Monday, September 22, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 09/22-09/28/14

This week I'm gone from Wednesday night on, returning the next Monday, to Memphis with my better half and a handful of co-conspirators for the always fantastic Gonerfest. So you won't see me at anything recommended here but rest assured this stuff has my highest recommendation - as good a time as I'm going to have at Gonerfest, there's far more stuff I'm sorry to miss back on the homefront this year. As always, check the usual suspects like Cringe and JazzColumbus to supplement this personal, idiosyncratic (some would say myopic) list of suggestions.


Context 27; Holiday Inn Worthington, 7007 N High St. Runs September 26-28. Registration details available at the Context website. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Context I ever went to and it's hands down my favorite science fiction convention/writer's workshop ever. I'm sorry the last few years have coincided with Gonerfest so I've been absent the last few years but it's in great hands and every year I hear great things. A world-renowned hospitality suite with fresh-made food almost worth the price of admission on its own. An always fascinating slate of panels including discussions of breaking into game writing, reading slush, and the expectations of subgenres.Guests of Honor include Jonathan Maberry, known for the Joe Ledger series; acclaimed editor Betsy Mitchell; and legendary game writer Lucien Soulban. The beating heart of this convention is the slate of writers' workshops, of which highlights include:

  • Gary Braunbeck - one of my favorite short fiction writers and one of my favorite people in town - leads sessions on Reading Your Work Aloud, Characterization and Dialogue, Point of View, and Advanced Short Story Writing. He's easily the best writing teacher I've ever had and I've personally taken the first two listed, you can't go wrong here.
  • Lucy Synder - also a phenomenal writer of prose and poetry and a favorite person of mine leads a session on Urban Fantasy and Supernatural Horror, she's one of the hottest writers in this hot genre. with her fourth novel in the Jessie Shimmer series, Devil's Field, due out later this year.
  • Maurice Broaddus, editor of the phenomenal Dark Faith anthologies and a great short fiction writer, talks about Building Your Brand, sure to be fascinating.
  • Things I'm less familiar with but I trust implicitly include great-looking workshops by Diana Botsford, Jennifer Brozek, and Jonathan Maberry
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz Week. If someone hasn't appealed to the powers that be for this week to be named for the three days of appearances by Aptowicz there has been a grave injustice. One of my favorite poets - Everything is Everything and The Year of No Mistakes are both perfect volumes from first line to last - and prose writers - her definitive history of the NYC poetry slam community, Words in Your Face is constantly refreshing and inspiring - is coming to town to promoter her new biography of Dr. Mutter, Dr. Mutter's Marvels. Her appearances are, in chronological order:
  • 09/24/14 - Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N High St. A featured set of her poems at my favorite poetry night in town, Writer's Block, run by Scott Woods and Louise Robertson. If you want to see the highest level of performance poetry these days, both Aptowicz and the regulars at Writer's Block, don't miss this. Starts at 8:00pm. $5 cover.
  • 09/25/14 - Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N High St. Getting Ink: A Workshop. A workshop on finding and placing your writing in appropriate venues led by Aptowicz whose publication list is staggering. Starts at 8:00pm. $10 cover.
  • 09/26/14 - Book Loft, 631 S Third St. A reading and signing for Dr. Mutter's Marvels at one of the few remaining independent sellers of new books in town. This should be great at this Columbus institution.

September 23, 2014

Torche; Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Christopher Wood's Starwoods Presents is one of Columbus's gems bringing countless interesting metal and heavy music acts that might have skipped town or even, sometimes, Ohio otherwise. Torche is one of my favorites, especially their current lineup adopting members from St Louis band Shame Club adding some heavier groove to the nuanced, spiky guitar textures. Their 10th Anniversary tour, promising a retrospective from their entire career, should be a really special show. Broughton's Rules and Maranatha open. Starts at 8:00pm. $12 tickets available here.

September 24, 2014

Landlady; Double Happiness, 482 S Front St. New York's Adam Schatz is an endless font of ideas and inspiration, from his sideman work in Man Man and Zongo Junction to his jazz collective Father Figures to his terrific booking and promotion work with Search and Restore. But Landlady and especially their stunning second record, Upright Behavior, released this summer. It's one of the best extrapolations on the Talking Heads nervous art rock shot through with electric grooves template in many years and with songs like "Girl" that will stick in your head for hours. Expect this to destroy live. Fellow Brooklyn band Wild Leaves and Columbus singer-songwriter Terrence Russell Adams fill out this exceptionally strong for a weeknight bill. Starts at 8:00pm. $8 tickets available at Ticketfly.

