Ambitious Columbus music fans have often dreamed of organizing a festival to focus attention from within and without on this city's music community - our own little South by Southwest, if you will.

Ambitious Columbus music fans have often dreamed of organizing a festival to focus attention from within and without on this city's music community - our own little South by Southwest, if you will.

For a primer on how to pull it off, look no further than Cincinnati, where Midpoint Music Festival begins its eighth installment tonight.

Sean Rhiney and Bill Donabedian built their fest on sweat then sold it to the alternative weekly CityBeat two years ago, allowing Midpoint to double in size and attract more national and international up-and-comers.

"It's still about emerging talent and trying to discover those unknown gems," spokesman Alex Breyer said, "but we're trying to raise the profile of the festival overall."

This year that means 270 bands from seven countries performing on 23 stages around Cincinnati, including nine Columbus acts. Like South by Southwest, Midpoint's shows are mostly within walking distance of Downtown, but anyone with a $29 festival wristband can hitch a ride with special Scion-sponsored taxis.

Cincinnati's annual film festival, the Lite Brite Film Test, is combining with Midpoint this year as well. It's a marriage of two grassroots festivals done right.

"We're in a generation where if we want good things to happen in our community," Breyer said, "we have to take action ourselves."

COLUMBUS BANDS AT MIDPOINT

The Smith Bros.: 8 p.m. Thursday at the Lodge Bar, 35 E. Seventh St.

Moon High: 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Know Theatre downstairs, 1120 Jackson St.

Karate Coyote: 10:30 p.m. Thursday at Below Zero Lounge, 1122 Walnut St.

Blastronauts: 9 p.m. Friday at the Lodge Bar, 35 E. Seventh St.

Terribly Empty Pockets: 9 p.m. Friday at Know Theatre upstairs, 1120 Jackson St.

Super Desserts: Midnight Friday at the Segway Room, 1150 Vine St.

Flotation Walls: 9 p.m. Saturday at Subway Bar and Lounge, 609 Walnut St.

Paper Airplane: 10 p.m. Saturday at the Lodge Bar, 35 E. Seventh St.

Stucco Jones: 10 p.m. Saturday at Courtyard Cafe on Main, 1121 Main St.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Loyal Divide: 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St.

The former Columbus indie-rock quintet has delved deeper into experimental electronics since relocating to Chicago last year, and the results are stunning.

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: 11:30 p.m. Thursday at Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St.

Chicago's quirky chamber pop quartet caught our attention with this Morrissey-inspired doozy of an opening line: "I hope that you catch syphilis and die alone."

The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker: 11 p.m. Friday at Southgate House, 243 E. Third St., Newport, Kentucky

The Nashville soul combo, who'll also play Skully's in Columbus Saturday, may shake the Southgate House to its centuries-old foundations.

Micachu and the Shapes: 8 p.m. Saturday at Grammer's, 1440 Walnut St.

London's weird, wonderful trio flexes its ingenuity with homemade instruments and mind-bending song structures that test the limits of pop without forgetting the hooks.

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com