Black and white photo of young dark haired man singing into a mic on a stage

The inaugural Columbus Covers Columbus (CCC) festival, held in January of 2018, was based on a unique idea. The two-day festival would feature Columbus musicians playing cover sets comprised entirely of the music of other local acts.

The concept was an immediate hit, selling out its first night and packing the Shrunken Head for a weekend of entertainment that included live podcasts and stand up sets from top local comedians. For the event’s organizer, Columbus performer Tony Casa, putting on the whole affair was a step outside his comfort zone.

“I was horrified...once I started, I realized it was a much more intense task than I had previously planned,” Casa remembers of the weekend. “I was pretty damn nervous for the entirety of the event, until we sold out day one.”

When you’ve already made strides in one field, stepping into a new role can be intimidating. As frontman for the popular Columbus band Zoo Trippin’, Casa has achieved heights most local acts can only dream of. For his first foray into event planning, CCC was a learning experience – one that he undertook almost single-handedly. 

“The main lesson that I took away was to have a team in place,” Casa said. “If you don’t, you’re going to fall apart. People are a lot more willing to help than I expected.”

For this year’s iteration of the festival, Casa has assembled an A-Team of local promoters and artists to assist in his efforts. A venue change to campus area bar Ruby Tuesday Live provides a much needed personnel boost to this year’s proceedings, while the venue’s additional stages are able to accommodate more performers.

The breadth of the event’s artistic offering will also expand for 2019. In addition to music and comedy performances, live poetry readings from members of the local community are scheduled. To help curate and host this aspect of the festival, Casa has tapped poet and musician Alex D, who also performs music as a member of the rock group The Turbos.

“Poetry is a very much a pillar in what Columbus has to offer in terms of performance art,” Alex D explains. “From open mics to featured readings to slam competitions nearly any day of any week you can find poetry happening.”

When Alex D and his fellow members of The Turbos take the CCC 2019 stage, they will bring with them the socially-conscious approach to rock that has become their hallmark. The Turbos have elected to use the covers format to spotlight tunes from female-led groups in Columbus, which they view as leading the charge in bringing the city’s music to the mainstream.

Along with The Turbos, CCC has secured the talents of some of Columbus’ most popular artists for 2019. Miller and The Hunks, Gelatinous Cube, and Clemens and Co. are among the weekend’s two-dozen or so acts (with Casa’s own Zoo Trippin’ scheduled to headline a night to be determined). The fact that the fest is held during a time of year that can see a dearth of shows is also in its favor when it comes to securing talent.

As in the previous year, CCC 2019 features a raffle with prizes donated from area businesses, with all proceeds taken in from the event donated to the Greater Columbus Arts Council. In light of the new ticket tax spearheaded by the GCAC, Casa admits that this has been a hot button issue among his staff.

“We were debating maybe going with a different charity. As a group, we decided we are still going to go with GCAC, “Casa Explained. “In the end, this is a music and arts fest, and GCAC supports music and arts.”

Championing music and the arts in Columbus is on-brand for Casa. His infectious passion for the city and its music is instrumental in convincing the bands involved to volunteer their time.

“Tony and I go way back and it’s great seeing him play such a crucial role in the Columbus scene,” said Scott Baker, guitarist for the group To Kill a Monster, who are set to perform this year. “I love seeing him at random shows and knowing that he is on his grind. It’s not easy constantly putting in the work in any city, but he makes it look easy.”

The music industry can be a downright cut-throat space, but not so in the 614. Our open and encouraging local music scene is packed with bands that lift each other up, sharing in a camaraderie that has formed a tight-knit community of local artists.

Columbus Covers Columbus is not just another covers show  – the locals-covering-locals format is unlike anything that has been done before, here or elsewhere. It could only happen in a city with a thriving and inclusive music scene such as ours.

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