Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interview with Sitar Player Stephan Mikes

April 22, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

stephan mikes, sitarAlthough many Westerners have been fascinated by the sitar, Stephan Mikes one of the few who have undergone the years of rigorous one-on-one training in classical Indian music necessary to do justice to this ancient instrument. As a primary student of sitar master Roop Verma, Stephan is part of a teaching lineage that goes back over 600 years and includes Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. He combines his knowledge of Eastern music with the influence of Latin, Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban, and Carribean rhythms to create compositions which are unique and compelling. In addition to the sitar, Mikes proficient on guitar, zither, mandolin, lap steel guitar and various types of synthesizers.

Since 1986, Stephan has been performing and perfecting his own distinctive technique on the sitar. He has released four highly-acclaimed CDs of his modern original compositions on the independent Akasha label; Before You See, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic, Dakini Beach and Secret Songs of the Sitar Player. He also has five specialty albums; Twilight: Evening Ragas, Sitar Christmas, Jewel of the Lotus: Sitar Meditations, Sounds of the Surbahar and East Meets South. Putumayo Records included Medium Rara from The Good, the Bad and the Karmic on their 1996 international release, Putumayo Presents: A World Instrumental Collection.

One of the few world music artists to transcend traditional boundaries, Stephan Mikes performs for a wide variety of events. He performed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in Boston at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts for fundraisers sponsored by Giorgio Armani. In August 1996, Mikes played for former President Clinton's 50th Birthday Celebration, connected via satellite from the Biltmore in Coral Gables. Most recently, Stephan has enjoyed enormous success as a featured musician for many top-rated art festivals throughout Florida and the U.S. (source -

stephan mikes, sitar

Cincy Groove: How was your experience at Spring Hookahville last year?

Stephan Mikes: I didn't know what to expect going in, but it turned out really nice. People seemed to get off on it, I was wondering how they were going to react (to the sitar). I got to sit in with some great bands which turned out great. This Spring Hookahville will be kind of the same except it will be a little bigger and better. There will be the same setup with the side stage tent. I think I'm going to get together with ekoostik hookah beforehand to work some things out. What we did last year was totally off the cuff. Literally put together about an hour before their set. I'm really looking forward to it, its going to be fun.

Read the full Interview here

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Interview with New Grass pioneer Sam Bush

April 20, 2008

Interview and photos by Scott Preston

sam bush, mandolin, newgrass, bluegrassThough he admits a certain discomfort with the moniker "King of Newgrass," Sam Bush has more than earned it. As cofounder and leader of the seminal progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival through 18 years during the 1970s and '80s, Bush may not be the only person responsible for newgrass, the wild bluegrass stepchild that features rock 'n' roll grooves and extended virtuosic jams, but since New Grass Revival's dissolution in 1989, Bush has certainly been one of the most brilliant of newgrass's many bright lights.

Besides helming the ever-popular Sam Bush Band, featured on the upcoming release Laps in Seven, the mandolin prodigy from Kentucky has been a prodigious influence on musicians young and old. Bands like Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, and String Cheese Incident, to name just a few, are indebted to Bush's example, not only in his wide-ranging choice of material and rock-based acoustic grooves, but by his captivating, high-energy live shows, which have made him an in demand headliner, and fan fave at important festivals like Telluride and MerleFest.

When not heading his own band, Bush has spent the past 15 years as a supersideman with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and the Flecktones; spearheaded boundary-stretching collaborations with Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor, and David Grisman, and driven nearly every "bluegrass supergroup" imaginable with his inimitable mandolin playing. (source -

Cincy Groove: So I understand you recently performed on the floor of the Kentucky Senate?

Sam Bush: It was quite an honor. We play music for people from all over the world, large or small audiences. Then there we are standing there on the Senate floor playing a few songs. It was once of those things that you weren't sure if you were going to be nervous or not. It was really exciting to play there being from Kentucky myself. They also gave us a proclamation, it was resolution number 195. It was quite an experience.

sam bush, bluegrass, newgrass, madolin

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

Sam Bush: In a round about way I am, I am in the process of writing with a bunch of people right now. Also trying to get some new songs ready for festival season. I should be ready to start recording in a couple months.

Cincy Groove: Who are you writing/collaborating with?

