Monday, May 18, 2015

"Hey Fred!" and everything else moving to Wordpress

At the advice of trusted confidants - and some half-assed research of my own - starting today "Hey Fred" and everything else will be housed at

Theatre reviews will continue to appear at

Record reviews will continue to appear at

You know where to find me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

“Hey, Fred!” 05/18/2015-05/24/2015 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

Another week I'm out of town for most of so apologies if this is distracted or hasty but there's some amazing stuff coming through town.


The Christians by Lucas Hnath presented by Available Light Theatre. Riffe Center, 77 S High St. Available Light ends their season - which already included some of the best work they've ever done, like Quixote and She Kills Monsters - with what promises to be a bang. Hnath's The Christians was one of the most buzzed about (and called "the finest of the bunch" by the New York Times) plays of the 2014 Humana Festival and plays one of the finest Off Broadway companies, Playwrights Horizons, next season, so its out of town bonafides are unassailable. But for anyone who loves Columbus theatre, its local pedigree is the real trigger-puller. Directed by Acacia Duncan, whose assistant direction on Merrily We Roll Along and Jane Eyre, makes me desperately want to see what she does with this. Starring Whitney Thomas Eads, Jordan Fehr (both of whom most recently blew me away in She Kills Monsters), Ian Short (most recently seen uplifting Gallery Players' The Farnsworth Invention), and Michelle Schroeder and Matt Hermes who have broken my heart many times but I don't think I've yet seen in anything this season. My highest recommendation, and look for a review if I can make the timing work out. Opens on May 21. For tickets and more info visit


May 21: Itasca and Oath. Used Kids Records, 1980 N High St. May 21 is the day I'm sorriest to be out of town this week because of the very different shows at Used Kids and Ace. Kayla Cohen's worked in drone-based and collaged avant-garde modes but her new work under the Itasca name strips that down to diamond-hard acoustic fingerpicking and multitracked vocals that have more in common with In Gowan Ring or Nick Castro or even Marissa Nadler. It's beguiling, intoxicating music. Oath is Julia Lans Nowak, poet and visual artist, whose synthesizer based music has a similar sense of foggy mystery and unbridled promise. Locals Mike Shiflet and Meadows open. Starts at 6:00pm. $5 cover.

May 21: Gary Wrong Group and CCR Headcleaner. Cafe Bourbon Street, 2210 Summit St. The Gary Wrong group are the kind of art-high rock and roll that will scour any corrosion off your old receptors and make the metal in your brain shine. A little Hawkwind, a little Plastic Crimewave Sound, a healthy dose of the Stooges, played with an eye on the future and a thick, greasy sensuality. One of the best things I ever saw at a Gonerfest. This killer double bill also has CCR Headcleaner, who traffic in similarly nasty tones and cracked psychedelia but played with the righteous slowness of great Southern rock or doom metal. Similarly apocalyptic locals Unholy Two and Vatican Dagger open. Starts at 9:00pm. $7 cover.

May 23: X__X. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Classic Cleveland art-punk band X_X, John Morton's follow up to the Electric Eels, has seen a resurgence of late with a compilation, X Sticky Fingers X, out last year and a renewed passion for touring. The current lineup includes Craig Bell (The Mirrors, Rocket from the Tombs, The Down-Fi), Andrew Klimeyk (The Mirrors) and Matthew Herbert and all accounts say the new round of shows are not to be missed. Local spiritual heirs Unholy 2 (on the noisey, art-damaged, end of the world side) and Senor Citizen and the Border Patrol (on the classic rust belt punk tip) open. Doors at 9:00pm. $8 cover.

May 23: Baoku. Rumba Cafe, 2507 Summit St. Cincinnati's Afrobeat healers/revivalist/renegades bring their blend of spiritual groove up to Rumba Cafe on Friday. Nigerian-born frontman Baoku Moses leads a large band through a simmering cross-section of styles and riffs in a purifying, scalding, sensual parade. The local opener of this fascinating double bill is Ben Johnson's Insane Jazz Posse who have transcended the goofball name over the last few years and forged a unique, powerful sound as more originals have been written and refined in the crucible of constant practice and play. Doors at 9:00pm. $5 tickets at

Sunday, May 10, 2015

“Hey, Fred!” A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five for the Week Of 05/11/2015-05/17/2015

Visual Art

May 15: Spring Exhibition Opening and conversation with Catherine Opie and Jack Whitten. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St.  I couldn't be more excited for a visual art opening this year than the Spring shows at the Wexner Center. Catherine Opie is one of my favorite photographers working today, since I first saw her work at the Wexner Center in the group show Hard Targets in early 2010 and soon after saw a show of her portraits at the Gladstone Gallery in NYC. It's richly evocative, thoughtful, arresting work. Abstract painter Jack Whitten's work I've only seen scattered examples - though loved them - so it's a great treat to get to see a retrospective in my town. Icing on the cake is the discussion between the two artists being led by one of the finest arts journalists in the US right now, Tyler Green, so don't be late. Discussion begins at 5:00pm. Opening reception 6:00-9:00pm.


