Craft & Vinyl
As the name would suggest, in August of 2018, a business catering to both local beer enthusiasts and the album revival crowd opened in Grandview Heights. And before you even enter this space, you’re aware that it’s going to look marvelous, if the exquisitely modern, untreated wood facade is any indication. Also, just to eliminate any doubt regarding what they offer here, static cling stickers running along the top and bottom of its plate glass window spell it out for you:
CRAFT BEER COUNTER — VINYL RECORD SHOP — SONGWRITERS RECORDING SUITE
Owner Troy Stacy is a barrel chested gent with a big blonde beard and condensed Buddy Holly glasses. And it certainly helps to learn that he seems like your average obsessive hobbyist/hipster nerd, i.e. basically into the same stuff most of the guys I know are. He also embraces the current entrepreneurial vibe by apparently running a one man show here in many respects, down to booking events, answering all the emails and presumably handling their social media as well.
Regarding the interior, the wooden floors and light grey walls lend a tastefully alluring appearance — as do the framed rock posters mounted everywhere and, more to the point, the racks of vinyl albums, the bar with its handful of — ahem — curated taps and matching high topped tables for sampling such. He’s even got a couple of couches in here, for those so inclined, some rock themed pinball machines.
Then there is the Songwriters Recording Suite, a separate, enclosed room with hanging guitars, drum kit, and some start of art recording gear. Gold records for a handful of famous albums also adorn these walls, in case a musician is in need of motivation.
When it comes to in-store performances here, though lacking a stage, Troy gets crafty himself both in rearranging furniture to accommodate, and in booking the shows themselves. One such example would the New Music Now Showcase, a three day event held from January 24–26, 2019. Though single show tickets were $18, demand for these was at a premium, with at least Friday that I know of being completely sold out. More than 900 bands auditioned to play at this mini-fest, with only a fraction of those making the cut. Here’s a rundown of the schedule for each night:
Walking In Circles
Brave The Sea
Letters Of Transit
A Decade Apart
Not all of these outfits hail from Columbus, it’s worth mentioning, though as far as I can tell they are 100% Ohio based. Friday night will find Rhinegeist Brewing on hand “promoting” the event (dispensing product) and DaveMan from 610 WTVN doing a little live broadcast warm up show. Frank Harrison, though not officially listed on the bill, plays some background music on guitar to get the crowd in the mood. My buddy Matt Montanya is among the attendees, too, and has brought with him a clutch of CDs (maybe that will be the next mini-trend, who knows) to hand out to whomever seems interested.
Then at 7pm Bishop Battle, who is signed to Exquisite Noise Records, takes the stage playing what I guess you might term pop music with a bit of an edge. Though plagued at times by equipment malfunction from non-cooperative backing tracks, his vocals were nonetheless sharp and he was able to convey plenty of charisma.
Another cool thing to see is that this showcase is missing much of the competitiveness found at other, more “battle of the band” oriented events. Here for the most part the musicians seemed interested in meeting one another, making friends and networking. I suppose that their interest in this gig does indicate they too lean a bit more in the music geek direction than most, and that they are just digging the fact that an operation like Craft & Vinyl exists. Brave The Sea is possibly the most outgoing of tonight’s acts, and one of the members will tell me (sorry, I didn’t quite catch any names), “for us, it was a great way to connect with other bands and artists from the region,” which pretty much sums up the vibe.
For the musicians here, promoting themselves, while important, appears to have taken a backseat at the moment. Personally I think — which you can probably glean just from the minimal photos and video on this page — the whole enterprise has more of a big city art gallery vibe to it than anything else, which is really cool. This feels like a trendy showing in Manhattan or something, with a handful of hot local bands providing the soundtrack. It’s hard to picture Craft & Vinyl existing in Columbus, even in the Short North, say, five years ago, but here’s to hoping they last at least five more, and preferably much, much longer.
Originally published at lovelettertocolumbus.com on February 1, 2019.