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Art Makes Columbus: Angela Perley Wants to Take the Music Scene to the Next Level

Walker Evans Walker Evans Art Makes Columbus: Angela Perley Wants to Take the Music Scene to the Next LevelPhoto by Eric Petersen.
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columbus-makes-artArt Makes Columbus. Columbus Makes Art. The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) is launching a new five-year marketing campaign to highlight the innovation and connectedness in the local arts community. The new program will highlight both individual artists and organizations from a wide variety of visual and performing arts mediums, with a goal of increasing awareness and boosting arts patronage all across Columbus.

This week, Columbus Underground is presenting a series of interviews with local creatives to find out what being an artist means to them, what they face as challenges, and what their hopes for the future are.

Angela Perley falls into the defined category of “Young Professional Millennial Boomeranger”. That means that she’s someone who grew up in Central Ohio (Hilliard to be specific), left the area (went to Ohio University in Athens) and then returned for Columbus for work. But her work certainly isn’t what you’d consider standard by any definition. After connecting with Fred Blitzer at local studio Vital Music to record a few songs she had put together by herself, she was introduced to several other local musicians that eventually became her bandmates, and Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons was born.

“I’m not sure what it’s like in other cities, but in Columbus there’s a strong community where creative people bounce ideas off each other and people are really supportive of each other,” says Perley. “It definitely seems like a special place. I don’t know if every city has that kind of network.”

Beyond just music, Perley says that the fact that Columbus is a rapidly growing city in terms of population is one of the things that makes it an exciting place to take part in the local arts and culture community.

“A lot of changes are happening here and I would assume that people in other cities are starting to take notice,” she explains. “When we bring bands here from Nashville or New York for shows, they’re always blown away by Columbus. I can’t wait to see what happens here in the next few years.”

Photo by Chris Connor.

Photo by Chris Connor.

Perley describes her band’s sound as “roots rock and roll with an influence of country and blues” but says that the Columbus music scene doesn’t necessarily have a specific “sound”. She says that a couple of years ago it could be been more easily described as indie-rock, but it’s grown much more diverse. Getting people to go out and discover new music is one of the biggest challenges that she identified for local bands.

“There’s definitely a big portion of the population who’s not aware of what’s going on,” she says. “College students in particular are tough to engage. I don’t know if they just don’t have the money for a show, or if there’s too much of a safety net to sticking around the campus area. That’s a huge local population that I don’t see going out except for very particular festivals.”

The other biggest challenge in Columbus that Perley identifies is the lack of music industry representatives.

“It would be great to have A&R reps and bigger labels with a permanent presence in Columbus,” she says. “We’ve got some amazing recording studios and a lot of great bands, but the music industry is in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville. Otherwise, I don’t feel like we’re that far behind other major cities.”

The new Arts Makes Columbus / Columbus Makes Art campaign from GCAC aims to address these kinds of challenges, providing growth opportunities and exposure for local artists, and to get them in front of larger audiences.

“We’re still learning about this effort and just happy to be onboard,” says Perley. “We’re looking forward to seeing how it unfolds, and looking forward to being part of the campaign.”

For more information, visit www.columbusmakesart.com.

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