Author Archives: Ben Chenoweth

Nelsonville Music Fest – one week away!

Seven days and counting, waiting for the clouds to divest themselves of what seems like endless rain, until the 7th annual Nelsonville Music Festival. I pretty much gushed about the Fest last year, and am looking forward to another go. If the buzz around Columbus is any indicator, I’m not alone in my anticipation – some combination of the word getting out about a good thing and a growing contingency of recognizable national headliners makes me think that this will be a bigger and better operation in terms of both crowd and bill. The Fest has undergone a fairly meteoric rise from rustic small town beginnings, becoming a must-see event for many around here and garnering some greater attention abroad. It’s not too late to get on board and cement your ‘I remember when…’ memories – daily and weekend passes are still available. It’s clear that part of the experience with Nelsonville is the aesthetics of the grounds, the charm of the volunteers running it, the accessibility of the artists and sets. I’m optimistic that the fine folks at Stuart’s Opera House (who organize it) will both recognize and preserve the neighborly vibe, even while playing host to some pretty big name acts. Continue reading

CMC Hosts Health Care Reform Workshop With National Advocate

Image courtesy of Future of Music Coalition

Think the cost of health insurance really sucks? Think no insurance sucks more? Heads up: The Columbus Music Co-op continues a string of educational programs and workshops this weekend by hosting Alex Maiolo from the Future of Music Coalition, a national non-profit organization working for as a proponent of musicians at “the intersection of music, law, technology and policy.” Maiolo is an accomplished musician in his own right, as well as an advocate, writer, recordist, and contributor to Tape Op magazine. It’s his day job, however, that will form the basis for Sunday’s (May 8th, 2-4 PM) presentation at the Jazz Academy (Lincoln Theater, 769 E Long Street). Since 2005 Maiolo has been working on the FMC’s Health Insurance Navigation Tool (H.I.N.T) program, which directly assists the 33% of musicians who are without health insurance in finding affordable coverage. Programs such as H.I.N.T were part of the inspiration for the CMC’s own CMAP program which provides medical grants to Franklin County musicians. If you would like to hear more about H.I.N.T or CMAP, or the state of the insurance industry as it applies to the self employed, you are encouraged to attend. The presentation will focus on musicians, but is FREE and open to the public. Space is limited so please RSVP through the Jazz Academy here.

In typical CMC fashion, it’s not all work- there’s a party involved too. Saturday May 7th at Kobo, there will be a CMC Volunteer Appreciation Party and New Music Showcase (Alert New London, New Tooth and Energy Clinic!). Details can be found on the Facebook event page.

The Celebrity Pilots, Hawks of the Lesser Antilles

MP3:Celebrity Pilots – Lost a Limb

I’ll admit to not being the most observant dude in the world, but the mere existence of this record came as surprise to me. After a couple of previous albums and a live presence in town respectable for a band that splits roots between Columbus and Cleveland, I haven’t heard much from the The Celebrity Pilots in the last year or so. Then this… practically a sneak attack of a CD release with an added guitar player and new sixteen-song collection called Hawks of the Lesser Antilles. After a single trip through, this new record is my favorite CPs to date. While not a massive departure- the meat is still quirky and catch pop songs and Chris Sheehan still navigates somewhere between Bob Pollard and Jeff Buckley- where previous songs went for frenetic or weird, this collection tends to lean towards something more pastoral.

The Celebrity Pilots will launch this thing with a show at Rumba Cafe, Saturday June 5th. Lending a hand will be The Lindsay and Bicentennial Bear.

