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The News Record

RECORD VOL. 1 • ISSUE NO. 10 MARCH 13-19, 2013

SPRING MOVIE PREVIEW

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CLIFTONES BRING REGGAE Pg. 2

CINCINNATI’S OWN CASINO Senior Reporter Tyler Bell visits the Horseshoe Casino on opening night

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LOCAL music SPOTLIGHT

Reggae band unites culture, people The Cliftones frequent Cincinnati venues, fight racism with music, lyrics brandon weinstein | Senior REPORTER Ohio’s self-proclaimed “original rootsreggae band,” The Cliftones, strive to transport Jamaican flavor to Cincinnati while bringing people from different cultures together in a musical celebration of life, liberty and love. “It’s Cincinnati reggae for sure,” said Diedrich Jones, 35, lead singer of The Cliftones. The Cliftones received CityBeat’s Cincinnati Entertainment Award in the World/Reggae category for the past two years, beating out several other bands, including The Pinstripes. “It’s all love, no competition ... well, some competition, but it’s all good,” Jones said. The band recently released a single on iTunes, “Hard Ground,” which fuses reggae vocals, funky strings and warm, ska-style horns in a mellow style. Jim Fox — who has worked with Junior Marvin (a guitarist for The Wailers and friend of Bob Marley) and Chuck Brown, the reputed Godfather of GoGo — mixed the

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single. Bill Wendt, who has worked with Bassnectar, The Lions, Glitch Mob and Salvador Santana, will mix some of The Cliftones’ songs along with Fox this year, Jones said. Originally from Austin, Texas, The Cliftones began with Jones and bassist Michael Van Horn. The duo eventually moved to Cincinnati to form a reggae band, which Jones said is the reverse of what usually happens since many musicians move to Austin or Nashville to start their careers. “Who comes from Austin — a hub of music — to form a band in Cincinnati?” Jones asked with a laugh. The Cliftones went through a few temporary musicians — who didn’t work out for various reasons — before forming the current lineup, which has been together since November 2010. “It was a blessing in disguise,” Jones said. “Everybody is way into it.” The current lineup includes guitarists Chris Madine and Kevin Muro, percussionist Alonzo Leggette, drummer Tim Hensley and brass-player Ras Markus along with the aforementioned Jones and Horn. Together, the band

SING FOR EQUALITY Frontman Diedrich Jones cites social progress as inspiration.

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provides an uplifting blend of funk and reggae that makes audiences “get up, stand up” — as Bob Marley would say — to have a good time. The reggae band frequently plays the Northside Tavern, the Thompson House, MOTR pub and The Southgate House Revival. It filled Northside Tavern with crowds “since day one,” Jones said. The Cliftones also play a couple of shows a year at Fountain Square, which attracts the most diverse crowds, Jones said. “We got a pretty good following here,” Jones said. “I can’t think of any in-town places that haven’t had a good turnout.” While the band has about two albums worth of material, its members aren’t sure how they want to release the songs yet. The band is thinking about recording a 10-song album and releasing a single on iTunes once every other month or so, Jones said. “It seems like that’s kind of the way of the future,” he said. “You can make an album in your bedroom and put it on Facebook.” Speaking of the future, social progress is one of the reasons Jones writes music.

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The No. 1 message in his lyrics is to break down racial walls, especially between “white folks and black folks,” Jones said. “I want to chip away at the wall of ignorance that has been built up by previous generations,” he said. “That’s the main thing I’d like to accomplish in this band.” Jones’ ambition has been met with plenty of challenges, mainly due to his skin color — white — and the fact he’s a reggae singer. “I’ve been criticized for trying to be Jamaican, or fake Jamaican,” Jones said. “Mostly by older white folks.” Jones isn’t trying to rip off Jamaican culture, but he said reggae just comes naturally to him. He’s listened to it since he was 10 or 11 and has been to Jamaica several times. While he enjoys listening to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Metallica and hard rock in general, Jones said reggae music is what he loves to play and write. “If I try to do something else, it won’t be who I am,” he said. The Cliftones’ upcoming Cincinnati show is April 20 at the Northside Tavern or catch them at Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery in Athens March 16.

JAMAICAN VIBES The Cliftones celebrate life, liberty and love in its performances.


MOVIES

Spring movie preview Halle Berry, other stars come out for strong slate of films in March HEATHER WILLIAMS | CONTRIBUTOR

Old Goats Bob Burkholder, Britton Crosley and David Vander Wal play three aging men of the same name, who are beginning to transition into retirement. Each man has his own unique and hilarious way of dealing with this new phase of life. Britt lives alone on a boat looking out for romance, Bob writes memoirs about his time as a soldier but struggles with certain parts of his youth and David struggles to adapt to retirement while dealing with his domineering wife Cynthia (played by Benita Staadecker.) Directed by Taylor Guterson, “Old Goats” premieres March 15.

