Blog

Bringing Columbus Musician Funding into Alignment with the Industry - by Andrew Choi

Here's an easy task for you to try out. Look at a major indie music publication's premieres and reviews for a week. Take each artist that is featured, and type the word "publicist" next to the artist name in a Google search. Keep track of the publication over a period of time, and you'll find that with indie music acts, almost without exception, the artists have hired one of only a handful of publicists. Run enough searches, and you'll have a pretty handy guide to who the top 6 American publicist agencies are for indie music. The reliance on publicists was recently highlighted by a major indie publication, who stated that for all intents and purposes, they did not listen to music that did not come from a label or publicist that they already trusted. This is all to say, as an indie musician who wants to "get your name out there", if you do not pay one of the major publicists - i.e., one of the ones that this publication trusts, you will fail.

I'm not here specifically to attack the state of music journalism - that's maybe a battle for another day. But I am here to present a proposal for Columbus musicians as to how to make sense of the music industry circa 2019. Over the past 5 years or so, I've talked with a number of Columbus musicians working on record releases, and the same patterns keep cropping up. Inevitably, I'll suggest that they find a publicist to work with. Inevitably, the musician doesn't have enough money to pay a major publicist for a record release. So they either try to work publicity for the record on their own, or they find some other publicist at a lower price - i.e., not one of the ones that our indie publication friend here "trusts". And inevitably, they don't get their record "out there" as well as they would like. In fact, there have been a few Columbus musicians over the past 5 years that have gotten some more significant media attention. And if you run a Google search, you'll find that there is a rather straightforward pattern that connects up to the list of major publicist agencies mentioned earlier. This is by no means a way of speaking ill of those musicians - many of them are musicians who I respect. The fact that you need to pay a good publicist to get your name out there isn't an issue with the musicians, but it is an issue about inequality. Because the fact of the matter is that many musicians don't have that kind of money to pay a publicist, and that fact shouldn't be the determining factor in why they were not able to get their name out there. And moreover, that fact shouldn't be the reason why many Columbus musicians who are marketable on a larger stage, aren't able to market themselves (and Columbus more broadly) to a bigger audience.

But what if there were a way to equalize that? The Greater Columbus Arts Council provides grants for marketing, found in their Grants & Services Guidelines. However, the marketing support appears to only go up to $1250. If you look at the pricing for some of these "trusted publicists", I would suggest that the lower-bound cost of these services is actually at least $1000-$2000 *per month*, where a record release requires at least a 3-month commitment. As such, it seems like this amount should be increased. (It appears that they could get around this by offering separate grants per member of a group - though this would not work for all music acts.  And the existence of a separate $2000 max grant for "bands" suggests that this isn't possible). Or at the very least, the guidance should be adjusted to make clear that any musician that is able to book a vetted publicist should be eligible for full subsidy through the grants program.  Relatedly the guidance states that "you are required to use Franklin County based vendors or suppliers or demonstrate a compelling need to use non-local services." If the money is to be used for a "trusted" publicist, it seems that this guidance would have to be adjusted.  The guidance is not in step with the music industry as it exists now.

For the guidance on grants for publicity, look at p. 23 ("2019 Pilot: Bands & Ensembles") and p. 29 ("Marketing Support") of the Greater Columbus Arts Council 2019 Grants & Services Guideline. http://www.gcac.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-Grant-Guidelines-FINAL-w-Rubrics.pdf.

If I had the ability to set it up myself, I would suggest a $6000 upper limit, where the publicity is reserved only for full album releases of new material (not EPs), only for musicians who are currently living in Columbus, and only for vetted publicists that have a demonstrable record of publicity. The vetting requirement is important, because the whole idea is that Columbus is trying to actually market its musicians to the world, and it makes no sense to spend the money on people who have no record of doing that. The residence requirement seems important, because the idea is that this would be an actual enticement for musicians to stay in the city. These guidance suggestions also make it so that the city can limit the funds spent to where it has the most impact - full album releases. I would eliminate the current eligibility of expenses for design services, partly because I don't think you get much bang for your buck on that. (I.e., the bands that keep appearing in major publications all have the same publicists - they don't all have the same design services). There would be only a handful of releases that satisfy these guidelines every year, so this wouldn't be a very large expenditure by the city, given what else they've spent money on. As it happens, these publicists do not work with everyone who can pay for such services.

Musicians should be aware of the funds ($1250) currently available to pay for publicity. (The fact that many weren't aware of these funds is surprising).  But they should also either seek to increase the maximum amount offered by the city, or get clarification from the city that more can be offered (say by offering multiple $1250 grants to different band members, similar to what they may have done in the past). Additionally there should be a push to ensure that the funds can be used for non-local or vetted services. As it stands, I think the guidance is out of step with the industry at this time, given that Columbus presumably has the goal of exporting the work of its best musicians.  Finally, there should be some clarification as to whether the Columbus Music Commission can be a source for such funds. If this can be confirmed, then musicians in the city should feel unencumbered by the prospect of releasing a record without having enough money to pay for a proper publicist. Columbus should also see an uptick in the recognition of its musicians in larger publications. And this is, I think, what people want in the end. How else could you advertise a music city to the world except by giving proper attention to the musicians in the city? - Andrew Choi

In his free time, the author performs as St. Lenox. St. Lenox’s most recent record, Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love was placed on Best Albums lists at PopMatters and AllMusic for the year 2018. PopMatters calls St. Lenox "a Whitmanian ... full of wry observations about the people and places he encounters and his search for love that capture the old courage teacher's modern sensibility."  AllMusic credits St. Lenox with “some of the most unique and unconventionally thrilling pop music in the late 2010s.”

