Friday, April 30, 2010

A Preview of the Columbus Fall Line Trace

Warm Springs Rd. Connector to Columbus State University

Friday, I turned a perfectly executed double play: I got off work early, loaded my bike into my truck and got to ride a bit on the still under construction Columbus Fall Line Trail rails-to-trails project.

I parked my truck at Cooper Creek Park and traversed the short distance up to where the trail crosses Warm Springs Rd. Connector, cutting through the vacant lot to avoid the traffic at the light. If plans don’t include a connecting bike path to the park, someone’s not only missing a great opportunity but also creating a safety issue.

For now, orange barrels and a sign hawking the federal stimulus package’s contribution mark the northernmost terminus of the current project. The path itself is asphalt, wide and flat, winding behind Milgen Rd. businesses before paralleling Manchester Expressway, then passing near a convenience store which, if it’s smart, should do well by virtue of its location.
On my trip, upon reaching the crossing at Reese Road, two big-ass holes were dead center of the trail on both sides of the street, a reminder that this thing is still under construction and requires some common sense when riding.

At this point, the path splits from the original tracks to come closer to the rest area that’s under construction. There will be restrooms and some type of retailing, and lots of parking. To me, it’s not that far to Cooper Creek Park, so why not utilize and upgrade an existing resource rather than building this?

The most scenic portion is up next, a canopy of mixed hardwoods and pines that bend over a short, shady stretch before rejoining the clanging, noisy world at University Ave. and Manchester Expressway.

Here, unfortunately, you must become a pedestrian and navigate the intersection’s islands and signals to rejoin the path in front of Burger King before this last section, which ends where Warm Springs Rd. meets Columbus State College. At this point, I doubled back to Cooper Creek Park.
The path itself is well graded, but shows signs of the heavy equipment needed to do the job – gashes and scrapes and wide tire tracks are embedded in the pavement. A few edges already show cracks. How well will this section hold up over time?

I am looking forward to the completion of the project, especially the section that will connect Flat Rock Park to Cooper Creek.

In 1999, we voted a tax on ourselves for this thing, trolley or not. And now, finally we are seeing it unfold thanks to a myriad of financing, lots of hard work and a ton of orange barrels.

Ride on, bikes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Boo Ray
Bad News Travels Fast

Independent Release

Boo Ray is a singer. And a songwriter. A singer-songwriter, for those of you who like things hyphenated. The songs he writes are loosely described as Americana. And the problem with being a singer-songwriter who writes in the Americana genre is that you can’t swing a singer-songwriter without hitting a banjo player and knocking him into a fiddle player. Yeah, it’s a combination shot, but it’s easier than it sounds.

Fortunately, Boo Ray is good songwriter. And a sneaky one. You’ll find yourself singing the hooks to songs like “Allez Allez” or “Six Weeks in a Motel” (where “we’ll do things we don’t tell”) and wondering how they insinuated themselves into your brain. The nine tracks here were recorded in Atlanta and in LA with a varied group of musicians including David Blackmon on fiddle and William Tonks on dobro (for the Atlanta half) and Steve Feronne (Tom Petty & The HeartBreakers) and Zander Schloss (Circle Jerks), who also co-produced the LA tracks. The album is bookended by the title track (co-written with Colin Linden), which wouldn’t be out of place on a Joe Ely record, and finishes with a stark cover of Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.”

Bad News Travels Fast is a debut record that doesn’t sound like one and Boo Ray is a bit of good news that travels just as fast.

Curtis Lynch
April 2010

The Contribution - Which Way World

The Contribution
Which Way World
SCI Fidelity Records

The Contribution is a jamband supergroup. With New Monsoon’s Jeff Miller (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Phil Ferlino (keyboards), Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone (violin, vocals), and The String Cheese Incident’s Keith Moseley (bass) and Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident) signed up, there’s no other way to describe it.

A jamband supergroup? Let me begin to list the ways that can go wrong. The jamband world is a family thing that stretches into the audience and in between bands, so it’s no surprise when it all starts to meld into one big gooey, swirling glob. And with supergroups, a penciled-in lineup of stars from various bands, well, too often those things can be a combination of what seems like essentially solo tracks sewed together into a cockeyed quilt. Each piece is fine on its own, but there’s nothing to tie them together other than the fragile string between them.

For the most part, The Contribution’s Which Way World manages to avoid both of those pitfalls over ten tracks of solidly constructed tunes that range from funky blues and energetic rock to country/bluegrass and they even throw in some classic pop influences. Miller’s guitar and Carbone’s fiddle dominate the color of the songs, but Ferlino’s keyboards are right there as well. Lyrically, the record is concerned with the world around us, especially the rockin’ blues of “Fear of Nothing” and the title track. No mere jamband recreation, Which Way World takes the best from each of its individual contributors and puts them to work as a team. This is one of those records you’ll listen to again and again and like it better each time.

Curtis Lynch
April 2010

Delta Moon - Hell Bound Train

Delta Moon
Hell Bound Train

Red Parlor Records

I’ve been following Delta Moon since their first record in 2002 and before that, guitarist Tom Gray’s previous band The Brains, a group that fell under a new-wave umbrella that was opened so wide and so often in the 80s that even Tom Petty was underneath its shadow. Delta Moon, however, is a roots-blues band that has little to do with Tom Petty and even less to do with new-wave. After recording with a couple of female vocalists, the band settled in with Gray as lead vocalist and the current lineup, which has been together since 2007, has evolved into a searing roadhouse blues unit, capable of simmering as well as boiling.

Hell Bound Train, their seventh, is a white-knuckled ride through a Southern gothic landscape where the branches of family trees groan and strain under the weight of loss and tragedy, too often self-inflicted. Gray’s lap steel and Mark Johnson’s electric slide toss off tandem leads over drummer Darren Stanley and bassist Franher Joseph’s red-clay rhythms across the eleven tracks here (although the closer, “Plantation Song,” is Gray solo on dobro) and create their best record yet. And I emphasize “yet.” Because Delta Moon just keeps getting better.

When Hell Bound Train stops near you, jump on board.

Curtis Lynch
Playgrounds Magazine
April 2010