|Ohio’s longest-tenured head-brewer, Angelo Signorino of Barley’s
Brewing knows his way around a wort and a musical playlist
As I’ve written before, we’ve had a long relationship with Angelo Signorino, the longest standing head brewer for any brewery in Ohio. Most of that lies with my spouse\’s side of the family – her brother, who has done quite well for himself as a homebrewer, got his first home brewing kit from Angelo, and Barley’s was just a hop, skip and a jump for him when he used to live in Victorian Village in the 1990s.
Some of my wife’s first samplings of craft beer involved Barley’s beers, and the family at large have always tried to stop in whenever possible, whether it’s to enjoy a lunch with beers and menu staples like their Sauerkraut Balls and Turkey Burger, or to fill up a growler or two of their Blood Thirst Wheat or Scottish Ale to bring up to the family for a celebration.
As a paying customer and guide for the former Columbus Brew Adventures, quite a few of my tours involved Angelo’s brewery as a stop. And as the years have gone by, we’ve gotten to know Angelo a bit on a personal level – there’s not too many nicer people you’d want to talk with, whether it’s beer or music or life in general.
I consider it an honor and pleasure to have Angelo featured on this month’s rendition of Kitchen Island Discs, which features the music of some of Columbus’s most prominent food and industry members. So, if you got it, break out your Barley’s pint glass (preferably with a cold beer inside) while we explore some of Angelo’s favorite musical tunes (playlist embedded at the end of this post.)
1. “It’s Oh So Quiet” – Bjork: Starting with the Sugarcubes, lead singer Bjork quickly proved she didn’t need any bandmates to forge out on her own, coming out with the wildly popular 1993 “Debut”. Not willing to settle for the ordinary, the Icelandic native went even more eclectic on her 1995 follow up “Post”, in which her unique vocal stylings provide the glue in songs that alternate between varying extremes – “It’s Oh So Quiet” sounds as if it could have been taken from an old-school Warner Brothers cartoon short.
2. “Rhythm-A-Ning” – Thelonious Monk: One of the godfathers of modern jazz and bebop, the North Carolina-born Monk took awhile to find his audience, but once he did (starting with his 1956 album “Brilliant Corners”), there was no looking back. His future work with fellow legend John Coltrane is seminal, and Monk himself was one of only four jazz musicians to be ever on the cover of Time Magazine. Interestingly enough, “Rhythm-A-Ning”, based on chord changes to George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”, similarly took its time in becoming a signature Monk tune – Monk was identified as early as 1941 on one version of the song, but Monk didn’t put it on wax until 1957, as part of a recording session with drummer Art Blakey.
3. “Wristband” – Paul Simon: Simon’s “Stranger To Stranger” album, released in 2016, shows Simon not dabbling in the past but firmly in the present, and not seemingly in any hurry to move to the future – not surprising, with Simon approaching 75 years of age for this 13th solo album release. On “Wristband”, Simon relates a tale of trying to get back into his gig without the precious wristband, and expands the experience in the last stanza to members of society at large who can never seem to land that wristband to proceed further in their lives.
4. “Living in America” – Sault: The first of two songs that are distinctly NOT like the more familiar James Brown tune of the same title, the British music collective Sault has received acclaim for their their distinct musical pastiche, which combines trip-hop, Afrobeat, old-school soul and other elements into something that goes way beyond categorization. Notoriously reluctant to speak to the media, the band has let their music speak for itself, including their dire view on the country across the pond on their 2019 album release “7”.
5. “Living in America” – Fontaines D.C.: Formed in Dublin, Ireland in 2017, Fontaines D.C. made a big splash with their post-punk debut “Dogrel” in 2019, earning themselves an “Album of the Year” nod by Rough Trade and BBC Radio 6 Music. Produced while on their debut album tour, the 2020-released “A Hero’s Death” didn’t quite hit the heights of their initial release, but contains some strong songs in its own right such as the title track and Angelo’s selection, which infuses a sense of dread and foreboding with its ragged, buzzsaw roar.
6. “Lost in the Supermarket” – The Clash: Universally acclaimed as one of the best rock albums period, The Clash’s 1979 release “London Calling” was a double album which deftly injected punk aesthetic with a number of musical styles and sported one of the iconic album covers of all time (a riff on the cover of Elvis Presley’s 1956 eponymous release.) “Lost in the Supermarket” shows off a softer side of the band, combining Joe Strummer’s perception of the rough childhood of fellow band member Mick Jones and their despair over the increasing commercialization of society.
7. “In Heaven There Is No Beer” – Brave Combo: prominent in Texas music since 1979, Brave Combo has entertained their fans over the decades with their unique blending of polka, Tejano and other Worldbeat sounds. Despite the seemingly depressing title, the song, initially written in 1956 in German by Ernst Neubach and Ralph Maria Siegel, is actually an ode for getting your beer drinking done before you pass from this world, and Brave Combo’s energetic rendition definitely gets one to raising their steins in quick order.
8. “Know Your Chicken” – Cibo Matto: If there was an album that was the ultimate combination of food and music, Cibo Matto’s 1996 album “Viva! La Woman” might land the the number one slot. Created by Japanese ex-pats Miko Hatori and Yuki Honda, Cibo Matto (Italian for “Food Madness”) unleashed the full platter of treats on their debut release, blending their trip-hop sound with spicy samples (Ennio Morricone and Duke Ellington, among others) to serve up songs like “Birthday Cake”, “White Pepper Ice Cream”, and Angelo’s selection, which relates the tale of some fancy-colored chickens in Brooklyn.
9. “Not Just What I Needed” – Car Seat Headrest: Originally from Leesburg, VA, Car Seat Headrest has emerged as one of the more popular and prolific lo-fi/indie rock bands to emerge during the 2010s, releasing a dozen albums on Bandcamp prior to their first major label release on Matador Records in 2015. “Not Just What I Needed”, released on the 2016 “Teens of Denial” album, has its own fraught history – the original recording contained a sample of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”, but permission to use the sample was nixed just days before the album’s official release. Maybe that’s part of why the band’s singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Will Toledo dislikes the song so much, despite the rewrite becoming one of the band’s standout tracks.
10. “Something You’ll Never Forget” – William Onyeabor: a return visitor to our Kitchen Island Discs segement, Onyeabor is actually mentioned in the lyrics in the previous song. The story of Onyeabor is a fascinating one indeed: born in Nigeria to a poor family, Onyeabor managed to make it over to Europe to study record making; some sources say he also studied cinematography in the old Soviet Union. When he returned to Nigeria in the 1970s, he set up his own film and music recording studios, and released a series of monster funk-oriented hit songs, including this track off the 2013 compilation album “Who Is William Onyeabor?”
11. “Worry” – Songhoy Blues: If the description “African Desert Blues-Rock Band” doesn’t make you take a few minutes out of your day to listen to this Mali-based band, then nothing will. Or maybe this band’s story might do that – forced out of Mali as refugees due to government unrest, the band “retaliated” the best way they knew how by using the country’s musical traditions as a means of protest. Despite the title, the anthemic “Worry” is actually a hopeful song to those fighting the fight, with lyrics like “Work hard is the best way/Let your hope come from fight/And go through your darkness/You’ll find your light” reflecting the mood.
12. “Stoned and Starving” – Parquet Courts: The initial album release from the NYC-based Parquet Courts has been described by lead singer Andrew Savage as “The Fall meets Neil Young.” Indeed, that unique mix of influences can be found in this playlist closer “Stoned and Starving”, which describes a completely New York experience pretty straightforwardly – wandering around a neighborhood full of bodegas trying to figure out what snacks will satisfy the singer’s cravings.