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NEWS

Residents, Officials Wrangle With West End Displacement The story of 99-year-old Mary Page and other residents facing relocation for FC Cincinnati’s stadium has again kicked up concerns about the facility’s impact

Kenneth Rhodes, a West End resident who will soon need to move to make way for the coming stadium, speaks to reporters

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As Mary Frances Page sat in her efficiency apartment on Wade Street in the West End April 9, wondering when she will have to move, a whirlwind of activity swirled around her. After news broke the week prior that FC Cincinnati purchased the property she lives in next to their coming stadium and that she will eventually have to move, the 99-year-old’s story made its way to some Cincinnati City Council members, who discussed her situation and overall housing concerns in the West End that day during a committee meeting. Later that afternoon, activists and residents held a news conference at Page’s apartment to demand a meeting with the team and promises they would not be removed from their homes. Page’s story has kicked up, again, concerns about the impact FC Cincinnati’s $250-million Major League Soccer stadium will have on the predominantly African-American community with a median household income of just $15,000 a year. The stadium will be made possible by roughly $64 million in public investment in infrastructure, including site preparation and parking facilities paid for by the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The team won approval from the Cincinnati Planning Commission and city council earlier this year for a plan that requires a zoning change for the stadium. FC Cincinnati has since filed a request to amend those plans to include the land that the Wade Street property occupies. The Planning Commission will hold a hearing April 22 at Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses about that requested amendment and will likely vote on the proposal May

PH OTO: NIC K SWARTSELL

10. Should the commission approve that request, city council would likely have to vote to approve it. Supporters and the team say the stadium — plus a multimillion-dollar community benefits agreement that comes with it — will be a boon for the neighborhood that has seen decades of disinvestment. But some residents and their advocates are concerned about rising rents, property taxes and displacement. Page received a letter in February from her then-landlord Fred Berger informing her that her building had been purchased and that she would have to move by April 30. Berger did not reveal the buyer, but CityBeat reported on documents from the Hamilton County Auditor showing that the team purchased the property. FC Cincinnati’s Community Development Director Mark Mallory acknowledged the team was the buyer. He said FC Cincinnati is working to find housing for Page and other residents at the Wade Street property and another location on Central Avenue that the team also purchased from Berger. On April 9, the team said it would delay requiring the residents of those buildings to relocate until all found suitable housing. “I will be convening a meeting of senior housing stakeholders and West End leaders on Friday to discuss the special circumstances of Ms. Page,” Mallory said in a statement April 9. “I have invited a representative of Ms. Page’s family, the

Council on Aging, HOME, CMHA, Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses and the president of the West End Community Council. As we continue to work to a solution for her unique and special situation, there is no immediate urgency for her to vacate her apartment by the date she was originally given by property management. Ms. Page may stay in her apartment until suitable housing is found that will accommodate her special circumstances.” Some residents previously told CityBeat that has been challenging because there is a dearth of housing accepting their Section 8 vouchers. Page has been offered a property on Mohawk Street, but it has stairs and is less than ideal, her niece Kim Dillard says. Dillard also said that the team has not communicated with her about Page’s status, and that, even when she finds a new apartment, moving will be traumatic for her. Other residents have echoed those sentiments. “I’m concerned about my aunt’s health at the moment,” Dillard told council. “All this excitement — 99 is a blessing, but it can make her confused from the excitement and everything. And what it’s doing to me and my sister is terrible. It is just terrible.” Page’s situation is directly related to the stadium, but some council members say that other residents may also be at risk of displacement as demand for real estate in the West End heats up. “If we don’t have comprehensive policy, in another month there will be another Ms.

Page,” council member Tamaya Dennard said. “Until we really think about policy comprehensively as it relates to the West End, we’re going to be right back here.” At the committee meeting, Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses Executive Director Alexis Kidd shared some preliminary results from a housing study being conducted by Atlanta-based urban planning consultancy APD Urban Planning and Management. That study, which is funded via $100,000 from FC Cincinnati stipulated in the community benefits agreement struck last year, shows that roughly 1,200 households — about 34 percent of the neighborhood’s population — are at high risk of displacement because they are on fixed incomes, have low incomes and already pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. More than 85 percent of the neighborhood residents are renters, according to Census data. The housing study is taking place concurrently with a separate community engagement effort led by Cincinnati-based Design Impact to gather qualitative information about the West End from residents. About 1,400 units of housing in the neighborhood are subsidized — either via the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, their status as rent-controlled or Section 8. Another roughly 1,500 are market-rate. “We’re trying to protect the affordable CONTINUES ON PAGE 05


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units that currently exist in our community,” Kidd said. “Our mission is to serve our community and to improve the quality of life of our neighbors. Our agency takes those tough stances, standing with our community to make sure our residents are supported in any way we can.” Managing the coming growth in the West End could prove a complicated task. There are myriad concerns that Kidd said could challenge residents: rising rents, real estate speculators, rising property taxes and code compliance issues, among others. Residents may not be aware that they are behind on their taxes or that they’ve been cited for code violations, she said, or may not have the resources to address those issues. In other neighborhoods, those issues have caused big headaches for some long-term residents. “People don’t even know that their property is on that list,” Kidd said about compliance or tax issues that can eventually cause a resident to lose their home. Per the community benefits agreement, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority is working with Seven Hills. “One of the things that we’re committed to in partnership with Seven Hills is working for more equitable development,” CEO Laura Brunner said. “One topic is the displacement of renters. Another big topic that I think is incredibly important is the opportunity to share the wealth creation that comes from increased investment. There are long-time property owners in the West End that it is my goal to keep as owners.” Among the projects the Port has taken on are six row houses on Baymiller Street. The Port has stabilized those properties and two will become Habitat for Humanity homes. But with the good comes challenges, Kidd said. “Our role and the agreement with the

CITY DESK

Port is truly to be part of the checks and balances,” she said. “The Port does great work in terms of helping neighborhoods generate additional wealth and economic growth through housing. But it also has its downfalls — it could displace individuals and has parcels from individuals where taxes have been a problem.” Brunner says the Port is committed to helping the neighborhood. “The reality, as a number of you have mentioned, is that we can’t just take the people who were left behind in these neighborhoods 90 years ago as the result of redlining, kick them out and say, ‘We’re done with these suburban neighborhoods — you can have them now,’ ” Brunner said. Interest in the neighborhood has been ramping up even before the stadium came into the picture. In 2012, there were 16 home improvement or mortgage loans written in the three full Census tracts that make up the West End, according to federal data. In a neighborhood that is 85 percent black with a median household income of about $15,000 a year, the $2,124,000 in loans went to applicants with a median income of $58,000 a year. Only three of the recipients were black. By 2017, the last year for which federal data is available, there were 41 such loans worth $5,554,000 sold to applicants with a median income of $80,000 a year. Thirteen of the recipients of those loans — about 30 percent — were black. Meanwhile, funding for new affordable housing projects in the West End has lagged. The neighborhood’s last allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits — which fund the development of much of America’s low-income, non-Section 8 housing — was $972,000 for the Sands Senior Apartments in 2014. As council, the Port and neighborhood groups think long-term, residents at the

Wade Street and Central Avenue properties expressed more immediate concerns. Later in the afternoon, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition held a news conference at the Wade Street property with residents of both buildings to ask for a meeting with FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding by April 16. Reporters from several news outlets piled into Page’s first-floor efficiency apartment. “I don’t want to Reporters and activists inside Mary Frances Page’s West End apartment move,” Page said. “I PH OTO: NIC K SWARTSELL don’t want to move at all. I’ve been here a long time.” Outside, resischool here. I feel like I shouldn’t have to dents of the Central Avenue building who move because a bunch of white men in have yet to nail down housing gathered. suits who have too much money want us Many said they hadn’t heard that the team to.” is giving them more time past the April 30 Kenneth Rhodes, who has lived in the deadline. Central Avenue building for four years, “The last notice we got was, ‘If you’re not says he hasn’t found housing yet either. out, you’re going to be evicted,’ “ said CrysRhodes, 55, has mobility issues and must tal Lane, who lives with her five children. use a walker to get around. He likes the Two of her children, Jme Rogers, age 9, and location’s proximity to Findlay Market, bus Amier Rogers, age 16, also spoke. lines and other amenities. The family has lived in the Central “I don’t want to leave,” he said. “I like Avenue property for five years. where I’m at. I’ve never had any trouble “I feel like this is a community,” said here. I’m comfortable and have everything Amier. “These are peoples’ lives. People I need here. I’m scared to go somewhere come here to be close to their families, to else and, to be honest with you, I’m not have opportunity, and I feel like they’re sure how I’ll pay to have someone help me taking that away. I have a job here. I go to move.”

Music Venue at The Banks Likely Moving Forward — Eventually BY N I C K SWA R T S EL L

President Cynthia Ford told council April 10, noting that the community has long been the site of environmentally problematic industry that has often required extensive remediation. But Hilltop attorney Tim Burke says the company will only have unloading operations, not concrete productions, at the Lower Price Hill site. Burke said the company needs river access to receive shipments from barges. Council member Amy Murray says that she is working to bring together the company and community groups to reach an agreement before the 90 days is up. Cincinnati City Council is expected to approve the deal between the city and the county this week.

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southwest of the stadium on land Hilltop currently occupies to replace the land where the music venue will go. That means the concrete company will need to move. It says the only suitable location is the land in Lower Price Hill, but some community groups are concerned about that location and say they would like the area used for recreation, not industrial use. Cincinnati City Council April 10 implemented a 90-day Interim Development Control overlay proposed by Councilmember Tamaya Dennard for the land and areas around it to give more time to study the impact of development there. “I’m concerned about the safety and health risks involved with having another heavy industrial business in the community,” Lower Price Hill Community Council

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$8.7 million toward the $29 million needed to cover infrastructure for the project. That amount covers the city’s portion of the infrastructure costs, which will be repaid with city revenues from The Banks. The rest of the infrastructure costs will come from state grants and other revenues from The Banks. That deal won approval from Mayor John Cranley despite Cranley’s initial belief that the project should go on a different parcel at The Banks. However, the mayor says the deal the county has presented is good enough to approve the venue’s placement on other parcels nearby that are currently used for tailgating by Cincinnati Bengals fans. That location required approval from the Bengals — approval granted only after the county promised to build a parking lot

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The Hamilton County Commission voted 2-1 April 11 to approve a deal with the City of Cincinnati for a music venue by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s booking and promotions arm, MEMI, at riverfront development The Banks. But there are still some complications. Hilltop Basic Resources, a concrete company employing 100, will need to move to make way for parking near Paul Brown Stadium as part of the deal. Its preferred relocation site — on the banks of the Ohio River in Lower Price Hill — has caused some concern from neighborhood groups there. Commission members Todd Portune and Denise Driehaus voted for the agreement, while commission member Stephanie Summerow Dumas voted against it. Hamilton County will chip in roughly

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CITY DESK

New Bill in Ohio House Would Legalize Sports Betting

Ohio’s ‘Heartbeat’ Bill Faces Legal Challenge BY N I C K SWA R T S EL L

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine April 11 signed into law one of the nation’s tightest restrictions on abortion — the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” — the day after state lawmakers passed the legislation. The law faces legal challenges from prochoice groups, something its supporters say they anticipate and even welcome as they seek to challenge U.S. Supreme Court precedent legalizing abortion. The legislation would make it illegal to administer an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — as soon as six weeks after conception — and would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after that point. The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest. After DeWine signed the bill into law, the ACLU threatened a lawsuit to challenge it. “This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight to the bitter end to ensure that this bill is permanently blocked,” ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson said, calling the law “one of the most aggressive, oppressive and radical attacks against women ever seen in this state and this country.” The state Senate quickly approved the law 18-13 after the House’s 56-40 vote, which took place following hours of protests and debate. Supporters of the bill say it is an effort to save the lives of the unborn and see it as a potential way to escalate a challenge to Roe v. Wade to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bill co-sponsor State Rep. Candice Keller of Middletown says the aim of the legislation is simple: demonstrate that the laws can withstand legal scrutiny and protect the lives of the unborn. “After nine years of waiting, it is time,”

she told the House Health Committee, of which she is a member, in February. Opponents, however, say the bill will greatly infringe on women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies. “Politicians in the Ohio State Legislature just passed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the entire country,” Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Ohio President and CEO Kersha Deibel said in a statement April 10. “And they’re not stopping there –– after years of passing anti-abortion laws under the guise of protecting patient health and safety, they lay bare their true motives: to ban abortion in the state of Ohio. Politicians have no right to dictate personal medical decisions. Make no mistake –– these bills punish women. When politicians attack health care, they disproportionately impact people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and young people.” Some Democratic lawmakers cast the bill as an embarrassing moment for Ohio. “Sadder than the fact that this legislation continues to undermine the rights of women, is the fact that this legislation continues to paint Ohio as a state that is not where great progressive talent wants to relocate to,” Cincinnati State Rep. Catherine Ingram said in a statement. DeWine’s predecessor, John Kasich, vetoed the heartbeat bill twice, most recently in 2018, saying it likely violated

BY N I C K SWA R T S EL L Would you cruise down to your nearest casino to place bets on the Final Four? You might have the opportunity to do so if the Ohio General Assembly passes a bill introduced April 9 by Cincinnati Democrat State Rep. Brigid Kelly and Republican State Rep. Dave Greenspan, who represents suburban Cleveland.

State Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown) P H O T O : O H I O S TAT E H O U S E

the U.S. Constitution under Roe v. Wade. Instead, Kasich signed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks. Courts have struck down similar “heartbeat” laws in other states, including North Dakota and Iowa, as recently as January. Federal courts have declared the laws violate the constitution under Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that guarantees abortion rights. But with the two new conservative additions to the Supreme Court, supporters of the law say it could be part of a wave of legislation that succeeds before the new Supreme Court. “Ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court,” DeWine told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last month. “And they’ll make that decision.”

Permanent Supportive Housing Coming to South Cumminsville

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South Cumminsville will get a new, 80-unit affordable housing development next year for people who have experienced homelessness or have disabilities. The $12 million, permanent supportive housing project called The Commons at South Cumminsville, developed by National Church Residences and South Cumminsville-based Working In Neighborhoods, will include single-bedroom units that are semi-furnished. The development will also include on-site social workers, educational and

vocational instruction, a computer room with internet access, a laundry room, a fitness center and social activities — part of a wrap-around concept called “Housing First” that the developers say aims to help residents achieve self-sufficiency. Strategies to End Homelessness will identify prospective residents via shelters and street outreach efforts. Each resident’s housing will be paid by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development project-based housing voucher administered by the Cincinnati Metropolitan

Housing Authority. Cincinnati currently needs roughly 30,000 units of housing affordable to its lowest income residents, according to a report by the Greater Cincinnati Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Cincinnati-based Model Group will be the contractor on the project, which is funded in part with City of Cincinnati HOME funds. National Church Residences provides affordable housing to 42,000 seniors in 25 states and Puerto Rico, as well as permanent supportive housing in Ohio and Georgia.

