New Downtown Mural Is a True Big Picture

THE BIG PICTURE

A new mural by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra — the largest ArtWorks has yet commissioned — honors late Ohio-born astronaut Neil Armstrong.

BY STEVEN ROSEN /CINCINNATI CITYBEAT / 8-24-16

 

The name of this column — “The Big Picture” — is especially appropriate when discussing the new downtown mural by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.

The work — the largest mural that ArtWorks has yet commissioned — is honoring the late Neil Armstrong, the Ohio-born astronaut who in 1969 became the first person to walk on the moon. After his career as an astronaut ended, he became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

Kobra’s work is as monumental as Armstrong’s accomplishment. It measures 7,632 square feet and occupies the equivalent of half a city block, along the Walnut Street façade of a parking garage that is part of Fifth Third Bank’s Fountain Square headquarters. The bank is paying the project’s entire cost, in excess of $100,000.

The Armstrong mural may, as a byproduct, singlehandedly revive interest in the skywalk system, since Kobra has been saying the best place to see it will be standing on a connecting link across Walnut Street. (Although the mural was just finished, scaffolding may still be visible for awhile.)

He has been developing an international following for his large spray-painted public murals that, as he has described, mix a retro element — a Photorealist, sometimes black-and-white portrait of the subject, usually sourced from a photograph — with a contemporary, phantasmagorical Op Art-like use of bright color. 

In the Armstrong mural, Kobra, with help from his two assistants and ArtWorks’ four teen apprentices, has surrounded the helmeted, camera-holding astronaut with stripes, squares and emanating rays of fragmented color, color, color. One multi-colored band even serves as a kind of halo. (The mural was sketched and gridded-out first.)

So, this is quite literally one really big picture. But there’s also another aspect in which the term is appropriate. Cincinnati has a role in the larger world — the bigger picture of the evolution of street art. Murals are becoming the preferred, dynamic way for cities to memorialize the cultural heroes and historical figures that residents admire.  

“Street art and public art are really hot in cities all over the world,” says Colleen Houston, ArtWorks vice president of programs and operations. “It’s a great time to be an artist working in public spaces.”

It’s especially a great time to be Kobra, whom ArtWorks commissioned after admiring his 2015 mural for Minneapolis honoring Minnesota-born troubadour Bob Dylan.

That and his Cincinnati mural are a long way from tagging, which is how he got his start in the early 1990s in Sao Paolo. A gifted artist, his name “Kobra” was coined by fellow middle-school students and is slang for excelling at a certain task — drawing, in his case.

During an interview at ArtWorks offices, the Portuguese-speaking artist discussed his origins as Marina Castro provided an English paraphrased translation. He said a key early influence was New York Hip Hop culture. One reason he enjoys his U.S. projects so much — he has done about 15 so far, including an Abraham Lincoln mural in Lexington, Ky. — is because it is the home of New York. In his home country, he has just completed a mural he hopes will qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ever designed by a single artist. It is 32,300 square feet and was done to celebrate the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. As he described it and as it was written about on businessinsider.com, it features portraits of indigenous peoples of the world.

Incidentally, Cincinnati actually got two local heroes for the price of one with its new Armstong mural. On the upper right-hand corner, as you face it on Walnut Street, you’ll see E.T. in a bicycle basket being pedaled from Earth toward  “home” somewhere in deep, expansive space. As he’s moving away from Armstrong, maybe it’s toward the dark side of the moon.  

Kobra, a dedicated researcher of the cities in which he does murals, said he knew Steven Spielberg, the director of 1982’s classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, was born in Cincinnati. 

“He was trying to make a connection to the people from here,” translator Castro said.

kobraarmstrong


CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: srosenone@aol.com

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Strange Animated Movies Remembered : Happy Feet

happyfeetpic

Happy Feet

BY STEVEN ROSEN / SCREEN DAILY / 13 NOVEMBER 2006 /

Dir: George Miller. US. 2006. 98mins.

Happy Feet is one strange bird of an animated movie. Directed by George Miller, who was behind Babe (1995) and its badly-received sequel, it is by turns giddy, maudlin,swinging, narratively overstuffed and artistically magnificent as it makes the case — not always in jest — that penguins would have a better chance of survival if they learned  to tap dance.

