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MUSIC CITIES: Cincinnati

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Cincinnati is known for flying pig effigies and an affinity for outrageous chili combos, but the Southern-Ohio city also harbors a rich art scene, especially in regards to live music.  Southern blues, Kentucky twang, urban beats, and post-rock experimentalism blend throughout the clubs and streets, creating a multi-genre environment in which any sound could find some belonging.

For the musician, Cincinnati is a destination. The city is home to a host of live music venues, many of which are booked by veteran musicians. The result is that many venues are very accommodating to both new faces and touring acts. Most of the venues also have clearly posted payment policies which is a big plus if you’re a traveling band on a budget.

For the music lover, Cincinnati is a paradise. With so many vibrant subsections of the local scene – from underground electronic raves, to bluegrass all-stars – its not hard to find some new favorite artists. Many of the venues in town are retrofitted from old tunnels or churches, giving the average show-goer and above-average visual, and making it all the easier to imagine your local hero as the international mega-star you believe they should be. And much of the local talent is of global quality, from the technical prowess of an opera singer turned punk, to charismatic front-men dressed in gender-defying outfits, to demure performers dwarfed in the presence of a perfectly executed ambient drone.

As with any Midwestern arts collective, the greatest threat to community cohesion is the unavoidable bigotry of the region. Cincinnati is a blue city in a red state, the urban center a leftist island in a sea of rural conservative townships. The sad consequence is that ignorance (and at times, true hate) seeps in as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Fortunately, there is a dedicated push amongst artists and promoters to denounce hatefulness and keep it outside our otherwise inclusive scene.  While community response to outside disruptors is often rapid and unified, internal disputes can be polarizing and agonizing. Often a negative commentator likens this dynamic to a Salem witchhunt, but the social-minded optimists, myself included, view this as the growing pains of community striving for greater equality.

Gentrification also casts a shadow on the community. As much of the downtown undergoes renovations, an increasing number of visitor’s flock to the city by night, many of whom are not interested in supporting their local punk bands. Couple this with increasing rent and the low-earnings of a self-funded artist, and you have a problem that will continue to plague the scene and many other low-income residents of the city.

All issues aside, the artists of Cincinnati are a close-knit community of truly talented people eager to support each other. There are frequent workshops where artists gather to give each other constructive critique on a selected piece or performance. Also offered are many discussions focused around the problems facing the community, giving individuals a chance to share their experiences, learn from each other, and form friendships. As a relatively recent transplant to the city, I can speak to the warmth extended to an outsider. I feel as if I was invited with open arms, and having felt the embrace of the city, I can never let go completely.


In Details is the centerpiece project of singer-songwriter and pianist, Paul Trygstad. In Details released the debut EP Glass in December 2015, featuring heartbroken lyrics set to lush arrangements of acoustic and vintage instruments. In early 2016, In Details relocated from northern Ohio to Cincinnati, where a more electric incarnation began to manifest.

After nearly two years of touring the Midwest, In Details released the follow up EP A Series of Tiny Demises on December 30, 2017. The Sophomore album signifies a change in the musical style, introducing distorted guitars, immersive bass, and a swarm of synthesizers. But it also marks a change in the songwriting, as the singer takes a more distant, yet defiant tone against the backdrop of loss. Beneath the echoing choruses, the subtextual undercurrent of one’s own toxicity is explored.

In Details performs live as a one-man band, complete with backtracks, drum machines, and a host of synths to keep it interesting.  A summer tour in currently in the works, and in the meantime In Details can be found playing the clubs around Cincinnati.

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Managing Editor of this lovely magazine! Music is my passion & I aim to make people love it as much as I do. I love concerts, cats, & quoting song lyrics on social media.

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