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LETTERS Family Comes First, Miami Jennifer Morris: Oh my. What a disappointment from my alma mater, and kudos to all the men who make the proper choice. Clayton Adams: I have twins, and, trust me, three weeks is very reasonable. I took two weeks off from my job and felt like it wasn’t enough. Tom Groh: He made the right choice... prayers your way this season. Jessica James: Family first! You go Harker!

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Comments posted at Facebook.com/CincinnatiCityBeat in response to Dec. 15 post, “Taking paternity leave after the birth of his twins led the Miami University athletics department to question Paul Harker’s commitment.”






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Mark Stockman: Just a beautiful film. I’ve already seen it twice. Jordan Berman: Star Wars is the only movie that matters this month.





Andy Schneider: Like that’s ever gonna happen. Cincinnati thinks buses are only for poors and won’t pay a dime for increased public transit. No matter the fact that the best cities in the world have incredible public transit options. Andrew Neutzling: Good luck y’all. Cincinnati is perfect for transit.


Comments posted at Facebook.com/CincinnatiCityBeat in response to Dec. 15 post, “The new Shape of Water mixes sci-fi fantasy with the elements of a political thriller.”






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michellemilleratmitchells: @kcoppage @dywolfe I think we need to go to Dope! shilak: @lindseyjeanette OMG just saw this. It sounds amazing!!! Comments posted at Instagram.com/CityBeatCincy in response to Dec. 15 post, “Get some noodles and ’90s nostalgia at Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop.” Photo: @haaailstormm


Read to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire”

Men Are the Worst...

Some might say that men had the worst year ever in 2017, and they fucking deserved it! Movie mogul and noted massage forcer Harvey Weinstein was exposed for his rampant sexual harassment and assaults in what was apparently a gross open secret in Hollywood. (Between Weinstein and the late-summer hurricane, the name Harvey is officially ruined.) The movie exec’s deserved fall gave way to hundreds of high-profile men making headlines for their vile behavior. The growing number of men accused includes (deep breath): actors Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman and T.J. Miller; media figures Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Tavis Smiley, Mark Halperin and Garrison Keillor; current and former athletes Marshall Faulk, Ike Taylor, Heath Evans and Jameis Winston; chefs John Besh, Mario Batali and Johnny Iuzzini; filmmakers James Toback, Brett Ratner and Morgan Spurlock; current and former politicians George H. W. Bush, Roy Moore and Al Franken; TV execs Roy Price and Andrew Kreisberg; famed conductor James Levine; and Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons. Accusations ranged from crude comments to groping to rape, but people are finally starting to learn that there have to be consequences for inappropriate behavior even at the slightest level, particularly when it comes to men in positions of power. Unless you’re the president, I guess.

 … But Pussy Grabs Back

This is Fiona, in case you haven’t heard. P H O T O : hai l e y b o l l ing e r

Fiona to the Rescue

One ray of light in an often bleak year came from the Cincinnati Zoo, home to social media sensation Fiona the hippo. Mama Bibi gave birth six weeks early in January to a teeny, tiny 29-pound girl. That might sound like a giant baby, but because she’s a preemie, she was about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species. When the world needed a hero, Fiona stepped in, growing, thriving and sassing around before our collective eyes. She’s now clocking in at more than 600 pounds and is still as adorable as ever! #BodyPositivity. In the last year, Fiona has inspired a beer, an internet series, books, an engagement and endless merch and became a hero to preemies everywhere! Unfortunately her father, Henry, died on Oct. 31 at 36 years old (living longer than the average hippo). But Fiona remains happy and healthy, living out her days at Hippo Cove (indoors for the winter months) with Bibi and her many adoring fans. Way to bounce back from the Harambe disaster of 2016, Cincinnati Zoo, and give animal lovers in Cincinnati and around the world something we can all love and agree upon!

Nothing but Respect for My President

In a more fabulous alternate universe, I like to think Beyoncé and Jay Z are our

benevolent supreme rulers. And what a year our Queen B had. In February, she broke the internet with a double-whammy announcement: She was pregnant… with twins! She bestowed upon us a conceptual HIGH ART maternity photoshoot complete with big-sis-to-be Blue Ivy. A week later she performed at the Grammys looking like a knocked-up golden goddess and snatched two trophies (ROBBED!) for Lemonade. Bey laid low for a while after that, postponing her Coachella performance to 2018 due to the fact she was growing double humans. It was reported and later confirmed that she will be voicing Nala in Jon Favreau’s live-action Lion King remake and producing the soundtrack, reworking the original tunes with Elton John himself. Meanwhile, Jay dropped 4:44, a confessional album where Mr. Carter got real about being a husband, father and black man in America. He opened up about his infidelity to Beyoncé here and in a subsequent interview, but it now seems like the Fierce First Family is stronger than ever. They welcomed son Sir and daughter Rumi on June 13. Fingers crossed for a family band announcement in 2018.

Cincinnati in the Spotlight

Fiona wasn’t the only story to put Cincy/ Ohio on the map this year. • When Sean Spicer was appointed White House Press Secretary (R.I.P. Jan. 20-July 21, 2017), old photos of him in a Cincinnati-made Easter Bunny suit went viral. • Thrillist published a post titled “Every State’s Grossest Food (That People Actually Love),” in which Ohio is represented by the Cincinnati chili 5-way. In related news, Skyline changed its crackers and the city nearly burned. • Travel + Leisure named the Queen City one of the 50 best places to travel in 2017 late last year and detailed a three-day weekend guide for visitors this spring. • Local entrepreneur Rick Pescovitz made a deal with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban for his Under the Weather pods that shield sports spectators from the elements. • Women dressed like characters from The Handmaid’s Tale crashed the Ohio Senate as legislators made their case for Ohio’s SB 145, which would criminalize abortions in the second trimester. • Butler County native Luke Null, a Lakota East grad and Ohio University alum, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. Contact T.C. Britton: letters@citybeat.com

This Year in Questionable Decisions… The Trump Regime Edition • Trump claimed his scantly attended swearing-in boasted the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. It didn’t. • He tweeted, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” (no context needed) and doubled down on the typo. • He threatened military action against North Korea and referred to Kim Jong-un as “little rocket man” in his UN speech. • He pulled out of the TransPacific Partnership and Paris Agreement. • Trump tweeted a ban (this is something that happens now) on transgender people in the military, citing budget issues despite the fact that the Pentagon spends five times more on Viagra than transgender medical services. • After a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. ended in the death of a peaceful protester, Trump noted that there were “some very fine people on both sides.” • Trump ordered a travel ban on people from Muslim-majority countries, including Syrian refugees. • He picked fights with U.S. allies, athletes, actors and a Gold Star widow. • He constantly discredits legitimate news media while promoting biased outlets and nationalistic propaganda. • He screwed over Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, threatening to pull support and throwing paper towel rolls into crowds during his visit. • He ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), threatening the security of “Dreamers” who immigrated as children. • Finally, he spent most of his time in office golfing in Florida while downing 12 Diet Cokes a day.

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If anything good came out of this year’s oozing of male chauvinism and misconduct, it’s that women rose to the top as people around the world — not just celebrities and public figures — found a platform to share their experiences and support from other survivors and allies. In January, millions participated in women’s marches in Washington D.C., here in Cincinnati and in cities across the globe. The streets ran pink with knit “pussy hats” and arguably the most clever protest signage ever. Women — and people of color — found greater representation in entertainment, thanks in part to major pop culture moments from Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Cardi B, the first female Doctor Who (Jodie Whittaker), Selena Gomez, the women-led Big Little Lies, Girls Trip, The Handmaid’s Tale and Insecure. The 47th annual New York City Marathon had its first American woman winner in 40 years.

Women, LGBTQ people and other minorities saw historical wins in the November election (not to mention black women pretty much single-handedly kept Roy Moore out of office). TIME magazine’s Person of the Year title went to the “Silence Breakers,” the women — and men — who had come forward with stories of sexual assault and harassment. Cheers to the ladies who seized this difficult year and came out stronger.






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thanks to all the fans for a great season!



2017 News Year in Review Local media has never covered so much soccer BY N I C K SWA R T S E L L


f 2016 was a mind-melting year on the national political scene, 2017 has been the year it all got weird and crazy locally. Here are some of the highlights of a very eventful 365 days in the world of Greater Cincinnati politics and social issues.

2017 Local Election — Meet the New Bosses, (Mostly) the Same as the Old Bosses

Beginning this summer, Cranley focused in on Simpson’s move in council asking Children’s Hospital to pitch in more money toward community development in Avondale as it sought city land, zoning changes and other items from the city for a $550 million expansion. Cranley and his supporters likened that ask to

Things could get worse before they get better for Metro. P H O T O : hailey bollin g er

Will FC Cincinnati be awarded a coveted MLS spot? P H O T O : hailey bollin g er

SORTA recently unveiled plans it says could dramatically improve bus service across Cincinnati and Hamilton County. But there’s a cost — and the higher the price, the better the improvement will be, SORTA says. The transit authority’s sales tax levy next year could, under state law, range anywhere from .5 percent to 1 percent. That money would go toward shoring up the region’s struggling Metro bus system. The .5 percent tax — the plan supported by Mayor John Cranley during his reelection bid — would result in bus service staying the same due to coming deficits and looming needs for the system. But with a .6 percent or .8 percent sales tax increase, Metro says it could expand access for people with disabilities, add new crosstown and circulator job access routes, increase the frequency and hours of weekday and weekend service on existing routes — including 24 hour service on major routes

— extend some routes further into the county, and, if voters pony up for the .8 percent increase, even provide some so-called bus rapid transit. Those are routes that mimic light rail with dedicated lanes and fewer stops, speeding up commute times. Metro, which provided 15 million rides last year, has already planned on reductions and restructuring of several routes to save money. Changes to those lesser-used routes are expected to save about $500,000 a year. “Unless we find additional funding, we’re facing significant deficits that could require major service reductions beginning in 2019,” Metro CEO Dwight A. Ferrell said when SORTA released its 2018 budget. “At the same time that we’re working aggressively … to improve service and get people to jobs, funding for our current system is not keeping pace with costs. The old model is broken, both in terms of service delivery and funding.”

FC Cincinnati Pitches to MLS — and to Local Taxpayers

The $200 million plan for a soccer stadium in Oakley funded entirely by FC Cincinnati is out. The team’s request for $75 million in infrastructure help from the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and lower counter-proposals from both governments are in. CONTINUES ON PAGE 08

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After a hard-fought campaign and a bruising mayoral primary defeat, Mayor John Cranley handily won a second term in Cincinnati’s 2017 mayoral election, besting opponent Councilwoman Yvette Simpson with 54 percent of the more than 60,000 votes cast. All Cincinnati City Council members seeking re-election also got the nod from voters, though Mayor John Cranley won re-election. vacancies mean three new faces — Republican P H O T O : nick swartsell Jeff Pastor and Democrats Tamaya Dennard and Greg Landsman — will be a “shakedown” of the hospital and ran taking seats come January. negative mailers and TV ads about the Cranley’s win came from big turnout in issue. Simpson has said she was just trying precincts that also went to the mayor in to find a win-win between the hospital the May mayoral primary. Other preand community groups, who opposed the cincts Simpson won in that contest didn’t expansion as it was planned. lean as hard toward her in the general, We probably haven’t seen the last of including some in places like Pleasant Simpson, who on election night pledged Ridge, College Hill and one representing to stay active and fight for her vision for Clifton that ended up a dead tie. Cincinnati. And of course, those new The mayor’s victory wasn’t assured — faces on council promise to shake things he lost the primary to Simpson by almost up at City Hall. 11 points. But after that defeat, his campaign upped its ground game, fanning Transit Troubles out across the city to knock on doors. The The struggles many Metro riders face campaign also hired a new campaign came briefly into focus during this year’s manager, Chandra Yungbluth. mayoral and city council elections. But as “This comeback city has made me the the campaigns closed up shop and wincomeback kid,” Cranley said at his election ning candidates prepare for swearing in, party downtown at Americano Burger Bar. it’s unclear what solutions are coming for He claimed victory early, with 77 precincts those who depend on Metro. In the meanand more than 10,000 votes still uncounted. time, officials have warned that things Most of those votes were in West Side discould get worse before they get better. tricts that leaned heavily for Cranley in the The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit 2013 election and the primary. Authority, which oversees the city’s buses, What fueled the victory after Cranhas warned of possible major route ley’s primary defeat? In addition to a reductions and fare increases if Metro’s huge monetary advantage — he broke sagging budget isn’t shored up soon. That fundraising records on his way to a $2.3 comes ahead of a ballot initiative next million war chest, compared to Simpson’s year that would ask Hamilton County $600,000 — Cranley’s campaign pressed hard on a few key issues that may have residents to pay for bus service for the swayed more moderate voters. first time in decades.


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multiple sources, including $2.5 million from next year’s city budget, $7 million from existing tax increment financing districts in Oakley, $7.3 million from the city’s 2015 sale of the Blue Ash Airport and proceeds from the city’s portion of the Hamilton County hotel tax up to $1.5 million a year and up to a total of $20 million for as long as 30 years. Hamilton County Commissioners have offered up as much as $15 million for a parking garage, albeit reluctantly. They would have rather seen FCC pursue an MLS bid involving use of Paul Brown Stadium, but the team and the league have demurred, saying MLS must be able to control revenue and scheduling at an expansion team venue.

