· The long-rumored collection of early Ass Ponys material is set for official release on Shake It Records on Feb. 28. The 24-track, two-disc set, The Okra Years, features material from the band's two pre-A&M Records efforts, Mr. Superlove and Grim, both of which have been out of print for over half a decade (the "Okra" in the title refers to the Columbus-based indie label that originally released the records). The re-mastered collection also contains unreleased tracks and rare compilation contributions from the long-running local heroes. (shakeitrecords.com)
· The "Center of Love" sounds like the perfect place to kick off Valentine's weekend with your loved one, and that's just what the Contemporary Art Center is hoping as it adopts the name this Friday for an arts and music shindig. In fact, it's the whole of Downtown that becomes the "Center of Love," as artist Andy Marko's "public art" project involves positioning couples around the city's center and near local landmarks throughout the day on Friday (photographers and videographers will document the choreographed public displays of affection). The 5:30 p.m. event at the CAC will continue the PDA fun and nationally-acclaimed local band Heartless Bastards will rock the party in the museum's performance space. Tickets are $8 (free for CAC members). For more info, go to spiral.org.
· Area "Noise Pop" quartet 7 Speed Vortex performs Saturday at The Comet in Northside, along with Columbus bands The Evil Queens and The Squares. The pseudonym-happy band, originally formed 10 years ago and influenced by everything from Guided By Voices to Rosanne Cash, is back in full form, after lineup changes put them on hiatus.
Core members Paris Triger (vocals) and drummer Bench are now joined by guitarist Weaver (aka Mark Messerly of Wussy and Messerly & Ewing fame) and bassist BeBe. Saturday, the band's free Comet show starts at 10 p.m. (myspace.com/7speedvortex)
· Sonic extremists should head over to the Art Damage space in Northside (4011 Hamilton Ave.) on Saturday for a night of radical Speedcore, Gabber, Hardcore, Noisecore, Punk and progressive Electronica. Performers on the bill for the all-ages, 9 p.m. "Die For Gabber" event include local artists Tom Sawyer, Iovae, DJ Thumper, DJ Dialated, Robert Inhuman and Realicide + Evolve, a Hip Hop/Hardcore collaboration that will hit the road later this week for a two week tour of the Southern U.S. Admission is $7. (myspace.com/realicide)
· The organizers of Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival, which was reconfigured in 2003 and turned into a major regional music event with top-shelf national talent, has put out a call for local and regional acts interested in performing at this year's fest, taking place Oct. 4-8. Groups and solo acts are encouraged to submit a demo, a bio, contact info and a schedule of upcoming performances (and a DVD or video, if available) to Entertainment Committee, Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival, 537 East Pete Rose Way, Suite 110, Cincinnati, OH 45202. The committee is interested in original acts performing American Roots music (Jazz, Blues, Folk, Roots Rock, Gospel, Bluegrass, etc.). Deadline for submission is March 15. (tallstacks.com)
· Local radio station WNKU (89.7 FM) is looking for artists to appear on its excellent live music series showcase, Studio 89. The show — now in its fourth year — presents live sets and interviews with local and national performers (artists like Los Lonely Boys, Over The Rhine, Ellis Paul and The Goshorn Brothers have previously appeared). The summer program is also filmed for broadcast on Kentucky public television. Interested performers can send promo materials and music to Studio 89 on WNKU, Attn: Grady Kirkpatrick, 301 Landrum, Highland Heights, KY 41099. (wnku.org)
· The Flying Pig Marathon is once again reaching out to local entertainers. Organizers are seeking local bands (as well as singers, jugglers, cheerleaders, etc.) to perform along the marathon route (on a volunteer basis) during the eighth annual run on May 7. For more information, go to flyingpigmarathon.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com