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200Columbus Bands’ to Celebrate Columbus in Song

Courtesy of Kris Hetrick

Local musicians have banded together to throw a celebration for Columbus’ 200th birthday.

Four winners of a contest called Celebrate Columbus in Song are scheduled to perform 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Basement as part of the event 200Columbus Bands.

The contest, which announced its winners in December, was organized by the Greater Columbus Arts Council to celebrate Columbus’ bicentennial. Submissions to the contest were to be original songs inspired by Columbus, and more than 120 songs were submitted.

Thirteen songwriters were selected in March, each winning $500 and professional recording and production time at either WCBE-FM or Jazz Academy studios, both located in Columbus, for a CD compilation of the winning songs.

One of the 13 winning songs was rock band HellNKeller’s “My City.”

Dan Keller, vocalist and guitarist of HellNKeller and organizer for Celebrate Columbus in Song, said the winning bands had a wonderful time meeting each other and performing together for other bicentennial-celebration concerts throughout the summer, but he wanted more.

“We literally have been working all summer to put at least one more concert with the band together for public,” Keller said.

Only four of the 13 winners are slated to perform at the 200Columbus Bands concert, which includes a team-up of Donna Mogavero, The Castros, HellNKeller, and Miller-Kelton.
Keller said, due to being the organizer of Celebrate Columbus in Song, he picked the acts for the concert based on the their sound.

“We wanted to keep the sounds compatible,” he said. “I know a hip-hop band also won the contest but I didn’t include them. It’s not because I’m against hip-hop but we are not a hip-hop band and I thought hip-hop songs (would) not get along with our sound, (which is) classic rock.”

Keller added he wants to give the audience a variety of options though.

“Donna Mogavero is solo, The Castros is duo and HellNKeller and Miller-Kelton are full bands,” Keller said. “Donna will perform folksy, rocky songs and we just liked The Castros’ sound. It’s soft rock and low-key songs. Also, HellNKeller and Miller-Kelton have joyous rock feels.”

Keller said it took the help of others to put the show together.

“This is a case study of networking,” Keller said. “It was utilizing the people I’ve known all my life. The whole thing came together by networking and the grace of God.”

Keller said the audience should expect to hear “sounds of their city” at the show.

“Most of (the acts) are from Columbus and singing about their city,” Keller said. “This is our opportunity to express our art and your opportunity to hear Columbus’ most distinguished artists.”

Edward Forman, guitarist for Miller-Kelton, said attendees will hear good music.

“We’re contest-winning bands, which means we are pretty good,” he said.

Forman added that attending this show is a good way to celebrate Columbus’ birthday and to help local bands at the same time.

“It’s a real special thing to be involved in. It’s Columbus’ birthday party,” Forman said. “Also, it’s always great to get exposure to your local bands. For the bands, the best thing you can ever do is try to get your music in front of strangers.”

Alexandra Brown, a third-year in sociology, said a concert is a good way to celebrate Columbus’ bicentennial.

“Columbus is a really artistic city and has a lot of diversity. I think those two things are going really well together,” Brown said. “I think, particularly, communities in Columbus are really receptive to that.”

Keller said he hopes several Buckeyes attend the concert as well.

“We are all Buckeyes and we are expecting to see more Buckeyes at the concert, especially (junior guard) Aaron Craft,” Keller said, laughing about being a huge fan of Ohio State men’s basketball and offering a free guitar lesson to Craft.

Admittance for 200Columbus Bands is paid as a $12 cover fee Tuesday at the door of The Basement.

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