COMUSIC REVIEW – Big Medicine, Mercer and Johnson @ Mojo’s

It’s January 12, 2013. Columbia is still in winter break mode – quieter in some ways but with a sense that the students will soon return and things will adjust to normal after the Holidays and the hangover of sorts that accompany them. As the second weekend of the year arrives the weather is suddenly getting colder and there’s talk of snow. There’s also several shows going on around town in spite of the sleet and snow that came in the early evening.

Burrows was supposed to play but got either snowed in or iced in after their show in KC the night before, making this an all local band show.

Mercer and Johnson navigating the bittersweet


Mercer and Johnson opened the night off with a mix of original songs and covers of some roots/country (real country) favorites. Beginning with just mandolin and bass, their songs of life, love, and longing had a bittersweet tinge to them. A switch to acoustic guitar a little over halfway through the set shifted the aural textures but the vibe remained. A mix of storytelling and longing permeated their set by this road tested local duo. Readers who are into more grittier roots music and country will definitely want to check this act out.


Eddie and Craig of Big Medicine

Big Medicine came on shortly after for their first show in over a year. Taking advantage of the vibe, they unleashed a set of roots rock full of driving beats and a vibe that’s almost equally rooted in honky-tonk country as in blues or early rock’n’roll. While the set was slightly sloppy (very understandable given the down time they had) there was a lot of energy here that got the crowd who braved the storm to make it here. Driving drums and blazing guitars were in full effect here until the end. Good to see Big Medicine playing again.

After the show, the crowd hung out, paid their tabs, and made small talk in an attempt to avoid the inevitable venture into the winter storm situation outside Mojo’s. As we ventured into the inevitable snow and what that entailed, many of us had wondered what would be ahead. In the next week students would return to town and life would slowly veer back to business as usual. For now, it was winter weather and hoping things weren’t too bad tomorrow.

Chocolate and Wine Is So Fine

A box of Russell Stover for V-Day? Come on, you can do better than that. Instead splurge on two tickets to the Chocolate Wine Trail in Hermann. You and your honey will spend the third weekend of February sampling luscious chocolate and wine pairings at seven stops along the beautiful Hermann Wine Trail.

The tasting menu at the 2013 Chocolate Wine Trail, February 16 and 17, will feature:

• Adam Puchta Winery — Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake, paired with the newly released Cat’s Meow

• Bias Winery — Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Surprise, paired with Strawberry Weisser Flieder

• Dierberg Star Lane Tasting Room — Blueberries in a Black Pepper Chocolate-Syrah Syrup, paired with Three Saints Syrah

• Hermannhof Winery — Chocolate Truffle Torte with Norton-Blackberry Ganache, paired with Norton

• OakGlenn Winery — Cincinnati Chili, paired with Chardonel

• Röbller Winery — Chocolate Whoopie Pie, paired with Villa Rouge

• Stone Hill Winery — White Chocolate Popcorn with Raspberry Drizzle, paired with Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine

The $30 per person ticket price includes a souvenir wine glass. Participants also may enter a drawing for a $30 gift certificate from each winery and a night’s stay at a Hermann B&B. Wine Trail tickets may be purchased online at Visit Hermann or from the Hermann Welcome Center, 800-932-8687. Advance purchase is required. (A word to the wise—tickets usually sell out early for this popular event.)

Information about the Hermann Wine Trail is available at Hermann Wine Trail.

The Chocolate Wine Trail is one of five annual events hosted by the Hermann Wine Trail, which hugs the Missouri River for 20 scenic miles between Hermann and New Haven.

Thinking ahead? Bacon will be the theme of this year’s Wild Card Wine Trail the first weekend of May; Berries & BBQ Wine Trail during the last full weekend of July celebrates the flavors of summer; and the Holiday Fare Wine Trail is the third weekend of November for a festive start to the holiday season. Say Cheese Wine Trail rounds out the year during the second weekend of December which is the same weekend as Hermann’s popular Kristkindl Markt.

Winter Farmers Market

Columbia Farmers Market will be open on Saturdays from 9 AM to 12 PM at its winter location at Parkade Center through March 30. I had a chance to visit a few weeks ago and loaded up on eggs, veggies and beef. And pumpkin seeds. It feels odd to me to go market shopping without the sun on my back and the wind in my hair, but I’m delighted to be able to get my fresh farm goods during the winter months.



