Ape Wind

The Columbus Music Scene and Beyond

Browsing Posts published by Curtis

March 27, 2010 – I could feel the energy as I entered the Rumba Café.  I began the evening as usual, ordering a drink at the bar and perusing the bar for information available from the performers of the evening.  As I was looking over the merchandise table, Joey Hebdo came up to me asking if I needed any information or help with the items at the table.  Hebdo is very forthcoming and wants to help in any way possible.  We had met previously but it had been at least a year, so I introduced myself.  I had previously contacted him regarding the review, thus he was well aware of who I was and what my goals were for the evening.  He stated that he had already checked over the Ape Wind website and liked what we were doing.  I then knew that this man completely carries the characteristics necessary to be successful in an entertainment profession, and he wasn’t done convincing me of this just yet.

Joey Hebdo before the performance at Rumba Cafe

Hebdo is completely comfortable up on the stage.  If he feels nervous or uncomfortable, he shouldn’t. He looks like he could be a natural actor, as he looks like he’s meant to be up there.  The crowd immediately quieted upon his first song.  He commands the crowd with his quiet yet powerful demeanor and demands attention with his delicate and grooved out tones.  Hebdo is also quite entertaining with his banter, as he talks to the crowd.  At one point he stated, “I almost wanna pretend this isn’t me up here, it’s someone else.  It’s fun, ya know?  Well, here we go then!”  It was as if there were two people in his head talking to each other and getting ready to play the song.

Hebdo has some excellent whistling abilities, which definitely added some cool parts to his fun melodic sounding vocal tones.  I was seriously impressed with the accuracy he kept while quickly switching from a whistling to a vocal sections of certain songs.  Along with his whistling abilities comes a knack for switching from very high to low tones and back without missing a beat.  Many of his vocal tones would start very light and high and end up in a very low and growling manner, which was very entertaining and impressive.  It sounded very natural and proved to be musically valuable within many of the songs throughout the evening.  If I had to pick artists of a similar vocal manner, the first names that come to mind are Shannon Hoon, Ben Harper and Jamiroquai; all of which I am very attracted to musically.

The song constructions seemed so simple, yet sounded so sophisticated, while hearing it performed.  The selections seemed to demand a depth of meaning portrayed through the complexities within the lines Hebdo sang; but only if a listener takes the time to dissect what he is saying.  A personal example for me would be a verse where Hebdo belts out, “Dust and smoke fill our laugh, astrology’s now a jar of ash, I think its time we got this man a box. It never really mattered if we shared the same DNA, I really like the way that you see things.”  It’s not only the picture Hebdo paints with his words, but once again the way he portrays it: in a manner that, at points, would obviously not need the instruments backing.  There were definitive points when the instrumentation would die down and the club was filled with his voice alone, and it was inspiring.

As a musician myself, and an avid fan of seeing local live music, I enjoy knowing how the club’s employees take to the performers and their needs for the evening.  My table happened to be next to the sound booth and at one point I heard the sound guy exclaim, “This is a pain in the ass,” as more people came up including the other artist for the evening to collaborate with Hebdo.  Joey had invited three more people on the stage with him.  One picked up an upright bass, one just had a shaker and was using some kind of vocal pattern for percussion, and one sat down at the drums.  I think it may have been at this point where the sound guy became a bit flustered and maybe he just wasn’t aware of this setup during the first set.  For all we know Hebdo wasn’t aware either but it worked out quite well.

Joey Hebdo band in action at Rumba Cafe

This setup, along with the full Hebdo band setup during the third set of the night, was very patient with their music regarding crowd chatter as they would build their songs.  No doubt they were well aware that by songs end they would have most of the crowds’ attention.  At times Hebdo seemed to just carry on a conversation with the audience just as he had previously in the evening while walking around before the performance.  He seemed to treat everyone there as if they were genuine friends that go way back, and after this evening most of them probably felt like this, even if it wasn’t completely true.  The entire night was a feel good music extravaganza.  If you are into a fun night listening to very talented and friendly musicians, this is your show.

If you would like to check out Joey Hebdo, buy some merchandise, or find where you can catch him next check out:  http://www.facebook.com/joeyhebdomusic or http://www.myspace.com/joeyhebdo and also http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hebdojoseph.

March 24, 2010 – Paper Airplane consists of Ryan Horns on vocals and guitar, Travis Kokas on bass, Teresa Kent on keyboard and Antonio Garza on drums.  It’s a Wednesday night at Rumba Café.  Paper Airplane is opening for Oblio which is a Nashville, Tennessee band on tour.  The club was empty as I entered except for the tones that filled the room by the sound checking band on stage.  It just so happens that it was the group I was there to review and I was immediately impressed with the camaraderie that they showed to the empty club and the sound guy setting them up.  They seemed to be having almost too much fun for such an empty club.

Paper Airplane flying at Rumba Cafe

They began their set with some excellent energy and a very cool guitar riff that sounded crystal clear.  I wouldn’t have been so impressed with this but I have been to Rumba previously to witness some very muffled sounding guitar based bands.  As Horns’ vocals began I found him a bit whiny in nature, but it seemed to work well. The very warm and melodic sounding tones coming from both the guitar he strummed and the keys with which Kent added was persuading me to the music.  Horns presented himself well with his heavy set guitar while jumping around as if his instrument was light as a feather.  Kent added some very beautiful tones with the keys that probably would leave this music without if it weren’t for the between notes she provided.  Kokas also had his additions that were definitely worth mentioning as his slides and thumps on the bass seemed to move seamlessly between Garza’s’ heavy, yet slick percussion hits that kept everyone together in a very sharp manner.

