This is a stacked week befitting the beginning of the hottiest, stickiest parts of summer. A big chunk of the word-count here is dedicated to Columbus’s best-rebounded festival, the Jazz and Ribs Fest. Growing up, I saw amazing things at this fest including David Murray and Oliver Lake, but there was a long period where it basically cratered, locked into a morass of midtempo, smoothed-out mediocrity. I’m happy to say it’s come back to the point where – while not on the level of Detroit or Chicago – it’s a damn fine festival again that brings in interesting acts we wouldn’t likely see otherwise and provides a fantastic showcase for our local talent.
July 18-19: SPACE (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo). Northland Performing Arts Center. 4411 Tamarack Blvd.
Bob Corby (Back Porch Comics) is one of those not-sung-enough heroes in town whose names I try to make sure I call out. He saw a gap and a way to capitalize on all the independent comics creators in the region and he saw a market for another comics show that wasn’t beholden to superheroes and non-comics-celebrities, a lower-key Midwestern riff on MoCCA, SPX, and APE and by God he did it. One of my favorite events in town where I’m constantly inspired by the talent and the plethora of voices making vital work.
This year’s going to be a little bittersweet for many of us in the local arts – and particularly comics – community because we’ve so recently lost Valerie Starr (referred to last week). She and Talcott sold their whimsical, funny, wise work at the show every year. So that should be an extra reason to go out and spend some money. Find something new. Talk to someone you might otherwise not have.
10:00am-6:00pm Saturday. 10:00am-5:00pm Sunday. $5 per day, $8 for the weekend. Exhibitor List and more information available at http://backporchcomics.com/space.htm
July 18: A Celebration of Life: Aminah Robinson. Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E Broad St.
Aminah Robinson was one of the finest artists to ever call Columbus home. Work that was striking in its first blush but kept revealing new information and new sensual pleasure. Soulful, rich, intense, and thoughtful paintings, murals, and other media.
Columbus Museum of Art has a strong collection of her work and it’s only fitting they’re hosting a celebration of her life on this Saturday. Her work is on display in their Forum gallery and a presentation including speeches and music by Columbus institution Arnett Howard starts in the Cardinal Health Auditorium at 3:00pm.
July 15: Kate Wakefield and Rural Carrier. Used Kids Records, 1980 N High St.
Kate Wakefield, opera singer and cellist from Cincinnati, has been amassing a strong critical buzz. She builds songs from loops but in a way that reminds me more of William Basinski and Antony and the Johnsons with elements of early Owen Pallett than the showy way that kind of technique often comes across. It’s haunting, gripping work and should be a wonder in Used Kids who have really stepped up their show game over the last few years.
Wakefield’s on tour with Rural Carrier, Jacob Koestler from Cleveland’s project built around shaky, unstable tones and drones rising up through the cracks. It’s beautiful, meditative work.
The locals on the bill I’m honestly not familiar with – Field Sleeper and Slime Scapes – but if the bookers were confident to put them on this bill I’m in.
6:00pm-9:00pm. Donations encouraged.
July 16: Wolf Eyes. Mint, 42 W Jenkins Ave.
Wolf Eyes are a shining example of a band not burning out and giving in after their moment of mainstream attention – epitomized by two records on Sub Pop – and at the forefront of what felt like a new American noise zeitgeist has passed. These Detroit heroes doubled down on their blend of cathartic, ritualistic throb and continue to make some of the best records to come out of this amorphous scene. Their dubbed-out, narcotized abstractions over the years have made one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
The rest of the bill is nothing to ignore, either. Rev//Rev is a new industrial project from members of Lafayette’s TV Ghost, one of the most exciting rock bands of the last several years, and people I trust have been raving since their last trip through town. Muscle Puzzle and Melted Man are two sides of the still-vital Columbus noise scene.
Doors at 9:00pm. $10 cover.
July 17-19: Jazz and Rib Fest. North Bank Park.
As stated above, this has reclaimed its place as one of my favorite summer festivals in Columbus. This year’s particularly special since it’s the first time – I think – Red Baraat have ever played Columbus. They played after my pal Mike Gamble’s wedding in Hudson, New York, and I can’t wait to see them again. Below is a smattering of personalized – as is the wont of this column, I won’t talk up what I can’t get behind – recommendations:
1:00, North Bank Park: Keigo Hirakawa Trio. Dayton’s Keigo Hirakawa has an interesting approach to the piano that is clearly coming out of the post-Monk school and in the same vein as Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson, there’s also an appealingly rough rhythmic touch that reminds me a little of Borah Bergman. If you have the day off or if you work downtown, take a late lunch and see this.
3:30, AEP: James Gaiters’ Muv-Ment. Anyone who’s read this blog at all knows I think Gaiters might be the best drummer in town. Muv-Ment is still the best vehicle for his soulful, fascinating compositions. We haven’t seen a lot of Muv-Ment shows in town since the release of his great record Exodus last year partly because Lovell Bradford no longer lives in town so this is a reunion you should do everything in your power to check out. Also playing Natalie’s Saturday night with special guest Pharez Whited.
