This September marks the 74th anniversary of the first songs recorded for the Cincinnati label, King Records. In September 1943, Syd Nathan convinced two WLW radio performers, Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis, to go along with his latest brainstorm - a record company based in Cincinnati. This four-song session would lead to King Records producing nearly 30 years of music in all genres while based in the Queen City. September will be a month-long celebration, honoring the founding of Syd’s company and its contribution to American music, with events planned for every weekend. 30+ events (mostly free) include concerts, displays, author visits, album listening parties, radio shows, and even a chance to buy your own King vinyl or compact discs at a discounted price.
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*** PREVIEW EVENTS ***
Thursday, August 17th, 7PM | Queen City Kings: Love Songs, Storytelling, & the Blues...
Queen City Kings is an intimate concert series; each concert tells a piece of the story of King Records. To recreate the true King experience, the audience will participate in the performance by sitting among the musicians while listening through headphones. We will feature stories about the music, the musicians, and the personal relationships that contribute to the impact that King has had on American music then and now. The Artswave-funded exhibit King Records: The Lost History Of Rock N Roll will also be on display at this event.
Contemporary Arts Center, 44 East Sixth St | $20 | 7PM
Saturday, August 19th, 7pm | Herzog History
A presentation of the Herzog Studio's important history with Kelly Thomas and Ed Vardiman. Hear samples of recording artists that recorded at Herzog between 1945-1955, including the unique role King Records made featuring artists like Henry Glover, Bullmoose Jackson, The Delmore Brothers and Homer & Jethro. Step foot in the historic space rescued by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation and learn about Syd Nathan's key role in encouraging Bucky Herzog to get started, which led to many non-King classics with Hank Williams, Flatt & Scruggs, and Patti Page to name a few.
Herzog Music, 811 Race St | 7-9pm || Sponsored by Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation | Free
Friday, August 25th, 5:00 PM | It’s Star Time! King Records Portraits.
When James Brown was about to take the stage during his shows, the announcer would say “It’s Star Time!” MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine is proud to say “It’s Star Time” for an upcoming art exhibit with a focus on King Records musicians and artists. Over 15 local visual artists will exhibit portraits of their favorite King Records performer. From the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, to the Sweetheart of the Hayride, Bonnie Lou, this exhibit showcases the wide range of music recorded in Cincinnati at King. The exhibit opens August 25th and will stay up throughout the month of September. Legendary King Records session drummer Philip Paul -said to have played on over 250 King recording sessions- will be playing 2 sets with his trio, the Philip Paul Trio from 5-7pm. Event sponsored by Artswave and MOTR.
MOTR Pub, 1345 Main Street. Over the Rhine | 5-7PM | Free
Saturday August 26th, 7:00 PM | Cowboy Copas Festival.
Grand Ole Opry star and Ohio native Cowboy Copas was King’s first breakout star in 1946. The Adams County Historical Society will present the 10th annual Cowboy Copas Memorial Concert at the community center in Blue Creek, Copas’ home turf. Food will be served and a cake auction will be held.
For more information, call Mary Fulton (937) 587-2043 or Lynne Newman (937) 587-3358 | Jefferson Community Center, 8996 Blue Creek Road - Blue Creek, Ohio 45616
Sunday August 27th, 7PM | Around Cincinnati - King Records Month
Host Lee Hay speaks with librarian and music historian Brian Powers about the upcoming events taking place all around town for King Records Month in September. Also, Cameron Cochran will stop by for a discussion with John Kieswetter about the history of steel guitar in the Midwest and its importance to music. He also talks about his upcoming shows at the Public Library of Cincinnati and the Woodward Theater.
WVXU, 91.7 FM
Tuesday, August 29th, 7:30 PM | King Vinyl Night.
Get a sneak preview of King Records Month with a listening party at Vinyl Night, the monthly get- together of music fans who meet on the last Tuesday night of each month to spin records and share stories. Bring your favorite King 45 record or 33 1/3 album.
