Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Lilybandits -- Shifty's Tavern

Once upon a time -- 1997 or 1998, I'm thinking -- there was a Columbus band called The Lilybandits. They were the second greatest band to ever not emerge from Columbus, right behind Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires. This is because nobody ever emerges from Columbus. Occasionally some local yokels head out to New York or Nashville or L.A. and experience a modicum of success. But The Lilybandits never made it past Stache and Little Brother's, and on a good night you could find 50 or so of the local diehards, crowded up against the stage, clutching their bottles of Rolling Rock and swaying to the sounds of the sweaty guys up there playing their alt-country asses off.

All Music Guide, an exhaustive music reviews database where you can find anybody and everybody, has this to say about The Lilybandits. You can click if you want, but here's the deal: there's nothing there. There's a placeholder without content. And that's the story of The Lilybandits. They had no image to speak of; just five nondescript guys who looked like they held down boring day jobs, and probably did. They only made one album, and it was called Shifty's Tavern. It sounded like Counting Crows if Adam Duritz had balls, and it featured a batch of superbly catchy tunes driven by chiming guitars and banjos and mandolins and a lead singer with a great, gritty voice.
I pulled out the album yesterday and played it for the first time in years. It's still great. And no one has ever heard it. There appears to be something of a Lilybandits cult in Europe, and you can find an import version of the album on Amazon for something like $52. Domestically, somebody in Louisville is selling it on eBay for $39. I recommend that you pass on both. But if you're the type who scours used record stores in Columbus, Ohio, I bet you could hunt down a copy if you're interested. It's wonderful stuff, and it reminds me again why Columbus is the premiere place where great music comes to die.

8 comments:

grace centrality said...

I must hear this album...

just.scott76 said...

do the New Bomb Turks count?

hayseed said...

Back in '99 or so, I came through town and did a few shows. A local band, Hensley-Sturgis, learned my set and played for me as their opener. In the band at the time were Smitty on drums and Trent Arnold on bass - both of Lilybandits.

"It's a small world... but I wouldn't want to paint it." - Stephen Wright

Grant Wentzel said...

I had the pleasure of rockin' Clinton Elementary with Todd of the Lilybandits a few times.

As our friend put it, Clinton Elementary was the School For Misfit Parents. Though I'm not totally sure about that, at least it's the only one where everyone from the administration to the kindergartners would get a kick out of our punky version of Alice Cooper's academic classic.

Todd was great, talented guy. The Lilybandits were a big name on High Street when I first got to town. I've never heard the album, but if you ever feel like burning a copy...

Andy Whitman said...

Hey Grant, it's great to hear from you. How are you adjusting to life in SD? I hope you and Rocki and family are doing well.

And sure, I'll be happy to burn the CD and send a copy your way. Send an email to whitmana (at) hotmail (dot) come with your real-world address and I'll make it happen.

JTIG said...

They actually had 2 albums... The second as good as the first (its down in my den and I'm too lazy to head down there to find out the title... Anyway, they're play September 23rd at the Rumba Cafe in Columbus.

Anonymous said...

Todd May has a fantastic new band with some guys from "bands who've never made it out of Columbus" like Greenhorn.
They're the Mooncussers

Steve said...

The name of the 2nd album is
@ 33 1/3
It was issued on Brake Out Records in 1999 and most of the production was done by Tony Maserati and Bob Holmes
Features some killer tracks such as
" Past Few Days ", " Carolina ",
" Top ", and "Hangin' "
If you liked Shifty's Tavern you will love @ 33 1/3