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PowerGenie aims to cut passive energy costs in the home

Unless they're unplugged, your television or DVD player are never truly off.

Through what's known as "passive" or "phantom" energy, household appliances drive up your energy bill even after you flip the off switch. And unless you unplug those appliances, there's no easy way to stop it.

That could change if a team of young Cincinnati entrepreneurs get their energy-saving power outlet on the market. The PowerGenie, envisioned as a smart version of a traditional power strip, is the first product under development by Sustain-A-Watt Energy Solutions.

Passive energy is a big money and energy waster. It can add up to $40 a month to an average home's energy bill, or $5 billion a year across the U.S., says company co-founder and recent University of Cincinnati grad Rod Ghavami.

Appliances plugged into the PowerGenie can be turned off through a smart phone application that users can control from any location. The patent pending PowerGenie is still in the early development stage, but has won several business and innovation competitions. Most recently, it was a winner in the Cincinnati Innovates competition, winning the LPK Design and Branding Award.

"We have a proof-of-concept prototype, basically a Frankenstein prototype," Ghavami says. "Since graduation, some of the people on our team earlier have disappeared, and we've brought on some new people who are excited about the project and want to work on it."

The PowerGenie started as a class project for the Electrical Engineering student.

"As part of our senior design project, we came up with the idea of monitoring real-time electricity consumption from an outlet. That's how the PowerGenie came to be," Ghavami says.

After winning a Green Energy Business competition, the idea was further refined.

"We realized we could turn this into a real product and help the average person save energy," he says.

The PowerGenie is designed for residential use, but the technology could be expanded eventually for business use, Ghavami adds.

LPK will be soon start working with the company on marketing and consumer design. The company is also seeking angel investment and is working on a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding. The goal is to create a product ready for production by early next year.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter.

Obscura to bring world-class mixology to downtown scene

As the energy around the city’s core continues to grow, Cincinnati will welcome a new addition to the downtown nightlife scene when Obscura opens this fall. The space, located at 645 Walnut street in close proximity to the Aronoff Center, the Contemporary Arts Center and the Westin Gallery, aims to attract the art community as well business community.
 
“Obscura reinterprets a forgotten classic—‘the cocktail lounge’—offering guests an ideal atmosphere to enjoy intimate conversation, artfully infused libations, elegantly presented aperitifs and sweets, and ambient music styles from around the globe selected to enhance the social experience,” says Courtney DeGeorge, Obscura Hospitality Director.
 
Obscura will place an emphasis on high-end mixology and, to that end, has enlisted the help of Benjamin Newby, a UK transplant who has made his mark as a mixologist and nightlife expert in Chicago over the last six years. Newby, whose eye for creativity and balance in his cocktails has earned him numerous accolades, was signed as the Hospitality and Cocktail Consultant for Obscura.
 
“Bringing in Benjamin to help with this project was truly serendipitous,” DeGeorge confesses. “Recruiting talent from outside Cincinnati proved to be much more difficult than originally anticipated—that is, until we met Benjamin. By bringing a cocktail expert of his caliber on board to consult, other mixologists from Chicago, Miami and New Orleans soon followed.”
 
“Once I had done my research and visited Cincinnati for myself I could see why the team had the perspective they had,” explains Newby. “It is an opportunity to bring a new nightlife experience to the downtown area and really add to the exciting growth and bursting culture that is happening throughout the city.”
 
Newby is excited not only to bring the latest trends mixology to Cincinnati, but also to honor the history that is already here.
 
Findlay Market is brilliant and will definitely be an influence on the menu,” Newby says. “It’s such a gift to have local produce, a tea shop and Colonel De's spices in such close proximity. As far as national trends reflected in Obscura, you can expect us to use fresh local produce, have juices pressed daily, syrups made fresh, artisanal liquors, handmade ice and more.”

Obscura is owned and operated by local entrepreneurs Scott Sheridan, Bill Foster and Anthony Huser.

For more information, visit www.obscuracincinnati.com.

By Michael Sarason

Green B.E.A.N. Delivery expands with corporate wellness offerings

Cincinnati-based Green B.E.A.N. Delivery has expanded throughout the Midwest with its organic produce and natural grocery home delivery service since its 2007 founding.

The company is now taking its mission of providing fresh, healthy and convenient food to the business world, with a new corporate health and wellness program.

