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Listen to This! at the Downtown Library

There are lots of events at Cincinnati’s downtown library these days that you wouldn’t expect to take place a library—and one of them is a listening party. (The series is called “Listen to This!”)

When I think of the phrase “listening party,” I think of all those great album covers from the 1950s and 1960s that show mom and dad sitting on the floor listening to records with their children (that or a cluster of of parent-free kids or teeny boppers enjoying the pleasure of spinning vinyl). Ah, the old days…and Listen to This! is helping to bring back that time-honored tradition. Every other Wednesday, from 7pm to 8:15pm, folks sit around and listen to music. They discuss the music a little but not too much.

The next Listen to This! takes place this Wednesday, May 8, and for this round I’ll be the host. For an hour and fifteen minutes I’ll play music connected in one way or another with my Grodeck Whipperjenny article that appeared recently in Cincinnati Magazine.

The story centers around some ground-breaking and very talented Cincinnati jazz musicians who, between sets one night, were approached by a highly enthusiastic James Brown about the possibility of recording at King Records. Some wonderful things happened as a result of that conversation.

Chronologically speaking, the listening party will, in true Alice in Wonderland spirit, begin at the beginning. The band in question—they called themselves The Sound Museum—recorded an album before James Brown entered the picture. The 1968 recording wasn’t released until 1980—but fortunately, it did finally come out. The listening party will start with the composition “Algunas” from that album, then visit the more psychedelic Grodeck Whipperjenny and James Brown’s Sho is Funky Down Here—and from there I’ll explore some of the offshoots from these projects.

When librarian Steve Kemple asked me to host one of these events, I immediately agreed. As we were about to hang up, a question popped into my head that I hadn’t thought about at first.

“Do you have a…record player?”

He explained that the library hadn’t purchased one yet, which I understand, as they are kind of a new thing.

“Can I…bring one?”

Absolutely, he said.

That came as a great relief, because I don’t have any of this stuff on CD. In fact, much of it hasn’t ever come out on compact disc (makes sense, as those things are kind of behind the times). So, folks, this is going to be a real old-fashioned listening party. I’m bringing my own portable record player, like the one your teacher used to wheel in on an audiovisual cart back in the day—although some younger people may not have experienced that particular ritual. (It’ll change back, though. Trust me.)

Heck, we may even sit on the floor.