May 11: Holydrug Couple. Double Happiness, 482 S Front St. Chile's Holydrug Couple make some of the best sensual psychedelia of the underground music scene. They're key players on the always-solid Sacred Bones label and whether they're traversing through bluesier moods or wrapping their songs in a sweet, melancholy gauze, whatever they bring to the table is intoxicating. Don't miss this opportunity to see them in the intimate confines of Double Happiness, sometimes the best-sounding room in town. Similarly psych-drenched locals Brujas del Sol and WVWhite open. Starts at 8:00pm. $10 tickets available at

May 15: Talisha Holmes Ensemble and Friends Celebrate Stevie Wonder. Brothers Drake, 26 E 5th Ave. Talisha Holmes is one of the great singers in Columbus right now, maybe one of the best R&B singers we've ever produced. Her show in March at Dick's Den was maybe the most packed I've ever seen in that place and an early favorite for my shows of the year list, the ensemble is tight and swinging. One of the first touchstones anyone who hears her thinks of is Stevie Wonder and that late '60s-mid '70s transitional period of Motown, so this tribute show should be unbeatable. Also tantalizing is the prospect of "friends", I guarantee with her contacts and her talent there won't be any bullshitting on that stage. Starts at 10:00pm. $5 cover.

May 15: Melt-Banana. Skully's Music Diner, 1151 N High St. Japan's Melt-Banana who I first saw at the much-missed More than Music Festival 10+ years ago were one of the most joyous freakouts I'd ever experienced. Their brand of noise-pop has aged well and it's still one of the most purely fun live shows going so it should be a joy to see them at Skully's. Doors at 9:00pm. $15 tickets available at

May 17: John Fullbright. Valley Dale Ballroom, 1590 Sunbury Rd. One of the most acclaimed Americana singer-songwriters of the last few years, John Fullbright brings his wise-beyond-his-years powers of observation and his unfailing sense of melody to the Grand Valley Dale Ballroom for something resembling a Sunday secular tent revival. There's a degree of space and a respect for silence that's not often seen in the newer wave of Americana writers and there's an empathy and respect for the characters being depicted that recalls Guy Clark and John Hiatt without directly aping either of those greats. His star shows no sign of stopping its rise anytime soon so don't miss seeing him in this vaunted old concert hall, mingling with the ghosts of the Velvet Underground. Starts at 8:00pm. $25 at the door. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

“Hey, Fred!” A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five for the Week Of 05/04/2015-05/10/2015


May 4: Guerrilla Toss. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Boston's Guerilla Toss are a five piece specializing in anarchic, unhinged avant-funk. Led by electrifying frontwoman Kassie Carlson, the band calls back to noise as a primal body music and to the steady, rocking dance beat as a trojan horse for opening your mind up and rewiring the pathways in your brain to augment receptivity. The local side of the bill is pretty stacked as well, with the fascinating electronic sound collages of Giant Claw, Dana who take off from the Pere Ubu school, and Stella about whom I don't know anything yet. Starts at 8:00pm. $8 cover.

May 5-6: Tom Russell. Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N High St. One of the finest singer-songwriters working today. Alec Wightman's Zeppelin productions, who are discussed often in this space, started with a Russell show and there've been few years in the intervening 20 when we weren't graced with his presence at least once. This two-night residency at Natalie's should be special, both because he promises very different shows on each night - and with a catalog of 20+ albums, he can pull that off without ever dipping into subpar material - and because he just released a new album, Rose of Rosecrae which is the third in his folk-opera trilogy (started with The Man From God Knows Where and continued with Hotwalker) and it takes everything good about the first two and explodes it. A collage of archival recordings - including Leadbelly and Johnny Cash - new writing for other voices like Dan Penn, Guy Clark, Maura O'Connell, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Russell's perfectly weathered baritone, it's an ambitious record, novelistic in scope and while I'm still processing it, I think it's fair to say unparalleled in the Americana field. If you have any interest in the craft of songs, how to weave history into a narrative without coming off preachy, or how to get better at what you do year after year, you should come see this and be dazzled. Starts at 8:00pm. $30 tickets available at

May 7: Six Organs of Admittance with Elisa Ambrogio. The Basement, 391 Neil Avenue. Ben Chasny's Six Organs of Admittance project is a chimera, changing its face to duck easy recognition. And it's been flexible enough to let him follow whatever he's most interested in from a solo perspective (he also works in collaborative projects like 200 Years and Rangda). over the years I've seen it in contexts including frayed, loud electric guitar recalling ESP-Disk and Acid Mothers Temple, delicate cubist fingerpicking that recalls Bert Jansch and Jack Rose, or orchestrated almost baroque folk. His new record, Hexadic, while based on a game system designed around theoretical guitar ideas, might also be his most accessible with surging riffs and eyes on catharsis. Elisa Ambrogio from Magik Markers (who put out a phenomenal solo record late last year) opens. Doors at 7:00pm. $10 tickets available at Ticketmaster.

May 7: Bloodthirsty Virgins with The Hexers and Sin Shouters. Spacebar, 2590 N High St. Nikki Wonder's one of my favorite singers and entertainers to ever walk across a Columbus stage. For a few years in the early '00s, her band Jack Neat with their blend of torchy vocals, noir twang guitar and a swinging rhythm section, were my favorite band in town. So I'm incredibly excited to see her new project, Bloodthirsty Virgins, with a stellar cast of musicians backing her including Scott Gorsuch on guitars, Keith Hanlon on drums and percussion, and James Wooster on bass. Early recordings sound amazing and friends who caught them at their first couple of shows in town came back raving. It doesn't hurt that the rest of this bill is filled out with other twists on retro forms that are some of the best dance party bands in Columbus working right now. The Hexers with their take on girl group rhythms filtered through hard-charging guitar rock and an electrifying frontman in Eric Wrong. The bill is rounded out by Sin Shouters who dip further back with soul music you don't hear covered very often including "Frenzy", "First I Look at the Purse", "Down on the Farm" and "Tallahassee Lassie", a bastard child of the Flamin' Groovies and J. Geils Band with their own swing.  Starts at 9:30pm. $5 cover.

