Saturday, September 27, 2003

Midpoint transforms Main Street

Clubs packed for Friday night performances

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It looked like the old Main Street, but better. Friday night, MidPoint Music Festival packed the clubs, aided by the monthly Final Friday art gallery promotion.

"At 9 every venue was alive, and all the bar owners were saying that that just doesn't happen," said MidPoint co-founder Sean Rhiney, who estimated Friday's crowd at around 10,000.

Best of the Fest; where to eat
Schedule, links to bands sites
At 9 p.m., the BarrelHouse Brewing Co., a block and a half west of Main, was already packed for cari clara, a new group led by ex-Simpleton Eric Diedrichs and featuring former Throneberry leader Jason Arbenz.

The band, fielding two drummers and a cello, didn't disappoint, with a layered, multi-textured variation on Diedrichs' melodic Simpletons pop-rock.

That was just one of several dozen MidPoint performances going on Friday. After a day of industry panels and workshops, the local and regional music showcase fielded everything from the acoustic bluegrass of the Genesee Rose String Band at the new Moose on Main to the funky "floetry" of rapper Abiyah, who led the crowd at Lava in some positive booty shaking.

There was high energy rock under the tent of the new Wings Pavilion by the Urbana band Small Town Sleeper and a whole herd of alt-country rockers at other clubs. Most could be found at Mr. Pitiful's which fielded an entire evening of those Americana acts, building energy from Rob Ervin, Collin Herring, Earl, Pike 27 and finally a full-tilt Stapletons set.

There were strong shows all over the place. Singer/songwriter Tamara Bedricky played to a capacity Kaldi's crowd that could barely move through the coffeehouse. Jefferson Hall was just as tightly packed for rock band Crosley, featuring MidPoint co-founder Bill Donabedian on drums. His partner Rhiney also got back to the music Friday, playing bass with his band Pike 27.

"It's live here, tonight, definitely," said Main resident Jennifer LeMasters, 26. "I've seen more places open tonight than I've ever seen on Final Friday," said her boyfriend Matt Wirtz, 25.

Even occasional rain couldn't dampen things. The crowds continued to grow, with a rocking, take-no-prisoners midnight MidPoint that included Spindle at the Cavern, Indy's Loretta at the BarrelHouse, Pike 27 at Pitiful's, Wojo at Courtyard Cafe, gravy8 at Neon's and Michael Jantz at RBC.

MidPoint continues today with more panels and workshops at the Crowne Plaza, followed by what is expected to be the biggest night of the festival, including MOTH, Messerly & Ewing, Fairmount Girls, Clabbergirl, Promenade, Worldwide and Kim Taylor, along with some of the most hotly-anticipated out-of-towners like LA's Clare Muldaur and Knoxville's Westside Daredevils.

Admission to all venues is $10, available at participating clubs.

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