Our Scene // Your Scene

Hi – Obviously things are wild and seem to be constantly in flux. The rules of every day life are changing before our eyes and the end isn’t clearly in sight. We’re in for it and that’s what’s happening for the time being.

So for the next few weeks, we’ve disabled our calendar and won’t be doing any highlights of upcoming performances. Instead, we’ve created a list of resources for those who might need it. Lots of info on monetary support as well as help with dealing with anxiety, quick and healthy recipes, as well as a few ways to curb your boredom.

CHECK IT OUT and share it with your people. We’re updating it as often as we can with new links, and information.

In the meantime, JazzColumbus is committed to continuing to be a sounding board for those who’d like to be heard. In addition to our QUESTIONNAIRE, we’re still going to be highlighting the musicians, artists, listeners, and photographers who make up our scene.

THIS WEEK: Phil talks about creatives and boredom, Photographer Gina Carter and her connection to the scene, Frankie offers a Survival Guide to Self-Quarantine, Steve Perakis tells us what he’s spinning, and a musical offering from a friend from up the road

As Phil Sees It // Phil Maneri

Pandemics, Polemics, and Positive Ascendance

Creative people have an inexhaustible penchant to make shit up.  My weekly livecast from Filament has a different guest each week where everything is improvised. Many times it sounds like highly scripted complex pieces that arise from the ether. I’m continually amazed at the power of the human creative brain to find new things, often grounded in old things, that are amplified or morphed into brand new expressions.  Jazz.

If you remove context, creative people will still create, although without boundaries it can get kind of nutty.  Pull us off our gigs and daily tasks and force us to sit in a room by ourselves looking out a window and you’ll see some pretty whacked shit.  Sometimes brilliant and uplifting, and just as often descended into darkness. Such is the yin yang of the artist; for we can see both sides of often dramatically different things and focus them back in technicolor.  

On top of that some of us are empaths, absorbing the energies of the world around us and reflecting it back.  When that energy is chaos and fear and panic, it’s so easy to go dark. One part panic, one part fear, and a sudden absence of things to do with one’s time and Dark shit is hitting the fan.

I’ve read people’s musings on social media lately and found them seriously creative.  Those energy beams are on full tilt right now. We are kicking out serious creative energy and some of the doomsday projections are worthy of feature films.  Write that down and sell it to Spielberg.  

We can continue to do that if we like.  We could also choose to focus our creative energies on creating new things that are transcendent.  “I would do X if I could only find the time” I hear so much over post gig cocktails just before heading home.  Hey, guess what, right now you most likely have time and an idle overactive imagination, and some serious energy flowing in from a world of the uncertainty and panic and fear.  How bout we harness that energy to create something new? Epic. Life changing. Just because the energy coming in is dark doesn’t mean what comes out need to be dark. It certainly can be, and that’s worth doing, but it could easily be something else too.  Even opposite. We can choose how to harness that energy. We can choose how to focus that creative response. 

We are living in a pivotal societal moment. I’ve been around long enough to have lived through several. HIV which squelched sexual freedoms but began the rise of LGBT awareness in the previously phobic populous.  9/11 which brought us fear and division and xenophobia but taught us we can band together to do heroic shit. Here we have yet another pivotal moment that we can use as a jumping off point for creative expression. We will get some bright stuff from it and some dark stuff…such is the way.

Artists always lead. We have a once or twice in a generation chance here to lead again on a global scale.  We can lead into panic and fear, or we can lead into love and peace. Manifest the best of us now. This is the time.

I Love The Way You See Us // Gina Carter, photographer

This is the second spotlight of many on the non-musicians who make up the scene here in Columbus. Today, let’s give thanks to Gina Carter.

Gina is a photographer, Apple employee, and very kind person. If we were talking in a bar, I’d also rave about the hundreds of times I’ve thought, “Man I love the way this picture FEELS,” and then found out she took it. Her photography feels like the environment she takes it in, and sounds like the music being made.

We talked today, while she was on her way to the first of two-gig-day:

“My connection to the jazz scene started at Capital. I met my husband (Corey Carter) and befriended “The Tubs” guys, and started going to their shows. But I think my first “formal” jazz show was a Sunday afternoon at the Columbus Museum of Art with Mark Flugge.”

“When shooting live performances, I am looking to capture the emotion of the performers. My goal is to reflect what the musicians are playing through distortion and manipulation of light and feeling. I tend to enjoy utilizing a fair amount of blank space in my photos, which I believe is evident in my work. Blank space symbolizes a breath, a thought, some type of isolation which can be so evident in music.”

“I enjoy capturing any type of performance that has energy and feeling associated with it. That doesn’t mean that it must be a high energy show with four on the floor all the time, but instead it means that the players have something that they want to communicate with the audience. I want to help the band convey that message.”

“Like I said, my style is full of reflection and blank space. I aim to reflect the tone of songs, the vibe of the group, even quite literally players’ reflections back at them through manipulation of light. I also like to use blank space because it allows for the observers’ eyes to be drawn to a certain part of the image, away from the “nothingness.” I feel like the void created in those images is something that is so relatable – we’ve all experienced our own blank space one time or another and even in big groups (concerts) we still may have that blank space preset. I want to expose it.”