Sam Bush: Jeff Black and I have been writing together. I think Jeff Black is one of the greatest songwriters I have ever met. I have also been collaborating a little with Alan Roady from Louisville and also Tim Kreckle and Edgar Meyer. We are playing in early May on the west coast, so I am going to collaborate with a few writers out there as well. Just looking for something I haven't done before. In the past year I have been playing with off and on when I'm doing other things with this great saxophone player named Bill Evans. Bill played with Miles Davis when he was in his early twenties, played for years with John McLaughlin. So its one of the heaviest music things that I'm around. Bill Evans has his band Soulgrass, he has this great banjo picker, an outrageous jazz violin player, and then he puts me on mandolin, both acoustic and electric. Its just an amazing fusion that I get to do.

Read the full Interview here

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photos - Buffalo Killers, 4.18.2008, 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati, OH

buffalo killers, cincinnati music

Photos from Buffalo Killers at 20th Century Theater last night:

Buffalo Killers, 4.18.2008, 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati, OH


Photos - Freekbass, 4.18.08, 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati, OH

freekbass, funk, cincinnati music

Photos from Freekbass at 20th Century Theater last night:

Freekbass, 4.18.2008, 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati, OH

They were recording a live dvd last night so be on the look out for that. Be sure to also catch Freekbass on the upcoming Tribute to James Brown Tour which begins May 1st. Check out the information for the tour at


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Interview with Johnny K from Boogie Matrix Mechanism

April 16, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

boogie matrix mechanismBoogie Matrix Mechanism independently released their first album "Glass Candy" on Halloween 2006 . They are now playing shows around Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania. They are interested in expanding their range and playing in as many different places as possible. In the past two summer they have played festivals such as Columbia Gas Ribs by the River 2006 and 2007 in Promenade Park in downtown Toledo, Indiana Jam Bash 2006, The Chaffee Gathering 2007 and Shamy Bash 2007. They have also played along with such names as Ekoostik Hookah, Vince Herman, Railroad Earth, One Under, Jim Miller Band, Boom Box, Lotus, Family Groove Company, The Macpodz, The Goods, The Werks, Covert Operations, Moser Woods and many more. Boogie Matrix is now recording their second album independently and looking towards touring out of state in pursuit of reaching music fans all over the country. Boogie Matrix combines a diverse mix of genres including jam/ psychedlic rock, hip-hop, reggae, blues, funk, bluegrass n more. What sets them apart, is their positive vibe, distinct style with the music and delivery of lyrics that no one else is doing now.

Cincy Groove: How long has Boogie Matrix been together?

Johnny K: We are going on 3 years now as a full group. The rhythm guitar player Bob and the lead singer started as an acoustic duo. Then added a bass player and drummer and shortly after that they added me on lead guitar and a percussionist.

boogie Matrix mechanism

Cincy Groove: Do you still have a day job?

Johnny K: Yes, I am a granite worker. Most of us still work day jobs and a couple of us are in school. We make enough money touring to keep everything going. This weekend we are finishing up our second cd which was quite costly (laughing) but we are excited about it.

Cincy Groove: I have been seeing the name Boogie Matrix in a lot of different places lately.

Johnny K: Yeah its been really exciting, at first we were just trying to get our feet wet and then things started happening for us. We started opening for some regional and national bands and that has helped us gain some exposure. This year is a big year for us, in addition to Spring Hookahville, we are also at Nelsons Ledges on July 4. We are actually opening up for Mickey Hart on July 4. We are completely freaking out about it, its really exciting. Obviously our drummer really loves his stuff, and I think he is freaking out about it a little more than the rest of us.

boogie matrix mechanismCincy Groove: Who are some of the bands influences?

Johnny K: I think I can say that all of us have an interest in The Grateful Dead, moe, Phish, Umphreys McGee, Widespread Panic. Then we also like more alternative rock like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Brian also like hip hop. So we have a lot of different influences.

Read the full Interview here

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Interview with Billy Alletzhauser from The Hiders

April 14, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

the hiders, cincinnati musicThe Hiders are composed of an all-star indie line up. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Bill Alletzhauser is a former member of Ohio alt-country group The Ass Ponys. Beth Harris once turned down a university scholarship for vocal music. Michael Horrigan has played in groups The Love Cowboys and The Afghan Whigs. Tony Franklin is one of the most talented jazz, rock, and blues drummers in Cincinnati.

The Hiders will be holding a CD release party for the debut of their 2nd studio cd "Penny Harvest Field" on May 9, 2008 at The Southgate House in Newport, KY. Singer/Songwriter Kim Taylor will be opening the show.

Cincy Groove: So is the new cd "Penny Harvest Field" ready for the people?

Billy Alletzhauser: We are taking care of some final tweaks here and there. We recorded 12 songs in Nashville at Alex The Great studios and plan on using 10 of them on the cd. We also recorded 2 songs here in Cincinnati at Ultrasuede studios/the BatCave by John Curley and myself. So the cd will have 12 songs. We are getting it mastered next week and taking care of the artwork.

