Chalk Goblin Scares up Artistic Fun at Gahanna Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival

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Chalk-dragonsNew this year at Visit Gahanna’s 19th annual Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival (June 16-18) is the Buskers’ Bayou area (presented by Gahanna Rotary) featuring magicians, painters and chalk artist Chris Fry, the “Chalk Goblin.” We wondered …  how does one build a career creating temporary chalk masterpieces on pavement? So we caught up with Chris for a little one-on-one:

When did you start doing chalk art? 
I’ve drawn with chalk and pastels for years, but I first started drawing on the ground around 13 years ago.

What inspires your work? 
Mostly my own imagination — my head has always been full of trolls, dragons, and other weird creatures.  My daughters give me a lot of inspiration as well — I try to create images that they’ll think are fun and cool.

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How long does it take (on average) to create one of your works? 
Depends on the size of the piece… On average, it takes 3 to 4 hours to get it to the point where I can call it finished.  If time (and weather!) allows, I’ll keep adding on until it becomes something more than I first pictured, which is when it gets to be fun.

Where have you created your works? (ie. Festivals/ events/ etc.) 
I’ve done chalk festivals like Via Colori in Columbus, Chalk About It in Dayton, the Columbus Arts Festival, and Chalk the Block at Easton every fall.  I’ve done chalking at other art or community events all across Ohio, from a food truck rally in Kenton to the Fourth of July celebration in Hudson to the Sternwheeler Festival in Pomeroy.  Last year, I did two nights of chalk art for Highball Halloween, which was a lot of fun.  I also do a lot of promotional and advertising chalk art for local concerts and events around Cleveland and Columbus. 

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Which of your designs has garnered the most attention? 
My first year of the Easton Chalk the Block event, I did a large, bright red phoenix being ridden by three colorful explorers (my three daughters); to this day, people still recognize me for that piece, which makes me smile.  However, I once drew a concert promo featuring the logo for the band Journey, which they then shared on their Facebook page, earning me 12,000 likes, which was also pretty cool.  🙂

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What are your favorite subjects? 
I like drawing dragons and other fantastical creatures.  Subjects like that allow you to have fun with color and composition without having to worry about it looking “realistic” enough.  I try to steer away from things that are too serious when drawing on the ground.

What can visitors expect to see from you on Saturday during the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival? 
 Something fanciful and maybe just a little bit off-beat.  Something that will hopefully fit the mood of the music.

Any tips for folks who might want to try their hand at chalk art? 
Just go out and do it.  Don’t be afraid to not have a plan, and don’t be intimidated by the size of the space.  Just start drawing and coloring, and go with what feels right.  If it doesn’t turn out, no big deal; it’ll wash away soon and you can try again.

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Do you have a favorite design that you created? 
Each time I finish a piece, that tends to be my favorite, until the next one.

Does the fact that your art is temporary ever prove discouraging? 
Only if the rain comes and it starts disappearing before I’m done (which has happened more than once).  Once I’ve finished, I just want it to stick around long enough for folks to enjoy it.  After that, I’m ready to move on to the next one.

Where can you be found on social media?
http://www.chalkgoblin.com   /  Facebook.com/chalkgoblin
Twitter @chalkgoblin.  I sometimes post to Instagram using @chalkgoblin, but I hate hashtags, so no one can ever find my stuff there.  🙂

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See Chris work his artistic Chalk Magic in Buskers Bayou (located at South Mill & Granville St.) from 5-8 pm Saturday, June 17 at the Gahanna, Ohio Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival (117 Mill St.)  For tickets and a full 3-day event schedule, go to www.CreeksideBluesandJazz.com

 

2015 IBC Best Guitarist Headlines Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival

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Noah Wotherspoon has been immersed in the blues and mesmerizing audiences with his soulful guitar playing since he was a teenager. Wotherspoon and his band have earned top honors at the International Blues Challenge. This year, the band released its debut studio album entitled “Mystic Mud,” which was selected by the Cincy Blues Society as the Best Self-Produced CD for entry into the 2016 IBCs. The release was was presented a “Jimi Award” for Best Blues/Rock Album of the Year by Blues411. Wotherspoon and his band will take the Electric Blues Stage (presented by Benchmark Bank) at the 18th Annual Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival in Gahanna, Ohio at 9:30 pm on Friday, June 17.  We interviewed Noah to learn more about his blues journey.

