Things I’ve Been Digging – 06/24/18

Every holiday is really about the passing of time but I’m a particular sucker for days that explicitly honor time. Case in point: the Summer Solstice. As the local Community Festival drifts away from me as a demographic (there’s no bitterness there: events should change or they wither and die) there’s been a rising of other options that sing with summer’s sticky sweetness.


Megan Palmer and Band at Dick’s Den


Megan Palmer (June 21, 2018, Dick’s Den)

One of my favorite singer-songwriters, bandleaders, and artistic expats, it’s always a joy when Megan Palmer comes back to Columbus. The nights at Dick’s Den are extra special because it’s where she first bowled me and so much of this town over. The gloriously loose – on stage and in the crowd – late set we caught at that home reaffirmed that power.

Palmer still puts together a righteous, crack band whenever she’s in town, including usual suspects guitarist Brett Burleson, longtime vocal foil Jen Miller, and drummer of all trades Jimmy Castoe. That selection of players highlights the beautiful, quicksilver quality to slip between genres and times, tying everything together with her voice. Over the years, Palmer’s sharpened her lyric writing into one of the finest examples of open-hearted empathy without that understanding ever turning to weakness or a mealy-mouthed exercise in “both sides.” At the same time, her melodies grew looser and harder to define, amplifying their shimmering quicksilver qualities and leaving more space for other players.

Burleson’s fills attacked the same “problem” as Luther Perkins but approached them in a surprising, refreshing way. At one point, on one of my favorite of her older songs, “Please Don’t Come Back,” it clicked that the arrangement took Bob Wills as a starting block then opened to embrace everything Wills influenced in the idiosyncratic wing of the 20th century’s popular music including Willie Nelson and even a little Ornette Coleman. This music was washing my face in the fountain of life (or as Tom T. Hall said, the morning dew).


This Moment in Black History at Happy Dog (photo by Anne Courtney)


Cold Sweats and This Moment in Black History (Happy Dog, Cleveland, June 22, 2018)

Every few years, Cleveland gives the world one of the greatest rock and roll bands we’ve ever seen. Currently holding the crown – though I’m not discounting there could be a bunch of kids I haven’t see yet – is Bim Thomas’ crowning achievement Obnox. One of my all-time favorites also features Bim, on drums, This Moment in Black History. I hadn’t seen them in probably six or seven years and in the periodic reunion we saw at the Happy Dog to kick off our flying Cleveland weekend.

Hooky, vibrant, righteous, full of intertwining hooks and sticky grooves. The kind of late night dance floor riot most of us search for from dancefloor to bar room and back. Opening, Cold Sweats from NYC did a modern take on post-hardcore with lacerating guitar and a swinging bounce that got the crowd dancing.


Pierre Kwenders and Band at the Cleveland Museum of Art


Summer Solstice 2018 (Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, June 23, 2018)

Anyone who wants to throw a museum fundraiser should look to the Cleveland Museum of Art. A and I went about five years ago and had a blast, including spontaneously running into American treasure Baby Dee. The next year it sold out at the member presale and has ever since.

This year I finally bit the bullet and got a membership and I’m pleased to report every change they’ve made since made it better. Manageable lines, reasonable (for a benefit) drink prices, and splitting the bands between (mostly) live acts on the terrace and (mostly) electronic in the atrium for a better dance floor, we were here for four hours and I loved every minute of it. There’s a special magic in ducking in from a sweaty dance floor and realizing you’re the only two people in a room full of Van Gogh and Cezanne. Or you’re in a politely humming crowd grappling with Danny Lyon’s photographs of the human and aesthetic cost of gentrification or Kerry James Marshall’s massive, encompassing woodcuts.

Moroccan electronic artist HAT (Hatim Belyamani) wove music out of film footage shot by his collective, remix ←→ culture, remixed to highlight the individual cultures they were taken from and into something spine shifting and hip-swaying. HAT made it impossible to ignore the cultural building blocks that gave birth to these pulsing club tracks and worked it into something easily graspable and that resisted being nailed down. His work echoed the Brutalismo-Cleveland exhibit upstairs by Spanish artist Marlon de Azambuja which also used locally sourced materials to comment on brutalism and society.


