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It’s the common mistake to classify pop music as boy band/Disney princess detritus. Music scholars have always been inconsistent in the way they’ve metered out characteristics for the broad genre. While we may associate the actual term with the smack of bubblegum, we forget that the original etymology helped us define the difference between Count [...]
Danny Hamen

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It’s the common mistake to classify pop music as boy band/Disney princess detritus.

Music scholars have always been inconsistent in the way they’ve metered out characteristics for the broad genre. While we may associate the actual term with the smack of bubblegum, we forget that the original etymology helped us define the difference between Count Basie and Chuck Berry.

If you’re in need of a pin to place The Floorwalkers on the spectrum, you can place them closer to the latter. The Columbus stalwarts fear not conventionality, choosing instead to focusing on how to re-hone their pop craft.

“Pop songs are not easy to write,” says lead vocalist Jonathan Elliott. “They are definitely something that has taken us time to develop a formula [for], and we still haven’t nailed it. There are bands out there that have their one pop hit and they never hit it again. I would never be cocky about it because it’s one of those things where you should be just be thankful for that little strike of lightning you get sometimes.”

Or hundreds of little lightning strikes.

The Floorwalkers owe much of their substantial Columbus following to the workmanlike craft they’ve exhibited in the eight years since their relocation from Cleveland. They’ve logged over 500 shows in that time—from main stages to grimy suburban basements—a band ethos developed from the years they spent playing a Wednesday residency at the venerated campus-adjacent dive, Ruby Tuesday’s.

“Those Wednesday shows were our college education—our intro 101 course on many aspects of being in a rock and roll band. It forced us to do a lot of things outside of our comfort zone,” says Elliott. “When you play 139 gigs in front of the same people you get comfortable in front of your crowd. It forced us to not be stagnant and to write and learn more material.”

Their April release Kids, Are You Listening?, believe it or not, is the band’s first proper full-length release, and it serves as a testament to their desire to stay fresh—either with brand-new material, or reinventions of older songs like “Pool of Petals” and “Up the Vine” that have landed on the record years after its inception. It still feels like a Floorwalkers record, in the same way you recognize that cool uncle at your annual family reunion—familiar but slightly aged.

“We call it our recent vintage,” says Elliott, adding that the album consists of songs the band has been trying to record over the past five years, but rotating members had made it difficult.

“People always ask me what type of music we play. I just say it’s a ‘rootsy-Americana-rockin’-soul record.’ We try to take our roots as seriously as possible,” he said.

Produced by Columbus legend Jay Alton, who worked with artists like Sainstseneca, The Lost Revival, Flotation Walls, Couch Forts, and others, the record was the band’s first attempt at crowdfunding, and not surprisingly, they exceeded their goal of $8,000 in just one month. It’s another testament to the band’s connection to its audience.

“There is never a shortage of inspiration. I find a lot of the inspiration in, you know, coffee, sexy girls.”

“[Crowdfunding] is effective because you feel so much more inclined to get things done, and you feel so connected with your crowd,” Elliott said. “You are actually making a record for other people, not just for yourself. When you do crowd funding there is a lot of pressure and obligation, but there is a good feeling that you are doing something not just for yourself, but because people believe in you.

“I think when you are in a band like ours it is hard to be selfish.”

Finding time to write music isn’t easy, especially while on the road. But Elliott says inspiration is all around him, especially in unexpected places.

“The good thing is we were writing a lot of this record while we were on the road, and it’s impossible to not be inspired. Sometimes it’s difficult to get ideas down, but there is never a shortage of inspiration. I find a lot of inspiration in, you know, coffee, sexy girls,” he laughs. “I write a lot of narrative and a lot of stuff off the top of my head. People ask me, ‘What this song is about’, and I’ll be like, ‘Honestly that’s about some sitcom I was watching

The Floorwalkers will be at Rumba Café 12.18. Tickets are $10. To check out Kids, Are You Listening?, visit thefloorwalkers.com.

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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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Coronavirus

Breakaway Music Festival will not take place in 2020; to return in 2021

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Those in the music festival community have continued to rally their broken spirits behind live streams and classic archival sets in lieu of the live event industry being put on indefinite hold. 

With each passing day, though, hopes for any large concert gathering happening in 2020 seem incredibly bleak and unrealistic.

News from Midwest college market concert and music festival promoter Prime Social Group on Thursday further confirmed the modern hippie’s greatest fear: a summer void of camping out in otherworldy open fields and following their favorite musicians across the country. 

PSG operates a network of festivals under the Breakaway Music handle that take place annually in Columbus; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Washington D.C.; Nashville; and San Diego. The promotion company made the difficult decision to cancel all six of its 2020 editions of the EDM and pop-focused Breakaway Music Festival with a fully-committed plan to return in 2021. The decision was made due to health and safety concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets to the event can be carried over for the 2021 edition of BMF. For those who choose this option, you’ll receive an extra ticket and merch bundle. PSG will also provide refunds if transferring tickets for 2021 is not an option.

Columbus has been making its claim as a music festival destination over the past few years. Breakaway, along with events like Sonic Temple, Wonderbus, and Buckeye Country Superfest, has been bringing quality acts to Columbus consistently. The festival’s presence will be greatly missed this upcoming August.

“Now more than ever, we could use that special sense of unity achieved through live events and music festivals,” said Prime Social managing partner Zach Ruben. “We cannot wait to Leave it All Behind and make memories with all of you again. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to one another.”

In the meantime, Breakaway plans to release exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from past editions, new digital content, and various live streams. Visit breakawaymusicfestival.com to keep up to date with what PSG has in store.

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