I first saw local quartet Radarhill play at Brothers Drake in the middle of a great night of music from Knots. In talking to saxophonist Jordan Reed last week, I soon found out that I had witnessed Radarhill’s first show. The band is comprised of Reed, bassist Eli Chambers, keyboardist Caleb Miller, and percussionist Troy Kunkler (the latter two make up Knots). The four musicians met in Athens through the OU music school and mutual friends, and have all since relocated to Columbus. Radarhill plays its first headlining show on Tuesday, July 29th at Wild Goose Creative. Brand new trio Triangulum opens with its debut performance at 9pm, and artist Lindsey Swartzlander will be showing and selling some of her latest pieces. There is no cover, but donations are welcomed at the door. I had a chat with Reed last week about his band and the upcoming show.
For its June 4th debut, after having its first full-band rehearsal the day before, Radarhill played three songs written by Reed. Soon after, through its connection with Knots and reaching out to venues, the band played 6-7 shows over a couple weeks in Columbus and Athens, so the act and its catalog have developed since its live debut. Their setlist now also includes tunes by Miller and Chambers as well as some arrangements of others’ compositions.
Reed told me that the band is proud of Tuesday’s show as its the first show they’ve put together and booked on their own. They will use the proceeds to record their first album at Ridges Auditorium in Athens later this week. The auditorium is part of a former mental institution that operated until the 1970s, so they are excited about recording in a “haunted” space.
A focal point of Tuesday’s show is that it will be a presentation of brand new art, including the backdrop of Swartzlander’s artwork. Triangulum is a trio formed by Chambers and OU friends Turner Matthews and Jacob Schlaerth, who also played together in a compositional trio in Athens. Matthews received a $5,000 grant from OU in 2013 to build his own instruments, like a “musical Dr. Suess.” Matthews might not have any of those in tow, but the music will likely be “conservatory alternative,” according to Reed, with songs that are “heady, yet approachable.” For their part, Radarhill will play mostly their originals, along with some arrangements of lesser-heard jazz tunes and an obscure Radiohead song.
As Reed told me, “Basically, what we’re trying to do with Radarhill specifically is to help bridge the gap between the conservatory world and the popular music world. We are using things we learned in school and incorporating them in a popular music setting in a very low-stress environment, where we’re not being graded while we play, where we can play for friends, family, and new fans. We don’t want to be a standard jazz quartet, and we don’t consider ourselves a standard jazz quartet – we’re not sure yet what we do consider ourselves, if we’re an alternative group, a new jazz group, a music group? We’re just trying to have fun, and we hope to bring people out to Wild Goose and share what we’re doing, because we’re excited. We know that Columbus has a wildly appreciative music scene. My fiancee (Swartzlander) and I were just talking – every show we’ve seen in Columbus, the crowds have been unbelievably receptive, everyone’s been very positive and excited about the shows. Columbus does a really good job of making musicians feel welcome in the city.”
Here’s footage of Radarhill playing at Ruby Tuesday on June 21st: