Herzog Music is a new music collective and emporium designed to bring together the region’s music community and welcome visiting musicians to participate in our area’s rich and diverse music scene. It’s located in the building historically marked spot where Cincinnati’s first R&B was recorded under Henry Glover for King Records and Hank Williams Sr. cut classics like, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
In partnership with Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CMHF), headquartered in the Herzog studio space for about 8 years, Herzog Music has been formed thanks to Mike Reeder of Mike’s Music, Elias Leisring, Bill Furbee, Keith Neltner, Andrew Aragon, Clint Joel Stephenson and many notable musicians and enthusiasts of the local music community.
We sat down with our friend, Bill Furbee to learn more about this exciting space.
Tell us about the evolution of Herzog Music…
Herzog Music is an extension of the non-profit Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation, which all of its principle members have been involved with for some time. Initially, my buddy (and somewhat recent Cincinnati transplant) Clint Stephenson casually mentioned a lifetime of experience fixing stereo gear and building custom amplifiers before moving here, and I suggested we start a hobby business, working out of our basements; I wanted to learn how to do that sort of thing, and he certainly had the skills. Before long, another buddy Elias Leisring (popularly known as the "Eli" behind "Eli's," and a long-time supporter of the non-profit organization) caught wind of our plans and had some bigger plans for a potential presence downtown. When the space beneath our non-profit's headquarters became available, it made sense to coordinate a complementary presence. When Mike Reeder (of Mike's Music) approached our non-profit about ways to interact his own audience with that of the foundation - and we shared with him our ideas about a space downstairs - well, that came together rather quickly as well. Acclaimed local designer Keith Neltner of Neltner Small Batch has long been a champion of the non-profit and jumped at the chance to help us launch the Herzog concept downstairs. Other partners like Folk School Coffee Parlor, Deeper Roots Coffee and others have also contributed to a very rapid snowball of activity! Thankfully, we've been able to seek guidance from foundation co-founder Elliott Ruther - key to overseeing much of the activity in the "new Herzog" era - and we've got a great manager in Andrew Aragon (a member of local band Soften, recently renamed from Brianna Kelly), who oversees our day-to-day operations.
What does it mean to be in such a historic location?
Well, it's an absolute honor to have such a presence in the last standing structure where Hank Williams Sr. recorded - not just that, but his biggest hits were done here. In addition to that, it was the site of Cincinnati's first R&B session (Bull Moose Jackson, "The Honeydripper," with Henry Glover at the helm) and where Flatt & Scruggs cut "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Having said that, its time serving as the headquarters for our non-profit have been productive as well - with rehearsals and sessions by Patti Smith, Sufjan Stevens, the All-Seeing Eyes and the Tigerlilies, among others.
The partnership with Mike’s Music is genius as it is THE store to go to for gear. How did that come about?
It's no secret to locals that Mike's is indeed the place for vintage gear, and we couldn't pass up a chance to partner with Mike to give him a downtown presence - as King Records session drummer Philip Paul remarked during our opening weekend, downtown hasn't had a music store in decades! The time just felt right to make this happen. Everything just seemed to drop into place at the right time.
What is on the horizon for Herzog Music?
Educational outreach has always been at the core of the Heritage Foundation's mission. The past several years have yielded many opportunities for free events to celebrate and commemorate not only our direct ties to King Records but also to non-King events - such as Herzog's unique Hank Williams presence, or working with the Who's management to establish a commemorative marker at the site of the '79 concert tragedy. The activity downstairs has already allowed us to amplify those efforts - this past month alone, we've hosted a musical puppet show, a vintage guitar clinic boasting one of Eric Clapton's Strats, and a "Herzog History" presentation which spread the word about where we've been, and where we hope to go. Whether it's a couple telling us they've traveled three hours to see the space - a visiting music journalist spreading the word back home - or a room full of children interacting with a musical program in the same space where Hank Williams recorded "Lovesick Blues" - it's all good. The sky's the limit and we're having a ball.