Life Stinks; The Summit, 2210 Summit St. One of the bands I'm most looking forward to at Gonerfest this year and as A says, "If you're so inclined, you could do a Columbus Gonerfest and hit a good portion of bands we're seeing down there for about the same amount of money".Chad Kawamura from San Francisco's grinding punk band The Outdoorsmen's new band sounds a little like Crime, a little like The Stooges, but always finds some new shimmer in those well-worn sigils. Stacked bill of openers including Calgary's Hagface, similarly metallic and expansive locals Bloody Show, local punk duo Katherine, and local teen punk band Grrl Cheese. Starts at 8:00pm. $5 cover.

September 26, 2014

Ex-Cult; Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. While not playing it this year - they're doing Cincinnati's Midpoint Music Fest instead - Memphis's Ex-Cult is one of my favorite bands to discover at past Gonerfests, and they've grown over the years (since their debut under the name Sex Cult) and honed their raw attack until pound for pound, night after night, they're one of the finest live rock bands you'll see. Touring their second record, Midnight Passenger, where the brooding travelogues are as interesting as the bashers, they're supported by some of this town's finest - The Ipps, Bloody Show, and Vegetative State. Starts at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

Mark Turner Quartet; Wexner Center, 1871 N High St. Mark Turner has the kind of saxophone tone that will stop you in your tracks if you have even half a pulse and his reemergence as a leader with his first record under his own name in 10 years or so, Lathe of Heaven, is brilliant. Turner leading a smoking quartet with trumpet player Avishai Cohen, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson in Columbus's best-sounding room for jazz will be really special. If you want to know how good a straight-forward jazz quartet can sound, in all senses, don't miss this. Starts at 8:00pm. $16 tickets here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 09/15/14-09/21/14

This title disclaimer will run until I’m sick of it.

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.


Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht; Columbus Civic Theater, 3837 Indianola Ave.  Mother Courage is still my favorite Brecht. It wasn’t the first play of his I read, but it was the first one that made my nerves feel like they haloed three feet around my body – that same juice I got the first time I heard John Coltrane, heard Amiri Baraka read, or saw an El Greco. Columbus Civic Theater is an institution I wholeheartedly support, but sometimes their repertory work doesn’t line up with my tastes – that’s good, that’s a sign of a healthy theater scene  – and the times it has (Albee and Beckett come to mind) the timing didn’t work out. But no way I’m missing this. It's a great cast, including Vicky Welsh-Bragg, in the title role, who’s been in countless productions, including CCT’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf; Tahrea Maynard-Johnson, who broke my heart in Shots in the Dark’s Next to Normal; Christina Yoho; and Justin Eberhard.  8pm Thursday-Saturday2pm Sunday, through September 28. $20 tickets available here.

Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon; Gallery Players, Jewish Community Center, 1125 College Ave.  This didn’t hit my radar until this week, mea culpa. Entering their 66th season, Gallery Players are a gold standard in this town for plays with traditional story structures mounted and staged impeccably. It’s meat and potatoes theater but bringing in work no one else doing, like last season’s Other Desert Cities. And the 2013 Off Broadway hit, Bad Jews, should be a home run for them: a dark comedy four-hander about the way grief brings out the worst in people.  7:30pm Thursday8pm Saturday2:30pm Sunday, through September 21. $20 tickets available here.

Visual Art

Transfigurations: Modern Masters from the Wexner Family Collection; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St.  This is the 800lb gorilla of the local art world for the fall and I’d wager you’ve heard a lot about it already. Picasso is kind of a blind spot of mine – the stuff of his I love I love, but I feel inundated with it and too inured to his innovations as filtered through other people, what A. calls “the Bob Seger effect” (Bob Seger as symbol, in this case, transcends all time periods). But even admitting that preconceived notion, I’m pretty amped to see this astonishing collection – especially the Giacomettis and Dubuffets, which I’ve not seen in person in any great quantity – in the flesh, and this is a great grounding in the Wexner Center’s roots to kick off its 25th season. With timed ticketing throughout the run, you’ll kick yourself if you miss this.  Members Preview on September 20, with exclusive events for certain donor levels September 18 and 19. Open September 21-December 31. $8 admission, free for members; reserve tickets here:

Second Skin by Theresa Pfarr; Angela Meleca Gallery, 144 E. State St.  For the last year or so, Angela Meleca’s gallery has been bringing in some of the most interesting work of any gallery in town, stepping up to fill the shoes of the much-missed Rebecca Ibel Gallery since Ibel has moved on to running the Pizzuti Collection. Pfarr’s paintings deal with the distortion of the female form through the eye of the media and I can’t wait to see this show.  Opening September 18, 5:30pm.


