The Last Call: Columbus’ Spikedrivers say Goodbye

Article by Matt Wickstrom
Photos by Tom Wickstrom

After nearly 13 years entertaining music-goers in and around the music hub of Columbus, Ohio, americana rock group the Spikedrivers announced back in September that they’d be going on a hiatus in 2016 as members of the band pursued other interests. The band’s final show was held on January 9 at Park Street Saloon in the heart of the capital city. I got to speak briefly with band members Jesse Henry (guitar), Megan Palmer (fiddle) and Steven Fox (bass) about the group’s start, success, future plans and much more prior to their final farewell.

MW: How did you all first find each other and start putting the band together?

J. Henry: “I met Megan at Capital University in 1996. I later met Steven Fox, and we formed the band in 2003.”

S. Fox: “It was at an open mic night at Ruby Tuesday’s on (Ohio State’s) campus.”

M. Palmer: “I was hanging out around there too. I got asked to sit in with them, and then it was like ‘I’m joining this band!’.”

MW: Megan, do you remember anything about your first time playing with the band?

MP: “My first time playing with the band was at Oldfield’s (North Fourth Tavern). We played there almost weekly for a while. There was magic from the start.”

MW: What is it about the Spikedrivers that makes the band stand out from all the other musical projects you all are a part of?

JH: “The Spikedrivers is actually the first band I’ve ever been in. I was in a band in high school, but I don’t count that because we just played Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pantera and Counting Crowes covers. Nothing like the Spikedrivers’ sound.”

SF: “Part of it’s just that we’ve been doing this as a group for so long with the same core in tact.”

MP: “I agree. I just remember meeting Steven Fox at the Northberg Tavern when I was in the Solar System Navigators in 2000.”

MW: Looking back on the last 13 years with the Spikedrivers, what do you think of the band’s success and impact on Columbus’ robust music scene? Also, when can we expect a reunion tour announcement? (a la Guns n Roses, LCD Soundsystem, etc.)

JH: “I’m just surprised we’re not a global sensation yet.” [laughs]

MP: “Now that this is our last show, those (reunion tour) offers are probably going to start rolling in.”

JH: “We started out just wanting to have fun playing and writing music and seeing what we could do with the americana genre that was just starting to wake up again.”

“With every year that’s passed, it’s like ‘We’re still doing this?’, but thankfully people still enjoy it.”

“Our sound has changed a lot over the years. We’ve become more refined.”

MW: Jesse, where does your exuberant stage persona come from? Your facial expressions and gyrations are almost as entertaining as the music.

JH: “Mainly it’s just having fun and being filled with joy and creativity, enjoying my surroundings and not giving a fuck what I look like. I knew if I didn’t do that I’d probably have to go to the gym a lot and work out. It keeps me active.”

MW: Why now to take a break, and what are your plans in your respective chapters of life after the Spikedrivers?

JH: “We’ve been playing for so long, it’s time for me and everyone else to take a break and step away. I’d like to step away from the stage for a while and do some work off-stage, as well as just getting back to a normal life and seeing what that’s like.”

“We’ve been playing so many gigs over the years, now just felt right to me.”

MP: “I’m continuing my nursing down in Nashville currently. I’m working on putting out a record later this year that I just finished recording too. It’s called ‘What She’s Got to Give’, and it’s got a full band supporting me on it, so I’m really excited. ‘Knife Twister’, one of the fan favorites we played with the Spikedrivers, is on the record too. It should be out in May.”

MW: Thank you all for you time.

MP, JH, SF: “Thank you.”

While the Spikedrivers have officially gone on hiatus, bassist Steven Fox continues playing in other projects, including Fox N Hounds. The newgrass trio has 3 upcoming shows, including a free show this Thursday night (1/28) at the Upper Arlington Library from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. The group is also playing this Friday (1/29) at Rambling House Soda Pop from 9 pm until midnight for a $5 cover fee. Finally, the group is playing at Park Street Tavern on Thursday February 4, from 8 pm until midnight.

The Spikedrivers do plan on reuniting later this year for a few festivals and special occasions, including Comfest, Columbus’ annual celebration of local music, held at Goodale Park every June.

The Spikedrivers were supported throughout the night between their three sets by the Paranormals, a duo from Athens, Ohio, that feature a comedic blend of hillbilly folkgrass.

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