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the flog

Veteran Presence

DJ Maseo has spun thousands of sets over the course of his four decades in the music business, but like the saying goes, you never forget your first.

“It was always about the sound system, so wherever the people were dancing, that’s where the speakers were,” he says. “The DJ was always in another room, so you couldn’t see who it was.”

It was his mother’s housewarming party in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, and he was 11 years old, subbing briefly for the actual DJ. It was a trial by fire.

“It was, like, either rock the party or get your ass kicked, because I wasn’t supposed to be up anyway.”

DJ Maseo was born Vincent Lamont Mason, Jr. in Brooklyn on March 24, 1970, and he currently lives in Florida. He joined with childhood friends Kelvin Mercer (aka “Posdnuos”) and David Jude Jolicoeur (aka “Trugoy the Dove”) to form De La Soul in 1987. Within a year, their first single, “Plug Tunin’,” had caught the ear of the legendary Prince Paul, who helped get them signed to Tommy Boy that year (and remains a close collaborator to this day).

The group’s debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, dropped in 1989. To call it an instant classic would be an understatement. It is one of the essential hip hop recordings of all-time, a cultural signpost and a key document of what everyone acknowledges as that genre’s golden age. The track “Potholes In My Lawn” converted an entire generation of fans. De La Soul were linked with fellow alt-rap icons A Tribe Called Quest and Jungle Brothers. Together they were known as the “Native Tongues Posse,” and they flew the flag of social awareness, positivity and the proverbial good, clean fun as rap music began taking on more nihilistic overtones.

In an era when masterpieces were being dropped on an almost weekly basis for several years, De La Soul managed to not only stand out among …   More

the flog

Punk Rock Rasta

It’s been many years now since HR first took leave of the sound and the fury that characterized his groundbreaking work as the frontman of Bad Brains. Having immersed himself in the Rastafari faith since the early ‘80s, he chose to put the past behind him and reboot his style under the rubric of reggae. Hardcore fans thought it was just a phase, a side-hustle employed between stints with the band that made him famous. But now, two decades later, it’s clear that his interest is sincere.

HR brings his mature sound to Surfer the Bar on Wednesday night, Dec. 19, backed by the band he’s toured with for the last four years: Ezekiel Zagar on guitar, Joshua Freshy on bass, Wesely Raust on drums. The most important players, however, will be the audience themselves. Their energy has buoyed the leader through a rough spell that included brain surgery. Now back in good health, HR his appy to be back on stage. “Oh man, it feels great”, he says. “The kids have a lot to do with my feeling great.”

Just like fellow Rastafari Bob Marley, HR is a dread and an Aquarius who entered this world in the month of Joseph. Born Paul Hudson in Liverpool in 1956, he's one of that city’s many major contributions to music history. Hudson and younger brother Earl were both Air Force kids with an American dad and Jamaican mom. The family eventually moved to Washington, D.C., where the brothers (with Earl on drums) joined bassist Daryl Jenifer and legendary guitarist Dr. Know to form a band called Mind Power in 1976. They were rechristened Bad Brains a year later. The name comes from a Ramones song, and the phrase “Mind Power” would return 41 years later as the title of their 11th album. HR and his friends represented the point of precise intersection between punk rock, hardcore and reggae, the latter being the prime directive for most of his career.

The four founders long ago launched successful solo careers, and a new …   More

the flog

Goodnight, Sweet Duke

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has lost one of its best-loved residents. Duke, the 21-year-old bull giraffe, had been living at the facility since 2003. He was distinguished for his natural beauty—his stature and dark coloring set him apart from the herd—as well as his outgoing personality.

Giraffe keepers and animal health experts had been treating Duke for degenerative arthritis for years.  He received regular pain relief and was kept on an exercise regimen that encouraged joint strengthening.

Early Tuesday morning, keepers found Duke incapacitated. After testing and deliberation, zoo authorities decided the most humane course of action was euthanasia.

”Unlike a person with extremely acute arthritis,” said deputy zoo director Dan Maloney in a press release, “an immobile giraffe is unable to utilize braces, canes or other mechanized assistance. Once a giraffe goes down, their prospects are bleak at best. Saying goodbye is always hard and understandably, staff are sad, but thankful his ordeal was brief.”

