November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Candice Watkins

Candice Watkins

Candye Kane, 2009

Building the Cultural Bridge

Candice Watkins As an organizer of the annual Comfest Street Fair, among numerous other items listed on your resume in the About Candice Watkins graf in your blog, you’ve done about everything and anything a person can to promote the arts in and around Columbus. What motivates you to participate?

CW: There is an inner need to work toward a better world, a place where people of all kinds are equal and talent is nurtured so everyone can be the best they can be. The arts and humanities have been venues for me as they translate well to community work and bridge cultural and economic gaps allowing for public opportunity to participate in sometimes heretofore unaccessible activities.

rag: You’re a visual artist engaged in neon and other light studies, but you’re also a musician and photographer. What’s your ‘favorite medium’?  The one that puts you in the driver’s seat of expression?

Roger Wilson, The Majestics, High Beck Tavern, Columbus, Ohio, 2008

CW: I enjoy being flexible, working in light is like working in photography so if I had to choose it would be both neon and photography. Both are the result of manipulation of light. Thought I also really enjoy event production, in that it allows me to share a vision with thousands of people at a time.

rag: You take a lot of photographs of musicians …

CW: I am a music historian or what is sometimes called an ethnomusicologist, as well as a collector of historical photos and documentation for mid-western artists. I continue to document performances myself and have a collection ranging from the 1960s through 2010.

rag: Is this a special subject for you, or one of many?

CW: I also shoot a lot of beaches and flowers – favorites for me. Check out my and facebook albums.

rag: If you could sit down for a couple of mojitos with any musician at all, who would it be, and why?

CW: I  would like to drink with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Art Tatum – both favorites of mine that I did not get to meet. Of course, I did get to hang with many folks who are gone but whom I loved, like Royal “Rusty” Bryant, Hank Marr, Jimmie McGriff and Frank Foster, and still do hang with Gene Walker, Sean Carney, Bobby Floyd, Derek Dicenzo and Shaunt Booker, among many, many more I am blessed to know.


A recording done at Jazz & Eggs Jam Sessions, The River Club, Columbus, Ohio, in 1998, titled “Jam For Jitney” in honor of Candice Watkins’ father, Jitney, who had just passed away. The piece was a small part of the Jam’s ongoing music that day. Based in Horace Silver’s “Song for Our Fathers”, it sailed on for more than half an hour.

“Jam For Jitney”


ABOVE: Derek DiCenzo, top, at the Rahsaan Roland Kirk Scholarship Fundraiser in 2008, in Columbus. Sean Carney, bottom left, of the Sean Carney Band, winner of the International Blues Alliance award in 2008. Taken at Blues for a Cure. Danielle Schnebelen, lower right, of Trampled Under Foot, at the 2009 Blues for a Cure concert in Columbus.

Willie Pooch Johnson 2008

Marcie Vaughn 2010

Harold Smith, The Lobby, Columbus, Ohio 2009


Comfest Street Fair:
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 25, 26, & 27, 2010


Watkins, with her “time travel buddies”, is the author of a book from Arcadia Press titled “Columbus: The Musical Crossroads”.  The premise is that travel in the early to mid-20th Century was overland; the national road and major train lines went thru Columbus, and the music did too. “It was a major player,  just like those cities that have capitalized on it more.” The book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and other booksellers.

Candice Watkins can be reach at