But the fight over another major stadium in Cincinnati is far from over. Should FC Cincinnati win its bid to Major League Soccer for an expansion franchise — something that seems imminently possible after the team presented to the MLS in early December — a number of issues may need to be decided by the incoming Cincinnati City Council. And there are other unanswered questions. The team could still select a location in the West End instead of Oakley, or even leave the city entirely and cross the river for Newport. And will the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority strike a deal with municipal officials and the team on the stadium? It all remains to be seen. Though council passed the deal by Mayor John Cranley five to three last month, some council members haven’t signaled a lot of willingness to welcome the stadium, and three new council members in the mix mean more uncertainty. “The question to our community, and specifically to Cincinnati’s elected leaders, is whether or not to involve the city Nippert Stadium has been a pretty cool home for FC Cincinnati. and its taxpayers in the PHOTO: hailey bollinger building of a new soccer stadium,” councilman P.G. Sittenfeld wrote in a lengthy statement Ray Tensing Walks Free Nov. 22, citing timing, lack of commuOne of the nation’s most high-profile nity engagement, unanswered questions police shooting cases came to an uneasy about the deal and other concerns as conclusion in 2017, two years after a white reasons for his opposition. “The goal is University of Cincinnati Police officer shot great. The timing, lack of due diligence, an unarmed black man in Mount Auburn. specific financing arrangement, and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters location are, at minimum, questionable, announced July 18 that his office would and, at worst, wrong.” not seek a third trial for former UCPD There are also bigger questions oppoofficer Ray Tensing in the shooting death nents of the deal are asking. Is the public of motorist Sam DuBose. money spent on infrastructure for the The announcement came during conprivate project worth it? Cranley says the tinued scrutiny around racially charged stadium will spur the local economy, and police-involved shootings across the boosters say another major league sports country, and just a day before the second team would be a huge boon to the region. anniversary of DuBose’s death during a “I’m willing to promise that thousands of traffic stop. jobs will follow this public infrastructure Tensing says he feared for his life and when completed,” Cranley said at a Nov. 17 was dragged by DuBose’s car during that news conference. “FCC is part of our city’s stop. Footage from his body camera does renaissance, and it’s an amazing oppornot appear to show he was dragged, but tunity to expand this big-league city from two juries could not reach a verdict in the two major professional franchises to three case. One jury deadlocked on the murder — the Reds, the Bengals and FCC.” and manslaughter charges in November But experts disagree on the economic last year, another this June. impacts of sports stadiums, and it’s worth Deters said his opinion of the case — considering that FCC’s owners, who stand that Tensing murdered DuBose — hadn’t to benefit from the public spending, are big changed, but that he doesn’t believe he donors to local political campaigns. can win a conviction. Cranley dealt the last of the major cards “After vigorously prosecuting Ray left to be played in the ongoing stadium Tensing twice, speaking to some of the drama when he proposed $36.8 million in jurors and consulting with my assistant spending on infrastructure around the staprosecutors, I do not believe there is a dium site to support FC Cincinnati’s plan for a 21,000-seat stadium on the former likelihood of success at trial,” Deters said CastFab site near Oakley Station. in a statement. Cranley wants to pull the money from “I don’t like it,” Deters said during a

Audrey DuBose, mother of Sam DuBose P H O T O : N i c k s w a r ts e l l

percentage of black drivers than other UCPD officers — would not be admitted into the second trial. Mallory also called for the firing of UCPD officers Philip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt, who originally corroborated Tensing’s story before admitting they didn’t see him being dragged, as well as Cincinnati Police Sgt. Shannon Heine, the lead investigator in the killing. Prosecutors raised questions about Heine’s gentle treatment of Tensing Prosecutor Joe Deters decided against a third Tensing trial. during initial questioning PHOTO: hailey bollinger about the shooting. An hour after Deters’ news conference announcing his decision, news conference, U.S. “but two juries haven’t been swayed.” Attorney Benjamin Glassman announced DuBose’s family said they are devasthat the Southern District of Ohio U.S. tated by the prosecutor’s choice. “We’ve Attorney’s office will investigate DuBose’s got to stand up and say ‘enough is enough,’” shooting for possible federal civil rights said Audrey DuBose, Sam DuBose’s violations. mother, immediately after the announceTensing’s attorney told local media that ment. “Our people are not just going to die he doesn’t believe anything will come of by the hands of cops or anyone else. Our the federal inquiry. UCPD fired Tensing system doesn’t give a black man a chance.” shortly after he shot DuBose. Racial justice activists also expressed Police Reforms — Refreshing anger. “What does this say to us? What does this say to our children?” activist or Regressing? Iris Roley asked after the decision was Cincinnati in 2017 launched a refresh of its announced. Roley was instrumental in historic Collaborative Agreement, which Cincinnati’s 2003 Collaborative Agreement, was put into place with oversight from which came after the April 2001 shooting the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002 of unarmed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. following the police shooting death of an Cincinnati NAACP Vice President Joe unarmed black 19-year-old and subseMallory decried the decision and laid heavy quent civil unrest in the city. blame on Hamilton County Common Pleas The refresh effort, long pushed by activCourt Judge Leslie Ghiz, who ruled that ists and officially launched by the city in certain evidence — a T-shirt Tensing was January, started with much fanfare. But the wearing under his uniform that featured process has been shadowed by tensions a Confederate flag, and statistics showbetween the city, activists and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69 President Dan Hils. ing Tensing pulled over a much higher

Advocates who were part of the original Collaborative say it has brought positive change but also point to deep and remaining distrust and disparities — reasons they’ve called for a refresh in the first place. It will take efforts beyond policing to address community problems and fulfill the promises of the original agreement, they believe. Central to the refresh effort is a taskforce headed by Saul Green, an attorney whom federal courts tapped to monitor the original Collaborative Agreement in 2002. He and others, including University of Cincinnati criminal justice professor John Eck, will produce a report detailing the efficacy of the agreement thus far and making recommendations for further reforms. Among the focuses of the effort: ramping up community engagement with the Citizens Complaint Authority. The CCA was created by the Collaborative to give citizens an independent place to lodge complaints about police misconduct. But it has struggled with funding woes and leadership changes in the recent past. So far, so good. But cracks in the coalition of groups working on refreshing the collaborative started this summer with testimony from Cincinnati Police detective Shannon Heine during the trial of former UCPD officer Ray Tensing. Prosecutors trying Tensing were critical of Heine, asserting that she went easy on Tensing and wasn’t as aggressive as she could have been during questioning following Tensing’s shooting of unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose. Activists also criticized the CPD detective,

angering police union president Hils. That rift spilled over into the Collaborative refresh, with the FOP voting to leave the effort this summer. Eventually, members of the police union voted to return to the table, but more drama was just around the corner. In October, Hils requested a restraining order that would delay testimony of two CPD officers before the CCA while a man who accused the officers of racial profiling and excessive use of force underwent a criminal trial for assaulting the officers. That prompted an angry late-night phone call to Hils from Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black, who said the police union was inappropriately intervening in the city’s police accountability processes. Following Hils’ moves seeking to delay testimony from the officers, the Sentinels, an association representing the city’s black police officers, made a unanimous vote of no confidence in Hils. This month, experts interviewed by The Cincinnati Enquirer said that the body camera footage from the officers in question likely violated the department’s policy on Taser use during the incident the CCA was investigating. The ongoing tensions around the CCA both illustrate the importance of police reforms and present difficulties for city officials and activists looking to update them. Expect this conflict to extend into 2018.

Find Morning news and Ongoing coverage AT citybeat.com/NEWS

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THE YEAR in Photos PH OTO S by h a i l e y bo l l i n g er

View of Music Hall from Prospect Hill

Roasted Tomatillo Bloody Mary at Maplewood

Shadeau Breads founder Bill Pritz

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Stingray at the Newport Aquarium

10 The Swing House

let’s start this day again at the CAC

Cocktails at Sundry and Vice

Seasonal fish dish at Commonwealth Bistro

Kathy Y. Wilson in her East Walnut Hills home

Cheese and meat board at Pleasant Ridge’s Share: Cheesebar

Land steward Adrienne Cassel’s tiny house on the Arc of Appalachia’s Kamama Prairie

Dressed to Kill at the Cincinnati Art Museum

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Northside Fourth of July parade

11 Musician Phillip Eugene Smith aka Eugenius


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Good Luck Grub Start 2018 with some edible superstition. Whether you’re nursing a hangover on New Year’s Day or starting your year off bright and chipper, before you decide what to eat (greasy spoon goetta or good-for-you granola?), think about adding one of these ingredients. According to assorted cultures, these foods are said to bring about good luck, good fortune and prosperity in the new year. Grapes – In Spanish tradition, you’re supposed to eat 12 grapes (preferably green) at midnight, one with each strike of the clock in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square (kind of like Times Square). If you don’t want to fit 12 grapes in your purse to bring to the bar, champagne is technically made of grapes. You could take 12 sips at midnight? If you’re that committed to grapes. Pork – Sorry, piggies. A pig symbolizes progress and prosperity because they move their snouts forward, not backward, when rooting for food and they’re fat. Eat some pork on New Year’s Day accompanied by another lucky food: blackeyed peas. In the South, they eat Hoppin’ John (pork, blackeyed peas, rice). Eating the leftovers the next day shows your frugality and increases your chances of making $$$.


Black-Eyed Peas – Like greens, black-eyed peas also look like money — coins to be exact — and they swell when you cook ’em, so eating them is supposed to expand your wealth. Other types of legumes are eaten across the world for similar coin-looking reasons. In Italy, they serve cotechino con lenticchie (lentils and pork sausage) at midnight.


ONSTAGE: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert It’s the 15th anniversary of the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the boy wizard is getting the full Cincinnati Pops treatment with this screening and concert. Watch the film play in high definition above the stage as the Pops perform John Williams’ score live. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday. $25-$105. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org. — MAIJA ZUMMO

Pomegranates – In Greece, they smash a pomegranate after midnight on New Year’s Eve and the more seeds that spill out, the more luck you’ll receive. Fish – Many European cultures prepare fish to eat on New Year’s Eve. Fish scales are silver, like money, and fish swim forward to symbolize progress. Some superstitious eaters even keep fish scales in their wallets for the next 12 months to continue to elicit wealth.

countdown complete with top hat art-making activities, firework painting, sparkling grape juice and a dramatic balloon drop at 11 a.m. — just a few days before the main event. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday. $5; free members. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org. — MARIA SEDA-REEDER

Ongoing Shows book has drawn considerable attention, garnering praise from The New Yorker, which called Harris “a charismatic critic whose prose boasts an appealing, sullen machismo,” and Vogue, which urged that Making Rent in Bed-Stuy “should be required reading for every single young person living in a gentrifying neighborhood.” 7 p.m. Thursday. Free. Chase Public, 1569 Chase Ave., Northside, facebook. com/chasepublic. — JASON GARGANO EVENT: Puzzle Crawl For “nerds who like to drink and drunks who like to think.” This monthly event combines a pub crawl, escape room challenge and competition. Once you register, you’ll get the location of the rendezvous point for the crawl and then go on your merry way with your teammates, solving clues to get to your next

ONSTAGE: Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, OTR (through Dec. 31) VISUAL ART An Antique Christmas Taft Museum of Art, Downtown (through Jan. 7) Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion Cincinnati Art Museum, Mount Adams (through Jan. 7)

location. December’s Puzzle Crawl is a murder mystery. When Frosty the Snowman turns up dead, Santa’s reindeer seem to be the prime suspects. Discover the true killer and get a $500 prize package. 6:30 p.m. Thursday. $25. Location revealed upon registration via puzzlecrawl. com. — MAIJA ZUMMO


COMEDY: Drew Lynch Born in Indiana and raised in Las Vegas, Drew Lynch is probably best known for his appearance on America’s Got Talent in 2015 as well as his popular YouTube channel. With hopes of becoming an actor, Lynch’s career took an unexpected turn when, during a softball game, he took a line drive to his throat. He suffered damage to his vocal chords and a concussion. He awoke the next day with a stutter, so he turned to stand-up as a way to shed light on the challenges of going through life with a speech impediment. Special New Year’s Eve shows include a dinner package and champagne toast. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday; 7 and 9:45 p.m. Sunday. $15-$17 ThursdaySaturday. Sunday shows: CONTINUES ON PAGE 14


LIT: Brandon Harris Filmmaker, writer and Cincinnati native Brandon Harris comes home this week to read from and discuss Making Rent in Bed-Stuy: A Memoir of Trying to Make It in New York City, which was published by Amistad in June. As its title would suggest, Harris’ memoir tells the story of his move from the Cincinnati suburb of Kennedy Heights to his post-college settling in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The

Smash dat pomegranate!


NYE: Thursday Art Play: Happy (Almost) New Year! Kid-friendly New Year’s parties are tough to come by, even if you could keep your little ones awake that late. So the Contemporary Arts Center’s UnMuseum will host an early child-centric

Soba Noodles – Long soba noodles symbolize long life and good luck. And in Japan, the noodles must be eaten without breaking or shortening them (so don’t chew). Whether you slurp your soba on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, just don’t eat it at midnight. If you do, these hard-to-break noodles won’t let you break free from last year’s problems.

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ONSTAGE: The Dancing Princesses Tango? Cha-cha? Waltz? It doesn’t really matter to five spunky princesses — they’re up for it regardless. But their shoes aren’t doing so well, worn to tatters by their nightly escapes to a secret world of music and dance. The girls’ story is told with sprightly music by composer David Kisor and amusing dialogue by playwright Joe McDonough. If kids near you have wearied of their Christmas presents, round them up and head to Overthe-Rhine for this entertaining musical fairy tale. By the way, there’s plenty of humor for the grown-ups. Through Saturday. $60-$62 adult; $31 student; $27 child. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-theRhine, ensemblecincinnati. org. — RICK PENDER

Cabbage – Cabbage is green, like money, so eating cabbage in the New Year means you are willing wealth your way. The more you eat, the larger your fortune. Cabbage can be substituted with any kind of general green veg: kale, collards and even sauerkraut. In Germany, they eat sauerkraut on New Year’s Eve and wish each other as many blessings as there are shreds of cabbage in the kraut.



$35-$65 for 7 p.m.; $55 for 9:45 p.m. Liberty Funny Bone, 7518 Bales St., Liberty Township, liberty.funnybone. com. — P.F. WILSON


HOLIDAY: Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival Wind down from family holiday parties the weekend after Christmas with the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival, which has served up spirit since 1939. Rooted in tradition — dating back to when the boar was a menace to the forest and its people — the beast was hunted and served at Roman feasts. After pagan beliefs fell wayside to Christianity, the customs still remained; the boar came to represent the triumph of Christ over sin. Celebrate like it’s 1607 in Oxford, England. A cast of locals dressed as lords, ladies and knights will tell the story of the nativity to a soundtrack of carols and trumpets. Tickets were distributed in early December, but call for more info. 5 p.m.