Yemen Blues at Cleveland Museum of Art

Yemen Blues was one of the finest dance bands I’ve ever seen. Led by Ravid Kahalani, the six piece band wove funk and salsa together with traditional North and West African melodies in a refreshing, wild party. Hello Psychaleppo came at traditional music, the ecstatic Syrian music Samer Saem Eldahr grew up with, with a similar mix of reverence for the original and delight in reinvention that kept the dancing audience in the palm of his hand. Pierre Kwenders blew my hair back, he’s one of the greatest soul singers I’ve ever seen. He and his quartet cooled it down a little and turned up the level of sexy as they closed the night with a blend of Congolese rumba and the current wave of stiletto sharp, introspective R&B




Marlon de Azambuja: Brutalismo-Cleveland

Things I’ve Been Digging – 06/17/18

Friends at Char Bar

“It’s hard to fight torpor.” That line popped up in Paul Schrader’s much-anticipated return to non-franchise filmmaking First Reformed and, to mangle Bob Dylan, both “rang true and glowed like burning coals” while I watched the film with my pal Rob. The movie wasn’t an official “thing I dug,” more “thing I’m glad I saw for the interesting nougat when it got out of its own way.”

But what spoke to me was the questions it posed about the point at which we’re no longer worth forgiveness; the way shitty means of coping build up and rust over for us like dumping Pepto Bismol in a glass of scotch (one of my favorite gross-out images from the film); and how difficult it is to break out of a rut before we’re ground just that smooth.

Lighter load this week because much of it was catching up with old friends, in town for the Origins Game Fair and elsewhere. The bookend photos come from these long nights of laughter.

Brett Burleson/Josh Hindmarsh/Doug Richeson (Dick’s Den, June 13, 2018)

The tradition of turning a Wednesday over to one artist for a residency at Dick’s Den is one of my favorite things in this town. In a no-pressure setting, someone can worry over new material, reform old collaborative groups, work with people they don’t usually, bring friends up on stage, or do all of these. That tradition is a prism refracting the light of everything I love about Columbus and especially everything I love about the nexus that is Dick’s Den when you get an artist with the kind of ranging tastes in material, style, and players as Brett Burleson.

From left: Burleson, Hindmarsh, Richeson

Brett Burleson and Josh Hindmarsh have a tradition of playing gypsy jazz songs – and other tunes in that style best known for Django Reinhardt. Wednesday, they rounded the trio out with Grammy-winning bassist Doug Richeson. Jazzcolumbus impresario and great friend Andrew Patton and I stopped in expecting one round and half an hour of pleasant entertainment. I staggered home at 1:30am after two full sets. Picking my jaw off the floor.

Richeson’s expansive warmth provided the perfect backdrop for those two guitars and the handful of guests. It was immediately easy to see why vocalists kept the bassist in demand, including Tony Bennett. In that same spirit, the word that kept springing to mind for everyone on stage was conversational.

Burleson almost reminded me of Keith Richards here, his unshakable rhythm shifted from a straight up-and-down in line with the period they recalled through something more organic and modern, teasing textures from Hindmarsh’s leads and occasionally unfurling solos that were shocking in their grace and concision.

From left: Burleson, Hindmarsh, Kahn, Richeson

In the full, proper Dick’s spirit, unannounced guests enlivened the proceedings. Michael Kahn, on his way from another gig, brought his soulful soprano. He painted with glowing color, in step with the other three musicians but drawing them out into the less-chartered water. Local DJ, promoter, and singer-songwriter (as Whipped Dream) Laelia Delaney Davis sat in on vocals for the Gershwins’ “S’wonderful” that balanced lushness and restraint like a cool breeze on a sticky evening.

The trio-plus ran a gamut of classics in the style. Their take on Reinhardt’s own “Minor Swing” that felt like a beautifully restored piece of clockwork. Their “Take the A Train” vibrated the room with a propulsive bounce. Their Monk was a sensual, spiraling puzzle. The originals held their own against these time-forged tunes because nothing was played with a preciousness; again and again, we were reminded this was neither museum nor mausoleum.

Coming Up: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (Valleydale Ballroom, June 22, 2018; tickets here)


Courtesy of


When two riders of the river of American music, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, teamed up a couple years ago it was one of the most no-brainer collaborations most of us could possibly imagine. These two share an encyclopedic knowledge of everything roots music, marrow-deep empathy for people, and a love of sharing stories.

Their first collaborative record features a couple excellent new originals – including the title track, like a couple of winking outlaws filling out a declarations form at the border – and more of the stunning interpretations they’ve both become more known for over the last few years, giving classics an intensely personal spin. Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee – Plane Wreck at Los Gatos,” features one of the most aching melodies of the 20th century played for maximum impact. Lloyd Price’s R&B classic “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and the Memphis Jug Band’s “KC Moan” get lusty juke-joint treatments that take Gilmore’s high lonesome voice into new terrain with some of Alvin’s best guitar on record.

Both of these artists have a storied, special relationship with Alec Wightman’s Zeppelin productions. Alvin’s appearances at the Valleydale, especially, are always something special. If you’re in town, don’t miss this.



Old and New Friends at the Bier Stube



Things I’ve Been Digging – 06/10/18

Trying this as a memory exercise as much as anything else. Two-three things I’ve really enjoyed in the past week (or so) and one thing I’m looking forward to, irrespective of what I’m assigned to write about. Plan is to post one of these every weekend when I usually have at least one day off.

Memphis Rent Party by Robert Gordon (link to purchase). Robert Gordon had a front row seat for some of the most exciting movements in Memphis music for this last 30 years. He’s shared the fruits of his keen eye, searching curiosity, and big-picture sense of the intersecting threads of history with us in books (his It Came From Memphis is a Rosetta Stone for cracking the code of American music and his books about Stax and Muddy Waters are essential), liner notes, documentaries, music videos (including Cat Power’s “Lived in Bars” filmed in one my favorite bars in Memphis, The Lamplighter).

This collection of short pieces about artists from Tav Falco to James Carr to Otha Turner to Jeff Buckley with the grace and gravity of someone who lived alongside them and cared enough to go deep. The additional context in the notes and restored material is worth the price of admission alone. In whole, Memphis Rent Party struck me as a loving admonition to dig into and do more of the things that give me solace and light me on fire. As he says:

“Memphis is not about perfection but about the differences, the flaws. It’s the kinks that mark beauty and define us, not the lack of them. How remarkable to create something unlike what anyone else can, that even the artist can’t repeat. That recorded moment – like Dickinson said – why preserve it if you can recreate it every day? Preserve instead the best ever take, the most unique version, the unrepeatable presentation.”

And later: “In a government housing tower or over on the finer side of town, someone is composing a song or recording a sound or performing a show that that might change how we think, how we hear the world and understand our place in it. What happens in Peoria, Pittsburgh, and Petaluma may not become emblematic of a generation, but the expression of something different can still challenge the mind and thrill the heart. That still, small voice, it won’t be immediately familiar, and it takes a moment to come in clear, but listen for it, note how near – it’s just down the road or right across the river.”

The Sadies, Rumba Cafe

The Sadies (Rumba Cafe, June 9, 2018)

Dallas and Travis Good returned to Columbus with their crack rhythm section of Sean Dean on bass and Mike Belitsky on drums and took us all, in turns, to the purifying fire of the honky tonk and the sweaty erotic energy of a tent revival. Years ago, seeing them, a good friend said, “They’re great but they need an Elvis Costello,” referring to their The Band/The Roots propensity for backing other artists (Neko Case, Jon Langford, Jon Spencer) often creating some of that person’s best work but overshadowing their own.

It had been a few years and I’m ecstatic to report that if that was ever a problem of theirs, it’s a problem no longer. Beyond those uncanny sibling harmonies, the personalities of Dallas and Travis, switching off on lead vocals and lead guitar were charming and riveting.

They took roots music and reminded me that it’s a wriggling, profane, beautiful, still glistening and alive thing. They graced originals like “Riverview Fog” with a Byrds/REM jangle and chime and “God Bless the Infidels” with a snarling fiddle and allusions to the Louvin Brothers’ classic Satan is Real.

