words by MATT STEFFEN | photography by MICHAEL KEARNS & MATT STEFFEN
Before King Records was the full service music mecca of 1940’s Cincinnati, E.T. “Bucky” Herzog was running the lone commercial recording studio in town. Bucky was an engineer at WLW and set up shop at 811 Race Street to lure in the myriad of top country music performers coming through Cincy to perform on the station’s Midwestern Hayride, a popular country music show and precursor to Hee Haw.
When Hank Williams blew through Nashville in 1948 looking for his backing band “The Pleasant Valley Boys”, he found them in Cincinnati. They recorded 8 songs in 2 sessions at Herzog Studios, including “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it”, “Lovesick Blues”, and world renowned “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Other famous songs recorded there include The Delmore Brothers’ “Freight Train Boogie”, R&B pioneer “The Honeydipper” by Bullmoose Jackson, and Flatt & Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”
Now owned by CityBeat, the building has housed the headquarters of Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CUMHF) since 2009. Spearheaded by Elliott Ruther, they have been working to preserve Cincinnati’s musical heritage sites including Herzog and King Records on Brewster Ave and are responsible for the historic designation plaques outside both locations. Partnering with Mike Reeder of Mike’s Music and Elias Leisring of Eli’s BBQ, Herzog Studios is again open for business. The first floor houses Mike’s Music’s newest location, filled with the new and used instruments and a repair shop for your gear in need of a little love. To fulfill the educational outreach at the core of CUMHF, Herzog has partnered with Ludlow’s Folk School Coffee Parlor and several area musicians to form the Queen City Music Academy which will host clinics, discussions, lessons, and open jams. Music fans will also find inspiration in a selection of vinyl, videos, books, and ephemera for sale, as well as limited edition prints from Neltner Small Batch (creator of Herzog’s new branding).
Head over to their site to see all upcoming events or just stop by 811 Race Street and listen to the sounds of Herzog’s history, playing once more.