Locals Only: Music in the Round

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Eric Nassau gets around.

The folk troubadour with a decade-long beard makes friends everywhere he goes. And Nassau goes a lot of places. On his first tour with Ohio Wesleyan classmate Robert Loss in 1996, Nassau developed a taste for the road. Around the turn of the century, he embarked on his first solo tour and has been a prolific traveler ever since.

Many of those voyages become stories behind songs, making Nassau a fitting performer for the Capitol Square Rotary Club's annual Music in the Round benefit, where he'll share the Maennerchor stage with Willie Phoenix and Heidi Howes.

"It's fuel. It's fodder," Nassau said. "They kind of recycle each other. By being on the road, I get to have a lot of unique experiences, and I think that they all sort of make their way into the songs. And then, by being able to write songs, I get to travel again."

Though he has a vast catalog to choose from, including last year's "What's Left Of Empty Space," Nassau hasn't written much in recent months. Instead, he's been focusing on learning new instruments like violin and bass and honing skills like flatpicking.

And though Saturday's event will showcase him in the familiar solo setting, the songwriter has been gravitating toward playing with others lately. He usually performs as "Eric Nassau and Friends."

In town, Nassau employs a rotating cast of collaborators including Megan Palmer, Keenan Wade, Josh Huber, Joe Nibistitsky and more. Friends in certain cities sit in at his tour stops. The constant flux has its benefits, though Nassau is toying with the idea of stabilizing his lineup a bit.

"I really want to have a steady band. I really want to be able to bring people on the road with me," Nassau said. "I think that's been the most difficult thing is finding a band I can travel with. It's just fun to play with other people."

"In the Round" In Brief

Performers: Willie Phoenix, Heidi Howes, Eric Nassau

Format: As popularized at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe, songwriters take turns performing their tunes and giving the backstory behind songs - like "VH1 Storytellers" on a carousel

Benefiting: Flying Horse Farms, a Mt. Gilead-based summer camp for children with serious illnesses

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 24

Where: Columbus Maennerchor, German Village

Web: musicintheround.com