The new baby is due in a couple of weeks, so we’ve been reorganizing and tidying up and all that “nesting” hoohaw. At the bottom of a dresser drawer I found a powder-blue t-shirt for the Central Ohio Music Festival. It sent a chill up my spine.
My first and only real foray into concert promotion (after college, that is) was the – as it came to be universally known – “ill-fated Central Ohio Music Festival,” of May, 1992. I helped book, promote, and hosted the concert through my “Cool Tunes” radio show on WRQK.
The festival, featuring an impressive modern rock lineup of the Ocean Blue, Material Issue, Afghan Whigs, Scrawl, In Fear of Roses, and Feversmile was the utopian dream of an aging, gnome-like hippie who had made his fortune in the child-care game. While visions of Lollapalooza danced in his head, a haphazard assortment of semi-professionals was left to mold reality out of the impresario’s evanescent clay. One of the central (no pun intended) matters of faith regardign the show was that if we had it in Mansfield – halfway between Cleveland and Columbus – then we would draw equally from each. As it was we drew equally from neither.
The day began as a tropical early-summer’s song, and ended as an arctic late-winter howl as gale-force winds and frozen-needle rain tore the backstage awning out of its moorings and sent it, and my entangled brother, flapping savagely into the inky night.
Left to amuse the storm-depleted gathering of a few-dozen stalwart patrons who clung against all reason to the notion of being entertained, the Ocean Blue was the little-band-that-could. The band of willowy Pennsylvania youth stout-heartedly cast its gentle music into the teeth of the tempest, casting the bucolic lyrics of its then-latest album, Cerulean, in a cruelly ironic light.