WNKU Welcomes the Return of Tunes & Blooms

Apr 4, 2013

Now in its 8th 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 4

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.”

Magnolia Mountain

Magnolia Mountain embraces and explores That Midwestern Thing in a big-tent-Americana juggernaut that draws from folk, country, bluegrass, blues, rockabilly, and rock. But no matter where they take it, "they have the rare ability to inhabit any branch of Roots music and still sound unmistakably like Magnolia Mountain." (Brian Baker, CityBeat).

Anchored by an acoustic musical core and gorgeous 2-, 3-, and 4-part close harmony vocals, Magnolia Mountain will appeal to fans of roots music, old and new. Drawing from the deep well of American music, Magnolia Mountain takes different genres, finds the common thread within, and translates them into their own original songs that both pay tribute to the past and carve out their own place in today’s musical landscape.

The band is led by songwriter Mark Utley on vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and banjo. Mark is joined by harmony vocalists Melissa English and Renee Frye, guitarist Jeff Vanover, mandolin/harmonica player Bob Lese, fiddler Kathy Woods, upright bassist Bob Donisi, and drummer Todd Drake. Magnolia Mountain plays regularly around the greater Cincinnati area, performing Mark's original songs as well as an eclectic selection of covers that range from the Louvin Brothers to Son Volt, from Woody Guthrie to the Flying Burrito Brothers, and from Hank Williams Sr., to the Drive-By Truckers. They are at home in quiet "listening rooms", rowdy bars, and anywhere in between.

Magnolia Mountain has been nominated for Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 (including four nominations in 2010: Artist of the Year, Album of the Year [for Redbird Green], Best Folk/Americana act, and Best Singer/Songwriter [Mark Utley]),, in addition to performing at the 2009 CEA awards ceremony. Along with performing at venues as the Southgate House, Madison Theater, Northside Tavern, The Comet, Leo Coffeehouse and The Crow's Nest, they’ve also taken part in festivals such as Twangfest 14 (in St. Louis), the Whispering Beard Folk Festival, MidPoint Music Festival, Rabbit Hash Old Timer's Day, EdenSong, The Ohio River Way Paddlefest, Rivertown Breakdown, Music for the Mountains, and Metamora Old Time Music Festival. Magnolia Mountain has also played a Studio 89 session live on WNKU radio and a live session on KDHX-FM in St. Louis.

April 11th

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.

The Turkeys

The Turkeys are a Folk-Rock band from Covington, KY featuring Simon & Garfunkelesque harmonies. Expect hints of Country, humorous Indie Rock and much more.

April 18th

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 good old-fashioned boot-stompin’. 

Their debut and home-recorded EP earned nods from Cincinnati publications such as CityBeat 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 met 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 region’s most acclaimed folk acts. Their surge is 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 leagues.” (AltOhio)

Shiny Old Soul

Shiny Old Soul has taken to the description “Cosmic Roots” given their fusion of a bluesey, roots driven foundation and an eclectic, unbound catalogue of original songs.

Comparisons range from Van Morrison to the Grateful Dead, the Meters, Pink Floyd, and The Decemberists, to broader things like gypsy jazz & vintage rock. Yeah, they’re one of those bands, sounding inevitably like themselves but with a bizarre tip of the hat to countless others.

But really it’s all about the songs. Bank robberies, pregnant pirates, time travelers, voodoo spells, allegory, and plain old sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, that conspire to reveal a world of simple feelings in exotic places. A broken heart by any other name. If that wasn’t wierd enough, folks really like to dance to it too.

Fans can be seen singing along to many of songwriter, guitarist Gregory Morris’ vast collection of songs, elevated by the jazz stylings of drummer Katherine Monnig and low end folk maestro Michael Sadoff. In fact, Gregory, Michael & Katherine have been playing together since 2003, formerly known as the Gregory Morris Group.

The latest SOS album (Cash is King, Jan 2012) features two charming female vocalists, Lee Schmidt, with her sultry deep water timbre, and Laura Hughes with her clear, high Nashville croon. Together they round out the 5 piece ensemble with it’s unique blend of harmony, beat and lyric, ranging from the ominous to the ridiculous, thriving on a balance of low gain and high intensity.

April 25th

The Ark Band

THE ARK BAND is a St. Lucian reggae band, based in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1987 by Terry and Eustace Bobb, (The St. Lucian Riddim Twins) THE ARK BAND has continually toured across the United States, Canada and Jamaica sharing its roots reggae, calypso and soca music. 

Combining heavenly harmonies with tight crisp performances, this powerhouse of talent captures their audiences with their very first note. THE ARK BAND's repertoire combines original and cover compositions with classic and current reggae hits designed to entertain, educate and enlighten all types of people. THE ARK BAND continues to be a dynamic force on the American scene after two decades, their songs expressing the love, peace, togetherness and spirituality needed in our world today!

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!