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Doin' The ShiSho Hustle and Kent goes Americana

By malcolm Published: April 6, 2011

Anyone who tells you young folks today are aimless, shiftless, ADD infected, cell phone and Facebook addicted lay-a-bouts should have a talk with the ladies of Kent's sister duo act Shi-Sho.

Vivian and Midge Ramone have been gigging and hustling for six years (they're 10 and 14 now) putting out records on their Magnetic Bunny Records, being rendered artistically in comic books and getting praise from famous folk such as Kimya Dawson and Jackyl (you remember them, the hard rock band with chainsaw solos). Well, now the duo is trying to spread their hustle to other "youngwave" bands (they even make up their own marketing lingo!) in the area with the launch of their "Rock The Tradition" music competition and All American Soap Box Derby music compilation fundraiser in conjunction with the locally shot, Corbin Bernsen produced Soap Box Derby film 25 Hill

ShiSho hooked up with Bernsen and the 25 Hill gang through good old fashioned youthful chutzpah. The girls were extras in the film and during a meet and greet with the stars Vivian simply walked up to Bernsen and said "I'm in a band called ShiSho and we'd like to submit a song for you movie."

Bernsen was suitably impressed and told the girls to write a couple of Derby/movie related tunes which they did. While most bands would be satisfied with creating their own opportunity, the girls then got the idea to help out other young bands with a contest that will end with a Rock The Tradition Compilation with all the proceeds from sales of CDs and/or digital content going to keeping the Derby going.

The basic rules of the Rock The Tradition contest are participating bands must have at least one member under the age of 18, they must submit an original, CD quality song with a lyrical focus on any of the following subjects: any aspect, directly or indirectly related to the Soap Box Derby, the spirit of sportsmanship, the excitement of the race or the value of tradition.

The deadline for entries is May 21 (you can download an entry form and further details at and the entry fee is $25 which will be used to cover costs of the CD and promotion.
The culmination of all of this young music making will be the nationally distributed compilation CD/mp3s and a Rock the Tradition concert to be held in Akron in late July coinciding with the local screening of 25 Hill.
I sure didn't know what synergy was, corporate, marketing or otherwise, when I was 14 years old, so good luck ladies.

Americana and indie folk are pretty hip in indie blog circles, right now.
Bands such as The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, Neko Case, Mumford & Songs and Iron & Wine mix country, bluegrass, folk and rock to varying degrees eschewing the punk, hardcore and classic rock that infused so much of 80s and 90s indie rock for a simpler throwback sound. The loosely defined genre has made relative stars of folks like the Fleet Foxes and Case both of whom had their most recent albums top many best-of-the-year lists and folks looking for a quieter, rootsy strain of music have gravitated towards these bands.

Well there's a local cat by the name of Jim Marunich who is a big fan of all musical things Americana and he has joined up with a bunch of local bands and on Saturday night at The Outpost in Kent they will present the 1st Annual Akron Americana Review. We'll forgive him the grammatical faux pas (something can't be annual until you've done it more than once, but you have to appreciate his positive attitude), because he's gathered four area bands Coaltown, Lo Watt Radio, Crooked River Band and Dave Purcell of Pike 27 together for an evening of roots rock and folk music.

Lo Watt Radio is an Akron quartet that mixes twangy roots rock, back porch folk flavored with mandolin, Dobro and other traditional instruments. The three year-old band has released a five song EP and is currently readying their debut album, so I'm sure they'll give concert-goers a healthy heaping of tunes from that record.

Coaltown is a mostly acoustic sextet also from Akron also with a five song EP called Cambridge Session (recorded at King Studios in Cambridge, Ohio). The tunes I've heard are heavy on mandolin, acoustic guitar and harmonica with calm vocals from singer/songwriter... (wait for it)....Jim Marunich. The Crooked River Blues Band describes themselves as a modern take on an old string band which means it's five guys who often wear hats and play banjos, fiddle (no prissy violins here, buddy) and acoustic guitar with drums and bass. Again, I've only heard a few tunes but they seem like a good time, geetar pickin', hard fiddlin', ragged harmonizin', toe-tappin' band that wants to inspire two-stepping or boot-scootin' or whatever the popular hillbilly dances are these days.

Dave Purcell is an associate professor at Kent State and a member of the Cincinnati roots rockers Pike 27 and is the veteran performer on the bill having formed the band back in 2000. Pike 27 is definitely a roots ROCK band in the vein of Drive By Truckers or Uncle Tupelo's louder moments. I honestly have no idea what he'll do as a solo act but it'll probably involve some acoustic guitar and some Pike 27 songs (I vote for the rockin' "Baltimore").

What: 1st Annual Akron Americana Review
When: 6 p.m., Saturday, April 9
Where: The Outpost Concert Club, 4962 S. Water St., Kent
Tickets: $8
Information: (330) 678-9667,

WPIX hangs out with ShiSho

Crooked River Blues Band - "Hey Ya"

Lo Watt Radio - What You See




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