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The Weekend Lookout: 9 of the best things to do

Mitch Hooper

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The weekend is almost here, my dear weekend warriors. Hold tight and make sure you keep these happenings on your radar.

Friday

Stonewall Pride Festival @ Bicentennial and Genoa Park

It’s time to celebrate Pride Month in a big way! The festivities kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. with a festival!

Celebrate 614 Day @ Seventh Son

Happy June 14, aka, 6/14, aka 614! Celebrate the city at Seventh Son as Columbus-based DJs, local artists, vendors, and food trucks fill up the parking lot starting at 4 p.m.

Millennium Age Host: Silent Party Columbus TRAPxREGGAExTWERK @ Skully’s Music-Diner

It’s time to dance the night away at Skully’s and you’re the master of your own music. The silent disco offers headphones with the option to listen to trap bangers, reggae hits, or shake your booty to club classics.

Saturday

Stonewall Pride Parade @ Goodale St. heading south on S High St.

Don’t stay up too late at the festival on Friday, we have a parade to march in on Saturday! Don’t be late—step-off is at 10:30 a.m.

Moonlight Market @ Gay St.

Local vendors, artisan products, and the stars as your backdrop. Take a trip to Moonlight Market starting at 6 p.m. and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Pride Pool Party @ Land-Grant Brewing Company

Right after the parade, Land-Grant is hosting a party to celebrate their summer beer, Pool Party Pilsner. Will there be a pool? No, but there will be a “unicorn sprinkler” …? We’re excited, too.

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Sunday

Father’s Day Buffet @ The Boat House Restaurant

Don’t forget about ol’ dad this June; it’s Father’s Day this weekend! Treat him to what he really wants: an endless amount of food.

Frank Caliendo @ The Funny Bone

Still looking for something to do with your old man? (We mean that endearingly of course.) Take him out for a night of laughs with the impersonation king Frank Caliendo. Show starts at 7 p.m.

Pentatonix: The World Tour @ Nationwide Arena

This acapella group has taken the world by storm with their infectious melodies and bubbly personalities. Check them out this weekend at Nationwide!

millennial | writer | human

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Prime Social Against the World: The rise of Breakaway Music Fest

Mitch Hooper

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In the world of fast-moving trends, it seems music festivals have taken a turn for the rich and famous. What used to be a chance for music fans to enjoy a handful of their favorite artists in the same place has turned into an exclusive party for celebrities, or anyone rich enough to foot the bill for a ticket. While festivals like Coachella in California and Lollapalooza in Chicago feature some of the biggest names in the music industry, that doesn’t mean the Midwest can’t get in on the action. In fact, creators and founders of Prime Social Group and Breakaway Music Festival are here to alleviate this problem by bringing the action to us.

Meet Adam Lynn and Zach Ruben, founders and creators of Prime Social who host a plethora of concerts and music festivals like Breakaway Music Festival. Now in its fifth year, the two have worked together to bring rap icons like Kendrick Lamar, EDM favorites like Dillon Francis, and even Columbus’ very own Twenty One Pilots to Mapfre Stadium. However, it hasn’t always been this way for the two entrepreneurs.

Before the days of PSG, Lynn and Ruben didn’t start working together until they collaborated on a Steve Aoki tour.

Photos provided by Prime Social

“We just took [Steve Aoki] all over the Midwest,” Lynn recalled. “It was just the craziest two weeks of my life. We went from Ann Arbor to Bloomington to Columbus, basically just traveling the country. But Zach and I had really been competitors until that tour.”

The final stop on the tour was Columbus where Ruben is originally from. Lynn, a New York native, said he had never been to Columbus before, but it only took one time to fall in love.

“I really like the whole ‘Ohio versus The World,’ ” Lynn said. “No one really says that about New York.”

In 2011, PSG hired its first employee. Eight years later, the company has locations in Columbus and Nashville while dipping its toes into other mid-size markets like Detroit and Milwaukee. And the world is starting to take notice. Just recently, Billboard named both Lynn and Ruben to its 2019 Dance Power Players list as live leaders shaping the genre. Who needs California?

“If you look at sports teams, what are some of the best sports attendances? It’s pretty comparable—they’re selling tickets, I’m selling tickets,” Lynn explained. “Look at Milwaukee for example. That is a market that will have the strongest MLB attendance of the entire league, but their population is a fraction of some of these cities.”

The hype surrounding Breakaway has been taken to a national level, and Lynn said he’s ready to add more fuel to that fire. In 2019, PSG hosted four festivals and that number is expected to double in 2020. Breakaway business is boomin’.

This year’s Breakaway will bring back some familiar faces to the festival. Both Young Thug and Future return for hip-hop fans while Bassnecter will be blowing out speakers with an EDM set. If you’re looking to discover someone new, Kid Quill is someone Lynn said to keep your eyes and ears on. He’s an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Indiana who takes the stage on Friday.

“I think that we’ve been around the business long enough that people are beginning to respect us. We’re not just here to come and go and make a quick buck,” Ruben said.

Lessons are taught even with success, and if Ruben can nail down one lesson he’s learned, it’s keeping the festival to just two days. Last year was the first time Breakaway spanned three days, and while it was successful, Ruben said he feels the markets are just better suited for two days...For now.

Breakaway Music Festival is at Mapfre Stadium on August 23 and 24. For tickets, visit breakawaymusicfestival.com.

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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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