27 Years of Live Stand-Up Comedy in Cincinnati!

Show Times

Wed / Thur / Sun 8:00 - 18+ Friday 7:30 & 10:00 - 18+ Saturday 7:30 & 10:00 - 21+ Mike Lebovitz

Geoff Tate



Januar y 4 - 7


NYE: New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Party like it’s 1923. Dress like a flapper, don a fedora and indulge in an evening of martinis, sidecars and Jazz. There will be a swinging live band, backroom gaming, appetizers from the likes of Bakersfield, Kaze and Che, and a champagne toast at midnight. The Nancy P. Trio will perform downstairs with remixes upstairs from DJ Aaron Glorious. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $40; $50 door (if available). Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, citybeat. com. — MAIJA ZUMMO NYE: Night at the Museum Head to the Contemporary Arts Center for an afterhours dance party featuring three DJs on three different floors. Tickets include a top-shelf open bar, party favors, a champagne toast

at midnight and options to upgrade to VIP for early admission and dessert from Buzzed Bull Creamery. 10 p.m.-2 a.m. $100; $150 VIP. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org. — MAIJA ZUMMO NYE: Glitter & Glam: An NYE Drag Spectacular 21c hosts an evening of “high heels and high hopes” for the New Year. The party includes three drag shows, hosted by Jessica Dimon, plus a photobooth, dancing, light bites and drinks from Metropole. A portion of proceeds benefits Caracole. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $35. 21c Museum Hotel, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, facebook. com/21ccincinnati. — MAIJA ZUMMO NYE: NYE at Netherland Plaza The hotel recreates its grand opening in 1931 with a Great Gatsby-style party featuring a buffet feast, sparkling wine centerpiece, music by the Queen City Serenaders and a DJ. There will be a midnight champagne toast and balloon drop with a live stream


MUSIC: Murder By Death While the rootsy elements of Murder By Death have garnered the band the “Americana” tag, that term (or any other one-word pigeonhole) does a disservice to the group’s expansive creativity. The “Roots” or “Folk” descriptions are also a shame because it likely scares off a large chunk of music lovers who’d otherwise love the band. Not that the sonic unpredictability has hurt its draw — the quintet has amassed a large and loyal following with consistent touring ventures. Though they have been defying expectations for 15 years now, Murder By Death’s hardto-classify sound reached its pinnacle on 2015’s magnificently diverse Big Dark Love. The band might use a lot of the same instruments as your favorite (or least favorite) Folk revival band, but the musicians’ arrangement skills and ability to combine those instruments (and other tools) in new and exciting ways has made them one of the more intriguing Modern Rock acts of the past decade-plus. Equally unclassifiable Cincinnati duo Lung opens the local tour stop. 9 p.m. Saturday. $20; $25 day-of show. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com. — MIKE BREEN

Just 15 minutes from downtown in Mongtomery! 3 Pool Tables • Large Patio


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December 28 - 30

Saturday; 2:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., 513-621-1817, cincinnaticathedral.com. — MACKENZIE MANLEY

Next Door to Go Bananas

Cheap Drinks Fridays - DJ Diamond Saturdays - Live Band



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P H O T O : G R E G W H I TA K E R / / C O U R T E S Y O F B L O O D S H O T R E C O R D S

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sunday 31

NYE: Happy Zoo Year Ring in the new year surrounded by actual party animals at the Cincinnati Zoo’s annual bash. First, take in the twinkling Festival of Lights before the holiday season winds down, then gab with Madcap Puppets and Father Time. Grab some warm grub — the zoo will be offering up everything from funnel cakes to LaRosa’s pizza to roasted almonds. End the night with an early countdown (at 8:55 p.m.) and a Rozzi’s fireworks display as dazzling as Fiona the Hippo is adorable. Here’s to 2018, may you treat us well. Please. 5-9 p.m. Sunday. $17 adults; $12 kids. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org. — MACKENZIE MANLEY

from Times Square, plus a late-night dessert presentation. Dress in your best Art Deco outfit — there will be awards for the best-dressed couple. 7 p.m.-1:30 a.m. $150. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, bit.ly/2D768PC. — MAIJA ZUMMO

NYE: New Year’s Eve at Rhinegeist The brewery is transforming the taproom into a cozy space overflowing with food and drink. There will be short-order snacks from Sartre OTR and music from

NYE: I Put a Spell on You Join John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Pops for a bewitching entrée into 2018. The I Put a Spell on You program features the Jazz stylings of vocalist Morgan James of Postmodern Jukebox singing songs like “The Look of Love,” “Feelin’ Good” and “Mambo Italiano.” It’s a sophisticated evening with music and cocktails. 8 p.m. $25-$115. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org. — MAIJA ZUMMO NYE: Lure: A New Year’s Eve Masquerade An evening of “enigma, elegance and excitement.” Grab a mask and dress to impress (a limited number of masks

will be available upon entry) for a dance party with music by DJs Prymtime, Blaze, HD and Bandcamp. General admission includes entry and a complimentary drink ticket. Upgrade to VIP for an open bar, premium seating and a catered buffet. Cash bar available. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. $60; $100 VIP. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-theRhine, memorialhallotr.com. — MAIJA ZUMMO NYE: New Year’s Eve Blast at Fountain Square Head to the square to ring in the New Year with thousands of Cincinnatians eager for some free fun. There will be goofy games every half hour, with dancing, live music and a countdown featuring Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks at midnight. The square will be surrounded by food and drink vendors and the ice rink is open until 1 a.m. (with standard admission). 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Free admission; $6 skate admission; $4 skate rental. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com. — MAIJA ZUMMO

YOUR WEEKEND TO DO LIST: Local.citybeat.com

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NYE: Black Light Ball Urban Artifact hosts a Black Light Ball featuring wild colors and black lights in the upstairs Sanctuary, which will be transformed into a glowing wonderland. Wear your best neon and glowfriendly wardrobe. There will be performances from DJ Bit Flip, plus Urban Artifact beer, wine, cocktails and a midnight champagne toast. Open bar tickets get you access to upstairs, downstairs and alcohol. 8 p.m. $65; $15 designated driver. Urban Artifact, 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, artifactbeer.com. — MAIJA ZUMMO

DJ Matt Joy (in the taproom) and Jess Lamb and The Factory (in the event space). The brewery will also be outfitted with new lounge seating and a photobooth. Count down to midnight with a balloon drop. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $20 presale; $25 day-of (if available). Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, bit.ly/2niQ7Cu. — MAIJA ZUMMO



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The Best Visual Art of 2017 Fine work in museums, galleries and on the streets BY S T E V EN R O S EN


Joe Girandola’s and Matt Lynch’s “Endless Commerce” was a BLINK towering achievement. PHOTO: SHENG YIN

Nina Katchadourian’s “Under Pressure” PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND C AT H A R I N E C L A R K G A L L E R Y

A Ugo Rondinone clown sculpture at Contemporary Arts Center PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER


Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, as part of the Kim Paice-curated Animal Magnetism show. Wave Pool also was the first venue to feature Still They Persist, FemFour’s collection of protest art from this year’s historic women’s marches. And another evocative show there was Kate Cunningham’s Utopia Remains, photographs of present-day sites of former communal communities. Its title is literally descriptive of the images, but also implies that the hope of the utopian lifestyle remains alive. At the Carl Solway Gallery in the West End, a show that gallery director


umbrellas and PET plastic. I thought of Méret Oppenheim’s famous fur-trimmed cup and saucer — you could actively use (wear) it, I guess, but wouldn’t you rather just admire its audacious beauty? Transforming Fashion is up through Jan. 7. At the Taft Museum’s Bijoux Parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris, I really liked the electric skull stickpin, from approximately 1870 and made from enamel over gold with diamonds. The artisans Gustave Trouvé and AugusteGermain Cadet-Picard had outfitted it with a miniature battery that, activated via a wire, made the jaw chatter. (It wasn’t operable, alas, but you could imagine it.) Beyond the major museums, the Weston Art Gallery, a downtown nonprofit exhibition space, launched Sanctuary: Kathy Y. Wilson Living in a Colored Museum. For the exhibit, curator Emily Buddendeck moved portions of the material in Wilson’s museum-like apartment into the gallery. A large part of Wilson’s collection deals with objects related to the portrayal of AfricanAmericans throughout our country’s racist history. Viewing these items will be a learning experience for many visitors, but one that’s infused with the liveliness, wit and engaging personality of writer Wilson, a longtime CityBeat contributor. It’s on display through Jan. 28. Another nonprofit space, Camp Washington’s Wave Pool, showed the solemnly beautiful short fi lm Apotome, by Jennifer

Michael Solway had long been working on, Pioneers of Psychedelic Art: Isaac Abrams, Ira Cohen, Tony Martin and USCO (curated by Carlo McCormick), came to fruition and exceeded expectations. These artists have lately started to be rediscovered for their work internationally, and Solway’s show helped that process. And in USCO’s Gerd Stern, the exhibit had a personality worthy of a fi lm. There was also a photography show focusing on Cincinnati history that I found especially memorable — Finding Kenyon Barr, which exhibited some enlarged archival Cincinnati Museum Center photos documenting an area of the West End before it was destroyed for I-75 construction. Finally, one artwork not to be missed is on the second floor of the 21c Museum Hotel, part of the current The Future is Female exhibit. A two-channel piece on phone-sized monitors, Nina Katchadourian lip syncs (you can hear it with attached headphones) to the David Bowie/ Queen classic “Under Pressure.” Wearing different head covers, she looks like two different people in duet — her emotive facial expressions seem different, too. It’s completely enticing and convincing, but then you notice something weird around her neck on the right screen. Could it be a crumpled toilet-seat cover? It turns out she fi lmed this in the lavatory of an airplane, part of her ongoing Seat Assignment series. Suddenly, the song title takes on extra meaning. I am in awe of anyone who can make art out of a plane ride — especially one that captures the inherit anxiety of such travel in such an original way. Her “Under Pressure” might have been made in 2014, but it gets my vote for Cover Version of the Year.

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n looking at the most successful art exhibits/events of 2017, the natural place to start is BLINK, the four-day festival that was held downtown and in Over-the-Rhine during October. As someone noted on social media, this new event — featuring projection-mapping displays as well as murals and interactive and stationary art exhibits — managed to be both family-friendly and appealing to urban hipsters. Among its other accomplishments, BLINK gave us some reference points for evaluating the growing field of projection mapping: it seems to work best when it can bring a mural’s painted elements or a building’s architectural elements to life in a new and transformative way rather than by using those surfaces solely as backdrops. To that end, the standout for me was Lightborne’s futuristic reimagining of the Contemporary Arts Center, but there was worthy competition. The BLINK artwork that was most memorable for me was comparably low-tech, although it was a marvel of construction. Joe Girandola and Matt Lynch constructed “Endless Commerce” by piling (and securing) milk crates into a 70-foothigh tower on a vacant space along the appropriately named Pleasant Street near Liberty Street. At night, 30-watt LED bulbs inside each crate illuminated the tower. With the artists, friends and visitors relaxing in the lot at night, the space felt like an intimate backyard get-together with the best party lights ever. The artists conceived the installation in tribute to Constantin Brancusi’s 1918 “Endless Column,” one of the 20th century’s most important public sculptures. They’d like to see theirs have a permanent home somewhere in Cincinnati — what a great public sculpture that would be! Moving indoors for a look at our major museums, the Contemporary Arts Center caught the zeitgeist with its summer presentation of Ugo Rondinone’s let’s start this day again exhibit, in which life-size clown sculptures posed within a gallery to emphasize their introspection and melancholy. People seemed to respond to this deeply and contemplatively. Another CAC show that was one of my 2017 favorites is up through April 22, 2018 — Los Angeles artist Glenn Kaino’s A Shout Within a Storm. The titular piece — golden arrows suspended in air, narrowing to a cone-like point — is strongly metaphoric. At the Cincinnati Art Museum’s exhilarating Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion show, the very contemporary Dutch designer created clothing out of such materials as the spines of children’s


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Renovated Halls Proved Successful BY ANNE AREN S T EIN

Architectural renovation played a major Center’s intimate Fifth Third Bank Theater. role in determining my top 2017 Classical Five years after its acclaimed New York music events. Renovated spaces showed premiere, Missy Mazzoli’s opera Song off their new acoustic chops with resoundFrom the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths ing success, rendering great performances of Isabelle Eberhardt proved to be worth even more memorable. waiting for. It was another example of The year also marked the emergence of Cincinnati Opera’s commitment to new exciting Classical groups bringing to town works, this time in collaboration with new and rarely heard works often performed concert:nova, whose members were in the by supremely gifted young performers. pit and led by CSO associate conductor In no particular order, I’ll start with Keitaro Harada. I’ve been following Mazthe great miracle that happened on the zoli’s music for years and this score was a evening of Oct. 6. The much-anticipated breakthrough for her. reopening of Music Hall occurred on The production designed for Cincinnati schedule, after a nearly two-year renovaOpera eliminated the original video projection that included a superb acoustic upgrade. New fixtures sparkle, there’s easier access to the upper floors and more bathrooms and concession areas. Thanks to three platforms on hydraulic lifts, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is situated in the hall itself, in front of the proscenium arch. There is an actual sense of intimacy, with nearly 1,000 fewer seats and those remaining now wider with more legroom. The sound is glorious. Opening night deserved a Music Hall reopened in October to sterling reviews. better program than the PHOTO: hailey bollinger lackluster assemblage that showed off the acoustic improvements but had little sense of occations but I didn’t miss them. The undisputed sion. The real sonic triumph came two star was the brilliant Abigail Fischer, as weeks later, with a staged performance of Eberhardt. She embodied her character’s Claude Debussy’s Symbolist opera Pelléas restless spirit with a lush, plangent mezzoet Mélisande. Maestro Louis Langrée led a soprano incorporating every emotion from brilliant performance of Debussy’s hauntanticipation to resigned acceptance. ing, sensuous score. And director/designer Another 2017 highlight was the CincinJames Darrah came through with an nati Song Initiative, one of the city’s most inventive staging that allowed the singers to intriguing new Classical groups, now in literally surround the orchestra. its second season. It explores Art Songs in Memorial Hall reopened late last year, thematic concerts that are one-offs or part but 2017 saw a full range of Classical presenof a larger series. In September, the Initiatations — including one of my top choices. tive presented works by Les Six, a group With improved seats, an intimate space and of French composers working in the early state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, 20th century. it’s now one of the most sought-after venues The setting, Willis Music in Kenwood, for chamber music. The acclaimed Danish has a wonderfully intimate performance String Quartet’s long-awaited appearance space that was perfect for songs that in October demonstrated just how perfect expressed love, anguish and the bitterness Memorial Hall was for these musicians. of war. The young singers and accompa(One of the violinists, Rune Tonsgaard nists are University of Cincinnati CollegeSørensen, expressed the group’s admiration Conservatory of Music alumni with for the hall’s acoustics.) promising careers, especially baritone Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C# Simon Barrad, who’s becoming a fixture minor, Opus 131, was a tour de force. I’ve on the local scene. simply never heard a better performance Improved acoustics, more intimate venof this extraordinary work. The group ues and new groups promise more exciting appeared to play as a single organism, offerings in 2018, which means the number playing each of the seven movements with of choice top Classical performances and a sense of intimacy and clarity, concluding events may grow. I can’t wait. with fierce determination. Contact Anne Arenstein: letters@ My third choice for year’s best took place citybeat.com in the non-renovated space of the Aronoff