Cincy Groove: Do you have any people play on the cd outside of The Hiders?

Billy Alletzhauser: We ended up using this guy in Nashville who is kind of a multi instrumentalist. His name is Fats Kaplin. He ended up playing pedal steel guitar, banjo, and fiddle on the record. It worked out well. There were some people from Cincinnati that were supposed to play on the record. But they were going to come down to Nashville in Feb of 2007 when we had that huge snow and ice storm. So that didn't work out. But it was ok because Fats was there and he played 3 different instruments on 5 different songs. He did it all in about 4 hours.

Read the full Interview here

Band Spotlight - April/May 2008 - The Customs

the customs, cincinnati music

The Customs, 1978

In 1978, most Rock & Roll fans in Cincinnati were too pre-occupied with the recent national success of local boys-done-good Pure Prairie League to give much thought to the bands that were festering in the city’s basements. Luckily those festering bands were upholding the polyvinyl chloride Rosetta Stone testaments of Rock & Roll handed down by prophets like The Wailers and Orangie Ray Hubbard. Armed with a bottle of Paramount gin, and a fist full of pills, they set out to loosen the stranglehold on American Rock & Roll by Sgt. Pepper. THE CUSTOMS were one of those bands. "The loudest, drunkest, most Obnoxious Rock & Roll band in the city...fronted by a "singer" with the vocal ability of the local Greyhound bus dispatcher." That’s how the esteemed Cincinnati press referred to THE KUSTOMS( with the original capitol K), and I guess it was meant as a dig but that sounds like a mighty high praise...if your heroes were The Sonics, and Little Vic. Led by post-DMZ/pre-LYRES Peter Greenberg, he sought the company of those equally guilty in the pursuit of rare B-sides to round out the initial line-up of Carson/Greenberg/Heil/Rosenthal in late "78.

Read full article here

Photos - Deepwater Junction, 4.12.08, Annie's, Cincinnati, OH

deepwater junction, cincy groove

Photos - Deepwater Junction, 4.12.08, Annie's, Cincinnati, OH

Friday, April 11, 2008

Photos - Widespread Panic, 4.9.08, US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH

Widespread Panic, 4.9.08, US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH

Show Review - Widespread Panic, 4.9.08, US Bank Arena

wsp, widespread panic, jamband, john bellKnowing I was going to be fighting rush hour traffic in downtown Cincinnati I arrived down at US Bank Arena at around 6:15pm. It didn't seem too many people wanted to show up early, there were a lot of empty seats when Galactic started. But by the time Widespread came on the arena started to fill up. I was excited as this is the first Widespread Panic show I have seen since Jimmy Herring has joined the lineup. I honestly think by adding Jimmy to the lineup WSP has added an element that will take the band to even higher recognition. WSP has some great studio recordings, but like many touring bands Widespread Panic is meant to be seen in person and not just listened to through your stereo speakers in your home. I wasn't too excited to see a show in US Bank Arena. I think its because I'm just used to seeing shows in a more theater type of venue. I soon forgot all about that as soon as the music started. Galactic played an exciting set before Widespread Panic.

Read the full review here

Interview with Drew Emmitt

April 10, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston
Photo Credits: Robert Massie, Susan J Weiand, Scott Preston

drew emmitt, leftover salmon, bluegrass, emmitt nershi bandDrew Emmitt, the dynamic lead singer and mandolin player with the popular jamband Leftover Salmon, is a true renaissance man on musical instruments. Playing mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, he's a string man to be reckoned with. He excels in unique energy driven mandolin licks and his influences include a pantheon of musical heroes including Lowell George, Steve Morse, Duane Allman, John Cowan, Bill Monroe, Sam Bush, Hot Rize and New Grass Revival.

Emmitt's dedication and love for music have helped him become one of our nation's top mandolin players. Beyond his own success, Emmitt has remained a fan as well. On joining his biggest influences on stage he said, "It's amazing. It's like walking in a dream. For years I had this dream of standing on stage next to them and having a good time. And it's happened. Standing on stage next to Sam Bush is pretty indescribable. And David Grisman as well. When Neil Young walked on stage, that was outrageous. I turned around, and there he was standing 6 inches away from me. I looked right at his eyes. Then having him actually sing on a song that I wrote? Pretty amazing."

The Boulder based quintet of Leftover Salmon has been a force in the Colorado music scene for over a decade. With Freedom Ride, Drew Emmitt is becoming a force to be reckoned with himself.

