WNKU Presents the 9th Annual Tunes & Blooms

Mar 30, 2014

Now in its 9th season, Tunes & Blooms has become one of WNKU's favorite annual events.  It occurs every Thursday night in April and features some of the best musical acts our region has to offer playing amongst the tulips of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Each week, the Zoo dispenses with the usual admission fee at 5pm allowing visitors to roam the animal exhibits for free before settling down to enjoy live music from 6p to 8p.  Bring a picnic or choose from the excellent food options available on site.  They even serve local micro-brews at the Zoo.

It's a welcome antithesis to the late night music club scene.  Finally, you can go see a live band, enjoy a beer (responsibly, of course), even bring the kids, and be home by 9 o'clock!  And, did we mention it's free?

April 10

Jake Speed & the Freddies

For the past eight years, Jake Speed has hitchhiked down Cincinnati's American folk, bluegrass, and ragtime music highway with his award-winning band, The Freddies. Their traditional and original songs leap right out of Depression-era freight trains and right into Ohio River steamboats. Their near-vaudeville style stage shows and quick-witted charisma rope in loyal fans of new and old generations alike.

Shiny and the Spoon

Called "Perhaps the best folk duo our region has to offer" (The Historic Southgate House), Shiny and the Spoon portray the intimacy of Johnny Cash and June Carter, with head-turning vocals and a vibrant acoustic core, complimented by sprinklings of ukulele, guitar, harmonica, and a good old-fashioned boot-stompin'.

Their debut and home-recorded EP earned nods from Cincinnati publications such as City Beat and the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, as well as the renowned UK webzine "Americana UK" who called it "an accomplished debut that does exactly what an EP should, makes you want more of the same."  Original members Amber Nash and Jordan Neff first me in late 2008, and felt an immediate and easy chemistry.  Partially a blind date, the elementary school teacher first laid eyes on a lanky Jordan Neff while he was entertaining guests with an impromptu accordian concert at a party.  Within a month, they had formed a duo, "quickly turning every head in the region." (The Historic Southgate House).  Joined in 2011 by music veterans Pete Brown on upright bass, and Matt Frazer on drums, the group has quickly moved from house concerts to bandstands, offering new audiences the same unadorned simplicity as before, as though the couches had only been pushed far enough away from the stage to allow a better view.  Shiny and the Spoon offers a sound that blends the heart of American folk music with catchy-pop melody lines and lyrics that portray "a deep current of romantic skepticism that runs just beneath the calm surface." (Ric Hickey, Adventures of a Loose Wreck).  It is this quality, unusual to such young songwriters, that has quickly made Shiny and the Spoon, one of the regions most acclaimed folk acts.  Their surge in popularity is marked by the creation of a "Shiny and the Spoon" sandwich by local lunch hot spot Tom + Chee.  After launching their first full-length album, "Ferris Wheel", to a packed house, the group, fronted by Nash and Neff, continue to garner attention and fans with their genuine demeanor and honest and simple sound.  Produced by John Curley of Ultrasuede Studio, their latest release promises to "raise them to the big league." (AltOhio)

April 17

The Cliftones

The Cliftones are an original reggae band from Cincinnati, Ohio. Their unique blend of roots and dance hall rhythms in combination with their 8 member band (including a phenomenal horn section) shakes the rafters and leaves the crowd a sweaty tired mess every time.Their influences range from The Gladiators, The Congos, Lee Perry,Tony Rebel, Buju Banton, Michael Rose,Yellowman, Black Uhuru, Aswad, Bob Marley, Eek A Mouse,Dennis Brown, MAx Romeo, The Hooters and many others!

April 24

Green Light Morning

The story of Green Light Morning started back when Aaron Bright (keyboards/backing vox) and Aaron Patrick (lead vox/guitar) met touring in previous bands the big creak and Oval Opus respectfully.  They met when both bands had a song placed in the same Universal movie called Winter Break (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt026192/) staring Milo Ventimiglia, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Justin Urich.  This lead to their bands trading shows across the Midwest and up and down the east coast.  This has offered Green Light Morning a quick uptake in initial fans despite the bands infancy. 

After years of touring with their previous bands, their lives and families brought them to Cincinnati, Ohio.  They started reflecting back on the road, touring, their fans and lives while collaborating as songwriters.  After spending a year writing songs in their studio and playing open mics, they felt a genuine connection and decided it was time to take a few of their songs and release them to the world.  It was important to the Aaron's that if they were going to reinvigorate their music career that they carefully craft the best recording they could.  This led them to recording their first EP with producer Rich Stine at Fidelitorioum Recording studios in Kernersville, NC where legendary bands like REM, Ben Folds Five and Wilco recorded their initial albums.  It was mixed by Micah Wilshire (Mark Ballas, Pat McGee, Honor by August) and mastered by Brad Blackwood (Maroon 5, Alison Kraus, Sister Hazel and the Black Eyed Peas).  


John Benham aka jb4 (drummer) has been working with the duo and jumped on board with the band at this time.  After hearing the results of their work, the trio quickly knew they needed to form a band and the next logical move was to add in Ted Burger (guitarist) and Michael Theobald (bass) to the mix.  In November 2011, Green Light Morning was born.  A fresh new writing project based on story telling lyrics combined with soul and melodic hooks.  Whether Green Light Morning plays as two/three pieces or a full band, their show offer a honest and rememberable experience in which you will find yourself singing along.


DAAP Girls

The group got its name because, as the story goes, they play “love songs written by five lads who met while dating the same lady.” The lady in question was a student at DAAP. The rest of the story is that this new group is made up of veteran Cincinnati musicians who came together last April, ready to take a new project to the next level.  The band describes its sound as “Gutter Funk and Rock ‘n’ Soul”.


May 1 - Rescheduled from April 3

Comet Bluegrass All-Stars

The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars (CBAS) were assembled in 1996 as the Sunday night house band at The Comet a neighborhood pub in Northside, Cincinnati.  

Since that time the popularity of the band has grown beyond the lounge at The Comet, opening for such national acts as Sam Bush, Blue Highway, Del McCoury and Ricky Skaggs.

The Sunday night sessions at the Comet are informal and known to draw a diverse, “listening” audience from small children to senior citizens.  Those attending the shows find all members of the band accomplished singers and multi-instrumentalists in their own right, with the live combination of these players presenting an even greater sum than it’s parts, through amazing musical interplay and high lonesome bluegrass harmony.

The CBAS won the Cincinnati Enquirer Cammy Award in 2000, 2001 and 2002 for “Best Bluegrass/Folk Band” as well as CityBeat’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in 2001, 2002 and 2004 for “Best Bluegrass/Folk Band.”


Bulletville is a straight up country music offshoot of Magnolia Mountain that features MM's Mark, Renee and Jeff, joined by some of the finest musicians in the area.  The band plays a combination of Mark's original songs and a great selection of classic country covers by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Gram Parsons and more.  Bulletville, "is as country as country once was, bypassing the focus group-tested formula spoon fed to today's commercial masses and served straight up.  These songs are meant to be heard amidst both neon bar room glow and a barren moonlit road." (Bucket Full of Nails).

The band made its live debut in November 2012, and is now gigging around the Greater Cincinnati area.  Check out the GIGS page for upcoming Bulletville shows and be sure to "Like" the Bulletville Facebook Page for even more current updates.    Bulletville served as the backing band for Mark's solo album, Four Chords and a Lie, released in July 2013.  A full-length Bulletville album is in the works for 2014 with the Afghan Whigs' John Curley set to produce.