Horns has a very “every man” voice that makes you feel like you can put this band’s CD in and sing it with him every time feeling good about it.  A good description of their music in general within this aspect in mind is comfortable.  It would be an excellent selection for listening to while driving or doing something that takes time as the song construction and tones they produce are very interesting and thought provoking.  This band has some excellent song writing abilities and they seem to work very well together on stage.  Horns seemed to be the center of the live show.  The rest of the band seemed to feed off of his every move and change.  Kent played some very light keys for much of the show but she really shines when the rest of the band lowers the volume.  Kent very creatively and cleverly catered to the many quick and potent transitions which every song seemed to contain.  Most of Paper Airplane’s songs seemed very short and were all very catchy.  It was almost as if they live and die by a quality and quantity belief in song writing.  I’ve rarely seen a band with so many songs with as many changes in one performance.  Also impressive within this aspect of the show was the tight feel of the music.  The more jammy feeling songs had very clever, catchy endings that were performed with a very close, tight feeling between each instrument and the vocals.  Some of the time it was almost too clever for me as I wrote because the song would end suddenly and surprise me in mid note taking.

There was a moment when Kent hit a wrong note on the keys, smiled and mouthed “oops” as everyone smiled back and moved on seamlessly.  It was as if they practiced what to do in the event of a mistake as to add to the banter between them and show the crowd how well they really do work together.  There was also a moment nearly three quarters of the way through the show where a tuning problem seemed to occur.  Even throughout this one song they seemed to have fun with it and it didn’t really look like they were all that bothered by the problem.  After the song, Horns did state that they should have played the selection earlier as it tends to tire him out more than most songs, and before beginning the last song he stated that they may either butcher this one or it would be lots of fun.  I really enjoyed the band’s banter and communication throughout the show.

Paper Airplane at Rumba Cafe

Overall I would have to highly recommend catching this band live if you ever have the chance.  Their music will leave you feeling good and their stage presence will keep you entertained.  The only real problem I can state having with the show was the lack of audience.  The band had just come back from a winter hiatus of writing and recording music which may explain the lacking crowd attendance.  Apparently the time off will be worth it as they stated they have a new album nearly finished and should be out soon.  Hopefully, in the future they will have the opportunity to play for a larger group and I will be looking out for another chance to catch them in Columbus.  If you would like to check out Paper Airplane and find out where to see them play, check them out at: http://www.myspace.com/therealpaperairplane.

March 17, 2010 – The Dirty Flaggs are a Columbus band with members hailing from around the country and the globe.  Andrew on guitar and vocals comes from South Africa, Tyler on drums comes from the southern United States. There is Chad on guitar and vocals and rounding them out, Victoria on bass and vocals, who is an art school graduate working in graphic design.

The Dirty Flaggs in action at Circus

The Dirty Flaggs are a very melodic and vocal band who reminded me of a strange cross between the Gin Blossoms and a bit of early Days of the New.  I would have to put a large emphasis on the Gin Blossoms though as Andrew’s tones and melodies took me back to the early to mid 1990’s when the Gin Blossoms were infiltrating radio and MTV much more than I ever desired.  Admittedly, for the first few songs of the set I had more fun talking to the people at my table than listening to the band and trying to come up with a review.  They gave me a feel of overcompensation for what seemed at the time to be a lacking crowd.  The songs seemed overly anthologized and a bit cheesy at times, albeit strung along with some nice melodies and vocalizations.  Sometimes it seemed like they were playing more for a reaction and less because they had an actual passion for it.  Keep in mind, I don’t know anyone in the band personally and they most likely have great passion for their art as they are embarking on a spring tour. I just didn’t see this being reflected as I watched them on stage.

Now don’t get me wrong, their show did improve as it moved along.  For example, during a song in the last half of the set the bass player whacked the lead singer across the head with her bass.  This provided a bit of amusement for me and fortunately the band recovered both physically and musically.  They also pulled some extra percussion equipment out mid way through the set that added some interesting sounds to the music.  There were also a few change-ups between the guitar players including a whole song performed by Andrew without a guitar.  Victoria made a couple of announcements between songs that were undecipherable until one point when an ambulance drove by with sirens blaring and she stated, “we payed them lots of money to drive by during this song!”  This pulled in a few chuckles from the crowd, which seemed still complacent about the performance up to this point.  I could see that Victoria had vocal parts for many songs but really couldn’t hear her.  I’m not sure if this was a projection problem on her part or a sound problem at the club, but either way it seemed disappointing.  She did come out much better for the last two songs possibly due to her settling in a bit and getting more comfortable.

The Dirty Flaggs at Circus

The last two songs of the set seemed to have much more of a pop to them in an alternative rock sort of fashion, with much more energy coming from the band and the crowd as well.  These two songs were my favorite as they were filled with some great energy and lots of movement from the band on stage.  Once the show was over I spoke with Mike Folker of Secret Songs Records for a couple comments on the band.  According to Mike he met Victoria while he was working at CD101 and they instantly hit it off.  The band had actually just signed their new contract to Secret Songs Records that night which should give them good cause to celebrate.

You can check out The Dirty Flaggs on myspace: http://www.myspace.com/thedirtyflaggs or Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thedirtyflaggs.