September  17, 2014

War on Drugs and Califone; Newport Music Hall, 1722 N. High St.  Philadelphia band War on Drugs have exploded with their new record, Lost in the Dream, a layered, textured record that’s reminiscent of everything that’s good about the snarling, loose rock of Neil Young and Crazy Horse or Tom Petty, but beholden only to its own longing, not to any nostalgia. Califone, opening, have been a favorite of mine for a long time; their wilder, more improvisational surreal rock should be a fascinating counterpoint to the headliner and it will be a treat hearing them through that big PA. I never mean to disparage CD1025, they do a great job for a market I’m not exactly part of (and god knows a radio station couldn’t make money catering to me), and I’m overjoyed there’s finally a Low Dough show I’m excited for. Hooray intersectionality!  Doors at 7:00pm. $5 tickets sold out.

So Cow; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.  A few years ago it seemed like So Cow (the project of Irish singer-songwriter Brian Kelly) played Columbus every few months. It was some great, raw, angular crunchy-pop in the vein of TV Personalities, with a little more coloring from The Kinks splashed over it. It’s been a while since he’s come through town, so this should be special – word is he’s touring with a rhythm section and his new record is one of his best. I’m seeing So Cow at Gonerfest in Memphis the next week so I might miss this, but if you’re not going 9 hours south, don’t make that mistake! The Young, Something Somethings, and Day Creeper round out a stacked night of rock and roll.  Doors at 9:00pm, $5 cover.

September 18, 2014

Lechuguillas; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.  This Austin band carries heavy resonance with the ‘80s Touch and Go and AmRep camps like Butthole Surfers or Jesus Lizard, further borne out by their friendship with Chicago free jazzers Tiger Hatchery, but with a blackened, pummeling attack that definitely puts them in the metal camp. This is a must-see for anyone taking the temperature of the angular side of heavy music today. Locals finding new paths in classic noise rock Messrs and Drose open.  Doors at 9:00pm, $5 cover.

September 19, 2014

J Roddy Walston and The Business; Newport Music Hall, 1722 N. High St.  This Baltimore band is the most poised to break out of the current wave of historically-informed rockers steadfastly avoiding being lumped in with the purist audience and commensurate glass ceiling of rockabilly (JD McPherson, etc). When I heard their song “Don’t Break the Needle,” it was a breath of Jerry Lee Lewis-by-way-of-Cheap Trick fresh air. And while the records are inconsistent, friends I trust tell me it’s a frenetic, wild live show. Nashville’s Pujol, also tweaking retro rhythms but leaning toward the heavier and sludgier, are the touring opener, and local legend Willie Phoenix opens.  Doors at 7:00pm. $15 tickets available at Ticketmaster.

She Keeps Bees and Shilpa Ray; Rumba Café, 2507 Summit St.  I’ve been a big fan of Shilpa Ray since she was in Beat the Devil and her records (billed as Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers) just get better and better, so her opening slot on this tour trying out new solo material is hard to pass up. But maybe even more of an eye-opening evolution is She Keeps Bees, who have drawn other strands of blues and R&B into what started as a more typical PJ Harvey/Yeah Yeah Yeahs homage. Frontwoman Jessica Larrabee’s gritty voice is still front and center, and they’re still beholden to their influences, but they find new ways to honor these influences and something fresh in the recombining. Locals The Worn Flints, really coming into their own lately, open.  Doors at 9:00pm. $10 tickets available at Ticketweb.

