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Natural Sway: Pure Energy

There is nothing particularly metaphysical or even quasi-spiritual about the songs of Ryan Eilbeck. Unless of course you consider the morning ritual of Oolong tea with honey a life-changing moment, in which case the casual observations in an experience-rich life and those little things, like church bells in the distance or conversations with an interesting [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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There is nothing particularly metaphysical or even quasi-spiritual about the songs of Ryan Eilbeck. Unless of course you consider the morning ritual of Oolong tea with honey a life-changing moment, in which case the casual observations in an experience-rich life and those little things, like church bells in the distance or conversations with an interesting stranger, become grand and fleeting globs of meaning holding it all together.

In a lot of ways that’s how Natural Sway feels when you put it on. Their debut album Sweet Life is a record that forces one to pause and interact with a certain recent nostalgia that could contain memories of a lost tryst with a forgotten lover, or blaring a well-worn copy of Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night through chunky headphones in solitude. One way or another, there’s a moment on Sweet Life that’s happened in your past. And that threshold between your 20s and 30s—part-time and full-time, in the van and sell the van, beer and Oolong —becomes a transformative phase or a dulling reality.

For Eilbeck it’s the former. Perhaps it’s the “energy” he frequently refers to that keeps him going, and best of all, keeps him writing songs, creating art. Eilbeck has already lived an infinite musician’s tenure in Delay—the oft-celebrated yet oft-overlooked pop punk band  he formed with his brother and best friend at a middle school in Berea, Ohio in 1997. That trio has played the house-show and the zero-sum-touring trenches of underground rock for nearly two decades, and begat a whole generation of Columbus bands in the current zeitgeist, from All Dogs to Saintseneca, directly, to Pretty Pretty and Sega Genocide, indirectly—a truth Eilbeck shrugs off in earnest.

“I never felt like we were trending in any way,” says Eilbeck of Delay’s influence. “We were always knocking on the glass outside the house where the really good party is at, with the cool music and cool drugs.”

According to Eilbeck, Delay is in “hibernation,” but one need to only listen to Natural Sway’s debut to hear he’s picked a new path. One that’s decidedly quieter and more contemplative. Delay was too much of a center, too much a demand on career and domesticity, and things simply needed to progress. There was a need to move on, quite literally—Eilbeck moved from the chaotic campus scrum to the tranquil hills of Athens.

“In Delay, we kept a hold of each other in these silent ways and that wasn’t really letting us get too far in life,” says Eilbeck of the eventual formation of Natural Sway. “Delay was phasing out, but it wasn’t so much of a breaking as it was the wheels turning, and the energy for me to do something that was more in my own space. I didn’t have the same buffer.”

At 32, his story is not about maturation, or retreat, or even relaxation. Natural Sway, though rustic and crusted, slow and graceful, buzzes with life. Eilbeck needed a new outlet to “occupy his mind,” and soon, after being inspired by a library book filled with photos of honky tonks and outlaw country troubadours, the idea of Natural Sway became a “private musical obsession” aimed to sound like what he saw in those images. Indeed, Eilbeck’s musical shift could compare to the songs of Waylon Jennings and Neil Young, albeit undercut with a healthy tint of grunge and ‘90s emotive swoons.

“As far as that [Jennings and Young] I had none of it. Growing up, my parents listened to no rock at all,” explains Eilbeck on how he came to such a classic sound in Natural Sway. “A lot of that had to do with working at Used Kids and throwing on everything and realizing that I loved it. Eventually I felt like punk rock really let me down.”

Songs like “Boy” and the title track do retain the youthful abandon that defined Delay, but for the most part Sweet Life nestles in a comfortable, roomy atmosphere of late-night laments; “Bar,” pitch-black confessionals, “Line,” or sunlit mornings reading the paper, “Oolong”—you can practically see the dawn light glinting off the dust in the air. What were first demos, eventually “came to life” after Eilbeck recruited scene veterans Sarah Yetter on bass and Michael O’Shaughnessy on drums. That culmination and the final result projects a telepathy that’s tough to find in most bands around town.  It’s an “energy” that Eilbeck feels is just getting started.

“I feel like we are actually still in the process of what I started when I first hit record,” says Eilbeck, speaking to the Sweet Life album as a living document that will most certainly evolve as more people hear it, the more this particular heart-wrenching series of songs gets played out to a live audience.  “It will be impossible to have the same commitment for this as I did with Delay because of responsibilities in life, but there’s a lot that I want to do. It’s answering an impulse.”

For more information and to listen to perhaps the greatest Columbus release this year, visit naturalsway.bandcamp.com.

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Loop Daddy invades Columbus with first-ever drive-in tour

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The return of live music is going to be one of the trickiest industries to transition back into business as usual, if that will ever be the case. We’ve seen people getting creative, building concert stages within their own homes via live streaming. Some have participated in virtual festivals, probably the sector of live music to take the biggest hit.

But when an industry made up of innovative creatives always trying to come up with the next big idea is faced with incredible hardships, they respond with quick-witted imaginative solutions.

One of the first trends that popped up in the revolution of bringing back live music was the implementation of drive-in lots. Luckily for Columbus, the darling of the internet DJ scene Marc Rebillet aka Loop Daddy will be taking his first-ever drive-in tour through the Buckeye state in mid-June.

Captivating audiences with his participatory DJ scratching and immature antics, extremely goofy sex appeal, and sleazy porno stache, Rebillet was an act poised for a breakout summer before the pandemic shut music concert venues down. If you have access to a car, though, you’ll still have a chance to catch the wild virtual sensation.

On June 14, Rebillet will be pulling up to the South Drive-In for the third stop of his Drive-In Concert Tour. Rebillet will also be showcasing short films as part of his drive-in experience.

As far as sound is going for these events, a lot of drive-ins are opting to go the radio transmission route to encourage people to stay inside of their vehicles.

A very few grouping of tickets remain, which include three-person and four-person car passes. Tickets are running $40 per head (plus additional fees), which seems to be the average across the new wave of drive-in concerts. Two-people/one-car tickets have already sold out.

If you don’t want to miss out on this unique opportunity, act right now. Tickets can be purchased at:

https://nightout.com/events/marc-rebillet-drive-in-tour-columbus-ohio-south-drive-in-presented-by-hotbox/tickets.

Social distancing guidelines are outlined at the point of purchase.

The South Drive-In is located at 3050 S. High St. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the show beginning at 9 p.m. Attendees need to arrive before 8:45 p.m. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

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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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(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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