It would seem primed to do massive business because of its sense of spectacle, environmental message and all those cute penguins. But Happy Feet has a couple of Achilles’ heels that may keep it more grounded than its selling points suggest. In particular,  its lead character Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), an outcast young penguin who needs to prove his courage, feels somewhat bland and not really the master of his storyline.

As a result, children may not be able to relate to Mumble as they did similarly motivated animal characters like Simba in The Lion King (1994), which took $784 million worldwide, $329 from the US.  Happy Feet also struggles to maintain a similar comic tone and warmth to this year’s Ice Age 2 ($646 million worldwide, $195 million from US), despite the presence of big-name comic talent like Robin Williams. But the snowy cartoon should still play well in the run-up to Christmas both domestically —  it opens in the US on Nov. 17 — and overseas.

Certainly Happy Feet will be boosted by the fact it is about penguins, currently the animal kingdom’s biggest stars, as witnessed by two of last year’s strongest family films: documentary March Of The Penguins, which took $122 million worldwide; and Madagascar, which earned $194 million of its $529 million  global box-office from the US.

Happy Feet opens in an emperor penguin colony where the young have to learn to sing to communicate with their mates. While young Mumble has a terrible voice, he can at least tap dance like Fred Astaire, to the disappointment of his Elvis-like dad Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and loving mom Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman). His only kindred soul is his friend Gloria (Brittany Murphy), a great singer.

Mumble is determined to prove his worth to the colony and sets out on a quest, eventually meeting a Latino comedy troupe of smaller mambo-loving penguins led by Ramon (Williams).They worship Lovelace The Guru (also Williams), a heavy set, messily tufted Rockhopper penguin with a sexy Barry White-like voice and neck talisman that is really a plastic ring from a discarded six-pack.

When Lovelace falls ill, Mumble and crew decide to hunt for the “aliens” who created the ring, eventually encountering Man in a scene conjured from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

George Miller here seems inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge: at every opportunity, penguins — sometimes thousands at once — break into wild song-and-dance medleys of pop hits like Queen’s Somebody To Love, Prince’s Kiss, the Steve Miller Band’s The Joker and Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s The Message. Sometimes the film’s voice talent does the singing — Nicole Kidman tackles Kiss; on other occasions, the soundtrack features guest singers like Chrissie Hynde.

The tap dancing is exuberantly choreographed by Savion Glover, whose own steps were recorded via motion capture, then digitalized. Overall, the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it scenes of dancing birds are infectiously ecstatic, but they occasionally feel bizarre and the uneven tone may throw some audiences.

In other escapades,  Mumble runs into an elephant seal (voiced by the late Steve Irwin), an encounter that has shades of a Ray Harryhausen-orchestrated monster-movie confrontation. There is also an abandoned human settlement that features a church on a cliff, a stranded tanker and trash and debris everywhere. It proves somewhat haunting.

The digitalized animation is often breathtaking, especially considering that penguins, by their very nature, are not that colorful. Sydney-based visual effects house Animal Logic, working with production designer Mark Sexton and layout/camera director David Peers, has given the birds a detailed, sculptural roundness, although Mumble sometimes feels somewhat emotionless.

Antarctic backgrounds feature ice shelves, glaciers, icebergs, valleys and mountain ranges and are stunningly panoramic.

 

Executive producers
Zareh Nalbandian
Graham Burke
Dana Goldberg
Bruce Berman

Producers
George Miller
Bill Miller
Matthew Ferro
Doug Mitchell
Martin Wood

Screenplay
Warren Coleman
John Collee
George Miller
Judy Morris
Editors
Matt Town
Alicia Gleeson
Christine Cheung
Andrew Corsi
Kento Watanabe
Julietta Boscolo
Matt Villa

Production design
Mark Sexton

Music
John Powell
Christine Woodruff

Main cast (voices)
Elijah Wood
Robin Williams
Hugh Jackman
Nicole Kidman
Hugo Weaving
Brittany Murphy
Anthony LaPaglia

Strange Animated Movies Remembered : Happy Feet

happyfeetpic

Happy Feet

BY STEVEN ROSEN / SCREEN DAILY / 13 NOVEMBER 2006 /

Dir: George Miller. US. 2006. 98mins.