Two Cincinnati area corporations, Macy's and Total Quality Logistics are working with Green B.E.A.N. Delivery to provide fresh produce and other locally sourced groceries to their employees. The service boosts existing corporate wellness programs, which often don't have a major nutrition focus.

"The nutrition aspect of corporate wellness programs is the most challenging, because it involves employees making most of their decisions outside of the workplace. We're committed to helping companies achieve more balance in their corporate wellness programs," says Green B.E.A.N. Delivery Vice President John Freeland.

Here's how the program works: Employees order groceries from a company-tailored website, powered by Green B.E.A.N. Delivery. Once a week, groceries are delivered to the workplace. That same day, a Green B.E.A.N. Delivery staff member will be on hand to answer questions about the program and provide food samples, recipes and more.

"Employee can stop by on their way out of work and pick up their order before leaving," Freeland says.

Food will be distributed in an insulated, reusable tote.

In addition, a portion of employee sales will be returned to the business to further promote workplace nutrition. The money could be used to provide healthy break room snacks, to sponsor an annual event or to subsidize future employee groceries orders, Freeland says.

Green B.E.A.N. Delivery is talking to a number of local companies and organizations that are interested in the program. It's planning to begin work with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati early next year.

Green B.E.A.N. Delivery also offers a program for smaller businesses that want to promote a healthier workplace. Its Break Room Bins service allows companies to order bulk produce, coffee and other healthy beverages and snacks for office use.

"For companies, their interest comes down to health insurance premiums. The healthier your employees, the lower your premiums are going to be. It's in a company's interest to have healthy employees," Freeland says. "This program is also a way for companies to attract employees."

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter


New commercial real estate firm fills gap in targeting minority-owned businesses

During his 15-year career in commercial real estate, J.R. Foster didn't see many faces like his in the industry.

As an African-American, Foster found the lack of diversity in commercial real estate particularly striking, considering the changing global marketplace. In many industry sectors, supplier and corporate diversity is considered a business advantage.

"Corporations are spending a great deal of money with minority- and women-owned businesses, but there is virtually zero spend in the corporate real estate space. There are very few minorities who go out and form their own companies after growing their knowledge base," says Foster, who's spent much of his career at Jones Lang LaSalle (formally The Staubach Company), Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan.

That's why this year Foster went out on his own and co-founded Robert Louis Group. The firm is one of the only Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified commercial real estate firms in the country.

Foster's background includes corporate real estate leasing assignments, sales, acquisition, financing and M&A transactions. The company has a working partnership with Colliers International to provide its clients services globally.

Foster and his co-founder David Hornberger are working with independent real estate contractors and are in the process of growing their leadership team.

Just as corporations depend on diversity in hires and suppliers to grow their businesses, Foster believes diversity in commercial real estate can help companies reach an increasingly diverse consumers base.

The firm offers brokerage, marketing, financing, property management and other services.

"We're not only focused on real estate, but the way our clients do businesses. We take into account the design of space, strategic locations and business objectives," Foster says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Local startup offers consumers chance to Kapture every moment

If you’ve ever had a brilliant idea, serendipitous conversation or inspirational moment, only to be thwarted by the inability to write down what was said, your worries may be coming to an end.
 
Kapture, a new wearable audio recording wristband, allows you to save and share what was just said. Buffering 24/7, the wristband saves only the last 60 seconds of audio with a tap of your hand.
 
“With Kapture, those you-just-had-to-be-there moments are actually available to share with others,” says Mike Sarow, co-founder of Kapture. “Rich conversation can now take a higher spot within our overall communication mix.”
 
Since the wristband’s recorder is constantly running, users don’t have to worry about disrupting a moment by getting out a smart phone. The device records over itself after each 60-second interval, allowing the user to save only the moments they wish to remember.
 
“If you never tap the product (there are no buttons or screens - only a tap interface), nothing is ever saved,” Sarow explains. “We want nothing to do with big data or continuous recording. We are about the good stuff.”
 
Founded here in Cincinnati in 2011 by Mike Sarow and Matthew Dooley, Kapture launched a Kickstarter campaign last week in an effort to gain support from consumers and create a groundswell around the new technology. The campaign runs through October 2, 2013, and seeks to raise $150,000 to help launch the product worldwide. Following the Kapture Kickstarter campaign, the device will go into production, with a planned launch to the public in March 2014.
 
