presented in 2017 by:
On Thursdays during Tunes & Blooms admission is free after 5pm. Parking is $10.
As a reminder NO outside alcohol is permitted to be brought inside the Zoo. Beer will be available for purchase. Bags will be inspected at the turnstiles before entering the Zoo.
Enjoy the Zoo Blooms while you’re here!
2017 Tunes & Blooms Dates: April 12, 13, 20 and 27
See a collection of Cincinnati’s finest and most respected music veterans playing together in the Zoo’s beautiful gardens, for FREE! Why tip-toe through the tulips when you can rock the garden?
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Comet Bluegrass All-Stars
The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars were assembled in 1996 and became the house band at the Northside neighborhood bar The Comet. The band soon gained popularity beyond the lounge at the Comet and has performed at the opening ceremonies of the World Choir Games as guests of the world renowned Cincinnati Pops Orchestra; opened for bands such as Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, and Sam Bush; and has won numerous music awards.
Jake Speed & The Freddies
For the past eight years, Jake Speed has hitchhiked down Cincinnati’s American folk, bluegrass, and ragtime music highway with his award-winning band, The Freddies. Jake Speed & the Freddies are a four-piece band made out of guitar, mandolin, tenor guitar, and upright bass (plus harmonica, kazoo, washboard, and watering can). Their traditional and original songs leap right out of Depression-era freight trains and right into Ohio River steamboats. Their near-vaudeville style stage shows and quick-witted charisma rope in loyal fans of new and old generations alike.
The Freddies’ traditionalist approach to the old timey music style has won them the respect of fellow musicians, music lovers, and even hard-nosed critics. CityBeat writer Ezra Waller says, “Jake Speed is a fixture of Cincinnati’s traditional Folk scene.” Cincinnati Post’s Rick Bird says, ” Jake Speed…has quickly become the Queen City’s favorite troubadour.” If you’re still not convinced, just ask the readers of CityBeat Magazine who voted them Best Local Musicians in 2004, or the listeners of WNKU FM 89.7 who voted The Freddies’ third album, Huzzah!, #77 of their Top 89 Albums of 2004. The band is a four-time winner of the Cincinnati Entertainment Award (2001-2004) for Best Folk Musicians. Jake Speed is a two-time winner of the CEA for Best Singer/Songwriter (2002, 2006). Their winning of the 2002 CEA for Artist of the Year, and 2003 winning of Best Folk Vocalist and Best Folk Band at the CAMMYs (Cincinnati Area Music Awards) puts them on the definitive road of folk music in Cincinnati.
The Freddies’ travels aboard the Cincinnati music scene have landed them many high profile shows, including opening sets for national acts such as Ralph Stanley, Yonder Mountain String Band, Chris Hillman of The Byrds, Over-the-Rhine and Jay Bennett (from the band, Wilco). Their monthly gigs at Arnold’s and Northside Tavern have laid the tracks for a solid following of fans.
The musical conductors aboard the Freddies include Jake Speed, Kentucky Graham, Justin Todhunter, and Chris Werner. Jake sings, picks guitar, blows harmonica, buzzes kazoo, and kicks the beat on the washboard. Kentucky Graham plinkety plunks on the old tenor guitar. Justin Todhunter strums and picks on the tiniest of little old mandolins. Chris Werner pounds and thumps on the upright bass. Jake Speed & the Freddies make up boxcars full of original Cincinnati songs while reviving the music of legends like Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Elizabeth Cotten, and Jesse Fuller. The Freddies were born on the streets of Cincinnati where they performed their songs for tips and continue to believe “If you ain’t good enough for the street corner, what are you good for?”
Shiny and the Spoon
Lauded for their polished musicianship, consummate songwriting, and dynamic performances, Hickory Robot has been nominated for three Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the category of Best Bluegrass Band and an Album of the Year nomination for 2012’s “Sawyer”. They are a favorite of fans throughout the Midwest, and can regularly be found at festivals opening for the likes of Dr. Ralph Stanley, John Cowan, and Hot Buttered Rum, to name a few, and headlining events throughout Cincinnati and the Midwest.
With two CDs under their belt – “Firefly” and “Sawyer” – anticipation is building for the third. The sextet of Lauren Schloemer, Scott Carnder, Jim Pelz, Nick Blasky, Aaron Jacobs, and Brandt C.P. Smith is expanding it’s discography with a collection of new material that continues to explore their diverse influences and meld them into what can only be called Hickory Robot music.
Some notable festival performances over the band’s career include: John Hartford Memorial Festival, Appalachian Uprising, Midpoint Music Festival, Tunes & Blooms, Sun Valley Music Festival, Oxford Wine & Art Festival, Whispering Beard Folk Festival.
The Hot Magnolias
2nd Lines, Jazz Funerals, Brass Bands, Mardi Gras, NOLA Funk and so many other unique ingredients blend together to create the New Orleans musical gumbo. Each one of these elements is explored during an evening with The Hot Magnolias. As authentic as any band currently on Frenchman St, I promise you dat!
Mark Utley & Bulletville
“As country as Country once was, bypassing the focus group-tested formula spoon fed to today’s commercial masses and served straight up. These songs are meant to be heard amidst both neon bar room glow and a barren moonlit road.” – Bucket Full of Nails
MARK UTLEY & BULLETVILLE performs straight-up Country music in the classic style. Originally formed as an offshoot of Magnolia Mountain, the band has now come into its own as a powerhouse live and studio outfit. The band features MM’s Mark Utley, Jeff Vanover, and Todd Drake, joined by bassist Chris Douglas, world-renowned keyboardist Ricky Nye and award-winning pedal steel guitarist John Lang. Bulletville plays a combination of Mark’s acclaimed original songs augmented by a great selection of classic Country covers by the likes of Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Gram Parsons, and more.
The band made its live debut in November 2012, and has since become a fixture in the greater Cincinnati area. They were nominated for a 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Award in the Country category, and have performed recently at the Buckle Up Music Festival, MidPoint Music Festival, American Roots Concert Series on Fountain Square (three years running), and Bobby Mackey’s Music World, and anchor their own monthly first-Sunday residency at Northside Tavern. Check the GIGS page for upcoming Bulletville shows, and be sure to “Like” the Bulletville Facebook Page for even more current updates.
Bulletville serves as the backing band for both Mark Utley’s Four Chords and a Lie album (released in 2013) and the brand new album Bulletville, recorded at Ultrasuede Studio with the Afghan Whigs’ John Curley producing. Both albums are available on vinyl LP, compact disc, and digital download on the This is American Music record label.
“This is true Country music. The hooks and melodies lure listeners in, allowing Utley’s lyrics to sink their teeth into them. Influences from Country music’s past litter the songs as Utley and company deliver a classic sound that never gets old. Country music is at a crossroads where over-produced pop melodies and hiphop-inspired vocals have over taken the industry, threatening to choke out any semblance of the classic sounds. Thankfully, there are bands like Bulletville that understand that good Country music is about substance not style, and this band is full of substance.” – Chris Martin, Atlanta Music Examiner