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When did you discover your passion for music?
I started playing guitar at the age of 11 and was out playing gigs when I was 13. From early on, I was attracted to music and just naturally became more & more immersed. Music has been a vehicle to meet a lot of beautiful people and led to experiences I couldn’t have imagined. It’s served as a medium to be creative and grow spiritually.. not too mention it’s also been a lot of fun and therapeutic.

What influenced you in the beginning?
Music was always around. My mom would listen to a lot of 50’s rock n’ roll and reggae. Around the time I was 10 years old, my older brother Adam’s best friend started bringing over recordings of Stevie Ray Vaughan and other guitar-oriented music to the house. I remember it was around that time I felt a burning desire to get a guitar. When I was growing up, my mom always had a lot books/classic literature on the shelves, and I think that would end up informing and inspiring a lot of my song-writing and creative endeavors down the road.

Who inspires you now?
Musically, my listening is all over the map. Lately, I’ve been paying closer to attention to the trail-blazing blues guitar players like Gatemouth Brown & Otis Rush, and trying to take a deeper look at the way they would phrase and speak with their instruments. I also listen to song-writers like Dylan, Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt. I like old movies and try to read as much as I can; right now I’m reading Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth which is really phenomenal. I try to fill my brain with a hodgepodge of imagery and ideas that I can hopefully channel into song-writing.
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How would you describe your music?
All along, my music has always been rooted in the blues. Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, all the classic blues performers, the folklore & mystique surrounding the music. It’s what really pulled me in when I was first learning to play. Just the other day, “I Ain’t Superstitious” by the Wolf came on the radio.  I still get transported to another dimension. Over the years, I’ve been introduced to a lot of different musical styles. I have a love for everything from the Beatles & Harry Nilsson, to world music and vintage country. In effect, that probably all goes into the hopper and my writing/guitar playing is a cross-pollination of things. It’s always been my hope to stay connected to my roots & the things my teachers generously showed me, and balance that with creativity and giving something new.

What’s your greatest achievement to date?
In 2015, I received the Best Guitarist award at the International Blues Challenge and my band came in 2nd Place in the Band Category. It was a huge honor and still surreal to think about.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened during a performance?
This wasn’t at one of my shows, but was one of the wildest things that’s ever happened to me in a musical setting. When I was about 16, I had long blond hair. Bobby “Blue” Bland was in town and performing at Gilly’s (legendary blues/jazz venue in Dayton, OH). I went to the show and found a seat up in front of the stage. They introduced Bobby, and the very first thing he did was start singing “You’re Red Hot Little Mama”.. right to me (assuming I was girl). The table of ladies I was sitting with were breaking up with laughter and shouted up to Bobby, “He’s a boy.” He abruptly stopped the song, and it turned into this whole little scene. They then shouted up to him that I also play guitar and he ended up inviting me on stage. His guitar player handed over his guitar and we went into “Stormy Monday.” He ran me through the paces … asking me to “play like T-Bone Walker,” “play like Wayne Bennett” etc.  I still talk to his son Rodd who was on drums that night; we still laugh about it.

If you had to pick a personal theme song, what would it be?
I’d want to say Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey)… but that goes to Elvis! Mine would probably be a bit goofier.. maybe the Looney Tunes theme?

The Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival draws blues and jazz fans from throughout the region. What are you most looking forward to that weekend?
Of course I’m really looking forward to playing; but I’m also really looking forward to seeing our friends Deuce & a Quarter who are on right before us. They’re awesome people and put on a great show.

What do you hope fans “take away” from your performance?
It’s always my hope that people have a fun and that we’re able to offer an escape in that window of time. Thinking back to my favorite performances I’ve gone to see, the ones that stayed with me were ones that I walked away from feeling inspired and rejuvenated somehow. Rob Thaxton (bass), Brian Aylor (drums) and I, always try to give our best and have a good time on stage. I want to show my gratitude and hope to make a connection with the people that take the time & energy to come out to watch and listen.

Where can fans find you online – to learn more about your background and music?
noahwotherspoon.com. All of our band dates are listed there; you can also order our album “Mystic Mud” (digitally &/or physically) in the store page.

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Check out the entire 2016 Creekside Blues & Jazz Schedule, and learn about other activities for all ages at: www.CreeksideBluesandJazz.com or the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau (presenters of the CBJF) at 614/418-9114.  $15 Weekend wristbands for the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival are available online only, prior to the event.