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The Weekend Lookout: 3 can’t miss events for Saturday and Sunday

Mitch Hooper

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Did you enjoy your festival break last week? I sure hope so because the festivals are back in action this weekend and you have some catching up to do. With everything from cavity-inducing craft beer pairings to setting your new 5K personal record time, here’s what you can’t miss this weekend.

P.S. Don’t forget about Restaurant Week July 15-20!

Saturday

The Peach Truck @ Weiland’s Market

Pour up a strong cup of coffee and head over to Weiland’s Market bright and early to score some of the freshest peaches in Ohio. The market opens at 8 a.m., and the lines will probably start filing in around 7:59 a.m.

Sours, Sorbets, & Donuts @ Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Start Saturday right with sour beers courtesy of Wolf’s Ridge and donuts courtesy of The Drunken Donut. The donut pop-up will be running from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. while the rest of the brewery will be doing flight pairings with sours and sorbets. For $12, your flight will include Grapefruit Sorbet with Terre du Sauvage; Blue -Strawberry & Rhubarb Sorbet with Strawberry Swimming in the Mangrove; and Black Cherry Sorbet with Swimming in the Mangrove.

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Beer & Ice Cream @ Nocterra Brewing Company

So maybe starting your weekend before noon isn’t in your wheelhouse—that’s fine. Starting at 2 p.m., Nocterra will be partnering up with the Ice Cream Cart to serve up scoops alongside your pints. If you can’t tell, we really want you to forget the diet you’re on for the weekend.

Sunday

Michael Bublé @ The Schottenstein Center

Michael Bublé is back on tour after a long break from it all and he’s stopping off in Columbus. Don’t miss your chance to be serenaded by the smooth singing icon himself.

$10 Beer Flights @ Parsons North Brewing Company

Four mini glasses of beer for only $10? Sunday Funday has never been so affordable. Drink up! The deal is only on Sundays.

Ohio State Ross Heart Hospital 5K @ Ohio State (411 Woody Hayes Dr.)

This is why we were pushing donuts, ice cream, beer, and sorbet on you so heavy for Saturday and Sunday. Burn off those extra calories for a great cause as proceeds benefit heart disease research at Ohio State Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute.

millennial | writer | human

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Still the Shazzbots: Columbus “kindie” band hasn’t forgotten their retro roots

J.R. McMillan

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Music for kids tends to get a bad rap for good reason. From the Wiggles to Barney, inane to annoying, somewhere along the way, “kids” and “music” became decoupled, as though children don’t deserve sincere songwriting, and education and entertainment also became mutually exclusive.

That’s why parents are over the moon for the Shazzbots, the credible Columbus kids band that might just save the universe from one more infernal refrain of “Fruit Salad” or a hyperkinetic purple dinosaur professing his static affection. Founded by

Ian Hummel more than a decade ago, the Shazzbots began a
live show which eventually evolved into an Emmy-winning television pilot, funded entirely by loyal fans. Their latest album, LIGHTSPEED!, is their long-awaited third release and an apt metaphor for their change in trajectory, marked by a growing international audience.

Kyle Tracey

“When we first started, it was just songs. But I didn’t want it to just be me. I wanted it to be more, something along the lines of Sesame Street, with characters and a backstory behind the songs,” recalled Hummel, whose nautical alter ego Captain Captain travels the galaxy with an acoustic guitar and an archetypical band of misfits in a heavily-modi ed Winnebago. “We weren’t even sure what form the band would take. For a while, there was no drummer, only percussion. For a hot minute, there was even an accordion.”

Hummel recruited friend and bass player Mike “Navigator Scopes” Heslop to help craft the band’s elaborate backstory, with characters whose talents matched those of their real-life counterparts. Josh Tully, better know to kids as Professor Swiss Vanderburton, moved back to electric guitar when Steve Frye, aka Watts Watson, settled in behind the skins. That initial lineup has remained unchanged, but there have been three female members of the crew. Amber Allen as Debora Nebula, Molly Winters as Aurora Borealis, and Diane Hummel as Luna Stardust, who rounds out percussion and also happens to be married to a certain space captain.

“It’s important to have female role models, and you can see from the stage how little girls connect with Luna Stardust,” noted Hummel. “Her costume is still girly, but you can tell she’s a member of the crew. There’s a team dynamic you see in cartoons like Voltron and Thundercats I knew I wanted in the Shazzbots.”

Though the age of their audience has stayed the same, expectations for the entire music industry changed course. Social media was barely a blip when the band began, and streaming services were almost nonexistent. Now they’re essential. But this too is where the Shazzbots shine, a retro band ready for a new frontier.

“After filming the television show and getting it on Amazon, we kind of hit a wall deciding what was next,” he admitted. “So we spent nearly a year creating content for YouTube, something new every week. Kids still listen to songs in the car, but they also watch music videos on their iPads. You have to be available everywhere they are.”

