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One Bird, Two Stones

It might sound clichéd that it was Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” that prompted Dane Terry, at a very young age, to pick the titular instrument as his muse, but when you hear the man belt out the first few bars and proclaim his wont to give that same anthemic feeling to an audience as Joel’s [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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It might sound clichéd that it was Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” that prompted Dane Terry, at a very young age, to pick the titular instrument as his muse, but when you hear the man belt out the first few bars and proclaim his wont to give that same anthemic feeling to an audience as Joel’s oft-requested staple does, it makes complete sense. Terry is a performer at his very core. Playing behind the keys of a piano provides the most grand outlet to put on a show, be it Rachmaninoff or Elton John, and Terry has always wanted to emulate that.

Aprimer on rising star shouldn’t be a secret in Columbus. Though he’s called New York City home since 2011, the quirky pop of the Midwest he immersed himself in when he was here, either as a one-man show or as collaborator in various indie bands, is front and center on his stunning 2015 album Color Movies. Another cliché to be said about Terry is that he doesn’t forget his roots, and to that end Color Movies is a record packed with songs, be it “The Working Class” and “Moonshiner’s Boy,” that look back on a childhood in the heartland with both a nostalgic ambiguity and an equally sardonic wit. Be that as it may, Terry was an anomaly in Columbus, and he found himself a songwriter penning songs that were destined to evolve far past the boundaries of a studio or a dive bar. The move to NYC was a move of necessity to facilitate every ambitious thing Terry wanted to do as an artist. But even there, finding a place for his art was a struggle.

“In New York, even if you’re making it, it is nearly impossible without a trust fund,” says Terry of the cutthroat environment he’s experienced so far. “People don’t realize that all of the stars on their favorite Netflix shows are probably living with roommates. It’s something I’m still kind of figuring out.”

Color Movies was the first step in figuring it out and it gained momentum with critical acclaim, but Terry bills himself as a “Appalachian fatalist songwriter” and a “frillbilly theater composer,” so a move towards something more dynamic was eminent. His inevitable transition into the New York theater scene came at the request of La MaMa Theatre in the East Village, who gave the Terry a two-week residency and free reign to do pretty much whatever he wanted. The result was Bird in the House, the stage show he’ll bring to the Wexner Center this month. The show expands the themes of Color Movies into a cinematic arc, with Terry interspersing anecdotes and dialogue that has been described as “eerie scenes of queer American boyhood and adolescence.” Bird in the House is a story both autobiographical and obtuse in the way a “Van Gogh is realistic.”

“It’s very impressionistic. The thesis of the show, and it sounds funny saying ‘thesis’, like the ‘thesis’ to the movie Jaws, comes from the realization that everyone’s childhood felt weird and alien,” Terry said. “Childhood is scary, it’s a dark, surreal time when nothing really makes sense. There were very specific things that I wanted to talk about from my own childhood, but in this foggy, emotional, memory I found a lot of the themes are universal.”

Terry credits Columbus—particularly his quirky one-man space odyssey Cockpit and numerous other shows at the Garden Theater—as the creative incubator, or boost of courage that afforded him the confidence to do something as consuming as Bird in the House on a New York City stage—where in the last year it’s played several times to packed houses. The success of Bird in the House though left Terry inspirationally drained, to the point that he admits to floundering on what to do next.

With Bowie and Prince passing in 2016, he found himself “comprehensively” studying their work for the first time, in the face of boredom. In fact, his just-released single, “One More Name in Nightlife,” which will appear on his next album, Golden Slogans From the West, has been compared to a twisted hybrid of Prince and the recently passed Leon Russell (one of Terry’s earliest sonic mentors)—indeed it’s a absurdist funk aria suited for chameleonic performances.  As Terry’s identity crisis balloons though, so too has his work. Being recently awarded the Ethyl Eichelberger Award and a commission to write and direct a show for legendary NYC indie house Performance 122, Terry has temporarily moved his operations to Cleveland in order to craft his most involved show yet. Somewhere in our conversation he hints that it’s a “sci-fi pop-era,” but details were nil about the size and scope.

“I want to make bigger stories—to make these larger musical narrative fabrics. The best work that does that is opera, but I don’t like the connotation. I guess I want to make movies for the stage,” says Terry. “I really believe with the skillful use of music, spoken word, storytelling, orchestration, and life, that you can make an audience feel like their watching a movie. The less you show them, the more they have to imagine, which makes it way better.”

Though sleight of hand and the adopted stylistic shifts of his heroes—sometimes in the course of one song—are the hallmarks of Terry’s marquee, it’s the prospect of what comes next that holds the ultimate allure. Such is the way with any renaissance man.

Dane Terry will perform Bird in the House at the Wexner Center for the Arts on December 9 and 10. Visit wexarts.org for tickets and more information.

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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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