Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 12/01-12/06/2014

I apologize for the delay, my NYC trip killed two weeks and I decided to take the Thanksgiving week off. I hope you have been getting out and taking advantage of the dwindling lights (in all senses) of fall, and are girding your loins and battening down the hatches (again, in all senses) for the winter that will soon be upon us. But the calendar isn’t slowing down; this is one of the most packed weeks in recent memory.


She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen; Available Light Theatre, Studio Two, Riffe Center, 77 S. High St.  I’m extremely excited for this – this play seems like a return to AVL’s sweet spot,
 and I can’t wait for Ian Short’s return to directing after his riveting production of Cock earlier this year. She Kills Monsters is an antidote to the too-common narrative that women find their way to gaming through boyfriends and a look at how roleplaying games are sometimes a step on the way to self-actualization, not a way to escape and shut yourself off. With a phenomenal cast including AVL mainstays Whitney Thomas Eads (one of the best things in Dirty Math 2016), Jordan Fehr (on a terrific hot streak this year), and Adam Humphrey (blew my mind in bobrauschenbergamerica and 33 Variations), and augmented by fresh faces who I’ve really enjoyed in other work like Actor’s Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Allison Brogan) or Short North Stage’s Sunday in the Park With George (Krista Lively Stauffer), and newcomers just out of school like Kimberly Martin and Emma Lou Andrews.  Opens December 4. Runs Thursday through Saturday at 8pm except December 11; Sunday matinee December 14 at 2pm. Tickets available at Ticketmaster or pay what you want at the door.


December 1, 2014

Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas; The Basement, 391 Neil Ave.  One of the brightest lights in Detroit’s current garage rock scene, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas have been laying waste to stages for a few years and have seen a justified uptick in their profile with their first album, Secret Evil, out earlier this year. Raucous howling and slashing guitars never sacrifice the “roll” part of the equation with a series of dancefloor stomps. Locals Van Dale and Toledo native Dean Tartaglia open.  Doors at 7:00pm. $10 tickets at TicketMaster..

Ishmael Ali’s Zebec; Dick’s Den, 2417 N. High St.  Columbus expat Ali is back in town for the weekend and he’s playing a rare Monday show at Dick’s. One of my favorite composers here who didn’t hit my radar until not long before he left town, this should be a treat. Accompanied by a slew of great players including Billy Wolfe on reeds, Mike Humpherys on bass, Thom Caminito on tenor sax, and Matthiesesn Nisch Quan on drums. Bigger and better writeup by Andrew Patton at JazzColumbusStarts at 9:30pm. $4 cover.

Puce Mary with Ligature, Liebestod, Unholy Two, and Melted Men; The Summit, 2210 Summit St.  Maybe the most exciting show of the week. Denmark's Frederikke Hoffmeier's Puce Mary project brings its throbbing beats and taste for surreal detail with Ligature (featuring members of The Men, from the Ascetic House collective) and Liebestod (a solo project of Jesse Sanes from Hoax) and two of Columbus's finest, Unholy Two and Melted Men.  Doors at 9pm. $5 cover.

December 2, 2014

Todd May; Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza, 5601 N. High St.  The finest singer-songwriter in town (“And I’ll stand on Ron House’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that” – A. (after Steve Earle)) is hitting a new stride and getting a lot of long-overdue attention with his co-writes and indispensible lead guitar on Lydia Loveless’s record Somewhere Else and opening slots on many of those dates, and still riding his classic record Rickenbacker Girls (one of my top 5 records last year and a record I still play weekly). One of his solo sets should go over beautifully in one of my favorite rooms in town. The double bill is filled out by Jeff German of the Cur Dogs (and long ago Th’ Flyin’ Saucers) whose solo record 12 Rounds has gotten a lot of heat this year.  Starts at 8:00pm. $8 tickets at Vendini..

