Ohio River Throwdown
Noon Sept. 6 at Riverbend Music Center and PNC Pavilion, 6295 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati. $54.50, $74.50. (513) 232-6220, 1-800-745-3000. Riverbend.org, Ohioriverthrowdown.com.
The Ohio River Throwdown made its debut last year as one the final outdoor music festivals of the summer season. Encompassing three stages at Cincinnati's Riverbend Music Center — the primary Riverbend stage, the mid-size PNC Pavilion and a smaller stage to attract patrons strolling between the two — the Throwdown was an Americana and roots-rock-leaning gathering headlined by the orchestra-size Tedeschi-Trucks Band with help from Los Lobos, JJ Grey and Mofro, Alejandro Escovedo, the Stephen Stills-led supergroup The Rides and others performing on a picture perfect day.
The Throwdown proved to be such a hit with its audience that expectations immediately surfaced about a return in 2014.
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Well, a year has passed, another summer is drawing to a close, and the Throwdown is back with another daylong, three-stage bill of folk and roots-directed rock and soul at Riverbend. The lineup isn't as venerable as the inaugural roster, but the bill is more than hearty enough to recommend the event.
Headlining the main Riverbend stage (the closing act of the entire festival) will be the Throwdown's most curious booking, the Los Angeles indie-folk troupe Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. In terms of size, it might seem a logical follow-up to the Tedeschi-Trucks Band with as many as a dozen players in its ranks. None, by the way, is named Edward Sharpe. But leader-vocalist Alex Ebert and the Zeros operate with a lighter psychedelic folk sound reminiscent of the more audacious late 1960s albums by England's Incredible String Band.
The Zeros will have to whip up quite a show to top the momentum of the main stage's two preceding acts — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, still touring behind 2013's extraordinary Southwestern album, and the ultra-fine folk-pop-jam troupe Trampled by Turtles,whose new Wild Animals parallels and often betters the Zeros' large-scale progressive folk sound.
Topping the PNC lineup will be the always reliable Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, easily the most assured rock and soul troupe to blast out of Vermont. The tireless Potter and company are still in the process of cooking up a followup to 2012's The Lion The Beast The Beat album, although she added a typically earth-rattling vocal performance to Whisper in Your Soul on the 2013 Gov't Mule platter Shout!
Before Potter will be sets by the celebrated New Orleans pop soul troupe Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, which headlines its own Lexington show on Sept. 12, Lucero and Johnny Swim.
Finally, the in-between stage, the festival's only non-seated performance area, will be led by The Secret Sisters — siblings Laura and Lydia Rogers who hail from the R&B-rich Alabama metropolis of Muscle Shoals but favor heavily traditional country inspirations. The sisters were featured on the 2011 soundtrack to The Hunger Games, served as guest collaborators on The Chieftains' 2012 album Voice of Ages and released a T Bone Burnett-produced sophomore album, Put Your Needle Down, in April.
Justin Townes Earle, who will release his fifth album, Single Mothers, next week, also will also play the third stage along with Hurray for the Riff Raff; Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, which will open Trombone Shorty's concert next week at the Singletary Center for the Arts; American Aquarium, and No BS! Brass Band.