Ohio County Trippin': Delaware County - by Nick Taggart

Previous County Trippin' from Nick Taggart: Meigs County - Medina County - Champaign County - Seneca County - Cuyahoga County - Fayette County - Sandusky County -

DELAWARE COUNTY

The Art of the Meal”

2-3 March 2019


Whenever we find a reason to drive north toward Delaware, more often than not, after passing I-270, we follow old State Route 315, also known as Olentangy River Road.  It may not be as fast as the parallel U.S. Route 23, but its two shaded lanes are much more scenic as they follow the course of the river. That was the path we followed as we entered the county on a cold March morning.  In the past, we’ve been rewarded with sights of deer, turtles sunning themselves on logs, and great blue herons wading in the shallows. We even saw a single car accident in real time when it flipped over onto its top. Anything is possible on old 315.  There were no airborne vehicles on this particular Saturday, but Michele did spot a kingfisher as I navigated the winding road.

Just before we would have met with Route 23, a few miles south of the county seat, we turned off onto Bunty Station Road.  That led us to Liberty Road and the Stratford Ecological Center, a private non-profit organization that dedicates itself to the admirable task of educating “children and adults in understanding the relationship between living things and their environment, thereby fostering an appreciation of the land and all life that depends on it.”  Its 236-acre organic farm contains a combination of animals, agricultural fields, and woods.

We arrived for the 8 a.m. seating of the Maple Sugar Pancake Breakfast, an annual fundraiser where visitors are able to start their day with homemade whole wheat pancakes, Stratford sausage, and local maple syrup.  I estimated there were about 80 other diners with us that hour, with additional like-sized groups planned for each of the following four hours.

After our breakfast, we walked along the trail leading to the Sugar Shack, passing lines of maple trees being tapped for their sap.  Inside the shack, we saw how the sap was then boiled down to syrup. On our return stroll, we stopped at one of the barns and got a closer look at their herd of llamas and goats.

Back in the car, we backtracked a bit on Olentangy River Road and crossed the river at Hyatts Road so we could reach Taggart Road.  The latter is only about a mile and a half long, but it follows the course of the river on its east side. Early settler Ebenezer Gray Taggart owned a 96-acre farm in this area in the mid-19th Century and the road was probably named for him.  He’s not a close relative that I’m aware of, but I still enjoy having my picture taken with signs containing my surname.

North of there, on Chapman Road, we had to slow down to allow a family of deer to cross in front of us.  Two adults and two yearlings ambled across the road and then stopped once they entered the safety of the woods so they could stare back at us.  (“Oh look, deer, it’s a couple of humans in a Ford Escape. Sometimes, you can catch them with their windows rolled down sunning themselves.”)

I’d planned a short hike through Seymour Woods State Nature Preserve, but we couldn’t find a safe place to pull our car off Winter Road near its gated entrance, so we drove east to Route 23 and south a couple miles to Lewis Center Road.  Continuing east, we drove toward Alum Creek State Park, where the road then dips and bends around the southern end of the reservoir. We turned into the parking lot at the Lower Dam Recreation Area and came face-to-face with the imposing Alum Creek Dam.

imgres-1.jpg

In the parking lot is an historic marker paying homage to the forgotten community of Africa.  In 1824, when Samuel Patterson settled here, the area was known as East Orange. Patterson, an abolitionist, helped hide runaway slaves in his home.  He also invited anti-slavery speakers to spread their message at the local Methodist church. When a pro-slavery neighbor tried mocking Patterson and his like-minded friends by calling their community Africa, they simply accepted it and had East Orange renamed.  

Michele and I climbed the steep steps up the side of the dam, passing a very absorbed jogger who ignored our greeting.  Once he reached the bottom, he turned and jogged back to the top of the dam, and then dropped to the ground and did pushups, his black winter coat and water-repellant pants slapping against the hard concrete with each repetition.  If I was so intent on physical exertion on a cold winter morning, I, too, would probably ignore those around me.

A mile south of the dam on Bale Kenyon Road sits the Delaware County Bicentennial Barn, a century-old barn that can be easily seen by southbound drivers on Interstate 71.  The state’s 2003 bicentennial celebration doesn’t feel all that long ago, but many of the barns that were painted then with the bicentennial logo are now gone or have been repainted.  What was once a common sight, now feels like a special gift from the past. We pulled off the road at the wagon wheel gate that blocks further progress. I snapped a quick picture of the russet wood barn before looking both ways, twice, and backing out onto the road.  

We returned to Lewis Center Road and drove east as it changed names to Big Walnut Road.  At State Route 3, we turned north and skirted a couple of golf courses while staying to the west of Hoover Reservoir.  At Cherry Street, we turned east into the small town of Sunbury and pulled over at the cute little town square. Not only is a Civil War statue a point of interest, but also the large boulder on which it sits.

