Music of Ohio 

Music of Ohio release party, with Sounder, Lives of the Saints, and Xela. Friday, January 23, at the Grog Shop.

Rich Seng started managing rock bands while he was still in high school. When the Toledo native went off to college at Miami University in the mid-'90s, he tried to book one of his favorite hometown bands, the Spragues, at various clubs in Oxford. Finding no takers, Seng hit upon an idea: He'd make a free local-music compilation CD, distribute it around campus, and use it to help raise the profile of the unknown Spragues and other regional rockers. The disc worked: Soon Seng was booking the Spragues in Oxford and beginning to work on a follow-up album.

"When it came time to do my second compilation, I didn't have any start-up money," he recalls. "But I thought, well, I've proven to the community that I can make one of these compilations, so I went to local businesses and I said, 'Hey, I need your advertising dollars; I'll put your logos and stuff in the CD booklet, then the CDs you'll have to give away for free.' I figured I could sell more in advertising than the total production cost of making the CDs."

And so Seng launched a career, putting out free compilation discs funded by advertising dollars from various clubs and shops. In 1997, he released Music of Ohio Vol. 1, for which a club each from Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland chose three of its favorite local bands. Recently, Seng released Music of Ohio Vol. 2, on which the Grog Shop selected a trio of Cleveland's finest to kick a little mud in Columbus's eye: the DayGlo popsters Kiddo, the surly rockers Sounder, and the unrestrained post-punk bruisers Lives of the Saints. The latter two will perform at the Grog this Friday at a release party for the disc; the first 200 people through the door will get a free copy. Another album is due out later in the year.

"The goal is to build something consistent," Seng says. "It's an exciting, community sort of thing."

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