Happy Feet is one strange bird of an animated movie. Directed by George Miller, who was behind Babe (1995) and its badly-received sequel, it is by turns giddy, maudlin,swinging, narratively overstuffed and artistically magnificent as it makes the case — not always in jest — that penguins would have a better chance of survival if they learned  to tap dance.

It would seem primed to do massive business because of its sense of spectacle, environmental message and all those cute penguins. But Happy Feet has a couple of Achilles’ heels that may keep it more grounded than its selling points suggest. In particular,  its lead character Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), an outcast young penguin who needs to prove his courage, feels somewhat bland and not really the master of his storyline.

As a result, children may not be able to relate to Mumble as they did similarly motivated animal characters like Simba in The Lion King (1994), which took $784 million worldwide, $329 from the US.  Happy Feet also struggles to maintain a similar comic tone and warmth to this year’s Ice Age 2 ($646 million worldwide, $195 million from US), despite the presence of big-name comic talent like Robin Williams. But the snowy cartoon should still play well in the run-up to Christmas both domestically —  it opens in the US on Nov. 17 — and overseas.

Certainly Happy Feet will be boosted by the fact it is about penguins, currently the animal kingdom’s biggest stars, as witnessed by two of last year’s strongest family films: documentary March Of The Penguins, which took $122 million worldwide; and Madagascar, which earned $194 million of its $529 million  global box-office from the US.

Happy Feet opens in an emperor penguin colony where the young have to learn to sing to communicate with their mates. While young Mumble has a terrible voice, he can at least tap dance like Fred Astaire, to the disappointment of his Elvis-like dad Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and loving mom Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman). His only kindred soul is his friend Gloria (Brittany Murphy), a great singer.

Mumble is determined to prove his worth to the colony and sets out on a quest, eventually meeting a Latino comedy troupe of smaller mambo-loving penguins led by Ramon (Williams).They worship Lovelace The Guru (also Williams), a heavy set, messily tufted Rockhopper penguin with a sexy Barry White-like voice and neck talisman that is really a plastic ring from a discarded six-pack.

When Lovelace falls ill, Mumble and crew decide to hunt for the “aliens” who created the ring, eventually encountering Man in a scene conjured from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

George Miller here seems inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge: at every opportunity, penguins — sometimes thousands at once — break into wild song-and-dance medleys of pop hits like Queen’s Somebody To Love, Prince’s Kiss, the Steve Miller Band’s The Joker and Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s The Message. Sometimes the film’s voice talent does the singing — Nicole Kidman tackles Kiss; on other occasions, the soundtrack features guest singers like Chrissie Hynde.

The tap dancing is exuberantly choreographed by Savion Glover, whose own steps were recorded via motion capture, then digitalized. Overall, the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it scenes of dancing birds are infectiously ecstatic, but they occasionally feel bizarre and the uneven tone may throw some audiences.

In other escapades,  Mumble runs into an elephant seal (voiced by the late Steve Irwin), an encounter that has shades of a Ray Harryhausen-orchestrated monster-movie confrontation. There is also an abandoned human settlement that features a church on a cliff, a stranded tanker and trash and debris everywhere. It proves somewhat haunting.

The digitalized animation is often breathtaking, especially considering that penguins, by their very nature, are not that colorful. Sydney-based visual effects house Animal Logic, working with production designer Mark Sexton and layout/camera director David Peers, has given the birds a detailed, sculptural roundness, although Mumble sometimes feels somewhat emotionless.

Antarctic backgrounds feature ice shelves, glaciers, icebergs, valleys and mountain ranges and are stunningly panoramic.

