In this dynamic time for Cincinnati, new bars, restaurants, parks and venues are popping up like weeds. But the venue at 2260 Central Parkway is a little different.
The first floor of the Mockbee Building, which is level with the Parkway, consists of two tunnel-like, white-washed rooms. Entering gives the sense that you're part of some hip secret. The walls trippily echo music unlike any other space in the city, and the white brick provides a stellar canvas for light shows.
While this isn’t the place to go for fancy cocktails, the bar features the best in local beers and weekly specials. The Mockbee hosts a variety of events, including music, comedy, art shows and community discussions — the intention is to provide a place for the local alternative.
The Mockbee has served Cincinnati in multiple ways before becoming the hub for local artists that is it today. What began as a brewery that sent its beer along the Miami-Erie Canal and hosted wine in its cool dark caverns, it then became C.M. Mockbee Steel.
Now in its next life, The Mockbee has morphed into a fluid underground artists’ space and is finally gaining stability and street cred. The unique and complex building on the hill is a one-of-a-kind venue. Its premise: locals only. While that rule isn’t law, it is the idea.
When Jon Stevens and Cory Magnas purchased the building in Nov. 2015, they wanted to contribute to the expanding culture of Cincinnati and focus on Cincinnati artists. “Weird art, weird parties, a local place,” Stevens says. “We’re not going to be a Bogart's. We’re not going to be a Woodward.”
Local musician Ben Pitz, who has been playing shows since before the reign of The Mockbee's new owners, says it’s continually his first choice. “By far my favorite venue in Cincinnati. The tough part is the draw.”
It’s not too well known — yet.
The Mockbee strives to be all inclusive. Stevens says that there is diversity from night to night and even within nights. Genres include but are not limited to electronic, EDM, hip-hop, ambient, some punk and rock. The cool thing, he says, is that some people are crossing over. People going to the hip-hop shows are going to the electronic shows and so on.
As the project expands, they are trying to get the word out. “Most people don’t even know we have a sound system. We have a sound system,” Stevens assures.
They are currently working to expand the venue to the second floor, which is larger with arched windows that overlook the West End. Stevens explains that all their energy is on that floor right now. Eventually, apartments will be available. They also have held some wedding receptions and private parties.
Those involved want The Mockbee to be the essence and the true heart of Cincinnati. Pitz thoughtfully comments: “This could be the start of the first truly dedicated artist space in Cincinnati.”
Upcoming events include:
- Off Tha Block Mondays: A weekly open mic freestyle cypher
- Speak: A monthly event held every third Thursday
- Queen City Soul Club: All vinyl dance party held monthly
- June 9: Prince’s Birthday Dance Party
And many, many more. Check out The Mockbee's Facebook page for a full list of events.