For the past eight years, Jake Speed has hitchhiked down Cincinnati's American folk, bluegrass, and ragtime music highway with his award-winning band, The Freddies. Jake Speed & the Freddies are a four-piece band made out of guitar, mandolin, tenor guitar, and upright bass (plus harmonica, kazoo, washboard, and watering can). Their traditional and original songs leap right out of Depression-era freight trains and right into Ohio River steamboats. Their near-vaudeville style stage shows and quick-witted charisma rope in loyal fans of new and old generations alike.
The Freddies' traditionalist approach to the old timey music style has won them the respect of fellow musicians, music lovers, and even hard-nosed critics. CityBeat writer Ezra Waller says, "Jake Speed is a fixture of Cincinnati's traditional Folk scene." Cincinnati Post's Rick Bird says, " Jake Speed...has quickly become the Queen City's favorite troubadour." If you're still not convinced, just ask the readers of CityBeat Magazine who voted them Best Local Musicians in 2004, or the listeners of WNKU FM 89.7 who voted The Freddies' third album, Huzzah!, #77 of their Top 89 Albums of 2004. The band is a four-time winner of the Cincinnati Entertainment Award (2001-2004) for Best Folk Musicians. Jake Speed is a two-time winner of the CEA for Best Singer/Songwriter (2002, 2006). Their winning of the 2002 CEA for Artist of the Year, and 2003 winning of Best Folk Vocalist and Best Folk Band at the CAMMYs (Cincinnati Area Music Awards) puts them on the definitive road of folk music in Cincinnati.
The Freddies' travels aboard the Cincinnati music scene have landed them many high profile shows, including opening sets for national acts such as Ralph Stanley, Yonder Mountain String Band, Chris Hillman of The Byrds, Over-the-Rhine and Jay Bennett (from the band, Wilco). Their monthly gigs at Arnold's and Northside Tavern have laid the tracks for a solid following of fans.
The musical conductors aboard the Freddies include Jake Speed, Kentucky Graham, Justin Todhunter, and Chris Werner. Jake sings, picks guitar, blows harmonica, buzzes kazoo, and kicks the beat on the washboard. Kentucky Graham plinkety plunks on the old tenor guitar. Justin Todhunter strums and picks on the tiniest of little old mandolins. Chris Werner pounds and thumps on the upright bass. Jake Speed & the Freddies make up boxcars full of original Cincinnati songs while reviving the music of legends like Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Elizabeth Cotten, and Jesse Fuller. The Freddies were born on the streets of Cincinnati where they performed their songs for tips and continue to believe "If you ain't good enough for the street corner, what are you good for?"