The man memorialized atop a bronze horse is Civil War Major General William Starke Rosecrans, whose resume was long and impressive.  Besides being born in Delaware County, he graduated from West Point in 1842, and was an engineer, architect, and inventor when he wasn’t commanding the Union Armies of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Missouri.  “Old Rosy” later served as Minister to Mexico and as a United States Congressman from California. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Of possible interest to Columbus Catholics, his brother, Sylvester, was the first bishop of the Columbus Diocese.

The base of the statue is a 40,000-pound rock known as a glacial erratic, a large igneous rock formed from ancient volcanic magma more than 2.5 billion years ago.  More recently – between 10,000 and 110,000 years ago – these erratics were pushed into central Ohio from northern Ontario by the Wisconsin glaciers. The erratic which eternally props up General Rosecrans is said to be one of the five largest erratics in the state.

imgres-3.jpg

That, of course, begs the question, “Where is the largest erratic in Ohio?”  Fortunately, it’s located nearby, only a mile or so east of Sunbury, about a tenth of a mile north of Hartford Road.  It’s an oval-shaped granite boulder 22 feet long, 18 feet wide and 8 feet high with a circumference of 72 feet. The weight of the exposed portion of the erratic is about 200 tons.  Unfortunately, it sits on private property, so we couldn’t get a close-up view, but when a rock is that big, it looks massive even from afar.

We continued our tour of Old Rosy sites north of Sunbury on Rosecrans Road.  West of Blue Church Road, on the south side, sits an easy-to-miss plaque attached to a rock and enclosed on three sides by a black metal fence.  A half dozen small American flags help decorate the General Rosecrans Memorial. The words on the gold-framed marker, erected in 1940 by an American Legion post, record the General’s birth and death dates and explain that the memorial marks his birthplace.  I assume the Rosecrans homestead once stood nearby and that Old Rosy wasn’t hatched just outside by the side of the road.

Continuing north on State Route 61, we turned east onto Chambers Road to find the only covered bridge in the county.  Aptly named the Chambers Road Covered Bridge, it spans Big Walnut Creek and can still be driven over, which is pretty amazing considering it was built in 1883, but more believable once I learned it was renovated in the early 1980s.  The foundations were rebuilt and a concrete center pier added. A steel substructure also ensured the bridge could carry the weight of motor vehicles. The inside wooden planks are colorfully festooned with the usual graffiti informing travelers of who loves whom.  A budding artist also tried his hand at male genitalia representation; either that or a dachshund with big round ears.

Apparently, I’m logistically-challenged because after visiting the covered bridge in the northeast corner of the county, I decided the next item on our itinerary was a restaurant in the southwest corner of the county.  We followed State Route 42 mostly south and west around the county seat and across the Scioto River. Turning south on Dublin Road, we drove to the small community of Shawnee Hills where we found the Morgan House restaurant.

The eatery is built around an authentic log cabin that originally stood in Morgan County, Ohio.  The founders of the Morgan House had the cabin moved to its current location in 1985 and named the restaurant for John Hunt Morgan. I find it “interesting” that the website, in giving the restaurant’s history, describes Morgan as a “famed Civil War veteran,” and gives a brief biography of the man that only covers his pre-Civil War life.  He was in fact a Confederate general who led a raiding party of 1,000 troops through southern Indiana and Ohio in 1863. He was eventually captured and sent to the Ohio Penitentiary, from which he escaped. He was shot by Union troops in Tennessee a year later. Why name a restaurant near Dublin, Ohio for a Southern general? It is believed that Morgan may have stayed at the Morgan County cabin during his raid.

Laying history aside, Michele and I picked up menus and enjoyed a delicious lunch.  I started with a cup of tomato basil soup before moving on to the daily special, an open-faced turkey club sandwich on Texas toast.  Michele ordered the Morgan House soup, a “thick chicken cream-based soup with celery, onions, mushrooms, white wine, and black wild rice that features dominating flavors of sherry and curry,” and the Basket Lunch, which included a chicken salad sandwich with fruit and chips.

After our meal, and a quick perusal of the extensive gift shop in the Morgan House, we drove east along Glick Road atop the O’Shaughnessy Dam, and then north along the reservoir on Riverside Drive.  Fun fact: The O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, along with Hoover Reservoir, also in Delaware County, and Griggs Reservoir in Franklin County, supply 90% of the City of Columbus’s daily water needs of 140 million gallons.

imgres-2.jpg

We entered the county seat of Delaware along Sandusky Street, passing the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.  We found a parking spot on West Winter Street and proceeded on foot to investigate some of the local businesses.  Our first stop was Endangered Species, The Last Record Store on Earth. It’s also sometimes shortened to Pat’s Record Store for owner Patrick Bailey.  Perched behind the counter, the long gray-haired proprietor appeared just how you might imagine someone who has been in the record trade for 40 years to look.  On a previous visit, his friendly banter included some affectionately-intended (??) mocking comments regarding our purchase of an REO Speedwagon greatest hits cd.  Our selections this time of “The McGarrigle Hour” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Hayes Carll’s “KMAG YOYO” escaped editorial comment.

