Cincinnati’s Own Playlist

Great music can come from anywhere … even Philadelphia. Here in Cincinnati though, we are inevitable. I say that, tongue and cheek … you get it. Anyway, this is a playlist of artists hailing from Cincinnati. Great artists if you ask me. Most of them I’ve seen live, at one point or another, and I dig their recorded work a great deal also.

This playlist is carefully curated (big ups to myself) and moves on a journey from your car in the garage, to straightforward Rock on the radio to, picking up speed, a little Punk to a flow-state of Hip/Hop and R&B. Hard left turn to Americana and Folk …

Keep going straight to what I might call (overly simplified though it is) “Singer/Songwriter.” Once on the freeway, put down your windows to some Dreamgaze – hypnotism. Indie Pop and 80s synth is the next exit. Once down the off ramp, wave to the folks juking and jiving on the Riverboat. You might, if you listen carefully, hear some carefree, almost Reggae tunes, down on the banks.

Back on the highway, Indie Rock is on the dial and it’s smooth sailing back home. Car back in the garage, comfy clothes on in the living room – and the record player spins some softer stylings.

Take the journey with me! Hear the great sounds coming out of our city! People joke at the quality of our music scene … but those cynics don’t know the treasure lying within the I-275 loop.

If you would like to nominate a band you love, please leave a comment or a message. Cheers!

Wanderers often ponder in the redwoods.
Winter chills the rivers in Alaska.
Bravery ended slavery down the railroad.
Poets write their sonnets about the plains.

Deliver me, Ole’ Liberty’s Pennsylvania.
Take me back to Eden once again.
I can see the city’s bright, white glowing.
We seem to be freedom’s only friend.

A song rang through the pines in Carolina.
I can hear it soft when I close my eyes.
They’re singing country music down in Nashville.
The blue and gold sunset paints the sky.

The artist had a dream called independence
We reaped the fruits from our very soil.
There’s apples in our orchards fresh like water
We work as one and never seem to toil.

Where, but here can you see such beauty,
Oceans foaming, washing on the beach.
The tides are turning, sweeping in a windstorm,
A change is gunna come right at our feet.


We look down the barrel at our neighbor,
Because he landed late and traveled far.
I don’t know why I say the things I’m sayin’
But I say them anyway to raise the bar.

I’m thankful for the folks that serve our country,
Though I wish their leather boots could rest at home.
They make their guns for a boy to carry,
His blood as interest on an open loan.

What to do with our piles of money,
That trickles down to everyone but the poor.
Throw them out and leave them on the doorstep.
Maybe we could use them to fight the war.

We traffic our daughters down the highway
We throw them out when we’ve had our fill.
We’re sick and sad and take it out on children
Untimely truth, a jagged little pill.

God fearing, apple-pie-americans
Claim to love the Lord, a hidden face.
I can see a day through all the hatred
When arm and arm we sing Amazing Grace.

Small Victories and a Solid Night

Making music is vulnerable. Here’s my heart and soul in a song, do you like it? That’s what we’re asking (through misty eyes) when we, as artists, show you our work.

Years ago, I was admitted to a mental hospital for the first time. Got out and was depressed for a solid year. I was suicidal. My stomach was in knots. I wrote a song about the experience a year later. Played it at open mics for 3 years until my fingers bled each time. Got access to a recording studio. Paid two-hundred dollars that I didn’t have to get a decent recording. Put the song on Soundcloud. 10 people heard it. Played it more at open mics over the course of four more years. A total of a hundred people have listened to it.

It’s hard work … but tonight, I felt a little victory.

I haven’t recorded many songs to date, really. I’ve been trying to piece things together and pay for studio time when I have the money or find friends who will work with me for free. Something switched in me, and now I’m trying to get some solid recordings down almost hurriedly. I released a song to Spotify last week and have been showing people and sending it to them.

Tonight, my friend, Caleb and I went to a bar called ‘Three Spirits Tavern’ in Bellevue, Kentucky and grabbed a few drinks. We shot the shit with the bartender and he made us some whiskey mixed drinks. He asked us what we did for work.

I feel nervous when I hear this question because what I’m doing right now isn’t exactly bringing in the cash. Sometimes, I feel like I should lie. And when I do tell the truth, I question if I should call myself a musician – he who doesn’t know all his scales.

“I’m a musician,” I said nervously. He asked what instrument I played and the kind of songs I wrote. “He’s got a song on Spotify,” Caleb said nudging me to speak up.

After some clarification on spelling, my song was playing in this bar over the speakers. We had been listening to solid music from the moment we walked in. Blackstreet, Alanis Morriset, The Verve Pipe all had been playing and when my song came on … it didn’t kill the mood. It kept pace with these great tracks I had grown up with. It was almost as if it belonged.

I was trying to hide my smile when the bartender said, “Play it again,” the moment it ended. I was one Vieux Carre and a beer deep at this point so, I was feeling pretty toasty.

I want to celebrate the victories right along with all the work I’ve put in. I must admit though, it doesn’t feel like work when it’s something I love this much.

Grandpa

He was the junkyard king
Man, he had everything
His friends called em Red
He had a field, a house, a broken down shed

He was plenty tough
He only dealt in rough
His heart was made a glass
But, both his hands were made a the finest brass

He hates old cigars
He sat in rusty cars
He’d burn all his trash
He said that nuthin’ ever seems to last

I thought he hung the moon
He’d sing ole cowboy tunes
He always kept the law
And I’m just glad I got to call him paw

And when I said goodbye
He yelled, “We never die!
Build a hot air balloon!
So I can see you again real soon!”

He was a man a God
Said he was plenty flawed
I don’t believe it though
Cause when’d it ever seem to show?

Loved his wife and kids
He shut his “Old eyelids”
I know he loved me too
Loved me like the grass does love the dew

Then he rode his horse
Into the dusk of course
I want to be like him
So I sat straight down and wrote a hymn

I thought he hung the moon
Whistled ole cowboy tunes
He always kept the law
And I’m just glad he gets to see my mom … again!

Marty

old_martin

I’m gunna string up this old Martin box
Play some slow, steel blues
Wind her up and pick it down
Maybe grab a friend or two

Many a man and mighty gal
Has called ole’ Marty their friend
Made of wood, nice and loud
I’m with her ‘till the end

A boomin’ voice, thick with mud
Though sharp as crystal too
I like to hear her once a night
Tell me, now how bout you?

A pretty shape, a slender neck
She was crafted here in PA
The bluest grass or thundrin’ folk
Is what Marty loves to play

Battered, bruised though plenty tough
She keeps singing through it all
Takes on a man twice her size
Boy that lady’s got some gall!

The sound of hope came tumblin’ down
The mountains to the plains
Ole’ Marty listened to every word
Whispered to the golden grain

Word traveled fast, soon the city heard
A new sweet country sound
They threw their caps, saluted her
Everyone jumpin’ up and down

She’s not much for praise, she’d rather sing
Those freedom songs she heard
Equal pay! And down with hate!
Marty loved every word

Behind every good man, a Martin guitar
Behind every woman too
I play my baby every night
Singin’ bout red, white and blue!