Clifton Heights celebrates local talent

Clifton may best be known best for housing UC students and drunken parties, but not this weekend. More than 60 local music acts perform at the fifth installment of the Clifton Heights Music Festival.

The festival, created by Far-I-Rome Productions, has drawn more than 10,000 people to Clifton Heights since its start in 2009. What started as a one-night pub-crawl featuring music has grown into a bi-annual local music frenzy that expects to draw 4,000 people this weekend.

“I feel like bigger festivals think they need a bigger national act to legitimize local acts,” says Rome Ntukogu, founder of Far-I-Rome Productions. “Those local acts are completely capable of standing on their own.”

Ntukogu acknowledges that the larger festivals are great for local bands to garner fans, but the goal for his festival is to create a musically diverse weekend that never loses sight of its community. And the concept is simple: one weekend twice a year where the only focus is music and art.

The entire community of Clifton Heights is engulfed by music in a carnival-like atmosphere. People come from places like Hyde Park and Covington to a neighborhood that's usually frequented by college kids. Every bar features local bands playing music varying from Ska to Hip Hop. Within minutes, a festival-goer can travel from one venue to the next to catch any act performing at the fest. Local wonders such as Pop Empire, who won new artist of the year at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in 2010 and Cincinnati music staple, Buckra, who recently had a song featured in the Sarah Jessica Parker movie, "Meet Monica Velour," will be performing at the fest.

With continued growth and a creator to keep it on the straight and narrow, it looks like Ntukogu and the CHMF will be helping burgeoning musicians be heard and seen in their own community for a long time. When asked what the final goal for the festival was, he says, “If I can help someone make money doing something they love, I’ve done a good deed for life.”

By Evan Wallis
Evan Wallis is the volunteer coordinator for Far-I-Rome Productions
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