Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 04/13/15-04/19/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

Music


April 14: Charlie Hunter Trio. Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza, 5610 N High St. Guitarist Charlie Hunter has practically defined a method of playing the 7 and 8-string guitar in a way that eschews wanky virtuosity and trained seal antics. His playing rotates on sensuality. a bone-deep understanding of R&B but with the wild melodic flights of the greatest jazz players. His writing and his choice of repertoire are as good as his playing. As anyone who saw last year's duo show with the great Scott Amendola can attest, he's a motherfucker dueting with just another voice, but I'm going out on a limb to say this show will be even more special. It reunites him with his long time collaborator drummer/composer Bobby Previte (who started working with Hunter in 2003 and are currently the rhythm section in riotous party band Omaha Diner) and brings in a young voice, trombonist Carly Myers. As good as Hunter's work with just drummers is, there's a special other level he reaches with horns, as in his collaborations with trombonist Curtis Fowlkes or the aforementioned Omaha Diner featuring Steven Bernstein on brass and Skerik on reeds. Myers has been making her name on the jam circuit with Mike Dillon, Yojimbo, and guest spots with Umphrey's McGee, and I can't wait to hear her. Bobby Previte I most recently saw at Bowery Electric in a trio with Mike Gamble on guitar and Austrian bari sax player Fabian Rucker and it damn near singed my eyebrows off. Even as someone who's been a fan of Previte since his records with Wayne Horvitz and John Zorn I got turned onto in high school (not to mention his appearance on Rain Dogs, another strong contender for best record of the 1980's - see below), the power and control rippled through that bar. Previte's writing is also hitting new heights; his suite Terminals that came out last year, featuring So Percussion, Nels Cline, John Medeski, Zeena Parkins, and Greg Osby, I regret only that I didn't hear it soon enough to make my Best Of list - music I'm still unpacking. Starts at 8:00pm. $20 Tickets at Vendini.






April 16: Vijay Iyer Trio. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Vijay Iyer might be my favorite jazz pianist working today. He synthesizes everything that moves or excites him in a way that sounds like nobody else. He breathes through his piano with a touch that's lyrical and hard in exactly the right ways and his compositions leave me breathless. This return trip to the Wex finds him bringing his standard jazz piano trio with one of the finest rhythm sections playing today, Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums, promoting one of the best jazz piano trio records I've heard in years, Break Stuff. This is a clinic in masters of the form doing what they can do with voices uniquely theirs. Starts at 8:00pm. $22 tickets available at http://wexarts.org/performing-arts/vijay-iyer-trio





Visual Art

April 19: Exhibit Opening and Reception: Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women. Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library, 1813 N High. The expansion and renovation of the Billy Ireland has been one of the great success stories of the last few years and this new exhibition has me maybe more excited than I've been for anything there yet, and I've not yet been less than stunned. Curator Sarah Lightman's touring exhibit takes a look at the influence of Jewish women on the cartooning medium, particularly in the creation and flourishing of autobiographical comics through the work of 18 creators from the US and Canada. For the opening, not only is Lightman here to give guided tours, she's assembled some of the best speakers and cartoonists in comics - Sarah Glidden, Miriam Katin, and Trina Robbins (also an acclaimed historian). Seeing Trina Robbins speak at a Festival of Cartoon Art when I was in High School is a seminal moment for me so you can rest assured I won't miss this. Starts at 1:30pm. Free and open to the public.

Film


April 15: Reelin' and Rockin' Presents Revenge of the Mekons. Gateway Film Center, 1550 N High St. There aren't many bands that have been more important to me personally or to whole swaths of the music I love and the music I met many of my friends through than the UK's Mekons. From their first record - 1977's still-funny piss take of The Clash, "Never Been in a Riot" - through helping to solidify the nowhere-near-named-yet alt.country movement with 1985's Fear and Whiskey and on to more recent work like 2002's masterpiece Oooh! (Out of Our Heads), they never once faltered in their commitment to pure, uncompromising rock and roll that spoke to their loves and interests and raged against their devils. Rock 'n Roll is damn near the finest record of the 1980s and gave the world one of its handful of contenders for the perfect rock and roll song, "Memphis, Egypt" which shoves and revels in and fucks with rock's erotics and mythopoetics and even the concept of a creation myth entirely - I still get chills when I hear those slashing chords and that line, "Destroy your safe and happy lives / Before it is too late / The battles we fought were long and hard / Just not to be consumed by rock and roll". This is not to even get into the stunning work Jon Langford's done solo and with The Sadies, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, The Waco Brothers, and Skull Orchid; Sally Timms' fragile, heartbreaking solo work; Tom Greenhaigh's multi-media projects and excavations; Steve Goulding's work with Graham Parker and Elvis Costello; and Susie Honeyman's film scores and work with Rip Rig + Panic; all just to cherry-pick examples. Let whatever attention is left in this deficient age be paid to the Mekons. Happy hour (with drink specials) begins at 7:00pm. Film begins at 8:00pm. 










March 18: The Measure of All Things. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Sam Green does terrific documentaries with a live component. Columbus is lucky enough to benefit from his relationship with the Wexner Center that brings his new work to town, most recently his Love Song to R. Buckminster Fuller with Yo La Tengo about three years ago. His new work, The Measure of All Things, is a look at obsessions with records, particularly the Guinness Book of World Records, a way to define and hem in the world. He presents it with live narration and music by The Quavers (Todd Griffin, Catherine McCray, and Brendan Canty). These presentations are always uplifting. Starts at 7:00pm. $12 Tickets available at http://wexarts.org/film-video/sam-green-measure-all-things






Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 04/06/15-04/12/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.


These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

Literary


April 10/April 11: Writer's Block Poetry All Nighter. Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N High St. It's National Poetry Month so I'm going to try hard to find at least one thing a week to point you toward. This event grew out of Scott Woods' legendary 24 hour poetry readings, retired after a staggering 5 year run and turned into a fundraiser for his long-running and influential Writer's Block night and a showcase for the city's robust and diverse poetry scene as a whole. The schedule's still getting filled out but of what's announced there are a handful of sets I recommend without any reservation: both of Woods' own sets 2-2:30am and 10-10:30am, Louise Robertson's closing set 1:30-2:00pm, Ed Plunkett at 8:30pm, Charlene Fix at 8:45pm, and the half hour of erotic poetry at midnight. Starts at 8:00pm April 10 and goes through 2pm April 11. Free show.





Visual Art

April 8: Hassan Hajjaj Talk. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Moroccan-born and London-based artist Hajjaj's installation at the Wex currently, My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, is an intoxicating look at artists like Jose James and Marques Tolliver in a rotating video that will suck you in and not let you go for hours. He brings a refreshing, relevant and electrifying voice and aesthetic to the art world that remembers that the word world is equally important in that phrase. With this work closing at the end of the weekend, his talk is a chance to revisit the installation and get to hear about his work from the source. Starts at 4:30pm. Free.


Music

April 6: Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles with the Nth Power. Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W 3rd Ave. Cory Henry, keyboardist from Snarky Puppy, has branched out from the gospel tinged organ trio work of his early solo recordings to paint with a more expansive, roiling funk palette that still makes lots of room for his jazz background. The Nth Power features a lineup with heavier roots in the jam band scene including Nikki Glaspie and Nick Cassarino but they have a defter understanding of dynamics and space than much of that scene. This should be a funky good time par excellence for those brave souls out on a Monday (and still standing after the NCAA championship or MLB opening day). Starts at 8:00pm. $15 tickets available at Ticketweb.






April 8: Jim Lauderdale. Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W 3rd Ave. One of the finest country songwriters to emerge in the '90s, Lauderdale's sticky melodies and razor-sharp observational lyric writing enlivened records by everyone from Jack Ingram to the Derailers, Patty Loveless to the Dixie Chicks, Blake Shelton to Kelly Willis, before we even get into his massive hits for George Strait. In the dark days when the lines seemed drawn with barbed wire between Nashville country and the alt.country movement, Lauderdale not only traversed both sides of the line with more ease than anyone except maybe his friend and collaborator Buddy Miller, but his name in the credits was as close to a sure thing as a fan of pure song was likely to be assured by. He records more under his own name now, ranging from bluegrass to Bakersfield to acoustic singer-songwriter records, which is a very, very good thing - his Whisper on BNA in 1998 is maybe the finest mainstream country record nobody really heard. And he's an astonishing live presence - his Sunday matinee show at Little Brothers about 15 years ago might be the finest single singer-songwriter show I've ever seen. If this isn't magic on that gorgeous-sounding PA at Woodlands, I'll eat my hat. Roots-rocker Erica Blinn opens and word is she's in the early stages of a new record so be hopeful for new songs getting an early test run. Starts at 8:00pm. $20 Tickets available at Ticketweb. 




April 12: Laura Andrea Leguia's Saxofon Criollo. Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N High St. Natalie's has been killing it of late with a couple of my favorite shows so far this year, the debut of James Gaiters' Soul Revival and last Friday's spell-binding Six String Drag performance. Their weekend lineup this week features two shows by Gabriel Alegria's hard driving Afro-Peruvian Sextet but for my money the crown jewel is saxophonist Laura Andrea Leguia's side project playing a brunch show on Sunday - Saxofon Criollo.  Leguia's a deep-thinking composer and reeds player with a rich, spiky tone, and student of coastal Peruvian music and this trio finds her playing with guitarist Yuri Juarez (Susana Baca, Javier Lazo) and percussionist Freddy "Huevito" Lobaton (Guajaja, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra). If this doesn't cure whatever's wrong with you by Sunday morning, there might not be any hope. Starts at noon. Free. 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Hey, Fred" 03/23/15-03/29/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.


These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

Happy birthday to me! As was my tradition for many years, I'm ditching town for my actual birthday for some outside culture - this year Louisville for just a taste of Humana and then Knoxville for Big Ears which I've said before was the most enriching time I've had at a festival musically in many years. So as with a couple weeks ago (for a trip I didn't get to make due to sickness) forgive me if this week's is a little more tossed-off than usual.

Theatre


Don Quixote: a pilgrimage by Jen Schleuter. Presented by Available Light Theatre; Van Fleet Theatre in the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave. A little sorry I won't see this until it's second weekend but don't you make the same mistake! One of Available Light's signature forms is the exploded literary adaptation - great works collaged to include context and changing opinions regarding them. So I'm very excited to see this new installment in that vaunted tradition - a look at one of the greatest novels of the Western canon, Don Quixote, written by brilliant playwright and frequent collaborator Jen Schlueter and directed by Artistic Director Matt Slaybaugh. Opens on March 26. 8pm shows Thursday-Saturday except April 2, 2pm matinee Sunday April 12. For tickets and info visit http://avltheatre.com/shows/don-quixote/

Music


March 25: California Mavericks: Compositions by Cowell, Harrison and Cage. The Garden Theater, 1187 N High St. The Short North Stage's renovation and operation of the Garden Theater has been a boon all around. One of my favorite elements of their programming has been New Music at the Short North Stage which presents well-chosen chamber music programs in informal settings. I'm particularly excited about this newest program which looks at modernist giants who all originally came from California. The program includes Lou Harrison's "Song of the Quetzalcoatl" and "Song for Violin and Percussion Ensemble" performed by the Capital University Percussion Ensemble and featuring Elizabeth Chang, John Cage's "One4" played by Robert Breithaupt, and Henry Cowell's "Set of Five" performed by Elizabeth Chang, Maria Staeblein, and Ryan Kilgore. Starts at 7pm. Free.





March 26: Ritmos Unidos. Lincoln Theatre, 769 E Long St. This Afro-Caribbean jazz juggernaut should sound amazing in the warm acoustics of the Lincoln. Full of West Coast-tied players but formed in the hallowed land of Bloomington, Indiana, where percussionist Michael Spiro teaches at IU, they delve into and breathe through a panoply of Latin styles and music from the African diaspora. Starts at 8pm. $20 tickets available at Ticketmaster.





March 28: Day Creeper LP Release. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Day Creeper's been one of my favorite bands since they formed in Columbus a few years ago, playing a writhing, electric fusion of hard mod-rock propelled by The Jam and classic Columbus for lack of a better word heartland rock. Aaron Troyer's songs are catchy and interesting, Laura Bernazzoli is one of my favorite bass players in town, eschewing the obvious Motown riffs and injecting strange angles without sacrificing the groove, and augmented by the current line up of Elijah Vasquez on drums and former drummer Dan Ross on second guitar is the most powerful, exciting lineup they've had. Churning drone-rockers Sex Tide open along with noise-pop band Brat Curse and Red Feathers. Starts at 10pm. $5 cover.







March 29: Steve Gunn and Ryley Walker. Spacebar, 2590 N High St. Two of the acts I'm most looking forward to seeing at Big Ears are winding their way through my hometown on Sunday. Steve Gunn's buzz has hit almost deafening levels with his breakthrough last year, Way Out Weather, and his brand new collaborative record with avant-bluegrass band The Black Twig Pickers. Ryley Walker, touring with him, finds the sweet center of a venn diagram between Van Morrison, Bert Jansch, and Nick Drake. This complex, emotional music should brace you for the week upcoming at the best sounding new rock club in town. Banjo player Nathan Bowles - of the aforementioned Pickers - opens. Starts at 9pm. Googling did not return a cover.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 03/16/14-03/22/14 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.


These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

Music

March 16: Perfume Genius with Jenny Hval. Wexner Center, 1871 N High St. Perfume Genius has made some fascinating records and is a great live show but I'm here to lobby you to show up early enough for Norway's Jenny Hval. I got turned onto her with an article in The Wire in 2011, and bought her record Viscera and was blown away by it almost immediately - it's rare to see a first album (I never heard her early work with rockettothesky) come out with that particular kind of bang, so fully formed, such an internal, personal work with such fangs bared for the world. When I got to see her the next year at Issue Project Room as part of New York's offshoot of the Unsound Festival, the perception and awe were only amplified. Her second record Innocence is Kinky added thicker grooves and backbeats and sharpened that idiosyncratic voice without sacrificing one iota of the weirdness and charm and her performance supporting it at last year's Big Ears Festival was the most intensely pure rock - but without the baggage that term sometimes countenances - I saw at that entire festival. It's a delight seeing her on bigger tours opening for acts like St. Vincent and now that she's signed to acclaimed US label Sacred Bones, who have put out some of my favorite music for the last few years, I can't wait to see what comes next. Starts at 8:00pm. $15 Tickets available at https://wexarts.org/tickets/1379



March 16: Torche. Skully's, 1151 N High St. Steve Brooks' stoner-metal juggernaut Torche has expanded its range and its melodic reach over the last few years and while I haven't dug into their new one, Restarter, yet - all accounts say it's a worthy followup to their masterpiece Harmonicraft. Especially since drafting second guitarist Andrew Elstner from St Louis's Riddle of Steel and Tilts, Torche has had an interest in big, sweeping, exciting melody without sacrificing the crunching, grinding riffs they came from. In a room with one of the best sound systems in town - when handled well - this should be a third-eye opener. Nothing and Wrong open. Starts at 8:00pm. $15 tickets available at Ticketweb.





March 18: YOB. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. YOB is one of those bands that will knock the wind right out of your lungs. A mix of bone-rattling doom metal with a heavy overlay of transcendent psychedelia - long songs played like their lives depend on them. Their last show at Ace of Cups is one of the best shows I've ever seen there so their return to the venue is much-anticipated. Ecstatic Vision and Lazer/Wulf open. Starts at 8:00pm. $15 Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.





March 19: Shannon McNally. Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza, 5601 N High. McNally is one of the finest exponents of the soulful strain of Americana. She first hit my radar touring with Ryan Adams, Son Volt, and Victoria Williams and popped back up on it with recent stints with Rodney Crowell, writing and recording with Dave Alvin, and a fantastic EP with Amy Lavere. Great narrative-based songs, terrific playing, and a voice that will stick under your skin for days. Starts at 9:00pm. $12 Tickets Available at Vendini.




March 21: Talisha Holmes Ensemble. Dick's Den, 2417 N High St. Talisha Holmes is one of my favorite singers in town. Full disclosure: I've known her since we went to High School together. It always did my heart good when news of what she was doing filtered down to me, teaching at Capital, adding perfect vocals to hard-driving party bands like Capital Sound or MojoFlo, her stunning work with J. Rawls' Liquid Crystal Project. But even as a fan, when I saw her solo work with the Ensemble at Brothers Drake about two years ago it blew my hair back. She's assembled a catalogue of songs that fuse the sensuous tension of '70s Roberta Flack and the Whitfield-produced Temptations with the irrepressible joyousness of classic Stevie Wonder, but using textures that work at a pleasantly orthogonal angle to those classic touchstones and creating utterly personal, utterly modern work. No part of this is a self-consciously retro thing. Also, she works with the finest musicians in town - sometimes including Brandon "Bjazz" Scott, Adam Smith, Ron Hope, and Kyra Curenton - and has a great ear for the perfect cover - I've heard her get me grooving to covers of songs I didn't even like the original of (which will remain nameless). Seeing her in a room like this for three sets is a treat. Also, as my birthday is in the middle of the following week - if anyone were inclined to buy me a birthday drink, this is where I can guarantee you I'll be after dinner with my better half. Starts at 10:00. $4 cover.









Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 03/09/15-03/15/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.


These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

This is a week I'm going to be out of town so it's been assembled further in advance and I wasn't looking as closely for what's going on as I might be. Mea culpa. But these are all events I think deserve your attention and things I will either be at, or would be at were I in town.

Literary

Paging Columbus: Spring Training. OSU Urban Arts Center, 50 W Town St. Hannah Stephenson's Paging Columbus is one of the most interesting interdisciplinary readings in town, drawing from poetry, creative nonfiction, literary fiction and genre fiction, based around rotating themes to show new connections and see what sparks fly. This month's is based around spring training - athletes, druids, conjurers, lovers, artists, it speaks to a deep need for warmth and green right now. It features Mike Wright, Julia Grawemeyer, Allie Wollner and one of my favorite poets in town, Izetta Thomas. Starts at 6:00pm. Free.



Music

March 11: Dave and Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones. Valley Dale Ballroom, 1590 Sunbury Rd. I've waxed rhapsodic about Alec Wightman's work with Zeppelin Productions in the past. He's done more to bring a certain stripe of Americana singer-songwriter to town than almost anyone else I can think of, including legends like Dan Penn and Guy Clark we probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This is the 20th anniversary of his booking shows and, I'm pretty sure, the 15th anniversary of my going to one of his shows - the very same Dave Alvin gracing our fine stages this Wednesday. I've seen the Alvin brothers again and again - Dave probably a dozen times over those years, and Phil's still-ongoing Blasters four or five. Neither has ever disappointed me. But I've only seen them together once, at Bogarts on 2002's Original Five Blasters reunion. They reunited last year for a terrific EP of Big Bill Broonzy classics and friends who saw the first leg of that tour said it was fire - wall to wall Blasters hits, classic R&B drawing from the Broonzy catalogue and others, and Dave's own solo material, backed by Dave's well-oiled touring band. If you have any interest in the jukejoint blood of America's veins, do not miss this. Starts at 8:00pm. For tickets and more info please write to wightman51@aol.com.



March 11: Wolf Eyes. Double Happiness, 427 S Front St. I feel like I also saw Wolf Eyes here in town around 2000, maybe that same summer/fall I saw Dave Alvin at the Columbus Music Hall, and it similarly made me want to make something or set something I'd already written on fire and try to divine the future out of the ash. Through line up changes, what feels like a million splinter groups and affiliates, and countless releases, they've stayed true to their beautifully damaged aesthetic and the scalding, purifying joyousness of controlled noise but also pursued whatever interests struck them at any given moment. This should be bummer magic in the confines of Double Happiness. Doors at 8:00pm. $10 tickets available at Ticketfly.





March 12-15: Columbus Jazz Orchestra featuring John Clayton, Gerald Clayton, and the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. Southern Theatre, 21 E Main St. If you have even the slightest affinity for big band jazz, this is going to be special. John Clayton is a legendary bassist, composer, arranger and bandleader with a resume that includes Dr. John, Quincy Jones, Regina Carter and Henry Mancini and a long association with CJO's fearless leader Byron Stripling. His son, Gerald Clayton, is one of the finest up and coming pianists working today, a colorist with a fearless and faultless sense for rhythmic invention. And this is the one show of the year where CJO brings their protege group, the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and lets them shine side by side with the experienced players. As entertaining a night of music as you're likely to see anywhere - it being in Columbus's most beautiful sounding theater is icing. 7:30pm Thursday, 8:00pm Friday-Saturday, 3:00pm Sunday. For tickets and more information visit http://www.jazzartsgroup.org/columbus-youth-jazz/john-clayton-conducts-cjo-cyjo-in-side-by-side-featuring-gerald-clayton-mar-12-15/




March 14: Todd Snider. Park Street Saloon, 525 Park St. If you ever need a refresher in how much of the world you can fit in a three minute sing-along song, you don't need to look much further than Todd Snider. After shaking off the expectations of being the next Tom Petty, Snider dug in, dug deeper and made one funny, sad, true, gorgeous record after another. This tour celebrates the 20th anniversary of his major label debut (and source of his one minor hit) Songs From the Daily Planet and the 10th anniversary of my favorite of his records, East Nashville Skyline, and set lists look like he's doing just about everything a fan would want to hear. Opener Kevin Gordon, who I saw at a Twangfest a number of years ago and he stunned even a crowd that lively - or maybe what I want to say is he cut through all the whiskey of the evening - is the perfect guy to go toe to toe with a crowd pleaser like Snider. Doors at 8:00pm. $18 tickets available at Ticketweb.