“Most startups will tell you fund-raising never ends,and because we bit off a tremendously complex project, we're in the same boat," Sarow says.
 
Sarow and Dooley attribute much of their ability to secure funding and grow their business thus far to being a part of the emerging entrepreneurial scene in Cincinnati and tapping into all of its resources.
 
“It might be the best part of starting a company in Cincinnati,” Sarrow says. “It is a very closeknit group willing to help at every turn. Cincytech was our first investor and is leading our seed stage funding round. The Brandery has continued to give us ad hoc guidance along the way, and we are now a project working out of Cintrifuse. We love the support Cincinnati has offered, and we love the partnerships we have in place.”
 
As Kapture has continued to grow, more and more people are taking notice. In less than a week, the Kickstarter campaign has reached more than one third of the target goal and the company has found itself on the front page of the highly touted tech website Mashable. To find out more about Kapture, visit the Kapture Facebook page.

Michael Sarason
 

First Student and CPS team up to provide new technology for students, parents

First Student, a Cincinnati-based corporation focused on transportation services for school districts, is partnering with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to roll out the ZPass for the 2013–2014 school year. ZPass is a new technology that allows schools, parents and caregivers the ability to “take the guesswork out of the bus stop, and give parents comfort in knowing their child got on or off the bus as scheduled," according to First Student.
 
With ZPass, each student is issued a unique ID card, which is scanned when they enter and exit the school bus. Each time this happens, the time, date and location is logged and transmitted to a secure database. School administrators, as well as parents, can access the same system to see when and where a child has entered and exited the bus. Parents can also register to have the information sent instantly by text messages or push notifications.
 
“Cincinnati is one of the first locations to have this technology,” says First Student spokesperson Jen Biddinger. “After a successful pilot program last school year, we are in the process of rolling it out on a wider scale.”
 
“By the beginning of October we will have grown it to 12 schools,” adds John Davis, Director of Transportation for CPS, “and our outlook is that we will initiate other schools and go district-wide by January of 2014.
 
“We were looking for something that could better track student ridership and provide information for parents,” continues Davis. “The ZPass allows a parent to estimate when a bus will arrive at a particular bus stop even in adverse weather conditions.”
 
“As a district, we understand that technology is changing our lives rapidly, and we want to harness the power of that technology across the board, be it in operations, such as in this case, or in the classroom,” explains Janet Walsh, Director of Public Affairs for CPS.
 
“We’re moving forward rapidly with using various kinds of blended learning models, which use technology in different, more sophisticated ways,” Walsh notes. “It’s an exciting time, and we are embracing it as a district.”

Michael Sarason

UC launches its first Massive Open Online Course: Innovation and Design Thinking

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are gaining traction at major universities across the country. These free, online courses open higher education to the masses; students' are limited only by their desire to learn.

MOOCs gained major attention in the United States after prestigious universities like Stanford and MIT began offering them. The courses are open to any student, regardless of educational background, and can last from four to 17 weeks.

Course structure varies by institution, and each potentially can have thousands of students. MOOCs generally are about the process of learning, and students aren't awarded college credit for completing them.

This fall, the University of Cincinnati of Cincinnati is pushing the boundaries of MOOCs by offering its first, and participants can earn free college credit for completing it..

UC professors Drew Boyd and Jim Tappel will teach Innovation and Design Thinking. The course will teach students the tools that organizations use to innovate everything from new products to new employee training methods.

Students who complete the MOOC and enroll in a UC Business or Engineering degree program can apply the credits. It will be a two credit hour course.

"This is one of the first, if not the first, option available to turn a MOOC into course credit," explains Tappel, an Engineering and Applied Science professor.

Tappel and Boyd, a marketing and innovation professor, will begin their seven-week course in October. During those seven weeks, students will apply innovation tools, using them to create new product or service ideas.

Innovation can be taught, Tappel says. This course can help individuals or groups learn, step by step, the innovation process.

"All companies today realize that innovation is important (for growth). And it's different than creativity. Innovation takes creative thoughts and turns them into a practical, pragmatic result," Tappel says.

You can sign up the for UC's Innovation and Design Thinking MOOC, or find out more about it here.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter


Crossroads community shines light on its entrepreneurs with Unpolished

Crossroads Church, one of Cincinnati’s biggest and most robust churches in terms of its services and programming, has rolled out a new, grassroots initiative for its members called Unpolished. Unpolished is a group that came together within the Crossroads community to “encourage, educate and engage aspiring entrepreneurs.”
 