 Martin Savage Gang; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.  Sweden's Martin Savage Gang played an outdoor Buccaneer show at Gonerfest a couple of years ago and split my wig. A thick layer of powerpop hooks and grooves laid over a prodigious bedrock of sleaze and grime. They're perfectly complimented by Raw Pony, one of Columbus's best bands who I think have come into their own this year, and other locals Nuclear Moms.  Doors at 9pm. $5 cover.

December 4, 2014

New Pollution with John Turck Trio and the Tony Monaco Trio; Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W. 3rd Ave.  An odd bill that speaks to the fascinating crosscurrents through genre in Columbus bands. One of our finest B-3 trios, Tony Monaco Trio, featuring guitar master Derek DiCenzo and terrific drummer Louis Tsamous, will lay down a bed of ferocious grooves and infectious, funky swing. Monaco is not to be missed when he plays in town between his jaunts to Europe or Japan. Following is the John Turck Trio, which features Turck, a strong tenor voice and one of the finest keyboard players in town in more pop context, augmented by Danny Cashin on bass and backing vocals and AJ Barnes on drums, who brings a sharper avant-garde edge to the proceedings but can lay down a pocket with the best of them. I saw the JT3 at Comfest and was blown away at how much tighter their songs have gotten. I'm not familiar with New Pollution, the headliners, but they're listed as a "soul/funk machine" and so should go over gangbusters with the crowd at Woodlands.  Doors at 7:30pm. $10 cover.

The Human Experience with SaQi and Scotty Boombox; Rumba Cafe, 2507 Summit St.  It's a pleasure seeing Scotty Boombox back making solo music with his new record, A Mime and a Thief, after several years with Ocean Ghost, the joyous joke-belying-real-darkness collaborative band with J. Rhodes .His return to downtempo, sensual electronics threaded by his voice is full of great songs with sticky hooks. Headlining are touring acts SaQi (whose work mines a similar seam) and The Human Experience.  Starts at 9pm. $10 cover.

 December 5, 2014

Lee Konitz Quartet; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St.  Legends don't loom much larger in American music than Lee Konitz and the fact that he's still touring at 87 is a marvel, much less that he's still working so close to the top of his game. From his work in the early '50s with Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, and Lennie Tristano, through one of my favorite records, Some New Stuff, with the rhythm section of Greg Cohen and Joey Baron in 2001, and up to his terrific quartet with Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian, Live in Birdland, of just a couple years ago, he's still making beguiling, intoxicating music. His world-beating quartet of Dan Tepfer on piano, George Schuler on drums, and Jeremy Stratton on bass are more than up for the challenge. If you have any interest at all in jazz or I'd hazard to say in modern art, do not miss this.  Starts at 8pm. $18 tickets available at the Wexner Center website.

Elephant Wrecking Ball; Scarlet and Grey Cafe, 2203 N. High St.  This funky trio of trombone, bass, and drums features Scott Flynn from Pretty Lights and John Brown's Body on brass, Neal Evans from Dopeapod on drums, and Dan Africano whose long resume includes Zongo Junction (their appearance a couple of years ago at Woodlands is one of my favorite shows ever in that venue), Nicky Egan and NYC's well-loved cover act The Bayside Tigers on bass. It's an infectious, joyful mix and something people not immediately allergic to things jammy should make a point of checking out. Locals ALCON open.  Doors at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

Andyman-a-thon 2014 Benefit Concert; King Avenue 5, 945 King Ave.  The Andyman-a-thon benefit for children is one of the best traditions in Columbus and it's fantastic that Andy's friends (principally Quinn Fallon) and CD1025 keep that flame alive since his tragic loss, including with an annual show that includes people Andy personally championed and up-and-coming bands. This year, the former category includes Colin Gawel and the Lonely Bones, who are as satisfying a straight-forward roots-rock outfit as you'll find in this town when they're firing on all cylinders, and a reunion of the original lineup of the X-Rated Cowboys, who drew rabid fans in their day with their brand of wry honky-tonk songs and an energetic stage show. The newcomers include Damn the Witch Siren, whose synthpop gets stronger and tighter around their hooky songs every time I see them, and Comrade Question, whose middle ground of the Ventures and the Velvets makes them one of my favorite bands working in town right now. If you want to take the temperature of a slice of Columbus music past and present, this show will be very rewarding, and in a great room for a great cause. Starts at 7:30pm. $10 cover.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Hey, Fred!" Nights Out 11/03-11/09/2014

This week had me feeling a little under the weather and a little low, but back on the horse. Onward and upward, whoever checks this.

