It's fun to watch a band build its own universe starting from scratch. It's even more fun to be that band. Just ask Andy Shaw. Little by little, pieces have fallen into place around the singer-songwriter in the four years since he moved back to Columbus, leaving him with a fully fleshed-out lineup, an extensive community of likeminded bands and a friendly pub to act as their hub.

It's fun to watch a band build its own universe starting from scratch. It's even more fun to be that band.

Just ask Andy Shaw. Little by little, pieces have fallen into place around the singer-songwriter in the four years since he moved back to Columbus, leaving him with a fully fleshed-out lineup, an extensive community of likeminded bands and a friendly pub to act as their hub.

After playing solo during his stint at Columbia College in Chicago, Shaw recruited friends and family to perform his music, a set of jammy pop tunes steeped in reggae and classic rock. Shaw's father, Jim, and his brother, Chris, give the lineup a familiar feel.

As Andy Shaw Band took shape, they began to form a network of similar acts around Columbus, a community that includes the likes of The Floorwalkers and Jared Mahone Band. The bands congregate around decades-old Summit Street hangout Ruby Tuesday, where Andy Shaw Band plays every Monday.

These factors have come together to make this the best year yet for Andy Shaw Band. To celebrate, they'll cap off 2008 with a free New Year's Eve show at Oldfield's on High, an event they hope will be a fun, recession-proof alternative to the lavish, expensive New Year's Eves of yore.

"We just feel like everybody's so broke, including us," Shaw said. "The only reason we even did [a New Year's show] was because we could do a free thing or something that would cater to people who need something different."

Despite the budget price, the band promises this gig will be "over the top," with appearances by the Wet Darlings and the Ooh La Las burlesque troupe. Along with drink specials, the group thinks its New Year's shindig will have something for everyone: "It's called sex, booze and rock 'n' roll," bassist Bobby Wildermuth said.

Despite moving to Oldfield's for the New Year's bash, Andy Shaw Band remains inextricably linked with Ruby Tuesday, where they will continue to play nearly every Monday for the foreseeable future.

The residency has been a big momentum builder for the band. Every week they get a chance to test out new material, perfect older tunes and develop a large catalog of music. If a crowd shows up, the band gets to shine. If not, they get to practice.

Along with the addition of guitarist Theo Perry, who joined around this time last year, the constant appearances have helped Andy Shaw Band to hone their sound as they prepare to release their second album this spring.

They hope to host multiple release parties, including an all-ages event that will probably happen at the new Wild Goose multipurpose space near Rumba Cafe, and perhaps a bigger event at one of the city's more sizable clubs.

And of course they'll always come back to Ruby's, where every week has become a celebration of sorts for Andy Shaw Band and the scene that continues to bloom around them.