The group started providing the latter a decade ago in Columbus. Working In Neighborhoods has been working with lowand-moderate income residents in South Cumminsville and surrounding communities since 1978 and has built or rehabbed 165 affordable units in Cincinnati. The group also does weatherization and energy education for lowincome homes, among other community work. National Church Residences says the project should be complete by fall 2020.

Under the proposed legislation, the Ohio State Lottery Commission would oversee betting on professional and collegiate sporting events at the state’s 11 casinos as well as at veterans halls and fraternal clubs, collecting a 10-percent tax on betting that would go to school districts and gambling addiction treatment and prevention. The tax could generate as much as $30 million a year, researchers suggest. That amount could double if online sports betting were also to become legal — an issue Kelly and Greenspan made room for in their legislation pending the results of ongoing court battles around that question. Currently, eight states allow sports betting and 20 others are considering legislation to do the same. The bill in the Ohio House is modeled after one passed in West Virginia last year. Those states legalized sports betting after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down laws banning the practice. Kelly and Greenspan’s legislation could face some competition and resistance in the State Senate. Last month, Republican State Sen. John Eklund and Democrat State Sen. Sean O’Brien introduced their own sports betting legalization bill. That law would put sports betting under the control of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which plays a smaller investigative role under the House bill. The commission was created in 2009 when voters approved an amendment to the Ohio Constitution to allow casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. Meanwhile, State Senate President Larry Obhof, a Republican, has said he believes it will take another amendment to the state constitution to legalize sports betting. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who would have to sign any sports betting bill before it became law, says he is taking a wait-and-see approach as the House and Senate work through the proposals.


CITY DESK

Proposal Would Eliminate Cash Bail for Nonviolent Misdemeanors BY N I C K SWA R T S EL L

Cincinnati City Council will soon consider a motion that would direct city prosecutors to forego monetary bail for nonviolent misdemeanor suspects awaiting trial. Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee April 15 voted to move forward with the motion by Council member P.G. Sittenfeld. Sittenfeld, a Democrat, partnered with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, local law professors and the AMOS Project on the initiative. Sittenfeld’s fellow Democratic council members Wendell Young and Greg Landsman, as well as Republican council member Jeff Pastor, support the measure. Bail is generally a method used to try and ensure that defendants awaiting trial show up to their court dates instead of fleeing. However, some research suggests it isn’t effective toward that end, and critics say it instead simply penalizes those who do not have the money to pay to get out of prison while they wait for their day in court. “We know that the inequities in our justice system more severely impact people who are low-income and people who are from communities of color,” Sittenfeld said during a news conference about the motion April 8. “To be the fair… beloved community that we all want to be, we need to face these challenges head on.” Pastor said the issue isn’t a partisan one, but “a human issue.”

BY N I C K SWA R T S EL L

“As an African American, folks who look like me often feel like they don’t have access to the justice system,” he said. It is unclear exactly how many people the initiative would affect, supporters acknowledged. While between two-thirds and three-quarters of those in the Representatives from faith group the Amos Project, the Ohio Justice and Hamilton County Policy Center and elected officials announce an initative to reform cash bail in Justice Center are the city. there awaiting trial, P H O T O : N I C K S W A R T S E L L Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law professor Jennifer Kinsley State Rep. Catherine Ingram and State says it isn’t evident how many are there on Sen. Cecil Thomas, who sits on a task force misdemeanor versus felony charges. on criminal justice reform, say efforts are Beyond numbers, supporters say that underway in the Ohio General Assembly to the issue boils down to simple economic enact similar reforms on the state level. fairness. In the meantime, council will hear “It is often said that you are treated better the motion soon. Sittenfeld and Pastor in this country when you’re rich and guilty both expressed hopes it would pass than if you’re poor and innocent,” Uniunanimously or nearly unanimously. versity of Cincinnati Blue Ash professor Sittenfeld also said he hoped the Wendy Calaway said. “I hope that this is legislation would inspire nearby the start of a conversation about moving municipalities, including Hamilton away from that kind of justice.” County, to adopt similar policies.

Ohio College Republicans Apologize for Calling Congresswoman “Domestic Terrorist” in Fundraising Email BY N I C K SWA R T S EL L The Ohio College Republican Federation has apologized for an April 10 email that called a Democratic congresswoman a term often used to describe mass shooters and perpetrators of other violent acts.

Some of those previous emails also contained language critical of Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman New York representative with unabashedly left-leaning positions, though no others used the phrase “domestic terrorist” before yesterday’s. “This puts me in danger

The college Republican group, which says it operates more than 30 chapters on campuses across the state, including ones at University of Cincinnati and Xavier University, has since disavowed the email and apologized. “The OCRF does not condone the unauthorized email sent

The University of Dayton released a statement today saying that Ferrall improperly used a student email address to send the fundraising solicitations. “Respect for others is a core value of the university and we emphasize the importance of civil discourse,” UD’s statement reads. “We do talk with students and offer numerous opportunities to explore issues of dialogue and professionalism in curricula and experiential learning opportunities.”

Denson also faced OVI charges in connection with the March 29 traffic stop, but that charge was reduced as part of a plea bargain. An Ohio State Trooper pulled the freshman state lawmaker over early in the morning outside of Columbus after he says he observed Denson speeding and crossing over highway lanes. The trooper administered a field sobriety test, which Denson did not pass. The lawmaker declined a chemical sobriety test. Denson told the trooper he had two glasses of wine at a fundraiser earlier in the day. Initially, Denson faced a felony for an Adderall pill the trooper found in the car following the stop and the OVI. Denson says he is not prescribed Adderall and does not know how the pill ended up in his car. In addition to the drug class, Denson will pay a $250 fine plus court costs and receive a six-month suspension of his driver’s license in connection with a reduced misdemeanor charge for driving while under the influence. “I take responsibility for creating this distraction and I apologize to my family and the people I represent,” Denson said in a statement. “I am grateful I have been able to learn and grow from this experience, and I am eager to continue my work on behalf of the people who put their trust in me to fight for them.” Denson replaced term-limited State Rep. Alicia Reece (a fellow Democrat) after winning the seat representing Ohio’s 33rd District last November. Prior to his time in the General Assembly, he was chief of staff for Cincinnati City Council member Wendell Young.

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The email, first reported by a reporter with the nonprofit investigative news agency Center for Public Integrity,

The language of the email is nearly identical to previous fundraising messages the group has sent out recently, albeit with a new subject line.

In the same tweet, OcasioCortez pins threats she has received on Republicans, asking, “GOP, what’s it going to take to stop?”

out in our name,” the group tweeted.”We apologize to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for the use of unacceptable language in this email, and we do not approve of the message conveyed.”

That charge, in connection with a single Adderall pill found in Denson’s car when he was pulled over for speeding and a lane-change violation, was dropped April 15 as Denson agreed to take a drug education class. Under Ohio law, those with felony convictions cannot serve in the Ohio General Assembly.

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The rest of the email isn’t quite as inflammatory and includes common conservative talking points that college students are being “brainwashed” by “Marxist professors.”

Ferrall says the email came from an unnamed fundraising group that OCRF has since fired and that he never saw or approved the message.

every time,” Rep. OcasioCortez tweeted after the email spread on social media. “Almost every time this uncalled for rhetoric gets blasted by conserv. grps, we get a spike in death threats to refer to Capitol Police.” 

Democratic State Rep. Sedrick Denson of Bond Hill won’t face a felony drug charge that could have ended his tenure at the Ohio State House.

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The fundraising missive signed by OCRF Chairman and University of Dayton student Tom Ferrall begins with the subject line “AOC is a Domestic Terrorist.”

also contains two pleas for recipients to contribute «$25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or more today.»

Drug Charge Dropped for State Lawmaker

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CB D, T H C and o the r marijuana matte rs By CityBe at Sta ff


Lloyd Library ’s Through the Rx Bottle looks at the long timeline of medical cannabis

BY MACKENZIE MANLEY

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s Erin Campbell walks me through the Lloyd Library and Museum’s current exhibit, she stops at a display case containing botanical illustrations in a book drawn by famed physician Elizabeth Blackwell. Published in the mid-1700s, Campbell, the reference and technology librarian, points to the intricately drawn plants — seven olive green leaves branch outward and the male and female models lay side-by-side. The latter has buds, which are labeled. The illustration’s subject? Cannabis. But — despite the time — the plant wasn’t as controversial as one might think. In fact, it was used widely — and legally — until its prohibition in 1937. That’s the crux of Through the Rx Bottle. In a political and cultural landscape where medical cannabis has been legalized in 33 states and is gaining popularity and support in others, what does history tell us about its use and reputation? The use of medicinal cannabis dates back as far as 2800 BCE in China under Emperor Shen-Nung’s rule. In a more local and recent scope, the Lloyd’s 16th-century herbals — aka botanical dictionaries — include depictions of it. Prior to its prohibition in 1937, the Lloyd Brothers Pharmacists (the museum’s namesakes) manufactured the botanical drug, among others, right here in the Queen City. It was used to treat an array of symptoms and ailments — many of which proponents for the drug’s legalization cite today. The story behind Blackwell’s illustrations is an interesting one, Campbell says. “She would paint these plants and then her husband, who was a physician, would label them and discuss them and discuss their uses,” she says. “So this is more than just a botanical publication.” Other botanical illustrations — spanning decades — are on display throughout, from botanists like Masclef Claude and Nicolas François Regnault.

Early botanical depictions from Lloyd Library 's Through the Rx Bottle | Photo: Hailey Bollinger


But there are other elements at play in the exhibit, too: Medicine bottles and tins line the cases’ shelves, all with varying labels, colors and shapes; a section outlines cannabis’ use in veterinary and women’s medicine; another showcases propaganda — paperback books and posters — against its use. A timeline contextualizes the exhibition. By 1885, three types of cannabis were available in America: Sativa, Indica and a hybrid of the two known as Americana. The first, which references European strains, was named by Carl Linnaeus — who is known as the father of plant taxonomy — in 1753. Varieties that contained THC, the plant’s psychoactive component, weren’t introduced to the Western world until 1785 via French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who brought it from India (hence its name “Indica”). Throughout the 1800s, it was used both medically and recreationally, and widely researched and, later on, manufactured. By 1900, ParkeDavis and other companies were selling Cannabis Americana for $1.65 per pound. But with 1906’s Pure Food and Drug Act, things started to get shaky. The legislation mandated that “drugs meet the standards of strength, quality, and purity to protect the public against adulteration of food from products advertised as healthful without scientific support,” according to the Lloyd’s timeline.

Lloyd Library 's Through the Rx Bottle exhibit | Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sativa and Indica were two of the primary strains of cannabis in the U.S. in the 1800s | Photo: Hailey Bollinger

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One of the various pre-1937 medicinal cannabis products | Photo: Hailey Bollinger

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Enter Harry Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who began campaigning against cannabis’ use in 1930; seven years later he would be successful via The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 — the beginnings of its criminalization. “It was passed with opposition from the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association,” says Patricia Van Skaik, Lloyd Library’s executive director. “So people are really surprised — I was really surprised. I think that's a big takeaway from this: (medicinal marijuana) isn’t something that's just making an appearance right now. It has a long history by what we consider to be the respected establishment and it wasn’t just something that was used by herbal practitioners.” That story — the history of cannabis — is told largely through the exhibition’s bottle collection and the accompanying illustrations, among other items. All of the bottles were contributed by the Cannabis Museum of Athens, Ohio, with which the Lloyd Library partnered. Skaik says the partnership first came together last summer when the members of the Cannabis Museum staff visited one of the library’s previous exhibitions. With talk both locally and nationally about marijuana legalization — and the popularity of CBD, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid compound — Skaik says it also just felt like the perfect time to bring Through the Rx Bottle to the Lloyd.

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Cannabis as medicine | Photo: Hailey Bollinger

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Botanical dictionaries featuring cannabis illustrations | Photo: Hailey Bollinger

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Skaik notes that the museum felt like a “natural place” for that conversation to unfold. Combined with the illustrations and the Cannabis Museum’s artifacts, she says that they were able to bring the story forward in a compelling, visual way. “But at the same time, we're getting a surplus of people wanting to do research about (medical cannabis),” librarian Campbell says. “So we knew it was abuzz because more people were coming in and wanting to read various things. Specifically old medical texts, because that's when it was really being used regularly for 10-plus years or more. That information was probably more useful than the limited information that’s modern.” Throughout the exhibit's run (it closes August 23) multiple presenters are slated, as well as a day-long symposium on May 11. The latter event features multiple speakers covering an array of related topics. Theresa Culley, a professor and the head of the biological sciences department at the University of Cincinnati, is one of them. She'll discuss marijuana's use by indigenous people in the Americas, where it was a "critical component of their religious, cultural and medicinal practices," according to a press release. Later, Dr. Jonathan Cachat will lead a discussion on Ohio's Medical Marijuana Control Program as well as Hocking College's cannabis lab technician associate degree. After a tour of the exhibition, Elizabeth Crow will close the day with a presentation on women's historical use of cannabis in relation to obstetrical and gynecological issues — specifically in regard to pain management. Other speakers — apart from the symposium — include Pastor Damon Lynch, III (July 18), who will lend a social justice perspective by discussing the importance of involving all community members in Ohio’s medical marijuana programs. Tearea Roland, a local nurse practitioner and an expert on cannabis and the elderly, will focus on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases on Aug. 1. “As wonderful as our collections are — and you really can get lost in them — when they really have value is when they intersect with things that people want to know and things people are talking about,” Skaik says. “We just thought this was a perfect time (for the exhibit) because people are really at a point where they're trying to understand this.” Through the Rx Bottle runs through Aug. 23 at the Lloyd Library and Museum (917 Plum St., Downtown, lloydlibrary.org).


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CBD oil | Photo: Sean M. Peters

Which cannabidiol products to use and why BY SEAN M. PETERS

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Products in photos are Farmville 2018 Compliant Industrial Hemp and courtesy of Planet Caravan Smoke Shop.

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BD products are those made with cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive ingredient found in the cannabis plant. Unlike with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the compound that produces the heady, psychotropic effect associated with traditional marijuana usage — there's no "high" feeling and many tout a number of benefits associated with regular CBD use including its anti-inflammatory effects, its ability to curb anxiety and its use as a natural sleep aid. But consumers looking to take advantage of the plant's various medicinal components need to walk a legal tightrope. Current Ohio law has CBD in a sort of “gray market” (see more about the legalities on page 22), which means there are potential ramifications to listing the businesses currently selling specific CBD products. So, for the sake of protecting local shop owners, mum's the word at present on where specifically to shop as there have been reports of businesses having their inventory seized by authorities — though most head shops and plenty of vape shops offer some form of CBD products. You can also have products mailed to you pretty easily from both local and non-local online outlets. And, you didn’t hear it from us, but CBD is completely legal and its products widely available in Northern Kentucky. But before we jump in, a warning: Using full-spectrum CBD products regularly can show up on drug tests, yielding a "false positive" result. This depends on your body type, your dosage amount and the frequency of ingestion. (CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, but should have less than .3 percent.) If your job is at risk based on the results of a drug test, it's recommended you talk with your employer before beginning a regimen of CBD (or check out your local smoke shop's variety of quick detox drinks for peace of mind). You may also want to tell your doctor (some require drug tests for certain prescriptions to make sure patients aren’t using other drugs). Basically — be sure to research everything before you decide to use CBD.

