Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" A Biased, Idiosyncratic Top Five for the Week of January 12-18, 2015

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.

This is 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.


Available Light Theatre Presents Next Stage Initiative 2015. Riffe Center - Studio Two, 77 S. High St.  8:00pm Thursday-Saturday, January 8-January 17. Pay What You Want at the door.  One of my favorite Available Light events and one of my favorite theatrical events in town becomes a tradition with its second year. Next Stage Initiative is a mixture of workshops of plays so new they're still damp and tryout readings of plays that have been produced with some success elsewhere that are being considered for future production. This is the best place in town to see and hear new and fascinating voices that might not get a reading of this caliber anywhere else. I only made it to one show in its first weekend but in this, its second and final weekend, I have every intention of seeing all three. The three productions this time are:
  • January 15: The Burden of Not Having a Tail by Carrie Barrett. Actor/writer Barrett's play is a one-woman look at the onrushing apocalypse that had a production n 2013 by Chicago's Sideshow Theatre. Interestingly, the director of this reading is Karie Miller who performed in the original Chicago production.There is a talkback with the cast and crew after this performance.
  • January 16: Rust on Bone by Bianca Sams. Actor/writer (and Ohio University MFA) Sams' Rust on Bone has been wracking up prestigious readings including at Gulfshore Playhouse and Manhattan Theatre Club and her website describes her work as "violent intersections that force audiences to confront their own complex love affair with misery." This might be the play I'm most looking forward to in this year's Next Stage Initiative, directed by Yolanda Board.
  •  January 17: Queens of tbe Ring by Max Glenn. Actor/writer Glenn did a fascinating turn in Camille Bullock's Southern Cross the Dog in last year's Next Stage Initiative and has been working behind the scenes with AVLT in the intervening year, most recently as Dramaturge on She Kills Monsters and this workshop reading of his play is directed by frequent AVLT collaborator Whitney Thomas Eads who has been doing stunning work as an actress of late. 


January 13: Writing Wrongs Poetry featuring Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib. Ruby Tuesday, 1978 Summit St. Columbus expat Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib created a thriving pocket of the scene in his years shepherding Travonna coffee house's poetry night and also appeared on stages with every other great poet in town and better than held his own. One of the most fluid voices and incisive wits I've ever seen. He's relocated to Connecticut so this rare local feature should be really special, plus one of the livest open mics in town. Starts at 8:00pm. $5 cover, $3 for students. 



January 13: Mishka Shubaly. Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St. Mishka Shubaly used to come through Columbus regularly, as a solo act and in bands like Beat the Devil. He's spent the last few years focusing on a fantastic second career as a prose writer but I, for one, am very glad to see he's bringing his great lived-in Replacements style songs around the country again - his performance at Larry's 10 or more years ago is still one of my favorite singer-songwriter evenings ever at my favorite bar in Columbus. Seattle-based singer-songwriter Star Anna opens and local singer-songwriter Lou Poster, of Grafton, The Ferals, and Drift Mouth, closes the evening. Starts at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

January 15: Weyes Blood. Cafe Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St. Weyes Blood is the new project of Natalie Mering from Jackie O Motherfucker and it's less unhinged but in a similar blood-dark vein of weirdo Americana concerned with the world as body and the body as the world. The newest record, The Innocents, came out late enough I didn't really hear and absorb it before 2014 ended but it's already nagging at me and I can't wait to hear those songs live. Ryan Jewell's folk/krautrock band Mosses along with the fragile, damaged, haunting electronics of Pretty Pornos, and Thunder Thighs, with whom I'm not familiar yet, open. Starts at 10:00pm. $5 cover.

January 16: Nox Boys with The Hexers and New Gentle Soul. Spacebar, 2590 N High St. The Hexers, whose two-guitar lineup has both gelled and injected some harder bluesy edges to their girl group stomps and garage swings, are one of the most consistently entertaining and righteously rocking bands in town with a slate of songs that make old forms feel as fresh as the sweat on your brow. They're bringing their Get Hip label mates, teenage adrenaline-fueled garage rockers Nox Boys, in from Pittsburgh for this show. And make sure you show up early enough for New Gentle Soul, the merging of Travis Kokas from The Cusacks on guitar and vocals, Tutti Jackson from The Patsys and Action Family on bass and vocals, Matt Benz from The Sovines, The Beatdowns and Sin Shouters, on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Gene Brodeur from The Sovines and Bubba Ho-Tep on drums, doing some of the finest spiky '60s sunshine pop with a dark and bitter tang of anyone in town. Doors at 9:00pm. $5 cover.

Still Running

This is a section for things that I recommended in earlier weeks still ongoing and I still recommend


Warehouse Theatre Company presents This is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan. Madlab Theatre, 227 N Third St.  This play chronicles 24 hours in the life of three young people adrift in early '80s Manhattan. When it premiered in the mid-'90s, it helped cement Lonergan as a keen vivisectionist of the American neurosis. Warehouse Theatre Company returned to the Columbus scene last year after an almost 10 year absence, and I reviewed this for Columbus Underground. More info: Interview with playwright Kenneth Lonergan occasioned by last year's Broadway revival: Interview with the cast and crew about this production in the Columbus Dispatch: Preview at 8pm January 7, 2015. Performances at 8pm Thursday-Saturday, January 8-January 14; at 2pm and 7pm on Sunday January 11, 2015. More information and tickets:!this-is-our-youth/c1gl

Visual Art

Esther Ruiz: Neon Dreams. Glass Axis, 610 W Town St.  Brooklyn artist Esther Ruiz is presenting a solo exhibition of her minimal futuristic landscapes that use glittering, shiny surfaces to conjure a vibration down the viewer's spine. I can't wait to see this work in person. On view through February 22, 2015. More information: