Cincy Groove Music Festival

The Tillers are Mike Oberst, Sean Geil, Aaron Geil & Joe Macheret.

The Tillers got their start in August 2007 when they started thumping around with some banjos and guitars and a big wooden bass. Their earliest gigs were for coins and burritos on the city’s famous Ludlow Street in the district of Clifton. The songs they picked were mostly older than their grandparents. Some came from Woody Guthrie, some were southern blues laments, and many were anonymous relics of Appalachian woods, churches, riverboats, railroads, prairies, and coal mines.
Their look didn’t fit the stereotype. They were clearly recovering punk rockers with roots in city’s west side punk rock and hardcore scene. The punk influence gave their sound a distinctive bite, setting them apart from most other folk acts- a hard-driving percussive strum and stomp that brought new pulse and vinegar to some very old songs. But their musical range soon proved itself as they floated from hard-tackle thumping to tender graceful melody, all the while topped by Oberst and Geil’s clear tenor harmonies.

They began picking up weekly gigs around the city’s bar scene. It didn’t take long before their signature treatment of classic folk songs became the preferred versions of Cincinnati locals. Their audiences swelled, growing into an assortment of grey-haired mechanics, neo-hippies, farmers, punkers, professors, and random strays all stomping, clapping, singing, and belting outbursts of “John Henry!” “Darlin’ Corey!” Ever since, the band has come to each show with the same energy. They are magnetic showmen, mature musicians, and colorful storytellers.

The Tillers have since won over Cincinnati’s bar and festival scene, and launching tours with tireless momentum. They were awarded CityBeat Magazine’s Cincinnati Entertainment Award for best Folk and Americana act in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 & 2015. Their relentless gigging has taken them throughout the East coast, the Midwest and West, the Appalachian south and to the UK and Ireland opening for the St.Louis crooner, Pokey LaFarge. In the summer of 2009, veteran NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw featured the Tillers on a documentary about US Route 50. Brokaw showcased the group’s song “There is Road (Route 50)” as a testimony to the highway’s role as a connective tissue of the nation.

Musically, the band wears many hats. Their sound has proven to be an appropriate fit with a wide range of musical styles- traditional folk, bluegrass, jazz, punk rock and anything else they might run into. They have shared the stage with a broad swath of national touring acts, ranging from renowned folk legends such as Doc Watson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Guy Clark, Country Joe McDonald, Jerry Douglas, Iris Dement, Pokey LaFarge and The Carolina Chocolate Drops to rambunctious rock daredevils like the Legendary Shack Shakers.

Always moving, the Tillers continue to enter new territory. Their musical growth can be heard through the scape of their many releases, 2008′s debut record Ludlow Street Rag, 2010′s By The Signs, 2011′s Wild Hog in the Woods, 2012′s Live from the Historic Southgate House, 2013′s Hand On The Plow and many more bootleg releases. The band’s lineup has also taken new shape. In February 2010, long-time bassist Jason Soudrette fondly parted ways with the group, being replaced by Aaron Geil, brother of guitarist Sean. In 2015 the band added fiddler Joe Macheret (Joe’s Truck Stop/Urban Pioneers) to the ranks. Recalibrating has not slowed their pace.

They continue to plot their travels around the map, electrifying new places and making new friends wherever they go. From place to place, they carry with them more instruments, new songs, and funnier stories. They are Cincinnati’s traveling minstrels. Expect to hear from them soon.

BLOOMINGTON, IL — Chicago Farmer, the moniker Bloomington, Illinois’ Cody Diekhoff performs and writes under, is set to independently release his 7th album titled Midwest Side Stories on September 30, 2016. Midwest Side Stories is about hope, depression, job loss, meth, skateboards, a divided nation, used cars, the late shift, farms, factories, the destruction of our environment, and still being around to sing about it. The new release contains ten tracks all of which were written by Diekhoff (pronounced dee-cough), with the exception of the John Hartford classic “I’m Still Here.”

Folk hero Todd Snider says, “I love Chicago Farmer’s singing and playing and songs, but it’s the intention behind the whole of his work that moves me to consider him the genuine heir to Arlo Guthrie or Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He knows the shell game that goes on under folk music… which is sacred to me. Chicago Farmer is my brother; if you like me, you’ll love him.”

Lyrically driven, Chicago Farmer delves into the social and political issues of today’s world, taking it all in and putting it back out through music as a commentary on modern times in the Midwest. With his unfeigned and relatable approach, Chicago Farmer has earned a place in the heart of this generation’s rise of protest songs. He composes music written and sung by and for the working man, the “regular person”, bringing to mind modern day folk tales.

“I arrived here, kicking and screaming the day that I took the stage, I went searching for some kind of meaning, like words looking for a page. Came up empty and full of worry that nothing could cover the pain, then these songs and stories began unfolding like an umbrella in the rain.” This is the opening stanza to the first song “Umbrella”, a song that speaks of the power of music in people’s lives and is dedicated to songwriters everywhere, including many of whom we’ve lost in 2016.