Across Winter Street from the record store is Bun’s Restaurant, a local institution since 1864 when it opened as a bakery.  We’d eaten there on a previous visit to Delaware and our present county trip meal dance card was already full, so we had to give Bun’s a miss this time, but I’d recommend it to others.  The neon “Bun’s Restaurant” sign that hangs from an arch over the middle of the street makes it easy to find.

There are plenty of shops to check out on Sandusky Street, but we spent our time in the city’s two main antique stores: Sandusky Street Antiques and Delaware Antique Mall.  The former offers a nicer, higher end selection of goods, while the latter is larger and features more varied pickings. We came away however, without any purchases.

As the clock neared 4 p.m., our agreed upon check-in time for our night’s lodging, we returned to our car and made the short drive to the west end of the street and parked in front of the Winter Street Inn, a 142-year old Victorian-era home that was converted into a bed & breakfast by owners Rodger and Debbie in 2006.  Rodger met us at the door and led us upstairs where the Humphries Room awaited us. Named for a previous owner of the house who owned a thriving Ford dealership, the room featured silk wallpaper, an antique Persian rug, and a comfortable king-sized bed which provided us a spot for a late afternoon siesta.

It was dark by the time we returned outdoors.  We left the car behind and walked down Winter Street, appreciating the architecture of the Italianate homes that filled the lots, many of which appeared to be serving as frat houses, or were owned by people who liked decorating their facades with large Greek letters.

We stepped into the Staas Brewing Company, Delaware’s first (and only?) brewpub.  We sat at stools at the bar and requested a couple of porters; an 8% Baltic Porter for myself and a 6.4% Vanilla Porter for Michele.  Most of the chairs in the bar were occupied, mainly by folks who could have been grad students or parents of students from nearby OWU.  The television screens were muted, but contained sports-related programs. The beers were good and the ambiance was relaxed and inviting.

For a total contrast in clientele, our next stop was the Hamburger Inn Diner on Sandusky Street.  It’s another longtime Delaware institution, dating back to 1932. Closing time is 10 p.m. or midnight during the week, but its open all night on weekends.  Most of the stools at the U-shaped counters were occupied when we entered, but we found a couple at the back of the restaurant. Fox News was playing on the television and a Blue Lives Matter flag was displayed opposite an American flag.  There were lots of tattoos and piercings and overheard drama about people doing other people wrong. And that was just the staff! But everyone was friendly and helpful and the food was good and exactly what I was expecting. I had a cheeseburger and Michele had a chili dog.  We shared our sides of onion rings and waffle fries topped with bacon and cheese.

Feeling a bit stuffed after our meal, we rolled south down Sandusky Street and around the corner onto William Street. We paused at a historic marker memorializing the birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes, nineteenth president of the United States.  The marker was erected in 1926, the same year the Hayes home was torn down. In its place is now a BP filling station, referred to on a website I came across as the Rutherford B. Hayes Birthplace Gas Station.

Continuing around another corner, we found Roop Brothers Bar, or Roops, as the locals call it.  “Where live classic rock and blues music lives!” The building is a nondescript red brick structure with stacked beer barrels out front.  Inside, the mostly middle aged crowd was preparing for a night of good rockin’ with local favorites, The Stolen Fire. The band was formed in 2011 by four professors from Ohio Wesleyan University.  I stepped up to the bar before the music started and ordered a pint of Brew Dog’s Radio Zombie Phone In, a Russian Imperial Stout. I noticed most of the other drinkers were ordering their brews in cans and bottles.  There was also Jägermeister available on tap!

We stayed for about an hour, listening while the band ran through a series of Zeppelin covers followed by “Pinball Wizard” and Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”  They sounded good and the crowd was into them. After my nursed beer finally emptied, we stepped into the nippy night and strolled back to our B&B. We slept soundly.

I awoke the next morning early enough to shower before breakfast.  The bathroom for our room was so small, the washbasin was located outside it, near our bed.  As I sat on the toilet, I was mere inches away from the mirror that hung from the back of the door.  While performing my morning necessary, there was the spitting image of myself, pants down around his ankles, gawking at me.  It was a bit unnerving. I’d look away, but every time I snuck a peek, there I was, still staring.

Perv!

Promptly at 8 a.m., we descended the winding staircase to the first floor.  In the dining room, Rodger already had our places set. There was a bowl of mixed fruit and granola in yogurt, and on a side plate, a cherry-filled donut.  Coffee and juice filled our cups and when we were ready, the main entrée was brought out consisting of a sunny side egg atop a muffin, accompanied by slices of melon and pineapple.

After our meal, we hung out in our room for awhile, getting our money’s worth.  At 11 a.m., when we checked out, teeny random snowflakes had begun to fall. I snapped a photo of our B&B as well as the building across the street, the former George W. Campbell home, which was originally built in 1854.  It was designed with Romanesque and Norman Revival architectural features which included a round tower and arched windows and doorways made of locally-mined blue limestone. It now serves as the Delaware County Cultural Arts Center.

We drove northwest out of Delaware along West Central Avenue and then veered north on State Route 203 up to the village of Radnor for another architecturally unique structure.  At the entrance to the local graveyard is the Radnor Cemetery Lych Gate. Traditional in England and Wales, lych gates are covered gateways used to shelter coffins until clergymen arrive for burial. The Radnor version was designed by a local architect over a century ago to commemorate the early settlers of the town who emigrated from Wales.  It’s built of locally-quarried stone and features two openings: a larger one for a horse-drawn hearse and a smaller one for mourners. The gate was also given a tower resembling a church steeple to give it an ecclesiastical style.

