Music: A year in photos

Meghan Ralston, Columbus Alive

1.Comfest 2013

Full disclosure; I love Comfest. I have always loved Comfest. It's the largest all-volunteer festival in the world and has been running for 41 years straight. It brings all kinds of Columbusites out every year, rain or shine. For the past two years, I've been running the Off Ramp stage with my partner in crime Liz Landrigan. We were able to close out the festival with Two Cow Garage, a veteran favorite for me, and a lot of other long-time Columbus music scenesters. They played as hard as ever, and brought several people on stage to do select songs, including Bob Starker, Sean Gardner and others.

Comfest also saw a pretty big change this year - new mugs. The new ones are only 20 ounces, whereas the old mugs held 32. For some people that meant shorter beer lines and your beer not heating up to 90 degrees because it was sitting in the mug for so long. Other people didn't like it, but I can tell you the new mugs fit in my cabinet a lot easier.

2.Theyear Kobo renovated

Before working at Alive, I had my own promotion organization devoted to local music. For about two years, I booked and ran the First Friday shows at Kobo, so I've spent a lot of time in that bar. The set-up that owner Jacob Wooten inherited was from Oldfield's on High, and he had been talking about renovating the bar for a long time. This year he removed the old bar, built a new one with old records in the top, painted the place and cleaned it from top to bottom. He also added stall doors to the ladies bathroom, which was a long time coming. I think at this point, Jacob has truly moved into the space and made it his own, and it's much better for it.

3.Theyear Lydia Loveless headlined Independents' Day

Lydia and I have known each other since 2011, when I photographed her for my old job. Since then, we've done many photoshoots. But when she was listed as a headliner for Independents' Day, it gave us an excuse to get fancy. The lovely ladies at Virtue Salon graciously provided hair and make-up services - thanks Sarah Hatfield! Then Lydia and I walked the footprint of the festival and found this little part of Pearl Alley with an amazing mural on it. When Lydia stood in front of the mural, it was clearly the winning shot.

4.Theyear Karate Coyote played their last show

I've been a fan of Karate Coyote since they put out Inner Animals. When Sam Corlett left the band, it changed the sound but I still loved it. That being said, seeing them play their last show - with Sam - at Independents' Day was kind of epic. For this shot I was able to coerce a pedi-cab driver to bring his bike up the back of the stage and let me stand on the top of the seats. Double win.

5.Theyear we lit torches on the State House lawn and no one cared

We photographed all of our 2013 Bands to Watch outdoors. I guess I didn't think through the whole "it's freezing" thing when I came up with that idea. But all the bands were up for it, especially the Cadaver Dogs. They approached me with the idea of using lit torches and fake blood, but didn't know where we could shoot it. I suggested we shoot on the State House lawn, thinking that we could maybe get one or two good photos before some type of security sent us packing. We did the entire shoot there completely unbothered. Furthermore, no one passing by seemed the slightest bit concerned about what was going on. Maybe the big camera and pop-up flashes made it look legit?

6.Theyear New City Gypsy disbanded

I met New City Gypsy when they were still called the Language Our Father's Forgot, back when we were all regulars at the Treehouse. We've partied, we've after-houred and they've even played a couple of my birthday parties. I've taken a lot of the band photos, so it seemed appropriate for me to take the photo for their last performance as a band. Though the lead singer Austin Bain has relocated to Arizona, they at least left a couple of albums for me to cherish.

7.Theyear we started the tradition of photographing Counterfeit Madison with food

First off, all of the credit for the food ideas goes to Counterfeit. When we did her first photo shoot this year, she asked if she could be surrounded by vegetables. The second shoot, she had the idea of smearing berries all over herself. I'm into weird photos, so I was completely down. Now that we've done two, Counterfeit and I have decided that she always needs to be covered in food for any of our shoots. I can't wait to see what she brings next time.

8.Theyear of The Girls!

It's been a busy year for The Girls! and it feels like I've been there to photograph a lot of it. They were in our 2013 Bands to Watch, headlined the Off Ramp stage at Comfest, played Rocktoberfest and tons of shows in between. For this photo, we were in the upstairs area of Ace of Cups. It's one of my favorites because the look on Jessica's face when she's smoking, even though Big Nick couldn't be there for the photo. Maybe I should have photoshopped him in with a boa or something cool like that.

9.Theyear Mister Shifter made his comeback

CD102.5 Summerfest, Rocktoberfest, Independents' Day and more; watch out Columbus, Mister Shifter is back. He's been a player in Columbus drum and bass for at least 15 years, but took a little time off until this year to have a family. Now, he's returned with more energy and fresh beats. Let us all be thankful.

10.Theyear we got kicked out of a construction area

I get kicked out of a lot of places - it's always been that way. A lot of the time where we go on a shoot is decided spontaneously. So when you're taking pictures in the alleys of the Short North and find a sweet construction zone you get your photos and hope no one sees you, or at least doesn't say anything. Such was not always the case. This photo of Chris Mars B and Jordian Ross was taken about two minutes before we were politely asked to leave.

11.The first shotgun in a photo for 2013

Rock bands like shotguns. I really couldn't tell you why, but I've been taking pictures of bands for about nine years and I have at least one shotgun in a photo once a year - AT LEAST. I was shocked it took until early October for a band (The Connections) to include one. But with the hat that Mr. Elliot wore, it seemed like an apt fit.