Fresh Starts and Great Stories: 2017 Theater BY RI C K PE N D ER

Billy Chace a chance to channel his oftenmanic comic energy into a very serious role. A sterling production of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 masterpiece, A Raisin in the Sun (March-April), featured an impressive array of Cincinnati’s African-American theater talent. In October, the company staged an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Steven Dietz at the same time that his play This Random World was onstage at ETC. Other local theaters presented many fine productions during 2017. The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park began the year

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company opened its new Otto M. Budig Theater in Over-the-Rhine. P H O T O : h a i l e y boll i n g e r

Nick Rose (right) as Prospero with Geoffrey Warren Barnes II in Cincy Shakes’ The Tempest P H O T O : m i k k i s ch a f f n e r photo g r a ph y

with a polished and highly entertaining staging of the campy musical Little Shop of Horrors (January-February), featuring Nick Cearley as Seymour. And there were two worthwhile Shelterhouse productions in the first half of the year — Summerland (February-March), Arlitia Jones’ play about spirit photography, and At Wit’s End (MayJune), a season-ending one-woman show about folksy newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck. The latter proved immensely popular and was extended well beyond its intended four-week run. This fall’s production of Daniel Beaty’s one-actor show, Mr. Joy (September-October), had a powerful performance by Debra Walton. The New York-based actor (who trained at the University of Cincinnati) convincingly portrayed nine distinct characters. And The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (October-November) used creative staging and sensitive acting to tell the story of an unusual boy on the autism spectrum. Broadway in Cincinnati brought several audience-pleasing touring productions to the Aronoff Center. Something Rotten

Center with a fine staging of The Miracle Worker (September), the play about Helen Keller being brought out of the isolation of blindness and deafness by a devoted teacher. At Price Hill’s Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, CLP staged a delightful production of The Drowsy Chaperone (August), a show with a sweet narrator who waxes nostalgic about musicals from bygone days. Van Ackerman winningly reprised the role he Nick LaMedica in the Playhouse’s outstanding Curious Incident played admirably a few P H O T O : m i k k i s ch a f f n e r photo g r a ph y years earlier with Cincinnati Music Theatre. (February-March), a Shakespeare-inspired One of the finest musical comedy, was the favorite of many productions I saw during 2017 wasn’t here theatergoers. In May, Beautiful: The in Cincinnati: Actors Theatre of Louisville Carole King Musical had people humproduced a magnificent staging of Tony ming hits from the ’50s and ’60s. Wicked Kushner’s sprawling, Pulitzer Prize-winreturned with a five-week run in Septemning work, Angels in America, Parts I and ber for its fifth iteration locally, and kids II (September-October). Perhaps the greatinjected a lot of energy into the producest theatrical work of the late 20th century, tions of Finding Neverland (November) this production — totaling seven hours of and A Christmas Story (December). riveting theater — was memorable in every Know Theatre presented another sucaspect, including acting, design and musicessful Cincinnati Fringe Festival in June. cal accompaniment. A much-admired LonBut it also offered varied works including don production of Angels in America comes Dragon Play (January-February), a fanciful to Broadway next spring and is eagerly fable about unrequited love, and The Arsonawaited , but having seen the Louisville ists (September-October), a searing drama staging, I don’t feel the necessity to head to about a father-daughter team who set fires New York City. This one was that good. and were bonded, even after his death. Contact Rick Pender: rpender@ Cincinnati Landmark Productions citybeat.com offered sturdy work at the Covedale

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This was a big year for theater locally, what with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s new Otto M. Budig Theater coming to life in September and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati reopening after some major renovation and expansion in October. While quite distinct, both venues — just two blocks apart — are beautiful and well suited to the essence of each theater company. Cincy Shakes’ space is sleek and stylish and the auditorium features excellent proximity for audiences; there are just six rows of seats plus a single set of seats on the front edge of the balcony so that all theatergoers are within 20 feet of the stage. ETC’s auditorium has been spruced up (new seats and easier access), but the Vine Street facility’s expansion also offers several versatile spaces for varied programming while preserving historic details and paying heed to views of the neighborhood. Both companies have done great work over the years with less than perfect facilities; now they have homes to match their aspirations. ETC did some fine work during 2017, earning several Critic’s Picks from CityBeat, including a pair of shows by playwright Steven Dietz: Bloomsday and This Random World. His work especially resonates with Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers’ affection for shows with emotional depth and contemporary relevance. Dietz is the most frequently produced playwright at ETC, which specializes in premiering works that are new to local audiences. His script Bloomsday is set in Dublin, inspired by James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses. The story of an interrupted love affair perhaps coming back to life closed the theater in April before renovations began. To reopen in October, Meyers picked another Dietz show, This Random World, a poignant story of missed connections. Both productions were impeccably staged and both featured noteworthy performances by theater veteran Annie Fitzpatrick. In Bloomsday, she was the latter-day object of possible romance; in This Random World, she played a secretive matriarch with health issues in a role considerably older than Fitzpatrick’s actual age. ETC’s other standout production during 2017 was an entertaining musical, First Date (January), a humorous look at the ups and downs of finding love in today’s world. Cincy Shakes concluded its tenure at a one-time Race Street movie theater with a beautiful rendition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (April-May). It was a show full of magic, monsters and sweet farewells. It featured one of the company’s co-founders, Nick Rose, as the magician Prospero. To open its Over-the-Rhine theater, Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips staged a jaunty A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a big cast using all the bells and whistles (including flying) built into the new facility. Earlier in 2017 at Race Street, the company’s fine performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III (February-March) gave actor


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My Cinematic Mixtape: Best Films of 2017 BY T T S T ER N - EN ZI

As a critic closing in on my second Shadow of the Vampire in 2001 scream and decade in the game, film forms the shout across all these years. Well, maybe soundtrack and the visual framework for the Academy will end up giving him one my life. I perceive the world in snippets for his soulfully humanistic turn in Baker’s and samples of the moving narratives wrong-side-of-the-tracks fable about the of filmmakers, and part of living critical disaffected lurking in the shadow of Disney means being able to remix the impossibly World. He and Baker give voice to people human reflections, Altman-like fragwho deserve to be heard. ments of dialogue and outsized frames of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Misreference into an ordered sequence of hits souri (Martin McDonagh, director) – We documenting my ever-changing moods are conditioned to accept rage in movies over the course of a year that has, to put it taking form via outside monstrosities like mildly, been like no other. These are my hulking heroes or hungry flesh eaters, but cinematic beats, chopped and screwed, isn’t it about time we recognize this fierce much like 2017. Mudbound (Dee Rees, director) – Mudbound, which primarily has been released so far via Netflix’s streaming platform rather than in theaters, will always feel like the perfect film-festival jam: the film you spend the whole fest searching for because it gives the experience new meaning. I went into the Toronto International Film Festival weighted down by the late-summer events in Charlottesville, Va. and the desire for film to offer some relief. Mudbound Jason Mitchell (left) and Garrett Hedlund in Mudbound does. Adapted from a P H O T O : co u rtesy o f toronto intern ation a l f i l m f esti v a l novel by Hillary Jordan, it’s about two World War II veterans — one black, one white — trying emotional expression in the worn faces to readjust as they come home to racist of the aggrieved all around us? Frances Mississippi. McDormand embodies not only someone The film recalls the emergence of Barry who is mad as hell, but she also shows us Jenkins last year with his film, Moonlight. how to fight back (and there’s nothing fair Rees makes a quantum leap from her about it, either). McDonagh is a playwright previous indie coming-out/coming-ofwhose words, deeds and emotions cut, age movie, Pariah, to this complex and scratch and stab like Elvis Costello lyrics quite intimate adaptation of a period saga growled into restless ears preparing to that combines the peculiar legacy of race face the nightmares to come. What doesn’t and the horrors of war. It reminds us that kill you definitely makes you stronger and we spend much time considering the ultimately able to consider forgiveness. quagmires we find ourselves in around Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guathe world without paying attention to the dagnino, director) – Guadagnino reminds muddy conditions dragging us down right us of what it was like the first time we here at home. encountered that crazy little thing called Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, director) – love. Call Me By Your Name is getting a Moving beyond her promise as an indie slow rollout from its distributor. Written darling on the verge of a breakout, Gerwig by James Ivory from a novel by André commands the screen without ever Aciman, it’s about an affair that develops making an actual onscreen appearance. between a 17-year-old boy (Timothée But make no mistake: The story beats of Chalamet) and a young man (Armie HamChristine “Lady Bird” McPherson belong mer) assisting the boy’s father (Michael to Gerwig, the film’s writer and director. Stuhlbarg) during a stay in Italy. It is so In Saoirse Ronan, who plays the titular convincing that those of us watching from character as a teen coming of age with a our seats will see and accept what develdemanding mother, Gerwig has found the ops as what should have been. perfect avatar for the impatience of youth Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, direcboldly striding into adulthood. tor) – How does it feel to live through an The Florida Project (Sean Baker, direcelemental moment — the days, hours and tor) – How is it that Willem Dafoe has never minutes — of the kind of fear that recalls won an Academy Award? His supportingthe sense of staring into the cold and actor nominations for Platoon in 1987 and immediate face of death with nothing to

Armie Hammer (right) with Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name P H O T O : S ayombh u M u k deeprom / co u rtesy o f sony pict u res c l a ssics

daring us to question what we mean when we talk about community, courage, safety and art from a societal standpoint. And once again, he makes us supremely uncomfortable with scenes that appear absurd, until we take them down from the big screen and wander through them with those closest to us. The Shape Of Water (Guillermo del Toro, director) – I share a special kinship with del Toro, who was raised Catholic but forever intrigued by the Willem Dafoe and Brooklynn Price in The Florida Project myths and fairy tales of P H O T O : C o u rtesy o f A 2 4 the real world. His art in The Shape of Water, as with show for it? The idea of life flashing before every film he’s ever made, your eyes is a myth, says Nolan in this involves his brilliant fusion of imagination film. There is nothing but the final hauntwith human urges. And in the emotive ing ticking down of the clock. Sally Hawkins, whose character cannot Get Out (Jordan Peele, director) – Wake speak, he has a fairy that lives to express up, America, to the subversive notion that everything she experiences through lanfor all of our promised progressive senguages she’s dreaming up on the spot. sibilities, deep down our values remain Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, firmly rooted in what made the coundirector) – What were the real expectatry “great” back during its founding: the tions for Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley exploitation of others. While that probably Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, a difficult cult sounds like a cynical political polemic, in masterpiece adapted from the Philip K. his debut feature, writer-director Jordan Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Peele wrapped the sentiment up in savvy Sheep? In 2049, Villeneuve answered horror tropes. some questions lingering from that film, The Square (Ruben Östlund, director) – but he also dared to dive deeper into a How was Östlund ever supposed to top the future dreamscape. powerful impression left by his previous Contact tt stern-enzi: letters@ Force Majeure, which continues to linger citybeat.com in my psyche like a haunting refrain? By


Best in Show for 2017 BY JAC K ER N

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As the Golden Globe and SAG Award the warmth of nostalgia, the terror of both nominations roll in, it’s clear there was no supernatural scaries and real-life monsters, shortage of great TV in 2017. Here are some and the relatable charm of friends worth of my best shows for the year. fighting for. Big Little Lies – Of course a David E. KelNathan for You – Nathan Fielder’s ley drama based on a bestselling novel and business-rescue parody brilliantly mocks starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherexpert-takeover shows by creating complispoon was going to be a hit, and this twisty, cated schemes to achieve menial results. darkly comedic HBO miniseries lived up to But this season took a genius turn in its the hype. Centered on a group of mothers movie-style finale that set Fielder on a misin the idyllic community of Monterey, Calif., sion to find a man’s long lost love, perfectly the miniseries peeled back the picturesque encapsulating the elaborate stunts and curtain to reveal twisted home lives and the genuine human spirit that make this show personal struggles faced by fantastically so wonderful. written characters. The Handmaid’s Tale – This Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian thriller could not have arrived at a more opportune moment. Elisabeth Moss shined as Offred, a once relatable wife and mom forced to serve a family — down to conceiving their child — when a fundamentalist regime takes over the country. The series is a cautionary tale that at once feels like a cold warning and a hopeful reminder to fight back at the smallest indications of injustice. Justin Theroux (left) and Scott Glenn in HBO’s The Leftovers Master of None – Aziz P H O T O : ben k i ng Ansari’s Netflix comedy also hit on some timely topics in its second season, from comMr. Robot – Sam Esmail’s hackering out (told beautifully through a series centered psychological drama continually of Thanksgiving dinners over the years) breaks new ground and redefines what a to workplace sexual harassment to the TV show can do, from its realistic depiccomplexities of the modern dating scene. tions of both mental illness and cyberwarWith smart humor and experimental fare to its dynamic female characters and storytelling, Master is a true contemporary cinematic risk taking. These elements were romcom. on full display this season in an episode The Leftovers – Damon Lindelof’s HBO that appeared as one continuous 45-mindrama about the fallout of a mysterious ute shot while protestors attacked E Corp. world event in which 2 percent of the As the USA Network show explores more world’s population disappears ended issues with real-world implications, I can’t with this season, and I will always lament wait to see it tackle net neutrality. the fact that this show was so tragically American Vandal – Netflix’s “most underrated. This final chapter completed binged show” was a true-crime satire an intricate, strange, mind-blowing tale investigating who spray-painted penises that forced viewers to consider belief and on 27 cars in a school parking lot. Hilariquestion everything. ous, to be sure, but there’s depth to this Fargo – In its third and final season, two dick graffiti mock-doc. Vandal exhibited characters rose to the top as protagonists a self-awareness that exposed the flaws of worth cheering on: a Minnesota police chief the genre, while capturing a genuine high and a street-smart ex-con. While these two school experience in an inventive way that’s women were on opposite sides of the law, familiar but also fresh and so compelling. they exhibited a shared strength, resilience Honorable Mentions: and ability to take charge of their very difRoom 104, the 30-minute Duplass Brothferent situations. Unfortunately for them, ers anthology that takes place within a this season belonged to the bad guys. single hotel room; the penultimate fanStranger Things – It was worth questionappeasing season of Game of Thrones; and ing how this runaway Netflix hit from 2016 The Keepers, a documentary series investicould replicate the magic of its first season, gating the murder of a Baltimore nun and but now it’s clear that the kids of Hawkins abuse within the Catholic church. have many stories to explore. With more character development and new faces, SeaContact Jac Kern: @jackern son 2 was an emotional rollercoaster with



