The Jockey Club lives, at least in spirit, when some veteran Cincinnati bands reunite Friday for what's billed as a "Jockey Club Reunion" at the Southgate House to celebrate Newport's early '80s punk rock palace. OK, it wasn't much of a palace. But it was the first to introduce tri-state audiences to the East Coast punk scene.
"It was completely seedy, a great place" said guitarist Jim Cole. "It just oozed seedy ambience."
Cole has tracked down his four bandmates to reunite the original Auburnaires, one of the hottest local bands of the early '80s who will play the reunion show.
"Music is like fashion, it's so cyclical," Cole said. "Right around 1980 was the first recycling of garage music from the '60s, and I thought our band epitomized that. We had a completely wild stage presence. Very raw sound. Nothing was off limits. We'd play in the same set: `Kung Fu Fighting,' `Revenuer Man' and an Iggy and the Stooges song."
Other bands on the bill are the Wolverton Brothers, The Reduced, and SS-20 — all Jockey Club regulars from the era.
The Jockey Club at 633 York St. had a storied history dating to the '30s, when it was the Flamingo Club, a gambling hot spot thriving in Newport's sin city days. In 1982, local punk fans convinced the owner to book punk bands. It introduced tri-state audiences to such seminal groups as the Ramones and Johnny Thunders, and it had a good run until its closing in 1988. The building was later demolished. Friday's reunion commemorates the first punk acts booked at the club 20 years ago this week.
Cole was happy to put the Auburnaires together "one more time," but he admitted after rehearsals this week, he didn't realize what a challenge it would be.
"I was listening to old tapes this week in preparation, and I thought, `Who is that guitar player? He's out of his mind, a maniac.' I realized, `Oh, s----, that's me.' It's a daunting task to recreate something."
There is a web site dedicated to the history of the Jockey Club at http://home.fuse.net/hohorecords/jockeyclub.htm.
Harvest Moon benefit: Almost two dozen acts will be playing all levels of the Southgate House, Newport, at 8 p.m. Saturday for the fourth annual Harvest Moon Benefit Festival for the Free Store Food Bank ($10).
Founded as a labor of love by musician Kent Meloy, with the band Staring at the Sea, the benefit has grown to become one of the most diverse musical events of its kind. Performing at the venue's third floor will be several ambient musicians and DJ artists who will perform in what's dubbed the Chill Room. The second floor parlor includes such folk rock acts as Janet Pressley, Swarthy and Tracy Walker. Featured in the main ballroom will be The Locals, Doug Perry Ensemble, Staring at the Sea, Venus Mission, and Katie Reider. Also available at the show is "Voices of Harvest Moon," a compilation disc featuring cuts from many of the artists performing.
New Wisp opens: Blue Wisp Jazz Club owner Marjean Wisby will reopen in new digs Tuesday at the club's ground level location at 318 E. Eighth St. in St. Xavier Park, downtown. Performing will be the Phil DeGregg Trio. The Blue Wisp Big Band is set to play Wednesday. The quiet opening will be used the next couple weeks to work the acoustic bugs out of the new location with the official grand reopening planned for early October. For up-to-date information, check out www.bluewispjazzclub.com or call (513) 241-WISP.
Happenings: Singer-songwriter Chris Collier reports her first year of middle-school teaching is "devouring all my time" and that she plans to end her regular every-other Friday gigs at the York Street Caf�, Newport. After six years at York Street, Friday's show will be her last regular appearance at the club, although she still plans occasional gigs around town. Opening act is George Cunningham's Flammables.— Pop rockers move into York Street for Saturday with a show featuring Crosley, Saving Ray and Hollowbodies.— Xavier University's excellent jazz piano and guitar series returns with a concert from internationally-acclaimed pianist James Williams at 7:30 p.m. at the Gallagher Student Center Theater ($14).— Cincinnati jam band Four Ohms hosts its second annual Ohmstead Friday-Sunday at Camp America, near Oxford. Also performing at the rock 'n' roll campout will be Cincinnati groups The Black and Tan Carpet Band and Da Lemmings Onsombul, along with The Maji (Dayton), Chitara Rhythm Section (Louisville) and Brokedown Sound (Columbus). For schedule and ticket info, go to www.fourohms.com.