May 9: White Mystery. The Summit, 2210 Summit St. Maybe Chicago's finest rock band, White Mystery get better every time I see them with stronger songs and an already-electrifying live show. Miss Alex White's howl is without parallel in touring circles today and her volcanic guitar will pin you back against the wall, backed only by her brother Francis Scott Key's ferocious drumming. It doesn't hurt that the rest of this bill is stacked with two of the best rock bands in town, The Girls! who are working up new songs and not to be missed as they come out of a few months of not playing out, and Senor Citizen and the Border Patrol. Starts at 10:00pm. $8 cover. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 04/27/15-05/03/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

A rare all-music week of "Hey, Fred!" and even more stuff I couldn't fit on. Go out and see some shit this week, Columbus.


April 28: Are You Fucking Kidding Me? A 50th Birthday Celebration of Quinn Fallon. Little Rock Bar, 944 N 4th St. Quinn Fallon's been a mainstay on the Columbus music scene for as long as I've been aware of the music scene. As a singer, songwriter, bandleader, benefit organizer, bartender at some of our key venues including 700 High, Stache's, and Little Brother's (if you don't think the bartender is a cornerstone of any rock and roll scene, you are sadly mistaken), and for the last 15 years bar owner (first at Andyman's Treehouse and now at Little Rock) giving many bands, DJs, and bookers their early shot. He's been directly or indirectly responsible for many of my favorite show-going moments in this town and he finally has a band and songs I'm 100% behind with Los Gravediggers. If you owe Quinn a favor or a thank you, and I know that's no small number of people, you should make it out to this birthday celebration featuring two Los Gravediggers sets. Starts at 7:00pm. Free show.

April 30: Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N High St. You could scour the whole wild world and not find 10 people with even half of Robert "Big Sandy" Williams' sweet, soaring tenor voice and boundless charisma. He's one of the finest singers I've ever laid eyes or ears on and one of the great accomplishments of Natalie's - on a very long list - is bringing Big Sandy and his hard-swinging Fly-Rite Boys back to Columbus on a regular basis for the first time since Little Brothers lamentably closed. He writes impeccable, knowing songs in classic forms - most often rockabilly and Western Swing, but also with a tight grasp of doo-wop, R&B, honky tonk country, jazz balladry and even exotica and rocksteady - with the lived-in quality of standards and the clear eyes of today and right now, merging the two like very, very few others ever have. And that's not to slight the perfection his band brings to the bandstand every time at bat, with a solid four-piece lineup these days including long-time guitar ace Ashley Kingman and supple, swinging rhythm section of Kevin Stewart on upright bass and backing vocals and Joe Perez on drums. I can't make this swing through our fair city because of a play I'm reviewing but that opens up a spare seat for you, dear readers. Starts at 9:00pm. $15 Tickets available at Vendini.

May 1: The Ex-Bombers. Cafe Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St. Columbia, Missouri's Ex-Bombers play what they and their label, Cavetone Records, call dirtbag jazz and beatnik spy punk. They bring a sound that's all low end with Keri Cousins' sparse drumming that recalls Moe Tucker and takes that influence all the way back in time to Olantunji and her crooning, scratchy vocals backed only by Scott Walus' throbbing bass and backing vocals. They use the elements of a rich palette of colors and moods but feel like they edit religiously and throw away what they don't need with the abandon of a real artist - it's an intoxicating mix you can dance, nod off, or make out to and I'd expect to see all three responses when they come to Bobo for a happy hour show. Locals Faster Island open. Starts at 7:00pm. $5 cover.

May 1-2: Columbus Jazz Orchestra featuring Maria Schneider. Southern Theatre, 21 E Main St. The CJO closes its 2014-2015 season with a bang. There's no legend in the world of big band writing and arranging of the last 30 years bigger than Maria Schneider who almost single handledly kept the torch of Carla Bley, Gil Evans, and Bob Brookmeyer alive in the dark days of the '90s with one classic after another like Evanescence, Coming Around, and Days of Wine and Roses - Live at the Jazz Standard which I played constantly in my early 20s. And she's still making classics - as she experiments with longer forms and other genre references, Sky Blue and Winter Morning Walks are as good as anything anyone's done for the form. A bridge between classics of the big band genre and the new jacks like Guillermo Klein, Orrin Evans, and Darcy James Argue. Her writing is rich and unexpected and charming, clean and brutal and wise, that keeps revealing its mysteries and secrets year after year after year. The program here is called "Big Band Evolution" and come with your ears and mind ready to be cleaned the fuck out. Let's also hope this might be a bridge toward CJO dealing with a more modern repertoire at least occasionally, some of the best players in the world for this kind of music digging into things just a little outside of their comfort zone. Show starts at 8:00pm. Tickets and more info available at