A Year in Reviews An abridged collection of CityBeat dining writers’ favorite stops in 2017 BY S TA FF

expected, somehow my companions and I Bauer Farm Kitchen ended up sticking to the basics: chips with 435 Elm St., Downtown, 513-621-8555, guacamole, and tacos. The tacos we loved bauercincinnati.com best included Baja fish (fried cod, cabbage Bauer Farm Kitchen is a truly unique and herb slaw, grilled ramp and avocado), exploration of German cuisine with smoked duck confit (with parsnip and French accents — a farm-to-table, Alsatian-influenced eatery that no one has done here before. “Bauer” means “farm” or “farmer” in German, and the emphasis on farmfresh ingredients is great, but really it’s chef Jackson Rouse’s finesse that makes Bauer a must visit. Rouse’s skills make even a winter salad exciting. Sexier still is the sous vide sauerbraten short rib ($34). The long, slow bath means the beef is fork-tender, yet still pink, and the flavor is incredible. The seasonal sausage ($14) is served in a castCWC the Restuarant iron pot with German potato salad, toasted P H O T O : ha i l e y bo l l i n g e r pretzel buns, housemade sauerkraut and fresh musradish slaw, charred carrot and queso tard. For a porky dish, this is actually light fresco) and chicken and chorizo (with and feels very vegetable-centric. smoked garlic aioli and shaved romaine). The sausage, charcuterie, steaks and That last one was my fave and it wasn’t chops are all dry-aged in house. Bauer also even on my plate — my husband let me try offers “tete du cochon” ($75), which is a bite of his. best for three or more diners and must be Casa Figueroa offers an option with your ordered in advance. Half of a piggy’s head tacos: beans, rice, feta and herbs ($6). Get is cooked sous vide and crisped before it! The rich flavors made this side dish one serving, and honestly not as gruesome as it of the big hits at our table. (Pama Mitchell) sounds. (Anne Mitchell)

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Casa Figueroa


6112 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-631-3333, casafig.com More than a year ago, I heard that an important addition to our foodie world was coming to an out-of-the-way corner of the metro area: A Mexican/Latin restaurant with an ambitious chef and design-conscious owner would open in Pleasant Ridge, probably by the end of last summer. As it happened, though, the chef went elsewhere and Casa Figueroa took almost another year to open its doors. But based on one terrific visit, I’m happy to report that the end result definitely rewards the wait. Chef Matthew Schroeder, most recently sous chef at Anchor OTR, developed a menu that so far skews mostly Mexican (heavy on really good tacos), with eventual plans to move toward a more pan-Latin cuisine. Although there’s a greater variety to the Casa menu than I

CWC the Restaurant

1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming, 513407-3947, cwctherestaurant.com To borrow from the tagline for the original Disneyland in California, CWC the Restaurant might just be the friendliest place on Earth — or at least in Cincinnati. CWC — from Cooking with Caitlin, Caitlin Steininger’s longtime catering business — opened this summer on Springfield Pike. Her sister Kelly Trush runs the front of the house and makes sure each guest is satisfied, while their dad buses tables, among other tasks. Mom pitches in, too, as does Steininger’s 13-year-old niece, who’s in charge of the busy pizza oven.  The menu isn’t extensive — we tried almost all seven of the items listed as “shareables” or “starters.” Just about everyone in the house was ordering the homemade baby biscuits with tomato jam and corn butter ($5), and we managed to

Bauer Farm Kitchen PHOTO: Hailey Bollinger

Cork & Cap

Cork & Cap PHOTO: Hailey Bollinger

grab the very last of the night’s batch. A couple of the salads were great hits at our table, too. Harissa-roasted cauliflower salad ($8) had olives, oranges and raisins, while the green papaya salad ($9) with soylime vinaigrette and toasted peanuts might have been the best thing on the table, at least until dessert. We also tried a few of the half-dozen “Mains.” My zucchini carbonara ($12) used strips of squash instead of pasta as a base, dressed simply with a light roasted garlic cream sauce, a sprinkling of parmesan and the dish’s saving grace, crumbled bacon. We enjoyed grilled snapper ($14) over avocado purée with roasted salsa verde — a small portion, but with satisfying flavors. The Char Cheddar Burger ($9) came with a large pile of crispy fries and was covered in a housemade cheese sauce. Trush told me later that this burger is their biggest seller. (PM)

2637 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-5227, corkandcapofhydepark.com Tucked in a corner at one end of Hyde Park Square is Cork & Cap, an establishment with a wine bar focus that has rapidly evolved into a nice little restaurant. A selection of grilled pizza anchors the menu, with a couple of salads, casual small plates and a section of “mains” that range from burgers and sandwiches to a salmon entrée. There are also charcuterie and cheese offerings that you can mix and match. Given that Cork & Cap started as a wine bar, wine lovers will be happy to know that your grapey choices are many and varied. Clever minds organized the 70-bottle list into a dozen descriptive categories. Dinner was simple but satisfying: My friend and I each had a grilled Caesar salad that topped a nicely charred grilled romaine with croutons, diced tomatoes, shaved parmesan, herbs and a creamy dressing ($9), and then we split a grilled pizza. Our wild mushroom pizza ($15) came bubbling hot with a finish of arugula salad, which reminded us of how pizza often is served in Italy. (PM)

Court Street Lobster Bar

28 W. Court St., Downtown, 513-246-0184, courtstreetlobsterbar.com There is nary a bright-red shell in sight at Court Street Lobster Bar. Instead, there are several ways to enjoy tender, buttery

lobster meat — in a creamy bisque or as an ingredient in poutine; as part of the decadent lobster mac and cheese; or in one of two styles of lobster rolls. The lobster rolls available will be familiar to any New Englander. The Lobster Bar menu lists them as “Maine Style” and “Connecticut Style.” The Maine roll is a chilled lobster salad with mayonnaise while the Connecticut roll has warm lobster meat drizzled with hot butter. We knew we wanted the warm lobster roll instead of the chilled “Maine Style.” That night, they had two choices of warm lobster roll: the standard Connecticut ($19) with four ounces of meat, hot butter, pea tendrils and a bed of lettuce on the toasted bun; and the “roll of the month,” Lobster BLT ($19). We ordered one of each. We liked the Connecticut roll better, but the overall yumminess factor was excellent in both sandwiches, thanks to high-quality lobster and the custom buns — Sixteen Bricks bakery created a bun thick enough to keep its shape under a lot of melted butter and a heavy pile of shellfish. (PM)

by featuring four distinct “styles”— predesigned combinations of ingredients, including the standard “Gomez” style, along with Diablo, Baja and Southwestern. But you can always build your own. All the items — tacos, bowls, burritos or Turtle Shells — are $9. You select your item, then your protein, then your style. Chips, salsa and guacamole are also available, along with a full bar featuring signature margaritas, sangria and a good beer selection. I went for an order of tacos with chicken, Diablo style, the hottest option. The tacos come on flour tortillas by default, but you can request corn tortillas like I did. Chunks

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of tender chicken made up the bulk of the filling, and they were topped with lettuce and a little soft crumbly white cheese. The numerous other ingredients were present in smaller quantities (note: rice and beans are omitted from tacos); however, the zingy pickled jalapeños stood out. They were sweet-hot, reminiscent of a hot cinnamon candy. I think it was the jalapeños that made these delicious tacos almost too hot for me to eat. Almost. (Brian Cross)

Harvest Pizzeria



1739 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-3810087, harvestpizzeria.com While the Findlay Market area slowly expands from a daylight-only stop, Harvest Pizzeria OTR adds something important to the mix: an excellent version of one of Cincinnati’s favorite foods with plenty of tasty small plates, burgers, drinks and desserts for those who want more than the pie. Small plates ($6-$9) encompass everything from mixed olives with marcona almonds and herbs to pimento cheese with biscuits and pickles. Our table ordered bruschetta topped with whipped cheese,


2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, 513-954-8541, gomezsalsa.com Gomez Salsa Cantina pays homage to the original OTR location with a single walk-up cash register (inside the restaurant) where you place your order. There’s no paper form to fill out here, just a big printed menu on the wall. The menu makes it easy to order


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Eighth & English

2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-386-7383, 8thandenglish.com This seafood-centric, Italian-flavored eatery — which goes by the nickname 8 & E — is a godsend for those looking for innovative, thoughtfully crafted fare somewhere in the city outside of Over-the-Rhine, downtown or parts of Covington. The menu looks Italian, with sections such as Primi (first course, usually pasta) and Contorni (vegetables and sides). But if you read ingredients and style of prep, clearly there’s a range of influences, such as Middle Eastern (little lamb sandwiches with tzatziki and harissa) and solidly American (grilled hanger steak with hash, egg and arugula). As suggested by the seathemed art on the walls, there are a lot of seafood offerings in just about every menu category, and yet plenty for landlubbers, too. We each began with something from the dozen “Start” choices. I’m a fan of octopus and went with the Sardinian baby octopus stew with white wine, chili and tomato ($14). They were tender and quite delicious, as was the tomato-based, slightly spicy base.  For some now unfathomable reason, we all skipped the pasta (Primi) section and picked either an entrée or, in my case, another starter and a side. My main course consisted of swordfish meatballs in tasty gravy atop creamy polenta ($14) and a side of charred broccolini with anchovies, capers and golden raisins ($8). I loved this version of the vegetable, with its salty and sweet components. For sure, we’ll be back — and probably often. (PM) 

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3229 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-492-7119, thehimark.com A new collaboration between Eli’s and the folks behind another popular restaurant team — the Lang Thang Group — is the latest welcome addition to Columbia Tusculum: the newly christened Hi-Mark, a nautical sports bar with a menu that packs a punch. Half the menu comes from the Eli’s BBQ side, whose pulled pork Longfellow sandwich and so-thick-itbreaks-your-plastic-spoon PHOTO: HAILEY macaroni and cheese proved their worth long ago. Hi-Mark’s other culinary inspiration comes from the Lang Thang side, the people that brought us the beloved Over-the-Rhine eateries Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa. Their flavors dance across Hi-Mark’s menu in the unreal Smoked Pork Bánh Mì and Lang Thang Chili. The South meets Vietnam in Hi-Mark’s Southern-Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich, topped with tangy coleslaw and tossed in Buffalo sauce.  Wings are available in orders of six or 12 with sauces ranging from classic Buffalo style to Eli’s BBQ sauce, garlic pepper lime or a dry rub. A basket of crinkle fries can be “loaded” with variations of bacon, cheddar, green onion, tomatoes, scallions and either beer cheese or Lang Thang Chili.  Both of the bar’s signature sandwiches are served on hefty baguette-style breads with a heftier side of napkins. You’ll need all of them to clean yourself up with after wolfing down the food. (Madge Maril)



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cherry tomatoes and candied prosciutto, among other ingredients. It was good enough almost to fight over. We selected our 12-inch pizzas: fennel sausage (with three cheeses and red onion), roasted garlic (dotted with spicy chilies and topped with arugula salad) and margherita (tomato and cheese with basil), at prices ranging from $12.75 for the margherita to $15.75 for the sausage. Sausage is hard not to love on a pizza, and except for a couple of vegetarians among us, we approved of the Harvest version. Highest compliments went to the roasted garlic pie, even though the potent Calabrian chilies unexpectedly zapped a few taste buds. “My new favorite pizza,” one of our companions announced after we had polished off the last bit of crust. (PM)

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and Japan and his stint in New York bartending, and you have Longfellow’s menu. The menu manages to offer something traditional yet refreshingly new, with classic sandwiches, a selection of cheese, fresh vegetables, hand-sliced meats, crostini, marinated Mediterranean olives and, of course, Cincinnati’s own Grippo’s barbecue chips. Each simple dish is delivered without much fuss; I ordered the tomme ($4) and goat cheese ($5), the radishes and butter ($4) and three Babuska Pierogies ($5). The radishes are served raw and still a tad wet, and I did what the dish invited me to: I dipped the radishes in the chilled butter like a piece of bread and dug in. Longfellow’s butter is the kind of butter that no one would judge you for eating with a spoon. The cocktails enhance the menu. I ordered the Spruce Goose ($11), St. Joseph’s

1233 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-5490744, longfellowbar.com While it’s an OTR version of a dive bar, Longfellow’s menu showcases the life of the owner, Mike Stankovich. Stankovich has a Southern and Italian background — he grew up eating cornbread and rolling out homemade ravioli. Combine that with his experience traveling through Europe


