Local music: The George Elliot Underground and Stucco Jones

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From the April 4, 2012 edition

So much noise emerges from Columbus bars on a nightly basis that you might not notice silence from a particular band amidst the din. But this city’s rock scene got decidedly less fun last year when Stucco Jones and The George Elliot Underground were temporarily sidelined as members voyaged beyond state lines.

Party rockers rejoice! Both bands are back in action this weekend for the monthly TRIO Showcase at Circus.

GEU went on a six-month hiatus while frontman Hank Zaborniak served in Afghanistan with the Air National Guard.

“The state pays us, so if Ohio ever secedes from the union, I’m fighting for Ohio,” Zaborniak said.

Although the band played Independents’ Day in September with a series of guest singers, they made their proper return on New Year’s Eve, a night suited to their brand of rock ’n’ roll indulgence. Now that they’ve kicked off the rust, a new EP is in the works, plus a series of summer mini-tours.

While Uncle Sam called Zaborniak overseas, love summoned Stucco’s Tommy Conway to Philadelphia. With one-half of the ballsy rock duo on the East Coast with his girlfriend, shows have been rare. Conway’s bandmate Dennis Tanner stays busy with new groups Dirty Girls and The Regrettes, but neither of the lifelong pals intends to put Stucco to bed.

“This is kind of like our baby band,” Tanner said.

The fans are just as passionate. TRIO promoter Zach Hume paid for Conway’s plane ticket just so he could see Stucco rock again. The duo is making the most of the trip; they’ve got studio time booked Thursday night.

For these bands, music is less a deep personal expression than a vehicle for partying with friends, so in a sense, Friday’s show is about getting the gang back together.

“Know your audience. It’s our friends at the bars,” Tanner said. “It’s the party rock crew. Turns out there were a lot of those people in town.”