The week after CMJ in NYC frequently coincides with Halloween, and the combination of bedraggled middle America bands making their way back home from selling themselves and local bands doing cover sets of varying intensity and joy often makes for one of the more exciting weeks all year in a crossroads town like this. And while this year seems a little light, there’s still more stuff I’m excited about than I’ll be able to make it to - my favorite problem to have.
October 30, 2014
Will Eisner: Life and Legacy presented by Jeff Smith; Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, 1871 N. High St. Will Eisner revolutionized comics storytelling over and over again. It's hard for me to think of someone who had a bigger impact on popular art I grew up loving, and getting to see Eisner speak when I was in high school is one of my favorite memories even all these years later. Jeff Smith, hometown hero and creator of Bone, Rasl, and other work, is presenting a lecture to tie in with the Billy Ireland's jaw-dropping exhibition, Will Eisner: 75 Years of Graphic Storytelling. Don't miss this. Reception at 6:00pm; lecture at 7:30pm. Free.
November 1, 2014
The Ohio Meatgrinder Poetry Slam; Park Street Tavern, 501 Park St. Scott Woods and Louise Robertson, beyond being two of my favorite poets in town (or anywhere), have done immeasurable good for this city's poetry scene through their education and organization efforts. Over the last 17 or 18 years, Woods' Writer's Block Poetry night (with Vernell Bristow) has spawned the reading scene as we know it, which has flowered into competing nights and a state so healthy Columbus has sent three very competitive teams some years to the National Poetry Slam. So if those two are running a slam - especially a slam that promises to tweak the orthodoxies that have grown up in the major slam rules (no props, etc.), but keep the core quality that made it so exciting in the first place (brevity and the sense of everyone trying to outdo one another), I sit up and take notice. There are also side events like workshops; see http://meatgrinder.rewritingovid.net/schedule.php for the full schedule. Preliminary Bouts start at 3:00pm and are $5. Finals start at 8:00pm and are $10.
October 29, 2014
New Bomb Turks and Spider Bags; Ace of Cups, 2617 N. High St. Like the buzzards returning to Hinckley, every year seems to bring at least one homecoming of the New Bomb Turks, and even in a period of mostly inactivity (aside from an offer they can’t refuse usually paired with a hometown show), it’s still something to be celebrated. They still sound fresher and move a crowd harder than bands half their age who practice ten times as often, and the catalog of some of the best rock and roll songs anyone’s ever written in this town is a can’t-miss proposition. Get there early enough for Chapel Hill’s Spider Bags opening; their blend of fuzzy roots-stumble reminiscent a little of Grandaddy or Ass Ponys should be a properly loopy appetizer. Starts at 7pm. $8 tickets available at the bar.
Mary Lambert and Jillette Johnson; A&R Bar, 391 Neil Ave. I’m the farthest thing from a Macklemore fan – current proof that you can root for someone socio-politically but have no aesthetic connection to their music at all – but a big part of the reason his very earnest anthem “Same Love” connected like it did and sounds so great on the jukebox at a bar (I just heard it a week ago across the street before the OBN IIIs show) was Mary Lambert’s hook. Her first solo album is out and from a couple listens it’s the kind of Elton John/Sade-ish pop-soul I used to hear a lot of as a kid and I don’t hear much on the radio these days and didn’t even realize I missed it until this hit my radar. It’s quirky, it’s beautiful, and to say the hooks are ingratiating would be an understatement. Jillette Johnson from NYC, who made a terrific piano based record, Water in a Whale, last year, seems like she’ll be the perfect opener for this. Doors at 7pm. $17 tickets available on Ticketmaster..
Ora Iso; Café Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St. I’m very glad this show is happening late enough I can see it after the NBT appearance at Ace because, after doing some digging when I heard about the show, this hits all my buttons. A duo, Kathleen Malay and Jason Kudo make jagged and swirling soundscapes in which big rhythms suddenly rise up like just-cooled steel - they remind me most of Throbbing Gristle, but also veer into the more meditative terrain of Coil, with splashes of Prurient. Mark Van Fleet of the great and much-missed Sword Heaven and other locals, Band, and Of Verandas open. Starts at 10pm. $5 cover.
October 30, 2014
Sinkane and Helado Negro; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St. Ahmed Gallab’s Sinkane project should be the source of the most hometown pride from this music scene since RJD2. His new record on DFA Records, Mean Love, is easily one of my favorites of the year, a masterpiece of slow burn sinewy texture and hooks as sticky as tar. And a great double bill with Roberto Lange’s Helado Negro opening, who also made what I think is the best record of their career this year. Starts at 8pm. $16 tickets at the Wexner website.
The Gizmos; The Summit, 2210 Summit St. Legendary Indianapolis first wave punk band The Gizmos reunited an early lineup this year and reports from the shows have been astounding, especially friends of mine saying Bim Thomas (Bassholes, This Moment in Black History, Obnox) and Craig Bell (Rocket from the Tombs) sat in with them at Gonerfest, a show we missed because we knew they'd be coming here. The bill is filled out by Columbus all-stars, including the legendary Mike Rep with his new trio Last Call featuring one of my favorite rock drummers in town, Chris Pierce; raw punk band The Sick Thrills; and The Hexers, about whom I've written in this space many times. Doors at 10pm. $10 cover.
Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group; McCoy Center for the Arts, 100 W. Dublin Granville Rd, New Albany, OH. One of the finest songwriters and bandleaders of the last 30 years is making a second trip to the area in a six-month period, this time with his acoustic group. Lovett's easy charm and low-key intensity translate just as well with the sparser arrangements and often with a wider range of song choices. Anchored by bassist Viktor Krauss, of many of Bill Frisell's best groups, he's bringing a crack band including violin player Luke Bulla and mandolinist Keith Sewell. Starts at 8pm. $42 tickets available at Ticketmaster.