Okay, so I know that 2012 is literally in it sfinal moments as I type this. Snow is falling and within 24 to 48 hours we begin the slow transition from holiday mode to business as usual (though the college winter break will make it linger on a little longer in Columbia). However, at a time when a chunk of the college kids are off with families and taking care of things elsewhere what could arguably be considered the best event of 2012 happened on December 29th when reunion fever of sorts took place at Mojo’s with the return of Bald Eagle (playing thier fourth reunion show) and Como band turned Austinites Megazilla (playing their first show since breaking up a little over four years ago).

Jack Buck

Jack Buck kicking the night off with a small explosion.

The opening slot was held by St. Louis band Jack Buck, who offered up a set of pummeling noise rock full of thick bottom end and sometimes dissonant guitars with humbucker tones that almost have to be scooped out of the speakers. The results lie somewhere between noise, punk and metal with a touch of the experimental thrown in for good measure. Some of the songs had a feel slightly similar to No Means No but the band is far from a copy of that. An interesting set that hinted at the aural carnage to come.


Corey of Megazilla driving home the noise.


After a few minutes to set up and making sure things were ready Megazilla returned to life playing the middle slot of this show. The duo took no prisoners with an intense set that merged noise rock aggression and fury with elements of almost prog like precision using just drums, the occasional sample, and an 8 string bass (tuned in fifths). Tight, heavy, harsh, and somehow melodic that band delivered some heavy music that drew on the energy of the night and made you like it. It was great to see Megazilla back (especially for those people who didn’t get to see them the first time around) and playing as if they never stopped.


Bald Eagle

Behold the ferocity of Bald Eagle in action.

A short time later Bald Eagle came up on stage to tear the place apart. Delivering a setof their patented post metal riff rock, the band’s dual guitar delivery blended precision and heft for a sound as heavy as it was intricate. Hard driving with an occasionl lush synth element at times, the band created an energy loop that fed off the crowd and returned the vibe with an intensity that had to be witnessed to be understood. In a truly just world Bald Eagle would be album rock mainstays (or at least regularly featured on their metal shows) but for now its the crowd on the ground who’s there to see what’s up. I don’t know if there will be more shows but that would be cool if there were.

As the last distorted power chord vibe faded into the ether and we ventured out into the cold we were drained a bit from the energy inside. However, it was time to head for parts unknown and see what was ahead. 2013 was around the corner but tonight was the good early way to send off the final moments of 2012. A great show and one that met all expectations.

CoMo Family: Miniature World!

On Saturday, we happened upon Miniature World, created by Patti Doyle and set up for a very short time in the basement of the Stephens College Assembly Hall.  It is a perfect place to spend an hour with children, gazing into the miniature worlds of cavemen, knights, pilgrims, cowboys, miners, construction workers, farmers and more…and then traveling the world to see such sights as the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Rhine River and Stonehenge.

The Terracotta Army in China.

The scale varies: This free exhibit is more about fun than about accuracy.  One of the added bonuses is being able to take the roofs off several buildings to see what is going on inside.  The exhibit will be open for the last time this year on Wednesday, December 19th, from 1 to 5 PM.  Ms Doyle, a delightful and entertaining hostess, will be on hand to answer questions and explain her creations.


The circus!

There is a horse show going on in this building, complete with organ music.

Stephens College Assembly Hall (sometimes called the Dorsey Street Auditorium or gym) is on Dorsey Street, south of Broadway.  Walk down a short flight of steps in the center of the north side of the building and look for the Miniature World sign on the door.


Top Ten Ways to Make Friends in CoMO

I lived in my last town for nineteen years; I had a few friends. I’ve lived in Columbia for a year, and I now have more friends than I can count. It’s a bigger town by quite a bit, so the pool is much larger, but I also think that it’s easier to make friends in this town.  How to do it?  There are many ways, but here are my top ten:


What better way is there to meet people?  You find yourself working side-by-side with someone new, sometimes doing mindless tasks that allow you to share your entire life history.  Before you know it, they are buying you lunch and you are inviting them to your big anniversary party.  Happy ending!  As a hospice volunteer, I don’t actually make friends while volunteering, but there is hope for the rest of you.


or the yoga studio or the walking club or whatever.  Choose a physical activity where you aren’t panting too hard to talk.  By the end of my second water aerobics class, I had a job offer; by the end of my first real yoga class, I had a lunch invitation.