Nelsonville Music Festival: Perspective #2

Allwood Sisters, Porch Stage

I just want to sing the praises of the Nelsonville Music Festival for a minute, because not only did they provide me with a pretty killer weekend, I think they deserve some props for putting together one of those things that makes you feel psyched to be in Ohio, and that you’re kinda glad not everyone knows how good we’ve got it. I’ll preface this with a story that describes the tone of this festival and the people who are involved: I called down to Stuart’s Opera House to ask if I could add a camping spot to my ticket purchase (“sure no problem man..oh yeah, Ben, gotcha right here”) and midway through taking my credit card number, the dude on the phone was like ‘hold up a minute, someone just brought a puppy in here to work and all hell is breaking loose.’ So we took a little break from the transaction until the giggling died off. I mean, are these people- these volunteers- who care more about puppies than takin’ your money, the kind of folks that you want to spend a weekend listening to bands with? Yes.

This is the festival’s sixth year, but is arguably the second year after a major growth spurt brought about by the addition of some major national acts. The transition from local town street fair to booking legends like Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn has certainly increased attendance, but has not managed to warp the event into something that feels corporate or contrived. Not once did I see some cargo pants wearin’, flashlight totin’ security guy with “STAFF” on his back shakin’ somebody down; not once did a lycra-clad promotions girl try to give me packets of gum or sign me up for a credit card. What I did see was a really nice mix of familiar local bands and big time performers in a pretty sweet setting. Check out some more chat and photos below.
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New Black Keys Video, Album soon

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New Black Keys album Brothers due out May 18th.

Sounds to me like graduating from the Blakroc project did the Akron boys some good.

Meet Behind You With Knives (again?) – Saturday 4/3 Carabar

Behind You With Knives Photo credit to Gretchen King

MP3: Black Forest

If those three purty faces look familiar, it’s likely because you’ve spied ’em as a part of any one of several bands currently making things happen around town. But if the three of them together kind of rattles a particular neuron or two, you were probably spending some quality time in High Street clubs in the early aughts. See, pictured above is ¾ of Frostiva, childhood friends who put together their first band in 2000 and cashed it in 4 years later. God love ’em for leaving the Frostiva website alive, as it’s a nice look back on days passed- full of references to Little Brothers, Diet, Go Evol Shiki… hell even the Angelfire host is some pre-Myspace shit.

Since the demise of Frostiva, the talents of what is now of Behind You With Knives have been plenty in demand (Leslie – Church of the Red Museum, Flotation WallsMoon High, Nick Tolford and Company; Faith – The Hills Have Eyes, Deerhead; Sharon – Teeth on Teeth, Guardylou). The reunion of these three as BYWK, only a few months old now, has them going in a little heavier direction. The project is young enough that when I first contacted them, there wasn’t yet any recorded material for review, so based on some thin rumors about how they are going to sound, I fired off some questions for the band. As it turns out, literally moments before this thing hit the ol’ blog page, MP3s of a promised 4-song demo materialized out the ether. The demo (cover art by Angie Redmond below) will be available at their first show on Saturday. Behind You With Knives will share the Carabar stage with Rosehips and American Jobs. (EDIT: American Jobs is a last-minute scratch. Suitable replacement is still in the works….)

Dumb questions and patient answers after the jump.. Continue reading

CMC & Relay Recording release Columbus comp Saturday (2/13)

CMC+Relay Comp artwork by Clinton Reno
Album artwork by Mr. Clinton Reno
MP3:Bookmobile – Weekends of our Youth
MP3:Ben Schwabe – Crystal Branches

First a little disclosure right upfront- I’m an official part of the Columbus Music Co-op volunteer machine, so this is a project which is near to my heart. Looking beyond my obvious lack of objectivity, I think most of you reading this have some shared interest in the Columbus music community and will appreciate both the efforts and the results of this undertaking. Something like a year and half ago, a plan was hatched by Jon Fintel (Relay Recording) and Erin Moore of the CMC to provide a vehicle to showcase the variety and quality of music making in town. Of particular importance to the founders was the notion that equal attention should be given to young (high school age) artists, who would be showcased adjacent to more veteran musicians. Over the past year, Fintel donated over a 100 hours of studio time to record and master eleven original tracks, some of which are the first professional recordings made of the participants. All of them are available only on this compilation, which turns out to be a really strong collection.

