Chris Wood (Starwood Presents) with Red Fang, one of the many bands he’s booked in the last decade
With new singer Adam Clemans in tow, the Athens, Ohio-based metal band Skeletonwitch makes their noisy return to Columbus on Saturday night in support of the recently released EP, The Apothic Gloom. The show at Ace of Cups has significance as the co-promoter of the event, Starwood Presents, is treating it as a 10th anniversary celebration. Tickets are still available ($15) for the show that will also feature Fuck You Pay Me, Nukkehammer and Fever Nest.
If you’ve followed the metal scene in Columbus over the last decade, chances are you’ve attended one of the 300 mostly metal shows that Chris “Woody” Wood has booked under the Starwood Presents name, starting out at Ravari Room before moving onto other clubs like Ace of Cups and Park Street Saloon.
I’ve known Woody for well over 20 years, first meeting him as a drummer when he was in the band The Gingerbread Men (at least that’s where I think I met him) and have – many times over the years – been very thankful that he’s gotten into the booking game as he’s brought some of my favorite bands to Columbus (Helmet, The Dollyrots, Royal Thunder, etc.). While we’ve all attended Starwood Presents shows, I realized I didn’t really know the history of the promotions company so I sent Woody some questions to ask him for some background.
How did you fall into the booking thing? You mentioned you did some stuff (which I remember) at The Factory in 2002-2003 but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard how it all got started.
I’m a drummer and way back when I was playing regularly I was usually doing the booking or made the contacts for the bands I played in. It came naturally to me and I enjoyed it. I’ve always been interested in how things happened and the details related to booking and promotion. In the year 2000 I landed an internship with PromoWest Productions which led to a full time position in marketing for the Newport Music Hall. I moved on from there to work with a talented group of people starting a new downtown club in the Buggyworks building where the nightclub Mekka had been a big dance night success. After Mekka folded it became The Factory. Two of my booking highlights there were confirming UK band Sneaker Pimps at the end of 2002 and Interpol picked us for their first Columbus performance in early 2003. That was an amazing time!
I feel like I take a band like Foreigner for granted. For as long as I’ve been listening to music, I’ve been able to turn on the radio, find a classic rock station, and hear one of a dozen (or more) of Foreigner’s greatest hits. Lou Gramm is the voice behind those hits and was the lead singer from 1976 to 1990 and then again from 1992 to 2003. Gramm’s 2013 biography – Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock n’ Roll – documents his career, from his start with early days with Black Sheep to his days in Foreigner and as a solo artist to the discovery of a brain tumor in 1997 that was, thankfully, benign and is a good read (and it’s available from the Columbus Public Library).
These days, Gramm is playing the shows he wants to play rather than hoping in a tour bus and criss-crossing the country on a regular basis and he’s got a free show Friday night (9pm) at the Obetz Zucchini Festival. As you’ll read below, expect to hear a night of recognizable hits.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of artists but will admit that having the opportunity to do a phone interview with Lou Gramm was a bucket list item that I still can’t believe happened. Here’s what he had to say.
You’re playing Friday night at the Obetz Zucchini Festival. Now, I know you’re probably getting a nice paycheck but I’m wondering what your thought are about zucchini?
It’s one of my favorite vegetables.
Columbus, like probably every other city in the US, has a classic rock radio station and I kid you not when I say that on my commute to or from work every single day I hear a Foreigner song. Can you wrap your head around the fact that at any given point during the day, not only is one of your songs getting airtime but there is somebody sitting in their car singing along and doing their best or, ha, in my case, their worst, Lou Gramm impersonation?
It’s a stretch for me [to wrap my head around] because as much as I’m proud of the music we’ve written and recorded, the longevity continues to stun me.
Anchored by Happy Chichester, there were a few different Howlin Maggie lineups throughout the years. Most probably remember the Honeysuckle Strange lineup (Andy Harrison on guitars, Jim Rico on bass, Jerome Dillon on drums) since that debut album featured the band’s biggest hits, “Alcohol” and “I’m a Slut“. The follow up to Honeysuckle Strange took 5 years to come out and featured a revamped lineup (Lance Ellison, Christian Hurd, Carlton Smith), but Hyde was a great – if under-appreciated – release by one of the bands from the ’90s that made it off High Street.
So, here’s the deal … Happy’s label PopFly Music is celebrating its 15th year as a label and throwing a little party featuring Howlin Maggie playing two dates – one in Cincinnati and one in Columbus. While focusing on playing Hyde from front to back, Howlin Maggie (Happy, Jim Rico, Carlton Smith, Lance Ellison – with some help from Joey Hebdo) expect to hear songs from Honeysuckle Strange as well.