May 2: Blueprint. Brothers Drake, 26 E 5th Ave. Blueprint's one of the finest rappers in Columbus or anywhere with a cracking live show and his records just get better, stronger and catchier and more diverse. As a producer, he's got no equal in town and as a songwriter he's brings crystal clear perceptions, sharp and funny and grim and hopeful, to everything he touches. So any time a new record drops is a cause for celebration and this show for his new album King No Crown is no exception. The bill is stacked with support from legend J Rawls, King Vada about whom I hear nothing but good things, The Almighty Owl Greens and DJ Rare Groove. Show starts at 10:00pm. $10 tickets available at

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 04/20/15-04/26/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five


April 20-21: The Aliens by Annie Baker. OSU Lab Series, Drake Performance Space, 1849 Cannon Drive, room 2060. The Ohio State University wraps up a year of fascinating, cutting edge work in their Lab Series with a production - I believe the first in the Columbus area - of one of the finest and most acclaimed plays of the last 10 years. Annie Baker's The Aliens takes place behind a Vermont coffee shop where nervous teenaged employee Evan is taken under the wing of two overeducated and lost 30ish men, Jasper and KJ, and it's told with such empathic observation that by the end it will remind you of Chekov. I saw the Off-Broadway run of this at Rattlestick with Dane DeHaan and Michael Chernus and it's one of my most treasured theatre-going memories, something that slowly grew in impact until I was crying by the end of it. I'm particularly interested in this production because of the director, Karie Miller who was astonishing directing and performing in Available Light's one-night workshop of The Burden of Not Having a Tail. Starts at 7:00pm, tickets available at 6:00pm. Free event.

April 23-26: the theatre is a blank page by Ann Hamilton and SITI Company. Wexner Center, 1871 N High St. I don't think it's any exaggeration to say this is the theatrical event of the waning days of the 2014-2015 season - both the Wex's anniversary season as well as the theatre season. Longstanding Wex collaborators, SITI Company, led by Anne Bogart, who took the top of my head off in college with their Room return for another look at a different Virginia Woolf piece, To the Lighthouse. This work jumps off from that to look at how reading is perceived and what "reading" means. Developed in full collaboration with visual artist Ann Hamilton (who worked with SITI on her Park Avenue Armory installation the event of a thread), the advance word I've gotten - and there hasn't been much, people are keeping the surprise close to their chests - is that this will be unlike anything I've seen and anything I expect. Look for a full review at Columbus Underground but believe I'll be there Thursday night drinking it all in. Sold Out. Check for information on times and tickets that become available.


April 22: Literacy Narratives of Black Columbus Community Sharing Night. Denney Hall, 164 W 17th St. As National Poetry Month rides the crest of its wave in 2015, OSU's English department is presenting something special late enough for those of us who work banker's hours to make it to. From 6:00-7:00pm students will present research presentations and interviews with Columbus's local black poets. At 7:15, the audience will be treated to performances by three of the best working in Columbus right now: William Evans, Barbara Holmes (better known as Barbara Fant), and Scott Woods. You won't see better poetry anywhere in town and there are even fewer opportunities to see that academic context wrapped around poets who are performing here and around the country every single week, refining their craft and doing the work. Begins with refreshments at 5:30pm. Free event.


April 21: Spotlight Series: "Jazz 100s: Billy Strayhorn". Lincoln Theatre, 769 E Long St. One of the finest composers of jazz and popular music of the 20th century is Billy Strayhorn. Just writing "Lush Life" gets you into whatever heaven exists for a songwriter but past that his work both with Duke Ellington and solo - "Bloodcount", "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing", "Chelsea Bridge", "Take the A Train" (with all my trips to New York, I still can't catch the A Train - whether in Harlem, the Upper West Side, Chelsea, Brooklyn or Queens - without starting to hum those sweet notes to myself). Part of Jazz Arts Group's Jazz Academy series, they honor the centennial of Strayhorn's birth with one of Columbus's great pianists, Dave Powers - himself an encyclopedia of recorded music and styles - talking about Strayhorn and playing his great pieces. For more/better informed information, check out Andrew Patton's JazzColumbus column. Starts at 7:00pm. $10 cover.

April 23: Sensations' Fix. The Summit, 2210 N Summit St. Most unexpected show to hit Columbus this season? Maybe. Italian prog progenitors Sensations' Fix, led by Franco Falsini, put out a run of dazzling, delirious albums in the '70s (later sampled by DJ Shadow) and were then mothballed as Falsini dabbled in new wave and electronic trance.  With the RVNG Intl label reissuing their classic albums cut for Polydor, Falsini started a full-on revival in 2012 that finally weaves its way through the heartland to dance, sway and destabilize. Some of Columbus's finest mind-bending bands round out the bill: Psychedelic Horseshit, Golden Death Music, and Jacoti Sommes. Doors at 9pm. $8 cover.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 04/13/15-04/19/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five