Another giant leap into this new era for the band required rethinking the brand. Matthew Hubbard, one of the filmmakers behind the TV pilot, helped tap into the emerging “kindie” industry, clever slang for independent music catering to kids. Unlike commodity kids bands created to make a quick buck, so-called kindie artists are steeped in the sincere songwriting tradition that predates the digital age. They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes are more contemporary ambassadors for children’s music with a message, but even Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie released kids albums every bit as sophisticated as their more famous fare.

“Embracing the kindie label, as well as working through a distributor and with a PR person who understand that audience, has really opened doors,” Hubbard explained. “We’re now available on Sirius XM Kids Place Live and Shazzbots albums are in more than 600 libraries nationwide. There are also all of the major streaming services, Spotify, Amazon, and Apple as well helping to reach a global audience.”

The irony of the Shazzbots now broadcasting songs via satellite hasn’t escaped the band. It’s probably impossible to be more on brand. But that doesn’t diminish the analog roots and inspiration behind LIGHTSPEED!, available on CD, digital, and as an actual vinyl record with an intricately illustrated gatefold cover featuring a cross-section of the ship created by artist Joel Jackson, whom many may recognize as the ominous pirate from the television pilot’s cliffhanger ending.

“These new streaming options and the release of the new album have given us more reach and more information than we’ve ever had before,” Hubbard noted. “We know how many people are watching the TV show, which is really starting to take o in the UK. We can see which songs are doing well in Australia, a market that is also growing due to songs getting play on the in flight kids entertainment service on Quantas airlines. We use these insights to decide which song should be next for a music video, or maybe shouldn’t, at least not right now.”

“Having all of this data can be overwhelming, and you can overthink it. It can reinforce your instincts as a musician, but you also have to be careful not to let it affect you too much as an artist,” Hummel explained. “These are great tools to have, but you can’t let them keep you from pushing boundaries by trying to find a formula for success. Sometimes those simple little songs will surprise you.”

Plenty of musicians have been there before, watching an outtake or alternate track that barely made an album resonate unexpectedly, despite prevailing opinion. It’s also why live shows remain the best market research for the Shazzbots, even now that some of their earliest fans are old enough to be in college. Requests from the audience, often songs that may not have the obvious hallmarks of a hit single, still spark something unexpected. It’s evidence that those obscure deep cuts have sticking power too, feedback a synthetic studio-only kids band just wouldn’t understand.

“I was playing at Big Fun last weekend, and a dad and his two daughters were there. The youngest daughter was wearing one of our t-shirts she’d gotten as a hand-me-down from her sister who is now a teenager,” Hummel revealed. “The older daughter still knew all of the songs. It’s something they shared. She grew out of the shirt, but not the Shazzbots.”

For more on the Shazzbots, LIGHTSPEED!, and upcoming live shows, visit theshazzbots.com.

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Having a Ball: Local company brings fairy tales to life one party at a time

Regina Fox

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“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”

The quote is attributed to Walt Disney, and I think it’s also something we often forget when we grow up. But kids? Without the tools or knowhow to navigate life, believing is all they can do. Wouldn’t it be something, though, to combine the wonder of believing with practical life skills for an experience equally magical for kids and adults?

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, I present to you Amy’s Princess Parties!

Photos by Brian Kaiser

With her esteemed cast of imaginative employees, Amy Kavelaras spins, twirls, and curtseys into the lives of young people with the intent to impress upon them the qualities of a good person—all while dressed as famed princesses.

“I think it’s so magical,” Kavelaras said of the experience.

With over 30 characters to choose from (including superheroes) parents can hire Amy’s Princess Parties by the hour to transform their child’s birthday into a fairy tale-like occasion they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.

It begins with a class on “how to be princess”—walk, wave, curtsy, that sort of thing. For superheroes, obstacle courses and other games are on the menu. Once the party goers have the mannerisms down, Kalvelaras and her cartoon-y crew transition into lessons on what really counts: the heart.

“We really use our platform for good, so we use these role model characters and we try to create an atmosphere where we’re in influencing the next generation,” explained Kavelaras. “So we talk about character values of being kind, being loving, and being caring.”

Parents look on—sometimes tearfully, according to Kavelaras—as their starry-eyed child hangs on every word of their role model teaching them the importance of being truthful, thankful, helpful, and accepting in every situation from home life to the playground.

“A 3-year-old may not listen to their parents, but a 3-year-old will listen to these characters because they are their personal heroes,” said Kavelaras. “We really want to make a difference.”

And as important as it is to drive these messages home with the kids, Kavelaras puts equal weight on deciding who will do the driving. She has hand-picked each magical member of her company, not only because they embody the princess or superhero physically, but also mentally and emotionally. In other words, practice what you preach (Matthew the Apostle said that, but I’d be willing to bet that Walt Disney would agree).

“Yes, technically you do need to look like the character from the outside [to be an employee at Amy’s Princess Parties], however the most important thing is the heart and finding someone who encompasses both is really important to us,” Kavelaras explained.

All this may seem like an elaborate dress-up game for the employees, the opportunity offers so much more.

“It truly makes you feel like you’re not yourself...like, ‘I am this person’s role model, this person looks up to me,’ ” said Kate Glaser, one of Amy’s princesses. “That’s really special.”

And even after the birthday candles are blown out, the magic isn’t over.

“I had to stop at a friend’s house to grab something after a party and there was a kid outside in a [Little Mermaid] bathing suit who saw me so, I got out and talked with her,” Glaser continued. “Even after the party is over, you have an impact on everyone you see.”

They stop at lemonade stands, make Starbucks runs, go to the grocery store, pump gas—all while in character—to bring a little magic to everyone they cross. These interactions, along with being able to make appearances at charity events with both kids and disabled adults are some of the most rewarding experiences for the princesses and superheroes.

“As much as we’re changing their lives, they’re changing our lives,” said Kalvelaras.

After all the etiquette lessons and life courses, it’s time for the tiny princesses and superheroes to be coronated. With the flick of a magic wand, some magic dust, and the promise that they are so loved, Amy’s Princess Parties gives the children the fairy tale ending they deserve.

And they all lived happily ever after.

To book a character for your next party go to amysprincessparties.com.

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BYO Baby: 4 places to take the kids without compromising adulthood

Linda Lee Baird

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Adulting is hard. And just when you think you’ve maybe got it figured out—with a semblance of stability in your life—you may (in a burst of confidence) decide to have a baby. Surprise! You will never feel like you have anything figured out again. Welcome to parenthood! Can I buy you a drink? But wait. Where can you even get a drink as a parent?

As it turns out, Columbus is a great city for raising kids without having to completely give up the life you had before. Here are a few places you can take your children that are fun for adults, that are welcoming for little ones, and where no one is going to judge you or bat an eye over a dreaded public kid meltdown. Take it from this mother of two: you deserve a break.

16-BIT SHORTY DAY

If you find yourself waking up early on a Sunday, mourning weekends of yore when you actually got to leave the house on Saturday night, 16-Bit’s weekly Shorty Day might be just what you need. Every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., 16-Bit drops its “21+” requirement in favor of family fun. You can introduce your kids to classic arcade games like Ms. Pacman, Tron, and Centipede, while kids sip on slushies and grownups indulge in authentic adult beverages. Admission and arcade games are free, and pinball games cost a mere 50 cents. While I was there on a recent Sunday, I witnessed a mom in town from Seattle get the high score in Asteroids, proudly showing her teenage daughter the way it’s done.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

16-Bit Shorty Day: Sundays from 12-5 at the 254 S Fourth St. location. Kids are welcome daily until 8 p.m. at the Dublin location with adult supervision. Learn more at 16-bitbar.com.

RAMBLING HOUSE MUSIC BAR’S FAMILY FRIENDLY FIRST FRIDAYS

Rambling House Music Bar serves up zippy sodas with traditional and roots music six nights a week. Once a month, they relax their age requirements for Family Friendly First Fridays, where from 6-8 p.m., kids can enjoy age-appropriate craft beverages while dancing to the tunes. Eileen Wukusick has attended a few Family Friendly First Fridays with her three and six-year-old. She cautions first timers to be prepared for crowds, both in the search for parking and on the dance floor. Rambling House does not serve food, though cake has been known to appear during these events, so you may want to bring along some munchies to complement those sodas, and get ready to dance the sugar o before bedtime.

Rambling House Music Bar is located at 310 Hudson St. Family Friendly First Fridays take place on the first Friday of every month. For more information visit ramblinghousemusic.com.

STUDIO 35

During many snow days this past winter, Studio 35 came through as a hero for Clintonville parents in search of last-minute entertainment when it offered free screenings of classic family movies. In addition to big- screen entertainment, the booths by the bar in the front room are stocked with board games that appeal to little brains; recently my kids played Operation while I drank a beer and watched the Women’s World Cup on the televisions—a true parenting win. In August, Studio 35 will screen the last two movies in its free summer kids series, The Secret of the Kells and A Long Way Home. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more events, including last-minute ones. After all, school is just around the corner, which means heat days and parent scrambling can’t be far behind.

Studio 35 is located at 3055 Indianola Ave. Free summer Kids’ Series movies screen on Saturdays at 11 a.m. through August 10. Visit studio35.com for more information.

FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY CHILDREN’S GARDEN

Franklin Park Conservatory has always been an awesome place to take kids—mine never tire of walking through the rainforest and desert, especially in the middle of gray Ohio winters. When the two-acre Children’s Garden opened last summer, however, the conservatory jumped from a “nice place to visit” to an “absolutely must do” on my list of family-friendly Columbus attractions. From the second kids enter the garden through a special tunnel that’s just their size, it takes on a magical aura. As they explore, they’ll find everything from fairies to musical instruments to giant hammocks to, yes, all kinds of native-Ohio plants. If that’s not enough, the Learning Pavillion hosts regular activities and special guests, so all of you can get even more out of your visit.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory is open year-round. Admission to the garden is included in the conservatory’s ticket price: $19 for adults and

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