September 20, 2014

Independents’ Day; Lucas St. between Rich and State.  This is my favorite local festival to start up in the last few years, and with businesses booming on Gay Street of late it seemed like it couldn’t last on that prime downtown real estate forever. So this year’s has moved a 15-minute walk across the river to east Franklinton, also at the beginning of its own renaissance with restaurant Strongwater and bar Rehab Tavern and a variety of artists studios. I’m interested in seeing how this year plays out. Highlights of the schedule for me are below.  Starts at noon. Free.
·         CD102.5 Stage
o   2:00pm, Damn The Witch Siren – This dance band, formed by Krista Botjer (formerly of the Husker Du/Cramps-y Matte Black Silhouettes) and Nathan Wolf (from Town Monster), is still growing into itself, but they’ve got energy and charisma to spare and they work with a side of smudged neon dance music almost no one else in town does. A band I keep checking out at regular intervals because if the material catches up to the potential, they’ll be hard to beat and impossible to ignore.
o   8:00pm, J Rawls – One of Columbus’s preeminent hip-hop producers, J Rawls is worth watching in any guise he presents, live or on record. A beautiful fall sunset in an old urban neighborhood should be the perfect backdrop for a set of his.
o   9:00pm, Angela Perley – Riding some well-deserved hype on her first full-length, Hey Kid, one of my favorite songwriters and singers in town seems to be really leaning into and enjoying this victory lap. She's wrapping the longing in her voice in spikier, more swinging rock moves than the ethereal folk of the earlier EPs, and sometimes the balance doesn’t work but when it does it’s a sign of glorious things to come.
·         GCAC Stage
o   1:30pm, The Hexers – My favorite local band working right now; I’ve certainly talked them up plenty in this space. Not normally accustomed to bringing their brand of ‘60s-infused juke joint stomps to the daylight, but I think they’ll more than rise to the challenge. Dance while the sun still shines.
o   3:30pm, Comrade Question – This band’s blend of Velvet Underground drone and decay with surf music’s trebly punch gets better every time I see them. Great songs, great singing, and waves of sound you can drift on – but they conceal a great treachery if you look down.
o   4:30pm, Herzog – Cleveland’s Herzog blew me away when I saw them open for Diarrhea Planet a few months ago. Everything I liked about the strain of '90s indie rock coming out of Pavement and Superchunk and nothing I didn’t. Great, catchy songs.
o   6:30pm, Mt Carmel – I’ve been a late adopter here; so many of my friends love Mt Carmel and I just didn’t get it for a long time. Now it feels like they’ve leavened their Blue Cheer/Cream bloozy choogling with a wider lens and more easily graspable melodies and I really get it now. Doing bigger and better things, as their new record Get Pure on Alive Naturalsounds starts to build steam, you may not get to see them in town again for a while.
o   9:45pm, Scrawl – It’s always a joy to see Scrawl do one of their infrequent shows, and one of the best rock bands this burg has ever produced still has it in spades.
·         Jeni’s Ice Cream Stage
o   1:45pm, Speak Williams – Rapper and spoken word artist Speak Williams is an electrifying presence. A great writer, a great performer, and bringing something different and fresh to this lineup.
o   3:30pm, Mekka Don – One of the more buzzed-about rappers to come out of Columbus in a while, Mekka Don’s tailor-made-for-the-press story about leaving a lucrative law career to chase his artistic dreams seems to be paying off in spades so far with high profile videos and mixtape collaborations.
o   6:30pm, Kyle Sowashes – The low-key locus for much of Columbus’s indie rock scene, torchbearer Kyle Sowash has also blossomed into one of our finest songwriters and as he’s settled into a more stable long-term band, he’s hitting his stride.
o   7:30pm, Wussy – Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker’s dark jangle project from Cincinnati is at a new feverpitch of interest and it’s good to see some of the finest songs anyone in Ohio is writing getting credit and attention outside our insular confines.
·         Mikey’s Late Night Slice Stage
o   1:15pm, Bridesmaid – This two bass and drums droney, sexy groove metal project is a band I’m always excited to see. If you only have an hour at the fest, this, The Hexers, and Speak Williams will give you a great idea of what’s interesting in town right this second.
·         Dick and Jane/Groove U Stage
o   3:00pm, Cherry Chrome – Xenia Holm, heir to Columbus rock royalty (her parents are David Holm and Melanie Blevins-Holm from Bigfoot and Total Foxx), is still in high school and writing better songs than most of this town. I wish I wrote anything as well as she and her bandmates in Cherry Chrome are writing these perfect pop songs.
·         Dance Performance and Buskers
o   I might be most interested here but the least equipped to write about either because aside from my pal John Mullen, who’s busking from 4pm to 6pm at Station #3I don’t know much about anything going on here. It’s a blank slate, but I’m looking forward to being turned on to something I haven’t seen before.

Deaf Wish; Ruby Tuesday, 1978 Summit St.  Much like with So Cow, I’m looking forward to seeing Deaf Wish at Gonerfest next week in Memphis, so I might not make it out to this but I encourage everyone to see their first trip through Ohio. This band from Melbourne synthesizes the last 50 years of noise rock into a grimy stomp that will stick in your head even after your ears stop ringing. Sarah Hardiman’s voice is impossible to ignore and the slashing guitars feel like they’re casting off years of grime. Bloody Show, taking their Stooges worship to new heights and making it feel brand new, open, and the legendary Cheater Slicks, who are still surprising after all these years with maybe my favorite show of their career earlier in the summer, close.  Starts at 10:30pm. $5 cover.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 09/08-09/14/14

This title disclaimer will run until I’m sick of it.

