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Trial by Fire

Usually, the death blow of a local band comes with the proverbial “creative differences” excuse, or maybe a domestic issue, like a member planning a big move out of town. For Weight of Whales, a band that was making plenty of waves in the local scene, including high profile festival gigs and opening for indie [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



Usually, the death blow of a local band comes with the proverbial “creative differences” excuse, or maybe a domestic issue, like a member planning a big move out of town. For Weight of Whales, a band that was making plenty of waves in the local scene, including high profile festival gigs and opening for indie stalwarts like Alt-J, tragedy struck at the tail end of 2013, when thieves cleaned out its “secure” practice space. The robbery was fairly high-profile, as it affected the 30-odd groups who considered the Junctionview-adjacent warehouse headquarters. Everything was gone—guitars, amps, soundboards, and even the recordings that were to follow up Weight of Whales’ debut album Pulling the Wool. Little did the quartet know, it had played its last show in November of that year, and the end was nigh.

“It was hard to get what we had back. We couldn’t practice in that space anymore and we just lost that steam,” says Jeff Meyers Jr. on the aftermath of the heist. “There was no malice at all, we simply started to focus on relationships and some people started to focus on work. The only way that I can cope with my work and outside life is through music. Weight of Whales was all I had, so I knew I would have to keep doing something else.”

For Meyers, the rebound started immediately. Knowing that all the cachet Weight of Whales had accrued was now lost, the multi-instrumentalist turned inward instead of spending his time trying to form a new band. At first the process was slow, with Meyers taking most of 2014 gathering seconds-long snippets of riffs and melodies on his phone whenever the moment demanded such. There was no clear direction. As a resolution at the beginning of last year, Meyers gave his project a name, Good Reverend, and made a commitment to converting those ideas into at least two new songs a month.

“With Weight of Whales, I viciously did not want it to be about me,” says Meyers. “That band was about creating characters and creating stories. We used personal experiences, but that wasn’t the main content. We were creating these very extravagant tales, short stories, and writing songs around that. Good Reverend had to be uncomfortable, vulnerable, and most of all, personal.”

Good Reverend is in fact a reflection of the trials and tribulations Meyers endured in 2015 as well as the myriad influences brought to the mix. The first installment, released via Bandcamp in June, was admittedly in the same whimsical and theatrical vein as his former band—quirky, idiosyncratic pop reminiscent of Of Montreal and Sparks. The piano and synth-led romps, including stand-outs like “100 Days” and “Jesus, Charlie!”, may have been entirely recorded and composed by Meyers within his tiny apartment studio, but they exhibit the worldly scope of full-blown Weight of Whales songs and showcase Meyers’ experiences outside of rock circles. Be it growing up in the Columbus Children’s Choir, indulging in musical theater, or simply studying the work of Howlin’ Wolf and Fats Waller with a pedagogical verve, Meyers’ output as Good Reverend is destined for the stage—even if it is a home-recorded project.

“I’m enthralled with all different types of performance,” says Meyers. “I’ve always been anxiety-ridden and nervous when meeting new people or when I’m put in unfamiliar situations. The only time I feel real confidence is when I’m performing. So I’ve always tried to find avenues that involve performance.”

Despite Meyers calling what he has released so far only “demos,” there’s a certain heft to the second installment of Good Reverend tunes that he premiered in December, and they beg for the live treatment. Mostly written in the wake of a serious break-up, in contrast to the Good Reverend songs from earlier in the year, this batch is much heavier, angrier, and more reliant on fuzzed guitars and darker atmospherics. As for 2016? Meyers, in yet another resolution, is determined to find that “huge thrill” that comes from forming a group of musicians who can make his songs “bigger than” himself.

“The endgame is to just be in a loud band that is smiling wide and sweating a lot,” says Meyers about the future, “while making our potential fans do the same.”

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need




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:

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here:

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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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