Happens Sept. 24-26
with 270 performers spread across 23 stages.
By Blurt Staff
Standing shoulder to shoulder, packed into a club so tightly
it’s hard to raise your beer, anxiously waiting to hear the next-big-thing
before it becomes the next-big thing.
That’s the vibe at Cincinnati’s
MidPoint Music Festival. Three days of creative expression and musical
innovation, happening Sept. 24-26 throughout downtown Cincinnati,
adjacent historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and even across the Ohio River to
the Southgate House in Newport,
And one might go as far to say it’s somewhat apropos to find such a festival in
given its place in music history and its current day music scene.
Historically, Cincinnati lays claim to a critical role in the conception of
rock ‘n’ roll as home of the fabled King Records, which released such classics
of R&B, blues, country and funk as Wynonie Harris’ “Good Rockin’
Tonight,” James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” Hank
Ballard & the Midnighters’ “The Twist,” Cowboy Copas’
“Tennessee Waltz,” Delmore Brothers’ “Blues Stay Away From
Me,” and Little Willie John’s “Fever.” Another local label,
Fraternity Records, introduced guitar-hero Lonnie Mack to the world. And among
the city’s most celebrated current residents is the great funk bassist Bootsy
Take this history and interweave it with a thriving music scene and you’ve got
fertile ground for up-and-coming artists and music fans alike.
Starting Thursday night, the city transforms itself into a walk-able music
fest, spanning 23 venues throughout downtown Cincinnati
and Northern Kentucky, entertaining the sounds
of 270 indie-rock musical acts from around the world. And it is all extremely
affordable – a three-day pass good for all shows is available for just $29.
MPMF.09, as the festival is sometimes called, features headliners like the
Cincinnati-originated Heartless Bastards – a major 2009 music-industry success
story – as well as two other local bands with growing national followings,
Wussy and the Pomegranates.
Among the bigger acts coming to the city from elsewhere for
the fest are Chairlift, The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, Sarah Borges
and the Broken Singles, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and Scotland Yard Gospel
Choir, a pop quartet from Chicago.
And the long list of buzzed-about newcomers includes the do, a male-female duo
from France and Finland; the New York/Malaysia group Shayna Zaid
and the Catch; Chicago-based melodic rockers Brighton,
MA; and Toronto’s
red-hot dance band God Made Me Funky.
Four independent record labels – Cincinnati’s
All Night Party, Indianapolis’ Standard
Recording Co., New York’s ReThink Pop Music,
DataWasLost – will host showcases, taking over specific clubs for an entire
night of music by their acts.
“MidPoint is the flagship for the music town that is Cincinnati,” says Dan McCabe, the
festival’s executive producer. “This is the type of congregation of
artists from all over world that you’d expect from a town that has such a
In this, the festival’s second year under McCabe’s aegis, the number of acts
has grown to 270 from 175. More than 1,000 performers worldwide contacted
McCabe about appearing in Cincinnati
– a 40 percent increase from the previous year. There are also newer and more
varied venues; 23 stages will be operating each of the festival’s nights.
One of the biggest will be an outdoor tent capable of holding 800 people
outside Grammer’s, a landmark 19th Century German restaurant in the Over the
Rhine neighborhood recently reborn as a popular gathering spot for young
urbanites. Headliners will play there each night, but since its shows will end
at 11 p.m., attendees can afterward have time to see more up-and-coming acts at
the more intimate clubs.
Other venues – like downtown’s Washington Platform restaurant and Madonna’s bar
– will be smaller and have their own special allure. Many of the venues are
within walking distance of each other, but MidPoint will be operating a fleet
of 16 Toyota Scion XBs to give attendees rides between sites.
And for the first time, downtown’s Contemporary
– designed by the visionary architect Zaha Hadid to international acclaim –
will also host concerts, as well as MidPoint’s Lite Brite Film Test. The latter
will have programming from Ottawa’s
International Animation Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
MidPoint pass holders also get free admission to museum exhibits.
“One of the fun things about MidPoint is to go into a crowded room and rub
shoulder to shoulder with other music fans,” McCabe says. “There’s
the kinetic energy of discovering new music together. MidPoint is fertile
ground for being blown way by the best new music. With 23 stages each night,
you’re going to have that happen multiple times.” While the venues are
located, for the most part, within walking distance of each other, MidPoint’s
Scion Streetcars will mimick Cincinnati’s
proposed streetcar route in an effort to promote the initiative.
To purchase tickets and get more info, visit http://www.MPMF.com