Currently this page does kind of look like the “crime and music roundup” or something, as there’s not much else here. Perhaps a dash of weather and sports thrown into the blender. But it’s admittedly a work in progress and I plan on fleshing out this and all other years with not only a full slate of happenings but hopefully some insightful commentary as well. This is the plan, anyway. Until then let’s at least see what this glorious year had to offer, shall we:
January 3 – a free rally for the Rose Bowl champion Buckeyes is held at St. John Arena. Approximately 10,000 people with nothing better to do will attend. The team flew in via a Lane Aviation charter to avoid being mobbed at the main airport terminal. The unseasonably warm weather hits a high of 60 degrees today.
January 4 – A high of 67 degrees!
January 5 – Back down to a mere 65.
January 6 – A Monday, and classes begin at OSU.
Febuary 10 – OSU police officer Michael Blankenship is shot to death at the Wexner Center For The Arts. He is responding to a call on a break-in at the center, and the shooter, Mark Edgerton, manages to escape the scene unscathed. Ironically enough, Blankenship had been teaching a class on safety right before responding to this call. Though moving into swift action attempting to apprehend the culprit, with at least one helicopter circling the skies, beaming its spotlight upon campus, police never do arrest the shooter, as he evades their grasp. It’s only days later, when Edgerton kills himself, that he is eventually linked to the crime. Damon and I happen to be strolling about campus at the time, and notice the helicopter above us with the spotlight, as we then backtrack and attempt to figure out what they’re looking for. You could definitely say we’re lucky not to have found it.
March 19 – A small time pot dealer is shot to death on East 11th Avenue, two doors down from my associate Amanda’s apartment. Her address was 83, I’m not sure about his.
April 25-26 – Treasured local rock club Stache’s last weekend. On 4/27 they will host an auction.
May 6 – the big vote for Issue #1, to fund what will become Nationwide Arena.
May 25 – A liftoff celebration for Short North rock club Little Brothers. R.L. Burnside will play, but they don’t have a booze license yet.
May 31 – Hempfest ’97 at Mirror Lake runs from 12 to 12. Triggahappy and Uncle Sam’s Dream Machine are among the performers, and there’s even a little bit of comedy gracing the stage.
June 17 – Ozzfest at Polaris which devolves into a riot.
June 27-29 – This year’s Community Festival, a.k.a. Comfest. 6 stages of music, an arts tent with live theater, et cetera.
July 25-30 – Garth Brooks sells out 6 straight shows at Cooper Stadium.
July 26 – Something called the 3rd Annual U.S. Open Of Music is held at Ruby Tuesday: MK Ultra, Big Foot Nixon, and a bunch of other bands who aren’t worried about this Garth Brooks character will perform.
September 21 – Dub Narcotic Sound System play this curious gig at a house on East 12th Avenue – 115 E 12th, to be precise, at the corner of Indianola. Word of mouth had been circulating for weeks, but there are also plenty of flyers to be found around campus, too. Flyers which come in handy night of the show when I’m walking to it from my house, but can’t remember the exact address now, and wander aimlessly until spotting and grabbing one.
As it turns out, I show up a mite earlier than anyone else I know. Admission is a scant five dollars, and then I find myself temporarily standing alone in your standard old unfinished basement with just a handful of strangers when the opening act, T Tauri (stylized lowercase on the poster, t tauri, in case this matters), plug in and start playing. They’re bad, like Velvet Underground as junior high school students or something, and yet I dig them anyway.
After they are finished, there’s a short break, during which time a bunch of my friends finally start filtering in. Dan and Travis, Steve and Dave, Kevin and Vanessa, and some redheaded girl who turns out to be Andy Thomas’ older sister. Jeremy’s sitting along one wall, conversing with some tall, dark haired dude, and I walk over to say to say a quick hello before walking off. Except Jeremy smirks, and says to his colleague, “I’ll bet he doesn’t recognize you.”
“No, I don’t,” I admit, “should I?”
Jeremy explains that this is Jack Edinger, whom I haven’t seen since high school. Even he would admit he was more than a little on the jolly round side back then, but is now looking slim and sort of debonair. His hair is even darker and if I’m not mistaken he might even be taller.
“Don’t feel bad,” he laughs, “I didn’t recognize you, either.”