April 14: Charlie Hunter Trio. Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza, 5610 N High St. Guitarist Charlie Hunter has practically defined a method of playing the 7 and 8-string guitar in a way that eschews wanky virtuosity and trained seal antics. His playing rotates on sensuality. a bone-deep understanding of R&B but with the wild melodic flights of the greatest jazz players. His writing and his choice of repertoire are as good as his playing. As anyone who saw last year's duo show with the great Scott Amendola can attest, he's a motherfucker dueting with just another voice, but I'm going out on a limb to say this show will be even more special. It reunites him with his long time collaborator drummer/composer Bobby Previte (who started working with Hunter in 2003 and are currently the rhythm section in riotous party band Omaha Diner) and brings in a young voice, trombonist Carly Myers. As good as Hunter's work with just drummers is, there's a special other level he reaches with horns, as in his collaborations with trombonist Curtis Fowlkes or the aforementioned Omaha Diner featuring Steven Bernstein on brass and Skerik on reeds. Myers has been making her name on the jam circuit with Mike Dillon, Yojimbo, and guest spots with Umphrey's McGee, and I can't wait to hear her. Bobby Previte I most recently saw at Bowery Electric in a trio with Mike Gamble on guitar and Austrian bari sax player Fabian Rucker and it damn near singed my eyebrows off. Even as someone who's been a fan of Previte since his records with Wayne Horvitz and John Zorn I got turned onto in high school (not to mention his appearance on Rain Dogs, another strong contender for best record of the 1980's - see below), the power and control rippled through that bar. Previte's writing is also hitting new heights; his suite Terminals that came out last year, featuring So Percussion, Nels Cline, John Medeski, Zeena Parkins, and Greg Osby, I regret only that I didn't hear it soon enough to make my Best Of list - music I'm still unpacking. Starts at 8:00pm. $20 Tickets at Vendini.

April 16: Vijay Iyer Trio. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Vijay Iyer might be my favorite jazz pianist working today. He synthesizes everything that moves or excites him in a way that sounds like nobody else. He breathes through his piano with a touch that's lyrical and hard in exactly the right ways and his compositions leave me breathless. This return trip to the Wex finds him bringing his standard jazz piano trio with one of the finest rhythm sections playing today, Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums, promoting one of the best jazz piano trio records I've heard in years, Break Stuff. This is a clinic in masters of the form doing what they can do with voices uniquely theirs. Starts at 8:00pm. $22 tickets available at

Visual Art

April 19: Exhibit Opening and Reception: Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women. Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library, 1813 N High. The expansion and renovation of the Billy Ireland has been one of the great success stories of the last few years and this new exhibition has me maybe more excited than I've been for anything there yet, and I've not yet been less than stunned. Curator Sarah Lightman's touring exhibit takes a look at the influence of Jewish women on the cartooning medium, particularly in the creation and flourishing of autobiographical comics through the work of 18 creators from the US and Canada. For the opening, not only is Lightman here to give guided tours, she's assembled some of the best speakers and cartoonists in comics - Sarah Glidden, Miriam Katin, and Trina Robbins (also an acclaimed historian). Seeing Trina Robbins speak at a Festival of Cartoon Art when I was in High School is a seminal moment for me so you can rest assured I won't miss this. Starts at 1:30pm. Free and open to the public.


April 15: Reelin' and Rockin' Presents Revenge of the Mekons. Gateway Film Center, 1550 N High St. There aren't many bands that have been more important to me personally or to whole swaths of the music I love and the music I met many of my friends through than the UK's Mekons. From their first record - 1977's still-funny piss take of The Clash, "Never Been in a Riot" - through helping to solidify the nowhere-near-named-yet movement with 1985's Fear and Whiskey and on to more recent work like 2002's masterpiece Oooh! (Out of Our Heads), they never once faltered in their commitment to pure, uncompromising rock and roll that spoke to their loves and interests and raged against their devils. Rock 'n Roll is damn near the finest record of the 1980s and gave the world one of its handful of contenders for the perfect rock and roll song, "Memphis, Egypt" which shoves and revels in and fucks with rock's erotics and mythopoetics and even the concept of a creation myth entirely - I still get chills when I hear those slashing chords and that line, "Destroy your safe and happy lives / Before it is too late / The battles we fought were long and hard / Just not to be consumed by rock and roll". This is not to even get into the stunning work Jon Langford's done solo and with The Sadies, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, The Waco Brothers, and Skull Orchid; Sally Timms' fragile, heartbreaking solo work; Tom Greenhaigh's multi-media projects and excavations; Steve Goulding's work with Graham Parker and Elvis Costello; and Susie Honeyman's film scores and work with Rip Rig + Panic; all just to cherry-pick examples. Let whatever attention is left in this deficient age be paid to the Mekons. Happy hour (with drink specials) begins at 7:00pm. Film begins at 8:00pm. 

March 18: The Measure of All Things. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Sam Green does terrific documentaries with a live component. Columbus is lucky enough to benefit from his relationship with the Wexner Center that brings his new work to town, most recently his Love Song to R. Buckminster Fuller with Yo La Tengo about three years ago. His new work, The Measure of All Things, is a look at obsessions with records, particularly the Guinness Book of World Records, a way to define and hem in the world. He presents it with live narration and music by The Quavers (Todd Griffin, Catherine McCray, and Brendan Canty). These presentations are always uplifting. Starts at 7:00pm. $12 Tickets available at

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 04/06/15-04/12/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.

These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.


April 10/April 11: Writer's Block Poetry All Nighter. Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N High St. It's National Poetry Month so I'm going to try hard to find at least one thing a week to point you toward. This event grew out of Scott Woods' legendary 24 hour poetry readings, retired after a staggering 5 year run and turned into a fundraiser for his long-running and influential Writer's Block night and a showcase for the city's robust and diverse poetry scene as a whole. The schedule's still getting filled out but of what's announced there are a handful of sets I recommend without any reservation: both of Woods' own sets 2-2:30am and 10-10:30am, Louise Robertson's closing set 1:30-2:00pm, Ed Plunkett at 8:30pm, Charlene Fix at 8:45pm, and the half hour of erotic poetry at midnight. Starts at 8:00pm April 10 and goes through 2pm April 11. Free show.