Cincy Groove: So how did you and Bill Nershi end up playing together?

Drew Emmitt: I have known Billy for 20 years. He had a duo in Telluride, with this woman Eliza Oxnard. Billy used to come see us when we played there with Leftover Salmon. He would sit in with us and this was all before String Cheese Incident existed. Leftover Salmon has toured with String Cheese and we have played festivals together over the years. Billy and I always had more of the bluegrass roots out of both bands. String Cheese had me come on board to do a couple shows with them a few years ago. Billy and I ended up playing together a lot and talking about maybe putting together a bluegrass band, just for fun. At that point String Cheese Incident was still going.

Read the full Interview here

Interview with Melvin Sparks

April 8, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

melvin sparks, jazz, funk, grooveMelvin Sparks is the Essential Guitar Player! He’s The Master Of The Groove! The Acid-Jazz Pioneer! The Originator of Soul Jazz, Old School Acid Jazz & BarbecueFunk(FUNKJAZZ)

Over the last thirty years he has played with some of Jazz’s greatest musicians: David "Fathead" Newman, Lou Donaldson, Hank Crawford, Reuben Wilson and John Patton (are amongst the many). During the 1970s, Sparks backed up Lou Donaldson on the Funk-Jazz classics "Everything I Play Is Funky" and "Hot Dog".

Sparks recorded seven albums of his own and played on over 100 other albums. As a session man for Blue Note and Prestige Records, Sparks laid his signature guitar work on many other musician’s albums without ever being in spotlight. It was during this time that Melvin defined the jazz-guitar sound of a generation.

Melvin Sparks is still a much sought-after studio player, both new and old talents seek him out now more than ever. He continues to perform with the greats of this genre such as Leon Spencer Jr., Mike Clark and Idris Mohammed and is now breaking out his legendary guitar wizardry with many younger bands and artists such as Galactic, The Greyboy Allstars, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Derek Trucks and Robert Walter's 20th Congress.

Cincy Groove: What projects are you working on right now?

Melvin Sparks: Well, there's nothing in the works right now. I'm kind of in transition, regrouping my band. I may have to do some guest spots with some other bands.

Read the full Interview here

Monday, April 7, 2008

Jon Justice to release sophmore album on April 18 at Molly Malone's in Covington, KY

jon justice, bluesApril 7, 2008 (Cincinnati, OH) -- Jon Justice will be releasing their long awaited sophomore album, "The Rebound", Friday April 18th at Covington's best venue for live music, Molly Malone's. Shyte Mcflyte, a newly formed Jazz/Blues Hip Hop Fusion group will be kicking off the night at 9:30 sharp. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes for these guys! Entry is FREE with the purchase of "The Rebound" and $5 otherwise.

The new release from Jon Justice is more representative of what he brings to the table as an individual as well as a songwriter and performer. Jon's first album, "Forget About Time", although very good, was admittedly slightly over produced. In his latest effort he has used his current touring band in the studio with him along with producer Phillip Wolfe and an array of great backup singers. This is in contrast to using such well known heavy hitters as Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns on the previous record. You are sure to get your money's worth with "The Rebound" as the total track count comes in at a very impressive 14 songs. "The Rebound" will be available at many of your favorite local retailers as well as at but don't miss out on the very first opportunity to get your copy, Friday April 18th at Molly Malone's in Covington, KY.

Read the full press release

CD Review - The Newbees - Amsterdam

the newbees, cincinnati music, cincy groove

The Newbees have brought us their latest cd Amsterdam , containing 18 tracks that show us what happens when you bring together 5 songwriters with talent and the experience to back it up.

Something a band hasn't done very much is to include mini-tracks as segue's between the full tracks on the cd. When I first listened to "Amsterdam" I didn't realize right away thats what The Newbees had done in a few spots. I thought that's a really long track, but I was enjoying this cd so much I didn't mind at all. The Newbees pulled this off beautifully.

Read the full review here

Interview with Kelly Richey

April 6, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

kelly richey, bluesGuitarist/singer Kelly Richey has been described by one music critic as: “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” That’s an apt appraisal of the Lexington, Kentucky native, who’s now been based in Cincinnati for many years. Over the course of many album releases (and a live DVD), Richey has often been compared to such greats as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan because of her ability to capture and entertain an audience with ripping guitar leads that both sing and astonish.

