This is a look at things coming through town (mostly music, but look for more theater and visual art as fall gets underway) I’m excited about this week. Title is inspired by A making a joke to a great friend of ours: “Rick’s going to start a blog letting you know what’s coming to town called ‘Hey, Fred! Guess what?’” Appearance here does not constitute an endorsement by the real Fred. Big inspirations are Steve Smith’s Agenda posts in Night After Night and amigo Andrew Patton’s weekly column for Mark Subel’s JazzColumbus.
This is not intended to be comprehensive. For that, Joel Treadway’s Cringe does a great job and has for 20+ years. If someone knows an equally good guide to theater and visual art, let me know and I’ll link that too.
I don’t intend for this to cover every local band I like every time they play. If I wrote up every time two of my friends played a show together, the things I want to highlight would get lost and it would be more hassle and stress than it’s worth to me. I want to note something that strikes my interest as special: a record release, a rare reunion, something new I worry will get lost in the shuffle, but obviously that’s going to be capricious and not follow a strict guideline.
Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, presented by Available Light Theatre; Madlab, 227 N. Third St. Between this and Red Herring's Thicker than Water (see below), August is surprisingly stacked with compelling theater options. Available Light doesn't often deal with classical theatre, and Cymbeline is an overstuffed, trying-to-do-everything-at-once play that's never really gotten a fair shake. So this promises to be an interesting take on a rarely performed Shakespeare (possibly the only Shakespeare I've never seen done), directed by longtime collaborator/fight director Brian Evans with a cast of seven headed up by Acacia Duncan. I didn't get to see this opening weekend but I have my ticket for this week and if you love theater, you should too. 8pm Thurs-Sat, through August 9. Tickets available at http://avltheatre.com/shows/cymbeline/
Thicker than Water by John Dranshack, Michael Garrett Herring, and Nick Lingnofski, presented by Red Herring Theater; Riffe Center, Studio Two Theater. Speaking of things you should see if you care about theater, don't miss this. Red Herring was the first theater company I ever subscribed to, right out of high school, and since their resurrection a couple years ago they've been on a hot streak, including last year's mind-blowing take on Assassins. This month they're doing an original work, a two-hander (Herring and Lingnofski) playing a father and a son who served in different wars dealing with how each shapes the other. This is developed using the great Mike Leigh's process, with both performers and the director, John Dranshack, collaborating on the script. 8pm Thurs-Sat, through August 16. $20 tickets available by calling 614-723-9116 or Pay-What-You-Want at the door.
August 5, 2014
The Iguanas; Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza, 5601 N. High St. Alec Wightman’s Zeppelin Productions has often been the principal supplier of a certain stripe of singer-songwriter in town, and over the last 20 years he’s brought artists I can almost guarantee Columbus wouldn’t have seen headlining if we were lucky enough to get them at all – from Guy Clark to Joe Ely to Suzy Bogguss to Matraca Berg to Dan Penn to Tom Russell many times over. We certainly wouldn’t have had this kind of artist as often and in so intimate an environment. With his partnership with Natalie’s, he’s been branching out into some more rock band focused strains of Americana, like Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express (one of my shows of the year last year), Sarah Borges with Girls Guns and Glory, and now legendary New Orleans roots-rock outfit The Iguanas. The Iguanas are often compared to a big easy Los Lobos and that’s pretty spot on; a fusion of Texas Latin rhythms like conjunto and norteño with dashes of mambo filtered through the stop and start swing made famous by Allen Toussaint and Wardell Querzegue’s productions and arrangements, and a heavy overlay of Earl Palmer stomp and LA-based chicano rock. In the 25 years they’ve been doing this there have been some ups and downs and some personnel changes, but they keep making great records – that run on Yep Roc a few years ago might be their finest hour so far – and writing great songs, including a co-write with Dave Alvin, “Plastic Silver Nine Volt Heart,” that might be the finest song anyone’s ever written about the power of the radio in somebody’s life. Starts at , $25 tickets available here.
August 6, 2014
Obnox; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St. Former Columbusite Lamont “Bim” Thomas has never been in a bad band I’ve heard, but over the last handful of years his current Cleveland project, Obnox, has grown into his best band yet and his most defined statement. Garage rock grime, hip-hop bounce, and jaggedly catchy chord progressions that almost remind me of Joy Division, pieced together like a Rauschenberg combine so the juxtapositions and context give each piece heavier weight and give the greater whole more dramatic impact. As good a sweaty rock show as you’re likely to see. Doors at , $5 cover.