“At Crossroads, we are very excited about this,” says head pastor Brian Tome. “A small handful of our community members suspected that there were others thinking like them, so they held an initial event on one day’s notice and 400 people showed up.”
 
“We held our initial event back in June,” adds Tim Brunk, co-founder of Cladwell.com, one of Cincinnati’s newest startups. “We were looking for a way to simultaneously encourage the entrepreneurs within Crossroads and begin building a community around them," says Brunk, who is one of members involved in starting Unpolished.
 
The initial event, in addition to attracting 400 people, produced some noteworthy results. “We had five short presentations from community members, telling their entrepreneurial stories,” Brunk explains. “The distinction from a ‘pitch’ was that we wanted the real story--what was hard, who did they lean on, what did they learn, what role did faith and community play, etc.”
 
“We saw some excellent fruit,” Brunk continues, “including a handful of businesses and partnerships that formed from people networking at the event.”
 
As the group is still developing, so are its future plans. Survey data taken from the first event led the members of Unpolished to begin holding office hours at Crossroads, which allow for one-on-one sessions between a subject expert and an entrepreneur seeking guidance. Additionally, development has begun on an app that will allow all community members to post needs and find help or resources within the Unpolished community.
 
“We are also looking into doing some specific workshops around startup related topics,” Brunk notes. “We have several other ideas as well, but there's plenty of planning yet to do.”

The church also began a four-week series last weeked called "Go Forth," which focuses on how to be an entreprenuer in all aspects of life, including business, family, personal and spiritual endeavors.

“While Crossroads respects the old,” Tome says, “we also see that the new is how things go forward.
 
For more information on Unpolished, visit the Crossroads Unpolished Facebook page.

By Michael Sarason

New device helps simplify mobile typing

TREWGrip Mobile QWERTY is an innovative device designed to simplify the labor of typing on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.

Invented by Mark Parker, president of TREWGrip LLC  (a subsidiary of Outlier Technologies), this unit works in conjunction with any devices that accommodate bluetooth syncing. The phone or tablet is physically attached (not permanently) to the Mobile QWERTY via the micro-suction dock, where a wireless bluetooth connection enables the device to interface.


“I’ve been doing software development for mobile workers for years,” Parker says. “We hope people realize that the “hunt and peck typing” technique doesn’t work. I think we’ve reached the point where people realize this technology is limiting. It isn’t a software problem … it’s a hardware problem.”

A rear-typing keyboard allows the user to easily hold the Mobile QWERTY with both hands while typing at similar rates to traditional keyboards. Some practice is necessary to truly get the hang of it, which is why TREWGrip offers training exercises and games. Having developed the device from scratch, Parker worked to ensure it could be easily held by hands of all sizes by equipping the device with multiple sizes of removable hand grips on the side.

TREWGrip, a Cincinnati-based company, recently launched a kickstarter campaign to help fund the product’s initial run. 

By Sean M. Peters

World traveler Luisa Mancera lands in Cincinnati, joins Roadtrippers

Chicago, Mexico City, London, Argentina, Spain. Despite what it may look like, this is not a bucket list of cities/countries to travel to. Rather, it is a list of all of the places that Luisa Mancera has called home before returning this past June to Cincinnati to work as the lead designer at Roadtrippers, a Cincinnati-based startup that helps users discover, plan and book the best road trips customized to their own individual preferences.
 
“For many years, I was always the one in my friend group that was leaving,” Mancera says. She lived in Mexico City for the past three years, working as a designer for a few different companies before eventually teaming up with her cousin to start their own branding and design studio there called Malaca.
 
“Life in Mexico City was very fast-paced, and I enjoyed befriending people from all over the world,” Mancera recounts. “But it was also very transient, and I think that’s what got to me. I wanted something a little more stable.”
 
Having grown up in Cincinnati from age 8 through 17, Mancera considers her roots to be here in Cincinnati. “I was back in April for a wedding, and at that point I was considering coming back to Cincinnati for the summer, working remotely and just getting the lay of the land to see how I felt here.”
 
One of the things she put on her to-do list while in town was to check out the Brandery, which she had not only read about online, but also heard good things from friends.
 