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CBD OIL

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In terms of practicality, dosage control, effectiveness and versatility, there’s no better way to get your CBD than from tinctures. Rosebud CBD’s line of oils are a boutique offering. Founded by Lovelandnative Alexis Rosenbaum, Rosebud CBD sources sun-grown hemp from Oregon. The oil is available in three potency levels: in a half-ounce bottle the CBD content can range from 350 mg to 700 mg and 1,000 mg. The hemp extract is blended with coconut oil, so the product is vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free and organically grown. You take your desired amount, determined by your familiarity with the effects and the potency of your oil, with the included dropper by squirting it under your tongue, which is the most effective way to introduce the CBD to your bloodstream. It’s also common for people to add their CBD oil to beverages and snacks, though the effect is delayed slightly by having to wait to reach the stomach before truly working its course. For anybody who would like to try CBD farmed in our region, Jason Friedman, otherwise known as the Ohio CBD Guy, has partnered with Pharm CBD out of Bedford, Kentucky to produce his 500 mg full-spectrum oil tincture. It’s flavored with cinnamon and mint, but Friedman’s shop in Covington (105 Park Place, ohiocbdguy.com) has other more neutral flavor options as well. Queen City Hemp, which makes CBD Seltzer, also offers a sublingual tincture in 250 mg, 500 mg and 750 mg.

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PRE ROLLED CONE A A CBD JOINT Akin to a, ahem, “marijuana cigarette,” re-rolled CBD joints are referred to as “cones” because of their shape, which is widest at the end you light and thinnest at the filtered tip from which you inhale. The CBD Axis Hemp Rock cones sampled for this article contain about 1.5 grams of hemp flower, which has been lab tested to ensure consistent levels of CBD and only trace amounts of THC. Available in traditional smoke shops, the cones are wrapped in RAW brand rolling papers, which are unbleached and vegan approved (the gummy strip licked like an envelope prior to rolling other brands of papers contains animal byproducts). To be frank, this is more a novelty than a practical way to ingest CBD over a long term. While the cone's hemp is engineered to offer large amounts of CBD, there are easier and less smoky alternatives. The smoke's flavor is similar to old school marijuana, but somewhat woodier. There are anecdotes of habitual marijuana smokers using CBD cones as a way to wean themselves off "the real stuff." The smell is quite similar as well, so it's not recommended you light up in public anywhere a police officer might sniff you out; they're probably not interested in your assurances that it's technically a mostly legal joint. If you'd rather microdose instead of taking a big wallop of CBD in one go, it's practical to simple empty out portions of the cone's contents into a pipe or a dry herb vaporizer, which gives you somewhat more control over the amount you'll smoke. There are also a variety of loose herb nuggets, the same hemp found in cones only unground, available wherever cones are sold.

CBD joint | Photo: Hailey Bollinger


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VAPE PENS Slim, discreet, easy to use and highly practical for steady dosing through the day, vape pens are a popular way to ingest CBD. They're only as large as an ink pen in most cases and are capable of providing hundreds of puffs before needing replacement. Cigarette smokers should take advantage of this technology as it's less odorous, nicotine-free and packs all of the same health benefits CBD offers in other forms. While medical research on the effects of vaping is still underreported, it's arguably a much healthier alternative to smoking anything.

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Just like the “hash brownies” of yesteryear, food has always been a popular way to ingest cannabis. Whether you want cookies, gummies, chocolates or any number of snacks, there’s a CBD option sure to suit your tastes. This is good for a casual introduction into CBD if you don’t smoke or vape. There’s an added bonus: the “munchies” effect you get from smoking regular old weed is not prevalent with CBD products, so you don’t have to go through that vicious cycle of eating an edible, getting stoned, getting the munchies and inadvertently reaching for another edible as a snack. Cannabis culture has matured in recent years.

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BATH BOMBS Here’s the ultimate luxurious night at home: Throw a CBD-loaded bath bomb in the tub, crack open a CBD seltzer, listen to CityBeat’s "Cincinnati High" playlist curated by Music Editor Mike Breen and, heck, tap a rip off that CBD pre-roll. When did everything get so groovy? CBD bath bombs absorb through your pores, giving you a whole-body immersion in its good vibes. CBD seltzers P

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CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects are wonderful when applied to the skin. It’s said to be beneficial to people with skin irritation and is very easy to apply to localized areas that are bruised, swollen or exhibit any other sort of discomfort. If you already have CBD oil, it’s as simple as mixing some in with your favorite skin cream and using it normally. Of course, there’s no shortage of branded options as well for any multitude of needs. Queen City Hemp again offers a product here: a Kentucky hemp seed oil salve with 100 mg of full-spectrum cannabinoids in a 2-ounce jar.

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This is one of the greatest local products to hit the market in recent years. Not only are the bubbly drinks crisp and lightly flavored, they have no sodium or sugar. Each can comes with 5 mg of CBD, a fraction compared to the dosage offered by other products, but these cans of seltzer water are the perfect treat for someone who would like to avoid alcohol but still feel like they're enjoying an indulgence (with all the benefits of getting hydrated and taking CBD, too). Of course, there's no shortage of cocktail recipes that could include this lightly flavored seltzer. It's a shame we don't have a taproom that exclusively offers CBD beverages. Can someone please get on that once its legality is irrefutable?

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Hemptations founder E.R. Beach has been promoting the benefits of hemp for nearly a quarter of a century B

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.R. Beach wears head-to-toe hemp every single day, from his hat to his jeans to his red, green and yellow-striped Adidas. And it doesn’t stop there. The coffee cup he’s drinking from? That’s made from hemp. His desk? That too. The chair he’s sitting on? Hemp again. To graduate from Heidelberg University in Tiffi n, Ohio, then known as Heidelberg College, he gave his final speech for his communications degree on industrial hemp — the kind of cannabis that’s made his wardrobe (and more) possible. “Not medical, not recreational, but industrial hemp,” he says. “Little did I know at that time the life adventure that would set me on.” When he was approached with the idea of opening a store, he immediately knew what he wanted to sell. The idea for the name came shortly after and in 1995 Hemptations was open for business. If you don’t already know, hemp is a non-psychoactive strain of cannabis that’s required to have no more than .3 percent of THC — aka the stuff that gets you high. There are biological differences between industrial hemp and the plants that are grown for marijuana. From fabric, paper, plastics and food to biofuel and even concrete, the plant has been hailed as a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to virtually everything. It’s been estimated that there are as many as 50,000 byproducts of hemp and, according to Beach, Hemptations carries the largest selection of industrial hemp on the planet. Hemptations sells books with titles like Hemp Macramé, Cooking with Cannabis and Healing with Hemp CBD Oil. Apricot jam and vegan parmesan made with nutty hemp seeds are sold right next to beaded hemp jewelry, hemp jeans, shirts, socks and pet supplies. Hemptations stocks plenty of personal care products too, like soaps, shampoos, lotions and lip balms, all made with moisturizing hemp oil. If it’s made from hemp, you can probably fi nd it here.

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The shelves behind the registers hold their fair share of rolling papers and lighters, and behind a beaded curtain in the back there’s a selection of some special glass and wooden objects for you-know-what that you need an ID and employee supervision to peruse. If recreational cannabis was legal in Ohio, one can guess they’d probably sell that too, but you won’t find your high in any of Hemptations' products just yet. “A really good friend of mine finally said to me one day, like, ‘Beach, man, I know this is gonna sound really stupid, but can I smoke your jeans?’ And that was kind of a common misperception of it when we opened. My response to that was ‘Well you can smoke anything with a big enough lighter,’ ” Beach says with a laugh, “but you’re not gonna get high.” When the first Hemptations store, now one of three locations in Cincinnati (and one in Dayton), opened in O’Bryonville, some in the community weren’t so sure about the new addition to the neighborhood. Beach remembers one member of O’Bryonville’s business association — of which he later served as both treasurer and vice president — commenting that he never came to meetings because he was “stoned all the time.” In reality, he was busy raising his young child and working as the store’s sole employee. “I think it’s still the same misconceptions somewhat that we get to this day,” he says. “I remember this little old lady walking by — I’ll never forget her — she comes by and she says, ‘Hemptations? Sounds like pot.’ That always rang through my ears. But again, that’s why we opened — for the people to walk in the door and be like ‘OK, this is not what we think it is.’ ” Hemp farming was banned in 1937 with the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act, so when Hemptations first opened, everything from raw materials to finished goods were being imported to the United States from countries like Canada, France and China, where hemp production was legal. Beach first found hemp companies to stock his shelves from ads in magazines and in his copy of The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer, a book about the many uses of cannabis that was first published in 1985.

The 2014 Agricultural Act defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana, and the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act removed hemp from the controlled substances list. Now, Ohio is one of only nine states that doesn’t yet allow industrial hemp farming, but Beach says he’d like to grow some of his own crop once farming inevitably becomes legal here. The legality of cannabis has recently changed in Ohio with the allowance for medical marijuana and confusion over new laws has affected some's perception of the store. Hemptations recently had advertising pulled from a local TV station, and a longtime wholesaler wanted to stop shipping product to Ohio for fear that hemp products were included in new regulations. “This is not the first time that the public — or even law enforcement —believed that hemp is illegal,” Beach says. “And the CBD stuff is brand new. But guess what? We’ve been selling CBD for 10 years. Ten years, five years before this whole controversy of growing even existed in the United States, we were getting CBD that was coming through customs — once again, no questions of its legality.” Over the years, Beach has spoken to thousands of people at various exhibitions and events about hemp, and he goes live on Facebook every Wednesday to talk about recent developments in the cannabis world and host a Q&A session. He hopes that everyone can love hemp as much as he does, and now that hemp and CBD products can be found everywhere from Whole Foods to Walmart to Amazon, he says it looks like we might get there sooner than we think. “Hemp allowed me to have a business for myself, believe in it, be able to educate people and try to make a change in the world one person at a time,” Beach says. “I wholeheartedly believe that I haven’t changed anything. The world has changed in a way that I am happy to accept, but I don’t need any credit for it. I just want everything that can be replaced by hemp to be replaced by hemp. The planet would be so much cleaner. No one would be paying attention, no one would get any credit, no one would care. It would just be the way that it is.” For more on Hemptations, visit hemptations.com.


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Ohio's CBD and medicinal marijuana laws can be confusing | Photo: Roxana

(And Have Already Been Asking)

Everything You Wanted to Know About

Legal Cannabis

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The state’s medical marijuana program and the legalities of CBD can be a confusing web of details. We’ve got you covered, though.

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BY NICK SWARTSELL Ever since the Ohio General Assembly in 2016 passed a law legalizing medicinal marijuana and creating a state-overseen process for patients to get it, there has been confusion about the ins and outs of the program. Add to that legal technicalities around products like CBD that some say have therapeutic qualities but don’t contain THC — the chemical compound in marijuana that creates its distinctive high — and you’ve got yourself a lot of details to sort through. Here’s a handy guide with all the basics.


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Cincinnati sounds that might go well with your next legal or illicit high BY MIKE BREEN Just as the social mores of marijuana use have shifted, so too has the go-to music most associated with smoking (or ingesting) weed. Whereas Jazz, Reggae and Psych Rock might’ve been the most pigeonholed as pot-smoking music back in the day, today that musical spectrum has greatly expanded, embracing everything from the deep bass thumps of Hip Hop to the entrancing swirl of EDM to the dreamy Indie Pop haze of Shoegaze and Dreamgaze. If you're looking for a soundtrack to your next smoke session — or maybe you just got a legal prescription and are going to try some tinctures for the first time — here are a few tracks by a variety of artists from Cincinnati that might enhance your experience. To listen, check out the “Cincinnati High” Spotify playlist at citybeat.com. The Lemon Pipers — “Green Tambourine” Sacred Mushroom — “Catatonic Lover” Devin Burgess featuring Miir — “Sundaze” Strange Mechanics — “Whatever the Funk” In the Pines — “I’m Good” Speed Walton — “Crusade of the Alien Stoner” Lemon Sky — “Err” Moira — “Blacking Out” Joesph — “The Unfortunate Yucatan Fire” Common Center — “Kicks in the Reef” Soften — “Snow” The Cliftones — “Hold Steady” A Delicate Motor — “Appear and Disappear” Skeetones — “Stalagtight” Ray’s Music Exchange — “Gauva Girl” Mohenjo Daro — “Chappelwallah” TALK — “Bareskin” Buffalo Killers — “The Path Before Me” Electric Citizen — “Higher Time” Comprador — “Flower Parts” Sungaze — “Whisper” Dawg Yawp — “Why I’m Here” Juan Cosby with CJ the Cynic — “Inhospitable Planet” Valley of the Sun — “Land of Fools”

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The Harlequins — “Not Yet Dead”

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Another area of confusion is Cannabidiol, most commonly known as CBD. Over the past few years, a wave of products like beverages and oils featuring the compound derived from hemp, a plant related to marijuana but containing only trace amounts of THC, hit the shelves of local stores. But late last year, Ohio law enforcement clamped down on some of these items, including products from Cincinnati-based Queen City Hemp, forcing store owners to take them off the shelves. So — is CBD legal? What’s going on? As it turns out, state and federal laws don’t treat CBD differently than other cannabis products, despite the fact they don’t get you high. “CBD is considered marijuana under Ohio law,” a fact sheet from the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program states. “This means that it can be only be sold legally if it is cultivated, processed, dispensed, tested, possessed or used for a medical purpose under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program.” The fact sheet has similar information about federal laws governing marijuana — although those laws don’t technically allow for the state’s medical marijuana program, either. Given that regulatory framework, the state contends that businesses outside Ohio’s medical marijuana industry are not permitted to sell CBD products, including beverages and oils. “Marijuana products, including CBD (Cannabidiol) oil, can only be dispensed in a licensed Medical Marijuana Control Program dispensary,” the state’s fact sheet says. “Those marijuana products will have to comply with the rules and regulations of the program.” That isn’t the case in every state. Kentucky passed a law in 2017 allowing the legal sale and consumption of CBD as long as it comes from industrial hemp and contains no more than .3 percent THC. Ohio’s law could also change soon, though. Last year, the federal government removed hemp from its controlled substances list. In February, lawmakers in the Ohio Senate introduced legislation that would allow for industrial hemp cultivation and the production and sale of products containing CBD. If SB57 passes, the state’s Department of Agriculture could issue cultivation licenses good for five years. Those licenses would not be available to those who have had felony drug convictions in the past decade. The legislation also stipulates that cultivators would be subject to random regulatory tests to ensure that their products contained only trace amounts of THC. If a cultivator failed three of those tests, they would be barred from having a license in the future. Purchasing hemp-derived products, however, would not require a license under the bill, opening up the door to legal CBD sales.