 

Executive producers
Zareh Nalbandian
Graham Burke
Dana Goldberg
Bruce Berman

Producers
George Miller
Bill Miller
Matthew Ferro
Doug Mitchell
Martin Wood

Screenplay
Warren Coleman
John Collee
George Miller
Judy Morris
Editors
Matt Town
Alicia Gleeson
Christine Cheung
Andrew Corsi
Kento Watanabe
Julietta Boscolo
Matt Villa

Production design
Mark Sexton

Music
John Powell
Christine Woodruff

Main cast (voices)
Elijah Wood
Robin Williams
Hugh Jackman
Nicole Kidman
Hugo Weaving
Brittany Murphy
Anthony LaPaglia

Saving a Rookwood Fireplace

West-Baden-Hotel-3-of-44-1

BY STEVEN ROSEN

CINCINNATI CITYBEAT

 JULY 13, 2011 

The 2007 reopening of West Baden Springs Hotel in southern Indiana ranks as one of America’s finest architectural renovations in recent memory. With its magnificent dome standing 130 feet high above a grand atrium, spanning 208 feet across that atrium’s floor and above five circular floors of hotel rooms that look into the space, it (almost) is like a built-environment equivalent of looking at the Grand Canyon.

You just sit or stand in the atrium and stare in awe, from the floor up to the skylights, and wonder how on earth this could have been created way back in 1902. For decades, it was the largest freestanding dome in the United States.

Even more remarkable was the fact this National Historic Landmark not only is still standing in the 21st century, but that it is also once again open as a hotel. It was closed to the public in the early 1930s and then went through several private owners, as well as outright abandonment in the 1980s. A guide from Indiana Landmarks told me, on a recent visit, that the atrium was home to wild animals, including snakes, in that wilderness era. Small wonder, then, that it took Bloomington-based Cook Group — founded by the late Bill Cook and his wife Gayle — to spend a fortune to restore it.

But that abandonment, while it produced some structural damage, might also have saved another of the jewels in West Baden Springs Hotel’s crown: A mammoth, one-of-a-kind ornate fireplace designed by Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery Co. That fireplace is now a highlight of the restored atrium.

“I congratulate them for keeping it and bringing it back,” says Anita Ellis, Cincinnati Art Museum’s deputy director for curatorial affairs and a Rookwood authority. (The art museum collects Rookwood ceramics, and has a smaller fireplace in its Cincinnati Wing. “Being abandoned for so long is probably what saved it. That’s when others were torn down. And almost all others were torn down.”

The West Baden fireplace is 19 feet wide, 11 feet high, with a 7-foot-high opening leading into a pit that can burn 14-foot logs. It looks like a cave entrance from a distance. (Now rightly prized as an art object, it is no longer used for burning.)

The fireplace’s pottery surface, which looks like it was assembled in chunks rather than smooth tiles, depicts an idyllic, colorfully glazed pastoral scene, lorded over by a red-costumed elf sitting on a rock amid cascading waters and holding up a ram’s horn. He is Sprudel, once the mascot for the hotel and under whose name its medicinal water was bottled and sold. Across from him is a catalpa tree, and in the distance under pod-carrying limbs is visible a small depiction of the hotel.

According to Dyan Welsh Duncan, the resort’s public relations director, Lillian Sinclair — daughter of the original owner — commissioned Rookwood to redesign the old brick fireplace as part of 1917 renovations following a fire.

As word of this singular Rookwood fireplace’s survival and renewed prominence grows, research is going on to see who the actual designer might be and if it is the largest such fireplace extant. Meanwhile, try to see see it. We’re lucky it still exists

 

CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: srosenone@aol.com

 

Marty Balin: Cincinnati Roots; Altamont Resistance

balin

BY STEVEN ROSEN

CINCINNATI ENQUIRER / 2013

For Marty Balin, who as a founding member and resonant co-lead singer of San Francisco’s fabled Jefferson Airplane helped usher in the psychedelic rock/lifestyle revolution of the 1960s, an upcoming rare solo date here serves as a homecoming.

The band started in 1965 and soared to fame during San Francisco’s Summer of Love, 1967. Balin, now 71, is performing Saturday night with just an accompanying guitarist at Fairfield Community Arts Center’s Sojourners Recovery Services concert series. His repertoire may include songs made popular with the Airplane in the 1960s (such as “Comin’ Back to Me,” “Today” and “Volunteers”), with Jefferson Starship in the 1970s (perhaps “Miracles” or “With Your Love’), and as an early-1980s hit-making soloist (“Hearts”), along with newer, less familiar material.

