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On the Fly: New indie record label taps into local music potential




Earnest efforts by public officials are necessary to protect our physical landmarks. Take Columbus’ Union Station, for instance, which was saved from complete demolition through a single archway near Nationwide Arena. But these same efforts are not always sufficient to capture the spirit or sentiments of a bygone era. That lofty goal is perhaps best left to artists, activists, and other cultural ambassadors.

Nick D’Andrea, Jonathan Elliot, Joey Gurwin, and Eric Rollin— veterans of the Columbus music scene with a wide variety of experiences in the industry–are eager to play this role by invoking a nearly-forgotten piece of 19th century Columbus history as they expand opportunities for musicians today. The four partners founded Flytown Records last year, an independent label committed to mentoring and developing recording artists in Central Ohio.

From left to right: Elliot, Rollin, Gurwin, and D’Andrea (photos: Brian Kaiser)

Named for the eclectic, racially-integrated, and working-class “Flytown” neighborhood that emerged in the 1860s across the modern Short North and Arena District, Flytown Records has signed four local artists: Doc Robinson, the alt-rock/indie band founded by D’Andrea and Elliot in 2016; Mistar Anderson, a hip-hop band emceed by Rollin; singer- songwriter Riley Dean; and 16-year-old lyricist Bree OTB.

The partners hope to embody the harmonious, collaborative setting of the neighborhood recalled by Franklin County’s Historical Society as “democracy’s melting pot for the city of Columbus” in their recordings.

(614) caught up with Flytown to discuss their motivations for founding a record label and what makes the Columbus music scene unique.

(614): What inspired you to start a record label? Are there other prominent labels in Columbus or across Ohio that you’re seeking to emulate, or was Flytown formed to combat a deficit?

JG: At the studio I hear a ton of great music, and get to have a hand in the production. Some of that music doesn’t see the light of day for one reason or another. And sometimes the music that does go out doesn’t get the attention that I feel like it deserves. There is so much great music being made, and anything that we can do to help foster that, we should.

ND: We felt our skill set was basically like a production company. The things we found ourselves doing day in and day out—writing, recording, and releasing music—we realized could be valuable as a service to other artists that we admired and wanted to see succeed. We also felt that the connections we’ve made over the years could be useful to the next generation of artists, and that by each other artist’s success we all stand to benefit. The idea, that I feel is very much in line with the Columbus music scene, that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ Starting this label was creating a framework to put that philosophy into practice.

G: We love great music that we think that should have a wider audience. We have all figured out in our own ways over the years how to create and then find an audience. We know it when we hear it.


(614): Mentorship is one of Flytown’s stated goals. How can positive mentors accelerate or adversely affect careers in music?

JE: I personally owe so much gratitude to the many incredible mentors and teachers that I’ve had in my life, who have helped me achieve the success that I’ve been fortunate to have, and prepare me for situations and experiences that come along with this business. I believe it’s our imperative duty to give back, and bestow the knowledge that has been passed on to us, to the next generation. We are fortunate to live in a city where musicians can survive and make a living, a good mentor and solid assistance from those who have walked a similar road, can be invaluable, and help an artist thrive.

ND: I think mentorship is an essential part of both the music industry and the Columbus music scene. I think it is at the forefront of what we are building especially considering our artists thus far are very much at the beginning of their careers. The main thing we feel we have to offer beyond connections, production, or distribution, is experience.

(614): What is especially unique or valuable about the Columbus music scene?

JG: What’s great is the community, the support that we all give each other, and that we are honestly all rooting for each other and get excited about each other’s work. … Just like I take an out of town friend to my favorite sushi, or coffee spot, I’ll take them to a local show. The result is always the same. I just took a friend from California to Hoodoo [Soul Band at Rumba Cafe] last night, he loved it, danced all night and talked about how he wishes there was more of a local scene in Santa Cruz. We know what we have is special (and has been so for years) we’re just doing our little part of shining a light on it. It might change lives…or at least someone’s playlist.

