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

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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.

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(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 landgrantbrewing.com/ taproom/music for information.

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Arts & Culture

(614) Movie Club: New Jon Stewart feature, Episode V Beer Tasting, and timely documentaries

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(614) Movie Club. It’s OK to talk about it. 

Every Monday at (614) we’ll be here to update you on virtual and physical screenings that are being offered by the businesses and organizations that make Columbus such a special cinema city. Read below for this week’s streams and showtimes.

NOW SHOWING AT GRANDVIEW THEATER

Jaws

The original Jaws will continue to show at Grandview theater after a July 4 weekend beer tasting. Fitting, right? Watching this might be what it takes to keep you away from the beach for the rest of the summer.

  • Showing: July 6-9 (4 p.m.)
  • Cost: $9
  • Release: 1975
  • Runtime: 124 min.

Jurassic Park

More Steven Spielberg horror on the big screen. Again, if you missed the beer tasting, you’ll have a few more shots this week at catching some dino-roaring action on the big screen.

  • Showing: July 6-9 (7 p.m.)
  • Cost: $9
  • Release: 1993
  • Runtime: 127 min.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Beer Tasting

One of the most popular picks for best Star Wars film of all time, the beer tasting comes during a year when the fifth episode is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Enjoy a 10-round beer tasting, free pint glass, raffle prizes, and a very entertaining presentation.

  • Showing: July 11 (3 and 9 p.m.) and 12 (5 p.m.)
  • Cost: $40
  • Release: 1993
  • Runtime: 127 min.

NOW SHOWING AT STUDIO 35

Irresistible 

A local town battling big-party politics, written and directed by Jon Stewart and starring Steve Carrell? Looks great on paper, plays out even better on screen. Rose Byrne is outright ridiculous in this one. Enjoy a 2020 release in an actual movie theater with grade-A recliners.

  • Showing: July 6-9 (4:30, 7, and 9:30 p.m.)
  • Cost: $9
  • Release: 2020
  • Runtime: 104 min.

Jurassic Park

See above.

  • Showing: July 6-9 (4 and 7 p.m.)
  • Cost: $9
  • Release: 1993
  • Runtime: 127 min.

Jaws

See above.

  • Showing: July 6-9 (9:45 p.m.)
  • Cost: $9
  • Release: 1975
  • Runtime: 124 min.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Beer Tasting

See above.

  • Showing: July 11 (noon and 5:30 p.m.) and 12 (2 p.m.)
  • Cost: $40
  • Release: 1993
  • Runtime: 127 min.

NOW STREAMING VIRTUALLY AT THE WEX

Cincinnati Goddam

A timely documentary that followed the Black Lives Matter movement around 2013, this film focuses on the corruption within the Cincinnati Police Department, whose force was responsible for killing a total of 15 black men between 1995 and 2001. 

  • Closes: July 9
  • Cost: Free
  • Release: 2015
  • Runtime: 103 min.

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most prolific singers of all time. Although a lot of her life has been studied, this documentary goes deeper with some never-before-seen footage and interviews from greats such as Tony Bennett and Smokey Robinson.

  • Closes: July 23
  • Cost: $12
  • Release: 2019
  • Runtime: 90 min.

The Last Tree

A coming-of-age journey that follows a Black teenager trying to find his identity in the UK and beyond. The movie was the winner of the World Dramatic Competition at Sundance and Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer awards at the British Independent Film Awards.

  • Closes: July 23
  • Cost: $10
  • Release: 2019
  • Runtime: 98 min.

Denise Ho - Becoming the Song

Another unfortunately timely documentary, Denise Ho follows the personal journey of the openly gay singer from pop icon to human rights activist. What emerged out of the Umbrella Movement of 2014 saw Ho take to the streets in the midst of the Hong Kong revolution in 2019.

  • Closes: July 30
  • Cost: $12
  • Release: 2020
  • Runtime: 83 min.

NOW STREAMING VIRTUALLY AT GFC

Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly

Ai Weiwei, China's most famous artist, transforms Alcatraz Island prison into an astonishing expression of socially-engaged art focused on the unjustly incarcerated. Known-whistleblower Chelsea Manning makes an appearance. 

  • Opens: July 8
  • Cost: $10
  • Release: 2019
  • Runtime: 78 min.

