We were going to write about Big Head Todd and the Monsters being underappreciated among the early '90s roots rockers, but maybe that's just The Beat's perception.

OK, so we mean no disrespect to Cale Parks, drummer for the prog-pop band Aloha and with two solo records to his credit. In fact, his layered, atmospheric arrangements call to mind Brian Eno - no mean feat.
But because his solo shows are really that - just Parks with a couple of keyboards, sequencers and a stripped-down drum kit - he has to work kind of hard at keeping the whole thing going and in its proper place. And well, hunched over his keyboard like that, he just sometimes looks like Ross on the episode of Friends where he breaks out his Casio.
That said, you should check Parks out Friday, Jan. 30, at The Summit, with Passion Pit and Paper Route. Tickets are $10/$12. Call (614) 268-9377.

We were going to write about Big Head Todd and the Monsters being underappreciated among the early '90s roots rockers, but maybe that's just The Beat's perception.
The fact is that the Colorado quartet is still around and making new music - witness its eighth studio record, All the Love You Need - while many of its contemporaries have gone the way of, well, the dinosaur.
BHT&M play the Newport Music Hall Monday, Feb. 2. Tickets are $20/$22. Call (614) 431-3600.

Speaking of Brian Eno (see Cale Parks above), one of his frequent collaborators is trumpeter/keyboardist/composer John Hassell.
We're reluctant to call Hassell's stuff jazz, although he is an instrumentalist and records for a jazz label. His work is pan-musical - touching on and living in the realms of jazz, classical, world music, pop and modern film score composition.
Abroad for nearly two decades, Hassell has returned to the U.S. and is playing with his band Maarifa Street, including a stop at the Wexner Center for the Arts on Thursday, Feb. 5.
Tickets are $20/$17. Call (614) 292-3535.

The touring production of Spring Awakening hits Columbus next week.
The Beat will have some good stuff on/from the show in next week's print edition, but because the Tony Award-winning musical opens before that - the show runs Tuesday through Sunday, Feb. 3-8, at the Palace Theatre for 10 shows - we're giving you advance warning so as not to miss a chance to see it.
Visit the Web site at www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com/Columbus for more information.

Talk long enough with Brandon Heath and it becomes evident he's got a songwriter's mentality.

Start with the fact that he never intended to perform the songs he was writing, that he always envisioned someone else doing the performing. But it's clear in other ways as well.

The Nashville native recently moved back home from Houston (you leave Nashville and become a music star?), in large part because he missed the community of songwriters that exists in Music City. For his second record, What If We, he engaged a number of co-writers, including members of Jars of Clay and award-winning songwriter Jason Ingram, largely to push the boundaries of his own creativity and at the same time displaying a willingness to learn from their successes.

"I'm not really competitive," Heath told The Beat. "I'd rather be tightly woven with people as a group. My goal from the very beginning as a songwriter was to get to know other songwriters.

"I slowly began to see the idea of a song (being performed by) the songwriter as more enduring," Heath said. "So I took the risk and it paid off."

The self-confessed homebody admitted that part of his concern about being a performer was time on the road, but he said he has since "learned to love being out on tour."

Still, hear him talk about his songs and his songwriter's perspective takes over.

For example, of his latest single, the top Christian hit Give Me Your Eyes, he said, "I think I did (have an idea it would be successful). Firstly, it's got a good groove. I've been listening to a lot of songs on the radio and a lot of them have this groove that's continuous through the whole song.

"And the message is universal," he continued, highlighting lyrics as part of his craft as well. "We all have this desire to see people differently."

Despite a 2008 Dove Award as Best New Artist, Songwriter and Song of the Year nominations for his single I'm Not Who I Was and the breakout success of Give Me Your Eyes, Heath maintains his humility.

"I think for me, the notion of mixing commerce with what I view as my ministry can be hard to balance," he explained. "But I have people around me who challenge me. I certainly haven't earned a giant head yet."

His excitement at being on tour with a "traveling community of artists" on Winter Jam is tempered by the relative newness of his success.

"I've been playing to audiences of 1,000 -- tops," he said. "This is my first arena tour. I'm a little nervous but I'm excited.

"I'm honing my craft as a performer," he added.

Spoken like a true songwriter.

For more from The Beat's interview with Brandon Heath, read the BeatBlog at www.ThisWeekNews.com.