Sour ($10) and the Classic Daiquiri ($10). The Spruce Goose — a recipe Stankovich brought with him from New York — is a wicked mix of gin, tonic and other almost undetectable ingredients like lime and honey. The Classic Daiquiri was my favorite drink of the evening, especially when paired with the European menu — the tart lime-infused cocktail cut through the creaminess of the cheeses. (MM)


1313-1315 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513381-0287, fi ndpanino.com At the end of last year, Nino Loreto expanded his Italian-style charcuterie and meat-sandwich food truck Panino, which he established in 2013, into a full restaurant on Vine Street. Having more space to cure his meats is ideal for an operation that literally uses the entire animal — from snout to tail — and stores the meat in the basement at a controlled 55 degrees. By day, Panino is more of a lunch spot in which hungry customers can order sandwiches to go, but at night the place lights up with table service, a full menu, cocktails and beer. For dinner, my dining companion and I were presented with a two-sided menu: food on the front; drinks on the back. Our waitress told us the menu changes weekly, sometimes daily. That’s a testament to the

hyper-localness of Panino. Loreto sources animals from Kentucky farms and grows vegetables down the street. Even the wine is exclusively sourced from Skeleton Root, less than a mile away. We devoured the charcuterie board while we waited for our sandwiches — it was Dutch’s-level good. I ordered the dried tomato pesto and local cheddar panini ($8), and my friend ordered the weekly

Postmark P H O T O : h a i l e y bo l l i n g e r

and Please’s website does say that vegan menus can be created with advance notice. Menus change with the seasons — sometimes more frequently as ingredients run out. Once you make your selection, each dish is brought out and carefully spaced to make for a long,  lingering meal. My second course (pescetarian) was again the same as my partner’s (omnivore), and it was our favorite: a piece of perfectly cooked fluke on a bed of pomelo and avocado with a vibrant green sauce made from local watercress, topped with thinly sliced pieces of celtuce, a crunchy, mild vegetable. The plates are deceptively small but the food is rich and filling, which is partially why the final dish of the night, an icy sweet concord grape granita, tasted so good. An à la carte menu and bar menu are also available, leaving the dinner up to the diner. Even so, next time I go, I think I’ll trust the chef. (McKenzie Graham)


Sartre PHOTO: Hailey Bollinger


1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-4058859, pleasecincinnati.com Chef Ryan Santos has helmed Please as a gypsy pop-up concept since 2011, crafting creative multi-course meals in locations ranging from his former Prospect Hill apartment and Cheapside Café to Carriage House Farm, all the while working toward the dream of eventually owning a stationary restaurant. After private backing and a Kickstarter campaign, that dream became a reality. Diners can choose from a vegetarian, pescetarian or omnivore menu, although gluten-free options are always available


1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-5791910, sartreotr.com Before we took a single sip or bite, and in fact before seeing a menu, I could tell that Sartre could become one of our go-to OTR destinations. The vaulted ceilings, remarkable woodwork and indirect lighting create a feeling both majestic and intimate. While the name Sartre, from the French playwright and philosopher, might indicate that the menu skews completely Gallic, not all the dishes go that way. We didn’t quite know what to do for a “main” course, given options that ranged from country pâté, moules frites and steak frites in the French(ish) section to yellowfin tartar, “poisson frit” and a $7 lamb poutine. I thought the grain dishes were the most successful. My overall favorite was the farro, which came with a large cluster of maitake mushroom resting on warm grains that had been seasoned with lardo and given crunchiness with chopped pistachios. The flavor and texture contrasts melded beautifully and the smallish portion was just right. The bulgar wheat dish was seasoned with pork belly and Green Goddess dressing and got its crunch from walnuts. I’m all about crunch as a flavor component. And dessert turned out fabulous. Whatever you do, save room for dessert. (PM)

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sausage sandwich ($10), which was a Reuben made with goetta instead of corned beef. I respect Loreto’s focus on local: You know you’re getting the best possible quality and flavors. (Garin Pirnia)

3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-281-3663, postmark. restaurant Many rejoiced last summer when Red Feather chef/owner Brad Bernstein and partner Devon Barrett purchased what had been La Poste and, later, Harvest Bistro. Bernstein reopened as Postmark this fall so once again Clifton and its surrounding ’hoods can enjoy a full-service, whitetablecloth, wine-oriented restaurant that harkens back to the early days of its namesake. Standouts among the appetizers included French onion soup, steak tartar and a special off-menu foie gras. My onion soup ($10) came classically prepared with a rich, oniony broth enhanced by bone marrow and topped with toasted garlic baguette and plenty of melted Gruyère cheese. Our entrées ranged from a stuffed pasta ($21) to a duck breast special ($31) and a couple of fish dishes ($28-$29). The agnolotti pasta stuffing included white corn, hen of the woods mushrooms and a hint of black truffle oil. I thought the halibut was interesting — the Postmark version came with radishes, beans and creamy polenta. Bernstein told me later that with Postmark he’s shooting for a more producecentered “farmhouse refined.” The evolving menu will reflect “Ohio river culture and Creole and Southern influences,” he added, “with classic French training” mixed in. (PM)

Royal OTR

1200 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-3813092, facebook.com/royalotr This “sandwiches + greens” spot in Overthe-Rhine offers a refreshing new option for lunchgoers and sandwich-seekers alike amid the myriad pizza slices that pepper Main Street. Sandwiches are indeed the bulk of the menu, with inventive takes on classics like chicken adobo grilled cheese and beef dip. But if you came for the sandwich, you’ll probably stay for the farro grain bowl. The concept is self-explanatory enough: Start with a bowl of farro — a chewy cooked grain in the quinoa family of healthy stuff with which to replace rice — then layer on tons of customizable topping options like pickled carrots, sunflower seeds and roasted sweet potato. Add chicken or chopped pork for $3, top with a dressing, et voilà. The verde pork sandwich is not something I’d normally order, but executive chef Mike Kasak’s in-house 24-hour salt-cured pork and melange of pickled onions and carrots made it a worthwhile step outside of my comfort zone. The pork used for this sandwich can also be found in the excellent braised cabbage and pork soup — one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. Even without a hangover, the Deep South chili dog is a big winner. Starring Avril-Bleh’s andouille sausage and Kasak’s housemade pork étouffée on a solid bun topped with garlic jack cheese and onions, this chili dog delivers the perfect amount of zing and heat. (Leyla Shokoohe)



The Year in Local Recordings A look back at some of 2017’s best music releases by Cincinnati artists C O M PI L ED BY M I K E B R EEN

Telehope – Chasing Dreams

Cincinnati AltPop five-piece Telehope’s debut, Chasing Dreams, crisply shows off the quintet’s clean, earnest Pop spin, which is largely driven by elegant piano and emotive (if sometimes syrupy) melodies and vocals. Highlights include the broad and ambient Pop of “Insomnia” and the instantly memorable hit-in-waiting, “Joy,” which is like one giant hook, from its jubilant groove to the infectious optimism of the lyrics. From the songwriting and production to the performances and presentation, Chasing Dreams is a promising introduction to a band that could quickly develop into something special. (Mike Breen)

Heavy Hinges – Cause a Scene EP



DEC. 2 7– J A N. 0 2, 2 0 17

Described in a CityBeat review of Heavy Hinges’ debut as a “secret weapon,” Heavy Hinges singer (and ukulele player) MayaLou Banatwala emerges on Cause a Scene with more confident guidance. She matches the charisma of fellow singer (and guitarist) Dylan Speeg, a veteran local artist and musician (Rottweilers, Buckra) who anchors the band, with her perfect mix of Soul music’s expressiveness and Punk Rock swagger and sass. The other musicians (drummer Brian Williamson, bassist Andrew Laudeman and guitarist Jeremy Singer) are flawless throughout, providing both the precision and feel needed for a sound largely based on classic R&B, as well as a bit of Rock & Roll flair. Most of the members of Heavy Hinges have a wealth of musical experience, so they were solid from the get-go. But Cause a Scene shows what can happen when great musicians spend more time playing together — the effortless musical intimacy and camaraderie makes the music jump from the speakers and grab the listener by the collar in a way it didn’t before. (MB)


Devin Burgess and Xzela – celestialove

Hip Hop MC/producer Devin Burgess and singer/songwriter Xzela create something special on their hypnotic and entrancing 10-track collaborative effort, celestialove. The two artists’ compatibility is part of the reason the release is so effective and alluring, but make no mistake, their individual skills are bountiful. Xzela’s vocals — soulful and dream-like, even when she raps — crawl over and around the beats with confidence and comfort. Burgess’ captivating delivery alternates throughout celestialove, but his voice’s low-key and deceptively laidback timbre meshes perfectly with Xzela’s style and the recording’s overall wandering and wondering vibe. Sonically, celestialove possesses a warm, echoing fluidity, with

gauzy atmospherics occasionally punctuated by glitchy noises that only enhance the trancelike powers of the recording. (MB)

The Grove – Coming to Terms EP

The Grove’s newest EP, Coming to Terms, is the sound of a young band experimenting with some vastly different musical styles than its previous offerings. The four songs on the EP draw from wildly different points of inspiration as members of the Cincinnati-based quartet delve into their varied influences. While the tonal shifts are unexpected, there’s one noticeable constant during the 20-minute run time — these song are really, really good. EP opener, “Anna Lee” is a slow, sultry ballad that is just

Injecting Strangers’ Dyin’ to Be Born PHOTO: PROVIDED

offering a broader context to understand the thoughtfulness behind the jams. (MB)

Brandon Coleman Quartet – Infinite Loop

Devin Burgess and Xzela’s celestialove PHOTO: PROVIDED

begging for some Zippo’s to be held aloft, until a powerful suite of riffs and solos ends the song on a much louder note. “Bring You Up” follows, shifting gears into a heavily Reggae-influenced jam. “Either Way” ups the tempo as the boys showcase their Blues and Jazz chops. Coming to Terms accomplishes what many EP’s attempt but few achieve, simultaneously letting the band stretch its creative boundaries while still keeping the core focus intact. (Nick Grever)

Peridoni – Jade

Primarily-instrumental Prog band Peridoni’s Jade is seven tracks long, which for most bands would qualify as an EP. But Peridoni’s soundscapes aren’t hindered by any restrictive “three-minutes-for-radio” length goals. Instead, the band stretches things out with winding arrangements that showcase both the musicians’ individual chops and the close-knit musical bond they have with each other. It’s hard

Peridoni’s Jade PHOTO: PROVIDED

to decipher a running “concept album” theme on a recording that is 90 percent wordless, but there’s something about Jade’s entrancing cohesiveness that makes it feel like these tracks belong together, in precisely the order they are presented. That’s the hallmark of a true “album,” which is becoming a lost artform in the age of easy skips and shuffl ing playlists. Peridoni does albums well, with Jade showing a sense of depth behind the noodling and

Jazz guitarist Brandon Coleman moved to Cincinnati four years ago and met pianist Keigo Hirakawa, bassist Matt Wiles and Us, Today drummer Jeff Mellott, who helped him realize his third album release, Infinite Loop. The album is an inventively powerful blend of traditional Jazz modalities and Fusion/Prog elements that incorporate Coleman’s broad spectrum of influence. The discussion of his inspirations becomes a checklist of some of music’s greatest talents, including Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin. Infinite Loop shows how Coleman has evolved as a composer, performer and improviser, while also showcasing his quartet’s chemistry. (Brian Baker)

Injecting Strangers – Dyin’ to Be Born

Before their singer left for Los Angeles, high-energy Alternative rockers Injecting Strangers managed to finish three songs for an EP release/swan song. Fans of the band’s high-flying, catchy but progressive, eccentric and theatrically musical approach will not be disappointed with Dyin’ to Be Born, though the fact that it’s the group’s final output (for now, at least) might be a little depressing given how impressive it is.

Still, it’s hard to be sad listening to the EP’s “Face of Nate,” which begins with a grandiose, operatic intro that would make Freddie Mercury smile down from the heavens, before settling into the meat of the song — a bratty swirl of attitude, a flurry of riffs that shed sparks and a groove that revs up like a funny car. Dyin’ to Be Born might seem short at only three tracks, but the epic-ness of “Face of Nate” alone feels like at least four exhilarating songs in one. (MB)

Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe – Sanguinaria (Hopefulsong)

Two of the most active working musicians in Cincinnati joined forces for Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs), an understated and intimate recording that undeniably accomplishes its stated goal of showcasing the “elements of interplay and synergy (that) are fundamental to the essence of the finest Jazz expression,” particularly in regards to Jazz guitar and bass. While Myers and Sharfe are both clearly technical geniuses, Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) is a master class in how important feel and emotion are to Jazz. In our modern age of computerized recording perfectionism, the album’s directness and raw presentation is highly refreshing and the artistry in the performances is consistently riveting. (MB)

Frontier Folk Nebraska – Warpig EP

FFN’s ever-sharpening songwriting skills have been at the core of its greatness, and Warpig (released in conjunction with Cincinnati-based indie label Old Flame Records) contains four of the band’s most memorable songs yet, each guided by soaring melodies that worm their way into your brain after just one listen. That has a lot to do with guitarist Michael Hensley’s powerful, high-ceilinged voice, which delivers the melodies with a force and urgency that’s undeniable. “Girls Like Wine” is a perfect example of the band’s ragged glory, with guitars that swagger like vintage Stones or The Replacements at their bash-and-pop best. “Song In A” puts the “power” in “power ballad” and shows the emotional weight the band is capable of injecting into its songs (think “Tuesday’s

Lung – Bottom of the Barrel

Fueled by the dynamic vocals and imaginative cello work of Kate Wakefield and the sturdy, primal backbeat of drummer Daisy Caplan (former bassist of Foxy Shazam), Lung’s Bottom of the Barrel album is an extended version of the twosome’s albumpreviewing EP, which was released last year and has received love from various music blogs and sites, as well as international radio play. Wakefield’s distorted cello grinds and slashes on tracks like “Actor” and the album’s title track, often serving the role traditionally occupied by guitars, while her sometimes-layered vocals (coupled with Caplan’s hyper throb) add to the classic Post Punk vibe of tracks like “Peaches.” While obviously featuring atypical instrumentation, Lung’s songs rock with a fervor that would leave many furrow-browed hard rockers quaking in their boots. But it’s the omnipresent artsy quirk that makes the duo’s sound so irresistible. (MB)