“I spoke with (Brandery office manager) Mike Bott, and he offered me a free place to work at their office because he thought I could potentially be a resource to the startups there,” Mancera says. “Soon after that ,James Fisher, who started Roadtrippers, was looking to hire a designer and went through the Brandery to look. Mike put us in touch and it just snowballed from there.”
 
Fast forward to the present, and Mancera is now living in Cincinnati for the first time since her teenage years. “Even though I was excited to come back, I was also a little bit weary,” she admits. “I thought that it might be a little boring or uninteresting, but it’s been very much the opposite. There’s a diversity of experience here that I was not expecting.”
 
“The biggest surprise is just how incredibly welcoming people are here. … And I think that’s the biggest difference between Cincinnati and anywhere else I’ve lived,” she says.
 
Mancera has jumped right into the thick of things with Roadtrippers and is happy to be part of a team that is constantly developing new ideas that challenge her along the way.

“Right now, we’re doing a lot of user interface design, which is actually new to me, but James knows a lot about it. It is really exciting work, and we’re growing very quickly. It’s neat to be a part of that. I think it will be a cool process to be a part of the transition from scruffy little startup to something that’s a little more structured, organized and grown up. I feel like that’s sort of what I’m going through as a person too,” Mancera says with a chuckle.
 
Mancera is also looking forward to witnessing the continued growth of the city and hopes that it continues to bring more young people into the fold. “I’d like to see people from other parts of the country moving to Cincinnati. I think it adds to this scene," she says. "If someone from a city like Seattle is moving to Cincinnati, it’s a big deal because it means there’s something here that’s catching the interest of people on a national level. It’s exciting to think about.”

If and when that person makes the move, you can count on Luisa to plan them the best road trip possible.

By Michael Sarason

Merx 2013 encourages local businesses to think globally

Members of the local business community convened at the METS Center in Erlanger, KY, to discuss the intricacies of conducting business overseas at the summit known as Merx 2013.

Derived from the Latin word for trade or commerce, “Merx” is hosted by the Northern Kentucky International Trade Association (NKITA). The purpose of the event is to encourage growth in local businesses’ ability to maintain their affairs outside of the US.

The event catered to two lines of thought for entrepreneurs: marketing and operations. With dual panel discussions split between two conference rooms, this approach helped professionals across the board to maximize their chances of successfully implementing their businesses in countries other than the United States.

Topics of conversation included marketing to locals, how to set up an entity abroad, getting the most from trade shows, partnerships and acquisitions, online marketing, and general security precautions to take when working in another country. Business leaders from the area’s most successful companies moderated the panels, which were open to attendees for discussion.

With Cincinnati’s startup community gaining momentum in the business world, events such as Merx 2013 help to ensure that businesses old and new have the chance to not only conduct business around the globe, but also promote Cincinnati in the process.  

Click
here for a list of all businesses involved at this year’s summit.

Chase Bank opens new U Square location featuring newest banking technology

Chase Bank, one of the largest in the world, has opened its newest Cincinnati branch at 219 Calhoun St., in the new U Square development on the University of Cincinnati’s campus. This new branch is only the second Chase branch in Southern Ohio to feature the bank’s new express banking kiosks.
 
“The USquare branch is very special to us because it’s located right here on the Bearcat campus,” says branch manager Fabian Tunson. “Research has shown us that consumers, especially of this generation, really enjoy using technology. And this branch is right for anyone interested in some of the newest technology, including the express banking kiosks.”
 
The express banking kiosks are similar to ATMs but with a touchscreen user interface that is similar to a tablet and a much wider range of functionality. Some of these additional functions include check cashing, withdrawals in multi-denominations ($1, $5, $20 and $50 bills) up to $1000, credit card bill paying services and the option to purchase money orders.
 
The kiosks are part of Chase’s larger overall goal to introduce innovative ways to meet customers’ needs. About 400 of these kiosks exist around the country currently, and the number is expected to double by the end of the year.
 
“We are very proud to be serving customers on the UC campus and in the Cincinnati community,” says Emily Smith, Director of Media Relations for JPMorgan Chase. While Chase has nearly 300 branches and 23,000 employees in Ohio, this new branch marks the company's first bank location in Clifton.
 
“The branch will be very convenient for students, but it’s also in a great location to serve the residents and small businesses in the area,” Tunson says.

Michael Sarason

Rock Paper Scissors to build on Smartfish Studio's artistic past

Smartfish Studio & Sustainable Supply is planning to make a big splash soon by expanding it offerings beyond its signature footwear and art supplies.