The Call Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a veteran 911-operator who receives a call from Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) who was kidnapped from a parking garage and is locked inside a man’s car trunk. Soon Turner realizes the man who abducted Casey is the same killer from her past. Time is against Turner in this suspenseful thriller as she desperately tries to discover the whereabouts of the killer and Casey. Turner pieces clues together on her own to bravely seek out the kidnapper in hopes of rescuing Casey before it’s all too late. Directed by Brad Anderson,“The Call” premieres March 15.

The Croods An animated 3-D comedy, “The Croods” follows a prehistoric family embarking on an amazing journey after the cave they live in is destroyed. New and life-changing experiences await the family as they embark on a trek through an unfamiliar but fantastic world.

They meet a plethora of different creatures along the way, learning lessons and arriving at a new outlook on life. The family-friendly movie presented by DreamWorks Films features voice acting from Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds. Written and directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders, “The Croods” premieres March 22.

Olympus Has Fallen When The White House — codename: “Olympus” — is seized by terrorists and the president (Aaron Eckhart) is kidnapped, the once shamed exPresidential Guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) finds himself trapped inside it. Banning is instructed by the strict and tough Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Basset) to join forces with national security operatives to locate and save the president. The Speaker of the House, Congressman Martin Trumball (Morgan Freeman) — a highly respected and wellspoken politician and leader — assumes the role as president during Banning’s rescue attempt. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, “Olympus Has Fallen” premieres March 22.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D “G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D” — a sequel to “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” — begins with the president (Jonathan Pryce) disbanding the G.I. Joe team, who were framed to be traitors. G.I. Joe himself, General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis) along with his remaining men, Captain Duke Hauser (Channing Tatum) and Marvin “Roadblock” Hinton (Dwayne Johnson), fight against the evil master of disguise, Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), who impersonates the president. The team also meets a longtime enemy, Cobra (Faran Tahir), who holds the world leaders under his influence. Directed by Jon M. Chu, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D” premieres March 28.

PROVIDED

THE CALL Halle Berry stars in “The Call” as a 911 operator who trys to solve

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CASINO

Horseshoe lacks that Cincinnati feel Casino has Las Vegas touch, prices too high for optimal entertainment TYLER BELL | SENIOR REPORTER The Horseshoe casino brings the ritzy Las Vegas aesthetic to Cincinnati without cutting corners, but it doesn’t feel like a Cincinnati installation. The casino feels like it was made for a different city altogether and shipped here, piecemeal, from a city with a different personality than the one I grew up in. It may, of course, just be the initial shock of being in a casino and Cincinnati at the same time, but I just couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling of Queen City archetypes — white guys in jeans, baseball caps and beat up Carhart jackets; black men in fitted caps and bubble jackets — milling about trying to find the section of the casino for them. I’m not entirely sure the sections exist. I rolled onto the fifth floor of the Horseshoe Casino parking garage late Monday evening to one of the most spectacular views of the city. Just high enough to see all the nice buildings —

the Carew Tower, the Great American Building and the twin domes of P&G’s Cincinnati home office — without any of the low-level detritus getting in the way. As an added bonus, the hideous, monolithic Kroger tower is only seen in profile and one could almost pretend it had never been built at all. The minimum bet at a blackjack table was $15 that night, which is a bit steep for the nine-to-fivers that make up the majority of the city’s population, not to mention the cheapest slot machine I found was two cents a credit. That seems cheap, until the machine reveals that each play costs 40 credits, for a cool 80 cents a play. I’m sure there may have been cheaper slots elsewhere in the casino, but I couldn’t seem to find them. Perhaps the most telling thing about the casino was the completely empty high-stakes area near the cashiers in the center. The entrances to the area are two cavernous hallways that flank the sides of the money cage. They are daunting, and though there is no sign prohibiting entry

to regular gamblers, the high-stakes room just seemed off limits to me. I wandered in anyway to find every table empty, save a few bored dealers, one of whom caught my eye and gave me the mandatory wave-and-smile required by the service industry. After standing inside the room for a few moments, I saw other people pause underneath the entrance archway, look about confused for a second and then meander off to some other part of the casino. None of this means the Horseshoe isn’t worth going to. I had a great time and the service and employees especially impressed me. Dealers at games I’d never played before were helpful and didn’t rush play, and the waiters and bartenders were all pretty much on their game. I had drinks at the circular bar in the center of the casino first. They were appropriately priced for the environment and quality, though the bartender garnished my Tom Collins ($4) with a lime in place of a cherry. The drink was good despite the abysmally long time it took

the bartender to make it, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that both bartenders there were new to their jobs with the lack of speed and attentiveness they showed, though I guess you can’t blame a girl for not being quick on her feet in three-inch heels. I’d avoid this bar if you’re in any rush or there’s a line. Every restaurant in the casino has its own bar and Margaritaville, where I ate dinner, is especially fast. For me, shopping for something to eat at the Casino was much more engaging than actually gambling there. With a wide selection of prices and atmosphere, there’s a place to eat for anyone who comes to the Horseshoe. Jack Binton’s is a classy, romantically lit steak joint on the far end of the Casino. I would have liked to eat one of their roughly $30 steaks if I already hadn’t spent half of my money on blackjack. This would have given me the chance to listen to their in-house lounge band (a cellist and a pianist) stumble through an interesting rendition of what I assumed to be “Girl From Ipanema.”

