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Class of 2016: Dana

When Dana hits the stage at this year's Nelsonville Music Festival, an event that prides itself on its eclectic lineup, there's no doubt that the band's performance will be an anomaly for the afternoon crowd. Raw, primitive, and aggressively unique, the quartet of guitarist Bob Hatt, bassist Albert Gray, drummer Andy Morehart, and singer Madeline [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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When Dana hits the stage at this year’s Nelsonville Music Festival, an event that prides itself on its eclectic lineup, there’s no doubt that the band’s performance will be an anomaly for the afternoon crowd. Raw, primitive, and aggressively unique, the quartet of guitarist Bob Hatt, bassist Albert Gray, drummer Andy Morehart, and singer Madeline Jackson will be sure to stick out like a sore—let’s say lacerated—thumb. And it’s not just because they are, perhaps, one of the first all-out punk bands to play Nelsonville. With spiritual sonic influences like Pere Ubu, Wire, and the Gun Club, they veer toward a psychedelic realm that is protean and spacey and fairly “far-flung from hardcore.”

Jackson is not Dana. There is no Dana. The name comes from a primordial urge to be something that is monosyllabic, a name that is gender neutral, and coincidentally an unintentional Ghostbusters reference. It fits the music. Though the first recordings of Dana—a live show for pirate radio station WLSD—are dark, visceral, discordant, they are also cathartically freeing.

Jackson’s use of the Theremin is likewise a left field addition that bucks the stifling parameters of punk. The instrument adds a textural quality, both atonal and melodic, depending on the mood of the music. It’s a way for Jackson to communicate with the audience when her menacing growls won’t do.

“A recurring issue with not playing a traditional instrument or not writing songs on guitar is having to develop your own language in order to write with a group,” says Jackson about her use of the Theremin. “With the Theremin, it allows me to hold, sway, and be involved in the compositional process. I try to veer away from the novel quality of it and use it effectively.”

Combine that with Hatt’s combative riffs and you can start to deconstruct how Dana arrived from a noise-influenced past. Both he and Morehart began in more experimental outfits, and Gray currently does double duty as the guitarist and songwriter in the enigmatic Egon Gone and the Sun Dogs. Jackson herself has played in several bands before Dana, but it’s in this band where her presence is innately commanding. The control of a stage is a skill she has taught to young girls at the Athens Girls Rock Camp, an organization she holds sacred and hopes to be involved with here in Columbus.

“When I was their age there wasn’t an equivalent,” says Jackson. “My rock camp for girls was my basement. If I didn’t create that space for myself, I might not have graduated high school. It was really inherent to my survival.”

As for Dana’s future as a band? There are West Coast tours on the horizon, their first physical release just in time for Nelsonville, and a bevy of new songs nearly every practice. So expect positive progression from a group with sounds based in nihilistic hallucinations.

“We want to keep it sounding fresh with something different on each new song,” says Jackson about Dana’s upcoming release. “We’re never overthinking it and we’re writing productively, while not forcing it.” – Kevin J. Elliott

Dana play the Nelsonville Music Festival on Saturday, June 4. For music and more information, visit thereisnodana.bandcamp.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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