Homage (CVG) and Waldo From Cincinnati – Grocery Choppin’

1345 main st motrpub.com wed 27

motr mouth presents: zak toscani & friends

thu 28

staLLone n roses, shaWnthonY, caLYpso, BLack pLanet

fri 29

chris comer jazz happY hour nasti nati Brass Band

s at 30

arLo mckinLeY joe’s truck stop

sun 31

isWhat?!, Bionic, staLLitix, dj aprYL


why?, open mike eagle

mon 1

truth serum: comedY game shoW


madcap puppets: jules & verne’s excellent adventure

tue 2

Writer’s night With dave

free Live music open for Lunch

12/3 1 blessid union of souls

room for zero, roger klug power trio


cincy prohibition 2018 w/ the cincy brass

buy tickets at motr or woodwardtheater.com

Lung’s Bottom of the Barrel PHOTO: PROVIDED

Gone” if it was written by Neil Young and covered by My Morning Jacket). (MB)

Joesph – Temples



Moonbow – War Bear

Early on, Moonbow clearly established its brand of Desert Rock mixed with elements of ’90s Grunge and Metal, Prog and Honky


Temples mixes the arresting melodies for which Joesph’s Joey Cook is known with structural explorations and a multihued, dynamic brand of Psychedelia. Sometimes it’s of the vintage Beatles or Strawberry Alarm Clock or Easy Rider Psych archetype — “Mysterious Ways” gives off the fuzzy Kaleidoscope Pop feels of The Zombies or Os Mutantes. Other times the lysergic effect of the music comes from a more contemporary experimental place, less defined by an era, like “I’m Dead,” which opens with what sounds like a musical exorcism before the bombastic, distorted throb gives way to sunbeam melodies and plaintive acoustic guitar that seems to reference traditional Chinese folk music. The album’s highlight, “Glowing Flower” (which appeared in shorter form on the teaser EP), is like an epic of trippiness that cycles through all of those mind-bending tints, perfectly tying the album together. (MB)

DEC. 2 7– J A N. 0 2, 2 0 17

Grocery Choppin’ is a beat-driven sound collage with each track relating to food and other grocery-store-themes. The pair (known for their work in Hip Hop) seamlessly splices together samples from various Funk, R&B, Jazz and Rock sources to create hypnotic, soulful grooves, often with a barrage of interspersed “spoken” clips from recordings, TV shows and movies that direct the listener toward the various themes; other times, only the well-conjured mood suggests the thematic direction. Besides being a wildly enjoyable listening experience, Grocery Choppin’ also served as a benefit/fundraiser for the planned Apple Street Market, a community grocery co-op in the grocery-store-deficient Northside neighborhood. (MB)

1404 main st (513) 345-7981




111 E 6th St Newport, KY 41071

live MusiC no Cover

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE SOUTHGATE HOUSE LOUNGE OR TICKETFLY.COM 12/27 - chelsea ford & the trouble december artist in residence, hank becker 12/28 - red skylark, the tigerlilies 12/29 - fort ancient records “first team” album release; sonny hill; cincinnati psychobilly night: tommy dastardly & the notorious backsliders; the transylvania hell sounds, the tallywhackers 12/30 - warrick & lowell cd release, pat hu, ben knight; murder by death, lung 12/31 - new year’s eve celebration: legendary shack shakers and the tillers; arlo mckinley, brian combs, eric bolander; new year’s eve noir & beat fiction 1/3 - ray vietti - January artist in residence 1/4 - brackish water Jamboree, adam lee


Wednesday 12/27 Burning Caravan 8-11

Thursday 12/28 Todd Hepburn & Friends 8-11

Friday 12/29 Cybele w/ The Steve Schmidt Trio 8-12

saTurday 12/30 The Steve Schmidt Trio 8-12 CoCktails


Wed. - Fri. open @ 4pm | Sat. open @ 6pm 125 West Fourth st. | CinCinnati, ohio 45202


Tonk, bringing the tastes and inspirations of each member into the writing sessions. But on War Bear, the quartet has had four years with a stable lineup of musicians who are all talented writers as well as performers. This has allowed Moonbow to assemble a set of 10 tracks that exhibit each member’s strengths without losing cohesion. Singer Matt Bischoff’s unique vocals, inspired by the likes of Layne Staley and Phil Anselmo, is clean but powerful as he continues his tradition of storytelling through his lyrics. Whether he’s reliving a memory with friend John Garcia of Kyuss on “California King” (Garcia provides guest vocals on the track) or viewing the Bataclan concert hall massacre from the eyes of a survivor in “Bloodwash,” Bischoff injects a narrative hook into each track. (NG)

PUBLIC – Sweet Lemonade

from the dynamic Post Punk of Amanda’s Scanner and Stella and the scraping noisescapes of Dyon McCratney (from the bands Mardou, Vacation and Sleeves) and Alex York to the ambient guitar drone of Pete Fosco and twinkling, atmospheric dreamland of Zijnzijn Zijnzijn!’s “Aurels.” The album also includes the distorted Psychedelic Pop of “Dancing Like a Little Flower” by Vero (the solo project of Leggy’s Veronique Allaer) and the sweeping, swirling “Technicolor” by the trio Nanny, featuring vocal contributions from Molly Sullivan. (MB)

Sons of Silverton – Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Sons of Silverton consists of two experienced artists with a long history in the Cincinnati Hip Hop community and beyond — CITOAK came up in the ’90s with Cincinnati collective Watusi Tribe,

AltPop trio PUBLIC had a big 2017, frequently touring the country and building an increasingly fervent following. In June, the band played it’s biggest show to date, opening for Twenty One Pilots at the 20,000seat Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The day before that big appearance, PUBLIC released its latest EP, Sweet Lemonade, recorded locally at Moonlight Studios and featuring the dance-friendly, synthdrenched opener “4Her.” The EP’s five songs are remarkably crisp and catchy, the most accomplished and ready-for-prime-time yet for a band that has been major-label-worthy since it came out of the gate. (MB)



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Brian Olive – Living on Top


Living On Top is a culmination of all of Brian Olive’s varied musical experiences and comes off like a brilliant and exuberant mash-up of the ’60s Pop/Rock of The Kinks and The Beatles and the ’70s Soul/ Pop ethic of Memphis, Tenn. in general and Stax Records in particular, jolted with a heart needle of contemporary Indie Pop verve. The album also reflects Olive’s eclectic musical tastes. The scorching Rock-and-Soul revue of “Somebody Stole That Song” could have been a mid-’60s hit for Otis Redding, while “Sideways” sounds like Steve Winwood and Traffic in their transition from Prog/Folk to Jazz, as they attempt to charm a snake out of a New Delhi basket. Olive’s impassioned vocals have the gritty smoothness of Paul Weller, and his sax solo on the title track sounds as if he’s holding a séance and conjuring the spirit of the late Bobby Keys at the height of his powers, namely his iconic work on The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers. (While Living on Top has yet to be released, Olive hosted a release party and briefly sold vinyl test copies of the record.) (BB)

Various Artists – Siyavakashela vol. 1 – Cincinnati

Siyavakashela vol. 1 from Cincinnatibased Heligator Records is a 19-track compilation showcasing the local Experimental music scene. The collection kicks off with pioneering artist John Bender’s glitchy, pulsating Electronic track “” and then takes off in numerous unanticipated directions —


while Kyle David is a key member of Cincinnati group Five Deez. As a tag-team, the MCs are perfectly matched — both are smart, imaginative writers who stand well above most of their peers in the lyrical department, so the fluid eff usiveness of their deliveries blends together seamlessly. The production and musical landscapes that hover behind the rhymes and provide fierce, diverse beats also contribute to the music’s uniqueness and cross-era vibe, which in many ways makes it a rare timeless Hip Hop album. (MB)

Root Cellar Xtract – Rear View Mirror Eyes

With a sound based on the breezy, dusty Country Rock model conjured in the ’70s by bands like Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Eagles, Little Feat, Pure Prairie League, Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Root Cellar Xtract is a relatively new Cincinnati band loaded with veteran area musicians. Its debut album, Rear View Mirror Eyes, impressively sticks to the “’70s Country Rock” game plan thoroughly and consistently (including the streak of Bakersfield Country reverence that ran through much of the original music). Given the broad spectrum of Americana styles fi nding favor with the popularity of Roots music

these days — and given the expertise in varying genres that the players bring to the table — one might expect a band like Root Cellar Xtract to veer off on, say, an acoustic Country Blues jag for at least one song. But, reminiscent of the stylistic commitment on early albums by The Mavericks or Chris Isaak, the group never breaks character and it makes the album a more satisfying listen. (MB)

Swim Team – Swim Team

Swim Team creates a cyclonic whirl of noisy guitars, pulsating, primal rhythms and addicting melodies, weaving in and out of whatever lines are left between Punk, Post Punk, lo-fi Indie Rock and fuzzy, fierce Indie Pop. The group’s debut is impressively diverse — just when you think you have Swim Team figured out, the album switches gears dramatically. Opener “Dirty Work” is a hyper-catchy, almost sugary nugget of strutting Punk Pop, but by the second track, “I’m Fine,” the vocals shift to a full snarl and the band explodes into a more ominous slash-and-burn approach. Elsewhere, “Cherri Girls” has a Shoegazer-meets-’60sgirl-group vibe; “Everything Went Wrong” is what Enya might’ve sounded like if Guided By Voices guided her career; and the album closer, “Closest Thing,” is a chugging slice of soulful basement Rock. (MB)

Vibrant Troubadours – Cool Grass

Vibrant Troubadours specialize in raw, gimmick-free Rock & Roll steeped in Blues, Grunge and Pop and delivered with uninhibited passion without sacrificing musical proficiency. There’s an enjoyable dynamic on Cool Grass that unabashedly showcases the duo’s spectrum of contemporary Alt and Indie Rock influences. The thick distorted guitars, bleeding vocals and heavy rhythms of tracks like “In My Face” and “Don’t Buy Me Things” suggest a deep appreciation and admiration of Nirvana. But instead of the Punk Rock love that informed Cobain’s music, Vibrant Troubadours often shade their sound with a Blues-like feel (though Grass’ primal “Let’s Go” is a great, full-throttle Punk screamer). (MB)

and vocals, with very light, atmospheric ornamentation. It’s gorgeous and soulful, distilling Collins’ distinct songwriting skills and the mesmerizing aura his music creates down to their bare essence. Collins says the idea for the album began when he was working at a coffee shop that had a piano, which he played during his frequent downtime. Growing up with a piano in the house, he says the album “feels like a return home,” and that sense of comfort and

While Country music’s mainstream is still littered with disposable Pop pap, it has been refreshing to see the rising success of so many artists who’ve allowed their traditional Country influences to shine through and don’t water down their music with overproduction or gimmicks. That makes it the perfect time for acclaimed Greater Cincinnati singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell to release his second album, Ties of Blood and Affection. Long a songwriting force with a stop-you-in-yourtracks voice, the latest album takes things to a new level, as Pinnell sounds more comfortable and poised than ever. The songs are honest and contemplative, but


Vacation – Southern Grass: The Continuation of Rock n’ Roll Vol. 1 & 2

Vacation’s double album release offers an interesting pastiche of styles, as Vacation gathers Pop, New Wave and Classic Rock elements under its Punk umbrella. Some of those stylistic shifts are indicative of all four members contributing songs to the process, which creates a new and interesting dynamic that’s almost collage-like. The release’s warts-and-all attitude and lo-fi approach might be a byproduct of recording the 32 tracks in four days, but there’s an energy and chemistry evident that keeps the album compelling from start to finish, likely the result of the musical bond the new-look foursome (now featuring producer/musician John Hoffman on guitar) forged during relentless touring jags. (BB)

New Sincerity Works – Wonder Lust

Led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Tittel, New Sincerity Works’ third album is devoid of low points. Highlights abound, including the rollicking “Just Like Vapor,” which shimmies and shines like an outtake from Big Star’s sessions for the classic #1 Record (albeit with swirling synth squiggles from a later era, a recurrent texture on the album) and the unforgettable title track. Wonder Lust revels in the recalibrating, resurrective power of song and melody. New Sincerity Works’ albums come by their timeless nature effortlessly, eschewing forced of-the-moment tricks or fads for a resonating emotional honesty that makes them feel less like “product” and more like an urgent Pop manifesto. (MB)

Taylor Shannon & the 2bit Smoke Parade – Another Sad Story EP

Near Earth Objects’ Drift PHOTO: PROVIDED

Jeremy Pinnell’s Ties of Blood and Affection PHOTO: PROVIDED

warmth comes through for the listener as well. Though the instrumentation is minimized, the songs still glow loudly, making for a wildly compelling listen. (MB)

Harbour – HEATWAVE

Near Earth Objects – Drift

Pike 27 – The Long Fight

The songwriting prowess, emotive vocals and strong playing that became trademarks of Pike 27 are in peak form on The Long Fight. While the album is capable of rocking with Stonesian swagger, an Elvis Costello comparison is more apt. Although that should be one of the most flattering comparisons a Rock & Roll band could ever receive, that’s not to say that Pike 27 has turned into a cheap Attractions knock-off. Like other great musical acts of the past 40 years, Pike 27 conjures the same spirit as the best of the massively influential Costello’s work, sharing with him not only a melodic magnetism, but also an ability to vividly and perceptively translate and project through song a full range of moods and emotions. (MB)


Drift is a compelling collection of wonderfully orchestrated Indie Rock songs that lean heavily to the psychedelic side while still retaining a strong melodic structural core. Hypnotic without being meandering, Near Earth Objects’ layered arrangement style leaves a lot of pockets of space, which gives the music its atmospheric and ethereal character. That roominess also makes the movements within stand out more dramatically, so that each shift in tone and emotion has a greater impact. While the group has some similarities to Shoegazer bands, Near Earth Objects’ aesthetic is less “wall of sound” and more “chiffon curtain of sound elegantly fluttering in the wind.” The band certainly rocks, but it never strives to overwhelm, preferring to engage more cerebrally and seductively. (MB)


