Of course it is inevitable that on this thread I would step out in favor of
Cincinnati and its surrounding area. It has served as a launching pad for
countless artists ranging from Bix Beiderbecke to Doris Day, has a
heritage in recording that stretches back to 1890, the proud broadcast
history that encompasses WLW, WCIN and WCKY and naturally the King Records
label in the 40s-1970. The town has always been a bastion of funk, bluegrass
and traditional jazz, and since 1980, punk/alternative/experimental music.
We had an interesting, though small, psychedelic garage scene in the 1960s
mostly documented on small label 45s though a couple of acts did break out
of that; Lemon Pipers, Goshorn Brothers (Pure Prairie League) and Bo
Donaldson and the Heywoods. The late Shad O'Shea bought Fraternity Records
from Harry Carlson and left an interesting legacy of radio-targeted novelty
records in the 1970s.
I was a central figure in the early establishment of Cincinnati's
underground music scene which continues to thrive, bigger than ever; so many
acts that I can't keep track of them all. As a CityBeat reporter I get
assignments to cover acts I've never heard of, and should not be surprised
when they turn out to be good, but I still am; the sense of variety and
creativity in what the city's musicians has to offer is immense. It is, and
has long been, a scene impoverished and clamoring for attention, but it's
status as a hub, the non-conformist attitude of its citizens and
the lower-than-low budgets on which its products are executed seem to insure
that what comes out of Cincinnati surely is not what you're going to
encounter from other towns our size.
I had despaired for many years that the work of the Cincinnati-based
pressing plants/record labels would never be documented; I had tried on my
own, but lack resources for what seemed like a mammoth project -- looking
for hundreds of ultra-rare records of unfamiliar artists, most of which no
one ever heard of and encompassing a scope more regional than local. To my
stunned surprise, my dear friend Peter Aaron in Upstate New York sent me
this link late yesterday:
Somebody has been working on this very problem for years and here is an easy
to use interface to get a grip on it all; for a hardcore discographer
this is about the most wonderful thing you can imagine.
In re Philly: Oddly I had run into a link between Cinti and Philly last
week, finding a Big 4 Hits record with a return address of "Philadelphia
Pennsylvania" in the thrift store. I was going to ask either here or on 78-L
about it, as this label was based in Cincinnati for years. But the Rite site
answered the question, confirming that Big 4 moved to Philadelphia at about
issue # 212 in 1958.
Uncle Dave Lewis
On Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 2:10 AM, Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On 1/4/2011 4:16 PM, Aaron Levinson wrote:
>> At the risk of being (rightly) accused of civic boosterism I must say
>> that the local music scene in Philadelphia is also quite excellent these
>> days. We are not a city, except for the venerable Todd Rundgren, that is
>> known for spawning rock music so the proliferation of quite talented folks
>> in that area is indeed unusual and comforting.
> Maybe not "rock music" but the Phila area and South Phila certainly was
> important in spawning "Rock 'n' Roll" itself. Ever hear of a little act
> called Bill Haley and the Comets? And a dozen or two acts on Essex, Cameo,
> Parkway, Swan, and a few other labels in the 50s and early 60s.
> And who the hell is Todd Rundgren?
> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]