Alimañas; Café Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St. Columbus often reaps some of the rewards of festivals in other towns, and my pick for the sleeper show of the week is Houston’s Alimañas stopping at Bobo on their way to NYC’s annual Latino Punk Fest. An anarchopunk throwback with shadings of hardcore, I love the tracks I’ve heard so far. In the tiny confines of Bourbon Street, this should be a barn burner. Locals Day Creeper, who also trade in shadings of classic punk but with a rootsier edge, open. Doors at , $5 cover.
August 7, 2014
Population; Cafe Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St. Chicago's Population on HoZac Records are mining a vein of heavy rhythms and slashing guitars threaded with a smoke-throttled rasp. Very much in the vein of early 4AD, done with intensity and vigor and great songs that will get stuck in your head for days, music about life and about grappling with the world, not just a regurgitation of your record collection. Jeff Kleinman's damaged synthscape project Gamma World and newer local band Melted Men open. Doors at 10:00pm, $5 cover.
August 8, 2014
Night of the Noosenecks with The Gallows, Hot Wet Trash, and The Suicide Ghouls; Bernie's Distillery, 1896 N. High St. I mentioned in the column a couple weeks ago that Joey Moore died too soon and, in one of the greatest Columbus traditions, many of his friends are setting up tribute shows through fall and they're all special. This one is special in part because it's at Bernie's, where both his earlier band, Joey Blackheart and the Gallows, and his most recent band, The Girls!, did many of their first and most unhinged shows. For this night, there's a reunion of his earlier band The Gallows, and Big Nick (from both bands)'s punk cover outfit, Hot Wet Trash, augmented by the horror punk stylings of The Suicide Ghouls. Doors at 9:00pm. Donations at the door, all proceeds go to Joey's parents.
Blizzard Babies with Raw Pony and Pretty Pretty; Café Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St. Ukulele infused surf garage punk band from Chicago, the Blizzard Babies seem born for a Friday night show, and this is a top to bottom you-can’t-go-wrong bill, with two of Columbus’s finest raw rock bands propping up the triangle. Raw Pony had my favorite set of this year’s Comfest, the only band I saw I just couldn’t wait to see again; Pretty Pretty I haven’t seen in a while but from all accounts they’re on a hot streak. Come out and see the two locals warm up for the following week’s mammoth Ace of Cups party, Helter Swelter, and get some furious dancing in before summer slips out of your grasp. Doors at , $5 cover.
August 9, 2014
Festival Latino; Bicentennial Park. One of my favorite local festivals, the food’s second to none and there’s always some music that knocks me for a loop in genres I might know the classics of but don’t do a good job keeping up with. And looking at the schedule (and poking around YouTube), this year is no exception. On Saturday:
- – Herman Olivera. One of the most legendary salsa soneros working today who’s done time in Eddie Palmieri’s band and Manny Quendo’s, Olivera balances Hector Lavoe’s sinewy, shadowy smoothness with the improvisational fire of Andy Bey. Riding a new record that got a rave review from the New York Times this week, this is a show not to be missed.
- – Joe Veras. One of the reigning kings of bachata. I know less about Veras, but the songs I’ve heard knock me out and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is one of those shows that will have the crowd going crazy.
Hot Rod Hula Hop; Sequoia Bowl, 5501 Sandalwood Blvd. The premier tiki-themed event in Columbus every year, thrown by the Fraternal Order of the Maoi, is always a swinging combination car show/vintage sale/rock show hang, and this year has possibly the best lineup they've ever had. Featuring Dayton’s premier surf band The D-Rays at here., Indy’s psychobilly ragers The Cryptokats at , and NYC’s instrumental surf destroyers The Coffin Daggers at , with burlesque troupe The Ooh-La-Las between all bands, this is a marathon not a sprint. But the icing on this cake is maybe the best party band working in rock and roll for the last 20+ years, the Supersuckers, at . The Supersuckers are one of the most consistent live bands I’ve ever seen, never putting on a bad show, always doing their straightforward rock redolent of ZZ Top and Thin Lizzy but played fast and hard enough you remember they used to tour in the same circles as the New Bomb Turks – with occasional forays into country – with endless charm, humor, and the real joy of understanding how lucky you are to do exactly what you love year in and year out. I haven’t seen the new lineup with a replacement for Ron “Rontrose” Heathman yet, but I can’t imagine frontman Eddie Spaghetti and other guitarist Dan “Thunder” Bolton would let anyone in who can’t deliver. Doors at , $35 tickets
Black Mountain Creeper with Sin Nombre and Swarm; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St. One of my favorite local bands during their tenure, Black Mountain Creeper threw southern rock shadings into a swamp of stoner sludge. Fronted by electrifying frontman Fes Minck (Lordburger, Behemoth, Fes and the Black Panthers) with Chris Wood on drums (now known predominantly as the most adventurous metal booker in town), Doug Tinsley on bass, and a couple varying guitarists (I believe the lineup here is the version with David Jones), this reunion should be heavy enough to rattle your fillings with enough sinister groove for a Saturday night. The openers also deserve a little attention – Sin Nombre is my favorite band of Arturo De Leon’s, which given his history is saying something: in the vein of mid ‘80s metal conjuring early Anthrax and Metallica, but also with a heavy debt to the hooks of Judas Priest, killer grooves and great songs. Swarm are a newer band trying to find something new in the gap between Killers-era Iron Maiden and ‘90s rock like Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. It doesn’t all work, but when they hit it’s a sight to see. Doors at , $5 cover.