They conjured up the dark underbelly of the history of song with a raging “Pretty Polly” and channeled honky-tonk heartbreak on “Cut Corners” with lines like “Here’s to the lucky ones, let’s drink to better days: you and yours everywhere, this one’s on me (for a change). Don’t cry for me, remember that no one and nothing is free.”

As many of my friends were down at Twangfest, this was a restorative, a sweet connection to those memories and the taste of a little knife’s-edge of that celebration.

Neko Case, Hell-On

Neko Case has been one of my favorite voices since I first heard Furnace Room Lullaby. Some of my all-time favorite shows have been her work, in whole or in part – opening for Nick Cave at the Chicago Theater, a Little Brothers show with out of town friends that ended in a snowball fight and a raging after party at the St James, a night at the Beachland Ballroom with The Sadies opening for and backing her.

Every record she’s made is worth checking for though I confess she lost me a little around Middle Cyclone. Her new one, Hell-On, a few listens in stands proudly with her strongest work. It’s the perfect record for the glow of a solo summer afternoon. Thick and sticky, all Edward Hopper green and long shadows, a little frayed at the edges but shot through with hope.

Coming Up:

Bava Choco’s Clowns Release Show (June 15, 2018 at Ace of Cups)

Patrick Monroe’s been one of Columbus music’s most vocal boosters for years and in his last couple bands, Intercontinental Champs and his new one, Bava Choco, his own songs have come into their own.

Bava Choco adds sticky stoner riffs and ’70s grind to the pop hooks for an intoxicating mix. For this release show for their second EP, they assembled a killer night of music front to back. Lizard McGee of Earwig opens with a rare solo show. Moodshifter, the new project of Aaron Pauley on guitar, Andy Hindman on bass, and Larz Raymond on drums play next. I caught Moodshifter a few weeks ago and the material is still gelling but there are already sparkling riffs and some really fresh songs that hint at what’s to come. The Damn Thing merges the songwriting of Marcy Mays, from Scrawl, and Dave Holm, of Ugly Stick and Bigfoot, with the crunching riffs of Pat Murphy (of Bob City and, with Marcy, Night Family). One of the best, most fully formed bands to emerge if the last few years – every time they play it’s not to be missed.

Big Ears 2018 Day 2: Joyous Cacophony, Cries de Coeur, and Gratitude

Bang on a Can All-Stars, extra blurry from the last row of the balcony

Early afternoon in a 15 hour day of dedicated absorption, I was lucky to see one of my all-time hall-of-fame music writers, Ben Ratliff, in conversation with Damon Krukowski. Krukowski I, of course, knew from Damon and Naomi and Galaxie 500. And his book, The New Analog, is part of the current wave of big-picture music books along with books like Ratliff’s Every Song Ever and Jace Clayton’s Uproot.

But my most personal connection with Krukowski came from his publishing company Exact Change. I was in Boston visiting Mike Gamble – as I seemed to be every few months during college – and in the Twisted Village record store I found Exact Change’s edition of Morton Feldman’s writing: Give My Regards to Eighth Street. One of those books that set my hair on fire. I still have that copy almost 20 years later, beat to hell and still providing a light socket to stick my finger in when I’m stuck.

During their ranging, fascinating talk, two particular statements stuck with me. The first was Krukowski, “The thing I hear all the time is ‘overwhelmed,’ and I’ve come to question it. It’s a good, immediate thing to say. But maybe you do have time but the coordinates have changed and you can be grateful.”

In a lot of ways, this festival, full-to-bursting, is about gratitude for that abundance. I ran into a local friend and composer Brian Harnetty who called it the kid-in-a-candy-store effect. Ratliff answered a related question from the audience with, “Whatever choice you make is the right one. Wherever you are, if you commit, you’re in the right place.”

Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief and Mayhem

The overwhelming impression I walked away from Friday with was the power and joy of communication in that space and that time. Specificity.

There was a strong thread within that joy – and I use joy to encompass catharsis – about using music to actively and directly engage the outside world. A resistance to the impulse to withdraw to some easy and lonely hermetic bubble.

