs and brought their music with them.  The plot's based on Dale's grandparents' story which is also the story for many of us in the area.

The film's made the film festival route and has garnered awards, but Thursday night is the premiere of "The Mountain Minor" movie which resonates with those who have seen it to the point of bringing tears.  A dvd is in the planning stages.

The sound of Fickle Hellcat is best described as "Vintage Indie Rock," but the music created by Rachel Maxann, Mike Wiley and Paul Swabek comes from an enormous universe of influences.

Their self-titled debut album has just been released and I had the opportunity to sit down with lead singer Rachel Maxann to talk about where all of these songs come from; and how her travels around the globe have shapeed her and the songs she writes.

MOIRA: Demons + Daisies

Oct 4, 2019
moiraband.com

MOIRA is a 3-piece dream pop band with origins in Dayton, OH. Their new EP Demons + Daisies is a follow-up to their 2015 release entitled Asleep/Repeat/Awake.

The music of MOIRA is lovely combination of traditional and non-traditional instruments intertwined with samples and the haunting vocals of lead singer Alicia Grodecki.

I sat down with the members of the band to talk about the new EP, writing songs in the cold and bartering chicken-wrangling for rehearsal space.

Hissing Tiles: Boychoir

Sep 27, 2019

Frank Zappa once said, “You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say, so sometimes you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.”

This sentiment applies when you’re composing an entire album that tries to navigate the male archetypes in everyday life.

From social expectations about what it means to be a “real man,” to the ever-increasing presence of fascism and hate-groups in America, Hissing Tiles seeks to shine a light on the assumptions the pervade our culture and ask why they exist in the first place. Their new album Boychoir is dissonant, challenging and extraordinarily cathartic.

Freddie Meyer from Ivan & The Sabers

Sep 25, 2019

Freddie Meyer, the original drummer and singer of Ivan & The Sabers, a popular Ohio band in the early to mid-60s, later formed his own band Salvation & His Army (while studying TV production at UC).  Doug Yeager took the band to France in 1968 where Meyer became a star and protege of Brigitte Bardot.  He's lived in France the past 51 years.  Lee Hay recently spoke by phone with Freddie's longtime friend Doug Yeager about him.

Born without a leg above the knee, Freddie Meyer was the poster child of the company that manufactured artificial limbs in Dayton, Ohio.  While at UC, he helped engineers invent an artificial leg with a hydraulic pump, so he could get out from behind the drums and dance like James Brown.  That artificial leg became the model that everyone in the world would then use.  In Europe, he became known as the "white" James Brown.

Cheryl Renee dropped by WVXU's studio recently to talk about the Women of the Blues benefit concert at the Southgate House Revival on Sunday afternoon, September 29th from 2-6pm. This concert benefits Play It Forward which is a "Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping area musicians in times of critical need."  

Cheryl is a board member of Play It Forward and was asked to produce this concert.  She, along with a number of well-known Cincinnati musicians like Sweet Alice Hoskins and the Spear Shakers, will be performing that afternoon.  During our conversation, Cheryl talked about her musical roots, working out of town, her return to Cincinnati, and details of this benefit concert.

Chicago bluegrass band Cox's Army will pre-release their new album, "New Richmond Town," at the Front Street Cafe in New Richmond, Ohio, on Saturday evening, October 5th at 7pm.  The album's release date is planned for November, 2019.

According to their press release, "Cox's Army is a bluegrass band that performs classic and original material in the traditional style."  The band was founded in 2016 and is led by lead vocal/guitarist Chuck Cox who is a Cincinnati native.

The other band members include Laird Patten on banjo; Jeff Burke, mandolin/baritone vocals; and Jack Campbell, bass/tenor vocal.

Tommy Emmanuel Reschedules Concert

Sep 22, 2019

From press release:

"Tommy Emmanuel is postponing his September 27th concert at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati to March 13, 2020.  Tommy is having a health issue that requires medical attention and rest. Tickets purchased will be honored for the new performance date on Friday, March 13th.

Tommy would like to thank his fans for the love and understanding, and he is truly sorry for any inconvenience. He looks forward to returning to the road soon."

Jorma Kaukonen was also on the bill with Tommy Emmanuel that evening.

Hyperstatic: Witness

Sep 20, 2019

After a 16-year waiting period, there was a good amount of buzz this Summer about the return of Hyperstatic - and rightly so. 

This old-school 3-piece indie-punk band brings everything you could want to the table and more. Sonically they connect with everything from King Crimson to Sonic Youth - and with Sammy McKee on drums, Mike Fair on bass and Brian Hoffman on guitar and vocals, they have the talent to bring it all together.

The release of their new 4-song EP Witness reminds us of why this music just sounds so good.

Michelle Mavrides

Shawn James will be on stage at the Southgate House Revival on Friday night, September 27th.  He recently spoke by phone with Elaine Diehl about his musical career.  James says that he's toured the USA & Europe and that he's put all his belongings in storage while he continues touring. 

The power of his music seems to appeal to folks all over the map...all age groups...no specific demographics.  James said that he's been obsessed with legends since he was a young boy, and they show up in his lyrics.  Orpheus is one of his favorites and opens his new album, "The Dark & the Light."

Shawn James is also excited to return to the Southgate House Revival and play in the room with stained glass windows.  The rest of his tour will be in the Midwest and then moving on to the West Coast.

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