The studio’s owner, Alisha Budkie, has decided to back away from the day-to-day management of the shop and instead focus on her line of handmade shoes and sandals, Smartfish Footwear. The interior of the store, which is located at 1301 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine, will soon be renovated and will become Rock Paper Scissors.  

“We’re not changing Smartfish Studios,” says Lindsay Nehls, co-founder of Rock Paper Scissors. “We’re building on it.”

Nehls, visual artist, partnered with Adam Petersen, a musician and central figure in the local arts community known as the Marburg Collective. The two have exciting plans for their new venture.

While Smartfish Footwear will still be available for sale at Rock Paper Scissors, Budkie has plans to study the making of footwear internationally. She will still be involved with the store, just not as directly as before.

On top of local art on the walls, the team at Rock Paper Scissors looks to provide a nurturing atmosphere for local music— albums will be for sale, along with band T-shirts and posters.

“An opportunity presented itself quite fortuitously,” says Petersen. “Our long-term vision, beyond it simply being music and merchandise consignment, is for [Rock Paper Scissors] to become an informational center for anyone looking to learn about particular Cincinnati-bands. We’ll compile lists of venues and bands and arrange it so everyone’s adequately represented.”

Gallery showings, workshops and other artistic events will continue to be held in the location.

Smartfish Studio will have a transitional Final Friday event Aug. 30. The shop will be closed Sept. 1-7 for Rock Paper Scissors to get settled, and the shop will officially be open for business Sunday, Sept. 8.

If you would like to contribute to Rock Paper Scissors’
Indiegogo fundraising campaign, with all proceeds going toward essential inventory and accoutrement, make sure to donate before time runs out.

By Sean Peters

Metro now offers stored-value cards to riders

Many city-dwellers are continuously faced with the arduous task of budgeting their quarters between two priorities: bus fare and laundromats. While both woes can be remedied with a little planning, some people are forever caught in the cycle of rifling through their pockets at a moment’s notice to either catch the bus or feed the washing machine. But Cincinnatians have been presented with a new method of relieving these tribulations with the new Metro stored-value cards.

The cards can be purchased in prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 from Metro’s sales office. They work just like cash in any bus-related payment situations, including transfers and multiple riders. Metro’s stored-value cards are replacing the 10-ride Zone 1 tickets, although those will be honored until the end of 2013.

For those familiar with bus fare rates and simple mathematics, however, things don’t quite add up: with normal inner-city fares set at $1.75, the prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 won’t deduct even portions, leaving some untouchable funds on the cards, as they are incapable of being recharged with additional cash. If your card’s balance cannot pay the full fare, the difference can be paid in cash or with an additional stored-value card when paying at the front of the bus.

While it might be possible to budget your stored-value card so as not to have any residual funds before it is redeemed, this discernible anomaly might prove problematic for local bus riders who might be better off with the 30-day rolling pass, which is good for unlimited travel in a zone of your choice for a 30-day period.

The new stored-value cards are available for purchase at Metro’s sales office, which is located in the Mercantile Building arcade downtown, weekdays 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

By Sean Peters


The Happy Maladies want YOU to write their next album

The Happy Maladies has issued an open invitation for composers of all levels to submit original pieces of music for the band to interpret.

The project is titled “MUST LOVE CATS,” and it will be an album of five compositions. The tunes will be featured not only on a professional studio-produced album, but in performances across the Midwest (including Cincinnati). A booklet will also be made, which will profile each of the five selected composers.

“We’ll be accepting any kind of composition until January 1, 2014,” says violinist and vocalist Eddy Kwon in the band’s recently released YouTube video that officially kicked off the exciting new endeavor.

The band, which is comprised of founding members Benjamin Thomas, Peter Gemus, Stephen Patota and Kwon, utilizes the violin, double-bass, guitars, mandolin and banjo.

“We really don’t want composers to try to ‘fit’ our sound, or limit themselves to what they think these instruments sound like,” says Kwon. “We’re really willing to do anything.”

Jazzy, folksy and classically trained, the unique group is hard to classify, but infinitely easy and enjoyable to hear. In the band’s five-year career, they have explored so many genres that they’ve developed an omnipotent musical identity.

“All of us are really, really supportive and advocates for new music,” says Kwon. “We are hoping this project can be a new model for the way composers and bands and performers interact and work together.” 

By Sean Peters
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