Monday, March 2, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 03/02/15-03/08/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five


This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.


These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

Visual Art


Luminous Landscapes: New Work By Kellie McDermott and Carol Snyder. McConnell Arts Center, 777 Evening St. Any time Kellie McDermott has a new slate of work to exhibit it's a cause for celebration. Her encaustic paintings use those layers of wax to create both a sculptural, sensuous feeling on the canvas but also a dreamlike, unsettling distance. There's an emotional heat that comes out of her barren but vibrating landscapes that intermingles with an unstuck-in-time quality you have to see in person. Carol Snyder's work I don't know very well, but the images I've seen of her landscape-inspired pottery seem like they'll be fascinating in juxtaposition with the other work and I can't wait to see them in the flesh. Opening March 6th, 6:00pm-8:00pm. Exhibition Runs March 6th-April 26th.


Theatre

Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress. OSU Theatre Department, Roy Bowen Theatre in the Drake Performance and Event Center, 1849 Cannon Drive. Childress' 1955 play isn't performed often but it's a razor-sharp satire of where each of draws the line for our own principles, how ingrained prejudice hurts and diminishes everyone, and how easily the veneer of "well-meaning" can be ripped away. I comment OSU Theatre for tackling this almost-lost classic and I can't wait to see it. 7:30 Weeknights except Monday, 3:00pm matinées Saturday and Sunday March 4th-March 12th. For tickets and more info visit http://theatre.osu.edu/boxoffice




On the Edge: Short Plays by Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Short North Stage, 1186 N High St. For other theatre nerds, this is a stone delight. Four rarely staged short plays by Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter staged in the green room of Short North Stage's Garden Theater. The Pinter plays are "Victoria Station", in which a cab driver and his controller argue over a pickup to the titular station, drenched in black humor and, like all Pinter, about far more than it seems on the surface; and "The Collection" about the shifting tectonic plates of an infidelity which has sometimes been seen as a trial run for his more acclaimed Betrayal; and "Night", a sketch about how people fall in love and how it's remembered. The Beckett is "Rockaby", which is a one woman play that serves as a fascinating repetition-driven look at aging. 8:00pm Thursday-Saturday, 2:00pm Sunday, March 5th-March 15th. For tickets and more info visit http://www.shortnorthstage.org/calendar/v/406


Music


March 2: Shilpa Ray. Rumba Cafe, 2507 Summit St. I've been a big fan of Shilpa Ray since she was in Beat the Devil and loved both her records as Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers. But I saw her with her new backing band at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn last fall and can attest she's found a new level of purity and focus without sacrificing any of the rage or any of the delicious weirdness. At times it harkened back to a knives-sharpened Patsy Cline not unlike Neko Case, at times it conjured mutant disco, and at times it just flat-out rocked. Locals Dana, who I've heard fantastic buzz regarding, open. Doors at 8:00pm. $10 tickets available at Ticketweb.



March 8: Kevin Morby and Ryley Walker. Double Happiness, 482 S Front St. Morby and Walker are two singer-songwriters at the forefront of the latest wave bubbling over the edges of the new weird America. Kevin Morby has a smoother voice and accessible melodies but he never lets go of the mysteries in the song, he's not interested in a perfectly workshopped piece. Ryley Walker mines Bert Jansch-y territory not unlike early Six Organs of Admittance but with classical and jazz inflections that can shift right out of your grip, recalling James Blackshaw one second and his peer William Tyler the next, with riveting arrangements and a subsumed but never gone love of drone. A show on an early Sunday night that's your chance to get clean and reset for the next week. Starts at 8:00pm. $8 tickets available at Ticketfly.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 02/23/15-03/01/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.

These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

First, R.I.P. to Brett Helling, guitarist, bassist, songwriter, singer, and great, great friend to many people I care very deeply about. I never knew Brett well but was always happy to see him when I did and I know his death is a great loss for many corners of the music scene in this town.

