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Dave Buker and the Historians

Sad-sap songwriters are a dime a dozen in indie rock. From Elliott Smith to Fleet Foxes and onto the sulking folkie du jour Hozier, the further the evolution, or de-evolution, the more it seems the genre gets watered down. Nothing against the idea of a man, his guitar, and a song—it’s the bedrock, the essence—but [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Sad-sap songwriters are a dime a dozen in indie rock. From Elliott Smith to Fleet Foxes and onto the sulking folkie du jour Hozier, the further the evolution, or de-evolution, the more it seems the genre gets watered down. Nothing against the idea of a man, his guitar, and a song—it’s the bedrock, the essence—but lately things have become stale, completely one-dimensional. That’s something Dave Buker understands all too well. Along with his Historians, he’s determined to bring a multifaceted dynamism to a tired trend. Not everyone’s bruised by relationships and wanting the music to reflect their blues.

“I think my music is becoming more accessible now because you don’t only need a broken heart to appreciate it,” Buker said. “It goes a lot deeper than that.”

Full disclosure, on the surface, or at least initially, it’d be fair game to label Buker as just another post-collegiate Sufjan Stevens-type. After all, the “heart” is a major theme on the band’s trademark song “Molecules.” But it’s his ultra-sweet melodies that set it apart, projecting more as impressionist painting with bright dabs of pastel rather than a rainy day confessional. We are not wallowing in Buker’s misery as much as we are celebrating spring after the thawing of winter. Further listens to last year’s What Can Bring You Back To Me? reveal a wide range of the maladies and small triumphs achieved, as Buker puts it, “while living through your ’20s.” It’s a great encapsulation of the awkward delight felt in the space between the dormitory and domestication. It’s about being  responsible for one’s honesty.

“I’m trying harder to be more relatable—being honest about things that people can easily grab onto.”

“I found that when you’ve been a songwriter for a while, you start to find that voice. It’s a comfort level, and at first I didn’t have that,” Buker said, admitting some growing pains. “So the first record I ever did was a concept album [2010’s New World, Old Flame]. I felt more comfortable telling a story because you can lie, make things up, and it’s easier to not be as vulnerable. But it’s also a lot less interesting. That’s not the case anymore.”

Buker has always played in bands, but in the background, rarely the main songwriter. He studied classical guitar in college and at one time was culling ideas from late-baroque, while getting a degree in musical education. But the only distinct technical trait that he incorporates into his current songs is the acutely technical finger picking style of his playing. The Historians arrangements, be it with synths, piano, horns, marimbas, or the voice of Leanna Stansell, are instead the key ingredients Buker took from schooling. As a master of many instruments, what could easily be left threadbare blossoms with color and shape.

The songs of What Can Bring You Back To Me? are “classic” in light of Buker’s list of influences—notably troubadour folkies of the ’70s like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne. It’s a spirit Buker wants to keep alive as he sees it “dying with the radio.” A more contemporary reference might be the subtleties of Belle and Sebastian or the faded melancholy of M. Ward, one of Buker’s professed favorites.

Though content to whittle with his songs alone, it’s the rest of the Historians, including Tim Jennings on bass, Joe Spurlock on drums, and Paul Valdiviez on keyboards, that give the music a presence beyond the average soft rock band. Currently they’re in the studio, almost done with what is now an unnamed fall release.

“I think our first two records were honest, but in a more direct and impersonal way,” Buker said. “Now I’m trying harder to be more relatable—being honest about things that people can easily grab onto. There are themes that people will identify with because it’s about growing.”

So far Buker touts the upcoming record as the best representation of his songwriting, but knowing the wanderlust that lines his lyrics, there’s another new awakening right around the corner.

For music and more information on Dave Buker and the Historians visit davebuker.com.

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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause

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To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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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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