Local Musicians, Artists Come Together at First Fridays in Bellevue Hill Park

How recording engineer Nolan Monigold created one of the city’s best live music events.
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Crowds gather at Bellevue Hill Park to watch live music on the first Friday of the month.

Photograph by Brenna Nicole

For the last three years, First Fridays at Bellevue Hill Park in CUF has been a hub for Cincinnati’s creative artists. The monthly event sponsored by Monigold Studios in partnership with the Cincinnati Parks Foundation features local bands, art vendors, and a plethora of dining options to enjoy throughout the night. As you could guess, First Fridays take place on the first Friday of every month from June through October.

The program originated with recording engineer Nolan Monigold, back when he was a student at the University of Cincinnati studying music production at CCM. During that time, Monigold held First Fridays in “Grandpa’s Attic,” an apartment-turned-DIY-music venue and recording studio. As crowds grew month by month, he knew he needed a bigger space.

Bellevue Hill Park has been a significant landmark in the CUF neighborhood since 1955. Designed by architect R. Carl Freund to serve as an outdoor dancing venue—as well as a beautiful overlook of the city—it was the perfect place to relocate First Fridays. After getting help from event facilitator Jack Martin, booking coordinator Frank Cassidy, and Colin Hater of Genesis Events, First Fridays at Bellevue Hill Park has come to life.

By bringing the public’s eye to the facility through music and art, the park is the perfect place to enjoy Cincinnati’s architectural history and talent all at once. Monigold admires how Cincinnati is a city of creativity and community. “Where we are at is something special,” he says.

First Fridays bring together multiple arts and fashion vendors, selling products at stands throughout the park. Attendees can buy anything from jewelry to vintage or handmade clothing to unique accessories, as well as paintings and other forms of visual art. Every month, there are always new, one-of-a-kind finds.

And of course, First Fridays also showcase Cincinnati’s local music scene. Hosting acts from a variety of genres including jazz, rock, folk, and more, First Fridays keep audiences on their toes as the acts rotate each month. Because performing at First Fridays act as a natural transition from playing at DIY house shows, there are also tons of musicians new to the local music scene, ready to be discovered.

Aside from First Fridays, Bellevue Hill Park has tons to offer, including Jazz at the Biergarten every third Thursday. Be sure to try the new Bellevue Hill IPA, crafted by Esoteric Brewing Company in partnership with Monigold Studios.

The next event will be on Friday, July 5 at from 4-10 p.m.

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