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Ohio’s medicinal marijuana program has had a slow start — it was supposed to be up and running last September, but legal battles and licensing complications meant that it didn’t launch until December last year, when patient registries opened. Since that time, almost 25,000 Ohioans have successfully registered as patients and almost 10,000 have purchased medicinal marijuana. The process looks like this: A person with any of the following conditions may be eligible to buy medicinal marijuana under the state’s program: AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, posttraumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and ulcerative colitis. A patient must have an in-person appointment with one of the state’s roughly 450 certified physicians who hold a Certificate to Recommend from the Ohio Medical Board and maintain regular appointments with that doctor. That physician can then submit the patient’s name to the state’s patient registry along with the patient’s state ID. In some cases, a caregiver may represent the patient on the state’s registry. The patient must then log in to an online version of the registry, complete their application, and pay an annual $50 registration fee. Caregivers go through the same process, but pay a $25 fee. Once accepted on the registry by the state, a doctor may recommend for a patient a 90-day supply of the appropriate medicinal marijuana product as well as up to three refi lls depending on the patient. Ohio’s medical marijuana law allows 16 largescale cultivators and another 16 smaller-scale cultivators. So far, eight of the large-scale (or Level 1) cultivators have received final approval to grow marijuana and nine of the Level 2 cultivators have received their certifications to do so. Currently, 13 dispensaries across Ohio have received fi nal approval from the state. Eventually, 56 total dispensaries that have received provisional licenses should be part of the program. Three of those — Green Rx LLC in Carthage and two in Cincinnati: Pharmacann Ohio LLC and Care Med Associates LLC — will be in Hamilton County, though they have not yet received their fi nal licensing. Until this month, only buds from the marijuana plant were available for purchase. But the state has given final licensing to two of the 40 processors allowed under the law — Grow Ohio Pharmaceuticals and Standard Wellness Company — and both have begun producing tinctures (liquid extracts), with other products like edibles and oils coming soon. The state has set up a toll-free helpline for residents interested in the program. You can call 833-464-6627 for more information about medicinal marijuana.

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STUFF TO DO Ongoing Shows ONSTAGE: Macbeth Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Over-the-Rhine (through May 4) William Wegman and Bobbin

WEDNESDAY 17

EVENT: FotoFocus Lecture with William Wegman Everyone loves turning their dog into a runway model; many people have even set up Instagram accounts just for their furry friends to strut their stuff. But William Wegman is possibly the only artist to have achieved international recognition by taking pictures of his own weimaraner dogs. Thirty-seven years after the Contemporary Arts Center exhibited Wegman’s World, the 75-year-old artist returns to the Queen City for a free lecture, Q&A and book signing at the Cincinnati Art Museum concerning his iconic canine photography. Wegman’s work has been featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sesame Street and the Smithsonian, among other acclaimed institutions. 7 p.m. Wednesday. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, fotofocuscincinnati.org. — TOMMY MCDONALD

politician and singer Fannie Lou Hamer; a haunting homage to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit;” and a quilt dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement with the proverb, “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.” Through July 12. $5 with general admission; $15 adults; $13 seniors; $10.50 children 3-12; free 3 and under. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown, freedomcenter. org. — MAIJA ZUMMO

Rock band that first brought Tweedy’s soulfully tuneful songwriting to the masses. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. $45-$85. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatiarts.org. — MIKE BREEN

THURSDAY 18

MUSIC: Tunes & Blooms at the Cincinnati Zoo As one of only two accredited botanical gardens in Ohio, the Cincinnati Zoo has much more to offer than sassy hippos. Zoo Blooms takes over the grounds each April with an explosion of color and elaborate floral displays. Dubbed “Tulip Mania,” the zoo has planted more than 100,000 tulips in a rainbow assortment of colors that will bloom throughout the month, in addition to more

than 1 million flowering trees and shrubs. To accompany the event, the zoo hosts after-hours Tunes & Blooms concerts every Thursday in April. These family-friendly events are free and feature food (and alcohol) sales. This week, catch a show by local Americana band Honey & Houston. Keep an eye on the weather; concerts can be rescheduled because of rain. Free admission after 5 p.m.; music starts at 6 p.m. 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday. Free admission. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org. — MAIJA ZUMMO

FRIDAY 19

COMEDY: Cedric the Entertainer Cedric The Entertainer first burst onto the national comedy scene in 1992 when he appeared on It’s CONTINUES ON PAGE 28

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EVENT: The 1835 Lecture: Erica Armstrong Dunbar at The Mercantile Library African-American historian and author Erica Armstrong Dunbar tells the stories of the resilience, pain and triumph of the AfricanAmerican community. The Mercantile Library will be spotlighting her book Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, which tells the story of Judge, a runaway slave owned by President George Washington. The nonfiction work was a National Book Award finalist. Dunbar will also be speaking on her writing, tackling concepts

like slavery and racial injustice for the library’s annual 1835 Lecture. 6 p.m. reception; 6:30-8 p.m. program Wednesday. $15 nonmembers; free for members; registration required. The Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St., Downtown, mercantilelibrary. com. — KIARA REECE

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MUSIC: Jeff Tweedy Jeff Tweedy has visited Cincinnati numerous times with his popular Rock band Wilco, playing smaller venues like Ripley’s back in the ’90s up through more recent gigs at the Taft Theatre. But of late the singer/songwriter has been coming to town solo. Last year, Cincinnati was one of only a handful of stops

on the book tour for his excellent memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. Not long after his interview/ reading/performance in support of the book came Tweedy’s solo album, Warm. In the hilarious and poignant Let’s Go, Tweedy says revisiting his past for the writing project allowed him to get in touch with a lot of old memories and feelings — good and bad — and that the process enabled him to write some of his most personal and biographical songs yet for Warm. On the tour for the album, Tweedy has been playing much of the new material, Wilco favorites like “Via Chicago” and “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” songs from his side projects Golden Smog and Loose Fur and even some of his tunes from Uncle Tupelo, the Roots

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ATTRACTIONS: We Who Believe in Freedom at the Freedom Center This new exhibit, curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi — historian, author and founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network — features detailed fabric and textile works that tell the story of the AfricanAmerican experience. The artists of the Women of Color Quilters have created quilts featuring commentary on the Civil Rights movement and the issues of race in America, building upon “symbols of liberation, resistance and empowerment.” Look for a quilt depicting icon, organizer,

PHOTO: ©TIM MANTOANI, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND FOTOFOCUS

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Showtime at The Apollo. From there, he appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and BET’s Comic View. He began acting in 1996 when he was cast in The Steve Harvey Show as Cedric Jackie Robinson. He has since acted in several films and still does stand-up. Onstage, he talks quite a bit about the African-American experience in America today. “White people love space movies,” he tells an audience. “White people love movies about the moon and Mars, where they can be leaving our asses down here on Earth. They think they’re going to leave us down here on Earth and move to the moon. Ain’t gonna happen. You move to the moon, damn it, we’re moving to the moon. We be right behind you in space shuttles with Cadillac grills.” 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:45 p.m.

Saturday. $50-$70. Liberty Funny Bone, 7518 Bales St., Liberty Township, liberty. funnybone.com. — P.F. WILSON

SATURDAY 20

EVENT: Hop Fest at Hop Scotch The Hop Festival at Clifton’s Hop Scotch features between 40 and 50 draft IPAs, everything from double IPAs and hazy IPAs to English IPAs and black IPAs. Bonus: Most beers will be sourced from local and regional breweries. Tickets include 15 five-ounce samples and appetizers. Brewers and reps will also be on hand to give out some swag. The fest is divided into two sessions. 2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Saturday. $30 advance; $40 door. Hop Scotch Craft Beer & Whiskey, 251 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, facebook.com/ hopscotchohio. — MAIJA ZUMMO

EVENT: Signs & Shakespeare Head to the American Sign Museum to catch a special staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. As described by the CSC, “Lysander loves Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander. Demetrius loves Hermia. Helena loves Demetrius. No one loves Helena (poor Helena). This byzantine love quadrangle turns even more ludicrous when, lost in the woods on a midsummer’s eve, the love-struck quartet finds themselves at the mercy of a band of mischievous fairies armed with a potent love potion.” Mortals may be fools, but they’ll be entertained fools tonight as the magic unfolds against the neon glow of the Sign Museum. A cash bar will be available. 6-9 p.m.; play starts at 7 p.m. Saturday. $20; $15 museum members. P H O T O : C O U R T E S Y TA F T T H E AT R E

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COMEDY: Nick Offerman Calling all fans of Parks and Recreation, bacon and beards: Comedian, actor, writer and woodworker Nick Offerman is headlining the Taft Theatre on Friday. If Offerman’s Netflix special American Ham is any indication, expect storytelling, stand-up and song. Offerman, possibly best known as Ron Swanson from NBC’s Amy Poehler vehicle Parks and Rec, won several awards for his portrayal as the meme-worthy man’s man and deadpan city hall employee. Most recently, he was seen (and heard) in films including Sing, Ice Age: Collision Course, The Founder, The Little Hours, The Hero and Infinity Baby, in which he starred alongside his wife Megan Mullally, a comedian in her own right who plays Karen on Will & Grace. In his spare time, Offerman can be found at his woodshop in Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Friday. $40-$60. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org. — MAIJA ZUMMO


P H O T O : P R O V I D E D B Y K N O W T H E AT R E

FRIDAY 19

ONSTAGE: Mercury at Know Theatre On Good Friday, witness the regional debut of Steve Yockey’s Mercury, a dark comedy about suburban revenge. The production caps off Know Theatre’s 21st season, where all its performances have thematically dealt with fear. In this play, three storylines — a nosey neighbor, an overwrought friendship and marauding bears — converge in Portland at a suspicious novelty store. In a press release, Andrew Hungerford, Mercury’s director, called Yockey’s work, “so theatrical, so compelling and such a delightful challenge to make a reality.” Yockey will be in the Queen City April 20 to host a post-show Q&A and two playwrights’ workshops at the University of Cincinnati and Know Theatre. Through May 11. $15-$25; $10 rush rickets. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, knowtheatre.com. — TOMMY MCDONALD

American Sign Museum, 1330 Monmouth Ave., Camp Washington, facebook.com/ cincyshakes. — MAIJA ZUMMO

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EVENT: Game of Thrones Feast at Taft’s Ale House Taft’s Ale House is hosting a full family-style meal to honor the launch of the final season of Game Of Thrones. Ales, wine and cocktails will be available for purchase and everyone goes home with a Citrus IPA six-pack. 6-8 p.m. Monday. $38. Taft’s Ale House, 1429

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EVENT: Kings Island Opening Day Head to the largest amusement/waterpark in the Midwest to see what’s new. The park opens for weekends starting Saturday, with full hours launching May 15. Check out revamped rides, like the Kings Mills Antique Autos, where guests can “drive” a scaled Model T around a scenic track; or the freshly renovated International Street, with a renewed fountain, landscaping and more to harken back to the park’s opening in 1972. The famous glockenspiel has returned to the Festhaus and handmade characters emerge every 15 minutes to dance. This year

is also the 40th-anniversary of The Beast and will see the arrival of the Miami River Brewhouse, with local food and beer. 10 a.m.-10 pm. Saturday. $70 adults; $44 juniors and seniors. Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, visitkingsisland.com. — MAIJA ZUMMO

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EVENT: Earth Day OTR Washington Park is hosting a party for the planet. There will be eco-friendly activities for adults and children with vendors set up around the park including Rooted Juicery, 80 Acres Farms, Sound Bites Nutrition, Great Parks of Hamilton County and more. Listen to live Reggae from the likes of Da Squad, Jam band Peridoni and the Elementree Livity Project. A “One Stop Drop” recycling drive will be available to recycle items not normally able to be put in roadside bins. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Overthe-Rhine, washingtonpark.

org. — KIARA REECE

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Godless in Cincinnati The weekend-long American Atheists convention features workshops, God-awful movies, social events, speakers and more BY S T E V EN R O S EN

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2018’s American Atheists covention PHOTO: PROVIDED

says. “And that neutrality is not an attack on religion. It’s a way to protect religion — it’s a way to protect the government from religion and a way to protect religion from government.” The greatest current threat, Fish says, comes from so-called “religious exemption” laws, inspired by the Hobby Lobby decision in which, according to The New York Times, “corporations with religious owners cannot be required to pay for insurance coverage of contraception.” American Atheists describes the convention as “three days of speakers, social events, comedy, music, workshops, and community events.” The regular price to attend is $249, but local residents can get in for $99 and the fee for full-time students is $49. There are a couple of specially ticketed events, including a 9 p.m. Friday performance by God Awful Movies, a Mystery Science Theater-like trio that makes acerbic comments while screening religious movies. As the convention webpage puts it, “If a higher power really existed, its PR team couldn’t possibly be this bad!” By the way, it’s no coincidence the American Atheists national convention occurs during Easter weekend. “It’s sort of a combined thing of ‘What else do atheists have to do on Easter Weekend?’ and, quite frankly, rates for convention hotels are very cheap because no one else is scheduling anything,” Fish says. For more on the American Atheists 2019 National Convention, visit aacon2019.org.