The car traffic on my street is seriously outnumbered by the foot, bicycle, stroller, paw, and wagon traffic.  It helps that I have an adorable dog who thinks that everyone he sees is his new best friend, but animals are not necessary.  I met Jen on the street one day when I was biking home and she was returning from the park with her children.  We chatted for an hour and now we go dancing together.


There are so many possibilities here:  How about that group that meets at the Heidelberg to work on their conversational French skills?  Or the many service clubs?  Or that crazy multisport club that I first encountered when dozens of them were dressed as smurfs?  Or even the raw foodists?  Check for informal clubs and groups or start your own!


or meditation or temple or synagogue or a pagan gathering or whatever!  The options in this town are vast.  Once you find a place that feels like home, you will know that you have at least one thing in common with everyone else there.  That’s a good place to start.


I hear that the workplace can be a good place to meet people.  I don’t have a job, but I do have some things that I do for free that can be considered work and that allow me to walk up to perfect strangers and start talking to them…like writing for the CoMo Collective.


Or just a way to interact with others while doing your hobby.  My hobby is biking, and I mostly do it by myself or with my husband.  We decided to join Off Track Events‘ group rides before we discovered the event mastermind living next door.  At our first event as Columbia residents we made friends and got numbers, even though we were both dressed in wedding dresses.  There are tons of events in Columbia all year long; anyone can find something that appeals.


I am currently taking a class at the Career Center that is chock-full of potential friends.  I happen to know that several of the people from the previous session formed their own little club when their class ended and became very good friends.  Other great options for classes in Columbia (aside from the university and colleges) are Inside Columbia’s Culinary Adventures, Columbia Art League, Access Arts, and the library.


Yep, stay home, but for this one to work you have to open the doors.  We moved into our new home in August; in September we invited all the neighbors over.  It was a bit of a whirlwind–meeting that many new people in the span of about three hours–but we quickly learned who was interested in meeting us (nine out of twenty-two families) and who we wanted to get to know better (to start with: everyone named Kate).

For our next neighborhood party, on St. Patrick’s Day, we invited those people and asked them to bring friends (and a dish to share).  The food was awesome (Grilled cheese with pickles!  Irish soda bread!  Beer cheese!), and there were eight new (to us) people walking around our house wearing nametags showing their temporary Irish names.  All you need for this one is something to drink, something to eat, and a semi-clean house.  What could be easier?


Sometimes friendship opportunities arise when least expected.  The Columbia Welcome lady?  She could be your awesome new friend.  The lady massaging the kinks out of your back?  Ditto.  The homeless guy on the corner?  It’s possible.  I’ve made friends in all of those cases, and it was just a matter of reaching out first.  You’ll never know if you don’t try.

A CoMo Plan for Visitors

The holidays are upon us again and I am amping up for my family’s decision upon CoMo. Since my inlaws trip didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked last year (in case you are wondering EVERY restaurant in The District is closed on Christmas Eve), I am doing a little more planning this year. I put together a little primer for them since parents have made frequent visits to our city but my sister and her husband haven’t visited before. I think they are picturing a quaint little town. Which it might be to them since even though Columbia is the 5th largest city in Missouri, they’re coming from Dallas which as a metroplex is edging towards the 5th largest in the US.

But we’re small but mighty.

After all we’ve got art museums, movie houses, theatres, scenic views and hiking spots that are perfect for any climate, even our winters.

It’s hard to mention Columbia without including the Ragtag cinema. A great place to watch the most promising independent films, with the option to eat and drink at the same time. The Ragtag cinema is also home to the True/False film festival that showcases cinematic documentaries every year. For history and art lovers, the Missouri University houses the Museum of Art and Archaeology, which displays 14,000 works of art and archaeological objects whilst the entry for the public is free.

We’re not all about the arts. Any outdoorsman would feel right at home as Rockbridge Memorial State Park, offering hiking and biking amongst other pursuits such as park tours that are available for first timers. And of course the Katy Trail is perfect for cold walks. We’re close enough to hit an entry and make a short trek to downtown to sample Missouri beers at Sycamore, Broadway Brewery, or my new favorite drinking spot… Trey. We might even hit Shakespeare’s for pizza and some Rockbridge pints, brewed right here in CoMO.

Though my family isn’t into college sports, we are hoping to entice them back for the Show-Me state games. It has been mentioned in ESPN’s list of 101 things all sports fans must experience before they die. We plan to show them some of the parks where the games take place as well as a drive by The Zou.