Duke’s herd was nearby and his trusted keepers were present when he passed. A full exam will follow to determine underlying causes and advance the study of arthritis in mature giraffes.

Besides his role as a successful animal ambassador, Duke was a linchpin of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program among accredited zoos. He sired 18 offspring, three of whom still reside at Jacksonville Zoo.

Duke's human friends are grieving the loss.

“We were lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with such a special giraffe,” said mammal supervisor Corey Neatrour, who worked with Duke for a full decade. “If he had lived another 100 years, it would not have been enough time with him.”   More

the flog

Sounds of the Season

The holidays are here, and with them comes the annual procession of specialty events that showcase the best of local music across the board, more of which you’ll be reading about here in the days ahead. This applies especially to Northeast Florida’s jazz scene, whose most prolific organizations have things planned for the month of December. Among these artists, of course, are the more than two dozen members of the Crescendo Amelia Big Band, who’ll be working theaters in Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach with their show, “How the Big Band Stole Christmas.” (They’ll also be part of the New Year’s Eve festivities at Alhambra.)

This is their fifth year doing this particular show, which presents holiday-themed standards in a broad-based, classic theatrical setting. The show includes classics such as “All I Want for Christmas,” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Santa Baby” and the all-time hit “White Christmas.” Some of these songs can be heard in studio form on their album Crescendo Amelia Christmas Vol. 1, which was released earlier this year. “The best part about the holidays is bringing the community together,” says trumpeter Dennis Negrin, who helps run the group, “and one of the things I’m most excited for now that we’re in our fourth year producing the show is seeing everyone come together this season, and music has a pretty magical way of doing that.”

Produced by Negrin and drummer/founder Frank Basile, the show features the entire big band, which was formed as “Frankie and Friends” in January 2013 and rechristened Crescendo Amelia a year later. Its 23 members are augmented by a retinue of singers, including Reed Meyer, Marah Lovequist, Jennifer Burns, Linzy Lauren, Kim Reteguiz, Johnathan Leonard, Jay Fowler and the singers in the local music group Off the Record. The show is punctuated by elements of jazz, swing dance …   More

the flog

Stepping Up

The Young Step have come out of hibernation just in time for winter (such as it is here in Florida). It's been a full two years since the local indie-rock trio splashed onto the scene with their debut album, El Clàsico. Last week they dropped new single "Ghost Town" on digital platforms Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Spotify—and it's not a faux pas.

The eponymous "Ghost Town" is none other than St. Augustine, the group's adopted home base. Band members Ben Whitson (vocals, guitar), Micah Gilliam (guitar, keys, vocals) and Lauren Gilliam (bass, vocals, guitar) originally hail from the Midwest. Their description of life in the quaint, seaside village reads like a NEFla version of Death in Venice.

"It's about what it's like living in a beach town," they explain in a press release. "How you have to be really conscious about doing something with yourself here, instead of getting sucked into the status quo of the beach-town life."

Where said press release cites the likes of Devo, Talking Heads and Iggy Pop, we hear echoes of Iva Davies and Icehouse, not to mention early Chris Isaak. Groove-wise, "Ghost Town" feels like the California crooner's "Dancin'"—although its guitar hook might have been borrowed from New Radicals' "You Get What You Give."

What's the next step? It's unclear. We trust there's some grand marketing strategy in play but, for the moment, The Young Step are treading lightly. No live performances are scheduled, nor has a follow-up album been announced.   More

The Flog

Advocate for Artists

After a months-long search that included lots of art community input, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has hired Joy Young to head up the organization, in the role of executive director. Young arrives from the South Carolina Arts Commission in Columbia, South Carolina, where she was the director of administration, human resources and operations.

An artist herself, Young earned a Bachelor of Arts in music, studied Voice Performance at Manhattan School of Music and completed a Master of Arts. She seems to be one of the extraordinary creative people who can fuse passion and intellectual rigor. She has also received certification in human resources employee relations law and mediation. If that's not enough, she attained candidacy for a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.

Young is an advocate for artists. In 2017 she conceived and implemented a program for The South Carolina Arts Commission, which (according to the Upstate Business Journal), launched the pilot of ArtsGrow SC. The program allowed qualifying artists or creative ventures to have access to a matched savings program, or Individual Development Accounts (IDA) For Artists, as well as micro-loans, business venture loans, grants, personalized coaching and workshops.