Balin has traveled a long way from his local roots. He was born Martyn Jerel Buchwald here in 1942 and spent his early years in a 19th Century multi-family home on Highland Avenue in Mount Auburn, right before the street descends into Prospect Hill. His family, including an older sister, left for a new life in the west when he was just four, arriving in San Francisco after a few stops elsewhere. The 1940 U.S. Census shows that his father Joseph and mother Catherine rented an apartment in the three-family building while dad worked as a press helper for a lithographer.

Reached by phone in Florida, where he spends winters with his wife and daughter, Balin said he doesn’t recall much of his Cincinnati days. “I remember sledding down this long hillside and making big snowmen,” he says. And once gone, he said, his family —Cincinnati natives — stayed gone. “My father wasn’t close to his family,” he said.

Balin said his dad, who died last year at age 95 (his wife preceded him), made the move for his sake. “It was warmer for him and me. He told me I had bronchitis or something and couldn’t take the cold.”

Actually, Balin’s family did maintain close contact with at least one Cincinnati relative. Randy Buchwald, who grew up in Roselawn and graduated from Walnut Hills High School, went to live with the family in 1976 while attending San Francisco State. His late father, Isaac, was Joseph Buchwald’s brother. (There were also another brother and sister, with whom Randy was not close.)

“Marty and my uncle were really big on family,” said Randy, 54, who now lives in the Bay Area and is engineering director at a software company. “We’d all try to get together at least on Sunday mornings for breakfast.”

Randy stayed close, even after returning to University of Cincinnati for a business degree and then launching a career that took him to L.A. and Rome before returning to the area and renewing family contacts. “His father was like a grandfather to my kids,” he said. “They used to call him grandpa uncle.”

Balin’s father, who died last year at age 95 (after his wife), became something of a San Francisco celebrity in his own right, especially after his son’s electrified folk-rock band became famous with its 1967 hits “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” (Both featured lead vocals by Grace Slick.) Using the lithography skills learned in Cincinnati, Buchwald got a job with a company that made psychedelic rock-concert posters, Tea Lautrec. And his father loved the whole wild scene, Balin recalled, although he never took the pyschedelic drugs so crucial to the scene’s music.

“I can remember going to these acid parties and I couldn’t even find my way to the door and looking up seeing my dad there,” Balin said. “I’d be saying, ‘Dad, help me. I don’t know where I am.’ And he’d be saying, ‘Sit down and relax, I’ll get you home.’”

One aspect of Balin’s long career has come up for renewed attention because of a recent documentary. In Crossfire Hurricane, about the Rolling Stones’ long career, band members talk about how frightened and intimidated they were by the Hell’ Angels motorcycle members during 1969’s infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival near San Francisco. There, hundreds of thousands of were cowed and silenced while Hell’s Angels serving as security brutalized and beat concertgoers.

But Balin, however, resisted. During the Airplane’s set, he jumped into the crowd to fight a pool cue-armed Hell’s Angel attacking a fan. After breaking that up, he discovered the Angel on stage, striking the same fan. Balin went to help again and was beaten unconscious. In retrospect, it seems like a heroic act.

“I’m singing and I look out and there are people beating this poor guy with pool cues in front of me, and this whole crowd just stepped back en masse and allowed it to happen,” Balin said, still incredulous. “And it just infuriated me that nobody would help this poor guy. So I jumped down and started pushing these Hell’s Angels away, and some of them started going, ‘Hey Marty, what are you doing? You’ll get hurt down here.’

“I guess I’m just a foolish guy. I don’t know, the guy looked like he needed some help and what was I going to do?”

CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: srosenone@aol.com

Finding Architecture’s Soul in ‘Columbus’

The new dramatic film sees in Columbus, Ind. a beautiful but haunted metaphor for life.

BY STEVEN ROSEN / CINCINNATI CITYBEAT / SEPTEMBER 20, 2017 

A Cbp0920Columbus0920El CopyHaley Lu Richardson and John Cho star in the dramatic film.PHOTO: ELISHA CHRISTIAN / COURTESY OF SUPERLATIVE FILMS AND DEPTH OF FIELD

If you’re interested in architecture, you may know that Columbus, Ind. — a small city just 90 miles west of Cincinnati — is one of America’s most important showcases for Modernist buildings.

