By: Derek Jung
I love the Cincinnati music community. I enjoy discovering and listening to local bands, attending shows at local venues, and I'm very proud to support the source of many of those discoveries, WNKU. The station, owned and subsidized by Northern Kentucky University since 2011, has been broadcasting since 1985. Through the years, it has cemented itself deep in the hearts of music and arts lovers all over the area. Earlier this year it was announced that NKU was selling the station to a religious broadcasting company, and the immediate feedback was overwhelming. A petition was created that, at the time of this publication, has amassed over 8,000 signatures. While the sale is still pending, the window of opportunity to listen to the station is closing. As proof of that, WNKU announced that its final in-studio performance would be with beloved local duo Dawg Yawp.
I entered the studio with a mix of excitement and sadness - excited for my first in studio performance at WNKU, but also sad that my first would also be my last. I had never been to the studio before, and I was surprised that it was basically in the same hallway as normal college classrooms. It wasn't exactly the location I was expecting, but nonetheless everyone was very friendly and welcoming. In the waiting room, there was free WNKU swag and CDs that they were giving away because they wouldn't have any more opportunities to do giveaways in the future. I picked up the great new albums from Iggy Pop and Jim James. Soon, we all shuffled into Studio 89, which was draped with lights and had a welcoming, relaxed vibe to it. Unfortunately today the melancholy was palpable and our DJ Liz Felix hardly made it through the introduction before getting teary eyed. We were delighted to hear the band play 7 songs from their new self titled album and a surprise Beatles cover by request of Felix to finish the set. In between songs, Liz interviewed the band and Tyler and Rob told stories about how some songs were written and how the band came into being. You could tell they felt honored to be there and Rob even got emotional while recounting what it was like hearing one of their songs for the first time on the radio (on WNKU no less).
The band's distinct sitar rock was of course well received by the couple dozen people in attendance. The station live streamed the entire performance on Facebook. I've embedded it below. You can also listen to the radio edit with better audio by clicking this link. It was a true honor to be there, and it will be a sad day in Cincinnati history when WNKU finally closes its doors.
By: Derek Jung
Acclaimed progressive folk singer-songwriter Ryley Walker returned to Cincinnati for the first time since his much talked about performance at Midpoint Music Festival in 2015 at Woodward Theater. Performing for a crowd of about 35 people, the trio wasted no time slipping into some long, heavy jams. Those jams would be the focus of the set, and the ebb and flow of each song relied heavily on the mood set by the intro jam. In that way, the night was spent covering the highlights from their latest release, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. I was very impressed to hear how their songs have evolved in a live setting to fill every nook and cranny of the audible spectrum. Songs like "The Halfwit In Me" were transformed by the jam into a wall of sound using guitar triplets from Walker and the second guitarist. The jazz-styled drumming led the way and I found myself mesmerized by his fluidity of playing. The chorus of "Roundabout" popped much more so than on the album version, and it highlighted the quiet/loud dynamics of the song structure. I was happy to hear that Ryley's dry humor translates well from his lyrics to his live personality as well. The band cracked a few jokes in between songs, and Ryley boasted his love for the giant Bearcat Pizzas from Adriatico's.
I was a little disappointed that their set was only around 45 minutes long, but with a smaller crowd on a Monday night, I don't blame them for keeping it short and sweet. Hopefully we will hear some new material from Ryley this year.
Check out a live performance of "The Halfwit In Me" from the World Cafe below.
By: Derek Jung
Celebrating their debut full length debut release, Dawg Yawp took the stage at MOTR Pub a little after 11 on a comfortable fall Friday evening in downtown Cincinnati. The reasonably small bar was packed to capacity for one of the most hyped new bands in the city, and one that's also has been receiving notice from NPR's Bob Boilen amongst others. I've been following the band since I saw them perform during an intermission at MusicNOW Festival this year, and their performance this summer at Bunbury was one of our favorites of the early afternoon acts.
The band performed pretty much every song off the new album, many of which were teased on their EP Two Hearted earlier this year. Tyler Randall's sitar playing was just what the shoulder to shoulder crowd needed. It was hot, stuffy, and sweaty in there, and songs like "Lost At Sea" conjured up images of traversing seas of sand in the deserts of northwestern India. It was a special atmosphere and the excitement was palpable from both the band and those gathered to see them.
Since it's only the duo on stage, songs like "Can't Think" and "Dawg", which have electric guitars and percussion, take new forms live. Guitarist Rob Keenan spends much of his time on a sound board, pressing buttons that hold sound samples for each instrument that can't be played live. On one hand, it's unique and different, but on the other it's a little boring to watch him press buttons. While their gracious nature evokes a lot of good will from the crowd, especially in Cincinnati, I want to see them work on their showmanship, and I think - unpopular opinion time - that having live backing musicians would be a fantastic addition to their set and give them the freedom to expand their songwriting moving forward.
All things considered, it was a great showcase of the album, and they have a bright, successful future ahead of them.
Check out a live performance of "Can't Think" from WNKU's Studio 89 below.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: