Thursday, November 09, 2006


Booze-free, smoke-free, and the music is free in more ways than one! At 7 p.m. second Saturdays at Areopagitica Book Store, 3510 N. High .
In September a delighted audience heard folk music by At Wits End and AWE's founder and lead singer, FRED BAILEY. At Wits End consists of four more-than- accomplished musicians. Slender Nancy Bailey handles sound and back up for AWE, and when there's a piano available, she plays it. She is married to Fred Bailey who admits that "Nancy does a lot of the arranging and also listens to songs while they're being composed and yes takes care of sound."
Charlotte Custis "sings the high part" and the other vocalist, Pam Raver, "sings in the middle range" and plays something called a marimbula. A marimbula, Fred Bailey explained, "was invented in the outbacks of Ohio by Mike Allen of Delaware County, who named it after and builit it something like, the African and Caribbean instruments that are thumb pianos."(Hope I got that right!) Pam and Charlotte possess clear voices suitable for an opera chorus or a church choir. --They sound good!
Fred Bailey sings lead. He is the chief raconteur and founder of At Wits End, and his presence is inimitable, to say the least, and that's a compliment.--When I asked him, "Well, are you a baritone?" he responded, "I've been called that."
Bailey knows a great deal about the history of folk music and about history in general, and he is wonderful at anecdotes and quotations. His repertoire is a mix of his own original songs
and other folk songs, some more familiar than others. His butterfly song, "Why don't they call them Flutter Bys," is popular with young and old alike. . . "Small wings like these can only tease/ and not disturb the air/ and our starships really just two folding chairs."
In his off-guitar remarks Bailey said that all authentic folk songs tell a story.
Like sparks from a coal furnace his own words, and words by others, glittered, yes glittered, during the Areo concert. . .
"Gray hills along the Cimarron. . . Comanche, Cheyenne. My home on the Great Plains. He hit the railroad crossin' like some kind of shootin' star. . . Us kids all lined the gutter . . . just to see old Clayton comin' into town.. . It's dark as a dungeon down in the mines. . . Got away with Annie Laurie when the east was turning gray. . ."
Bailey is a tall rangy guy with kinda long stringy hair that looks okay! He was born in Oklahoma "where the grass looks like desert." Although he hasn't been back for over twenty years, his songs about "a cavalry officer's ghost" and "tanks rusted up 'til you'll never pump
water again" prove that he never really left, and that's good for us. His vocal range has the nuance and finesse of a Molotov cocktail. His chainsaw voice goes beyond Willie Nelson's, and
his baritone(?) is so gloriously unvarnished, it's marvelous!
He's had air play on more than twenty stations, including KTBOO in Aslaska; KAFY in Colorado; KTEP in El Paso, Texas; WETA in Arlington Va. and KRCL in Salt Lake City Utah. He sometimes performs at one of the most sophisticated gigs in Columbus, The Last Saturday Coffee House sponsored by the Columbus Folk Music Society at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 93 West Weishiemer, on the last Saturday of the month. Bailey has CDs and a web site, and so does the Columbus Folk Music Society.
On SATURDAY, NOV. 11, 7 pm. LARRY DRAKE , Blues Man, will sing the blues at Areopagitica. Some are his own songs, some not, and you'll hear a lot of good blues guitar. JOHN AND JANET SCHOMBURG , long time CFMS participants,-- their musicality is peppered by a sense of humor, traditional, old time, zingy--will play from 8 to 9 after Drake's gig. --In October I was absolutely enthralled, yes , you can quote me, by JOHN LOCKE's mellow voice and its English drift. By his low key, off beat stories and original songs. About haunted Welsh coal mines and other whimsical and spectral locations. This understated guy has charm, big time.