Visual Art

November 3, 2014

Lambert Family Lecture: Robert Storr and Carroll Dunham in Conversation; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N, High St.  The lectures supported by the Lambert family endowment are always eye-opening and this meeting of Storr, dean of Yale University School of Art and the curator of the current treasure trove exhibition Transfigurations, and Dunham, whose work recalling both Cezanne and underground comics was seen in the fantastic Spring show Comic Future, discussing the still-pervasive influence by the masters on display at the Wexner Center is not to be missed.  Starts at 7pm. Free.

November 6, 2014

Heather McGill: The Color of Everything; CCAD Canzani Center, 60 Cleveland Ave.  This opening reception of Detroit sculptor Heather McGill’s current exhibition at the Canzani Center looks to extend the winning streak CCAD’s exhibition department has been on. There’s a deep love of ordinary materials, finding patterns and a sensual appreciation of color that opens other worlds of perception.  Starts at 6:30pm. Free.

November 7, 2014

Kerry James Marshall; Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St.  Marshall’s work is always provocative and incredibly humane. His solo exhibition Every Beat of My Heart is one of my favorite things ever on display at the Wex, with its juxtaposition of bunraku puppetry and comic book storytelling, and he also had pieces in the recent Blues For Smoke. His talk touching on the influence of Giacometti, Dubuffet, and Picasso should be a fascinating bookend for the Lambert Family Lecture on Monday.  Starts at 7:30pm. Free.


November 8, 2014

24 Hour Theatre; Riffe Center Studio One, 77 S. High St.  Available Light Theatre’s only November show is a doozy – much of the cream of the Columbus theater scene (technicians, actors, writers, directors) broken up into smaller groups on Friday evening to create wholly new short plays to premier the next night. An energy not likely to be duplicated, and knowing the work of more than half the people involved as well as I’d do I’d bet on some moments of sublime beauty forged in the crucible of that risk and adrenaline. The Aoife O’Donovan show (see below under Music) at the same time means I won’t be in attendance for this, but I’m heartsick to miss it.  Starts at 8:00pm. Pay what you want tickets at the door.


November 3, 2014

The Maxies and The Girls!; Café Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St.  The Maxies, a California-by-way-of-Greenland pop punk band, are known for a riotous stage show with the band wearing masks and making fun of whoever else is on the bill, so the similarly light-hearted-but-belying-a-deeper-heartbreak The Girls! should be a perfect fit for this Monday night dive duel at Bourbon Street.  Doors at 8:00pm. $5 cover.

November 4, 2014

Timeghost and Bernard Herman; Cafe Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St.  A little bummer noise (in the best way) to twist your week up. Providence's Timeghost is a pulsing, twitching wave of synth and I can't wait for their new record, Cellular, coming out on Load Records. They're out on tour with Bernard Herman, who are so audaciously named that I really want to check them out. Local openers are Schweppes and Bobb Hatt.  Doors at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

November 5, 2014

[EDIT - THE COREY WILCOX SHOW IS CANCELED] Corey Wilcox; Rambling House, 310 E. Hudson St.  Rambling House, beautifully renovated in the shell of beloved honky-tonk Mac’s, has been doing great things for its sleepy corner of Old North Columbus, with terrific house-made soda and nicely balanced cocktails using these sodas as the cornerstone of a great bar program highlighting all things Ohio. And they’ve been doing great things for a subset of the roots music community in town, booking the current crop of bluegrass, jamgrass, and other stripes of good-time acoustic music. I’m heartened to see them expanding to include some jazz because it's a great, intimate room. Corey Wilcox is a trombone player and Oberlin graduate who has been getting some heat as part of pianist Marcus Roberts band. He's in town playing with a simpatico crew of locals including Derek Dicenzo on guitar, Nate Smith on bass, and Max Button on drums.  Starts at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

