I’m always jealous of people who live in cities that host big music festivals, like Austin, New York, Chicago, etc. But I really have no reason to be because there is a fantastic music festival happening this weekend in my own back yard. And for the first time in five years, I actually get to attend.

Founded in 2002 by Cincinnati musicians Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney, and acquired in 2008 by weekly alternative paper, Cinicinnati CityBeat, MidPoint Music Festival has grown to become one of the best in the midwest. The festival takes place yearly towards the end of September in venues scattered across downtown Cincinnati, the Over-the-Rhine district, as well as Newport, KY.

This year, festival-goers can see more than 250 up-and-coming and established artists — representing just about every genre you can think of and hailing from 27 states and nine countries — perform on 25 stages. All that for $39 dollars, if you purchased the 3-day pass (an even better deal if you snagged a pass for the early-bird price of $29). I think that’s pretty damned impressive, don’t you?

In addition to all the wonderful shows to see, MidPoint is also offering some other, pretty unique ways to enjoy yourself.

  • The Artist Clubhouse at Neon’s Unplugged (208 East 12th Street) will offer visiting musicians a place to hang out, have some beer and eat some Cincinnati chili, provided by Gold Star Chili. This will also be the spot where MidPoint musicians will get the chance to perform without their typical band “in-the-round” with other singer/songwriters. The In-The-Round sets run from 5–11 p.m. all three days of the festival.
  • The first-ever MidPoint Poster Expo will be on display in the lower level of the Know Theatre (1120 Jackson St.) and will be free and open to the public. It will feature work from regional artists representing Powerhouse Factories (Newport, KY), FNHarsh (Dayton, OH), Southpaw Prints (Cincinnati) and Warnick Art (Cincinnati), and will focus on contemporary music and event posters. Many of the posters are hand-silkscreened, with limited print runs.
  • You can even head over to the library for some MPMF action. Select artists will perform on the plaza outside the Main Library (800 Vine St.) from noon-4 p.m. each day of the festival. On display in the library’s first-floor atrium will be the music photography exhibition, Where the Kids Are Goin’ Tonite, featuring the work of local artists John Curley, David Garza and Michael Wilson. And on Sept. 25, you can catch the library’s Real to Reel Documentary Series, which will present free screenings of films highlighting Cincinnati’s musical history.

Once again, MidPoint’s organizers are offering a shuttle service, this year partnering with Cincinnati’s Metro transportation authority. Three of Metro’s new hybrid buses will be circulating around Downtown and Over-the-Rhine from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. all three nights of the festival, making stops about every five minutes at marked locations. With a three-day MPMF wristband, you can ride the shuttle for free, but you’ll have to pay a $1.75 fare if you don’t have a wristband.

Additionally, select MPMF artists will be playing unplugged sessions onboard the buses, sponsored by the Fine Arts Fund. For a handy venue and shuttle map, go here. The buses won’t be crossing the river to take you to shows at the Southgate House in Newport, but you can take Southbank Shuttle from Downtown Cincinnati to Newport for $1.50 (www.tankbus.org).

Now, on to the music! One of the things I love most about MidPoint is that, even though it invites national, established acts, it is committed to showcasing independent local and regional artists, with more than half of the musicians coming from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. I’m a huge supporter of the local Cincinnati music scene and I’m excited that so many bands I know and love from the area get to showcase their talents to a larger, more diverse audience than they might normally get to play for.

I’ve painstakingly culled through the entire festival schedule to come up with my picks. I’m going to attempt to see as many of these acts as humanly possible, but I obviously won’t make it to all of them — I am, after all, just one person.

You can stream tracks from many of these acts here.