We drove east from Radnor for about four miles until arriving at U.S. Route 23 about a mile north of the entrance to Delaware State Park.  I thought a little outdoor exercise might work off our morning donut. We wound through the park before stopping near the camp check-in station.  Near there was the beginning of the Lakeview Trail. For awhile, the path was dry and pleasant. The sky was a solid cloud, but we could see Delaware Lake.  The lake was formed in 1951 after the construction of a flood control dam. The state park was dedicated a year later.

Once the trail looped away from the water on its way to connecting to the Briar Patch Trail and the return to the parking lot, big muddy patches began getting in our way.  We tried walking around them, but the sides of the trail were lined with briars and needle-filled plants. The Sunday morning stroll became a slog as more and more sections of the trail contained standing water.  One can attempt to be very Zen about it all and concentrate on a particular mantra to distract from the trail conditions, but when that repeated word becomes, “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK!” then you realize your attempt at serene meditation is, well, in a word, fucked.

After a couple miles of less than ideal hiking, we arrived back at the lot and spent some time scraping off the brown slop that had caked to our boots before allowing ourselves back in the car.

As we drove back to Delaware, the snowflakes hitting the windshield became bigger and wetter.  We had made plans to meet my sister and her daughter at the 1808 American Bistro at 1 p.m. for Sunday brunch.  Katanya and Jennifer introduced us to this very fine restaurant a year ago and we looked forward to returning. I considered myself lucky when I spotted an open parking spot directly across the street.  After we parallel parked, the car behind pulled up next to us and rolled down a window. My sibling and niece were inside and were a bit miffed because they had seen a car vacate that prime parking spot and had quickly driven around the block so they could get it.  “Sorry!” I weakly responded, although I couldn’t stop laughing.

Once we sat down to eat, all thoughts of stolen parking spaces were forgotten as we were all easily distracted by the food.  The restaurant has been open for over a decade and has a deservedly good reputation for its Sunday brunch. I had the shrimp and grits which was outstanding with shrimp and andouille sausage bathing in polenta and a creamy Cajun sauce.  We all enjoyed a leisurely two-hour meal, which was long enough for a layer of snow to accumulate on the windows of our cars.

We said our goodbyes and swept our vehicle of snow and drove a few blocks away to the Richard M. Ross Art Museum on South Sandusky Street.  It’s housed in OWU’s Humphreys Art Hall, a former United State Post Office building. I was looking forward to seeing the current exhibit, “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” a collection of curated works by African American artists and artists from the African Diaspora.

When we entered the museum, we saw right away that there was some sort of to-do taking place.  There were lots of well-dressed people milling about and socializing. (We later learned the Delaware Community Chorus was hosting a reception for its donors.)  Michele was hesitant about proceeding, but I really wanted to see the art and figured so long as we weren’t turned away, we could still do so. Michele’s misgivings were reinforced when we were somewhat strong-armed into wearing nametags.  I acquiesced quickly on the assumption that we’d be less conspicuous if we had nametags like everyone else. I was wrong. We were both greeted by name by complete strangers on multiple occasions. I’m not particularly fond of being so familiarly hailed by someone who doesn’t know me.

We did our best to circulate through the galleries, but it was near impossible at times as the hors d’oeuvres-munching, wine-swilling crowd didn’t seem to have a problem socializing directly in front of pieces while completely ignoring the art.

I was able to get close to one piece and was contemplating it when a guy ambled up next to me and asked with a laugh, “What does that say to you?”  I find the perusal of art in a gallery to be a somewhat personal experience and regardless of whether or not I have a specific reaction to a piece, I don’t want to discuss it with a stranger.  I had the feeling he didn’t want to seriously deliberate its merits anyway, but rather was just make a joke of it. I responded by ignoring him. After enough awkward silence passed, he finally took his plastic wine glass and moved on with a laugh and a mutter about still waiting for the art to say something to him.  I continued on my way while screaming in my head, “I just want to be left alone to look at the art!”

Michele later told me she did her best to display a demeanor that said, “Leave me alone,” but was unsuccessful time and time again.  Apparently, whatever talents the Chorus possesses in singing and fundraising far exceed the ability of its members to read body language.

I can’t imagine we resembled the normal philanthropist, what with our attire of cargo pants and mud-caked boots, but perhaps we were mistaken for the reclusive and deep-pocketed donors, Mr. and Mr. “Anonymous” who always appear at the top of contributor lists.

Percy King

Percy King

So the conditions were far from ideal, but we did our best to circulate through the rooms and actually look at the art.  There were a few artists represented with whom I was previously familiar such as Aminah Robinson and Kojo Kamau, but there were also many who were new to me.  It is always a pleasure to discover a new favorite. One example was the “First Avenue” triptych by Don “DonCee” Coulter, but the artist whose works may have made the biggest impression on both Michele and myself was Percy King.

OSU football fans may remember King as the safety who blocked a punt for a touchdown against Penn State in 1998.  After a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, he turned to another passion of his: art. What he has since named, “Shaolin Wood Technique,” his works incorporate layered sheets of compressed composite wood.  The results are very cool-looking 3-D portraits of prominent cultural figures from Langston Hughes to Snoop Dog.

By the time we completed our tour of the exhibit and escaped to our car where we were both anxious to compare our museum experiences, the snowfall had increased in intensity.  Road visibility approached white-out conditions as we drove south on U.S. Route 23. I’d originally planned on ending our weekend with a hike in Highbanks Metro Park to see a couple of Adena mounds, but the weather situation forced a change.  We just kept driving south and soon exited the county.





Time spent in the county: 32 hours, 2 minutes

Miles driven in the county: 138 miles







A spring clean for the Day king - by Brent Baver

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now....It’s just a spring clean for the Day king (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)

A little deviation from the normal Q&A with Colin being on the road with Watershed.... I wanted to hit five of the bigger topics as the Buckeye’s wrap up their spring session...

Justin Fields

I guess we need to start with the new kid running the show on offense. When Justin Fields finished up at the Elite 11 QB Camp in the summer of ‘17, there was some talk that Fields was the most impressive QB to come through that camp in its 19-year history. Still, some Buckeye fans are hung up on the fact that Fields, as a true freshman for Georgia last season, did not overtake Jake Fromm as the #1 QB. Fromm finished 5thin the FBS in passing efficiency last year behind four guys perhaps you’ve heard of.....Tua, Kyler, Grier, and Haskins. Fromm’s first 20 starts at Ga? An 18-2 record, with the two L’s being a road loss to top-10 Auburn and an O/T loss in the NCAA title game to Bama. That’s not a QB you want to bench. Fields has the entire package, and the sky is the limit for this kid. Once he gets a few games under his belt, I think he will have this OSU offense humming come late September. 

The New Staff

Ryan Day sometimes looks and talks like he might be too nice for the cut-throat business he has chosen. But Day wasn’t looking like Mr. Nice Guy when he retained only one defensive assistant coach from Urban’s 2018 staff. Day made it clear that what we saw from the Buckeye defense in ‘18 was nowhere near acceptable. I was however thinking that the new hires replacing those who weren’t retained would have had more impressive resumes. But, we’ll have to see....Day obviously has a vision, and sees Greg Mattison, Jeff Hafley and the other new hires for his defense staff as the proper fits. On offense, I like the Yurcich hire as the quasi-OC, and Day has a rising star in the coaching world in WR coach Brian Hartline.

The Upside

Justin Fields of all the upside in the world, and then some. And Urban left the cupboard stocked. Chase Young can be as good as he wants to be, and after Young, this D-line can swap the next 9+ D-linemen in and out without missing a beat. With the DBs, there are so many talented guys in that unit, that an upgrade is probably inevitable. And I honestly think that the O-line with only one returning starter could be better than last year’s unit. There was talk that Rutgers graduate transfer OG Jonah Jackson might have to be moved to center when he arrives this summer, but Josh Myers appears to have put that talk to rest in cementing the center job this spring. And former 5-star recruit Nicholas Petit-Frere has had a big spring and should man the RT spot in the fall. Seeing this 2019 Buckeye team go 11-1 or even 12-0 isn’t too far-fetched. There is a reason OSU is about even with Georgia with the 3rd best early sportsbook odds to win the 2019 Nat’l Title, while the books list Justin Fields with the third best odds to win the Heisman.

The Concerns

Running Back. I stuck up for JK Dobbins as he started to catch some criticism in the second half of the ’18 season, but now I really have my doubts. Dobbins was a step slower as a sophomore after a huge freshman campaign. And injuries are again holding back Demario McCall this spring. OSU also lost (or parted ways with) Brian Snead, and I had thought Snead was a keeper. I am however hearing good things about Master Teague’s work ethic, but the tailback position is my #1 concern as the spring drills conclude.

Linebacker. The Buckeyes have a new safety/linebacker hybrid position they are calling the “bullet”. And that spot is slotted for budding star Brendon White. But is this a move caused more by necessity with OSU’s highly touted group of LBs showing that they aren’t up to the task? Hope not. I do think Malik Harrison could hit the big time this year, and that this team has a real up-and-comer in MLB Teradja Mitchell. But one thing’s for sure....this D needs way more help from their LB crew than it got in 2018.

And back to the early Vegas odds...Michigan is next after Ohio St in terms of odds to win it all, and the first ‘Games of the Year’ lines released listed UM as a 6.5 pt favorite over Ohio St. Some bettors obviously feel things will be different without Urban roaming the sidelines in The Game.

The Spring Game 

The spring game gets watered down more and more every year, and they have finally done away with tackling completely. The defenders will instead “thud-up” per Coach Day. You still should be able to get something out of watching these newcomers: QB’s Justin Fields (#1) and Matthew Baldwin (#12). H-back, redshirt frosh Jaelen Gill (#26), and the two true-frosh 5-star recruits WR Garrett Wilson (#5) and DE Zach Harrison (#33). Don’t sell Baldwin short as he would have surpassed Tate Martell, had Tate stayed. Gill is likely your next superstar at the H-back spot. And Wilson and Harrison have looked as advertised after enrolling early in January. Even without full tackling, there should be plenty of physical battles between the grown men in the trenches. How Petit-Frere and Josh Myers match up against the scholarship D-linemen will be certainly be worth watching.