Visual Art

April 8: Hassan Hajjaj Talk. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Moroccan-born and London-based artist Hajjaj's installation at the Wex currently, My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, is an intoxicating look at artists like Jose James and Marques Tolliver in a rotating video that will suck you in and not let you go for hours. He brings a refreshing, relevant and electrifying voice and aesthetic to the art world that remembers that the word world is equally important in that phrase. With this work closing at the end of the weekend, his talk is a chance to revisit the installation and get to hear about his work from the source. Starts at 4:30pm. Free.


April 6: Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles with the Nth Power. Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W 3rd Ave. Cory Henry, keyboardist from Snarky Puppy, has branched out from the gospel tinged organ trio work of his early solo recordings to paint with a more expansive, roiling funk palette that still makes lots of room for his jazz background. The Nth Power features a lineup with heavier roots in the jam band scene including Nikki Glaspie and Nick Cassarino but they have a defter understanding of dynamics and space than much of that scene. This should be a funky good time par excellence for those brave souls out on a Monday (and still standing after the NCAA championship or MLB opening day). Starts at 8:00pm. $15 tickets available at Ticketweb.

April 8: Jim Lauderdale. Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W 3rd Ave. One of the finest country songwriters to emerge in the '90s, Lauderdale's sticky melodies and razor-sharp observational lyric writing enlivened records by everyone from Jack Ingram to the Derailers, Patty Loveless to the Dixie Chicks, Blake Shelton to Kelly Willis, before we even get into his massive hits for George Strait. In the dark days when the lines seemed drawn with barbed wire between Nashville country and the movement, Lauderdale not only traversed both sides of the line with more ease than anyone except maybe his friend and collaborator Buddy Miller, but his name in the credits was as close to a sure thing as a fan of pure song was likely to be assured by. He records more under his own name now, ranging from bluegrass to Bakersfield to acoustic singer-songwriter records, which is a very, very good thing - his Whisper on BNA in 1998 is maybe the finest mainstream country record nobody really heard. And he's an astonishing live presence - his Sunday matinee show at Little Brothers about 15 years ago might be the finest single singer-songwriter show I've ever seen. If this isn't magic on that gorgeous-sounding PA at Woodlands, I'll eat my hat. Roots-rocker Erica Blinn opens and word is she's in the early stages of a new record so be hopeful for new songs getting an early test run. Starts at 8:00pm. $20 Tickets available at Ticketweb. 

April 12: Laura Andrea Leguia's Saxofon Criollo. Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N High St. Natalie's has been killing it of late with a couple of my favorite shows so far this year, the debut of James Gaiters' Soul Revival and last Friday's spell-binding Six String Drag performance. Their weekend lineup this week features two shows by Gabriel Alegria's hard driving Afro-Peruvian Sextet but for my money the crown jewel is saxophonist Laura Andrea Leguia's side project playing a brunch show on Sunday - Saxofon Criollo.  Leguia's a deep-thinking composer and reeds player with a rich, spiky tone, and student of coastal Peruvian music and this trio finds her playing with guitarist Yuri Juarez (Susana Baca, Javier Lazo) and percussionist Freddy "Huevito" Lobaton (Guajaja, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra). If this doesn't cure whatever's wrong with you by Sunday morning, there might not be any hope. Starts at noon. Free. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Hey, Fred" 03/23/15-03/29/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.

These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

Happy birthday to me! As was my tradition for many years, I'm ditching town for my actual birthday for some outside culture - this year Louisville for just a taste of Humana and then Knoxville for Big Ears which I've said before was the most enriching time I've had at a festival musically in many years. So as with a couple weeks ago (for a trip I didn't get to make due to sickness) forgive me if this week's is a little more tossed-off than usual.


Don Quixote: a pilgrimage by Jen Schleuter. Presented by Available Light Theatre; Van Fleet Theatre in the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave. A little sorry I won't see this until it's second weekend but don't you make the same mistake! One of Available Light's signature forms is the exploded literary adaptation - great works collaged to include context and changing opinions regarding them. So I'm very excited to see this new installment in that vaunted tradition - a look at one of the greatest novels of the Western canon, Don Quixote, written by brilliant playwright and frequent collaborator Jen Schlueter and directed by Artistic Director Matt Slaybaugh. Opens on March 26. 8pm shows Thursday-Saturday except April 2, 2pm matinee Sunday April 12. For tickets and info visit


March 25: California Mavericks: Compositions by Cowell, Harrison and Cage. The Garden Theater, 1187 N High St. The Short North Stage's renovation and operation of the Garden Theater has been a boon all around. One of my favorite elements of their programming has been New Music at the Short North Stage which presents well-chosen chamber music programs in informal settings. I'm particularly excited about this newest program which looks at modernist giants who all originally came from California. The program includes Lou Harrison's "Song of the Quetzalcoatl" and "Song for Violin and Percussion Ensemble" performed by the Capital University Percussion Ensemble and featuring Elizabeth Chang, John Cage's "One4" played by Robert Breithaupt, and Henry Cowell's "Set of Five" performed by Elizabeth Chang, Maria Staeblein, and Ryan Kilgore. Starts at 7pm. Free.

