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Happy Go Lucky

Rocker finds good fortune after band breakup.

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Columbus' Happy Chichester depends on audiences to rate his music. Signs of crowd affirmation have become his linchpin (grounding? lifeline? sustenance? personal touchstone?) since his band, Howlin' Maggie, broke up in 2002 and he started to record his solo CD, Lovers Come Back. At first, loneliness in the studio overwhelmed him. "It became like a house of mirrors. I started to lose my sense of direction and objectivity," says Chichester. "Just getting out there on my own and throwing the songs at the crowd helped to compensate for the loss of the band. Running the songs by the audience has become part of the process."For his acoustic set tonight in Cleveland, Chichester will strum the guitar and tickle the ivories as he performs the disc's 13 tracks. Between songs, he'll regale the crowd with stories of touring Europe this summer with hip-hop mixmaster RJD2. The West Virginia native will also wax nostalgic about his adopted home in Cowtown; he's content, he says, to steer clear of major music meccas like New York and L.A. "Where you're from is not necessarily a liability," says Chichester. "The music business is in such a different place than it was 10 years ago that you don't have to go to the coastal towns to make it."Friendly reviews also make him stay put. Earlier this year, Chichester was talking to one of his neighbors about the album. "I was looking at him like, 'Do you like it?' He said, 'Yeah, my girlfriend and I had sex to it, and it was great,'" laughs Chichester. "That must be the best feedback I've gotten yet." Get happy at 9 tonight at the Barking Spider, 11310 Juniper Road. Admission is free. Call 216-421-2863 or visit www.barkingspidertavern.com.
Sun., Dec. 2, 9 p.m., 2007

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