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affirming a constitutionally protected separation of church and state. Today the group has 26,000 individuals who support it through membership, donations and/ or participating in legislative action alerts, Whissel says. American Atheists offered CityBeat two references to the growth of the nonreligious in America. In a recent article, the Religion News Service reported “survey data suggests that the percentage of Americans who don’t affiliate with any specific religious tradition is now roughly the same as those who identify as evangelical or Catholic.” And a survey conducted by the Barna Group, which conducts research on faith and urban issues, found that twice as many Generation Z (born since 1999) teens consider themselves atheist as do the adult population. “Teens, along with young adults, are more likely than older Americans to say the problem of evil and suffering is a deal breaker for them,” Barna’s website reports. “It appears that today’s youth, like so many throughout history, struggle to find a compelling argument for the existence of both evil and a good and loving God.” But on a more immediate level, American Atheists is involved in trying to keep legislative bodies from passing laws or undertaking other activities that impose religious values on secular life or in any way grant religious privileges, thus breaching church-state separation. “We think that the best way to protect everyone’s rights is for government to not pick sides and to just stay neutral,” Fish

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After losing faith in the Catholicism she was raised in, she was inspired to work for the late Edwin Kagin, a Union, Kentuckybased attorney who was the national legal director of American Atheists from 20062014. She also joined the local Free Inquiry Group and was a founding member of Tri-State Freethinkers, whose co-founders are Jim and Chrissy Helton of Union. (Jim Helton is American Atheists’ national field organizer.) Indeed, a famous progressive Cincinnatian — Jim Obergefell, whose case before the U.S. Supreme Court resulted in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling establishing marriage equality — will be the convention’s keynote speaker. “My decision to speak at the American Atheists conference was not based on my religious beliefs or lack thereof,” Obergefell told CityBeat via email. “I’m a firm believer in the separation of church and state, especially because religion is often used to demean, attack and legislate against those who are different. Efforts continue across the nation to legalize discrimination under the guise of ‘deeply held religious beliefs.’ Yet these proposed policies and laws seem to have one target only, the LGBTQ community. I will speak out and work against these efforts in any way possible, so it was an easy decision to accept their invitation to speak at the conference.” American Atheists was founded in the early ’60s by the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whose lawsuit challenging official bible-reading in public schools led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision

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incinnati might seem like an unusual choice for the American Atheists organization’s annual national convention — a great many people here just presume everyone believes in a higher being, usually a Christian one, as part of their family-inherited “American values.” But to American Atheists, which was founded in 1963, that’s exactly the reason Cincinnati is such a good choice. The national convention, occurring at Downtown’s Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel Friday-Sunday (April 19-21) — with a few events slated Thursday, April 18 for early attendees — has also recently visited Salt Lake City, Utah; Oklahoma City; Des Moines, Iowa; and Memphis, Tennessee. “We look for places that are exciting fun cities that do have diverse populations and a lot of atheists, but where that atheist perspective and those atheist voices just aren’t being respected and aren’t being heard,” says Nick Fish, the organization’s president. “We don’t want to play into that false notion that atheists are in New York City and Los Angeles and nowhere else. Atheists are in every single community in the country and that’s why we go to the places we go to — to show that.” Further, says Pamela Whissel, the organization’s membership director and magazine editor, the high-profile presence of an American Atheists convention can rally local atheists. “We have a list of cities where it’s just sort of assumed the majority of people are religious,” Whissel explains. “Not to say we wouldn’t have a convention in Las Vegas, but when we go to places like where we’ve been, we’re front page news. And what happens is that all the closeted atheists in that town have learned there’s another atheist in their world. So one of the best parts of the convention is having local attendees come. It’s so gratifying to see this whole new world has opened for them.” Actually, Greater Cincinnati has an active atheist community. Whissel, who now lives in New Jersey, was part of it when she lived in Bellevue, Kentucky.

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ONSTAGE

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A Reimagined Lady Macbeth BY TO M M Y M C D O N A L D

Lady Macbeth is perhaps the most cunchooses dark because light let her down,” ning, ruthless and well-known female lead she says. in Shakespearian tragedy. But in CincinAlong with her husband, Lady Macbeth nati Shakespeare Company’s current silently acknowledges a shrine commemoproduction of Macbeth — with the addition rating her would-be child throughout of a succinct original opening scene and the first act; her body language remains thoughtful subtlety throughout the play — fixated on her stomach for the duration Kelly Mengelkoch has made the 500-yearof the play and she shows a dexterously old role her own. faint affection toward the few children that Mengelkoch, 38, grew up in Wichita, share the stage with her. Kansas, and has been on stage since she Undoubtedly, Lady Macbeth’s most was five years old. famous scene is her final one — commonly It was luck that landed Mengelkoch in referred to as “the sleepwalking scene” — Cincinnati, where the seasoned actress during which she is so wracked with guilt is about complete her 14th season as an that, though her eyes are open, her sense ensemble member of Cincy Shakes. While is shut out. guest-directing a show in Wisconsin, Brian Isaac Phillips — CSC’s current producing artistic director — coincidentally caught one of Mengelkoch’s performances and was impressed enough to bring her back to the Queen City. Like many stage actors, Mengelkoch was familiar with the Scottish play before its director, Miranda McGee, offered her the role of Lady Macbeth in late 2017. In the play — which runs through May 4 — Lady Macbeth convinces her husband, Macbeth, Kelly Mengelkoch and Giles Davies in Macbeth to kill the king of Scotland and, since it’s a tragedy, pretty much PHOTO: MIKKI SCHAFFNER PHOTOGRAPHY everyone else also dies by the play’s close. The role is a demanding one in need of an actress who can “I’m trying to play it as honestly and speembody passion, fear and shame while cifically as I can,” Mengelkoch says. “Takbeing equal parts scorned, empowered ing each of those lines in her sleepwalking and broken down. meditation and specifying them back to But this isn’t the first time Mengelkoch moments in the arc of the play.” has played a part in Macbeth. In prior At the preview of the performance, productions she was cast as Witch No. 3 Mengelkoch delivered a show-stopping and in 2011’s show she had two roles: the start to the fifth act; she begins the famous wife of Macbeth’s rival, Lady Macduff, and scene by wordlessly caressing a small doll Witch No. 1. before walking downstairs and reciting her Compared to that production, CSC’s lines with an emotionless face. During key current iteration is set in the same period lines, she transports us back to moments setting as Shakespeare’s original text. of the play’s past, emulating them with her According to Mengelkoch, it’s also bloodier body movements and vocal inflections. and dirtier. But the largest split between The play reveals that Lady Macbeth is the two productions comes via the play’s not the vindictive temptress many have opening scene, which McGee had in mind typecast her to be. Instead she is a woman for well over a year. Lady Macbeth, in the driven to the brink by feelings of guilt and midst of a painful labor, delivers a stillborn inadequacy due to the loss of her child. child. Coinciding with the intense moment, Having failed to do what, at the time, was the play’s three masked witches rise from her womanly duty, Lady Macbeth had no a center-stage trap door before a bloodchoice but to provide for her husband the curdling scream from Lady M. transitions only other possible way: by convincing directly into the play’s opening battle him to kill his way to the top. scene. Mengelkoch’s ability to combine techni“That is (her) impetus for going ‘I cannot cal acting skills with a deep sense of empagive you a son, but I can make you a king,’ ” thy for a complex character is the unmisMengelkoch says. “It’s very illuminative in takable driving force for this production of terms of her motives and it certainly plants Macbeth. their love in a new, stronger place at the beginning.” Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Though many productions make the production of Macbeth runs through May 4. character out to be evil, Mengelkoch says More info/tickets: cincyshakes.com. that, to her, she’s not evil at all. “I think she


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The University of Cincinnati’s Robert and Adele Schiff Fiction Festival returns to campus April 17-19, welcoming four notable contemporary writers for three days of panel discussions and readings, including Sloane Crosley, Katie Kitamura (see interview, page 34), Uzodinma Iweala and Brendan Mathews. “These are all writers we think have exciting careers and interesting work, and we try to have a diverse group in terms of their aesthetics, their backgrounds,” says Leah Stewart, head of the creative writing department at UC and author of six books, most recently 2018’s What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw. “One of the things we really value in bringing in visiting writers is giving students an opportunity to talk to people whose work Sloane Crosley they’ve read,” Stewart continues. PHOTO:UNGANO + AGRIODIMAS “For undergrads especially, it’s often the first time they’ve had an or they have personal lives that are either opportunity like that.” going great or in shambles? I would think Through the UC’s Visiting Writer Series, that would be comforting but they really exposure to a variety of fiction, non-fiction want a, ‘Well, Balzac had 50 cups of coffee and poetry writers is possible, albeit in a day, go do that.’ ” smaller, one-evening-only kind of events. Crosley’s trademark humor is present Founded in 2003, the Fiction Festival in both her fiction and nonfiction, but the affords a more expansive opportunity to switch between the two genres isn’t necesnot only listen to a writer read their work, sarily the hardest: it’s the follow-up to any but to also hear how they work. piece of writing. “Much more important than hearing “I think it’s just every time I am done with someone’s work read aloud is getting a an essay — a book of them (or) a novel — in chance to ask them questions and hear the immediate aftermath, you think, ‘Well, them talk about their process,” Stewart that’s it. That was fun. I’m done.’ You know, says. “Which can often still be illuminat‘Being a writer was great,’ ” she says. ing for me and I’ve been at this for 25 years. Of her process, Crosley says each piece I think, for a student who is new to writing of writing she does develops differently. fiction, to listen to somebody talk about “Sometimes I have some sort of topic or how they construct a character can often rumination that’s been rolling around in be really inspiring and instructive.” my brain like a marble and it finally is time Kitamura’s third novel, A Separation, to pop out,” she says. “And then sometimes was named on The New York Times’ 2017 it’s just a real story and I’m looking for the Notable Books of the Year. Iweala’s debut meaning to match so I’m not in danger novel, Beasts of No Nation, was made into of just writing a first-person essay about an acclaimed 2015 feature film. Mathews’ complaining. It’s like, they each come short story collection, This Is Not A Love differently and they each take different Song, was published in February of this amounts of time — a week, a year. They’re year. Crosley is the one outlier, in that she all different.” is perhaps best known for her humor-filled Structured or not, Crosley says there’s nonfiction essay collections, including I no time like the present to do what you are Was Told There’d Be Cake and the recently passionate about. released Look Alive Out There. (Her novel, “The one thing I do tend to tell people is — The Clasp, was published in 2015.) I had a professor in college say, ‘You don’t “I absolutely love talking to younger writhave to wait to be great,’ ” she says. ers, but I do sometimes get a little bummed The Robert and Adele Schiff Fiction Fesout that I’m not helping them because I tival takes place April 17-19 at the Elliston can’t give them a specific prescription of Poetry Room in Langsam Library at the how to become a writer,” says Crosley via University of Cincinnati (2911 Woodside Dr., phone from a stop on her book tour for the University Heights). It’s free and open to paperback version of Look Alive. the public. Find info on the Visiting Writers “Wouldn’t you be comforted to know Series page at artsci.uc.edu. even your heroes get insecure and have to pump themselves up or they get stuck

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Katie Kitamura On Writing ‘A Separation’ BY JAS O N G A R G A N O

Katie Kitamura’s third and most recent novel, 2017’s well-received A Separation, centers on a mystery that is never fully resolved. The oblique narrative follows a woman whose estranged husband, a London-based author, has gone missing in Greece while doing research for his next book. The woman, a book translator whose name is pointedly never revealed, spends the bulk of the novel interacting with the hotel staff and other locals where her husband was staying in a small seaside town. Driven by Kitamura’s spare prose and uncommon powers of perception, A Separation is a fascinating and often vexing slow-burn novel that refuses to tie things up neatly in a bow. CityBeat recently connected with Kitamura to discuss her process and predilections as a writer. CityBeat: Your work as a novelist often delves into how our point of view and biases undoubtedly color how we perceive things. Why are you interested in investigating that so thoroughly?

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Katie Kitamura: Absolutely. I think it’s an overarching theme of the book I’m writing right now as well. Something that I’m really interested in as a novelist is the idea that we don’t really have any objectivity. Everything is subjective. Everything is colored by your own experience or your own perception or your own prejudices. One of the funny things about being a writer is that you have this pretense of authority, as if you have some kind of absolute knowledge. Complicating what that impartiality looks like is really interesting to me because I think it’s very hard to be impartial in any situation. I think some of the most dangerous situations are the ones where you cling to the pretense of impartiality but in fact you are infecting the situation with all of your own perceptions and prejudices and layers of interpretation, including where they’re wrong.

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CB: A Separation is not a plot-driven novel. As such, do you have any idea of where the narrative is going before you start writing?

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KK: I’m somebody who always writes with an outline. It’s not a big outline. It usually fits on a simple piece of paper and I keep annotating that piece of paper over the couple years I’m working on a book. I’m not a confident enough writer to sally forth without any sense of where I’m going. It’s just not my process. A lot of really wonderful writers, a lot of writers that I’m friends with, that’s how they work: They write and they figure out what will happen next and then they go from there. For me, having a roadmap is really useful because I find the hardest part of writing a novel is holding your nerve over the years that it takes to complete it.

Katie Kitamura P H O T O : M A R T H A R E TA

CB: A Separation concludes without the story’s central question being fully answered. Why did you want to keep things unresolved and open-ended? KK: I wrote it shortly after my father died, so a lot of the book is about grieving and about how often we’re told that the narratives in our lives follow a tidy linear narrative and you have closure at the end. In my experience, particularly of grieving and losing somebody that I love very much, it’s completely not linear and there is no kind of moment that you have recovered from that loss. I wanted to find a way to put that into a novel, and part of that meant trying to sustain a narrative form that was open. A novel does have a beginning, middle and end, and so it’s a kind of paradox trying to write something that feels open-ended that captures the sense that maybe the situation isn’t going to be resolved. If anything, it’s more unresolved at the end of the novel than at the beginning. So that was one of the interesting tensions to think about when I was working on it. CB: You grew up in California, but your parents are Japanese natives. How has your Japanese-American heritage impacted what you do as a novelist? KK: I haven’t written a novel that’s set in America, and I think that’s significant. I don’t really have the distance from my work to be able to specifically analyze the relationship between my own family history and the work I produce. But the sense of being an outsider makes it possible for me to write fiction. I’m always most at home writing a character who is newly arrived in a place or who is not of the culture and is trying to navigate and understand that culture. It’s the same in the book I’m writing now, and it’s certainly the same in A Separation. Katie Kitamura appears April 17-19 at UC’s Fiction Festival in Langsam Library’s Elliston Poetry Room. More info: artsci.uc.edu.


