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Built to Last

Indie rock innovators Built to Spill retains relevance after all these years In Cincinnati earlier this year, hundreds of fans chatter and stir before Built to Spill takes the stage. Onstage an unassuming balding man with grey in his beard methodically unravels cords and tunes guitars, whistling and swaying while he works. The man is [...]
Danny Hamen



Indie rock innovators Built to Spill retains relevance after all these years

In Cincinnati earlier this year, hundreds of fans chatter and stir before Built to Spill takes the stage. Onstage an unassuming balding man with grey in his beard methodically unravels cords and tunes guitars, whistling and swaying while he works.

The man is Doug Martsch—BTS’s lead singer and songwriter—doing his own dirty work.

This moment exemplifies Martsch’s humble workmanship as a career musician—a man who has stayed true to his genuine brand of melodic lo-fi fuzz even after all these years despite being signed to Warner Brothers in the late ‘90s—the kind of guy who you would expect to tune his own damn guitar.

“I never thought I’d have any career in music,” Martsch said.  “Even 15 years ago I thought people would be done with it.”

Not even close.

Last year, BTS sold out the Basement right after releasing their first album since 2009, “Untethered Moon.” The show was jam packed, proving the longevity of a band that has steadily maintained relevance  since their inception.

Martsch’s spacious, postmodern Pavement-style pop songs earned BTS the indie alt-rock limelight in 1993 with their debut album “Ultimate Alternate Wavers.” Martsch’s compositions were often fractured and visceral, taking upbeat, accessible melodies and crashing them into the ground with his fuzzy guitar. Think Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk, except with a tad more posterity.

According to Martsch, it had always been difficult for him to reconcile his parent’s wishes for higher education with his music career. This is no surprise, considering his brother practices medicine and social work and his sister teaches English at a collegiate level.

“Everyone was real into school and me not going was kind of a hard thing I think, but at the same time, they did always support my music and liked it and never told me not to do it. But now they’re like my biggest fans, they come out to shows.”

This reigns true, Martsch dropping that they might make an appearance at the Cincinnati show later that night.

For the newest record, stripping down the band to a three-piece for the new album made the songs feel fresh after his 7 year hiatus.

“Yeah, was focused on keeping it simple, that was the main thing. In the past that has always kind of been the intent, ya know, was to keep things simple so you get to hear the raw, basic stuff that’s going on instead of a wall of sound. I like stuff that’s put together, that has simplicity and familiarity, but has something different going on that you can’t quite put your finger on.”

It is that familiarity and sincerity that attracts fans ranging in age from 15 to 50 to their shows, a reflection of a man who, after the show, hung out with the fans, gave hugs and signed posters.

“We’ve been able to do it and we’ve lasted so long because we have people sticking around for it and new people getting into it. It’s been unbelievable.”

Martsch promises to keep his momentum up with another album in the next year or so, pledging to bring three guitars back into the equation.  For now, after spending an hour with the crowd, he packs up his gear, gets into his tour bus, and moseys on to the next city full of new and nostalgic fans.

Built to Spill will perform in Columbus at Skully’s Diner September 27th.

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Arts & Culture

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




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



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




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 to keep up to date with what PSG has in store.

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