H.D. Beans & Bottles Cafe, 6721 Montgomery Rd., on the Kennedy Heights/Silverton border | Free
*** KING RECORDS MONTH OFFICIALLY BEGINS SEPTEMBER 1ST ***
Friday September 1st, 5-11pm | King Records Month official kickoff event.
Please join us for this free admission event sponsored by Artswave and King Studios. Funk masters Freekbass will headline the show while the School of Rock Mason will feature a full set of King Records songs that will include special performances by King Records recording artists Otis Williams and Philip Paul. In early evening there will be plenty of great King Records tunes, hors d'oeuvres and refreshments, and a King Records exhibit on display. The event will be hosted by Evanston Community Council president and King Studios chair Anzora Adkins. She’ll be joined by Otis Williams and Philip Paul, Mayor John Cranley, council members and other King Records fanatics.
5-6PM | Mixer / mingling, hors d’ oeuvres by Picnic & Pantry, cocktails, DJ Bryan Dilsizian plays select King albums
6:00-7:30PM | Speakers
8-9PM | School Of Rock Performance: A Tribute to King Records
9:30-10:30PM | Freekbass
Woodward Theater, 1404 Main Street Over the Rhine | Free event | 18+ (under 18 admitted w/ guardian).
Friday September 1st through 30th | King Records: The King of Them All, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Exhibit.
Come to the Freedom Center and see the second installment of a three-part series that explores King’s thirty years as a record company. This exhibit consists of 10 professionally designed banner stands that provide an overview of the middle years of King Records' history (1954 to 1963) when the company expanded into other music genres including Rockabilly, Soul, Bluegrass, Jazz, and Chicago Blues. It also examines the early careers of future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, The 5 Royales, Little Willie John, Freddy King, and James Brown. The exhibit will be accompanied by music recorded at King during this time period. This display, funded and developed by the Community Building Institute and an Artswave grant for King Studios, runs from September 1st to 30th.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E Freedom Way, The Banks
Friday September 1st through 30th | BUY King Records!
Starting on the first of the month, several Cincinnati record stores will be offering month-long specials on King music. Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge will have a section for King Records with 20 percent off any King CD and vinyl. Everybody’s Records will also have a special King Records give away at the end of the month. This year Shake It Records in Northside will be offering 33 percent off any King-related items. Lastly, the new record shop below the Herzog studio space (where King recordings were made), will feature 10% off records, books, select merchandise, as well as art by Keith Neltner.
Friday September 1st through 30th | Jukebox King.
King had many jukebox hits over the years. Several bars will be paying homage to that history during the month of September. Look for King Record CDs on the jukeboxes in The Comet Bar in Northside, MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, City View Tavern in Mt Adams, and the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky. The music runs the gamut from Hillbilly to Funk, Jazz to Rockabilly, Soul to Bluegrass, Jump Blues to Gospel.
Friday September 1st through 30th | King Twitter! Chris Richardson, “a pop music archaeologist”, will be tweeting fun facts and little known history about King Records every day in the month of September. Richardson maintains the music history blog, Zero to 180-Three Minute Magic, that spotlights deserving artists as well as songwriters, musicians, producers, engineers, arrangers, and label owners who have not received their proper historical recognition and serves as a forum for examining the “old fogie roots of modern rock” in all its facets. Twitter handle: @King_Studios
Saturday September 2nd, 2:00 PM | Cameron and Chuck.
Join Cameron Cochran at Shake It Records in Northside as he sits down with his steel guitar mentor Chuck Rich to swap stories and tunes. Chuck Rich was the steel guitar player for WLWT's The Midwestern Hayride TV show and worked with many of Cincinnati's most influential musicians including Zeke Turner who played on the infamous “Lovesick Blues” session at Herzog Studios with Hank Williams and on many King Record recordings.
Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Avenue, Northside | Free
Sunday September 3th, 1:00 PM | King Gospel.
In 1960 King Records, using mobile sound equipment, recorded the impassioned performances of gospel spirituals during a church service at the Bible Way Church of God in Christ in Evanston, led by its founder, Little Abraham Swanson. It was released as the LP Let the Church Roll On. Elder Carl Whittaker, the church's current pastor, invites you to enjoy the beautiful sounds of the current Bible Way Church of God choir and to listen to Gospel music as it should be heard, live in a church.
Bible Way Church of God in Christ, 3231 Woodburn Avenue, Evanston | Free
Wednesday, September 6th, 7:00 PM | Poor Rambler: Ralph Stanley at the Crossroads. Bluegrass historians Fred Bartenstein, Mac McDevitt, and Joe Mullins discuss the first solo recordings done by Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley in 1967 in Cincinnati for King Records, following the unexpected death of his brother and music partner Carter Stanley in December1966. The album marked a new beginning in Stanley’s career.
Main Library, 800 Vine Street, Popular Library Program Space, Downtown | Free
Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/Zero-to-180-1014124685279487/
Friday September 8th, 8–11PM | King Recording artist Philip Paul.
Spend an evening with a living legend. King Records’ session drummer Philip Paul, who at age 92, still plays with his band the Philip Paul Trio every Friday night, performing some of his favorite jazz songs.
Symphony Club, 210 W 14th St, OTR | Every Friday from 8-11PM | Free
Saturday September 9th, 11:00 PM | King Records artist Hank Ballard & the Midnighters. Lee Hay continues her profiles on King Records artists with some inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Midnighters’ place in Rock and Roll history was cemented with the sexually explicated lyrics and gospel rhythms of their early 1950s hit songs. "Work with Me Annie," "Annie Had a Baby," and "Annie's Aunt Fanny" all sold over a million copies even though they were banned on the radio. But perhaps their greatest creation was “The Twist” in the 1960s. The last two remaining Midnighters, guitarist Billy Davis and vocalist Norman Thrasher, share stories about the road and the studio.
WVXU 91.7 FM
Sunday, September 10th, 12-5PM | Second Sunday on Main presents King Records in the Queen City.
Celebrate Cincinnati's rich music history and explore the great songs from King Records at Over-the-Rhine’s oldest street festival, Second Sunday on Main. September 10th’s theme is King Records in the Queen City. There will be live music from 12-5pm produced by Queen City Kings, recent People’s Liberty project grantee. Local musicians will play live renditions of select King Records songs focusing on funk, soul, and country. The exhibit King Records: The Lost History Of Rock ‘N Roll will be on display.
Shop local and support the merchants of Main St., enjoy vibrant arts programming from the OTR neighborhood, peruse over 100 booths in the eclectic vendor market, relax and hang out in the Second Sunday Biergarten lounge!
12-5pm on Main St. between 12th & Liberty | Free | SecondSundayOnMain.org
Sunday, September 10th, 7:30 PM | Comet Bluegrass Allstars play King. Enjoy a Cincinnati tradition of Bluegrass Sunday and burritos as the Comet Bluegrass All Stars continue their annual tribute night to King’s Bluegrass artists.
The Comet Bar, 4579 Hamilton Avenue, Northside | Free
Tuesday September 12th, 8:00 PM- 10:00PM | King Square Dancing. In the early 1960s King Records put out a series of square dancing albums that included instruction booklets. Be one of the first 50 to arrive for the Northside Square Dance and get a compact disc of a King square dance album along with the instruction book. This dance night happens monthly on the second Tuesday in the Tavern’s famous back room. A collection of talented players called the Northside Volunteers provides the live music along with a guest caller. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Avenue, Northside | Free event but donations encouraged for traveling callers
Wednesday, September 13th, 6-9PM | King Records Fellowship.
Come share your King stories/memories/memorabilia etc. Also hear about the plans for the original King Records bldg. site. In attendance will be Mr. Otis Williams, other members of the Charms and Mr. Phillip Paul to name a few. Production by All Live Affair.