We Are Little Zombies

If eccentric Japanese cinema is your forte, you’ll want to check out We Are Little Zombies. A messy triumph of tragedy, comedy, music, social criticism, and teenage angst, watch what four teenagers do when they find out their parents are being turned into dust.

  • Opens: July 8
  • Cost: N/A
  • Release: 2019
  • Runtime: 120 min.
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Where to get your Red, White & BOOM on this July 4th

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It was a bummer to hear that Red, White & BOOM would be canceled and changed to a virtual format for 2020. However, that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating in a somewhat traditional sense. Even with one of the biggest fireworks celebrations put on hold, there’s still plenty to do around Columbus, fireworks or no fireworks.

We here at (614) know that given the modern-day circumstances, people have the choice to celebrate in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Below you can find three ways to celebrate–Local 4th of July events; Red, White & BOOM alternatives; and places where you can legally celebrate yourself.

THINGS TO DO ON JULY 4TH

Fourth of July Fireworks

West Jefferson July 4th Streetfest

When: July 4 at 10 p.m.

Where: Watch from home

Obetz Fireworks

When: July 4

Where: Watch from home

Fourth of July Activities

Neighborhood Bike Brigade

When: Various start times

Where: Dublin neighborhoods

Sherm Sheldon Fishing Derby

When: June 26 through July 4

Where: Any Dublin pond

Fourth of July Parades

Front Yard Parade in the Round

When: July 4 at 6 until 9 p.m.

Where: Your front yard

2020 Cruisin’ On The 4th of July

When: July 4 at noon

Where: Northbridge Ln., Columbus, OH 43235

New Albany 4th of July Parade & Festival

When: July 4 at 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Where: Church of the Resurrection, 6300 E Dublin Granville Rd., New Albany, OH 43054

Other Fourth of July Events

Zoombezi Bay Family Movie Night featuring The Goonies

When: July 3 from 6 until 11 p.m.

Where: Zoombezi Bay, 10101 Riverside Dr., Powell, OH 43065

HOW TO CELEBRATE WITH RED, WHITE & BOOM

Red, White & BOOM was gearing up for its 40th anniversary before COVID-19 shut the mass gathering down. However, the beloved Columbus fireworks show will be hosting a virtual event over the first four days of July. The virtual campaign will air on NBC4.

Here are some of the events that will take place:

  • Highlighting the best Red, White & BOOM stories
  • Stories from local veterans inducted into the Ford Oval of Honor
  • Broadcasting the best Red, White & BOOM fireworks over the show’s 39-year history
  • Looking back on the tradition of parades honoring veterans

HOW TO TAKE CELEBRATING INTO YOUR OWN HANDS

We here at (614) also know that setting off fireworks yourself is illegal. We also know that buying them within the state is legal (OK?).

So here is a list of places around Columbus you can buy fireworks from. What you do from there is up to you, but we advise you to stay within the law:

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Zoo Babies! We’ve got the photo cuteness

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Start the ooo-ing and ahhh-ing, Columbus, because we’ve got Zoo baby pics!

A Masai giraffe calf, a sea lion pup, two red panda cubs, and a siamang (gibbon) baby—all recent births at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for these endangered species. It’s a show of commitment from the organization how they were able to nurture these species populations at-risk for extinction and bring new generations of them into the world. 

“We are extremely proud to welcome these babies as they all represent hope for the future of species that are increasingly facing challenges in their native ranges,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO, Tom Stalf. In the press release, Stalf detailed how special these births are as the threatened species received around-the-clock, top-quality care by the Animal Care staff over the three-month-closure of the Zoo, due to COVID-19. 

OK, no more waiting—get your fill of cuteness below with these Zoo baby pics!

Masai Giraffe Calf

“A Masai giraffe calf was born on June 28, 2020, at 2:29 p.m. to mother, Zuri, in a behind-the-scenes barn of the Zoo’s Heart of Africa region.”

Sea lion Pup

“During the early morning hours of June 25, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed the first sea lion pup ever to be born at the facility!”

Two Red Panda Cubs

“Two healthy red panda cubs were born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a welcomed addition to this endangered species.”

Siamang (Gibbon) baby

“On the morning of May 29, 2020, the Australia and Islands region welcomed a baby siamang. Mom, Olga, is being very attentive to her little one, whose sex and name have not yet been determined.”

Get information about conservation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium here.

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