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.


September 9, 2014

The Swing Set by CeCe Bellomy; Drake Event and Performance Center, Room 2060, 1849 Cannon Dr.  The lab series at OSU is a fascinating look at works in development; it's included a terrific new adaptation of Virginia Woolf's "Between the Acts" and work by Emma Dante, whose Operetta Burlesque blew me away last week. I've got a good feeling about this week's iteration by theater student CeCe Bellomy. It's a one act look at a woman on the verge of graduation grappling with her self-worth as reflected in her party guests. If I can get out of work in time, I don't intend to miss this one night performance.  Starts at 7:00pm. Free.


September 12, 2014

Exposed directed by Beth B; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St.  Beth B's work (with her then-husband Scott B) from the early 1980s was a revelation for me when I saw it (in not very good VHS copies) as a teenager in the '90s, especially Black Box which is still one of the most riveting, exciting movies I've ever seen. She's still making vital work, including Two Small Bodies and Salvation. So I'm pretty excited she's coming through town to introduce her new movie, Exposed, a look at the NYC burlesque renaissance which (in the dovetailing of things that opened my mind up as an adolescent) also features music from Jim Coleman of Cop Shoot Cop and Phylr.  Starts at 7:00pm. $8 tickets available here.


September 8, 2014

Dead Rider; Tree Bar, 887 Chambers Rd.  Todd Rittmann, guitarist from US Maple, brings his new project, Dead Rider, to town for a Monday show at the Tree Bar, promoting their raging third record Chills on Glass. It's a patchwork of lugubrious grooves reminiscent of Gang of Four or late Joy Division, with bursts of synth noise and static, stitched together with big hooks that turn in surprising ways. Locals Barely Eagle, formerly of Go Evol Shiki, and Brat Curse, about whom I know nothing, open.  Doors at 9pm. $7 cover.

September 10, 2014

Bombino; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St.  Tuareg singer-songwriter Omara "Bombino" Moctar is making some of the most exciting guitar music I've heard in a long, long time - spiky and dynamic, thick and acidic. It's a joy seeing Bombino breaking out to a wider American audience with Nomad on Nonesuch and even though it's not as strong a record as his masterpiece, Agadez, it's still a breath of fresh air.  Starts at 8:00pm. $18 tickets here.

Paul Brown; Dick's Den, 2417 N. High St.  This month's residency at Dick's is Paul Brown, and this week is the most interesting out of the box for my tastes: elder statesman Brown paired with my favorite young jazz guitarist Aaron Quinn and a string quartet led by violinist Christian Howes. This promises to be a fascinating guitar counterpoint to the pyrotechnics at the Wex earlier in the evening. More detail on the residency here.  Starts at 10:00pm. $4 cover.

September 11, 2014

Lee Bains III and His Glory Fires; Rumba Cafe, 2507 Summit St.  Straightforward shit-kicking rock darkened and leavened by a taste for classic country never goes out of taste in some circles. And of the many current contenders, Lee Bains III (formerly of the Dexateens) and his band have been burning the brightest lately. Their new record, Dereconstructed, is a similarly rough-hewn grappling with putting Southern mythos into the context of the ugly reality of the last 30 years to the Drive By Truckers' Southern Rock Opera, and what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for with swaggering stomps that show the lie that practice ever made perfect where rock's concerned.  Starts at 8:00. $10 tickets at Ticketweb.

Insane Jazz Posse; Dick's Den, 2417 N. High St.  Aaron Quinn, one of the most interesting jazz guitarists to come down the pike in a while, is moving on to NYC later in the fall and winding down his involvement in several of his regular groups. One of them, Insane Jazz Posse, is having a final show with Quinn on Thursday. While their propensity for covers I didn't care for sometimes seemed cloying or contrived, when they clicked together, bassist Ben Johnson, drummer Ryan Jewell, and saxophonist Alex Burgoyne, along with Quinn, was a magical chemistry of playing that's a delight to watch. It's a pretty safe bet I'll be out for at least one set this evening.  Starts at 10:00pm. $4 cover.

Potty Mouth; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.  Northampton MA's Potty Mouth is a breath of gritty, dirty air blowing on the winds of change - slashing surf-inspired guitar, catchy-as-hell songs, and a rhythm section out to make the walls shake. They deserve every ounce of hype they've gotten on the heels of their terrific record Hell Bent. The rest of the bill includes NYC pop punk band Aye Nako and a couple newer Columbus bands I'm not familiar with yet, Katherine and Yuze Boys.  Starts at 10:00pm. $5 cover.

