This year brought the toughest competition yet for the Tiny Desk Contest – and for WOSU to choose our local favorite. That's both a consequence of both quality and quantity: 50 Columbus-area bands submitted original music to NPR Music's competition.
Just one band spanned both critical and popular acclaim, however, scoring accolades from our panel of local judges and winning our reader contest: Zoo Trippin'. Congratulations!
Zoo Trippin' is made up of vocalist Tony Casa, guitarist/vocalist Lynn Roose III, drummer Stephen Hatmaker, bassist Alex Kessis, and guitarist Zachary Pontzer. They've bounced around the Columbus music scene for a few years, releasing their first EP in 2015 and their feature-length debut Purple in 2017.
I love how their records bridge the sounds between '90s alt-rock and jam-band funk. (Think Guster, Dave Matthews Band or Blues Traveler). But their Tiny Desk submission was a literal breath of fresh air, featuring the band playing beneath a bridge, completely acoustic.
This performance of "Great White Buffalo," one of their older tunes, is a blast of joy and color. Camped in front of a bird-filled mural, many of the members rock purple sunglasses and bright outfits – and that's not to mention Casa's tiger onesie.
Lisa Gain, one of our judges and WOSU's 2018 local favorite victor, called the winning tune a "great jam song that we love to sing along with! In fact, it's still stuck in my head right now."
I'd also like to give a runner-up mention to Gathering Stars, whose Tom Petty-esque rock won the hearts of many of our judges. Their entry, "I Don't Want You No More," was a powerful anthem about sobriety penned by former member Jason Montgomery. We were blown away by the chemistry between the players, especially vocalists Michelle Ishida and Carole Walker.
"I loved that line about being surrounded by people you can't stand," wrote judge Amy Kesting. "This band practiced hard to polish the song, and sounded really professional."
We're all looking forward to seeing more from Gathering Stars in the future. Watch their submission below.
Thank you to everyone who voted in our online poll, and to WOSU's panel of judges:
- Amy Kesting, co-owner of Spoonful Records
- Brett Ruland, co-owner of Spoonful Records
- Marcy Mays, owner of Ace of Cups
- Kate Quickel, host of WOSU's Broad & High
In the coming weeks, we'll be highlighting more standout songs from Columbus' Tiny Desk Contest entries on our webiste. You may even see a few bands on Broad & High Presents!