Woody Pines!

Last night Kish and I joined the Bahamians for another music night at the Refectory — a chance to listen to some live music in an intimate venue, with food provided by one of Columbus’ finest restaurants.  Going out on a Monday night for dinner and a show was an act of unusual spontaneity for us.  After all, Monday night you’re usually curled up on your couch, grateful that the first day of the work week is in the books but otherwise fortifying yourself for the next four days.  It’s not a night when people do much.

But sometimes it pays to break out of the mold.

IMG_2380We happened to be at the Refectory for dinner on Saturday, and the host of the music series came by to tell us that a table for Monday’s show had opened up at the last minute.  A flier advertised the artist as “Woody Pines!”, with an exclamation point.  That’s a good sign, I thought.  Then I noticed that every artist on the schedule featured an exclamation point after their names, so I kidded the host about it.  After all, I pointed out, exclamation points must be earned and cannot simply be doled out willy-nilly to every Tom, Dick and Jazz Artist on a programming list.

Still, Woody Pines looked very promising.  He calls his music “down home swing,” and the photo showed a guy with a steel guitar wearing a harmonica holder and a beat up hat,  which is even more encouraging than the exclamation point.  So, we took a chance, and we’re glad we did.

Woody Pines fronts a three-piece combo that also includes a stand up bass, well-played in the foot-stomping slap style, and a clean-cut virtuoso working a ’50s-vintage Gibson electric guitar who added terrific fills to every song.  These three guys played roots music, some blues, and some songs of uncertain provenance, but whatever they touched had an irresistible move-your-feet beat to it that somehow combined elements of rockabilly, roadhouse blues, early ’50s rock ‘n roll, and the sweep of the American musical soul, all rolled into one.  They absolutely rocked the joint and had me tapping my feet and tapping the table, and if the Refectory performance space had a dance floor, every person in the room would have been on it.  Add in Woody’s strumming and picking and exuberant stage presence, and you’ve got a musical evening that I’ll remember for a while — and I’ll try to recreate, too, because I bought two Woody Pines CDs on the way out.  It was some of the best live music I’ve heard since my last visit to Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.

On the way out of the performance room after Woody had knocked my socks off, I saw the host of the music series, shook his hand, and told him that Woody Pines definitely deserved the exclamation point.  Woody Pines!

The Columbus Top Six

The Brown Bear, a faithful reader of the Wall Street Journal, alerted some of us to a Journal article that includes Columbus in a list of “6 great small cities for food lovers” and identifies six great food options for the lucky residents of Ohio’s flagship city.  The Journal‘s six Columbus choices are The Refectory, Skillet, Basi Italia, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Katalina, and Ajumama.

I’ve got no quibble with the restaurants on the list, although I haven’t been to Katalina yet.  In fact, I’ve written about my excellent omelet at Skillet, the delicious toad in the hole at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, and the mid-boggling amdong chicken at Ajumama, pictured at right.  The Refectory has long been a Columbus gastronomic landmark — its oyster soup may be the best soup this committed soupophile has ever tasted — and Basi Italia is a favorite of our friends the Bahamians where we’ve always had great meals.  I also commend the Journal for including a food truck, Ajumama, among the six choices.  I’m a huge fan of the Columbus food truck culture, whether found at Dinin’ Hall or the annual food truck festival, and I’m glad to see one of their number get a deserving nod in the pantheon of foodie destinations.

No, the problem with the list is who’s not on it.  No G. Michael’s?  No Rigsby’s?  No Indian Oven?  No shiznite from the Green Meanie?  And what about Alana’s, or the Black Creek Bistro?  They’re all deserving choices, too.

A list of six just isn’t enough to do justice to the great foodie options in Columbus.  And one other thing about the Journal article:  it says Columbus isn’t well known for its dining scene — yet.  Says who, WSJ?