Local music: Music in the Round

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From the February 23, 2012 edition

Start in Nashville, touch down in Columbus and make a break for Nairobi. Music in the Round has covered a lot of ground.

Local lawyer and musician Lee Bass founded Cap Square Rotary’s annual charity concert in 2006, adopting a format that had become a staple of the singer-songwriter world. Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe is credited as the birthplace of the “in the round” configuration, in which a handful of performers take turns playing solo renditions of their songs, preferably using the instruments they were written on.

In one of those good ideas that seem almost too simple, Bass and his Rotary mates decided to recruit four Columbus performers and plop them into a fancy venue to play in the round and raise big bucks for charity.

Performers, venues and beneficiaries have changed over the years, but the format will keep going strong Saturday, when Saving Jane’s Marti Dodson, Mike Perkins, The Ark Band’s Mark Hunter and Angela Perley will play the seventh annual Music in the Round event at Via Vecchia Winery. Event chairwoman Erin Corrigan promised something quite different from your average local rock show.

“It’s different from going to see the artist play at a bar,” Corrigan said. “The audience is very focused. You can hear a pin drop.”

Like last year, the $25 cover charge benefits Marafiki Children’s Center Orphanage in Nairobi and the Columbus Muziki project, which aims to help kick-start a music program at the orphanage. Corrigan and a group of volunteers including former Music in the Round performers Jesse Henry and Eric Nassau will travel to Marafiki next month for a four-day program geared toward getting the music curriculum off the ground. It will culminate in a performance featuring Henry, Nassau and local Nairobi musicians.

“The kids are going to participate in the show as well,” Corrigan said. “It’s going to be some music teaching, interaction and learning.”