Cincinnati is where our stuff is, our homes, cars and the like. Our mind and bodies wander, however, and don’t tend to be in any one particular place, including Cincinnati, very long. But when we’re home, one of the things we like to do is listen to local music as Cincinnati has a broad and deep musical tradition.
Few appreciate that the city itself can make a claim as the birthplace of rock and roll. Syd Nathan, a Cincinnati native who died in 1968, founded King Records here 60 years ago. The label’s pioneering racial integration and its potent mix of country twang and rhythm-and-blues made King the heartbeat of rock in it’s early years. Legends who recorded there included James Brown, Roy Brown, Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, Ivory Joe Hunter as well as Cincinnati natives Bootsy Collins, Frank Foster and Ron Paul.
In addition to King Records, there was, at 811 Race Street, another lesser known recording studio-Herzog studios-where in the decade after WWII, landmark R&B, bluegrass, country, pop and jazz recordings were made by artists like The Delmore Brothers, Patti Page and Flatt and Scruggs. Most of these artists recorded at Herzog after performing at nearby WLW which, at the time, broadcast not only recorded music but also regularly featured live performances from the same artists
Herzog Studio’s, in fact, was home to what may have very well been one of the single most important recording studios in popular music history – home to recordings by country legend Hank Williams and some of the first rhythm & blues records ever made. Herzog was the last place Williams ever recorded and the only standing studio in which Williams ever recorded. In h last session at Herzog Williams recorded the immortal, “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Today, Cincinnati continues to add to it’s rich musical history. National performers in all genres of music started here, and many still Call cincinnati home. Hi Tek, the Heartless Bastards, The Afghan Wigs, The Ass Pony’s, The Greenhorns, Over The Rhine, The Nationals and Dallas Moore all began there careers here. There are others, like The Buffalo Killers, Wussy and the Sundresses who are close on their heels. Music Festivals like Mid Point Music Festival and Bunbury bring in top flight music from all over the world. So head on over the Northside Tavern, the Comet or Blue Wisp any night and see the future beig made.