—Brent Baver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pencilstorm Mailbag: My Top Five Favorite Concerts - by Doug Leed

This was sent to us from Pencilstorm reader Doug Leed. You can join the discussion at pencilstormstory@gmail.com Take it away, Doug!

Nice list, Pete! (Click here for Pete’s List) I was at both the Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones shows that Pete wrote about (seeing them both for the first time) and agree that they were amazing shows. Haven’t seen ELO yet, but REALLY looking forward to the show this summer! My #1 has to be Lou Reed in Cincy on the New York album tour where I had a front row seat and Lou stood right in front of me shredding the solo for “The Original Wrapper.”

5) Pretenders with Iggy Pop 1986 - Cleveland / This was only the second concert that I went to (without my parents, although they sent a chaperone) and Iggy had just released Blah Blah Blah and the Pretenders had just released Get Close. My first girl rocker crush was Chrissie Hynde, so of course I was drooling in awe through most of their set. I wasn’t as familiar with Iggy at that time but I had Blah Blah Blah and really liked it, in particular the song “Shades.” At one point Iggy climbed on top of the PA speakers and started dancing/thrashing around. The PA speakers started wobbling and I thought that everything, including Iggy, was going to come crashing down but it didn’t. I had never seen anything like that in my life. (I was 17 at that point!)

4) Grateful Dead with Sting at Soldier Field, Chicago 1993 / I am a Deadhead and saw them at least 21 times while Jerry was still alive. While I could say that every one of their shows was in my best concerts list, this particular show stands out because during Sting’s set Jerry joined him on stage to perform the Police song “Tea in the Sahara.” Completely mesmerizing!

3) Sugar Cubes, PIL and New Order, not sure of the exact year (maybe 1988) or venue (maybe Blossom) / First of all, just that line- up in that time period warrants this show being on the list. Second of all, I feel like I had a connection with Bjork during the SC set. Some of you may be thinking, oh that happens to me at a lot of shows where I feel the artist is singing directly to me, but this was different. Bjork kept staring at me through most of the show, so much so that other concert goers around me kept saying “Dude, I think the singer is checking you out!”.

2) Paul Simon, Nutter Center, Dayton. OH, around 1990 / Paul was touring on the Rhythm of the Saints album and had the Brazilian percussionists on the album with him at the show. Part of my enjoyment of this show may have been how high I was after eating some pot brownies. I recall at a few points everyone was clapping indicating that the song was over and by the time I started to clap they were already playing the next song. “You Can Call Me Al” was still pretty huge at this point and after playing it everyone went CRAZY. Paul then said, “Oh, you guys like that one? Well then let’s play it again!” He then proceeded to play the entire song again making the audience go even CRAZIER.

1) Lou Reed as mentioned above.

*Note - it goes without saying that this list changes on a day to day basis! 


Talking Spaghetti with Joe Strummer - by Pat Dull

As I write this, I am listening to the first album I ever bought with my own money.  I bought London Calling by The Clash because I had read a tremendous review describing the opening title track as “too apocalyptic” for the other songs to follow.  Scooping up my meager paper-route and lawn-mowing earnings, I simply had to get that album.

London Calling LP.jpg

I bugged my parents to drive me to the Salem Mall in Dayton, Ohio and - once there - dashed immediately into Camelot Music.  I vividly remember London Calling being displayed majestically, six copies wide, upon the wall.  When I saw the cover, I was 100% certain it would be the greatest record I had ever heard.  When I learned it was a double-LP selling for the price of a single, I was even more certain than 100%.  

Camelot Music.jpg

Back home, I played the shit out of that record.  I had never heard anyone sing like Joe Strummer; it utterly floored me.  In a later interview, Joe claimed he was not a singer: “Sam Cooke – now that’s a singer.”  Whatever. I loved his voice, and I really loved London Calling.

My mom was not quite as smitten, however, and was constantly yelling “Turn that down!” up the stairs.  Fortunately, thanks to Joe’s unique enunciation (or maybe just because the sound was travelling through the floorboards) she never quite seemed to hear the lyrics.  To her, it was all just noise. That all changed, however, the day mom decided to snoop in my room while I was at school.

Snooping Mom lower left corner.

Snooping Mom lower left corner.

Although my room was suspiciously tidy when I got home, it did not seem openly violated.  We had dinner like normal people – we definitely had spaghetti – and afterward I went to play London Calling.  The records were on the turntable – double-stacked – and the album cover was on my bed.  Hunky dory.

I typically read album credits and lyrics while listening to records, so I started to scan my room for the two inner sleeves.  Those sleeves were printed with handwritten notes and lyrics, and were almost as important to me as the music itself. But they were not anywhere I looked – and I looked everywhere.  I flipped that room upside-down, but the sleeves simply were not to be found.

Eventually – and reluctantly – I asked mom if she had seen them.  Her response was a wickedly cold, calm, and cryptic, “You don’t need to know where those are.”

wicked mom (1).jpg


I protested: “What? Why?!?”  “You don’t need trash like that,” she said.  I knew then that she had thrown them away, and I was pretty sure which lyrics had doomed the sleeves to the trash heap.  