Thursday, September 23

Arnold’s Bar & Grill
9 P.M. — Messerly and Ewing
11:00 P.M. — Andy Cook & the Wander Loons
12:00 A.M.  — Coralee and the Townies

Artworks
11:00 P.M. — Richard Buckner

Cincinnati Bell Stage at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club
8:30 P.M. — Gaby Moreno
9:30 P.M. — Clare and the Reasons
10:30 P.M. — Van Dyke Parks

The Cincinnati Club
8:30 P.M. — Eat Sugar
9:30 P.M. — Indian Jewelry
10:30 P.M. — You, You’re Awesome
11:30 P.M. — Holy Fuck

Vitamin Water Stage at the Contemporary Art Center
9:00 P.M. — State Song
10:00 P.M. — No No Knots
11:00 P.M. — Shonen Knife

Topic Design Tent at Grammers
7:30 P.M. — Wussy
8:30 P.M. — Male Bonding
9:30 P.M. — Best Coast

Dewey’s Pizza Room at Know Theatre
9:00 P.M. — Nathan Holscher
10:00 P.M. — Jessica Lea Mayfield
11:00 P.M. — Justin Townes Earle

Friday, September 24

The Cincinnati Club
9:30 P.M. — The Secret Show (The first 450 three-day wristband wearers to show up will have exclusive access to the Secret Show.)
11:30 P.M. — Surfer Blood

Cincinnati Bell Stage at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club
9:30 P.M. — The Harlequins
10:30 P.M. — High Heels
11:30 P.M. — Unicycle Loves You
12:30 A.M. — Babe the Blue Ox

FB’s
10:00 P.M. — Silverghost
11:00 P.M. — Loyal Divide
12:00 A.M. — The Chain Gang of 1974

Topic Design Tent at Grammers
7:30 P.M. — Enlou
8:30 P.M. — The Seedy Seeds
9:30 P.M. — Caribou

Main Event
9:30 P.M. — Canasta
10:30 P.M. — Soapland
11:30 P.M. — Ketch Harbor Wolves
12:30 A.M. — Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

MOTR Pub
10:00 P.M. — Darlene
11:00 P.M. — Lower Dens
12:00 A.M. — Brighton, MA

Mr. Pitiful’s
12:00 A.M. — Daughters and Sons

The Southgate House
9:00 P.M. — So Cow
10:00 P.M. — The Lions Rampant
11:00 P.M. — Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Saturday, September 25

Artworks
8:00 P.M. — +/-
9:00 P.M. — Candy Claws
10:00 P.M. — for algernon
11:00 P.M. — Love in October

Below Zero
9:00 P.M. — Fists of Love
10:00 P.M. — The Chocolate Horse
11:00 P.M. — Oxford Cotton
12:00 A.M. — The Sundresses

FB’s
11:00 P.M. — Boutros
12:00 A.M. — Kinetic Stereokids

Fountain Square
10:00 P.M. — Oh My God

Topic Design Tent at Grammer’s
9:30 P.M. — Tom Tom Club

Inner Peace Center
8:15 P.M. — Mrs. Danvers

Jack Pott’s Tavern
12:00 A.M. — Ha Ha Tonka

Dewey’s Pizza Room at Know Theatre
9:30 P.M. — Culture Queer
10:30 P.M. — Josiah Wolf
11:30 P.M. — Phantogram

Mainstay Rock Bar
12:00 A.M. — Pomegranates

Mixx Ultra Lounge
8:30 P.M. — Foster Grants
9:30 P.M. — Koala Fires
10:30 P.M. — Soft Speaker
11:30 P.M. — Librarians

Mr. Pitiful’s
11:30 P.M. — The Right Now

If you want to keep track of what MidPoint attendees are saying about the festival in real-time, follow the hashtag #mpmf on Twitter or go here.

I don’t know how many of you are planning on coming, but if you do and you see me out and about, make sure you say hello!

About the Author

Kelly Stitzel

After shutting down her own blog, Looking at Them, in mid-2008, Kelly migrated over to Popdose, bringing with her Soundtrack Saturday, the most popular column from her old site. Kelly makes a living as a fashion and marketing copywriter, which takes up a lot of her time. However, when she is able to write about things that have nothing to do with her day job, she contributes reviews and musings on music, film and a variety of other topics. In addition to Soundtrack Saturday, columns she's written include Filminism and Pulling Rank.

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