© 2016 Sharee Allen.


Showing Love to Underdogs: Why We'd Choose The 

Underworld Jazz Fest Over Cincinnati Music Festival Any Day


Words and Photos by: John Mabery

This weekend thousands gathered for Cincinnati Music Festival to catch Maxwell and Mary J. But the Underworld Jazz Festival was the real gem of the summer: Kim Gory and Napoleon Maddox’s gift to the Queen City. The second edition, which ran into late May 2019, featured tons of music and cultural events designed to showcase Cincinnati-based and international talent. Despite its name, the festival also included hip-hop, rock, gospel, spiritual and avant-garde acts, as well as Maddox’s searing production of “Twice The First Time.”

On one particular rainy evening at MOTR Pub, Maddox reminded the crowd that most of these shows were free and that, “we’re not asking you to pay, we’re just asking you to pay attention.” At a time when so many festivals are pushing corporatization over community, Gory and Maddox have curated an event that Cincinnati has sorely lacked over the past few years. For those of us in attendance—whether for a cypher featuring local MCs or a history lesson about conjoined twins who were born slaves—I say thank you to Ms. Gory and Mr. Maddox. I look forward to next year's iteration of the Underworld Jazz Festival.   

Artists featured in this gallery include Tank and the Bangas, Lauren Eylise, Fo/Mo/Deep, Vibe-One, Watusi Tribe, and the Napoleon Maddox Quartet.