PROVIDED

ROLLING THE DICE An inside look at the new Horseshoe casino. The casino boasts 100,000 square feet of gambling space including 2,000 slot machines and 85 table games. Dining options include Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Bobby Flay’s, Cafe Italia and Jack Binion’s Steak.

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CASINO

I didn’t want to slop my way through the line at the casino’s buffet. Bobby Flay’s burger restaurant (replete with all the Bobby flay merchandise no one has ever wanted or asked for) was packed and Café Italia (which allows patrons to make their own oven-baked pizza) has patrons sit on an “interior patio.” I created the term for having patrons eat off porch furniture in a roped-off section of the gambling floor. I settled on Margaritaville, because I hate Jimmy Buffett’s music but love idiotic pun-based menus, and Margaritaville offered a “cheeseburger in paradise” for a paltry $10. The food was excellent, and the service was considerably faster than the bar in the center of the casino. I spent $25 on two beers (Landshark drafts), the burger and the tip, for a total that night of about $80 over three hours. There were no great moments at the casino while I was there. Sure, we aren’t in Vegas, but even Hollywood Casino has interesting stuff going on between the tables other than middle-aged men sloppily finishing their Miller Light cans while half-leaning against a slot machine. A few standup comedians, lounge singers and dueling pianos would have gone leagues to break up the dull monotony of electric jingling and calls from the dealers. Even the cigarette girls (though the term is anachronistic and technically incorrect, I don’t know what else to call them) with their red corsets seemed hesitant to move from table to table, as though they were still unsure of

what was required of them. There’s no pageantry in the casino — no real sense of life happening around you. You know that obligatory Vegas casino shot in movies where the camera is looking down a craps table surrounded by good-looking twenty-somethings in nice suits as the protagonist rolls yet another winning hand? That doesn’t seem like it’ll ever happen at the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe casino is an interesting addition to Cincinnati’s geographical and economic landscape, and I hate to speak ill of something the city has worked so hard to complete. However, I can’t shake the certainty that most of the people who actually built the casino could spend a night there gambling the table minimum without bankrupting themselves. If there were $1 or $5 tables, I could see the value in spending a night there to gamble and drink. I’d even recommend it, but as it stands I couldn’t see anybody who doesn’t bring in at least $50,000 a year being able to really stretch out and have a good time at the Casino. Hell, I couldn’t see someone who wants to bet $50,000 a hand having anyone to play with. An anonymous old man on the way down from the parking lot put it best when he saw a few ceiling bulbs were burned out in the elevator: “The place has only been a open a week and there’s already two lights burned out.”

PROVIDED

EXPLOSIVE OPENING Crowds of people flocked to the grand opening of the Horseshoe casino, located at 1000 Broadway St. in downtown Cincinnati, March 4.

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CCM SPOTLIGHT

Carnival of student plays wows crowd Coitus in the sky inefficient, unlike ‘Transmigration,’ which flys high CHRISTIAN GLASS | STAFF REPORTER Among all the ridiculous lines heard Saturday while viewing “Transmigration,” the most outrageous was, “Coitus in the sky is both illogical and inefficient.” “Transmigration” is a carnival of College-Conservatory of Music studentled plays who are given a budget of $100, a performance date and incentive to create. “The Opening,” “S.L.U.T.,” “The Sherwin-Williams Effect,” “2122 Michigan Ave.,” “Sentenced” and “Void,” are all the shows that make up “Transmigration.” Only four are performed in one night, which forces viewers to come back to see all it has to offer — a completely worthy sacrifice. “The Sherwin-William Effect,” is about a world where only math and science exist. To say it was militaristic would be misleading because militaristic still implies some form of humanity. The citizens are instead efficient, having never experienced freewill, laughter or the freedom to copulate with whomever they please. “The Sherwin-Williams Effect” is a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other — a world with no color that briefly sways to childish wonder as a sickness spreads, before ending in an orchestra of nothing but color, which means judgement, unhappiness and inequality for all. The cast of Will Kiley, John Maddock, Megan Marshall, Nathan Wallace, Anna Horton, Bartley Booz and Andrew Iannacci found a way to separate and shine individually, even as they portrayed nameless workers in a nameless city. “S.L.U.T.” exceeded expectations and assumptions due to the title. A girl passed out on a subway (Grace Jacobsen) forces complete strangers to look inward at their own desires, a teacher (Maddelyn McKenzie) wishes to free her sexuality, a subdued young mother (Carli Rhoades)