JE: I believe our music scene’s biggest strength is perhaps in our cultural diversity. Being the home to OSU, one of the nation’s biggest universities, and other great institutions like Capital and CCAD has helped to create a rich and competitive environment of intellectuals and creatives, hailing from all over the planet. In the future, I hope to see more and more purposeful collaborations and far better networking opportunities for those who are struggling to find a niche or a scene to fit into.

ND: Collaboration is the superpower of the Columbus music scene. It is ingrained in the DNA of the community from the beginning, and the seeds its founders planted are still flowering today, at Comfest, in Hoodoo [Soul Band], at Dick’s Den, every Sunday morning in churches all over the city, at all the summer fests in all of the wild amalgamations of the same musicians in different formations playing in four, five, six different bands that are all writing great original music.

The final “Flytown Presents” summer music series event will be held on August 8 at Land-Grant Brewing Company. See taproom/music for information.

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Weekend Lookout: Harvest Fair, brewery parties, socccer

Mitch Hooper



Welcome back to another installment of The Weekend Lookout, my fellow weekend warriors. As we get through the last few weekdays and gear up for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, here are the happenings and events that are worth checking out before heading out. Hang in there, ya'll! The weekend is almost here.


Land-Grant 5th Anniversary Party @ Land-Grant Brewing Co.

Happy five years, Land-Grant! To celebrate the occasion, Land-Grant will be hosting a variety of musical acts such as Hebdo and Zoo Trippin'. Chow down on some Ray Ray's barbecue, watch the Buckeyes kick off in the evening, and of course, drink all the Land-Grant brews you can.

Harvest Fair @ The Columbus Commons

Looking to get your fall on without leaving the city? Look no further. Head over to the Commons on Saturday for the free-to-attend Harvest Fest complete with fall-themed activities for all ages. Additionally, there will be a pumpkin patch with a $2 entry fee.

Talk It Out: Endless Summer Fest @ Misfit Manor

This indie music festival will feature the likes of many local acts including Girl Fox and snarls. The day kicks off at 4:07 p.m. sharp, so don't be late!


Olde Towne East Pop-up Market on Bryden Rd.

On Bryden Rd. on Sunday, 40 different vendors will line-up for a pop-up market in OTE. Everything from matcha from Potion Matcha to lunch from Street Thyme Food Truck will be available for visitors, and it's free-to-attend.

Columbus Crew v. Philadelphia Union @ Mapfre Stadium

Not only is our faithful Crew taking on Philadelphia this Sunday, Troubled Sapiens will be performing before and during the match! The first performance will be in the parking lot from 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the final performance will take place at halftime in the stadium.

FBCC Presents: Movie Night + Beer Tasting @ Grandview Drafthouse and Theater

In collaboration with Fat Babes Club of Columbus, Grandview Drafthouse and Theater will play host to a beer tasting and movie night. Here visitors will sip craft beer, wine, and ciders as they watch comedy clips of "fat" performers throughout time. The day kicks off at 2 p.m., but FBCC recommends showing up 15-20 minutes early.

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The Weekend Lookout: 9 different ways to spend your weekend in the city

Mitch Hooper



Summer is fleeting, but luckily fall is on the way. We are entering that Goldie Locks zone of weather which means it's the perfect time to get up, and get out. From a big music jamboree with Doc Robinson on Saturday to Tyler, The Creator stopping off at Express Live, here are the events and happenings to keep on your radar.


Doc Robinson's Family Jamboree @ Woodlands Tavern

If you trust our taste with The Turbos, then having you trust us once more with Doc Robinson shouldn't be a stretch. Here's a little taste of what Doc Robinson will bring to the stage on Saturday. The Family Jamboree kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will include a large roster of local acts including Parker Louis and Hebdo.

German Village Oktoberfest @ Wunderbar

You already know the drill here: fill your steins full of Great Lakes Brewing beers, chow down on German classics from places like Pierogi Mountain, and don't even worry about the cover charge because this is a free-to-attend event.

