Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Hey, Fred!" 02/23/15-03/01/15 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.

First, R.I.P. to Brett Helling, guitarist, bassist, songwriter, singer, and great, great friend to many people I care very deeply about. I never knew Brett well but was always happy to see him when I did and I know his death is a great loss for many corners of the music scene in this town.


February 24: Scott Woods feature at Writing Wrongs Poetry. Ruby Tuesday, 1978 Summit St. One of the finest Columbus poets, Woods has brought the house down on stages from Vancouver to Boston, from the Bowery Poetry Club to the Green Mill to National Public Radio. One of the finest poets I've heard who's been astonishing me for at least 15 years and is a key catalyst to the Columbus performance poetry scene being as strong a contender and as nationally recognized as it is. He doesn't do many local features and I couldn't recommend this one, at Will Evans' Writing Wrongs night, any higher. Get there early enough for the open mic, when I hit Writing Wrongs a month or so ago I was impressed at the breadth of young talent that show has attracted lately. Starts at 8:00pm. $5 cover. 

February 27: Ohio Underground. Creating a Folklore of the Present and Future: Peter Laughner, The Black Orchid Society, and the Northeastern Ohio Music Scene, 1969-1977; Barnett Center, 131 Sullivant Hall, Ohio State University. And Performance Talk by David Thomas, Hagerty Hall 180, Ohio State University. If you have any interest in Ohio music history, you shouldn't miss either of these events. The morning panel discussion features Frank Mauceri, Nick Blakey and Andrew Russ of the Peter Laughner archives at Smog Veil records who have done great work keeping that flame alive. Peter Laughner might be best known to people my generation and younger by the Lester Bangs obituary anthologized countless times. He was a key component of influential bands like Rocket from the Tombs and early Pere Ubu and a vital link bringing New York proto-punk bands like Television and the Patti Smith Group to Cleveland and introducing the Dead Boys to the NYC scene. He died too young and left a small, but very, very choice body of work. David Thomas continued that work and took it in every more fascinating directions ever since with his work in Pere Ubu, solo records (the version of David Thomas and Two Pale Boys featuring Richard Thompson is a personal favorite), and a revived Rocket from the Tombs, as well as his avant-garde theatre and prose work. I can't wait to see what his "performance talk" looks and sounds like. Video below this is a song written by Laughner and performed by Rocket from the Tombs in an essential document, breaking a longstanding rule of mine of not posting videos that are a still photograph with music behind it, but sometimes there isn't a choice. This should have been Ohio's official rock song, and I feel like it is for those of us who give a damn. Panel discussion is 9:00am-10:30am, performance talk is 5:00pm-6:30pm. Both events are free.


February 23: Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake. Double Happiness, 482 S Front St. John Reis is one of the most riveting frontmen I've ever had the pleasure to see grace a stage and every band of his - Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, The Night Marchers, Drives Like Jehu - is worth checking out. This new project, a collaboration with Minneapolis grime-laden rockers The Blind Shake, is a set of scorching original instrumentals in the vein of Ventures classics. In this tiny room on the edge of downtown, expect a sweaty, grooving party that grabs you by the throat and won't let go. One of my favorite local bands, weirdo-punks Hookers Made Out of Cocaine open along with Athens' much-buzzed-about surf band The D-Rays. Be ready to be sore at work on Tuesday. Doors at 8:00pm. $11 Tickets available at Ticketfly.

February 27-28: Erik Friedlander and Mitch Epstein, American Power. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St. Erik Friedlander is one of my favorite cellists who I've seen more than a dozen times  and probably have 20 records featuring - in a variety of modes, including John Zorn's compositions in the Masada String Trio, recreations of jukejoint blues in Nighthawks, riffs on Oscar Pettiford's music in his Broken Arm Trio, free improvisation, and string arrangements for bands like Mountain Goats. Friedlander particularly excels in works inspired by and riffing off other media, including his solo cello record Maldoror based on the poems of the Comte de Lautreamont, his work based on his father Lee Friedlander's photographs Block Ice and Propane and this new project built around Mitch Epstein's book American Power. Friedlander's never played a note that wasn't worth hearing. Starts at 8:00pm. $18 tickets are available at

February 28: Miss Tess and the Talkbacks. Brothers Drake, 26 E 5th Ave. NYC's evergreen roots scene is in a particularly good upswing right now and high upon that wave is Miss Tess and the Talkbacks, a four-piece band led by a voice that's mastered every emotion she wants to deploy. They synthesize classic rockabilly, small-group Western Swing, and grooving early R&B with aplomb. Stellar original songs and a razor-sharp taste in covers and arrangements. This should bring some warmth to even the coldest heart on even the coldest Saturday night. Local fellow retro-revisionists The Dewdroppers round out this raucous party of a bill. Starts at 10:00pm. $7 cover.


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