Queen City Radio, 222 W. 12th St, OTR | Free
Thursday September 14th, 4 PM - 5 PM | King of the Airwaves. WMKV radio host Mike Martini will speak with music historians Randy McNutt and Brian Powers about King’s connections with local radio and television programs. Syd Nathan started the company by recording radio performers from the WLW’s Boone Country Jamboree in the 1940s. Later in the early 1950s, Syd signed talent from WLWT’s television program The Midwestern Hayride. Hear recordings from Grandpa Jones, Merle Travis, The Delmore Brothers, Bonnie Lou, Lonnie Innis, and Charlie Gore.
WMKV-FM 89.3 FM
Saturday, September 16th, 2:00 PM | Midwestern Steel Guitar: Jerry Byrd and the Sound of Country Music.
Jerry Byrd recorded with Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, and Red Foley while also having his own successful career as a recording artist. As a member of the house band for WLWT’s Midwestern Hayride TV show in the 1940s and 1950s, Jerry played on numerous recordings as a session player at King Records. Join Cincinnati Steel guitarist, Cameron Cochran, as he pays tribute to one of the masters, along with guitar slinger Harold Kennedy and bassist Chris Douglas.
Main Library, 800 Vine Street, Reading Garden Lounge, Downtown | Free
Saturday, September 16th | Funky Drummer Fest
Funky Drummer Fest presented by The Animal Crackers, will demonstrate the deep connection between Hip-Hop and the music recorded at King Records at 1540 Brewster Ave in Evanston. Sponsored by Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation with Herzog Music.
Herzog Music, 811 Race St | Free
Sunday, September 17th, 7:30 PM | HAYRIDE!: A Tribute to Cincinnati's Country Music Variety Show. Cameron Cochran will be collaborating with his Country band, The Midwestern Swing and the Comedy sketch writers, Future Science, to recreate Cincinnati's long running Country Music Variety show, The Midwestern Hayride. The show will be recorded for a future podcast.
Woodward Theater, 1404 Main Street Over the Rhine | 7:30 | $10 Admission
Tuesday September 19th, 7:00 PM | Cheryl Renee. Cincy Blues Society presents Bluesday Tuesdays with Cheryl Renee, the dynamic keyboardist, song stylist and "Goddess of the Blues" who will pay tribute to some of the blues artists at King.
Arnold’s, 210 East Eight Street, Downtown | Free
Wednesday, September 20th, 5:30 PM | King MRC. The Music Resource Center is a multifaceted teen program that uses recording and performing arts, as well as life skills mentoring to create a sense of empowerment & accomplishment in the urban community. MRC will be hosting their quarterly sampler showcasing the amazing talent there at the MRC who will give a shout out to King Records. Music Resource Center, 3032 Woodburn Avenue, Walnut Hills | Free
Wednesday, September 20th, 8:30- 11:30 PM | Ricky Nye plays King.
Check out the rollicking sounds of Ricky Nye, winner of the CEA’s Best Blues Artist in Cincinnati. He will be playing numerous selections from King’s catalog. The Listing Loon, 4124 Hamilton Ave, Northside | Free
Saturday, September 23th, 2pm | State of the King Records Building at 1540 Brewster Ave
Herzog Music and The Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation presents the State of the King Records Building at 1540 Brewster Ave in Evanston, sharing the latest news on the efforts to save and revive the King Records building. CMHF led in playing key role in forming partnerships to erect historic maker, the landmarking of the property, and is at forefront of ongoing efforts with City leaders to purchase the building at 1540 Brewster with other partners. Come through the Herzog Music into the historic Herzog studio space where Syd Nathan first made King Records before he built his studio at 1540 Brewster in Evanston for this forum.
Herzog Music, 811 Race St | 2-4pm | Free
Saturday, September 23th, 10pm-2 AM | King Vinyl Soul Dance Party!
DJs Bryan Dilsizian and Grover of The Queen City Soul Club bring rare and crucial grooves to the dance floor! Join these hosts as they spin, for your dancing pleasure, the best in rare and obscure Soul, R&B, and Funk music that King Records recorded. The Queen City Soul Club dance party happens every third Saturday night at the Mockee, the event venue and art gallery with an underground tunnel.