We’d also like to take them to some of the more quirky spots. My dad is a huge poker player and though he could play on from the comfort of our couch the way he does at home, I found out The Thirsty Turtle hosts games. We also plan to take them out to Midway to hit the antiques and show off the newest attraction. And of course the Magic Tree, or maybe Will Treelighter’s other tree at Unity.

What would be on your list for visitors?

December show at PS Gallery

I attended the opening reception of the latest show at the Perlow-Stevens Gallery with the intention of finding one exhibiting artist to highlight and interview. It immediately became obvious that I would not be able to choose just one. The current show is so varied–so abundant–that I have to share it all.*

I became intrigued with Ginny Herzog‘s architectural paintings months ago when I discovered two small pieces at the gallery.  Her work is unusual: She uses oil and  cold wax (a very interesting process that is new to me), piecing together diverse architectural elements into a new form.  One of the unique aspects of her works is that they can be hung more than one way; there is no “right” perspective on most of them.

Kate Gray’s Bella Blue Unknown.

Kate Gray‘s watercolors show phenomenal talent.  Rays of light break through here…shadows fall across there.  These are gorgeous paintings, all inspired by a visit to Italy where the artist spent her days reconnecting to beauty and life.  Each painting in this series (Bella Connections) is paired with a poem written by Gray.  The poems give the works an added depth, allowing the viewer to dive deeper into the artist’s experience of rediscovering beauty (bella).  Many will walk away inspired to do the same.

I usually find myself walking by ceramics after a quick look, but Dawson Morgan‘s pieces made me pause.  It wasn’t color that stopped me; it was shape.  The wispy edges, the folds, the curves, the draping…it feels organic and sensual at the same time.  I was transported to other places while gazing at her work: an autumnal forest with dry and crispy leaves, a dress maker’s studio with yards of silk piled all over, a shallow stream with water gently moving around stones.

Joel Sager’s Rural Structure VI

Joel Sager is a prolific local artist, so chances are pretty good that you’ve already seen some of his work.  I find it fascinating that he uses roofing tar in his paintings; there can’t be many artists out there doing that.  His series of barn paintings elicits adjectives that aren’t usually used for depictions of the American countryside: deep, gloomy, hopeful, dreamy, intense.  I feel like he’s showing me a world that isn’t our own, and I am eager to jump in and explore.

The exhibit (which runs through December) also includes work that isn’t covered here, including a thought-provoking series on books in art (art in books…art as books…book art…), with intallation pieces and items to handle and even take home.  Ask the staff to explain these works; I got so much more out of it after I took a few minutes to ask questions.

*Note: I am not a photographer.  Everything looks much better in person; you’ll have to see it for yourself.


Get your ugly sweater here!

It’s that time of year: the time for ugly sweater parties, ugly sweater dances, and even ugly sweater hikes. I’m all set with my new BowWowBeauty, modeled by Kate C. below. What’s on the back of my doggie sweater? The dogs’ rear ends poking out of little dog houses.

Locally, you can find a sweater at any of the thrift stores. Mine came from Leo’s Old Clothes, where I rooted through an awesome collection until I found the clear winner. Maude’s Vintage currently has a collection of dozens.  The local options are far superior to the online options that I have viewed, so try the local stores first.

Kate D. modeling the MittenPocketStunner from the Walnut Street Salvation Army shop.

Bottom photo courtesy of Jonathan Asher Photography.

The Ruins of Us, Christmas Shopping and Columbia Independent School

by Keija ParssinenYou might wonder how the The Ruins of Us by local author Keija Parssinen, Christmas shopping and Columbia Independent School connect?  The answer is brilliant and simple!  Barnes and Nobles has provided readers in Columbia with a chance to meet Keija Parssinen while attending a reading of her novel, The Ruins of Us. In addition to this fabulous opportunity, Barnes and Nobles is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales made during the event to the school of Keija’s choice, Columbia Independent School.  To help support the school, stop by the table to meet Keija and receive a voucher that tells the cashier to donate a portion of your purchase to the school.

This event is a wonderful opportunity to meet a local author, published by HarperCollins and shop for those avid or budding readers on your list.  The perk? Your purchases help support an institution on our community.  What could be better than meeting a talented, best-selling author and enjoying a reading from The Ruins of Us, all while supporting an educational institution while Christmas shopping?

Join us on Sunday, December 9, 2012 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Barnes and Nobles in the Columbia Mall. The reading will take place at 5 p.m. We hope to see you there.