Most of us know about some of the bands performing at Midpoint this year, The Afghan Whigs, Chromeo, OK GO, Panda Bear. Instead of telling you something you probably already know, I decided to focus on 10 bands that might fly under your radar. Be sure to check out all the other great bands at http://www.mpmf.com
Bulletville (Cincinnati, OH)
Thursday 9/25 at Mr Pitifuls 9:15pm
MARK UTLEY & BULLETVILLE performs straight-up Country music in the classic style. Originally formed as an offshoot of Magnolia Mountain, the band has now come into its own as a powerhouse live and studio outfit. The band features MM’s Mark Utley, Renee Frye, Jeff Vanover, and Todd Drake, joined by bassist Ken Kimbrell, world-renowned keyboadist Ricky Nye and award-winng pedal steel guitarist John Lang. Bulletville plays a combination of Mark’s original songs augmented by a great selection of classic Country covers by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Gram Parsons, and more.
Bulletville served as the backing band for Mark Utley’s debut solo album, Four Chords and a Lie, released in July 2013. The band has booked studio time at Ultrasuede Studio in November 2014 to record a full-length Bulletville album with The Afghan Whigs’ John Curley producing, to be released in early 2015.
Honey & Houston (Cincinnati, OH)
Friday 9/26 at Arnold’s Bar 7:30pm
Honey & Houston is singer/songwriters Lauren Houston, Heather Turner (Tupelo Honey) with lead instrumentalist Mark Cretcher and Daniel Peterson on drums. Their original folk/americana music blends country and blues influences with sweet “sister” harmonies and a little taste of gypsy on the side.
Jeecy & The Jungle (Detroit, MI)
Thursday 9/25 Taft Theatre (Ballroom) 8:15pm
Jeecy and the Jungle is an experience, like defibrillation is an experience. Their live show is a train-derailing stomp that will make the young sweat and the thirsty convulse.
They have an electric chemistry for artists thrown together by equal parts dare and lost wagers. On their influences, the band admits looting their parents’ and grandparents’ record collections, and every decade since the thirties.
Magnolia Sons (Nashville, TN)
Saturday 9/27 Midpoint Midway Stage 11pm
Nashville’s Magnolia Sons describe themselves as “very big retro Soul,” but that’s a bit of an understatement. Gargantuan Power Soul might be a better name. No matter where they are, the roughly 15 members of the band bring a truckload of attitude to every stage, unleashing one glorious and uplifting party upon their fans. Their best track to date is “Baby That’s You,” with its church lady wailing, blaring and funky horns and Jackson 5-style piano pounding. Sources (re: Facebook) say new music is on the way.
River Whyless (Asheville, NC)
Thursday 9/25 Arnold’s Bar 10:30pm
River Whyless is named in the spirit of its ongoing love affair with the natural world. The quartet met as students at Appalachian State, and after graduating, moved to Asheville, North Carolina where they recorded their powerful and beautiful debut album A Stone, A Lead, An Unfound Door. The album’s title was borrowed from the novel Look Homeward, Angel by local legend Thomas Wolfe and was recorded in the band’s home studio.
Following its release in 2012, River Whyless took to the road, their music moving gracefully from traditional Folk structure to baroque gravity to dense atmospherics, an ability its member’s hope is reinforced night after night on tour. At home, the band enjoys riding motorcycles (Alex), shooting a bow-and-arrow (Ryan), performing psychological experiments (Halli), and running with packs of wild dogs (Daniel).
The Almighty Get Down (Cincinnati, OH)
Thursday 9/25 Mainstay Rock Bar 12:00 am
Back in January, The Almighty Get Down tore shit up good and proper at the annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony and left everyone in attendance with a condition known as “terminal dropjaw.” It wasn’t until the band’s all too brief set was over that I was hipped to the fact that the band was being led by former Daughters and Sons frontman Willy Morren, and then it all made perfect sense. Six years ago, Morren and D&S picked up a much-deserved CEA for Funk/R&B Group and it’s clear that The Almighty Get Down is destined for a similar path. They work a groove like their lives depend on it and the result is a visceral and blazing R&B/Rock stompathon, a sweet and sweaty sum of its individually brilliant parts. (from mpmf.com)
Shivering Timbers (Akron, OH)
Friday 9/26 Mr Pitiful’s 10:30pm
Photo by Nate Burrell
Shivering Timbers is Sarah Benn, Jayson Benn, joined by Daniel Kshywonis, musicians who call Akron, Ohio home. Our story developed when we — Sarah and Jayson Benn — started singing and crafting songs for our then-infant daughter. As she grew the music began to take shape, and a band was born. Our music was discovered by our friend Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) when we were invited to perform at his birthday party. The first album was subsequently recorded at Auerbach’s Akron studio, a collection of home-spun dark folk songs and fractured fairy tales called “We All Started in the Same Place”.
One year later, we met Brian Olive (Greenhornes, Soledad Brothers, Dr. John), and Sarah sang harmonies on his solo album “Two of Everything”. Soon we were at his Cincinnati studio recording the second album, “Sing Sing”.
More importantly, we have been honing our craft on relentless tour stops with Shovels & Rope, Jessica Lea Mayfield, The Chapin Sisters, Kenny Loggins, Carolyn Wonderland, Field Report, Tav Falco, Kopecky Family Band, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Courrier, and so many more; resulting in a live presence that combines Indie Rock energy, Blues/Punk passion, and Country/Gospel reflection.
Quiet Life (Portland, OR)
Saturday 9/27 Mr Pitiful’s 10:30pm
“I’m gonna drive out to Ohio/I’m gonna free my troubled mind,” lead singer Sean Spellman sings on the trotting “Record Time.” Quiet Life isn’t from here, but the band sure spends a lot of time on the road, from New London, Conn., to the West Coast and every small town in between. Since 2007, Quiet Life has released three full-lengths, including last year’s Wild Pack. Their latest release is the five-song Housebroken Man EP, featuring an old-timey piano and Shovels & Rope singer Cary Ann Hearst dueting with Spellman on the album’s titular song. On the final track, Jim James of My Morning Jacket helps cover Townes Van Zandt’s foreboding “Waiting Around to Die.” Quiet Life has been referred to as “a little bit Country, a little bit Rock & Roll,” but they’re really just pure heart and soul. (from mpmf.com)
Mary Bragg (Nashville, TN)
Saturday 9/27 Arnold’s Bar 7:30pm
After being told by a music exec in Nashville that she was too green and should come back in 10 years, after she’s lived a little, Georgia native Mary Bragg took off for New York City and did just that. She also honed her chops and built a following in the Brooklyn Americana scene, knocking out three increasingly well-received albums, including 2011’s beautiful, soulful Tattoos & Bruises. Late last year, Bragg relocated again — back to Nashville, 10 years after leaving. If he’s not dead or long since fired, that music exec was no doubt very happy to see her again.
Bethesda (Kent, OH)
Thursday 9/25 Know Theatre 8pm
Forged from the fables of their childhoods and inspired by the moving world around them, Bethesda is a band from Cleveland that aims to lift your heart and move your feet with the music they make.
Bethesda has toured relentlessly with stops at SXSW, Bunbury Music Festival, CMJ Music Marathon, Burning River Fest, MidPoint Music Festival, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame highlighting the list. They have also shared the stage with notable acts, including Sharon Van Etten, Nouvelle Vague, First Aid Kit, Eisley, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s and many more.