In addition to her work as a touring artist, Richey’s involvement with music hardly concludes when the stage lights go down or the studio goes quiet. She has committed her life to music across the board. For 25 years, Richey has taught private guitar instruction. In 2003, Richey began developing a Guitar Workshop and a Blues History program to take into the schools. In 2004, Richey became an “Artist on Tour” with the Cincinnati Arts Association, and in 2005, was added to the Kentucky Center’s artist roster. That same year, Richey began delivering an adult education program that included a six-week Guitar Instruction program. The following year, Richey created Music for Change, a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to music education in today's public schools, a discipline all too often cut when districts are hit with budgetary constraints. A variety of programs offering live performances, lectures, and interactive participation serve to facilitate learning opportunities for students while keeping the history of American music alive and prospering. Through standards-based instruction and academic enrichment, Music for Change programs support and strengthen existing school curricula. Richey’s entire life is dedicated to enhancing the musical experiences of students and audiences alike. Ms. Richey recognizes that music is a universal language and the gift of music can be used to build learning skills and to strengthen each student's imagination. (source: bio on

Cincy Groove: So I understand you have a cd release show coming up?

Kelly Richey: Yes, the official street release for the distributor is June 3rd. But we will have the cd for our fanbase by the end of next week and our first cd release party is 4/11 at Peachs in Yellow Springs.

Read the full Interview here

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Slice of Heaven in Southern Ohio, The Fur Peace Ranch

April 4, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

jorma kaukonen, fur peace ranch, pomeroy, ohConceived in 1989 by Jorma & Vanessa Kaukonen, The Fur Peace Ranch is nestled in the rolling foothills of southeast Ohio.

It was not much at the outset. The hills and trees were pretty and serene, but it took a lively imagination to envision what might be created there, what might be taught and learned, and how hearts could open along with guitar cases.

But in 1989, Jorma and Vanessa Kaukonen looked at a piece of land in Meigs and conceived what Jorma calls "a ranch that grows guitar players." Not a fantasy camp, but this would be a place where both budding and seasoned musicians could immerse themselves for several days, and emerge with renewed inspiration and tangible progress in their music.

Fur Peace Ranch did not spring from the ground full-grown. It evolved gradually into an idyllic landscape of neatly arrayed cabins, workshop space, library, store, dining hall, plus a theater that hosts concerts performed by world-class musicians -- many of whom also serve as instructors.

Vanessa Kaukonen was kind enough to chat with me about the Fur Peace Ranch:

Cincy Groove: So how did the whole concept behind the Fur Peace Ranch come about?

Vanessa Kaukonen: Jorma had a vision about southeast Ohio, a vision about the land. In the beginning I did not share this vision with him. I was living and working in upstate New York. I was working in the city, taking the train to work everyday. I was comfortable in that space. Jorma found this land through an old friend of his. He just bought it and I thought he was nuts. Everything great that has happened to me in my life has happened to me here in Ohio. Even though I came kicking and screaming, Jorma had this great vision about the land.

Read the full article here

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Interview with Jorma Kaukonen

April 3, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

jorma kaukonenIn a career that has already spanned nearly a half century, Jorma Kaukonen has been the leading practitioner and teacher of fingerstyle guitar, one of the most highly respected interpreters of American roots music, blues, and Americana, and at the forefront of popular rock-and-roll.

He was a founding member of two legendary bands, The Jefferson Airplane and the still-touring Hot Tuna, a Grammy nominee for his highly acclaimed “Blue Country Heart,” and the most in-demand instructor in the galaxy of stars who teach at the guitar camp that he and his wife operate in picturesque Southeastern Ohio, The Fur Peace Ranch.

Over a span of three and a half decades Hot Tuna has performed thousands of concerts and released more than two dozen records. The musicians who performed with them were many and widely varied, as were their styles: from acoustic to long and loud electric jams, to acoustic once again, but never straying far from their musical roots. (In recent years, an electric set has been reintroduced to some of their tour dates.) What is remarkable is that they have never coasted: Hot Tuna today sounds very much like Hot Tuna of 1970, except that the guys have continued to develop as musicians, so today they are even better. (from bio on

Jorma also has an incredible website, Break Down Way which is a highly interactive website that provides online lessons from masters such as Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, founding members of the legendary Jefferson Airplane & Hot Tuna, Woody Mann, Oteil Burbridge, David Wolff, and Barry Mitterhoff.

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

Jorma Kaukonen: We haven't started working on anything yet. But we are talking about doing another cd for Red House Records. I think its going to be a Rev Gary Davis type of concept. I'm hoping to get Larry Campbell to produce the cd for me. This is going to be a Jorma record. Now Hot Tuna has been talking with Warner Bros about doing a Hot Tuna record early next year. We are all talking about it so its a good place to start.

Read the full interview here