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Columbuzz: The Pools

In much the same way musicians from the High Street guard of the ’90s—guys like Jim Shepard, Mike Rep, and Ron House—influenced the mid-’00s boom that included the bulk of Columbus Discount Records’ roster and heavy hitters like Times New Viking, those bands in turn, have made a direct impact on the attitudes and aesthetics [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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In much the same way musicians from the High Street guard of the ’90s—guys like Jim Shepard, Mike Rep, and Ron House—influenced the mid-’00s boom that included the bulk of Columbus Discount Records’ roster and heavy hitters like Times New Viking, those bands in turn, have made a direct impact on the attitudes and aesthetics seen in the Columbus underground of today.

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Call it “post-shitgaze” or “Washington Beach: The Next Generation,” but The Pools, with their effortlessand ephemeral bursts of slacked guitars, oft-kilter harmonies, and rec-room bombast, sound tethered to that era and bygone scene. Listening through the first batch of demos of what will become the quartet’s debut album, there’s a rush of excitement in their spontaneity, their freshness, as if you’re a member of their secret club, getting in on the ground floor before they inevitably do blow up. It also helps that one of The Pools’ biggest proponents is Matt Horseshit of Psychedelic Horseshit, who has provided sage wisdom and his talents as a producer in guiding the young band. It was a given that Horseshit’s sonic kaleidoscopes would rub off on the recordings.

Screen shot 2015-10-02 at 2.39.57 PM“That scene really struck a chord with me,” says guitarist Robbie Ottaviano of the members’ early days as spectators of that Washington Beach renaissance. “I loved Times New Viking and Matt and the Feelers. I’m technically not a good musician, so seeing that those bands could make great pop music and keep it in that punk mindset appealed to me.”

“There was a time when I stopped going to shows because I was so jealous of not being in one of those bands,” guitarist Ian Bates adds. “Back then you had to dig a bit to find the scene, but because of that time and those bands playing Bourbon Street every week, they definitely were building up to what we have now.”

Both Ottaviano and Bates dabbled in other outfits attempting to tap into that spirit and add to that community, but as much promise that came with the Woozies (seek them out) and most recently Les Roms, nothing stuck. Perhaps the fear of similar implosions lends to the current M.O. of The Pools, who share songwriting duties and instruments during performances. It’s not uncommon for the band to play musical chairs several times in a single set.

“We just make the music that we like to listen to, it’s as simple as that. That’s our gold standard.”

“With the lack of a drummer we get both sides,” Bates said. “Some people like how we switch roles and others tell us we need a permanent drummer in order to push our sound further. But seeing a band like Psychic Wheels do it with such a minimal set-up gave us the confidence to do it how we do now.”

Never getting too comfortable and moving forward as this democratic three-headed beast (bassistJamie Rymers is the only member who has a single job title), makes impermanence a character trait that is more clever than it is unnerving. The band is already a bit bored with the songs that will make up their debut (to be released later this year) if only because they’ve been sitting on it for several months and see the record as their foundation and not where they are headed. When I come back to the question of what that next chapter sounds like, Bates is quick to list a number of groups for which the Pools share equal love, but Ottaviano, is more reserved.

“Can I make a request that you don’t mention any of the bands that have influenced us directly,” says Ottaviano without a shred of pretention. “We just make the music that we like to listen to, it’s as simple as that. That’s our gold standard.”

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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Arts & Culture

(614) Music Club: Sarob

Julian Foglietti

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Every week (614) Music Club teams up with your favorite local artists to build a playlist of what they’re listening to, and what’s inspiring them. This week’s playlist is brought to you by the R&B artist Sarob.


Photo by: Wyze

Tell me about some of the songs you’ve selected.

"The first one is Sobeautiful by Musiq Soulchild. So every week with my vocal coach, I have to learn a song. And I've been trying to figure out how to do vocal gliding. Which is not a strong point for me, and I remember hearing that song and being like, OK, this is it. The song is just beautifully written and composed, so when you add the technique to it, it’s just great. The other song was Workin On It by Dwele, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. Workin On It uses this J Dilla beat that just feels really timeless."

Have the past few months changed the direction or mood of the music you're creating. 

"So I have been making stuff here and there, and then I'll go into something creative for like two days. I'll just be making like a bunch of songs and then I'll stop for two weeks, not even want to look at a microphone or anything. I mean, it's a lot more inward, so I’m learning how to better communicate the things I'm experiencing, and set the scenes for people and talk about what is going on. Also not having my band has been a challenge. I’m more of a thinker, I play the keyboard, and I can build a song, but I’m not the most gifted musician so having to build a lot of it on my own is tricky."

Do you have any plans or releases coming up? 

"Yeah, so I had a song Pleasures U Like that was made for my last album, but it didn’t quite fit the story of the album. So I just forgot about it until recently and I finished the vocals just before the lockdown, and now I’m releasing it on Bandcamp as part of a fundraiser for The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. All of the proceeds from the song are going to go to support their Pandemic Emergency Fund, and it just felt like a good way to do something that would impact everything going on."

Sarob's Playlist

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