March 26: Ritmos Unidos. Lincoln Theatre, 769 E Long St. This Afro-Caribbean jazz juggernaut should sound amazing in the warm acoustics of the Lincoln. Full of West Coast-tied players but formed in the hallowed land of Bloomington, Indiana, where percussionist Michael Spiro teaches at IU, they delve into and breathe through a panoply of Latin styles and music from the African diaspora. Starts at 8pm. $20 tickets available at Ticketmaster.

March 28: Day Creeper LP Release. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Day Creeper's been one of my favorite bands since they formed in Columbus a few years ago, playing a writhing, electric fusion of hard mod-rock propelled by The Jam and classic Columbus for lack of a better word heartland rock. Aaron Troyer's songs are catchy and interesting, Laura Bernazzoli is one of my favorite bass players in town, eschewing the obvious Motown riffs and injecting strange angles without sacrificing the groove, and augmented by the current line up of Elijah Vasquez on drums and former drummer Dan Ross on second guitar is the most powerful, exciting lineup they've had. Churning drone-rockers Sex Tide open along with noise-pop band Brat Curse and Red Feathers. Starts at 10pm. $5 cover.

March 29: Steve Gunn and Ryley Walker. Spacebar, 2590 N High St. Two of the acts I'm most looking forward to seeing at Big Ears are winding their way through my hometown on Sunday. Steve Gunn's buzz has hit almost deafening levels with his breakthrough last year, Way Out Weather, and his brand new collaborative record with avant-bluegrass band The Black Twig Pickers. Ryley Walker, touring with him, finds the sweet center of a venn diagram between Van Morrison, Bert Jansch, and Nick Drake. This complex, emotional music should brace you for the week upcoming at the best sounding new rock club in town. Banjo player Nathan Bowles - of the aforementioned Pickers - opens. Starts at 9pm. Googling did not return a cover.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 03/16/14-03/22/14 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.

These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.


March 16: Perfume Genius with Jenny Hval. Wexner Center, 1871 N High St. Perfume Genius has made some fascinating records and is a great live show but I'm here to lobby you to show up early enough for Norway's Jenny Hval. I got turned onto her with an article in The Wire in 2011, and bought her record Viscera and was blown away by it almost immediately - it's rare to see a first album (I never heard her early work with rockettothesky) come out with that particular kind of bang, so fully formed, such an internal, personal work with such fangs bared for the world. When I got to see her the next year at Issue Project Room as part of New York's offshoot of the Unsound Festival, the perception and awe were only amplified. Her second record Innocence is Kinky added thicker grooves and backbeats and sharpened that idiosyncratic voice without sacrificing one iota of the weirdness and charm and her performance supporting it at last year's Big Ears Festival was the most intensely pure rock - but without the baggage that term sometimes countenances - I saw at that entire festival. It's a delight seeing her on bigger tours opening for acts like St. Vincent and now that she's signed to acclaimed US label Sacred Bones, who have put out some of my favorite music for the last few years, I can't wait to see what comes next. Starts at 8:00pm. $15 Tickets available at

March 16: Torche. Skully's, 1151 N High St. Steve Brooks' stoner-metal juggernaut Torche has expanded its range and its melodic reach over the last few years and while I haven't dug into their new one, Restarter, yet - all accounts say it's a worthy followup to their masterpiece Harmonicraft. Especially since drafting second guitarist Andrew Elstner from St Louis's Riddle of Steel and Tilts, Torche has had an interest in big, sweeping, exciting melody without sacrificing the crunching, grinding riffs they came from. In a room with one of the best sound systems in town - when handled well - this should be a third-eye opener. Nothing and Wrong open. Starts at 8:00pm. $15 tickets available at Ticketweb.

March 18: YOB. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. YOB is one of those bands that will knock the wind right out of your lungs. A mix of bone-rattling doom metal with a heavy overlay of transcendent psychedelia - long songs played like their lives depend on them. Their last show at Ace of Cups is one of the best shows I've ever seen there so their return to the venue is much-anticipated. Ecstatic Vision and Lazer/Wulf open. Starts at 8:00pm. $15 Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.

March 19: Shannon McNally. Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza, 5601 N High. McNally is one of the finest exponents of the soulful strain of Americana. She first hit my radar touring with Ryan Adams, Son Volt, and Victoria Williams and popped back up on it with recent stints with Rodney Crowell, writing and recording with Dave Alvin, and a fantastic EP with Amy Lavere. Great narrative-based songs, terrific playing, and a voice that will stick under your skin for days. Starts at 9:00pm. $12 Tickets Available at Vendini.

March 21: Talisha Holmes Ensemble. Dick's Den, 2417 N High St. Talisha Holmes is one of my favorite singers in town. Full disclosure: I've known her since we went to High School together. It always did my heart good when news of what she was doing filtered down to me, teaching at Capital, adding perfect vocals to hard-driving party bands like Capital Sound or MojoFlo, her stunning work with J. Rawls' Liquid Crystal Project. But even as a fan, when I saw her solo work with the Ensemble at Brothers Drake about two years ago it blew my hair back. She's assembled a catalogue of songs that fuse the sensuous tension of '70s Roberta Flack and the Whitfield-produced Temptations with the irrepressible joyousness of classic Stevie Wonder, but using textures that work at a pleasantly orthogonal angle to those classic touchstones and creating utterly personal, utterly modern work. No part of this is a self-consciously retro thing. Also, she works with the finest musicians in town - sometimes including Brandon "Bjazz" Scott, Adam Smith, Ron Hope, and Kyra Curenton - and has a great ear for the perfect cover - I've heard her get me grooving to covers of songs I didn't even like the original of (which will remain nameless). Seeing her in a room like this for three sets is a treat. Also, as my birthday is in the middle of the following week - if anyone were inclined to buy me a birthday drink, this is where I can guarantee you I'll be after dinner with my better half. Starts at 10:00. $4 cover.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 03/09/15-03/15/15 A Biased and Idiosyncratic Top Five

This is the most popular feature (within the very relative confines of that word as it relates to this). A look at things I want to shine some light on - not everything I'm going to do, and not quite (as the old version was) everything I'd do if money and time were no object.