On Saturday, February 13th Relay and the CMC will host the first of two CD release shows at Carabar, where copies of the compilation, complete with original album art, will be available for $5. In the spirit of providing a musical experience for young people, a second all ages and family-friendly multi-faceted release show is scheduled for Sunday, February 28th in the North Market Dispatch Test Kitchen from 1-5 pm. All bands are volunteering their time, so should any profits be made from shows or sales, they will go to fund the CMC’s Columbus Music Assistantship Program to provide emergency medical expense grants to working musicians in need. Keep reading below for additional information on bands, a track listing, and set times.
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Bush League All-Stars, Cedar Knees

Bush League All-Stars

MP3: Bush League All-Stars – Gravity’s Heart

After more than a decade since emerging from the ashes of Greenhorn, and 8 months since solidifying the current version of membership, Dan Spurgeon leads the Bush League All-Stars in debuting Cedar Knees this Friday. Reflecting the deep resumes of the members, all of whom have had success around town in the gamut of genres, the record varies from sweet to stomping (but tends towards the latter).

Most songs seem to fall somewhere in the spectrum between the smart piano alehouse-pop of the Hold Steady and a more visceral American camaro-rock. If you’re looking for deep sentiment or brooding, look away. I’m left mostly with the impression that the songs are as fun to play as they are to listen to. It’s got the vigor of a summertime record, almost a shame to dump it on the market when people are hunkering down under their comforters to watch crappy DVDs. Don’t let the weather stop ya though. The release show is Friday, December 11th at The Summit. Hand-screened CDs make great stocking stuffers.

And speaking of great bands that have built up a little cred over the years, joining BLAS for the night are big shots Pretty Mighty Mighty and You’re So Bossy. Whoa. Really. This is gonna be good.

MP3: The Low Anthem & Langhorne Slim Preview

The Low Anthem
MP3: The Low Anthem: Charlie Darwin

Sometime earlier this spring while we were standing around the Newport waiting for the Heartless Bastards to do their thing, conversation turned to debriefing on favorites from the recently-concluded SXSW festival. Shane mentioned Theodore. He was right. Duffy kinda couldn’t shut up about this band The Low Anthem that he’d seen like 80 times down there. And man, he was way right too. It’s coincidence that the two recommendations are similar in texture and tone, but after grabbing their two most recent albums I really gravitated to the beautiful Low Anthem recordings. They’ve continued to be staples in my stereo since, so I’m excited about their stop in Columbus on Friday at The Summit in support of a new record. Jeff Prystowsky from the band was nice enough to talk to for a bit and tell me a little about their story and recent doings, so more of both my thoughts and his after the jump.
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CMC Here Comes Your Weekend v4.0

Photo: Dead Sea killin’ it at HCYW 2008 thanks to Cassie Lewis

Hey, you know the drill because we’ve talked about it before and lots of folks are getting excited about it. But if you haven’t heard, the Columbus Music Co-op’s biggest shindig of the year happens tomorrow beginning at 3:00 in the parking lot beside Surly Girl Saloon. Not only is this a great free party with 11 bands, tons of beer, humongous hot dogs, and now, debuting for 2009 a couple of awesome summertime liquor concoctions, but it’s also all in the name of a great cause.

People have asked me in the past what happens with the money generated from CMC fundraising, and the answer is really simple: it’s been redistributed as cash right back into music community pockets to support working Columbus musicians with medical needs. We’re talking thousands of bucks going to directly assist your friends, your colleagues, your favorite artists. This is one way in which the CMC is making the city a viable place for people to make art.

Okay, enough lecturing and more with the pitch- besides the booze, additions to sweeten the deal for year number four include more tent coverage, big beer mugs to cut down on time in line, and a super sweet raffle selection (PBR bike, Anyway Records Collection, Wholly Craft stuff, What the Rock, man the list goes on…). So come hang out, drink a beer, say hi, pitch in. Amazing band line-up and set times are after the jump. Continue reading