“I play guitar (a little bit) and I find when I’m playing more I am inspired to shoot more and when I shoot more I am inspired to play more. It’s a sort of a symbiotic relationship. This sounds a bit simple, but I’m inspired by observing. I love to watch what’s going on around me (I think that’s why I’m a photographer). Observing opens me up to new perspectives and ways of life that inspire me to keep shooting and keep exposing life as it rolls out – however that may be!”

“The Columbus Art Scene does an awesome job of housing a great community. Even not being much a musician myself I am always so warmly welcomed by the musicians. It’s awesome to see how much the art scene does to support one another and lift each other up. One struggle I do see among the Columbus Art Scene seems to be more music related than anything else. It seems like Columbus bands rarely break out of their Columbus scene. With the exception of a few (CAAMP, Doc Robinson, I’m sure there are others), it seems like there is some type of invisible wall prohibiting Columbus bands to break out of the Columbus market.”

“I am very, very fortunate right now because I am retaining and even increasing the number of shoots I have during this crazy time. I know everyone is not so fortunate. Shows are being cancelled left and right, and entire tours cancelled without a reschedule date. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in this time that we would not be fearful and that our livelihood would not be compromised.”

Gina Carter, photographer // Check her out on Facebook and Instagram at @ginacarterphoto

A Survival Guide to Self-Quarantine // Frankie Wantuch

It is during times like these that I wish I had a pet. Who doesn’t want infinite pet cuddles, and cuteness in the midst of a pandemic? It’s been about a week now that universities announced virtual schooling, similarly, I started my own quarantine around that time. Like many, I have left the house for groceries and quick trips to take care of some adulting type errands. I decided to curate a list of things to do to fill the time in my all of a sudden very open schedule. In an attempt to better myself, and keep my mind busy in the coming weeks, this list came to be. I would also like to add that this list perspired from moments of anxiety not knowing what the future may hold. You are not alone. Remind yourself this is all temporary. 

All items can be adjusted to your particular situation. Have roommates? Perfect! A large family? Even better! Live alone? Ask a friend to join you (from afar) along the way! Some of these items can also be done in tandem with one another. 

  1. Listen to new podcasts: This can be a good way to stay informed, or be entertained. Two of my favorite podcasts include The Moth, true stories that are told live, and Committed, hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring love stories that have survived triumphant moments. There are also plenty of podcasts that are homegrown in Columbus, Ohio! Saxophonist, Jordan Reed and his wife Lindsey, host a podcast by the name of Spooky Spouses. Check it out to get your fix on all things paranormal! Columbus College of Art and Design has their own podcast called First, You Hustle, perfect for art students, and budding creative professionals. Lastly, The Sounds of Bustown, a music podcast that showcases the talented artists making their mark in Columbus! 

    Check out https://columbuspodcasts.com for even more podcasts hosted in our very own city! 
  2. Clean up: My house and room have never been so clean! Sweep, make a donation pile, disinfect, organize! Get to those chores that you have been putting off. This one is perfect to do in tandem with listening to new podcasts, or starting a new netflix series. During this time of self quarantine, it’s important to re-claim your space. Make it yours, make it cozy, and make it clean, you’ll be there for a while after all. 
  3. Paint: I have had the privilege of having left over canvases and paints from this summer when I went on a painting binge. Michael’s has some really great, affordable prices on these supplies. Also consider using Amazon to purchase these items. Not an artist? Don’t know what to create? No worries! Search Instagram by hashtag for inspiration. I am super into minimalism, and scoured the depths of Instagram for some ideas. This fun activity keeps the creative juices flowing, and allows you to keep a physical product that you’ve created. Consider making a bunch of paintings and giving them to friends once self quarantine comes to an end. 
  4. Potluck: I am lucky enough to live with my best friend. The other night I got the idea for us to make food together. When I went to the grocery store, I picked up a pre-made pizza crust. Toppings were scarce so we did a little bit of experimenting. We topped our pizza with a little bit of garlic, and some pesto sauce. I would’ve never attempted this combination on my own and the end result was just as good as getting a pizza delivered. Another bonus, it was super easy! We also created a charcuterie board of chopped fruits, veggies, and meats. Everything was simple yet satisfying. If you live alone, consider facetime-ing a friend and eating a meal together!
  5. Learn a new dish to cook: This is similar to the potluck idea. I’m trying to spend time away from the internet, but in this case look for new recipes that you wouldn’t typically try! Search for something simple if your supplies are low, or search for a recipe before heading to the grocery store so you know what you need to pick up. Cook your dish up with your roommates, or your family. Do this while listening to music, break out in dance, or listen to one of those podcasts that I mentioned earlier. Food is a great way to bring people together, and feed your stomach and soul!
  6. Host an album swap and review with friends: I got this idea while talking to newly formed friends in a bridal party via GroupMe. I don’t know most of these gals and figured this could be a good way to relate, learn about others, and discover some new music. You can set parameters categorizing by genre, artist’s discography, or sending a playlist that you love. 

