Back in July, Experience Columbus just began to scratch the surface on 10 bands that make our city a notable destination for homegrown, local music. These groups ranged from ones that have continued to capture the hearts of residents to up-and-coming talent that are trying to bend the structures of genres. The list was just 10 bands long, which isn’t even close to showcasing the litany of musical talent that Columbus has to offer.
So we’re going to break it down some more.
Below are five singer-songwriters that have caught our attention so far with their sensational style and myriad of abilities.
The singer-songwriters in a Hollywood script may have taken a reverse route vis-a-vis the one that Ohioan Adam Darling and New York native Stephanie Amber took to arrive in Columbus. While both pursuing music careers and waiting tables at the same restaurant in Los Angeles, Darling’s blues background melted with Amber’s sweet harmonies to form the duet Honey and Blue. After navigating the saturated LA market, Amber and Darling decided to head back toward the Midwest to work on full-length projects. They released their second soulful collection, “All the Feels,” in 2017.
“All the Feels” is smooth sailing, feel-good music, a true display of musical chemistry in our community. It’s almost impossible not to bop one’s head around when throwing on any of Amber and Darling’s tunes. To brighten up a gray day, Honey and Blue is a safe bet.
Lisa Gain’s voice has been heard through notable city outlets like Columbus’ NPR for good reason. Gain has been touring her Americana and folk brand for more than two decades, delighting coffee shops and radio stations around the city. A self-taught guitarist by the age of 18, Gain has been shredding the local circuits ever since, delighting central Ohio with covers and original tunes. A band has been formed for the self-titled debut album “Lisa Gain & the Rusty Silos,” which is scheduled to be released in the coming months.
Gain showcased that true singer-songwriter grit for her 2018 WOSU Tiny Desk Concert entry “Wake up Violet.” The ode to the #MeToo movement, penned a few days before the competition, won first prize. Her wavering yet powerful vocals and guitar play echo throughout her catalog.
A trait that sets singer-songwriters in a class apart from others is their ability to transform and navigate through many genres. Whether Paisha Thomas is singing in a gospel setting or letting loose on some funk, her wide musical library has also helped boost the Columbus music community. Known across the city for promoting talented local singer-songwriters, Thomas is famously the coordinator of Soul Sundays at Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza, which is held on the first Sunday of the month. She last released a self-titled project in 2016.
Paisha’s devotion to music runs generations deep. The ability to transform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to the breadth of musical knowledge that exists in a cranium to make the swing of jazz entertaining in the 2010s is also unteachable. Paisha Thomas is truly a Columbus gem.
A voice made for mending broken hearts, Parker Louis’ lyrics and Swiss army skills have been a staple of Columbus’ music scene for some time now. The Capital University product by way of Lake Erie made his debut with Forest & The Evergreens and used that experience to craft a more personal experience. Louis is joined by six other bandmates to complete his set and bring the silky R&B vibes they’re searching for to life. They dropped the first part of two EPs, “All Good Things,” in the spring of 2018.
On “Waiting,” a recent single from Louis, his rutilant rhymes are extra silky. The band that he’s assembled for these projects have allowed him to concoct a full palette of experiences. If you’re looking for a local twist on all anyone could want from a soul and R&B record, catch Parker Louis playing around the city sometime this week.
If you’ve been lucky enough to catch a T.Wong performance, the pleasure was probably all yours. T.Wong shines in the spotlight but doesn’t care for the associated glitz and glamour, a trait common among the humble talent that resides in Columbus. An ambassador for the city’s Art Makes Columbus initiative, T.Wong has many outlets outside of music in which he utilizes to make a more positive impact on the world. The R&B spectacle released a sophomore project, “The Upside Down,” back in 2017.
Not only is T.Wong one of Columbus’ brightest stars, he’s also one of the nicest. Taking time out of his extremely busy life to sit down and talk music, books, Hulu and life over dinner, it was easy to understand why he’s been compared to Lenny Kravitz and Frank Ocean. “Wild” is a display of that immense talent, but you can only catch the lightning in a bottle that is T.Wong in the flesh, which is rare.