With heartfelt observations of the world around him, Chicago Farmer has been around the folk scene for a while now singing the stories he has written along the way, aiming to capture the essence of the human condition and putting it all on display. He has gotten to know a variety of players over the years and brought together a wonderful cast of musicians to perform on the album. Diekhoff co-produced Midwest Side Stories, with engineer Chris Harden at I.V. Labs Studios in Chicago, Illinois. Harden also played Glockenspiel and harmonized vocals on select tracks. Others on the album include vocalist and guitarist Ernie Hendrickson, drummer Darren Garvey, vocalist Heather Horton, and a handful of other Midwestern mainstays.

Cody has his finger on the pulse of middle America. Coming from a long line of family farmers and factory workers in central Illinois and growing up in a rural farming community has inspired many songs that are autobiographical in nature. Farms & Factories” is a workgrass song featuring fiddle, tempo changes, and the farming side of Chicago Farmer. In 2002 he moved up north to the big city where he came up with the name Chicago Farmer for what was initially intended to be a band, but ended up keeping the name for himself and started writing and recording albums. Eventually he moved back in 2008 to central Illinois where he makes his home in Bloomington. The Midwest is where he was born and raised. It’s where he first started to write poetry and where he would eventually set those words into motion with his guitar.

With Midwest Side Stories Chicago Farmer builds an adventurous narrative that brings issues to the front burner with folk/protest songs. “Two Sides of the Story” is an acoustically portrayed glimpse of the evolving division in the United States. It takes aim at the media, politics, and religion’s role in that division. “There’s two sides to every story, there’s two sides to every town, the side of town that tells the story. The side where the story went down.”

An upbeat electric working class protest song, “Revolving Door,” describes manufacturing job loss in the Midwest with howling vocals, a driving beat, and ripping harmonica. “My home state of Illinois continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the region, and manufacturing jobs continue to disappear.” Cody says, ”Politicians who work the current system to benefit themselves and their constituencies have sold out these industries and workers. While the CEO’s of these companies hand out pink slips to their workforce, they continue to hand themselves bonuses.”

“9pm to 5” examines the plight of the working American and pays tribute to those with unconventional work hours. At other times Chicago Farmer goes tongue-in-cheek with “Skateboard Song” which takes listeners on a ride with this folk story song, questioning our laws and priorities.

Midwest Side Stories is a follow up to 2013’s Backenforth, IL which rose to #33 on the Americana Charts as well as top #10 on several folk charts. Honest Tune wrote of it, “You can smell the dirt in the fields, hear the wind as it blows across the plains, and see the people that Chicago Farmer sings about. Each track captures a moment in time, whether for a person or a particular place. Imagine if a John Steinbeck short story had been written as a song, and this will give you a fairly good idea as to what Chicago Farmer accomplishes on his albums.”

Chicago Farmer is ready to kick down some more doors and put something new in as many ears, hands, living rooms, and car stereos as possible. Midwest Side Stories is available now on pre-order on Kickstarter and folks that donate will receive it at their doorstep several weeks before the official release. “We’ve set our goal at $20… because we love you.” Cody says, “My last album has a song called The Twenty Dollar Bill. It’s easily one of my top 3 requested songs, I especially love that it’s requested by people of all ages. It’s a story song inspired my grandparents and I’ve been told has moved a lot of people. We put a lot of heart, soul, sweat, tears, and even some blood into making this album. While the basics are covered, we still have a large hill to climb and any support that you can offer is greatly appreciated”

Midwest Side Stories captures everything that Chicago Farmer is capable of as a performer, songwriter and story teller. He draws you in with the emotion in his voice and holds you captive with the lyrical pictures he paints about the real struggle the common man is up against.

Hickory Robot hail from the fertile acoustic soil of Cincinnati, Ohio. The original trio of guitarist Jim Pelz, mandolinist Scott Carnder, and fiddler Lauren Schloemer came together in 2008 and by 2010 had released an album of critically-praised originals entitled "Firefly". In 2011 bassist Mike Georgin completed the quartet and a year of constant gigging resulted in a large regional following and a Cincinnati Entertainment Award nomination for Best Bluegrass Band.

In October of 2012 the band released their 2nd album, "Sawyer", to even greater acclaim, and a Cincinnati Entertainment Award nomination not only for Best Bluegrass Band for the 2nd year in a row, but also for Album of the Year. Citybeat Magazine's summation: "stellar songwriting"; "impeccable musicianship".

2013 has seen the band expand their touring territory, playing festivals and shows throughout the Midwest, opening for acts as diverse as Dr. Ralph Stanley, John Cowan, and Hot Buttered Rum, and continuing to garner praise and gather fans. As one critic pronounced, "The Robot is on the Rise!"

Shiny and the Spoon

Formed in 2008, Shiny and the Spoon quickly established itself as one of the most intimate and honest folk acts in the Midwest. Videos of living room performances gained viral status, while a tightly knit group of fans packed perfor- mances in listening rooms and local “dive” bars.

The past year has been their most momentous to date, with the addition of veterans Pete Brown and Matt Frazer, and release of their first full-length album: Ferris Wheel, produced by Afghan Whigs’ John Curley. The band has quickly moved from back rooms to bandstands throughout the Midwest, retaining the same unadorned simplicity and tightly wound harmonies as before. With a clever ease and lack of airs, Shiny and the Spoon, is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and broadly accessible folk acts performing today.

$10.00 - $12.00

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