The neighborhood south of Hudson Street just west of I-71 has long been a hotbed for musicians and artists. Half a decade ago, some of the area's punk, indie and experimental musicians half-jokingly dubbed their 'hood "Washington Beach" and built a vibrant community around Summit Street dive Cafe Bourbon Street.
Now a different set of bands are out to advance their little slice of Columbus, using the burgeoning strip of businesses south of Rumba Cafe as their rallying point.
Where the Washington Beach thing was basically an inside joke, the SoHud bands are organized - complete with interns! - and eager to import attention and export sounds.
"It's not Campus. It's not Clintonville. It doesn't have big arches over the streets. It's always been like a no-man's land," said Jesse Barr of Max Power Trio. "And then Rumba moved in, and now there's a little scene here."
The idea originated last year with Barr, who hosts a radio show called "The SoHud Sound" at 7 p.m. Thursdays on WCRS (102.1 & 98.3 FM). The collective, which originally included Andy Shaw Band, mostly lived within a few blocks of each other.
They frequently shared the stage at venues like Rumba and Ruby Tuesday, inhabiting an aesthetic somewhere near the intersection of blues, folk, pop and soul. Barr figured, why not use each other's skills and connections to mutual advantage?
"Before, we were just like three-legged dogs," Barr said. "Now we're like a nine-legged super dog."
Their first step has been throwing a series of SoHud Super Shows, in which all three bands perform their own sets and combine for something special; they're collaborating on a Led Zeppelin tribute Friday.
Next, they'll use proceeds from the concerts to hole up in a cabin and record together for a weekend. Ideally, they'll emerge with an album that can showcase their combined talents and draw new ears to each act, Floorwalkers frontman Jon Elliott said.
He referenced Toronto collective Broken Social Scene, whose communal creations brought exposure to contributors' other projects such as Feist, Metric, Stars and Do Make Say Think.
Meanwhile, the SoHud bands are seeking to partner with a video production company, scouting for groups to join the fold and looking for ways to translate their talk into action.
"It's just too easy to sit around," Hebdo said. "You can actually take that step forward and do something."
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