August 10, 2014
Festival Latino; Bicentennial Park. See .
- , Jose Alberto (“El Canario”) – A salsa superstar with a 30 year track record, it would be a crime to miss something like this at a free show.
- , Los Hermanos Rosario – A 14-piece merengue band founded by the Rosario brothers (hence the name) are a world-renowned touring band for a reason. Phenomenal, swinging, soulful music.
Buckles and Boots Farewell Hootenanny; Lost Weekend Records, 2960 N. High St. One of my favorite record stores - easily my go-to for anything local - hosts periodic all day hootenannies in its cramped confines. They're always a great time and an interesting cross-section of music that sounds good stripped down enough for that little room. This iteration builds to the headliners, Buckles and Boots, a terrific classic country husband and wife duo (also half of my favorite traditional country band in town, The Songbirds), playing a last Columbus show before leaving town, at 8:00pm. Other highlights include an early set by The Reverbalines (the duo of David Banbury and Eva Owen, formerly of terrific band Nom Tchotchkes) at 1:00pm, Total Foxx (David Holm and Melanie Bleavins-Holm of Bigfoot with a rotating cast of other players) at 2:30pm, and Jessica Wabbit from The Girls! at 5:30pm. Starts at 1:00pm, no cover.
New Basics Brass Band; Goodale Park. Joel Treadway (namechecked as a patron saint for this column) helps (with Alexandra Kelley-Fox and a couple other people) arrange the bands for a yearly summer series in Goodale Park's gazebo and it's one of my favorite summertime traditions, even if things like brunch plans and out of town guests and unpredictable weather and hangovers mean I only make it down a couple times in the season. But this week's appearance by Columbus's carriers of the New Orleans tradition, New Basics Brass Band, should be the perfect synthesis of elements - a summer afternoon, a beautiful park and cascading horns. 12:30pm-2:00pm
Daddy (Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack); Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza, 5601 N. High St. On a slightly smaller scale than the earlier-discussed Alec Wightman, Bob Teague has been presenting some terrific singer-songwriters usually of a more blues-based persuasion, including bringing Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack here solo more than once, but the band of them together should be pretty special. Tommy Womack’s one of the most energetic and vitriolic acoustic singer-songwriters I’ve ever seen, and on an uphill swing since his declaration of throwing in the towel, There I Said It, and Kimbrough doesn’t often put out records under his own name but his writing, guitar and harmonies have enlivened everyone from Amy Rigby to Josh Rouse to Hayes Carll to Mindy Smith to a long association with Rodney Crowell. Decades of experience between them and both consummate entertainers - if you’ve got any interest in the genre, you can’t go wrong here. Starts at available here., $10 tickets
The Humminbird with Mike Shiflet, Pete Fosco, and Meltin’ John; Double Happiness, 482 S. Front St. Muyassar Kurdi’s gentle psychedelia with a serrated avant-garde edge blows in from Chicago for a night show that should be an optimal opportunity for clearing your head out for the next week. She plays with a large pool of players in Chicago and this year so far has toured with Matt Schneider on pedal steel and Michael Kendrick on drums; no word on who she’s bringing along on this run. One of the leading lights of Columbus abstract music, Mike Shiflet, opens, along with Cincinnati prepared guitar maestro Pete Fosco and newer Columbus electronics project Meltin’ John. Starts at , $7 cover.