That, in itself, makes Columbus special. But now, a new movie called Columbus — a dramatic film, not a documentary — finds an even deeper meaning in the city’s commitment to newness in architecture. It sees in Columbus a beautiful but haunted metaphor for life and the hopes, dreams, delusions, personal struggles and quest for meaning we all have. The film, which is one of the year’s best, opens Friday at the Esquire Theatre. I’d give it an A.

A little background on Columbus the city is appropriate. As the Visit Columbus Indiana website explains, the city “is one of the rare places on Earth where the idea that architecture can improve the human condition has been put to the test.” The force behind this was the late Irwin Miller, a forward-thinking industrialist (his family founded the city’s Cummins Engine Co.) who saw in Modernist architecture a symbol of a better future. Its openness — a reliance on glass, love of clean and uncluttered lines, disavowal of pretentious decoration — seemed part of its search for truthfulness.

The first building that Miller wanted, Eliel Saarinen’s 1942 First Christian Church, has a subtle stone cross embedded in the limestone façade that’s so mirage-like it could float out and hover in the air. In 1957, Saarinen’s son Eero designed Miller’s home, which now is open to the public and has become recognized as one of America’s most important post-World War II homes. Other important architects who have done public structures in Columbus include I.M. Pei, Harry Weese, Robert Venturi, Deborah Berke and Gunnar Birkerts.

To this heritage now comes the movie Columbus, directed and written by Kogonada — the single name favored by a South Korea-born filmmaker who is an acolyte of the great Japanese director Yasujiroō Ozu (1953’s Tokyo Story). He clearly loves and dwells on the architecture — for instance, he sees in the tall and seemingly endless spire of Eero Saarinen’s 1964 North Christian Church, which otherwise has an unassuming exterior, a kind of protector for all who live below it. But Kogonada also has an existential question for Modernism — and, thus, for Columbus: What good is its optimism against the inevitability of death and disease? Does such hopefulness make Modernism — and Columbus — just another delusion about our ability to control our futures?

Such philosophical depth and complexity demand a lot from a movie. But Columbus succeeds smashingly, hugely aided by cinematographer Elisha Christian. It is naturalistically Minimalist in style, with quiet dialogue, introspective music and environmental sounds, long takes and pronounced edits. Yet it’s nevertheless emotional because the screenplay is wise in its understanding of the human condition.

The film features John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) as the estranged Korean-born son of a noted Korean architectural historian living in the U.S. His father’s grave illness brings the son to Columbus to stand vigil, and he’s angry about it. He seems to hate architecture, although maybe he’s just angry about his father’s devotion to this city at his son’s expense.

But in Columbus, waiting around for his father to die, he meets a young woman from a working-class background who is struggling to live better. Played incredibly soulfully by Haley Lu Richardson, she has developed a fascination with the mysteries of Modernism. To her, it is truly frozen poetry — and she’s trying to find a vocabulary to express that.

Though there is an age difference, they develop a friendship. Her interest seems to point to a promising future in architecture, but she’s afraid to leave a single mother (Michelle Forbes) recovering from drug use and a hard life in general.

Their stories play out quietly, but profoundly. One of the film’s last shots is of the bright red steel beams of a Modernist bridge. It is to be admired as an art object, but also something you have to cross when you come to it. Columbus memorably takes you to it.


CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: srosenone@aol.com

Danny Adler’s ‘Last Session on Brewster’ closes a King Records story

 

Danny Adler has rewritten Cincinnati music history. The native-Cincinnati musician secretly made a new recording in the long-defunct King Records studio, where so many classic R&B and C&W tracks were cut.

By his account, it was like Indiana Jones entering a dark, forbidding, sacrosanct tomb – armed with an acoustic guitar.

Forty-one years after King in 1971 shut down its Brewster Avenue operations in Evanston, following the 1968 death of founder Syd Nathan, Adler brought it back to life for at least a few hours. He wanted to be the man who recorded the Last Session on Brewster.

He had an assistant, audio and video engineer/producer Bill Gwynne, who was running LED spotlights, two cameras and portable sound equipment through a four-channel mixer connected by cable to his car’s cigarette lighter.

Adler got in by finding a key for the attached lock. He took care to find the exact place in the building, which housed several King operations, where the studio was. There, he and Gwynne erected a standing platform of old linoleum pieces, railroad ties and fallen acoustic tile so Adler could keep his feet out of water while playing.