Can Release: Opera Cream Stout @ Platform Beer Co.

New beer, who dis? Platform Beer Co. is breaking out a new can this Saturday at the taproom where they collaborated with The BonBonerie for this Opera Cream Stout. Platform will have beers ready for purchase around 10 a.m. so come early, and come thirsty.


Kölsch In The [email protected] Gemüt Biergarten

It's a beer release party in the Garten! Gemüt Biergarten is breaking out its newest brew Huginn & Muninn Kölsch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for just $3 in the Garten. Gemüt describes this beer as a light-bodied German ale that is malt-forward with a slightly fruity flavor.

Tyler, The Creator @ Express Live

Tyler, The Creator has been on a new level in terms of music popularity. His albums Igor and Flower Boy have received plenty of critical acclaim, and his unique sound landed him as the artist who created the soundtrack to the newest iteration of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The often off-the-walls rapper will be taking over Express Live on Sunday evening with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.

It: Chapter 2 and Hustlers @ South Drive-in

Going to a drive-in to see an It movie, ah. It feels like the good old days again. Was I around for those days? Maybe not, but the nostalgic vibes still stand. Head over to the South Drive-in for a double feature of the newest It: Chapter 2 as well as Hustlers. Everything kicks off around 7:15 p.m., and the Drive-in suggests showing up an hour early to be safe.

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A Day In Delaware: Horse racing, kayaking, food trucks, cocktails

Mitch Hooper



It's horse racing season in Delaware at the Little Brown Jug and that means two things: you're either about to lose, or currently losing.

The beloved horse racing at Little Brown Jug, affectionately known as LBJ, kicked off on Sunday and will run until Thursday. If you're looking to get in on the action, here is where you can buy tickets.

But, if you've already spent all your gambling money and just need a break from the horses, there are plenty of alternatives available in Delaware. Here are three spots to keep in mind as you explore our not-so-distant neighbor to the north.

Kayaking at Alum Creek

Whether you hit it big on your bet, or lost it all in the first race, Alum Creek is perfect because it's free. While the views on the walking trails are great, the views from a kayak are even better. The water there is very calm with the exception of a boat passing through every once in a while making it a nice spot for beginners.

And if you're a veteran on the water, the lake is relatively large meaning you can make an entire day out of it. I recommend packing a cooler with some picnic food—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, string cheese with crackers, and some fresh fruit—and making pit stops at some of the beaches right off the lake. And, just so I can say I told you so, leave your phone in the car, or in a water proof bag.

Dinner At The Food Truck Depot

The Food Truck Depot is a relatively new eatery and bar in Delaware and it's sure to have something for everyone. If you, or someone you're with, is a vegetarian/vegan, Encompass Eatery is a familiar face at the Food Truck Depot and they offer plant-based dishes such as a grilled caprese sandwich, or straight up carnivorous sandwiches like the hearty roast beef sandwich. Other food trucks that have made appearances include Tortilla, Red Door BBQ, and Deja Food. Also at the Food Truck Depot is a full service bar with craft selections and cocktails as well as a large sand volleyball court if you need to burn some calories.

Drinks On Sandusky St.

Delaware is absolutely loaded with options when it comes to drinking in the evening. Looking to taste some bourbon and whiskey? Check out Opa Grill And Tavern which boasts the largest bourbon selection in Ohio. Or perhaps you're more of a beer person (you are from Columbus after all). Barley Hopsters is a beer lovers heaven as it offers large coolers stocked with local, regional, and national craft beers. Build a six-pack to take home, or sip on your beer of choice while you ponder your next option.

Not too far from Barley Hopsters is Restoration Brew Worx which offers a variety of their in-house brews. And if you're looking for an elevated cocktail, 1808 American Bistro is on 29 E. Winter St—just a stone's throw away from Sandusky St. On the flip side, if you're just looking for a dive bar to call home for the evening, The Backstretch will have you covered with cans of PBRs and Tullamore Dew.

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