These are my top 5 suggestions for the week in question - named for my great pal Fred Pfening and named long before it was born, by A., who suggested "Rick's going to have a blog called 'Hey, Fred! Here's what's coming to town...' - whatever media strike my fancy. It could be all theater one week, it could be all films or all readings or all gallery shows, but most weeks will include some if not mostly music - I hope to spark some  conversations and get people excited about what I'm excited for. If you read this, let me know what would make this more useful to you. As well, if you get any value out of this, please send me links/invite me on Facebook/send up a carrier pigeon to let me know about your events.

This is a week I'm going to be out of town so it's been assembled further in advance and I wasn't looking as closely for what's going on as I might be. Mea culpa. But these are all events I think deserve your attention and things I will either be at, or would be at were I in town.


Paging Columbus: Spring Training. OSU Urban Arts Center, 50 W Town St. Hannah Stephenson's Paging Columbus is one of the most interesting interdisciplinary readings in town, drawing from poetry, creative nonfiction, literary fiction and genre fiction, based around rotating themes to show new connections and see what sparks fly. This month's is based around spring training - athletes, druids, conjurers, lovers, artists, it speaks to a deep need for warmth and green right now. It features Mike Wright, Julia Grawemeyer, Allie Wollner and one of my favorite poets in town, Izetta Thomas. Starts at 6:00pm. Free.


March 11: Dave and Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones. Valley Dale Ballroom, 1590 Sunbury Rd. I've waxed rhapsodic about Alec Wightman's work with Zeppelin Productions in the past. He's done more to bring a certain stripe of Americana singer-songwriter to town than almost anyone else I can think of, including legends like Dan Penn and Guy Clark we probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This is the 20th anniversary of his booking shows and, I'm pretty sure, the 15th anniversary of my going to one of his shows - the very same Dave Alvin gracing our fine stages this Wednesday. I've seen the Alvin brothers again and again - Dave probably a dozen times over those years, and Phil's still-ongoing Blasters four or five. Neither has ever disappointed me. But I've only seen them together once, at Bogarts on 2002's Original Five Blasters reunion. They reunited last year for a terrific EP of Big Bill Broonzy classics and friends who saw the first leg of that tour said it was fire - wall to wall Blasters hits, classic R&B drawing from the Broonzy catalogue and others, and Dave's own solo material, backed by Dave's well-oiled touring band. If you have any interest in the jukejoint blood of America's veins, do not miss this. Starts at 8:00pm. For tickets and more info please write to

March 11: Wolf Eyes. Double Happiness, 427 S Front St. I feel like I also saw Wolf Eyes here in town around 2000, maybe that same summer/fall I saw Dave Alvin at the Columbus Music Hall, and it similarly made me want to make something or set something I'd already written on fire and try to divine the future out of the ash. Through line up changes, what feels like a million splinter groups and affiliates, and countless releases, they've stayed true to their beautifully damaged aesthetic and the scalding, purifying joyousness of controlled noise but also pursued whatever interests struck them at any given moment. This should be bummer magic in the confines of Double Happiness. Doors at 8:00pm. $10 tickets available at Ticketfly.

March 12-15: Columbus Jazz Orchestra featuring John Clayton, Gerald Clayton, and the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. Southern Theatre, 21 E Main St. If you have even the slightest affinity for big band jazz, this is going to be special. John Clayton is a legendary bassist, composer, arranger and bandleader with a resume that includes Dr. John, Quincy Jones, Regina Carter and Henry Mancini and a long association with CJO's fearless leader Byron Stripling. His son, Gerald Clayton, is one of the finest up and coming pianists working today, a colorist with a fearless and faultless sense for rhythmic invention. And this is the one show of the year where CJO brings their protege group, the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and lets them shine side by side with the experienced players. As entertaining a night of music as you're likely to see anywhere - it being in Columbus's most beautiful sounding theater is icing. 7:30pm Thursday, 8:00pm Friday-Saturday, 3:00pm Sunday. For tickets and more information visit

March 14: Todd Snider. Park Street Saloon, 525 Park St. If you ever need a refresher in how much of the world you can fit in a three minute sing-along song, you don't need to look much further than Todd Snider. After shaking off the expectations of being the next Tom Petty, Snider dug in, dug deeper and made one funny, sad, true, gorgeous record after another. This tour celebrates the 20th anniversary of his major label debut (and source of his one minor hit) Songs From the Daily Planet and the 10th anniversary of my favorite of his records, East Nashville Skyline, and set lists look like he's doing just about everything a fan would want to hear. Opener Kevin Gordon, who I saw at a Twangfest a number of years ago and he stunned even a crowd that lively - or maybe what I want to say is he cut through all the whiskey of the evening - is the perfect guy to go toe to toe with a crowd pleaser like Snider. Doors at 8:00pm. $18 tickets available at Ticketweb.