FILM

‘High Life’ Plunges Into Melancholic Depths BY T T S T ER N EN ZI

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How long will it take for audiences to space, to glimpses of the past. That shift accept that Robert Pattinson has moved feels like a completely organic narrative on from the sparklingly moody vampire choice, especially considering the extreme franchise Twilight? We’ve been far more circumstances and backgrounds of the willing to embrace and celebrate his characters involved. Monte and his daughco-star Kristen Stewart’s headlong rush ters are the last members on a spacecraft into indie and internationally-tinged where an assembled team of inmates was narratives. But he has worked with David sent to space hurtling toward a black hole Cronenberg (Cosmopolis and Maps to the with hopes of tapping into an alternate Stars), Werner Herzog (Queen of the Desert), energy source that could be used to save Anton Corbijn (Life) and Benny and Josh humanity. Safdie (Good Time). What becomes clear, though, is a simple I would compare his post-franchise (and quite eternal) question — is humanity career to that of Daniel Radcliffe’s worth saving? post-Harry Potter ventures, although Radcliffe employs a dark humorous bent in his choices. Pattinson favors dramatic and elliptical projects where he brings a stillness to the proceedings. His fans would probably bring up his movie idol good looks — his perfect cheekbones and expertly coiffed hair — but that completely dismisses how effectively he uses his soulful eyes to draw us into angsty worlds. Pattinson is capable of pulling in all attention and light, which makes High Life, his Robert Pattinson in High Life latest film from director Claire P H O T O : A L C AT R A Z F I L M S / A R T E F R A N C E C I N É M A Denis, yet another stellar addition to his filmography. And what an English-language debut André Benjamin (aka André 3000 of the for Denis, the French director known for Hip Hop duo Outkast) joins Pattinson as the 1988 Palme d’Or nominee Chocolat one of the criminals on the deep space and the 2013 Un Certain Regard nominee enterprise; he too brings a welcome sense Les salauds (both from the Cannes Film of a man with a dark history striving for Festival) as well as the much-lauded Beau redemption. For the role, Benjamin has to Travail from 1999. Denis incorporates turn down his megawatt smile and prespoetic transitions and an intense focus on ence and hold all of that inward. In this the bodies of her characters to lull audiway, he matches Pattinson as if they were ences into explorations of colonialism, all separated siblings rejoined and discoverof which make her shift to science fiction ing their connection. an unlikely choice. She and Pattinson are The real darkness on the horizon is not ideal partners-in-crime, intent on upendthe black hole the team seeks, but comes ing conventional expectations. in form of Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche), the High Life offers an intriguing blend pseudo-science officer on the mission who, of body horror (à la David Cronenberg), like everyone else, has a secret past of her brooding existential melancholy (which is, own. Dibs, however, has no desire to turn to me, more reminiscent of Lars von Trier’s the page. She embraces her evil deeds like lovely Melancholia than, say, either version a comic book villain by hatching plans to of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris) and eerily create life via artificial insemination. But grounded sci-fi tropes (the daily shipshe does so against the wills of those on based interactions recall the Danny Boyle/ the journey and with deliciously twisted Alex Garland collaboration Sunshine). This glee. Aside from manipulating the crew, film isn’t aimed at the CGI-hungry masses she also forces them to face the unsavory or even the more star-driven niche market. aspects of themselves — resulting in the (Pattinson lacks the broad mainstream inevitable thinning of the herd. appeal of George Clooney or Natalie PortHigh Life doesn’t rocket toward its goal man, who come armed with Oscars that with fast or furious purpose. It feels like confer acceptance and gravitas beyond the journey we’re witnessing has actually box office success and franchise fandom.) already reached and entered a black hole But there isn’t a need for any of that in and, by the end, might be on the verge of Denis’s surreal fable. High Life shifts from exiting out the other side. With that perthe present dilemma of Monte (Pattinspective in mind, it is quite a ride. (Opens son) and his young daughter surviving in Friday at Esquire Theatre) (R) isolation aboard a ship drifting through Grade: B+

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Culinary Continuity With a new executive chef at the helm, downtown’s Metropole at 21c retains its excellent bar and restaurant

Metropole at 21c

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order of the latter but it was a mess of a dessert; the biscuits were oddly shaped and brightly colored bits of tasteless dough scattered haphazardly around a bowl of various creamy piles. The server took it off our tab. All told, Metropole remains one of the best — if not the best — hotel restaurants and bars in Cincinnati. Guests rave about the breakfasts, and the crowds will flock upstairs when the cocktail lounge reopens. Just perfect to enjoy the heart of our city.

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like vegetables and grains. I loved the smoked cauliflower soup topped with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, a dribble of chili oil and a dab of crème fraiche. The smoky vegetable purée and all those flavorful toppings completely masked the taste of cauliflower — in a good way. Charred pear and beet salad on watercress made a light, fresh beginning to the meal. A dinner companion ordered roasted Brussels sprouts as a starter, too. They were rich and cooked to a creamy consistency and accented with chopped dates and some of Metropole’s unforgettable smoked butter. I ordered charcuterie as a starter but was a bit disappointed. Having taken our server’s advice on which cheeses to try with my meat selection — a few quite satisfying slices of duck breast ham — I found both of his suggestions too salty and fairly bland. It probably was just a bad decision on my part; I should have had that burnt carrot salad, which I know is fabulous. We didn’t try one of the most interestingsounding new items on the dinner menu: wild mushroom toast with mushroom gravy. But we all liked our entrées — pan seared monkfish with a mélange of unusual veggies, duck breast with crispy wild rice and rapini, and grilled salmon with lentils and snap peas. Nobody had much interest in dessert, but I wanted to try something from the sweet side. From a short dessert menu, the Metropole candy bar seemed too heavy. That left coffee cheesecake or something called biscuits and cream. We split an

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with a couple at the next table and made a party out of it. I’m a fan of the bar scene at Metropole, too, both the main one adjacent to the ground-floor restaurant and the seasonal cocktail terrace on the rooftop. A talented staff of mixologists serves fresh, innovative libations along with solid versions of classic cocktails. The restaurant has gone through some upheaval recently after executive chef Jared Bennett left to help open Karrikin Spirits Co. in Fairfax, taking a few Metropole staffers with him. I’ll have to admit that I was a little worried that the quality might decline after Bennett’s departure. On board since early this year, new executive chef David Kelsey has been with the 21c company for several years and brings continuity rather than change, which is a good thing when what you’ve got is mighty fine to start with. A few signature items remain prominent on the dinner menu, such as the charcuterie option and the burnt carrot salad (our server said that one would never go away). You still finish your meal with a complimentary bowl of lemony cotton candy, even if you’ve already scarfed down the famous house dessert, the Metropole candy bar. And the hotel’s iconic big plastic penguin statues remain available to join your table, upon request. The dinner menu when we visited had just a few sections. (The menu has since been updated; visit metropoleonwalnut. com to see what’s currently available.) Choices include starters, entrées and sides

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ver-the-Rhine might get more attention as a hip neighborhood, but I would nominate the intersection of Walnut and Sixth streets downtown as one of the best parts of Cincinnati — it’s got everything. Expand the geography by a couple of blocks and you wouldn’t have to go anywhere else in the city to find a plethora of delights. The renaissance there began in 1995 with the opening of the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Headlined by the Broadway in Cincinnati series and joined by several other resident performing arts groups, the Aronoff provided an anchor that eventually made this quarter arguably one of the most vibrant sections of the city. Nearby “destination” establishments now include the Contemporary Arts Center, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse and the super-popular Boca and Sotto restaurants. In 2012, the 21c Museum Hotel opened directly across the street from the Aronoff and quickly became one of the premier hotel accommodations in the metro area. The first 21c (for 21st century) was launched in 2006 by an art-loving Louisville couple in their home city. They wanted to share their personal, contemporary art collection in an upscale, innovative hotel environment — part lodging, part gallery. And not at all as an afterthought, the property included a cutting-edge restaurant: Proof on Main. It was an immediate sensation and although the couple hadn’t intended to grow into a chain of hotels, 21c Cincinnati became the second location. As of this writing, there are eight hotels, each with its own farm-totable bar and restaurant facility. Metropole is Cincinnati’s edition of the 21c food approach, and it has been one of my favorites in town since its opening. The name comes from the original use of the building: the luxury Hotel Metropole that dates back to 1912. The hotel lasted until the 1970s when developers converted it into apartments, leading to its renovation and reopening as 21c. As a hotel restaurant, Metropole serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and most of my experiences here have been at dinner. A few years ago, my husband and I spent New Year’s Eve in their dining room and although we arrived alone, we hit it off

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THE DISH

MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THESE ‘DON’T MISS’ EVENTS

APR. 8-14

May 23

Fantastic French Fries BY S E A N M . PE T ER S

French fries are the culinary equivalent of beer: They’re available basically everywhere, their quality ranges from common fare to mind-blowing-gourmet and there’s probably something healthier on the menu. Diehard loyalists favor each variety of fry — crinkle-cut, curly, shoestring, steak, waffle, wedge, etc. — with such voraciousness they’d have you believe anything besides their preferred preparation is indictable treason. In case you don’t cook or have never bothered to consider how your food is prepared, french fries are slices of potato boiled in fat or oil (oven-roasted fries are irrelevant to this discussion). Before seasoning enters the equation, the main distinction is the manner in which the potato is cut — thick, thin, curly; it’s a diverse playing field, but each fry is carved from a similar kind of spud (generally russet). There are only so many ways in which you can ruin fries, but the most serious offense is to undercook them, which tends to result in a mushy exterior with a raw, grainy center. An overcooked fry, if it’s not fully carbonized, is at least crispy — one of the dish’s most important features. Salt is mandatory, but only in moderation. The roof is the limit when it comes to what you decide to pile on top. So many different restaurants serve fries in the city it would require an entire book to discuss each of their merits. This survey is meant to be part of a gradually unfolding conversation about our city’s culinary landscape. These restaurants are not ranked in any way, just sorted for your consideration.

French fries with gravy and cheese PHOTO: SEAN M. PETERS

Pleasant Ridge Chili: French Fries with Gravy & Cheese Affectionately known as “gravy cheese fries” by locals, crinkle-cut fries are slathered in a brown beef gravy and topped with shredded cheddar, which immediately melts into the sauce. Eat this right away and you’ll be delighted to find the fries can withstand the gravy’s presence without losing their crunch, which seems like a culinary miracle. You should have no problem clearing your plate but know that this dish doesn’t travel well if you value a crisp fry. It’s not much to look at, but it is an imperative dish to sample if you want to appreciate Cincinnati’s diner culture. 6032 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, pleasantridgechili.com.

JUNE 22 Sesame waffle fries PHOTO: SEAN M. PETERS

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Poutine

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JULY 15-21

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT CITYBEAT.COM

PHOTO: SEAN M. PETERS

Northside Yacht Club: Poutine

The Yacht Club’s kitchen consistently impresses diners with a wide selection of elevated bar staples like housesmoked buffalo wings and pulled-pork sandwiches, but their poutine is one of the most buzzworthy dishes. Fresh-cut fries are covered in duck fat gravy, succulent Wisconsin cheese curds and garnished with scallions; I recommend you upgrade and add a fried egg (well worth the extra dollar). This will cure or prevent any hangover you might earn at their well stocked bar. 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com.

Quan Hapa: Sesame Waffle Fries Color me surprised to find out Quan Hapa serves fries. I’ve always loved their house okonomiyaki (aka savory Japanese pancakes) — washed down with a cool Tiger Beer — but I didn’t expect to fall in love with a basket of their waffle fries. The sesame seasoning blend is subtle but matches the Asian street food flavor profile on the rest of the menu, especially since the accompanying ketchup seems to be spiced up with a bit of Sriracha. Where else in the city can you enjoy a bowl of tonkotsu ramen and waffle fries at the same time? 1331 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, quanhapa.com.


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EST. 1933

Chili cheese fries

French fries with mornay

PHOTO: SEAN M. PETERS

PHOTO: SEAN M. PETERS

Skyline: Chili Cheese Fries

Sacred Beast: French Fries with Mornay Sauce

Many Cincinnatians might balk at the choice to feature this iteration of our city’s signature chili, but I have my reason. In my circle, Skyline is the obligatory first impression of Cincinnati chili that tourists should sample. Now, a lot of stubborn diners just can’t comprehend the appeal of chili atop spaghetti and, maybe they don’t like hot dogs, either. In that case, Skyline’s chili cheese fries are the best way for a curious out-of-towner to try Cincinnatistyle chili. Versions of chili cheese fries can be found at restaurants across the country, so it’s an easy way to introduce our lovely, weird, soupy brown culinary anomaly to a new initiate. The only drawback to this dish is that around 80 percent of the fries are so saturated with chili that they lose their crunch, but the chili’s savory, slightly sweet flavor is still one of the best and most consistent in the city. Various locations, skylinechili.com.

Sacred Beast was opened by veterans of la Maisonette, so it seems appropriate their culinary background would yield an excellent French-style fried potato. The fresh-cut shoestring fries are exceptional, really, especially when paired with the mornay sauce, which is béchamel blended with parmesan and gruyère cheese and flavored with chicken stock. Like many French dishes, it’s a marriage of the best features of all ingredients involved. Crisp and simple fries with a deeply flavorful sauce, you’ll exclaim “mon dieu!” after your first bite. 1437 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, sacredbeastdiner.com.

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Yukon french fries PHOTO: SEAN M. PETERS

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Senate: Truffle Fries

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Crunchy exterior, fluffy center. A great standard-cut fry that’s delicious on its own or with your condiment of choice. I ordered a hot dog and small fry off the kids menu after I saw the size of the burger on my neighbor’s table. Even so, Wahlburgers seems to think a meal intended for a child should contain an entire day’s caloric intake and I, a hungry adult, was filled with fries to spare. Because of the quality of my fries, this visit left quite a good first impression. Founder Paul Wahlberg wrote that he fondly remembers when his dad used to make a batch of his homemade fries and I can’t help but imagine his little brother Marky Mark could eat a whole funky bunch of them. 199 E. Sixth St., Downtown, wahlburgers.com/cincinnati.

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Senate offers two unique fry options, one cooked with duck fat and the other prepared with truffle oil. I decided to focus on their fries prepared with truffle oil because of my waitress’ recommendation. The fry has a nice herbaceous kick from dried thyme and the truffle flavor travels really well on your palate, causing that irreplaceable umami sensation that only truffles can impart. Dipped in the included chipotle aioli, you’ll feel like a fancy Belgian with your elevated mayonnaise and fries. Fun fact I learned while researching this dish: despite being a fungus and not an animal, many vegans do not consider truffles acceptable to eat since they are often — but not always — foraged using dogs and hogs. 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, senatepub. com; 1100 Summit Place Drive, Blue Ash, senateblueash.com.

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MUSIC

This is a Call On-the-rise Soul group Durand Jones & the Indications get sociopolitical and personal on ‘American Love Call’ BY JAS O N G A R G A N O

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Durand Jones & the Indications PHOTO: ROSIE COHE

feel, and for us that’s a statement about class unity in a time when race is being used to divide us over and over again.” Jones, whose vocal delivery gives the song an added layer of emotional resonance, agrees that it’s not a time to stand on the sidelines. “When it comes to writing for the social or political consciousness, you really have to feel what’s going on around you,” Jones says. “I think that Aaron really captured that beautifully. During the time that he was writing that tune, we were traveling a bunch. We got to see a lot of the country during a lot of important times. We were traveling when (the high-profile white nationalist rally in) Charlottesville happened. We got to talk to people all around the country about Trump and how they felt about him. It’s so important whenever you’re writing these things to really reflect the emotions that are all around you, because then it’s empathetic. It’s not just about you.” While Jones is eager to see where the Indications head into the future, he’s already gratified with where they are at this particular moment. “It’s so crazy to be singing out on the stage and look out into the audience and see people sing every word to every song,” Jones says of the strong reception to American Love Call and the current tour behind it. “That’s something totally new for us, and it’s a really cool experience to witness.” Durand Jones & The Indications perform April 24 at The Woodward Theater. Tickets/ more show info: woodwardtheater.com.

