Courtesy of Clear Conscience
This is part of our weekly series titled “Columbus’ Own,” where we profile a local band every week.
Blaine Dillinger is busy.
When the 2010 Ohio State graduate catches some spare time between recording sessions with his reggae group in San Francisco, he’s booking gigs for his self-titled jazz group around town. And he does all this while sustaining a long-distance working relationship with an R&B project in Columbus.
It all started on Craigslist.
The Findlay, Ohio, native said his choice to move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 was always in the cards, and upon relocating, he posted an ad on Craigslist for musicians to play in his jazz band, Dillinger’s Hired Guns.
Soon after, he came across another ad calling for a guitarist to join the reggae band Clear Conscience. He joined the group in April and said that’s been his main commitment since.
“It was all kind of part of a plan. I wanted to make myself as good of a musician as I could be and then see how far I could take it. I figured the best place to do that would be out here (in San Francisco),” he said. “I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into, I just knew I had to get out here and get into it.”
And while Dillinger might be considered a rookie to the five-man group, he’s been in tune with reggae since high school when he first started studying the genre with reggae-island artist Calvin Fuzzy Samuel.
“He really got me into the whole reggae, island type of sound,” Dillinger said. He didn’t drop the interest while he was studying jazz guitar at OSU.
From the time he was in undergrad until he moved, Dillinger played guitar for Shrub, a Columbus-based reggae-rock group.
Studying jazz, he said, has proved to be beneficial in his own jazz group and in playing across different genres of music.
“It’s one of those things where they say, ‘If you can play jazz, you can play anything,'” Dillinger said. “It’s really cool because all the technique and the ability to apply the harmonies and the concepts of jazz cross right over into reggae or into pretty much any other genre.”
Josh Badura, drummer for Clear Conscience and Dillinger’s Hired Guns, agreed that his experience with jazz improves his musical aptitude.
“As I grow as a jazz musician, my reggae and hip-hop drumming grows immensely,” he said.
Badura also said playing with different musicians has helped him improve, and like Dillinger, he credited Craigslist as his go-to networking source with musicians. That’s how he first met Dillinger.
“I found his ad and that’s how we met. We originally started doing stuff for Dillinger’s Hired Guns and then he found another ad for Clear Conscience, and that’s how we both got into Clear Conscience,” Badura said.
Dillinger said contacting bandmates this way is becoming more common.
“I’ve gotten lots of gigs, bands that I play with, musicians that I play with, from Craigslist,” he said.
One group he didn’t rely on Craigslist to join, though, was the Eugene Walker Project (EWP). The Columbus-based R&B recording project recently released its first single “Love Faith Hope” from its album “EWP,” which is slated to release this summer.
Dillinger said he was working on a song for the album a few days ago with O.A.R. trumpeter Jon Lampley, but he was in California and Lampley in Ohio when they were recording together.
“It’s mainly just sharing things electronically,” he said of his involvement with EWP.
Eugene Walker, songwriter for EWP, said Dillinger’s contributions to the project go beyond just adding guitar riffs, though.
“If it wasn’t for Blaine, EWP wouldn’t be where it’s at right now,” Walker said. “He pretty much has acted like an executive producer on the album.”
Working remotely with EWP seems to be a part of Dillinger’s plan as well. He hasn’t visited Ohio since moving to the West Coast and it’s not because of the San Francisco weather.
“There are a lot of talented players in Ohio and Columbus especially,” he said. “But opportunity-wise, there’s a lot more out here. There’s more venues, more varied musical taste. There’s a deeper appreciation for music around here.”
Walker echoed Dillinger’s perspective on Columbus’ music scene.
“The only problem that I can say Columbus has is the proactivity. (Musicians) don’t believe in networking. It seems that it’s every person for themselves,” Walker said.
But with the release of Clear Conscience’s album “Shelter from the Storm” Jan. 22, Dillinger said he’s looking to encourage the group to tour toward the Midwest.
Badura said he’d back the idea, but not because he’s looking to tour to Ohio specifically – Badura is from Michigan.
He said he and Dillinger often give each other grief for being rivals.
“(Dillinger) is one of those bandwagon San Francisco fans, so I get it twice from him – any time we’re playing an Ohio team or anytime we’re playing a Bay Area team,” Badura said.
The rivalry doesn’t seem to put any tension between the two though because their friendship centers least on sports, Badura said, and added, “How can you complain about playing music every day?”