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longs to unleash her frustrations, a petty thief (William Brown) defends his actions and the audience has a front row seat to every unfiltered passing thought. “Void” does what most every horror story does. The difference is, it does it so convincingly and eerily well. Hannah Halvorson stole the show as Virginia Cleaver, a Stepford wife with — quite literally — an axe to grind. Halvorson nailed the role, needing little more than a twitch of the eye without breaking her perfect smile to send shivers down your spine. She’s joined by her uproarious undead husband Charles, (Jack Conroy), and disturbed man-children Cain (Roderick Whitney) and Abel (Trey Wright) as they terrorize a group of unfortunate high school students. The last act of the night didn’t disappoint. “Sentenced” brings “Law and Order” to the playground, putting 3rdgrader Patty (Rachel Baumgarten) on trial for tattling on 4th graders Sam (Callie Schuttera) and Dylan (Joe Hill), who trick her into poisoning Mitchell (Alex Escher). The cast pulled off a mixture of childish playfulness, adult feverishness, and ultimately real-world heartbreak. The actors encouraged audience participation, making the trial fun and genuine. Colleen Ladrick is precious as David, Patty’s speech-impeded best friend. Shaun Sutton as Joshua, Sally’s lawyer, brought the crowd to tears between his delivery and over-the-top emotions. Finally, Ty Olwin impressed as Meeker the prosecutor, who combines ferocity with childhood antics, all while smoking his dad’s cigarettes. Whether they’re breaking your heart with sadness, or your ribs with laughter, not one show or actor was a letdown.


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MUSIC

Dance musician uses DUI as inspiration CHRISTIAN WARNER | STAFF REPORTER

Electronic dance music artist Dillion Francis got a DUI when he was 18 years old, but instead of letting it ruin him, he used it as an opportunity to hone his craft. “When I was in my teens, I was reckless. I was quite a firecracker,” Francis said in a conference call involving A$AP Rocky and Machine Gun Kelly. “My parents one day told me that I need to start taking life more seriously. That’s where music came in. I had finally found something that made me feel worthwhile and I’ve been in love with being a DJ since then.” With his driver’s license revoked, all Francis did for a year was sit around his house and make music — time well spent considering he’s nominated for mtvU Woodie Award for best new artist. Born and raised in Los Angeles,

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Francis is now recognized as a pioneer of moombahton, a fusion genre of house and reggaeton music. His sound is highlighted in his most popular songs “I.D.G.A.F.O.S” and “Masta Blasta (The Rebirth).” “I get a lot of my inspiration from some rock bands of the early 2000s, especially Blink-182. I just like to do a lot of things with my music that you don’t hear everyone else doing in the EDM genre,” Francis said. “I like to make it sound fun.” Machine Gun Kelly won the Breaking Woodie for best new artist in 2012, and he’s used parlayed that success into a nomination for artist of the year in 2013. MGK spent 2012 touring and releasing his debut studio album “Lace Up,” but he doesn’t plan on slowing down in 2013 — evidenced by the April release date for his seventh mixtape, “Black Flag,” which he believes is a return to form for his music.

“‘Black Flag’ is going back to the MGK that all my true fans knew before I got this record deal. You don’t have to change who you are or what you represent to make it big time,” MGK said. “That’s why I love this mixtape down to the cover because it represents the struggle and the movement against oppression and adversity. That’s why my name isn’t even on the mixtape. Because at the end of the day, it is not about me, it’s about the fans, the movement.” MGK appreciates the support he gets from fans and knows without them he might not have been considered for this honor. “I appreciate every fan that I have obtained. From Cleveland to Cincinnati, to L.A., even to those little towns in Iowa, Montana, Hawaii, I love them all. I have the best and most dedicated fans in the

world,” he said. “There’s no contest.” While MGK expressed appreciation for his nomination, he’ll face tough opposition as A$AP Rocky is also nominated. His song “F**kin’ Problems” and the release of his 2013 album “Long. Live. A$AP.” might make him the favorite. What sets A$AP apart from other rappers is his old-school style of rapping. A$AP believes hip-hop is reverting back to its golden era. “I think everyone needs to go back to that true era of hip-hop, where everyone enjoys the music for the true art that it is. We all just need to love the music and love each other,” A$AP said, reflecting on his chances to win. “Man, I hope I win. That’s all I can hope for. Even if I don’t, I’m still gonna be doing what I do and that’s make good music.”


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