Preview: Nelsonville Music Festival

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The greatest music event in Ohio this weekend - hell, maybe the greatest this spring - is not in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati or even Akron, Toledo or Dayton. It's not even in Athens, though it's on the way.

In its seventh year, the Nelsonville Music Festival has rounded up its most impressive lineup yet. The Flaming Lips, George Jones and Neko Case headline a slate dotted by fellow living legends (Wanda Jackson, Yo La Tengo, Michael Hurley), fascinating young projects (Lost in the Trees, Mucca Pazza, Justin Townes Earle) and a legion of top talent from Southeast and Central Ohio.

It's all going down at Robbins Crossing on the campus of Hocking College. Tickets and camping tickets are still available, so make the 60-minute trip down US-33 and enjoy the festivities.

The headliners speak for themselves, but here are 10 more experiences not to overlook:

1. Enjoy local legends. Being a college town, nearby Athens has a transitory music scene, but certain musicians stick around and become institutions. Southeast Engine, Rattletrap String Band, Wheels on Fire, Chris Biester, Seth Riddlebarger, Zeb Dewar and Bruce & Gay Dalzell all offer folk and rock worth seeing.

2. Peek inside the No-Fi Cabin. Talented performers from Athens, Columbus and beyond will play with no amplification, offering a satisfying contrast and an intimate escape from the outside throng.

3. Observe a Beatle's son. Sean Lennon is one half of experimental duo The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. They are pretty decent.

4. Eat at Dee's Diner. Since The Coffee Cup burned down last month, Dee's, which you'll pass en route to Nelsonville, is your greasy spoon of choice.

5. Groove to a "circus-punk" marching band. The great outdoors seems like the best possible venue for Mucca Pazza.

6. Camp out. Even if it's rainy. Especially if it's rainy! Remember Woodstock '94?

7. Bask in the glow of Bomba Estereo. What better way to close out Friday than with a tech-friendly Latin dance band whose name translates to Stereo Bomb?

8. Swing by Nelsonville's Public Square. There you can pay respects to Stuart's Opera House, which hosts cool shows all year long, and marvel that the original Nelsonville fest was a modest street fair at that site.

9. See Yo La Tengo. Request songs from "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One."

10. Rep Columbus hard. There will be plenty of opportunities with Nick Tolford and Company and Mount Carmel playing twice each plus sets from The Spikedrivers, She Bears, Bill Wagner & Brett Burleson, Eve Searls, The Black Swans and a solo set from Black Swans lead singer Jerry DeCicca.

Flaming Lips: J. Michelle Martin-Coyne photo

Neko Case: Jason Creps photo

Make the trip:

Nelsonville Music Festival

Friday-Sunday, May 13-15

Robbins Crossing at Hocking College, Nelsonville

Follow the fest: Chris DeVille will be tweeting from Nelsonville all weekend @chrisdeville.