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Cincinnati expatriate musicians Erika Wennerstrom and Jesse Ebaugh return this week

Posted at 7:09 PM, Jun 12, 2019

In 2008, then-Cincinnati-based band Heartless Bastards underwent a transformation that would involve a line-up change and a move to Austin, Texas. Three well-received albums and 11 years later, the HBs have taken a hiatus, but two of the band's members return to Cincinnati this week to stretch their legs with their new separate endeavors.

Erika Wennerstrom, the lead of Heartless Bastards, released her debut solo album, “Sweet Unknown,” in March of 2018 on Partisan Records.

Wennerstrom’s solo songs are built on the same blues and folk foundations as her songs with the Bastards, but her flirtations with both psychedelic sounds and pop sensibilities are both ambitious and clear on “Sweet Unknown.” Although the break with the band was mutual, Wennerstrom seems to be basking in newfound freedom, singing “I walk around this crowded town / I had to re-find my way / You know I couldn't remain the same / What it is, what it is, what it is / Don't fight the change within” on her song “Good to Be Alone.”

Wennerstrom stopped by WCPO Lounge Acts in 2016 for a solo/acoustic preview of songs that would eventually land on “Sweet Unknown.” On the songs’ apparent self-care theme, Wennerstrom told host Gil Kaufman, "It's about growth… yeah, self love… I just have to remember to be good to myself.”

On Friday, Wennerstrom will return to WCPO Lounge Acts for a full band performance, allowing her to display how these songs have evolved.

Wennerstrom and company take the stage on Saturday night for a free performance on Fountain Square.


  • Erika Wennerstrom, Carriers, and The Cordial Sins
  • Saturday, June 15, 7 p.m.
  • Fountain Square (520 Vine Street, downtown Cincinnati)
  • Free!

Not to be outdone, bassist Jesse Ebaugh has his own project.

Inspired by country and bluegrass, Ebaugh uses The Tender Things as an escape from the Bastards’ blues sound. The group is fronted by Ebaugh, who trades his bass for a guitar and lead vocal duties. The rest of the lineup has rotated over time, but ever-present is the pedal steel, which is critical to the Tender Things classic sound.

Ebaugh is also the group’s primary songwriter. Although Ebaugh’s sound with The Tender Things is a departure from Wennerstrom’s, some similar sentiments remain. In “Ragged From the Road,” Ebaugh sings, “I’ll walk on through the night / Searching out for the light / In the window / So that I’ll know my way home;” a line which seems to echo Wennerstrom’s desire to find herself in her music.

The Tender Things will stop by WCPO Lounge Acts Thursday afternoon before hitting the stage at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine Thursday night.


  • The Tender Things with Garrett T. Capps
  • Thursday, June 13, 10 p.m.
  • MOTR Pub (1345 Main St, Over-the-Rhine)
  • Free!