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Linear Notes: Vincent Valentino

“Good art can both satiate creative wants and inspire idealism in others.” Interviewing Vincent Valentino is essentially agreeing to an interview yourself, or at the very least, an introspection. Our conversation is full of rhetorical questions, and rightfully so: just about anyone writing songs today is battling some sort of unknown about the changing world. [...]
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“Good art can both satiate creative wants and inspire idealism in others.”

Interviewing Vincent Valentino is essentially agreeing to an interview yourself, or at the very least, an introspection. Our conversation is full of rhetorical questions, and rightfully so: just about anyone writing songs today is battling some sort of unknown about the changing world.

The front man for the wildly popular new band Montezuma (made up of some portions of respected outfits Brujas del Sol, Turtle Island, and Fingers) is no different, straddling a philosophical precipice:

One side is blasting full steam ahead with managers and branding and music videos and tours, capitalizing on band buzz; and the other side is a world in need of art and healing.

“The struggle isn’t so much about what art can do, but what can I do,” he said. “Making art is absolutely how I’d like to spend my life, but it takes a support system and a social safety net. These days there are people actively destroying those supports, and it’s both infuriating and heartbreaking. So I look at that and ask myself, ‘What should I do? Pursue my own art? Or put down the guitar and pick up the protest sign?’”

Well, we think just asking that question is a good place to start…

Who are the artists that first brought out the notion in you, that music must mean more than just a good song? There’s so many, it’s honestly a bit hard to say. I mean, D’Angelo put out Black Messiah half a year early because of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown rulings. Radiohead warned about the post-millennium gloom that we’re all feeling today as early as 1997. On top of that, all of the rock, soul, and folk music that was coming out in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The emergence of hip-hop alone was an entire class of disenfranchised people impacting pop culture and disrupting the middle-class zeitgeist of the ’80s, followed by the anti-popness of ’90s grunge. Good art is always impactful. We’re all trying to say something and be impactful. Sometimes the scale is personal, sometimes the scale is global.

Last month, you donated proceeds from a show to Planned Parenthood. And you have plans to to further this social enterprise model of local touring? What we want to be able to do is donate from every show we do in Columbus, at least from our own door money and merch sales, so at the very least it’s always something we’ll do while we play [here]. Alone, we won’t raise a lot—a single band doing this will be a drop in the bucket. But if we can show that it works and that people care and that the Columbus artistic community can make an impact by organizing and working together, then maybe we change what it means to be an artist in Columbus right now. Or maybe we’ll all just starve together. Who knows.

You guys hit like a light right out of the gate, and this isn’t your first rodeo. Is it hard to reconcile taking advantage of potential career moves and weighing that against helping the community around you? That’s the crux of the issue, really: both things take a massive investment of time and creative energy. You can’t phone in a song and you can’t phone in a protest. And to really make great art, to really create change, you need to be all about it all the time. So inevitably, there has to be a split; you can’t do everything at once. So right now the question is, do you take advantage of what could potentially be your one and only shot, or do you get involved and get organized at one of the most pivotal moments in American history? Which is true to yourself? Which is good for your community and your brothers and sisters around the world?

Are your songs, or at least many of them, really structured in three acts? Not all of them, but we’re working to make the album flow that way. There is a distinct beginning, middle, and end. The first song is written to be an overture—the lyrics talk about this character from an omniscient point of view and kind of foretells what’s going to happen throughout the story; that might be the only one with a three part act structure.

While we’re having fun with that, let’s play a game: you actually have to turn Montezuma’s songs into a piece of theater. What’s the plot? I’m actually working on making this in conjunction with the album release. Not to steal a page from Father John [Misty], but I’d like to release an actual short story, a written version with the album.

People in Columbus need to go to one show this month and it can’t be a Montezuma show. What’s their national and local option?

Bummers EP Release @ Ace of Cups (4.22).

Spoon @ Newport (5.11).

What was the first concert you went to? Do you remember being like, I’m gonna do that someday? My first concert was MGMT with Tame Impala in 2010, so I didn’t actually see my first show until I was 18. By then, I’d been playing in bands for a couple years so it was more of a “How do you even do that?” moment.

What’s the best lyric ever written?

Jesus don’t cry/You can rely on me honey

You can come by anytime that you want

I’ll be around/You were right about the stars

Each one is a setting sun (Wilco, “Jesus, Etc.”)

What was the first album you ever bought with your own money? And first album you owned, if different.

The first album I ever owned was The Offspring’s Americana, a gift from my older sister in fourth grade. The first album I ever bought with my own money was The Beatles’ Past Masters, I split it with my brother in the 8th grade.

Finally: what’s the ultimate compliment you can get from anyone that hears your music? “Where can I listen to your stuff?”

You can see Valentino and Montezuma live this month at Ace of Cups, opening for the Yellow Paper Planes (4.21).

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Community

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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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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