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. at Ticketmaster., . Tickets available
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. at Ticketmaster.- (no show September 11); . Pay What You Want at the door or tickets available
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. - . 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. 614-629-0359.. $12 tickets (free for members) available by calling
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. . 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. . 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. . Free.
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 at Ticketweb... $20 tickets
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 . $5 cover.
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 . $4 cover.
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. . Free.
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 , 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. . 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 . $20 tickets available at Ticketweb.