That began with my first set, Bang on a Can All-Stars’ selection of their Field Recordings project using commissioned compositions built around found or archival sound. Mark Stewart, the guitarist, introduced every piece by talking about where the writer found its “truth and beauty.” Calculated cacophony broke into sublime warmth. Shimmering textures from Ken Thomson’s clarinet and Ashley Bathgate’s cello shattered and turned on Vicky Chow’s perfectly placed piano depth charges and were borne aloft on David Cossin’s chunky, driving drums. The juxtaposition of the pieces shone new light on them all – Caroline Shaw’s piece, about a quilter reflecting on her craft, placed between David Lang’s ominous abstraction of sharpening knives and Steve Reich’s bitter fable “The Cave of Machpelah,” changed the texture and expanded the resonance of all three.

Dancing to Kristin Andreassen

That sense of playful engagement was neon-bright when I stopped at Boyd’s Jig and Reel. A terrific bar but I learned the first year that “best scotch list in town and rowdy locals” is a touch counterproductive to in-depth grappling with sound. My taste of this year’s “traditional” track came through Becky Hill and Kristen Andreassen’s Old-Time House Party. All I really knew of either artist was Andreassen’s fantastic album The Gondolier and my old pal Dave’s relentless enthusiasm for her band Uncle Earl. To say I was charmed and delighted feels like damning with faint praise – it was a magical supernova of love.

Variety show style, there was clogging (I might have misidentified it, an Appalachian analog to hoofing-style tap), dancing (including an advanced-beginner level square dance), and a flood of guests. My favorite tunes were the Andreassen showcases. “Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color For Your Eyes” featured Scott Miller’s – THE Knoxville ambassador if you grew up where and when I did – bassist Bryn Davies and rhythmic patty cake. “Meet Me Out on the Dancefloor” reassembled the earlier guests for a two-step woven with sweetness: bass, banjo, Celtic cello, ragtime clarinet, rhythm guitar, and harmonies. It was a palate cleanser, a refresh, and something I could see again and again.


Algiers painted that engagement with colors of resistance and witness in the foreground at The Standard. I say this with no exaggeration, they put on one of the finest rock shows I’ve ever seen. Setting the tone as they came out to drones, bathed in red light, frontman Franklin James Fisher dedicated their set to bassist Ryan Mahan “In exile in the UK.” Substitute bass player “Gary Indiana” acquitted himself brilliantly, sculpting bass lines out of molten volume, sometimes turning up so loud he just had to shake or strike the bass and layering shiny, sticky tar with synth bass. James Tong’s sensual earthquake drumming conjured Depeche Mode and the Cro-Mags as it wove in and out of loops. Lee Tesche had a similar approach to the guitar: bowing, switching to saxophone Billy Zoom-style, leavening fat riffs with acid dissonance.

Fisher’s voice and presence summed up the eternal righteous fucking of the sacred and profane that serves as the DNA of rock and roll since time immemorial. An implacable swagger and roof-shattering scream with the mix of intense masculinity and abject vulnerability as well as anyone’s executed it since Smokey Robinson and Sinatra. The kind of frontman who draws you into his fire.

The band aren’t precious about style or signifier. They play like the world is ending and there’s no time for your weak-ass conception of authenticity. A transmission sent straight from a doomed planet to the dental filings of an outcast on another doomed planet. Algiers is throwing an apocalypse party worthy of The Stooges and Funkadelic and Public Enemy but drilled and tooled for the here and now.

The Thing

Less directly programmatic music was also in abundance and there was no shortage of the pleasures of “pure” abstraction.

Rocket Science affirmed that Evan Parker still plays like he’s leaning off a cliff, unafraid. Craig Taborn is one of the great improvisers of his, or any generation – shifting his entire body language and attack to echo Parker’s fluttering high-register work; muting the piano strings directly; changing the flow of the group, the eye of the storm and its electricity. Petet Evans’ virtuosic trickster and Sam Pluto’s live electronics and real-time delays and looping set up and distorted frameworks and contexts.

Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief and Mayhem band was wall-to-wall fun and excitement. Her violin jousted with the guitar of her partner in deconstruction Nels Cline over thick, roiling grooves courtesy of Todd Sickafoose and Scott Amendola – a rhythm section born to play together. Great, sticky tunes, especially “A Ride With Polly Jean” and a new untitled number.