September 12, 2014

Secret Sisters; Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W. 3rd Ave.  The Secret Sisters - real sisters Lydia and Laura Rogers - are plowing a parallel strain of Americana to the Lee Bains III discussed earlier, derived from the crystalline harmonies of the Boswell Sisters and the Everly Brothers and the torch song qualities of Patsy Cline and Ray Price, but like all those artists there's a knowing darkness bleeding through that beauty. Their new record, the T Bone Burnett-produced Put Your Needle Down, is still a little uneven but comes the closest to capturing that smoky sexiness and sense of impending dread of all the best '60s country, and "Iuka" might be my favorite song so far this year.  Starts at 9:00pm. $15 tickets at Ticketweb.

September 13, 2014

Kid Congo Powers; Used Kids Records, 1980 N. High St. (6pm) and Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St. (10pm).  I've seen Kid Congo Powers probably half a dozen times over the years and grew up with his playing on the Cramps, Gun Club, and Nick Cave records. His record release at Tonic in NYC in 2006 might be my favorite night of rock and roll ever, and the other times I've seen him live, while less of an overstuffed carnival, are some of the best examples of fiery danceable rock you'll ever see. He always brings a killer rhythm section and great songs, and his voice has grown into a fair foil for some of the best guitar playing of the last 30 years. An afternoon reading from his memoir in progress at Used Kids, with comedian, writer, and bon vivant Paul Bearer opening, is followed by a full rock show with The Hexers and Cheater Slicks opening at Ace of Cups that night.  Starts at 6:00 for the reading, which is free. 10:00pm for the show, $15 cover.

September 14, 2014

Bell X1 and Gabriel Kahane; Rumba Cafe, 2507 Summit St.  Bell X1 are one of the most popular Irish rock bands of the moment still trying to break America; if you're a fan, it's a treat to see them in a room the size of Rumba. I'm interested in checking them out but this show, for me, is all about Gabriel Kahane. Over the course of three records, each one better than the last, culminating in the new The Ambassador, and an original cast recording of his score for the Public Theatre musical February House, Kahane has grown from the heir apparent to David Garland (no small thing) into someone merging the deep musical knowledge of his classical background into a deeply personal and idiosyncratic art that can stand alongside Owen Pallett or Doveman or even Joni Mitchell. I wish Jerry DeCicca were still in town because he was the only songwriter who could even come close to holding his own opening for this.  Early show, starts at 7:00 and over by 10:00. $14 tickets available at Ticketweb.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 09/01/14-09/07/14

This title disclaimer will run until I’m sick of it.

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.

I'm still sweating out the fun and joy and love (and whiskey) from this weekend - one of the best weekends of music and friends in recent memory. Props to FemmeFest for grossing over $8,000 to donate to the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

But the weeks still roll on and there's so much great stuff happening that I'm exhausted thinking about trying to make even half of it. My favorite season, Fall, is on the horizon.


Operetta Burlesque by Emma Dante; Drake Theater, 1849 Cannon Dr.  Emma Dante’s Italian Company, Compagnia Sud Costa Occidentale, is making their US debut in an arrangement with the Ohio State University, bringing her newest work. I know very little about Dante’s work, but she’s posited herself as using the techniques of theater, like operetta and puppetry, and their negation to break out of traditional modes. This show is about gender identity and trying to break out of the constraints of family. If you’re interested in theater and what it’s capable of today, this shouldn’t be missed. This is also part of a symposium at OSU, “Blurring Boundaries Without Burning Bridges,” that looks terrific.  7:30pmSeptember 3-5. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.

Dirty Math 2016: The Days of Future Math by Matt Slaybaugh; Riffe Center Studio Two, 77 S. High St.  Dirty Math is kind of a storied show for Available Light Theatre. Written and performed in the '08-'09 season, I’ve heard people both inside and outside the company call it a template for their later group-created works like The Food Play and Glue, and I still hear people bringing up the rap in it. Creative Director Matt Slaybaugh’s back in the writing and directing chair and while I didn’t see the original, I’ll definitely be there for this sequel/expansion/continuation. I want to see the theatre troupe that does the most consistently interesting work in town shoot for the stars, and I want to see what this cast – including Jordan Fehr, Acacia Duncan, Rudy Frias, Elena Perantoni, Amy Rittberger, Ben Jones, and a couple faces who haven’t been seen in an AVL play for a while like Jay Rittberger, Whitney Thomas Eads, and Stefan Langer – does with a big swath of history and a hard to pin down but easy to take down topic like the economy.  8pm Thursday-Saturday, September 4-20 (no show September 11); 2pm Sunday, September 14. Pay What You Want at the door or tickets available at Ticketmaster.

