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"MidPoint Music Fest 09 Review"

MidPoint Music Festival

Christina Martin

September 29, 2009

Punk, rock, ska, bluegrass, soul, jazz, folk….you name it, the MidPoint Music Festival (www.mpmf.com) serves it up. For three days, September 24th through the 26th, downtown Cincinnati and northern Kentucky became hosts to hundreds of bands at MidPoint 2009. Burgeoning regional bands were given the opportunity to strut their stuff on 23 stages throughout the area. A three day pass was only $29 and allowed the bearer to choose from over 270 bands, most within walking distance from Fountain Square. This was a live music lover’s dream.

This live music lover was particularly interested in Chillicothe’s own Lewis Brothers (www.myspace.com/lewisbrothersband), chosen to headline on Saturday night at the Washington Platform Saloon (www.washingtonplatform.com), located at the corner of Court and Elm streets in downtown Cincinnati. The Lewis Brothers, comprised of brothers Russell P., Richard and Jeffro Lewis, and Dennis Foreman, play an energetic show in a self-described style of “supercharged folk rock “, or “punk-a-billy with traditional instruments”. I’ve seen the Lewis Brothers perform several times before, but I was eager to see how they would respond to this venue and in new surroundings.

I was not disappointed. From the first note of “Took a Shot of Whiskey (and my woman disappeared)”, to the final strains of “Sister”, the Brothers delivered their unique brand of sincere and intense bluegrass-infused country rock with charm and exceptional musicianship. My personal favorite was “I Saw the Light”, but if you’re thinking gospel, trust me, the Lewis Brothers rendition is as far from a tent revival as you can get. If you’ve never seen the Lewis Brothers live do not pass go, do not collect $200 and immediately get thyself to a show. It is absolutely worth the trip anywhere.

The next stop was the Havana Martini Club (www.havanmartini.com), where Bootsy Collins played host to a myriad of Cincinnati area acts. I was honored to meet, snap some photos, and boogie with the legendary Funkmaster himself, along with his gracious and lovely wife, Patti. The Bootzilla Productions stage saw the likes of the hard driving Crazy Legs, the sweet saxophone of BK, the soulful vocals of B Sold, and a 15 year old guitar prodigy named Ben, who can only be described as phenomenal. A great big sparkly hats off to Bootsy for his support of local musicians.

The Fountain Square stage was also jumping with groups like Mia Carruthers and the Retros, Terribly Empty Pockets and the Wildbirds. Despite a bit of rain, a party atmosphere prevailed, and it was refreshing to see people of all ages truly enjoying the region’s best music.

The final stop of the evening featured a return to the Washington Platform Saloon and the midnight performance of the Louisville, Kentucky based band Yardsale (www.yardsaleband.com). Led by Kirk Kiefer (bass and vocals), Yardsale delivered a high-energy set of alternative-meets-country-pop originals. I was particularly impressed by drummer Colin Garcia. He’s a superb player and I can’t wait to see them perform again. It was definitely a great way to end the evening.

Overall, the MidPoint Music Festival was a delight. It was so encouraging to see an entire city supporting regional musical talent in such an open way. Thanks to CityBeat’s Alex Breyer for giving us the opportunity to experience the MidPoint Music Festival. But….next year I’ll be there all three days. Bet on it! - Chillicothebands.com

"Soundtrack to a Haunting"

had the auspicious experience of first listening to Electric Western while making a late-night drive on a snowy night. What I found was the perfect soundtrack for a journey such as mine: energetic enough to keep me awake but as haunting and somber as the loneliness of driving solo.

Yardsale plays well in the daylight, too. The Louisville band has made significant strides on their third album, adding a band member, a pedal steel guitar and a new level of songwriting from Kirk Kiefer that borders on brilliance.

Take "While She Sleeps," for example, in which Kiefer contemplates bolting out of his current relationship while watching his significant other slumber: "While she sleeps my hands swim through her hair / and I try to figure out if I care." As he makes the listener a part of the decision-making angst, Kiefer connects on a deep level with the feelings all relationships inevitably conjure up. And the ambiguous ending couldn't be more real. Should he stay or should he go? "While she sleeps I consider turning 'round / and sneaking back in without a sound."

Electric Western consistently delivers the goods in a tightly wrapped alt-country package. While the music of Kiefer, Chris Luckett, Chris Scott and Lowell Tryon definitely trends toward the country side, Kiefer's vocals are often closer to Bob Dylan than Tim McGraw. Kiefer is as adept at the up-tempo songs like the sublime "Willing to Wait" as he is with the more contemplative "Kari I Know."

Judging from the quirky humor of the liner notes (the album is respectfully dedicated to the noble Yeti), the guys in Yardsale are as cool as they want you to think they are, which makes their music go down even more smoothly.
- Louisville Music News

"Electric Western"

Until now, Louisville’s Yardsale has been something of a chameleon. It has seen a number of different lineups and has released everything from weird indie pop to alt-country to punk — sometimes all on the same album. But Yardsale seems to have found its center on its third release, Electric Western.
This is a collection of mostly low-key country and pop tunes that ponder life and relationships, with the last song fittingly, albeit gloomily, looking toward the afterlife. Tunesmith Kirk Kiefer is in especially fine form on the softer, acoustic-based “While She Sleeps” and tongue-in-cheek “Kari I Know” (take note, “Mythbusters” fans), and he finds his inner Mike Nesmith in the stomping opener, “Standing Here.”
Western’s signature is a conspicuous pedal steel that inhabits most of the tunes like a ghost, setting an unlikely but unforgettable mood for the proceedings. Perhaps that’s the sound of Yardsale finding the identity it’s been looking for. Yardsale celebrates its CD release this Friday, Dec. 14, at the Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 637-9611). - Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO)


Yardsale (2005)
Moving in Reverse (2006)
Electric Western (2007)
Knock Alley West (2010)

This Week (2008)



Yardsale, the self-proclaimed second most rootin’-est, tootin’-est band in Louisville, lives by a simple philosophy: the more things change, the more they get different. Through three wildly diverse albums (2005's Yardsale, 2006's Moving in Reverse and 2007's Electric Western), the band evolved - until one day they looked up from their western wear and realized they had not only broken the Olympic record for late-night tacos devoured, but had also created a cool new, alt-country-meets-pop sound - the kind of sound one might hear if Gram Parsons fronted the Heartbreakers. On the strength of live favorites such as the stomping country sound of "Dream of Amarillo" and the heartfelt ballad "While She Sleeps," Yardsale continues to raise the bar and raise the roof in venues in and around Louisville, and in 2008 released a live EP, Yardsale This Week. So what’s next? The group just finished recording a new album, Knock Alley West, and added a horn section. They'll be following that up with some regional touring and undisputed rock 'n' roll legend status. Or at least another beer.