These Trading Cards Celebrate Cincinnati’s Musical Heritage

Lonnie Mack, Mr. Spoons, Syd Nathan, and more lend their faces to this collaboration between Shake It Records and ArtWorks.

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

Many of Cincinnati’s most influential musicians owe their careers to chance encounters. So it’s fitting that serendipity also played a role in the creation of Shake It Records’ inaugural deck of Cincinnati Musical Legends (produced in conjunction with ArtWorks), a set of 36 cards featuring illustrated portraits and bios celebrating those very same people.

For more than a decade, Darren Blase, co-owner of Shake It Records, looked at comic book artist Robert Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country trading cards and thought Cincinnati musicians deserved their share of the limelight. When Blase began working with comic artist Justin Green, they realized they shared a common interest in R. Crumb’s work, and eventually took the Musical Legends project from idea to reality.

Look out for the cards and some of their source materials—old photographs, postcards, and song books—on view at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s downtown branch now through the end of the year. Buy the cards at Shake It, where you can also find albums from the artists who shaped the Queen City.

Lonnie Mack

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

Mack’s style defined the “Cincinnati Sound,” blending country, blues, rock and roll and soul.

Libby Holman

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

The sultry songstress and Cincinnati native quickly became New York City’s “it” girl in the 1920s.

Mr. Spoons

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

Joe Jones made his living playing spoons—up to 20 at a time.

The Charmaines

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

These ladies first performed together during Taft High School’s talent show.

The Cotton Club

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

The epicenter of jazz, and the only fully integrated nightclub in Cincinnati from the 1930s to 1951.

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