November 6, 2014

Letha Melchior Benefit; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.  Letha Melchior and her husband Dan made some of the finest underground music of the last quarter century, and were great friends to a number of Columbus musicians. Sadly, this show has turned into a celebration of her life, as she passed away recently, but proceeds still go to her remaining medical bills and it's one of the best bills playing all week. Lou Poster, of Grafton and Ferals fame and currently killing it with Drift Mouth, plays a rare solo set. The Ipps, on a white-hot streak, and Day Creeper, who are destroying in their new four piece lineup, also play, along with Adam Elliott (Times New Viking, Connections) DJing.  Starts at 9:00pm. $7 strongly suggested donation.

Us, Today; Brothers Drake, 26 E. 5th St.  Cincinnati's Us, Today are one of the most buzzed-about modern jazz bands to come out of that town in a while. They find the sweetspot in the timbre of vibes between the late-'90s post-rock of Tortoise and the jazz structures of Milt Hinton, with the rest of the trio filled out by guitar and drums. Locals Radarhill open.  Starts at 9:00pm. Free.

November 7, 2014

Voices to End Ebola; Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St.  Some fantastic music that doesn't often get play in town for a fantastic cause, raising money for Doctors Without Borders to fight the Ebola crisis. Performances include the Columbus Highlife Ensemble featuring David Aina and the kora player Ryan Skinner.  Starts at 7:00pm. Donations strongly recommended.

Japanese B-Sides and New Gentle Soul; Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.  There's always been a trend toward cover bands not doing the Top 40 that would get them the big money gigs, but instead having fun with songs they love as a release valve and a recharging for their original work - most prominently The Randys, Hoodoo Soul Band, and Good Company. One of the best up and coming bands in this category is Japanese B-Sides, a project of Dan Bandman (Kyle Sowashes, Bookmobile), Ryan Horns (Paper Airplane), James Allison, Mark Sims (Tough and Lovely, Southern Diplomats), and Matt Whistler. They're doing two sets for a good-time dance party on Friday, including The Who, Badfinger, and 13th Floor Elevators. The sweet nougat in the middle is New Gentle Soul, whose set includes a good number of covers including The Everly Brothers, Echo and the Bunnymen, and one of the finest versions of "Hold Tight" you're likely to hear anywhere, played with an abstracted freshness and conceptual rigor that never veers into pretension.  Starts at 10:00pm. $5 cover.

November 8, 2014

Aoife O'Donovan and Noam Pikelny; Lincoln Theater, 769 E. Long St.  Hands down one of the shows I'm most looking forward to all year. Aoife's first solo record, Fossils, was my top record last year and I still play it very regularly - there are bars I won't name that might be a little tired of hearing it on the jukebox over a year later. She's one of the finest songwriters working today, with a voice that fuses the ethereal breathy beauty of an Alison Krauss or an Emmylou Harris with a sharp wit and a ferocious earthiness. She's the lightning limning the hurricane and the burn after a beautiful sunset. Which is not to discount the other half of this roots supergroup's leaders, Noam Pikelny. Pikleny is one of the most interesting banjo players working right now, with an approach that combines every great banjo innovation of the last 40 years and plays them with a fluid ease that belies a fiery intensity, as seen on his record from last year Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe and his work in Punch Brothers. Their shared quartet is filled out by Shad Cobb on fiddle, who has added color to John Cowan, Jim Lauderdale, and Steve Earle, and Barry Bales on bass, who's played with Alison Krauss, Kenny Chesney, and Dolly Parton.  Starts at 8:00pm. $23 tickets available at Ticketmaster.