5:00, AEP: Rad Trads. NYC’s Rad Trads are a party band who are part of the same scene with Hot Sardines, Bria Skonberg, and Bombay Rickey, younger folks carrying the torch of institutions like the Nighthawks. The best writeup on them in town is friend Andrew Patton’s writing for Jazz Columbus. They fuse classic small-group territory orchestra swing with ’60s and ’70s growling soul and funk a la The Meters and the JBs. Get your weekend started right with this set. Also playing Brothers Drake Saturday night.
7:00, North Bank Park: Pharez Whitted Sextet. Pharez Whited was the first local jazz player – other than people who already had a national/historical rep like Gene Walker or Hank Marr – whose playing I ever loved. His sharp, metallic, post-bop trumpet tone cut through a smoky bar, a fine restaurant, or a concert hall like nothing I’d ever heard before. Beyond that, his writing was top notch and he played with the most exquisite players (including a young James Gaiters). It was fire every time he got on a bandstand and the crowds went crazy. He’s gone on to greener pastures in Chicago now but it’s always a treat when he comes back through town and this might be one of the highlights of the whole festival.
9:30, AEP: Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Septet. Eddie Palmieri is one of the absolute legends of Latin jazz. From his ’60s work with Cal Tjader to his soul-salsa blends of the ’70s and ’80s to his hard driving work today there’s never a bum note or a bad choice when Palmieri’s behind the piano and his bands are never less than excellent. One of the cultural highlights, not just music, of the year.
11:00a, Jazz Cafe: Tom Davis Quartet. Tom Davis might be my favorite jazz/classical guitarist in town right now, certainly my favorite guitarist on the rise – so no slight to Brett Burleson or Larry Marotta. He’s got a mastery of tone that most people would envy, you can tell it’s Davis on stage within three notes even if you’re between two loud barflies trying to order a drink and on the far other side of the bar. His trio work’s great but when he adds another melodic voice, whoever it is, it’s seismic, stratopheric, and enthralling.
2:30, North Bank Park: B Jazz and the Jazzhop Movement. B Jazz (real name Brandon Scott) is a keyboardist and songwriter with a gift for infectious R&B melodies. He first hit my radar through the Liquid Crystal Project (with J Rawls) and really got my attention through his work with Talisha Holmes. I’ve never heard a bum note he’s played and his writing is astonishing.
3:00, Jazz Cafe: Zakk Jones’ Screeching Owl. Zakk Jones is one of the fastest-rising guitarists in town and he’s grown by leaps and bounds in the couple years he’s been on my radar. His main project, Screeching Owl, put out a fantastic album earlier this year with bouncy melodies and harmonies – especially among the horns and vibes – that just glisten. Great review of this record by Andrew Patton here: http://www.jazzcolumbus.com/zakk-jones-screeching-owl-dreams-of-yesterday-ep/
5:00, AEP: fo/mo/deep. Fo/mo/deep inhabit a rich, funky fusion that’s melodic enough for the smooth jazz fans but can shake the walls on a regular basis. Their Headhunters vibe is big and intense like a summer thunderstorm, this is the perfect bridge between day and night.
5:00, North Bank Park: Carsie Blanton Trio. Carsie Blanton has a rootsy torch song quality with a voice steeped in history but a fresh voice that flashes like a hidden stiletto. If you like Eleni Mandell or Cassandra Wilson like I do, this is a set definitely worth checking out.
7:00, North Bank Park: Willie Jones III Quintet. Willie Jones III is one of the finest bebop drummers in that classic style, having played with Horace Silver on late tours and Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as well as on a couple fantastic Cedar Walton records and recently with tenor revivalist Javon Jackson. His bringing his own quintet which recently has included Eric Reed, Jeremy Pelt and Dezron Douglas so don’t sleep on this.
9:00, Jazz Cafe: The Admirables. The Admirables are one of the most buzzed-about Cleveland funk bands right now. A righteous live show with great songs both original and repertory. Going to be a drenched, funky good time on a Saturday night.
9:30, North Bank Park: Red Baraat. This is my personal highlight of the festival. Sunny Jain’s ragtag virtuoso A-team Red Baraat played the afterparty for my great friend Mike Gamble’s wedding to Devin Febboriello in Hudson, NY, a couple years ago. It was the kind of sweaty, righteous party to finally cracked the shell of my hangover and made me feel gloriously, hummingly alive again. They’re touring behind their best record yet, Gaadi of Truth, which at this midpoint is a strong contender for my records of the year and while Columbus expat Jon Lampley isn’t joining them on this set word is he’ll be in the house and so should you. If you love world rhythms, catch call and response, and music that reminds you how good it is to be alive, don’t miss this no matter what else you do.