    Another fun category would include a playlist of local bands music. Support your local artists! Jazz Columbus has their own Spotify playlist that you can follow here!
  7. Reach out to old friends: I’ve recently been talking a lot more with friends who I haven’t talked to in a while. As we all know, life gets busy, and sometimes we need to remind people how much they matter to us. Reach out! Be kind! Send memes! Send detailed memories you have with this person! Or cute pics of animals! Spread some love and kindness, the world could really use some of that right now. But also, try to do that all the time. 
  8. Movie Night: Hey remember those things called DVD’s? SAME, and luckily I had a few old ones laying around. And by old, I mean I haven’t watched these since I was a preteen. I got to share a childhood favorite with my roommate that she had never seen before. The humor hit differently, the troubles that arose were more relatable. Also in the stack, a DVD I bought for two dollars from Haffa’s Records, a used record store in Athens, Ohio, that is no longer in business. I bought this movie in 2014, I have yet to watch it, and discovered this movie is one of my roommate’s all time favorite movies. We will be hosting another movie night later this week! Similar to hosting an album swap, why not do it with movies!
  9. Stay active: Keep it moving! Go outside and get some fresh air. At the beginning of 2020, I bought a gym membership. I am very saddened that I can’t go to the gym but through taking ownership of my health I got into stretching before bed. This feels great on the limbs. Located on our website, you can find a 30 day yoga challenge. Do it everyday to gain muscle and endorphins! Consider going for a walk, call friends or family while on this walk. Work on building up your number of reps in push-ups. Youtube has plenty of workouts that you can do from home with no equipment necessary! It’s easy to get in the habit of staying in bed or on the couch. Getting your body moving is a great way to pass the time. 
  10. Make a list of fifteen things that make you happy: This one is cheesy, but my absolute favorite. I started making lists like this in 2015 with my best friend from high school. Fifteen might seem like a lot. This forces you to get creative and really think about what makes you happy. The more specific, the better. Yes there are some obvious things like friends and family, but try and pinpoint a specific trait or act that an individual does that brings a little brightness to your life. If you list an object, be specific about why this object or act makes you happy. In all honesty, I managed to skip some years, but they’re all saved on my computer, dated and timed, and they are fun to revisit. 

    These lists always seem to come to fruition in times of change for me. In times like these, it’s important to be reminded of what we have. The fun thing about these lists is that they can be shared with others. Private, public, power point, let your friends and family know what makes you happy. Most importantly, remind yourself. 

What’re You Spinning // Steve Perakis

The band Eleven has been in heavy rotation in my car, my house, in my earbuds and the studio (as a frequent production reference) since a friend turned me onto them a few years ago. I kinda missed the boat on 90’s rock and I am so glad I finally get to hear this great rock band. Their songwriting is excellent, they are each great players, the arrangements and the sounds and production are killer too. The variety of song styles, lyric concepts and arrangements they used are diverse and really interesting.  Alain Johannes on vocals, guitar, sitar, horns, Natasha Shneider on vocals, keyboards and bass, Jack Irons on drums ( Matt Cameron or Greg Upchurch on some recordings ). 

After hearing about them a few years ago and hearing that Natasha sadly passed away so young in life in 2008, I became obsessed, bought all their recordings, downloaded as many videos as I could find, I still hunt for some nugget I’ve missed or some unreleased recording or bootleg video. I really wish I had the chance to experience them live.  

Thank you Anna for telling me about Eleven and thank you Alex for asking me to contribute – I’m grateful to know about and be inspired by this great band and I hope a few other people become fans of them as well.

I recommend their second album “Eleven”, released in 1993 as a first listen.

How Are You? // Michael Malis

Michael Malis is a pianist/composer/educator from Detroit, Michigan. He reached out to us because like many of us, he’s feeling strange, and he wanted to do his part by offering this music.

I feel like this social distancing has simultaneously pulled us farther apart and brought us closer together. Of course, it’s going to be a while until we see each other. But I’m also struck by the fact that over the last few days, I’ve been in touch with lots of people who I haven’t spoken with in a long time.

That’s why I’m offering this new collection of music, Three Pieces for Piano, to you. I want to make sure we stay close during this time of social distancing. I hope it strikes it chord with you, and I hope that you take it with you into whatever bunker you’re descending into for the foreseeable future.

Because everyone in the gig economy has been completely decimated in the last week, I’m offering this music for free. But if you have something to share, I certainly won’t refuse. Just put in whatever you think it’s worth when you check out. Know that I’m deeply appreciative of anything you can give.

And for anyone who is looking to grow as a pianist during this time of isolation, I’m also offering for purchase the sheet music for this entire collection! You’ll receive a PDF of the music emailed directly to you. Any sheet music purchases come with a digital download of the recordings.

That’s it. Take care everyone, wash your hands, and stay safe! I hope to see you when this all blows over. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.


Check him out EVERYWHERE.

FACEBOOK (business) & FACEBOOK (personal): @Michael Malis Music (business page), @Michael Malis (personal)

And the link to the release is michaelmalis.bandcamp.com/releases

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