The Unfettered Critic – October 2014

The Britt season has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean our need for live music has ended. We love live music. In fact, as Woody Allen explained in (Terry’s favorite movie), Annie Hall, “Love is too weak a word.” Well, Woody invented some new ones for us: We “lurve” music. We “luuuve” music. (If you don’t know the film, call Netflix, immediately!)

Thankfully, this is Jacksonville, where the local live music scene never ends. Our town is home to a cluster of music venues. Plus, there’s rarely a cover charge. How cool is that? Let’s take a local musical stroll.

Bluesmen David Pinsky (left) and Broadway Phil Newton.

Bluesmen David Pinsky (left) and Broadway Phil Newton.

Been to Bella Union lately? Drop in on any Friday or Saturday evening (and many Thursdays) and you’re bound to hear music that’ll make you listen—and maybe even dance. First up, J’Ville’s own The Fret Drifters. Calling Andy Casad and Nick Garrett-Powell “finger-style guitarists” doesn’t do the trick. The percussion they beat on their guitars while delicately picking out intricate ten-finger melodies dazzles their expanding circle of fans. You’ll also want to find the Brian Swann Band. Again—J’Ville’s own. This five-member group plays an eclectic, sophisticated rock, highlighted by songs written by Brian right here in town. And then there’s the masterful David Pinsky, who has played his distinctive style of blues at the Bella one weekend nearly every month since it opened twenty-five years ago. Whether David works as a single, as a duo with Broadway Phil Newton, or with his great band The Rhythm Kings (featuring the King of Boogie Woogie piano, Gary Halliburton), you’ll be snapping your fingers and smiling along.

Down the block and around the corner you’ll hear music emanating from South Stage Cellars, home of the SSC Rising Stars competition. This year’s winner was vocalist Cee Cee James, known for her “Raw and Real Roots Rock and Blues.” When we last sat on the patio, fascinated by this world-class artist and her band, we wondered why she hasn’t been cast as Janis Joplin in a bio-pic. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, expect to hear local greats like Jef Ramsey. Jef’s eclectic mix of music includes jazz, R&B and vintage country, but we think it’s his mandolin renditions of blue-grass from Bill Monroe that’ll make you a fan.

On Saturday nights, Boomtown Saloon—where you’ll find arguably the best dance floor in the valley—offers straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll and/or country. Rockers should check out TC and the Reactions. Country fans, meanwhile, will believe that dancing to The Roadsters, featuring very cool drummer David Towe, will be the best thing they’ve done all week. Finally, we never miss Hog Wild on their monthly rock explosion at Boomtown. Singer Dale Visage will have you in stitches as he wanders about with his wireless microphone, engaging the audience with his lyrics and alto sax riffs. It’s the finger work of guitarist Tom Bacon, however, that keeps us coming back. We suspect Tom’s guitars are the happiest in the business. Wanna dance to some real, honest to Zep/Stones/Clapton rock and roll? Yup, Hog Wild.

We started this column with the comment “The Britt season has come to an end.” Well, that’s not quite accurate. Those of us who need a further Britt fix can watch for upcoming events “On the Stage.” Two intimate indoor concerts are scheduled so far: Folk revival duo The Quiet American (October 15) and Independent Music Award-winning singer Lucy Wainwright Roche (October 17).

With all of this going on, we’ll easily stay warm and rhythmic over the winter. Jacksonville—where it’s at.

Featured image: Dale Visage (left) and Tom Bacon of Hog Wild.