While the lyrics on London Calling can be earthy – see “Lover’s Rock” for frank talk on erectile dysfunction – I didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable about any of them, except one.  If you’ve heard the album, you know the one: “He who fucks nuns will later join the church,” (from “Death or Glory”). On the other hand, however, my parents had raised me fiercely Protestant, and I was fairly certain Martin Luther would have approved of, If not this exact lyric, then at least the spirit of it.

Martin Luther Clash fan.jpg

Further, I felt the first stirrings of independence mixed with righteous indignation: those sleeves were mine, and I had paid for them.  How dare she take them. I was nun-fucking mad.

I resolved to get the sleeves back somehow, and landed upon the rather obvious scheme of sneaking out of the house to salvage them from the trash.  To this day, I am surprised mom had no counter-offensive prepared. A rookie mistake for a mother of four.

That night, after everyone went to bed, I quietly snuck out of my small second story bedroom window, climbed down a nearby TV antenna, crept through the backyard to the garage and, in the dark, rummaged through the garbage cans.  I found the sleeves relatively quickly – they were on top of the pile, and had been angrily crumpled into two little balls of paper. Oh yeah, they were also freshly splotched with that evening’s spaghetti sauce. On the return trip to my room, I nearly fell off the TV antennae as I tried to silently climb back through the window. Back inside, I wiped the sleeves clean and pressed them between two large, heavy books.  After a few days, they were pretty flat and, although stained with spaghetti sauce, they resumed their rightful place inside London Calling, where they remain to this day.

inner sleeves with spaghetti stains 2.JPG

Almost 20 years later – on November 15, 1999, to be exact – I was in Columbus, Ohio, having moved there for school.  That night, Joe Strummer was in town playing at the Newport, in support of his solo LP, Rock, Art & the X-Ray Style.  I was going to the show, having won tickets that morning during a CD-101 radio contest: I had to sing Clash lyrics on the air over the phone.  (editor’s note: I REMEMBER this. I was listening to CD-101 that day when Pat won.) The show was great, of course, and I tried to meet Joe afterward by waiting around the back door of the venue. Unbelievably, I was the only person waiting.  A roadie popped his head out of the door and said “Don’t worry, Joe will come out this way, he always meets with fans.”  He popped out several more times, reassuring me each time. As I was the only person waiting, we actually spoke a bit, and I remember giving him some Twizzlers.  His name was Brian.

Newport.jpg

After about half an hour, Brian came out again and said, quite sincerely, “Hey, I’m really sorry, but Joe got snagged by some radio people, and he went out the front door.”  Man, I was bummed. Joe was my hero, I had brought London Calling with me to get signed, and I had even made friends with Brian, but now I had to go home without meeting Joe Strummer.

Four days later, my roommate Eric asked me if I wanted to go to Cleveland to see Joe Strummer at the Odeon – he had free passes waiting at the box office.  Of course I wanted to go, so we piled into his brother’s car and drove two hours to Cleveland.

Once there, however, tragedy struck: the passes were not at the box office, and we had stupidly brought no money with us.  Supremely disappointed, we began to trudge back to the car for the long drive back to Columbus. Before we had walked 20 steps, however, I saw Brian, the roadie, walking up to the Odeon.  

I called out to him – “Brian!”  He turned around and recognized me – those Twizzlers had paid off!  I quickly explained what happened, and he just as quickly said not only would he get us four passes to the show, but he would also get us four backstage passes to meet Joe afterward!  

backstage passes.jpg

True to his word, that is exactly what Brian did.  After the show, he escorted us backstage, ahead of everyone else – even radio contest-winners.  The band was sitting around toweling off, having been off-stage for only about 10 minutes or so.  There Joe was, not 10 feet away from me. When Brian introduced us, Joe immediately said “have a beer!”  Which, of course, we did.

I was shaking with excitement – here I was, having a beer with Joe Strummer!  Joe was sitting down, and I was standing next to him. He very kindly, very patiently, listened to me gush about his records, and he happily signed my copy of London Calling.  When he saw Mick Jones’ autograph already on the LP, he faux-angrily pointed to Mick’s autograph and said “wanker.”  Hilarious!

back cover with autograph.JPG

Joe was so generous with his time that I could not resist telling him about how I bought the record with my own money, how my mom had thrown away the inner sleeves, how I climbed out of the window to get them back, and how I then cleaned and re-flattened them.  I even pulled out the sleeves to show him the still-visible spaghetti stains. Again, he was so kind, so patient.

People often say, “Don’t meet your heroes.”  Not true. At the end of my breathless, five-minute re-telling of my life, Joe didn’t appear tired or bored, although he may have been both.  Instead, he smiled, looked me right in the eye, and said “That is the greatest story anyone has ever told me about the inner sleeves of one of my records.”  He didn’t have to say that, but he did. And I believed him. And I still believe him.

Pat Dull was born and lowered in Greenville, Ohio.  Back in the 1950's, his dad saw live shows by Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley.  Pat has never seen anything remotely as cool as that, but he does have a boyish curiosity that gets him into scrapes from time to time.

Joe Strummer.jpeg