Mats Gustafsson was one of my gateway drugs to free jazz, by way of John Corbett’s writing and a first credit card I charged too much to Dusty Groove on. His power trio, The Thing, is the kind of physical force of nature even people who don’t like improvised music can’t deny. But even as much of a fan as I am, I was unprepared for the simultaneous widening of scope for inspiration and laser focus of approach they deployed here. Soulful, even sweet, without sacrificing any intensity or ferocity. This last set wrung me out and sent me into the shining night reeling.

Big Ears 2018 Day 1: Ley Lines, Throughlines, and Blurry Borders

I’m far from the first person to say it but Big Ears Festival is special. After a year off – but je ne regrette Sick Weekend – I returned to this booming, bustling college town to reconnect with deeper listening and jump off the merry-go-round for a minute.

Started slow on Thursday but I needed that easing in. Wandered the downtown, filling my lungs and feeling the vibrations of this place. A couple great meals – Chivo Taqueria and Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer – and reacquainting myself with Old City Java.

Stopped at Public House for an apertif to the sensory feast: Postmodern Spirits release party for their (damn good) first single malt Tennessee Whiskey at a party at Public House. I overheard one of my favorite refrains: a stylish regular who works at another bar (I gathered) said about Big Ears: “I dig the crowd, I get it. It brings people from everywhere. I just want them to know culture happens here too.” I’ve said it; I’ve heard it at Gonerfest and Anime Weekend Atlanta. It’s people like her who make that happen: loving your town so much it’s infectious.

Went straight from there to my first set of the festival: ICE (the International Contemporary Ensemble) playing Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s majestic, luminous “In The Light of The Air.”

In the round, most of the audience seated on the floor, the ensemble lit Thorvaldsdottir’s piece from within, shaping and shifting. Motifs rise and repeat, changing their DNA while remaining recognizable. Percussion plays an omnipresent, mercurial role here: clattering and clicking like ash in the air around the bubbling lava of piano; slashing transition color from a bowed marimba; growling propulsion not only moving the piece forward but in every direction.

Glacial accumulation of detail and material dances with the light installation, effectively underlining as when the bulbs surge bright with deep bass throbs. As delicate and dramatic as life. The music is so engaged with the world it absorbed and played with the setting sun, the howl of passing trains, and omnipresent redevelopment.

The pedal steel guitar is one of the most evocative, purely American sounds I’ve run across. No one fuses that unmistakable sound to as pure and personal a language as Susan Alcorn. Alcorn’s vocabulary isn’t the result of eschewing history – she knows her Speedy West, her Leon McAuliffe, her Don Helms, and her Aubrey Ghent. That sound comes from a burning desire to see what else she can say with that vocabulary and unerring taste across the spectrum of music.

The first time I came across Susan Alcorn was her 2006 album And I Await The Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar. In the sleek dance club environs of The Standard, Alcorn dazzled a rapt crowd with that title track and a story about its genesis: trying to arrange Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (a World War Ii elegy for wind orchestra) for steel. In those limitations, she found something that vibrates with history but is no one else’s.

Throughout her rapturous set, Alcorn made that guitar snarl and cry, turned it into a barrelhouse piano, a seductive dancer, nature painting, and a chorus of bells. She nodded to Giacinto Scelsi and tango. A profoundly American artist with the simultaneous thirst for the new and love of everything that got us here, Susan Alcorn exemplified Big Ears.

The icing on this delicious Thursday was two guitarists I’ve loved for as long as I’ve loved music. The minute you hear Marc Ribot’s Chuck-Berry-wrapped-in-barbed-wire guitar you never forget it. You hear it everywhere. David Hidalgo’s guitar, accordion, deceptively easy mastery of what seems like every other instrument, plus his spicy honey voice, make every record he guests on that much better – before we even get into his work as the cornerstone of one of the premier American rock bands, Los Lobos, co-writing most of their best songs. So as word trickled out these two titans were playing together it shot to the top of my list to check out. Thursday night at the Tennessee Theater was my chance.