Literary


February 24: Scott Woods feature at Writing Wrongs Poetry. Ruby Tuesday, 1978 Summit St. One of the finest Columbus poets, Woods has brought the house down on stages from Vancouver to Boston, from the Bowery Poetry Club to the Green Mill to National Public Radio. One of the finest poets I've heard who's been astonishing me for at least 15 years and is a key catalyst to the Columbus performance poetry scene being as strong a contender and as nationally recognized as it is. He doesn't do many local features and I couldn't recommend this one, at Will Evans' Writing Wrongs night, any higher. Get there early enough for the open mic, when I hit Writing Wrongs a month or so ago I was impressed at the breadth of young talent that show has attracted lately. Starts at 8:00pm. $5 cover. 



February 27: Ohio Underground. Creating a Folklore of the Present and Future: Peter Laughner, The Black Orchid Society, and the Northeastern Ohio Music Scene, 1969-1977; Barnett Center, 131 Sullivant Hall, Ohio State University. And Performance Talk by David Thomas, Hagerty Hall 180, Ohio State University. If you have any interest in Ohio music history, you shouldn't miss either of these events. The morning panel discussion features Frank Mauceri, Nick Blakey and Andrew Russ of the Peter Laughner archives at Smog Veil records who have done great work keeping that flame alive. Peter Laughner might be best known to people my generation and younger by the Lester Bangs obituary anthologized countless times. He was a key component of influential bands like Rocket from the Tombs and early Pere Ubu and a vital link bringing New York proto-punk bands like Television and the Patti Smith Group to Cleveland and introducing the Dead Boys to the NYC scene. He died too young and left a small, but very, very choice body of work. David Thomas continued that work and took it in every more fascinating directions ever since with his work in Pere Ubu, solo records (the version of David Thomas and Two Pale Boys featuring Richard Thompson is a personal favorite), and a revived Rocket from the Tombs, as well as his avant-garde theatre and prose work. I can't wait to see what his "performance talk" looks and sounds like. Video below this is a song written by Laughner and performed by Rocket from the Tombs in an essential document, breaking a longstanding rule of mine of not posting videos that are a still photograph with music behind it, but sometimes there isn't a choice. This should have been Ohio's official rock song, and I feel like it is for those of us who give a damn. Panel discussion is 9:00am-10:30am, performance talk is 5:00pm-6:30pm. Both events are free.



Music


February 23: Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake. Double Happiness, 482 S Front St. John Reis is one of the most riveting frontmen I've ever had the pleasure to see grace a stage and every band of his - Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, The Night Marchers, Drives Like Jehu - is worth checking out. This new project, a collaboration with Minneapolis grime-laden rockers The Blind Shake, is a set of scorching original instrumentals in the vein of Ventures classics. In this tiny room on the edge of downtown, expect a sweaty, grooving party that grabs you by the throat and won't let go. One of my favorite local bands, weirdo-punks Hookers Made Out of Cocaine open along with Athens' much-buzzed-about surf band The D-Rays. Be ready to be sore at work on Tuesday. Doors at 8:00pm. $11 Tickets available at Ticketfly.

February 27-28: Erik Friedlander and Mitch Epstein, American Power. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Erik Friedlander is one of my favorite cellists who I've seen more than a dozen times  and probably have 20 records featuring - in a variety of modes, including John Zorn's compositions in the Masada String Trio, recreations of jukejoint blues in Nighthawks, riffs on Oscar Pettiford's music in his Broken Arm Trio, free improvisation, and string arrangements for bands like Mountain Goats. Friedlander particularly excels in works inspired by and riffing off other media, including his solo cello record Maldoror based on the poems of the Comte de Lautreamont, his work based on his father Lee Friedlander's photographs Block Ice and Propane and this new project built around Mitch Epstein's book American Power. Friedlander's never played a note that wasn't worth hearing. Starts at 8:00pm. $18 tickets are available at http://wexarts.org/performing-arts/erik-friedlander-and-mitch-epstein-american-power


February 28: Miss Tess and the Talkbacks. Brothers Drake, 26 E 5th Ave. NYC's evergreen roots scene is in a particularly good upswing right now and high upon that wave is Miss Tess and the Talkbacks, a four-piece band led by a voice that's mastered every emotion she wants to deploy. They synthesize classic rockabilly, small-group Western Swing, and grooving early R&B with aplomb. Stellar original songs and a razor-sharp taste in covers and arrangements. This should bring some warmth to even the coldest heart on even the coldest Saturday night. Local fellow retro-revisionists The Dewdroppers round out this raucous party of a bill. Starts at 10:00pm. $7 cover.