Visual Art

NOWism: Abstraction Today; Pizzuti Collection, 632 Park St.  After last year’s inaugural exhibitions (one of which, Cuban Forever, was one of my top exhibits of 2013), the Pizzuti Collection has a hard act to follow, but all signs point to them doing it with this overview of the uses of abstraction in contemporary art. With over 100 works in the entire space, including great names like Ann Hamilton, Sarah Cain, Carrie Moyer, Diana Al-Hadid, Florian Meisenberg, and Teresita Fernandez, prepare to be dazzled.  September 6, 2014 - June 20, 2015. Open Friday and Saturday, 10am - 5pm. $10 admission.

September 4, 2014

Ori Gersht Talk; Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E. Broad St.  Israeli video artist and photographer Ori Gersht comes to town to discuss his fascinating, unsettling work that stitches together echoes of art history with the bleeding fault lines of the present. He uses time and space in ways I can’t think of anyone in town who betters, and right now there’s work of his in a CMA exhibition and in the Pizzuti exhibit opening this weekend.  7:30pm. $12 tickets (free for members) available by calling 614-629-0359.

An Evening with Tony Millionaire; Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, 1813 N. High St.  The creator of the comic strip Maakies (a high water mark for surreal comedy of the last 20 years) is as witty and engaging a speaker as he is a brilliant cartoonist. If you’ve laughed yourself sick at the antics of Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow in print or animated (on Adult Swim or Saturday Night Live) form, as I have, or you’ve bought your children/nieces/nephews the Sock Monkey comics, you owe it to yourself to see him in this appearance on his way down to the Cincinnati ComicCon.  7:00pm. Free.

September 6, 2014

Sarah Cain and David Pagel in Conversation; Columbus College of Art and Design, Canzani Center, 60 Cleveland Ave.  Curator and LA Times critic David Pagel interviews brilliant painter Sarah Cain in a talk connected to the aforementioned Pizzuti Collection opening. Anyone with an interest in contemporary visual art should definitely shake off their Friday night and get down to this.  2:00pm. Free.

Book Release and Reading from Sounding our Depths: The Music of Morgan Powell by Ann Starr; Cup O Joe Bexley, 2418 E. Main St.  This might be more properly placed in “music,” but I figure it’s more likely to appeal to the people who might go to the other art-related talks. One of this city’s finest writers about art and music, Ann Starr, has completed a book about the composer and trombonist Morgan Powell, most well-known for his sextet The Tone Road Ramblers. I’m a sucker for smallish books about artists of any media who might get lost in the cracks, and with what I know of Starr’s writing, this might be indispensable – up there with Kyle Gann’s work about Robert Ashley.  4:00pm. Free.


September 3, 2014

The Blasters; Rumba Café, 2507 Summit St.  The Blasters have had an incalculable influence on rock and roll that personally matters to me – and I think we all know this column is an exercise in narcissism masked in the sheep’s clothing of a call to arms. Giving Dwight Yoakam his first national tour, helping Los Lobos get signed to Warner Brothers and introducing them to Steve Berlin, giving The Gun Club their first show, putting Lee Allen (god’s own tenor sax player) on a stage in front of punk kids - the list goes on. They stood at the nexus of the resurgent rockabilly movement and the not-dead-yet blue collar LA classic R&B shouter scene with enough fire to share the stage (and a bar tab) with Black Flag, the Germs, and Fear. The original magic was the blend of Dave Alvin’s songs – the vibracy of today and a little bit of tomorrow, good enough to be standards, and respectful of tradition but never beholden to it – and Phil Alvin’s break-the-windows-magnificent tenor voice. The later versions of the band since Dave left more than do the songs justice, and tap the same wide swath of American music – from conjunto to zydeco to jump blues to honky-tonk ballads to anything else that swings or stomps. Phil Alvin never brings a bullshit band on stage with him, and judging from their stunning performance at Woodlands a few years ago, they’re still raging. This will be a lesson for anyone who doesn’t know and a reminder for those of us who are already in. Gas House Gorillas, a punk Americana band from Brooklyn clearly inspired by The Blasters, open.  Starts at 8:00pm. $20 tickets at Ticketweb..

