Tommy Jay's Freak Show takes over Wex installation

Joel Oliphint
Jason Moran's “Slugs' Saloon," 2018, commissioned by Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis.

Jason Moran is a jazz pianist and boundary-pushing composer, but he’s also a visual artist, and at the Wexner Center’s “Jason Moran” exhibit (on view through Aug. 18), the artist combines his visual and musical personas in fascinating ways. 

Browsing the Wex exhibit, you’ll see Moran installations that pay homage to legendary jazz venues like New York’s Savoy Ballroom, Three Deuces and Slugs’ Saloon. The installations look as though a group of musicians could step right up and start playing, which is exactly what will happen on Thursday, July 18, when Tommy Jay’s Latest Freak Show will “activate” one of the installations with a live performance.

Jay hails from the tiny town of Harrisburg, just south of Columbus, and is a veteran of weirdo art-rock forebears the True Believers and Mike Rep & the Quotas. Among a certain brand of Columbus music fans, Jay is a legend. Tommy Jay’s Tall Tales of Trauma, which Columbus Discount Records reissued in 2007, is an underground classic.

Jay used to perform with various local-ish musicians, who were billed as the Harrisburg Players; it’s unclear who Jay will perform alongside for this show, though he told the Wex he’s “bringing along the whole freak show” to the activation.

The Wexner Center’s galleries are free on Thursdays after 4 p.m., so there’s no cover for this 6 p.m. show, but the performance is first come, first served, and space is obviously limited in the gallery setting.

For more on Tommy Jay, check out Chris DeVille’s 2013 Alive piece on Jay and the Harrisburg Players, and their connection to a newer generation of Columbus musicians.

Wexner Center for the Arts

6 p.m. Thursday, July 18

1871 N. High St., Campus