This was on an afternoon in October 2012. “This is probably, unfortunately, the last recording in King studios,” Adler spoke into the microphone, his voice carrying a slight echo: “I’m standing in what’s left of the old King studios in Cincinnati, Ohio.”

He covered several R&B classics released by King in its 1940s-1960s heyday: Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas,” the “5” Royales’ “Say It,” James Brown’s “Cold Sweat,” and Lonnie Johnson’s “Tomorrow Night.”

He had a little trouble keeping the guitar in tune, but his playing was supple and bluesy, as it has been throughout a long and generally underappreciated career that has seen him work with many greats of blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. And while his 66-year-old voice was not youthful, it was respectful and warm.

He also recorded one song not familiar to any King aficionado other than himself – “Smile at the Sundial,” which he wrote and auditioned at King back in 1968. He has loved that record company’s R&B, blues and funk – and wanted to play music like it – since he was a teenager.

Working on his own, and splitting his time between recording here and being a Michigan-based train engineer, it took Adler quite awhile to edit and prepare “Last Session on Brewster: Trespassin’ at King Records Studio” for commercial release.

But it became available earlier this year as a combined 30-minute DVD of that session and a 78-minute CD of its audio combined with 13 other Cincinnati-related songs recorded live or in the studio between 1977 and last year. Digital copies are at iTunes; physical ones via www.cdbaby.com or at Shake It and Everybody’s Records.

It has had a special screening sponsored by Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation, and that non-profit organization cited Adler’s quest this month when it and the Bootsy Collins Foundation asked the city’s Historic Conservation Office to recognize the King complex.

(The building housing the old studio is owned by Dynamic Industries, which did not return calls.)

Growing up on Red Bud Avenue in Avondale in the 1950s and 1960s, the son of Thomas and Emily Adler, Adler developed two great loves – popular music and trains.

As a youth, Adler took to guitar, rock ‘n’ roll and the African-American roots music that inspired the latter. And in 1963, a family friend invited him to visit the King studio. “I said I would definitely like that because when I listened to records, I’d close my eyes and wonder what it looked like where they were playing,” Adler recalled in an interview.

He was writing songs and practicing guitar, and around 1965 he started to play with much older Cincinnati blues veterans in clubs. That was in the summers – because he placed music over academics, his parents had to send him to a boarding school in Massachusetts so he could graduate high school.

At the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Adler played music in the Bay Area and was briefly part of a New York-based rock band called Elephant’s Memory.

With nothing much happening, he went to England and found work as a session guitarist. It was through those connections that he formed a groove-oriented band called Roogalator primarily with British musicians in 1972. The band lucked into one of those new pop-music trends that perennially sweep Great Britain – pub-rock.

Roogalator became a favorite of John Peel, an influential announcer on BBC Radio 1, and recorded some live sessions with him. That in turn led to a 1976 single – “All Aboard/Cincinnati Fatback” – on Stiff Records, the upstart label that was eventually to have such famous acts as Elvis Costello, Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Nick Lowe.

Roogalator’s contribution came early – it was just Stiff’s third single – and pub rock ultimately didn’t make the impression that Stiff’s later punk and New Wave records did. But it still earned a devoted following – “Cincinnati Fatback” was a funky, rollicking, good-naturedly randy tribute to his hometown.

“ ‘Cincinnati Fatback’ and ‘All Aboard’ were our flag-wavers,” Adler said. “The record’s always been popular – it’s sold about 100,000 plus, more than anything else I’ve ever done.”

Adler went on to spend the better part of the 1970s and 1980s in England and Europe, recording with his own Danny Adler Band and Rocket 88, a blues-revivalist band with Charlie Watts and Ian Stewart of the Rolling Stones. He created a mini-scandal by posing as an old-time blues veteran, Otis Elevator Gilmore. And he also learned to be a fireman on steam locomotives, which opened up a new career for him when he returned to the States for good in 1990.

Adler in 2006 he started making his archival recordings available through iTunes. Besides Last Session, there’s another new recording, Danny Adler 2014, also sold in hard copy at CD Baby and the two local record stores. More are coming. “Once I got rolling, I was inspired to start writing and recording new stuff,” Adler said.