The Mockbee, 2260 Central Parkway, Historic Brighton | Free
Saturday September 23th, 11:00 PM | The “5” Royales.
Lee Hay continues her look at Rock and Roll Hall of Famers at King. The "5" Royales’ music, combining gospel and jump blues, was an influential step in the evolution of Soul music. Their vocals on songs like "Think” and "Dedicated to the One I Love." inspired James Brown while their guitar style was a key influence on legendary Stax guitarist Steve Cropper. The "5" Royales were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2015. WVXU, 91.7FM
Sunday, September 24th, 2:00 PM | Betty Clooney. Beginning her professional singing career at age 14 on WLW Radio, Betty Clooney was soon touring America and recording with her sister Rosemary as a duo for bandleader Tony Pastor. She began recording as a solo artist in 1950 for King Records as part of that company’s attempt to break into the pop music market. Join Betty’s brother, Nick Clooney, and her son, Dr. Carlos Campo, as they discuss the life and career of this talented and spirited performer. Main Library, 800 Vine Street, Reading Garden Lounge, Downtown | Free
Sunday, September 24th, 8:00 PM | Blues for the Red Boy.
In the mood for some blues? Drop by Sonny’s, the longtime Blues landmark. The house band, Sonny’s All Blues Band, will be playing some tunes from King’s rich catalog of Blues. The band takes the stage on Sundays from 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Sonny’s All Blues Café & Lounge,4040 Reading Road, Avondale | Free
Wednesday, September 27th, 7:00 PM | THEM – Garage Rock at King.
Before becoming the manager for international famed guitarist Adrian Belew, Stan Hertzman started in music in 1963 as a guitarist in a band called The Torquays. They signed with King Records in 1964 and changed their name to THEM. Their first single, “Don't Look Now” b/w “A Girl like You” was released that fall and was unsuccessful but is now a cult classic. Join Stan Hertzman as he discusses his experiences recording in the King studio and working with owner Syd Nathan.
Main Library, 800 Vine Street, Popular Library Program Space, Downtown | Free
Thursday September 28th, 6PM - 8PM | King Records Night at Folk School.
Come enjoy an evening of all King Records music, covering the gamut of styles and talents that were recorded under the historic label. Performances will feature local musicians paying homage to Cincinnati’s great music heritage.
Folk School Coffee Parlor, 332 Elm Street, Ludlow, KY | Free event with suggested donation for the artists.
Friday, September 29th, 5:00 – 8PM | A Party for H-Bomb.
Come celebrate a Cincinnati legend during Final Friday at the Mini Microcinema on Main Street. The late H-Bomb Ferguson, an American original and an early R & B pioneer, performed in a flamboyant style, while wearing colorful wigs. He recorded for several labels including King’s Federal label in the 1950s and 1960s. Starting at 5pm, enjoy happy hour while watching rarely seen videos of his live performances.
At 7PM, the Mini Microcinema will present the 40 minute documentary The Life & Times of H-Bomb Ferguson that features rare insights into H-Bomb's early years, his struggles growing up in the racially segregated South, his friendships with other world famous artists, and his return to the spotlight in the 1980's.
The Mini Microcinema, 1329 Main Street Over the Rhine | Free
Friday, September 29th, 8-9:30 PM | The Medicine Men Pay Tribute to H-Bomb. Following the H-Bomb film screening, stop by next store at Mr. Pitiful’s and check out a live set by The Medicine Men who were the backup band for Ferguson for over 20 years. Although the personal have changed over the many years, H-Bomb's philosophy "Make People Happy" has been the driving force in the success of this band.
Mr. Pitifuls, 1323 Main Street, Over The Rhine | Free
Contact King Studios c/o Brian Powers at email@example.com or Chris Schadler at 513-745-1016, firstname.lastname@example.org More Information at www.kingstudios.org