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


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