Liquor Store, Unholy 2, and Senor Citizen and the Border Patrol; The Summit, 2210 Summit St. If you play your cards right, this and the Blasters show are doable in the same long, raucous night. Liquor Store are semi-frequent visitors to these parts and have been great friends to a lot of Columbus bands, and they never disappoint. A summation of everything that’s good about rock and roll and what makes it matter right here and right now, tight songs with hooks that will get caught in your head for days, big riffs (now with three guitars) that are sticky and greasy at the same time, churning bass, and an unmistakable howl that knows your deepest secrets but isn’t telling. Just as strong on this bill is the undercard: Aleks Shaulov’s new project Senor Citizen and the Border Patrol leaven their punk classicism with humor and charm and get better every time I see them. Chris Lutzko’s Unholy 2 put out one of my favorite records of the year so far, This is Hardcore, and judging from their performance at Helter Swelter, the new lineup might be their strongest, roughest yet. Come get your ears blown out.  Doors at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

September 4, 2014

Kidd Jordan and the Jazz Poetry Ensemble; Dick’s Den, 2619 N. High St.  Michael Vander Does is an unsung Columbus hero, not only for keeping his Jazz Poetry Ensemble together for this long (the current lineup of Brett Burleson, Roger Myers and Roger Hines is phenomenal), but also because he’s had a hand in booking great talents this town wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The last few years, a big highlight of mine has been Edward “Kidd” Jordan, the tenor player who connects REM’s Out of Time with R&B great Larry Williams and so many more, brought for the Hot Times Festival (see below) in tribute to Kate Schulte. I’ve been a fan of Kidd Jordan since I heard 2 Days in April, with him and Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake, and William Parker, then went back and found out I’d been hearing that searing tone for years. Since then I’ve seen him maybe a dozen times, including in Chicago and in his native New Orleans, but there’s something special about seeing a legend of that caliber in a place as small and as special (to me and to Columbus) as Dick’s Den. There’s a great article on Jordan’s time in town at JazzColumbus.  Starts at 10:00pm. $4 cover.

September 6, 2014

CJ Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band; Hot Times Festival, Main Street Stage. The Hot Times festival is a marvel of purity: it gets bigger and it runs like a well-oiled machine, but it never loses its charm or its purpose. It’s a great cross section of local talent, mostly of an R&B stripe, and they always book a really interesting national act or two. This time it's CJ Chenier, the son of the great Clifton Chenier, and he’s bringing maybe the best blend of classic zydeco and ‘70s/’80s funk anyone’s doing these days – surging bass lines and songs as classic as “Caledonia,” with a virtuoso accordion player who’s also one of the best frontmen I’ve ever seen. If you can be there, be there.  9:00pm. Free.

September 7, 2014

Listen for the Jazz – A Tribute to Gene Walker/Rahsaan Roland Kirk Tribute; Hot Times Festival, Main Street Stage.  I think of these two sets together. At 1:45pm, some of Columbus’s great ones join together to pay tribute to Gene Walker, who was the last of Columbus’s great soul-jazz generation, including Hank Marr and Rusty Bryant, and still playing up until a few months before his passing. Walker had a tone and an attack that would stop you cold and silence an entire bar, with a rhythmic intensity that made the walls shake. A great man, a great player, a great teacher and inspiration for so many local musicians I know – is there anything better on a beautiful Sunday than paying tribute to that? And immediately following, Kidd Jordan with the same band as above (augmented by Brian Olsheski and Kris Keith also on reeds) playing as the Flytown Blues Project, paying tribute to Columbus native and gargantuan talent Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Kirk blazed a similar path to Jordan's, incorporating Albert Ayler-style ecstatic declaiming and a grimy, sensual R&B howl leavened with psychedelia. This should be a firestorm.  1:45pm and 3:30pm. Free.

Justin Townes Earle with American Aquarium; The Bluestone, 583 E. Broad St.  Todd Dugan, of the oft-mentioned-here Rumba Café, has started booking shows in bigger venues, keeping the relationships he’s built with artists and their agents as they get a little too big to play his club. Justin Townes Earle has grown into his own skin with better and better records, from the admittedly good The Good Life and Yuma that seemed like songwriter demos on to the masterpieces of singluar voice Harlem River Blues and Nothing's Going to Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. A constantly charming presence and master of smoky, conversational, everything-going-wrong heartbreak, Earle is touring a brand new record, Single Mothers. American Aquarium is a similar band who’ve come into their own as a unit with 2012’s Burn. Flicker. Die. and they’re maybe the perfect touring act to open this show. Monday might hurt a little more this week.  Starts at 8:00pm. $20 tickets available at Ticketweb.