The second band now occupies the corner which passes for a stage. They’re called Foxfire and are like some creepy outfit from the 1970s. But they also happen to rock. Most songs, they’d start off slow and the singer would belt it to his heart’s content, then the musicians would fade out with a long instrumental jam.
A third offering coalesces in pieces. When complete it’s a trio called D Plus but to start with there’s just one guy, plunking on a bass and singing. Halfway through this song, another guy with a beard strolls onto the scene, sits down and puts forth some percussion. But then starting with the next song and continuing through the end of their set, the original singer moves to drums, the bearded guy picks up the bass, and some final dude appears to handle vocals and guitar. They play simple little songs with funny lyrics and are vaguely catchy. The drummer likes to pretend he’s sleeping but then awaken to rip off a sudden drum roll. It’s awesome. He even plays some overhead basement pipes during one of their cuts. And his kit consists of kick, snare, one tom, and a ride cymbal, that’s it, which are arranged from the center and fanning out to his right – there’s nothing to the left whatsoever.
During the next intermission, Dan Bandman and I and a couple other people are hanging out, chatting with this black dude, Larry Butler. He’s pretty funny and while Dan was obviously aware of this, having just strolled up out the blue, I wasn’t aware that Larry would soon be climbing behind the kit himself. He’s the drummer for Dub Narcotic Sound System and chatting with him might be the highlight of the night.
Let it be said that I really don’t care much one way or the other about these headliners. In fact, I’ve never heard a note before tonight. However, I am quite familiar with their leader, Calvin Johnson, a semi-legendary indie dude who kind of helped get that whole Seattle thing off the ground in the late 80s and early 90s. I’ve read a great deal about him, seen him interviewed in at least one documentary, heard a smattering of his fairly decent other, earlier bands. But as for this current project, Travis is correct when he jokes, “you could fast forward a tape of theirs to any spot and it would sound the same…Dub Narcotic Sound System…bzzz-zzzew-zzzzt…Dub Narcotic Sound System…”
They play what I guess you’d call a plastic form of funk, and are okay, but about as repetitive and tedious as this wisecrack would imply. Calvin has a baby face yet sings in basically the lowest register detectable by human ears, and yes, most of the tunes do seem to revolve around him just chanting their name over and over again at some point. I feel like this has be some kind of ironic art piece, an in-joke, because there’s no way they are this intentionally robotic and one-note, but whatever the case I don’t think this act is going to take off anytime soon.
The best part of their set, in fact, occurs between songs when from somewhere in the crowd behind me, a very drunk Dave Kemp asks somebody, with complete seriousness, “is Calvin here?” loud enough that the entire room can hear him.
After the show, everyone wants to meet Calvin. He has a peculiar attitude to say the least. Though if as seriously pissed off about being here as he is acting, you would think he would just leave the scene, instead he leans against the side of the house with his hoodie pulled up and snarls at anyone who attempts talking to him. I feel like a complete dork telling him they sounded good and even flashing a thumbs up which I immediately regret, to which he says, “okay…,” as though this were the most awkward comment ever. And yet even so, I come off relatively unscathed. Kevin tries a real conversation with him, returns to our little circle in the lawn reporting that he was extremely rude. The next casualty is Dan. While we again approached Larry Butler and found him as affable as before, and the ever networking Bandman even handed Larry a Superstar Rookie cassette, when Dan returns from his own Calvin encounter, I ask if he was cool and Bandman replies, “no, not at all.”
Then again, even we are howling as Dan relates to us how his own aborted discussion went. Attempting to make it a bit more personal, beyond the standard ass-kissing fan worship fare, he observes that Calvin “has a baby face but a deep voice, like Rick Astley.” Upon which he takes it one step further, pantomiming that he is holding a microphone as he sways side to side and croons the chorus to Never Gonna Give You Up. To say that Calvin came unglued at this display is an understatement.
So we’re all standing around, attempting to pool our notes and determine why, exactly, Johnson here is such a dick. Leave it to a quiet, uninvolved Jack, however, to piece together the clues and figure it out for us.
“He’s a WEIRDO, guys,” Jack butts in to explain, “keep this under your hats, okay, but the guy’s a little weird.”
September 27 – The Rolling Stones are at Ohio Stadium. My friend Miles attends this show, getting so drunk he tumbles down a number of seating rows and gives up drinking for months thereafter. Elsewhere in the crowd, Damon and Paul are also paying customers. Prior to the show, Paul openly scoffs at the fact that Mick and company based their decision on how many tickets to sell upon U2’s numbers here in May.
