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.