C I T Y B E AT. C O M

people who love music like we do. They conduct business with such warmth and compassion. It’s a cool crew to be a part of.” While Frazer doesn’t deny the band’s devotion to old-school genres, he’s also quick to dispel the notion that Durand Jones & the Indications are just a retro outfit. “We’re definitely influenced by these heritage styles of music but I don’t see us as just a revivalist band,” Frazer says. “One of our other big influences is Hip Hop. I think some people could argue that the Hip Hop influence is bigger on the first record or that it’s more overt, but we are still trying to create a kind of source material for Hip Hop, create these moments within these Soul songs that a producer might find and sample.” Jones and Frazier juggle the band’s lyrical duties; in fact, each has sung songs the other has written. Such was the case with “Morning in America” and “Don’t You Know,” the former of which was Frazer’s attempt at socially conscious songwriting. “I do think that this is a time where people have to be pretty overt about where they stand,” Frazer says. “For us it was a statement about the traveling that we’ve done over these past couple years and just trying to take a snapshot of the country at a moment in time. I was imaging all these places that we’ve been to and what people were doing but also recognizing that the common factor in all those people is that they are all broke. Seventy-eight percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That’s a crazy statistic. “We certainly don’t mean to be preachy but it feels like it’s time to just say what you

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“It’s a lot more fun and a lot more engaging,” Jones says. “It was definitely a challenge that I was up for, and I feel like that was the reason a song like ‘Don’t You Know’ came into being, because we realized there was this void that wasn’t being filled in our current Soul world. We’re missing that vocal group dynamic like (The Temptations’) Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin.” For the uninitiated, the Durand Jones & the Indications formed in 2012 when Jones, Frazer and the band’s other main songwriter, guitarist Blake Rhein, met as students at Indiana University. Rhein and Frazer were audio engineering majors. Jones, a native of rural Louisiana, was studying Classical saxophone and writing horn parts for the IU Soul Revue. The three bonded over old-school Soul and R&B records and eventually began writing their own songs. The trio’s 2016 self-recorded debut fell into the hands of Terry Cole, whose Loveland, Ohio-based label Colemine Records put out the record soon thereafter; Bloomington, Indianaspawned label Dead Oceans (home to Indie stars like Mitski and Bleached) reissued it in conjunction with Colemine in early 2018. The labels co-released American Love Call in March. “We sent Terry the first recordings that we did with Durand and he was super into it and he encouraged us to keep doing it,” Frazer says of Cole’s integral part in the band’s existence. “He encouraged us to put out a record. We didn’t think we had enough to put out an LP — it was only eight songs — but he was all about it. I really can’t say enough about Terry and that Colemine family. They’re just amazing

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urand Jones & the Indications’ freshly minted sophomore album, American Love Call, opens with a one-two punch that nicely encapsulates the band’s thematic and musical versatility. “Morning in America” is a classic tone-setting opener, a visceral snapshot of a country struggling to cope with the current moment as the group’s penetrating ’60s- and ’70s-style Soul sways in the background. The song’s narrative moves from one corner of America to another (“Congressman in Washington/Receive their brief and brew/While lead, it fills the pipelines/In a Detroit county school”) before culminating with this poignant refrain, all delivered by way of frontman Jones’ rich, expressive vocals: “It’s morning in America/But I can’t see the dawn.” The next track, “Don’t You Know,” is the flip side of the Indications’ coin, a relationship song that opens with this pleading earworm of a chorus: “Don’t you know that’s how I really feel?/Gonna love you, baby, yes I will.” The lead vocals on the song are handled by drummer Aaron Frazer, whose affecting falsetto is a nice counterpoint to Jones’ deeper, more versatile delivery. Those familiar with Durand Jones & The Indications’ 2016 self-titled debut won’t necessarily be surprised to hear Frazer center stage — he handled vocals on one of that album’s signature songs, “Is It Any Wonder” — but the fact that his voice leads multiple tracks on American Love Call might be an unexpected development, especially given that Jones’ voice is such a prominent component of the band’s sound. “Durand and the rest of the band have welcomed a second voice,” Frazer says by cell phone while en route to the band’s next tour stop. “It creates something that other groups aren’t really doing today, which is to defuse the idea a singular frontperson and harken back to an older style. Our reference points on American Love Call are these ’70s vocal groups where any one of those singers could have been solo but they chose to stay in a group and create something bigger than just their voice.” Jones, speaking by phone in a separate conversation, confirms that he was eager to incorporate more of Frazer’s vocals, going as far as to name-check an iconic vocal duo in the process.

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Leggy and Electric Citizen Hit the Road BY M I K E B R EE N

• Indie Pop/Rock trio Leggy has been a staple of the Cincinnati music scene — and one of its best international exports — since emerging five years ago with its debut EP, Cavity Castle, and touring regularly, including visits to the U.K. and Europe. In early March, the group released its very first full-length album to feature new and unreleased material titled Let Me Know Your Moon. The Leggy album — released through P H O T O : L E G G Y. B A N D C A M P. C O M upstart label Sheer Luck Records — is an engaging years. That changes this week as the group collection of Leggy’s intimate, emotive, — singer/guitarist Brad Gibson, singer/ slanted and noisy Indie Pop songs that bassist Archie Niebuhr, drummer Alesfinds the band in peak form, a perfect callsandro Corona, and guitarist Steven Wicks ing card that wonderfully demonstrates — issues its first full-length, Anything to Get everything that makes the trio so great. Back. Leggy is promoting the new album The group members recorded the album with touring that will take the band all almost entirely on their own, largely over the U.S. This week, the trio is playing in Wicks’ home studio, which allowed East Coast dates, which will be followed them to take their time and experiment. by shows throughout the Midwest and, Anything to Get Back’s generally laidback in May, on the West Coast. Leggy will be vibe is a big part of its allure and is perhaps heading back overseas for more dates later a reflection — along with the rich and this year. elegant song arrangements, which are Get more info on Leggy at facebook. more impactful than anything else the com/leggy. band has done to date — of the unhurried • Hard-touring rockers Electric Citizen recording schedule. are heading back out on the road beginThe new album was worth the wait, ning this weekend. The quartet’s extensive run of dates will take them throughout showcasing an even sharper version of Europe and includes slots at several festiband’s highly melodic Guitar Rock than vals, where Electric Citizen will perform was introduced on the EPs Ever Been In alongside a variety of likeminded Hard Love? (2013) and Real Far East (2014). Wicks Rock/Psych Rock/Stoner Rock acts from and Gibson’s guitars compellingly ping all over the world. pong off of each other in the mix, while The group’s fest appearances begin SatCorona and Niebuhr lay down slippery urday, April 20 (aka 4/20), in recreationalgrooves and tight rhythms beneath them. pot-friendly California, where Electric CitiCombined with Gibson’s lithe voice and zen will perform at Los Angeles’ Psycho burrowing melodies, the songs slide along Smokeout festival. The band then heads ethereally in way that resembles recent to Brooklyn, New York to play DesertFest, Indie Rock favorites like DIIV and Real which runs April 26-28 and includes acts Estate. like Windhand, Weedeater, Black Cobra The catchiest song of the batch (fittingly and many more. Anything to Get Back’s first single) is “When On May 1 in Bristol, U.K., the group I Was Opposed to Her,” which features starts its U.K./European tour, which vocal layers akin to Kevin Barnes’ dynamic includes the DesertFests in London and work with Of Montreal, with winding song Berlin. Electric Citizen will also play structuring to match. “Do You Feel Well?” Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark and the is another album highlight, shifting the Muskelrock fest in Sweden before wrapmood down with acoustic guitar twinkle ping up the road-trip in Copenhagen on and airy, hypnotic atmospherics (with an June 1. Cincinnati singer/songwriter Jess assist by Lung cellist Kate Wakefield). Lamb is joining the band on keyboards for This Saturday, April 20, Saturn Batteries the upcoming tour. celebrate the new album release with a free For more on Electric Citizen, visit elecshow at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Overtriccitizenband.com. the-Rhine, motrpub.com) with special guests Lemon Sky. Showtime is 10 p.m. Saturn Batteries Return with To stream/download the album, visit Debut Album saturnbatteries.bandcamp.com. Following a pair of remarkably promising Contact Mike Breen: EPs, Cincinnati Indie Rock band Saturn mbreen@citybeat.com. Batteries hasn’t released new music in five

MINIMUM GAUGE BY M I K E B R EEN

Most Musical Candidate?

We recently wrote about the music cred of Democratic presidential hopefuls Beto O’Rourke (who was once in a band with Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta) and Pete Buttigieg, who wrote an essay for his college newspaper about post-911 musical tastes. O’Rourke had the edge in the cred race based on those accomplishments, but Buttigieg added to his credentials when his campaign leaked video of him playing (very well) the Spoon song “The Way We Get By” on piano. After the clip went viral, Spoon commented on Twitter: “So this guy can just do everyone’s job, huh.”

K-Pop Takeover Continues

After growing a legion of fervent fans in the U.S. over the past few years, last weekend Korean singing groups made their most high profile mark in the States yet. K-Pop’s biggest breakthrough moment was probably hit-making boy band BTS’s appearance as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. But the night before, girl group BLACKPINK scored high marks for its prime-time slot at the massive Coachella festival (where they’ll appear again this weekend), which many counted as one of the highlights of the event. Not that either group necessarily needed the added mainstream cred — BLACKPINK and BTS are both chart-topping acts in the U.S. and BTS has sold out several stadium concerts this year.

Remembering Nipsey

The death of Hip Hop hero Nipsey Hussle led to an outpouring of grief and widespread respect for the MC, who was shot and killed late last month. During the memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 11, a letter from Barack Obama was read to mourners; the former president praised Hussle for seeing the potential in his community and striving to uplift it. The program at the service also included tributes from Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, YG and others. The ensuing funeral procession on April 11 attracted thousands of fans, but also more violence — a shooting along the procession’s route left four people injured and one dead.


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Polyphia P H OTO : FAC E B O O K

bands, to show them how fun it can be with the mindset that every show might be your last.” (Jason Gargano)

Polyphia with I The Mighty and Tides of Man Thursday • Southgate House Revival

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C I T Y B E AT. C O M

If you think it’s difficult maintaining the attention of frenzied metalheads with shredding guitar proficiency, heart-stopping volume and triple-clutch drumming, imagine keeping them entertained without the benefit of the accompanying pentagrammatic pit-of-hell or witch/warlock spell-casting lyrical imagery. And yet, that is exactly the kamikaze mission that the musicians of Polyphia have set for themselves every time they take the stage, and it’s certainly not the only element that sets them well apart from their Metal brethren. The Dallas quartet has also incorporated plenty of Hip Hop studio techniques and EDM flourishes into its full-bore Metal

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Adventurous Indie icons Deerhoof just keep going. Twenty-five years after springing from the fertile mind of founding drummer Greg Saunier, the San Franciscobased outfit has released 14 full-length albums via a plethora of labels, each a fascinating snapshot of where Deerhoof was at any given moment. The current lineup — Saunier, bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez — has been in place for more than a decade, lending an inevitably telepathic connection to the group’s oddly mesmerizing live shows, as off-kilter sounds engulf the listener from every direction. Deerhoof’s most recent record, 2017’s Mountain Moves, is as eclectic as ever, yielding everything from Noise Pop to Zappa-esque Jazz excursions to the playful, impossible-to-pin-down genre gymnastics of “Come Down Here & Say That,” which features ethereal guest vocals from Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier. If Deerhoof has an overriding philosophy that has guided its quarter century of music, it just might be this quote from a 2014 interview Saunier did with diymag. com: “It’s a tough game, making hipster music. When you’re making a new record, there’s no guarantee people are going to hear it. You never know when people will be like, ‘Sorry, you’re done.’ The only thing that’s ever worked for us is to remember we’ve been given the gift to make a new record, so let’s go wild, (do) the craziest thing we can think of and assume it will bomb. We don’t feel any responsibility. It’s always just a last hoorah. I think, ‘What would we want our swan song to be?’ A celebration. We love to tour with younger

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43


MUSIC EDITOR MIKE BREEN KNOWS MUSIC. Nellie McKay

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presentation. Over the course of nine years and three full-length albums (including last New Levels New Devils), Polyphia has substantively shifted the Metal conversation away from adherence to tradition and timeweathered musical tropes, evolving a new branch of the genre that embraces new sounds and ideas from across the sonic and stylistic spectrum. Shamelessly welding Pop melodicism and Hip Hop rhythms to its Metal framework, Polyphia has created an infectiously bold new hybrid. A crash course in Polyphia’s genrebending magnificence is available in the video for “G.O.A.T.,” one of the singles released last year from New Levels New Devils. Twin guitarists Timothy Henson and Scott LePage interweave intricate, sinewy and powerful leads throughout the song’s 3:35 Pop hit duration, while bassist Clay Gober lays down Jazz/Funk/Metal lines that could pass for lead guitar (like the Cannibal Corpse of John Entwistle) and relatively new drummer Clay Aeschliman hammers with authority while skirting the genre’s edges with nuance and a melodic touch all his own. It’s not beyond belief to include Polyphia in a Math Rock discussion, since the approach to guitar exhibits a similar precision and delicacy while retaining Metal’s pummeling bombast. The willingness to fold Hip Hop and EDM into the mix is indicative of an acute understanding that all music is evolutionary and the best of it is created when it’s cross-pollinated beyond the narrow confines of a single genre definition. “Poly” is Greek for “many” and “-phia” means “sides.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. (Brian Baker)

Nellie McKay’s charmingly offbeat sense of humor was evident right from the start of her recording career. Her acclaimed 2004 debut album — recorded with former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick (who worked on Revolver and Abbey Road) — was titled Get Away from Me, a play on the breakthrough hit from another jazzy Pop artist, Norah Jones, who’d released her Come Away from Me two years prior. Though it can sometimes be endearingly quirky, McKay’s music is no joke. A trained Jazz vocalist, her Pop-centric debut — boldly, a double album — was full of hooky melodies and a slanted songwriting style that produced tracks like the carnivalesque “Sari” (which includes lyrically comical rapping on the verses) and the chiming Pop song “Ding Dong.” Pretty Little Head, McKay’s sophomore effort, resulted in a falling out with Columbia Records, which reportedly was insisting the release be cut down to a single disc. After leaving the label, it was put out as intended (another double album) by SpinArt, though the Indie Pop label folded a few months after the album was released. Whether it was serendipity or schadenfreude, the album was then picked up for distribution by Sony, Columbia’s parent company. Though widely praised for her writing, McKay eventually shifted back to her Jazz roots and began showcasing her skills as a song interpreter on 2009’s Normal as Blueberry Pie, a tribute to the recorded songs of singer/actress (and native Cincinnatian) Doris Day, which was released on esteemed Jazz label Verve Records and peaked at No. 5 on the Jazz charts. She returned to her diverse musical stylings (and working with Emerick) on 2015’s My Weekly Reader, which consisted of covers of songs from the ’60s, including work by Frank Zappa, Moby Grape, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Kinks. McKay’s latest album, last year’s Sister Orchid, is a beautiful slice of elegant Jazz balladry. The album features relatively straightforward, slow-burn takes on several standards, backed primarily by only a piano on numbers like “My Romance,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “In a Sentimental Mood,” though she whips out her ukulele for a dreamily jaunty version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Lazybones.” (Mike Breen)


LISTINGS

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 17

H

20TH CENTURY THEATER - SWMRS with Beach Goons and Destroy Boys. 8 p.m. Rock/Pop/Punk. $16, $18 day of show.

BLIND LEMON - Mark Macomber. 6 p.m. Acoustic. Free. BOGART’S - Yacht Rock Revue. 8 p.m. Soft Rock. $12.

ARNOLD’S BAR AND GRILL - Todd Hepburn. 7 p.m. Piano/Various. Free.

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BLIND LEMON - Tom Roll. 7:30 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

COMMON ROOTS - Open Mic. 8 p.m. Various. Free.

CAFFÈ VIVACE - Blue Wisp Big Band. 8 p.m. Big Band Jazz. $10.

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HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - Jim Connerley Trio. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free. THE LISTING LOON - Ricky Nye. 8:30 p.m. Blues/Boogie Woogie. Free. THE MAD FROG - Hip Hop Open Mic. 9 p.m. Hip Hop.

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MOTR PUB - Abby Vice and Laurel & The Love In. 10 p.m. Rock/Alt/Electronic/Various. Free.

H

MUSIC HALL - Jeff Tweedy. 7:30 p.m. Indie Rock. $45-$85.

NORTHSIDE TAVERN Shiny Old Soul. 9 p.m. Roots/Rock/Various. Free. SCHWARTZ’S POINT Angie Coyle Quartet. 6:30 p.m. Jazz. Cover. SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (LOUNGE) - Molly Morris. 9 p.m. Roots. Free.

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SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (REVIVAL ROOM) - North By North, The Last Troubadour, Maggy and Upstairs. 8:30 p.m. Rock. $8.

TAFT THEATRE - Boney James. 7:30 p.m. Jazz. $27.50-$58.50.

THURSDAY 18

ARNOLD’S BAR AND GRILL - Philip Paul Trio. 7:30 p.m. Jazz. Free.

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ARNOLD’S BAR AND GRILL - The Part-Time Gentlemen. 8 p.m. Americana. Free. BLIND LEMON - Jake Walz. 9 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

BLUE NOTE HARRISON - Red Sun Rising. 7 p.m. Rock. $18. BOGART’S - Trippin’ Billies. 9 p.m. Dave Matthews Band Tribute. $12.

HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - Pam Mallory Trio. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free.

BROMWELL’S HÄRTH LOUNGE - Cybele with The Steve Schmidt Trio. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free.

MCCAULY’S PUB - Kevin Cooper. 7 p.m. Rock/Various. Free.

H

MOLLY MALONE’S IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT Missy Werner Band. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free.

THE COMET - TV Moms, Eunioa, Welp and Bi. 10 p.m. Noise/Experimental/Rock. Free.

MOTR PUB - Spooky Dreamland and Boa. 10 p.m. Indie Rock/Shoegaze. Free.

FRETBOARD BREWING COMPANY - China Catz. 8 p.m. Grateful Dead Tribute. Free.

RICK’S TAVERN - Stratus. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover.

THE GREENWICH – Radio Black. 9 p.m. R&B/Hip Hop/ Neo Soul. $10.

SCHWARTZ’S POINT - Eric Lechliter Trio. 8:30 p.m. Jazz. Cover.

HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - John Zappa Quartet. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free.

SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (LOUNGE) Weston Harris Hill and Frontier Folk Nebraska. 9:30 p.m. Rock. Free.

PLAIN FOLK CAFE - Open Mic. 7 p.m. Various. Free.

H

THE REDMOOR - Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra Meets Soul: Ray Charles + Earth, Wind & Fire. 7 p.m. Jazz/Soul/ Funk. $20.

SCHWARTZ’S POINT - Brazilian Commusications with Thiago Camargo & Marcelo Silviera. 8 p.m. Jazz. Cover.

H

SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (REVIVAL ROOM) - JIMS, The Z.G.s, Hale Bopp Astronauts and Symptoms. 8 p.m. Rock/ Punk/Various. $5.

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SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (SANCTUARY) - Polyphia with I The Mighty and Tides of Man. 7:30 p.m. Progressive/Metal. $18, $22 day of show. STANLEY’S PUB - The Qtet. 9 p.m. Jazz/Funk/Fusion/ Various. Free. URBAN ARTIFACT - Peaceful Sorrow with Extansion. 9 p.m. Indie/Folk/Various

CAFFÈ VIVACE - Rusty Burge Trio. 8:30 p.m. Jazz. Cover.

JAG’S STEAK AND SEAFOOD - Airwave Band. 9:30 p.m. R&B/Pop/Dance. $5. JIM AND JACK’S ON THE RIVER - Over the Top. 9 p.m. ’80s. Free. KNOTTY PINE - Prizoner. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover.

H H

LUDLOW GARAGE Albert Cummings. 8:30 p.m. Rock. $15-$35.

MADISON LIVE - SlugWife with Kursa, Seppa, Broken Note, LoneDrum, ChuckDiesel and Organtica. 8 p.m. EDM. $22, $25 day of show. MARTY’S HOPS & VINES Encore Duo. 9 p.m. Acoustic Classic Rock. Free.

H

MOTR PUB - Static Falls and Slow Glows. 10 p.m. Indie Rock. Free.

The Way Down Wanderers perform at The Southgate House Revival Friday PHOTO: KEITH COT TON

H

NORTHSIDE YACHT CLUB - Jarv with Audley with WeirDose x Juan Cosby and FISO. 9 p.m. Hip Hop. Free.

PLAIN FOLK CAFE - Whitherward. 7:30 p.m. Indie Folk. Free.

H

SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (REVIVAL ROOM) - The Way Down Wanderers and Henhouse Prowlers. 9 p.m. Americana. $12, $15 day of show.

STANLEY’S PUB - Suede Jackets. 10 p.m. Rock. Free. THE SYMPHONY HOTEL - Ricky Nye and Bekah Williams. 8 p.m. Jazz/Blues. Free. TAFT THEATRE - Celtic Woman. 8 p.m. Celtic. $40-$60.

H

THOMPSON HOUSE - The 69 Eyes with MXMS and The Nocturnal Affair. 7:30 p.m. Goth Rock

H

TOP CATS - Circle It (album release show)

with Jane Decker and Beloved Youth. 8 p.m. Indie Rock. $5.

COMMON ROOTS - Dreadful Wind and Rain. 8 p.m. Roots. $5.

H

FRETBOARD BREWING COMPANY - Billy Rock Band. 8 p.m. Rock/Soul. Free.

WASHINGTON PLATFORM - Hal Melia & Phil DeGreg Quartet. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10 (food/drink minimum).

THE GREENWICH – Push Play. 8:30 p.m. R&B/Dance/ Various. $8.

URBAN ARTIFACT Glassworld, Avanti and Kyla Mainous. 9 p.m. Rock/ Hardcore/Metalcore

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HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - Ricky Nye Inc. with Bekah Williams. 9 p.m. Blues/Jazz. Free.

SATURDAY 20

JAG’S STEAK AND SEAFOOD - The Good Hooks Band. 9:30 p.m. Rock/ Dance/Various. $5.

WIEDEMANN BREWERY AND TAPROOM - Flying Underground. 7:30 p.m. Rock/Pop.

ARNOLD’S BAR AND GRILL - Modern Groove Jazz Band. 8 p.m. Jazz. Free. BLIND LEMON - Jamonn Zeiler. 9 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

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BLUE NOTE HARRISON - Greater Cincinnati Band Challenge with David Franke, Lucid Wasteland, Patient Zero, Saints Among Us, Sick Serenity, Social Chemist and The Kiwis. 7 p.m. Rock/ Various. $12. BOGART’S - Pink Droyd. 8 p.m. Pink Floyd Tribute. $12.

BROMWELL’S HÄRTH LOUNGE - Steve Schmidt Trio. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free. CAFFÈ VIVACE - Faux Frenchmen. 8:30 p.m. Gypsy Jazz. Cover.

JIM AND JACK’S ON THE RIVER - Bad Habit. 9 p.m. Rock. Free. JOCKO’S PUB - Saving Stimpy. 9:30 p.m. Rock. Free. KNOTTY PINE - Prizoner. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover. LUDLOW GARAGE - Gerald Albright. 8:30 p.m. Jazz. $40-$75.

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THE MAD FROG Tynan with Gardella, Vice Versa, Stanktnk b2b Mandals and Ski Patrol. 9 p.m. Electronic. $20.

H

MADISON LIVE - Desert Dwellers with Vusive and Mr. Scissors. 9 p.m. Electronic/World/Various. $22, $25 day of show.

C I T Y B E AT. C O M

WOODWARD THEATER - Deerhoof with Hateflirt. 8 p.m. Indie Rock. $16, $18 day of show.

THE GREENWICH – The Marsh Brothers Experience. 8:30 p.m. Jazz. $5.

FRIDAY 19

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FRETBOARD BREWING COMPANY Carole Walker Duo. 6 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

YORK STREET CAFÉ An Evening With Nellie McKay. 8 p.m. Jazz/Pop. $25, $30 day of show.

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STANLEY’S PUB - The Radio Buzzkills, The Debtors, Hot Diggity Daffodil, Actual Italians and Street Limes. 9 p.m. Rock/Punk. Cover.

CAFFÈ VIVACE - On A Limb. 7:30 p.m. Jazz. Cover.

H

45


MARTY’S HOPS & VINES - Jason Erickson. 9 p.m. Acoustic. Free. MCCAULY’S PUB - Templin Road. 8 p.m. Rock. Free.

H

MOTR PUB - Saturn Batteries (album release show) with Lemon Sky. 10 p.m. AltRock. Free.

H

NORTHSIDE TAVERN - Heavy Hinges with Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts. 10 p.m. Rock/Various. Free. PLAIN FOLK CAFE - Low Country Boil. 7:30 p.m. Roots. Free.

MAY 23 , 2019 RD

PURPLE PEOPLE BRIDGE 5:30 - 8:30 P M

RICK’S TAVERN - Deuces Wild. 10 p.m. Country/Rock. Cover. SCHWARTZ’S POINT - Phil DeGreg Trio. 8:30 p.m. Jazz. Cover. SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (LOUNGE) - The Cousin Kissers. 9:30 p.m. Country. Free. SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (REVIVAL ROOM) - Cincinnati Noir. 10 p.m. Dance/Goth/Classic Alternative/Various. $5.

H

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C I T Y B E AT. C O M

46

KNOTTY PINE - Randy Peak. 10 p.m. Acoustic/Various. Free. LATITUDES BAR & BISTRO - BlueBirds. 8 p.m. Rock/R&B. Free. MANSION HILL TAVERN - Open Jam with Deb Ohlinger. 6 p.m. Blues. MOTR PUB - Todd Albright. 9 p.m. Country Blues. Free.

H

NORTHSIDE YACHT CLUB - Breaking Wheel with Plague Years, Natural Selection, Subtype Zero and Keel Haul. 8 p.m. Metal. $10, $12 day of show. STANLEY’S PUB - Open Jam. 9 p.m. Improv/Various. Free.

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WASHINGTON PLATFORM - Traditional New Orleans Jazz Brunch with Buffalo Ridge Jazz Trio,. 11:30 a.m. Jazz. $10 (food/ drink minimum). WESTSIDE VENUE - Blues Jam with Jimmy D. Rodgers and Lil Al Thomas. 7 p.m. Blues. Free.

MONDAY 22

BLIND LEMON - Ben Armstrong. 7:30 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

STANLEY’S PUB - 4:20 Celebration with Dead Centric and Highly Likely. 10 p.m. Grateful Dead Tribute/ Bluegrass. Cover.

THE GREENWICH – Flying Circus Big Band. 8 p.m. Jazz. $5 or two canned goods.

THOMPSON HOUSE - Flaw, The Mendenhall Experiment and Black Water Rising. 7 p.m. Rock.

HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - Peter Gemus Trio. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free.

WASHINGTON PLATFORM - Marc Wolfly Quartet. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10 (food/drink minimum).

KNOTTY PINE - Open Mic. 9 p.m. Various. Free.

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WIEDEMANN BREWERY AND TAPROOM - Ben Levin Trio. 7:30 a.m. Blues.

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SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (SANCTUARY) - Dale Watson & His Lonestars with Kyle Elderidge. 9 p.m. Honky Tonk. $17, $20 day of show.

HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - Jazz Brunch with Mike Darrah. 10:30 a.m. Jazz. Free.

SUNDAY 21

THE COMET - The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free.

NORTHSIDE TAVERN Beasts of Joy. 9 p.m. Acoustic/Various. Free.

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NORTHSIDE YACHT CLUB - Neighborhood Brats with Black Planet. 9 p.m. Punk Rock. $8, $10 day of show.

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SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL (SANCTUARY) - Eric Andersen featuring Scarlet Rivera with Cheryl Prashker. 8 p.m. Singer/Songwriter. $25, $30 day of show. STANLEY’S PUB - Jazz Jam. 9 p.m. Jazz/Improv. Free.

TUESDAY 23

BLIND LEMON - Nick Tuttle. 8:30 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

BREWRIVER CREOLE KITCHEN - The Twirlers. 7 p.m. R&B/Classic Pop/Standards. Free. CAFFÈ VIVACE - Pam Mallory & Wayne Yeager. 7:30 p.m. Jazz CROW’S NEST - Open Mic Night. 8 p.m. Various. Free. THE GREENWICH – Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Collaborative. 7 p.m. Jazz. $5. HILTON NETHERLAND PALM COURT - Patsy Meyer Trio. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free. LATITUDES BAR & BISTRO - Latitudes House Band and Open Mic. 8 p.m. Various (open mic at 11 p.m.). Free. THE MAD FROG - House Music. 9 p.m. EDM. Free.

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MEMORIAL HALL Escher String Quartet. 7:30 p.m. Chamber. $30.

MANSION HILL TAVERN - Open Acoustic Jam with John Redell & Friends. 8 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

STANLEY’S PUB - Trashgrass Troubadours with Nectar Valley. 8 p.m. Bluegrass. Cover.

MCCAULY’S PUB - Open Jam with Sonny Moorman. 7 p.m. Blues/Various. Free.

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MOLLY MALONE’S IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT Open Bluegrass Jam. 8 p.m. Bluegrass. Free.

THOMPSON HOUSE - Chief Keef with Riff Raff and Glo Gang. 9 p.m. Hip Hop

SEE CITYBEAT.COM FOR FULL MUSIC LISTINGS AND ALL CLUB LOCATIONS.


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