October 1 – Fleetwood Mac at Polaris Amphitheater.
October 4 – My friends Lisa and Maria attend a Buckeye football game at the Horseshoe. Will wind up at the impound lot after to retrieve an illegally parked car. I had suggested to Lisa before the game that she should park near my house on Summit, which she refused, saying, “no, it’ll probably get towed!” Okay then. OSU does clobber Iowa 23-7, however. Go Bucks!
October 11 – Adrian Belew of King Crimson plays a free 7pm show at some arts festival in the Short North, near 4th Avenue and High. I only find out about it and attend by pure happenstance. My ex-girlfriend Heather and I were supposed to go out for the first time in almost two years, but then she calls at the last minute to cancel. “Life goes on,” I tell her before hanging up, then walk down to Flying Tomato alone for pizza. Am flipping through The Other Paper looking for something to do when I spot this offering.
The show is set to transpire in an open plot of lawn between two buildings on the west side of High. A local guy I’ve not yet heard of, Harold “Happy” Chichester, is set to open. Later I will learn he was a member of Howlin’ Maggie, a modestly successful band whose claim to fame might be losing drummer Jerome Dillon to Nine Inch Nails. Happy’s playing alone, just himself and a keyboard, and the first song is his highwater mark – it’s something called I’m A Slut, the chorus of which is stuck in my head forevermore after just this one listen. Years later I will bother to track down the album version, but really kind of prefer the performance I heard this evening, and am saddened that (as far as I know) no recordings exist.
I do like some of this other stuff, but the stripped down arrangement here does grow a little boring after a while. He has a strong voice and can play the piano skillfully enough, but there’s just not enough variety with this format to sustain a lengthy set. Fortunately, after a very short break, Belew drifts upon the scene.
After cutting his teeth a session musician and live performer with the likes of Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads, Belew joined King Crimson in 1981. Upon my first listen of his albums with the group, I did kind of think he sucked, but soon grew to consider him a fantastic guitarist and powerful singer, if not quite as smooth as original vocalist Greg Lake.
Tonight he mixes in familiar Crimson offerings such as Three Of A Perfect Pair and the newer One Time, with stuff from a side group called The Bears whom I’ve never heard. It’s just him an acoustic for the most part, although he does pipe in sound effects like birds chirping, rain, and trains barreling through the P.A. He also breaks out a steel guitar for exactly two songs. Explaining that, however cliched, his two greatest influences were McCartney and Lennon, he proceeds to break out a song from each – Blackbird and Across The Universe, respectively.
And yet despite all this, the highlight of the evening, or at least one of the highlights, might be when he stops playing midway through his set and allows the audience to shout out questions. This is about the closest I’ve ever stood to a household name musician, at least up to this point, and I can’t think of anything nor work up the nerve to ask anything myself.
Someone does ask Adrian about the weirdest thing Zappa ever made him do, and he says, “oh, wear a dress for a Halloween show in NYC.”
“Mothers are allowed to wear dresses!” another guy in the crowd shouts out, inducing a laugh from the audience and Belew himself.
“What about Bowie?” someone else questions, right on the heels of this inquiry.
Belew offers a wry grin and says, “I can’t tell you that, but it was part of the audition.”
He closes with another newer cut, Dinosaur, one of my favorites, before returning for a two song encore. After he leaves, in keeping with this whole art festival vibe, film footage of some sort is projected against the side of the nearest building, which I watch for a couple of minutes before splitting. Another highly regarded local band, Nude, is set to play later, and while interested in checking them out, I’ve already committed to another Superstar Rookie show later at the Northberg Tavern.
October 13 – It rains for the first time in forever, closing out a ten day stretch of unusually warm weather. Thanks to one of those El Nino storms off the coast of California, beginning on the 3rd, we’ve experienced near record highs ranging from the low 70s clear up to 86 degrees on the 5th.
October 15 – An independent film tour called Fuel rolls into the Drexel.
October 24-26 – The Real Witches’ Ball. Occupies two blocks in the Short North. Bands, authors, Middle Eastern dancers, workshops, readings, and, of course, a costume contest.
October 31 – Sarah McLachlan plays Veterans Memorial. My friend Paul takes a girl he’d once dated, Jennifer, in hopes of rekindling the flame. I’m not sure if he was successful but all parties report it a great show.