The two men in chairs turned that cavernous stage and massive theater into a living room or a back porch. With the easy charm of old friends who don’t have a goddam thing to prove except to themselves, they lit up the history of American music. Lefty Frizzell’s “I Never Go Around Mirrors” was gifted a gorgeous high-lonesome voice and finger picking from Hidalgo punctuated with hot knives from Ribot. “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” got a dry vocal wringing all the hurt out of irony from Ribot as the two painted an expansive, devastated landscape with their guitars, deconstructing and rebuilding. Wilson Pickett and Paquita Del La Barrio and Los Cuatreros were the framework for hard-won and deeply personal voices forged from experience and love. Looks at permeable borders and the way we let each other down.

My favorite moment came with their revitalized take on “A Matter of Time,” the Los Lobos classic from their breakthrough Will The Wolf Survive record written by Hidalgo with Louie Perez. Stripped of horns and thirty plus years since it’s first appearance, the story and Hidalgo’s Sam Cooke-recalling vocal shine just as brightly as ever. The way we want to be better and keep reaching even when we know that “better world” might never be ib in our reach. They dedicated a note-perfect Ventures tune to Nokie Edwards with Hidalgo saying, “When we were kids, that Ventures stuff turned us all on. It was the shit.” Chuckling, he caught himself, “I guess it still is.”

May it always be. Day 2 awaits.

Bounteous Beauty This Week in Columbus

Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days – photo courtesy of Wexner Center

I hope the handful of you reading this got the three-day weekend to rest up because there’s enough unmissable stuff this week to kill the weaker of constitution.

Starting off on Wednesday we see one of the early blendings of new Performing Arts Curator Lane Czaplinski and outgoing curator Chuck Helm. Helm booked, in collaboration with CCAD, NYC artist Neil Goldberg for his one-man show Inhibited Bites fresh off two performances around APAP. Czaplinski makes good on his commitment to connecting the Wex beyond its four walls by bringing the show to Franklinton’s Idea Foundry. There have been happy hours related to Wex events before, but this at Land Grant is one of very few we’ve had steps away from the show. I wrote a preview for Columbus Underground.

Neil Goldberg’s Inhibited Bites – photo courtesy of the Wexner Center

Thursday, the Ogún Meji Duo kicks off a six-month residency at Art of Republic. One of our finest composers, Mark Lomax II, and my favorite saxophone player in town, Eddie Bayard, bring their fiery, flexible. Each of these residencies features a special guest and this week’s is very special: visual artist Bryan Christopher Moss. Friend and editor Andrew Patton previewed this for JazzColumbus.

Friday, one of our finest record labels, Heel Turn, celebrate their third anniversary with two showcases of our best rock and roll on the Old North High Street corridor. The appetizer at Dirty Dungarees features Bloody Show – never have better Stooges-style songs graced our town – with Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes and the new Outer Spacist/Terrestrials offshoot Psychotropic. Facebook event. And the main event is headlined by my (and pretty much everybody else’s) favorite Columbus band right now, DANA, with Burning Itch from Knoxville, and Messrs and Raw Pony also from Columbus. Get there early, you don’t want to miss Raw Pony if you know what’s good for you. Facebook event.

Saturday, one of the finest young trumpet players from NYC, Adam O’Farrill brings his quartet Stranger Days to the Wex. I had the privilege of interviewing O’Farrill in advance of this show, and this is the kind of pure jazz that can move people who aren’t necessarily interested in jazz and leave those of us who already drank the Kool-Aid high for days. I previewed this show for JazzColumbus.

Later Saturday, Spacebar brings an unhinged rock extravaganza from near and far. I’ve barely been able to stop listening to London band Shame since they hit my radar before an NYC trip last year. Their first full-length Songs of Praise delivers on all the snotty, gleeful promise of their early singles with ingratiating post-punk grooves and snarled hooks that draw you in at the same time they’re pushing you away. Pittsburgh Sub Pop signees The Gotobeds have a slightly poppier shine to their stiletto sharpness but anyone who saw their Big Room show a year or two ago knows how hard they can rock. Local up-and-comers Kizzy Hall and Roof Dogs open, both of whom I’m looking forward to checking out again. Facebook event.