As the title suggest, the latest album from Cincinnati’s Harbour is full of beachy grooves and warm tones, a feel-good summertime Pop/Rock album. Early on, HEATWAVE features a trio of super-catchy songs — “Get You High,” “Oh No!” and “Obvious” — that will have fans singing along by the second chorus. The fi rst half of the album is driven more by melody than lyrics, with songs that have a bubblegum Pop feel, but HEATWAVE takes a turn beginning with “Prolong,” as the band shows a more personal side while also

there’s less of the darkness that prevailed in his previous work, as Pinnell moves away from pain and regret and toward a sense of redemption and joy. Backed by a band that beautifully captures the spirit of the best of vintage Honky Tonk and Outlaw Country, Ties of Blood and Affection more than proves that Pinnell deserves to have his name added to the list of artists who are fueling the current “real Country” resurgence. (MB)

Taylor Shannon is often tagged as a Country artist and he’s never shied away from the classification. But as he and 2bit Smoke Parade show with the six songs that make up Another Sad Story, the term Country is relative. It’s such an engaging mesh of styles, you’ll feel bad for the stodgy, less openminded music lover who might never give Shannon a chance because he or she “hates Country music.” It’s their loss. Classic, Southern and Modern Rock play just as big of a role on Another Sad Story, giving it a vibrancy and energy that is infectious. Shannon is a supremely talented artist no matter what field he’s working in; it will be fascinating to see where he takes his talents next. (MB) DEC. 2 7– J A N. 0 2, 2 0 17

Aaron Collins – Cloud Hug

Aaron Collins’ engagingly intimate Cloud Hug features songs that center on piano

Jeremy Pinnell – Ties of Blood and Affection

Swim Team’s Swim Team

Juan Cosby – Inhospitable Planet

Juan Cosby (aka Nick Mitchell) wanted to address America’s current contentious nature with Inhospitable Planet, but the producer didn’t want to hamstring his talented vocal guests (which include Blueprint, CJ the Cynic, Spoken Nerd, Eyenine, Ronin, Ialive and many others) by putting words in their mouths, so he merely provided the specific beat that he felt was appropriate — or appropriately odd — for each featured artist. The result is an incredibly musical Hip Hop album that gives voice to the palpable frustration and anger that permeates American culture while offering a few rays of hope for its resolution. That lyrical range, balanced against Mitchell’s evocative and singular beats and melodies, creates a compelling and engaging tension over the course of Inhospitable Planet’s 13 tracks. (BB)

dipping into folky elements. If you like bands like Bad Suns or The 1975, you’ll love HEATWAVE. (Amanda Weisbrod)



CityBeat’s music listings are free. Send info to Mike Breen at mbreen@citybeat.com. Listings are subject to change. See CityBeat.com for full music listings and all club locations. H is CityBeat staff’s stamp of approval.

Wednesday 27

BrewRiver GastroPub - Old Green Eyes & BBG. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free. Crow’s Nest - Steve Dirr. 8 p.m. Acoustic. Free. Knotty Pine - Dallas Moore and Lucky Chucky. 10 p.m. Country. Free. The Liberty Inn - Stagger Lee. 7 p.m. Acoustic. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Chelsea Ford with Hank Becker. 8 p.m. Roots/Americana. Free. Urban Artifact - Blue Wisp Big Band. 8:30 p.m. Big Band Jazz. $10.

Bogart’s - Saved By The 90s. 8 p.m. ’90s Pop/Rock. $10. Bromwell’s Härth Lounge Cybele with the Steve Schmidt Trio. 8 p.m. Jazz. Free. College Hill Coffee Co. Raison d’Etre. 7:30 p.m. Folk. Free. Crow’s Nest - Dave Hardin. 10 p.m. Folk/Americana. Free.

Thursday 28

The Greenwich - Now Hear This!. 8:30 p.m. Jazz. $5.

Grand Central Delicatessen - Serenity Fisher & Michael G. Ronstadt Duo. 8 p.m. Indie Folk. Free.

Knotty Pine - Kenny Cowden. 9 p.m. Acoustic. Free. Latitudes Bar & Bistro Mike Sharfe and Brad Myers. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free. Live! at the Ludlow Garage Peter White. 8 p.m. Jazz. $25-$65. Madison Live - Madison Theater Band Challenge with Apartment 664, Between Jobs, Blueprint, Kyla Mainous, Kaleb Hensley, North Bend, The Yolo Band and Twelve Minute Mile. 6 p.m. Various. $10. MOTR Pub - Stallone ’N Roses with Shawnthony Calypso and Black Planet. 10 p.m. Rock/Punk. Free.

H C i t y B e at. c o m  |   D E C . 2 7 – J A N . 0 2 , 2 0 1 7

Blue Note Harrison - Saving Abel. 8 p.m. Rock. $15, $20 day of show.

Eastgate Brew & View Encore Duo. 6:30 p.m. Acoustic Classic Rock/ Americana. Free.

Common Roots - Open Mic. 8 p.m. Various. Free.


Friday 29

Plain Folk Cafe - Open Mic with Jeremy Francis. 7 p.m. Various. Free. The Redmoor Redmoor Winter Sessions Side A with The Borderline Something, Taylor Shannon, Nathan Wells. 8 p.m. Rock. $10, $15 day of show.


Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Red Skylark and The Tigerlilies. 8 p.m. Rock. Free.


Urban Artifact - Aziza Love, Lauren Eylise and iamchelseaiam. 7:30 p.m. Singer/Songwriter/Various. Free.


The Greenwich - Sonny Moorman & Final Friday Blues. 8 p.m. Blues. $5. Jag’s Steak and Seafood Pete Dressman & Soul Unified Nation. 9 p.m. Rock/ Various. $5. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse The Grace Lincoln Band. 8 p.m. R&B/Soul/Jazz/Pop. Free. Jim and Jack’s on the River - Project Doyle. 9 p.m. Country. Free. Knotty Pine - The Brownstones. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover. Latitudes Bar & Bistro - Keith Jones and the Makeshifts. 9 p.m. Rock & Roll. Free. Madison Live - Madison Theater Band Challenge with Breanna, Code Vein, Dream Driver, Hello Lady, Kelby, Mister Mason, Out On Bond and Someday Morning. 7 p.m. Various. $10. Mansion Hill Tavern - The Bluebirds. 9 p.m. Blues. $4. MOTR Pub - Chris Comer Jazz Trio (5 p.m.); Nasti Nati Brass Band (10 p.m.). 5 p.m. Jazz/ Fusion/Funk/Soul. Free.


Northside Yacht Club Settle Your Scores, Break Up Lines, Current Events and Chasing Autumn. 8 p.m. Rock/Pop/Punk. $8-$12.

Plain Folk Cafe - David Gans. 7:30 p.m. Folk/Rock/ Jam. Free.

Bromwell’s Härth Lounge Steve Schmidt Trio. 8 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Redwine & Co. - Right Turn Clyde. 8 p.m. Country/Rock/ Various. Free.

Cincinnatian Hotel - Philip Paul Trio. 7 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Rick’s Tavern - 3 Piece Revival. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover. Roselawn Live - Yeezy. 10 p.m. Hip Hop. $40.


Silverton Cafe - Basic Truth. 9 p.m. Funk/R&B/Soul. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Sonny Hill. 9:30 p.m. Blues. Free. Southgate House Revival (Revival Room) - Cincinnati Psychobilly Night: Tommy Dastardly & The Notorious Backsliders, The Transylvania Hell Sounds and The Tallywhackers. 10 p.m. Psychobilly. $5.


Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) Fort Ancient Records “First Team” Album Release with Phonophage, Blasé & Charlie Boneparte, Monty C. Benjamin, Luna Bruja & Xzela and D-Eight & Devin Burgess. 8 p.m. Hip Hop. $8, $10 day of show.


Thompson House Acoustic Showcase with Terry Rose, Jacob Vincent, Origami Handguns, Austin Tyler and Dionysus. 8 p.m. Acoustic. Cover. Urban Artifact Peace Attack with Efflorescence, Android 86 and Tooth Lures a Fang. 9 p.m. Rock. Free.


Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant - Jim Connerly and Vintage Keys. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10 (food/drink minimum).

Saturday 30

20th Century Theater Rumpke Mountain Boys. 8 p.m. Bluegrass/ Trashgrass. $15-$30.


Arnold’s Bar and Grill Cadillac and Catfish. 9 p.m. Blues/Various. Free. Bogart’s - Brojob, Shadow Of Intent, The Earth Laid Bare, Denihilist and more. 7 p.m. Metal. $15.

College Hill Coffee Co. Trina Emig and Friends. 7:30 p.m. Roots/Bluegrass. Free. The Comet Tonefarmer. 10 p.m. Alternative Rock. Free.


Crow’s Nest - Daniel Van Vechten. 10 p.m. Folk/Americana. Free.


Grand Central Delicatessen - The Ludlow Trio. 8 p.m. Gypsy Jazz. Free. Jag’s Steak and Seafood My Sister Sarah. 9 p.m. Rock/Various. $5. Japp’s - Ricky Nye Inc. 7 p.m. Blues/Boogie Woogie. Jim and Jack’s on the River - The Avenues. 9 p.m. Oldies. Free. Knotty Pine - 90 Proof Twang. 10 p.m. Country. Cover. Latitudes Bar & Bistro The Colour of Rhythm. 9 p.m. Various. Free. Madison Live - Madison Theater Band Challenge with Beyond The Titians, Carpool Tunnel, Left On 9th Street, RIND, The Lala’s, Vibrant Fiction, Whiskey River and Winston Krause. 7 p.m. Various. $10. Mansion Hill Tavern - Blue Ravens. 9 p.m. Blues. $3. MOTR Pub - Arlo McKinley with Joe’s Truck Stop. 10 p.m. Roots/Americana. Free. MVP Bar & Grille - Debi and the Revelation. 8 p.m. Country/Rock/Pop. Free. Plain Folk Cafe - China Catz. 7:30 p.m. Grateful Dead tribute. Free. Rick’s Tavern - Moment 44. 10 p.m. Rock/Various. Cover. Silverton Cafe - Beat Dogs. 9 p.m. Various. Free. Southgate House Revival (Revival Room) - Warrick & Lowell (release show) with Pat Hu and Ben Knight. 8 p.m. Country/Americana. $8, $10 day of show.


Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) Murder by Death with Lung.


9 p.m. Rock/Roots/Various. $20, $25 day of show. Thompson House - New Years Eve Pregame Rap Showcase with Jinx and more. 9 p.m. Rap/Hip Hop. $10. Urban Artifact In Details (release show) with Xzela & Luna Bruja, Useless Fox and Calendar Girls. 9 p.m. Indie/Rock/Various.


Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant - Pam Mallory. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10 (food/drink minimum).

Sunday 31

20th Century Theater Rumpke Mountain Boys’ New Year’s Eve Ball. 8 p.m. Bluegrass/Trashgrass. $15-$30.


Bogart’s - Blake’s Big NYE Bash with The Blood Brothers, Princinnati, Jus Clay and Highway Rich, Prince Bopp and Skylar Blatt. 9 p.m. Hip Hop. $12-$52. Grand Central Delicatessen - Queen City Soul Club. 9 p.m. DJ/ Dance/Soul. Cover.


The Greenwich - Kathy Wade & Friends. 9 p.m. Jazz. $30.


Hollywood Casino - Basic Truth. 8 p.m. Funk/R&B/ Soul. Free. Jag’s Steak and Seafood The Fixx Band. 9 p.m. Dance/Pop/Soul/Various. Cover. Knotty Pine - Final Order. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover. Northside Yacht Club Delay, The Dopamines, Tweens, Vacation, Mad Anthony and Honeyspiders. 9 p.m. Rock/Various. $7, $10 day of show.


Madison Theater - Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. 9 p.m. Psych/Rock/Jam. $20, $25 day of show. Mansion Hill Tavern - Mansion Hill Tavern’s New Years Eve Party with Gator. 9 p.m. Blues. McCauly’s Pub - The Alpha Band. 9 p.m. Various. Free. MOTR Pub - IsWhat?! with Bionic, Stallix and DJ Apryl Reign. 8 p.m. Hip Hop/Various. Free.


Newport Syndicate Q102’s First New Year’s Eve Party with The Rusty Griswolds and more. 7:30 p.m. Various. $80. Northside Tavern - 500 Miles to Memphis and Red Hot Rebellion. 9:30 p.m. Rock/Roots. Free.


Rick’s Tavern - Blackbone Cat, BackDoor and Freak Mythology. 7 p.m. Rock. $10. Rising Star Casino - The Oak Ridge Boys. 10 p.m. Country. $40. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Arlo McKinley with Brian Combs and Eric Bolander. 9:30 p.m. Roots/ Various. Free. Southgate House Revival (Revival Room) - New Year’s Eve Noir & Beat Faction. 10 p.m. Dance/DJ/Alt/ Various. $5. Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) New Year’s Eve Celebration with The Legendary Shack Shakers and The Tillers. 9 p.m. Folk/Roots/Various. $18, $20 day of show.


Urban Artifact - Ernie Johnson from Detroit, Grotesque Brooms, Pelts, Meiosis, Pelts and more. 8 p.m. Rock/Funk/Various. Woodward Theater Blessid Union of Souls with Room For Zero and Roger Klug Power Trio. 7 p.m. Pop/Rock. $35.


Monday 01

The Greenwich - Baron Von Ohlen & the Flying Circus Big Band. 7:30 p.m. Jazz. $5 (or two canned-good donations for Freestore Foodbank). Incline Lounge at The Celestial - Tom Schneider. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free. McCauly’s Pub - Open Jam with Sonny Moorman. 7 p.m. Blues/Various. Free.

Tuesday 02

Arnold’s Bar and Grill John Redell. 7 p.m. Blues. Free. Urban Artifact - Joesph with Thunder Dreamer and Sungaze. 8 p.m. Indie/ Pop/Rock.



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Profile for Cincinnati CityBeat

CityBeat | Dec. 27, 2017  

2017 Year In Review

CityBeat | Dec. 27, 2017  

2017 Year In Review


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