In 2018 she was one of several presenters at South Carolina African American Heritage Commission’s “Teacher Institute.” The mission of the institute was to help teachers in SC better understand the state’s African American heritage. Additionally, her work included a cultural tourism grant program that returned $2.1 million dollars in economic impact.

Ann Carey, CCGJ board chair and member of the search committee said, “Joy is a strong communicator with deep leadership capabilities. When we interviewed her, it was clear that she brings the energy, passion and expertise that we need at this critical moment in the organization’s history.”

Young seems to be poised to place artists at or …   More

the flog

Welcome (Back) to Rockville

This morning Welcome to Rockville announced its 2019 line-up. Jacksonville’s springtime hard-rock weekender has become one of NEFla’s premiere music festivals, welcoming a record-breaking 90,000 headbangers in 2018. The ninth annual edition promises to be even bigger.

The festival unfolds May 3-5 at Metropolitan Park. More than 50 acts are on the bill, including headliners Rob Zombie, Tool and Korn. Yes, ‘90s nü-metal nostalgia reigns here, but there’s also a healthy dose of seminal metal, courtesy of Judas Priest.

“Judas Priest are primed and ready to unleash new Firepower with full metal fury on the USA again as we are one of the headliners at Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, Florida!” said Judas Priest’s leather-clad singer Rob Halford. “The Priest is back!”

Our pick, however, is genre-defying British outfit The Cult. Singer Ian Astbury has sidelined as Jim Morrison’s official doppelganger with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger in The Doors of the 21st Century. Guitarist Billy Duffy got his start in early Manchester punk group Slaughter & the Dogs, starring a young Morrissey. Together, Astbury and Duffy have been making their own brand of mystical stoner metal since the 1980s.

Tom Morello gets an honorable mention here, too. It’s a shame to see the pioneering guitarist (Digitech Whammy, anyone?)  so far down the bill but—alas!—Chris Cornell is buried and Zack de la Rocha is ... where is Zack de la Rocha??

Tickets go on sale noon Friday, Dec. 7.   More

The Flog

Because We Want to Hear What Happens

It’s hallucinatory to speak with Ira Glass on the phone. Absurd really to dial a NYC number and be connected with the voice that I’ve communed with hundreds of times over the course of my life, bearing my soul, telling jokes, sometimes disagreeing with, but always coming back to a balance of friendship. His voice, so familiar is like a slightly nasal narcotic, and I remind myself to breathe.

Glass doesn’t know we are friends, though I suspect he’s got an inkling of the hundreds of thousands of fan folks like me who imagine that, given the opportunity, we would be friends. And that’s the thing, right? Beyond the exquisite storytelling, the incredible curiosity and dedication, Glass is, at his core, a deeply decent man. So I’m guessing that even as 2.2 million of us listen each week to This American Life (or binge on the podcasts Serial and S-Town), we imagine getting the Glass treatment and are thereby revealed to ourselves as much as we are to an audience.

For, as loyal (and even occasional) listeners know, Glass has the ability to unpeel and structure a story—revealing comedy, tragedy and heroics—in an manner that encapsulates an entire person. The stories on American Life are remarkable for their humanity and surprise.

When asked about what motivates him to find these stories Glass replied, “I have to say, the kinds of stories we make on our show really come out of my interests ... they come out of a bunch of things, my incompetence as a regular reporter when I was in my twenties, and my interest in doing stories about everyday life and everyday people. This set me off on a series of experiments of making different kinds of stories to figure out how to tell a story about everyday people that would be engaging and feel like something. That lead me to certain conclusions about how to tell a story on the radio...and honestly it brought me back to a very basic kind of storytelling where, when we do …   More

the flog

"Nobody Is Above the Law"

A coalition of progressive advocacy organizations led by MoveOn has called for coordinated nation-wide protests today at 5 p.m.

The move is a reaction to yesterday's forced resignation of Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president has long expressed disappointment in Sessions, who recused himself from Robert Mueller's ongoing special counsel investigation early in his tenure. Sessions' ouster was widely seen as a prelude to executive intervention in Mueller's independent investigation.

An official MoveOn press release describes new Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as a "crony" who "has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it."

"Donald Trump just crossed a red line," the press release continues, "violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up. Trump putting himself above the law is a threat to our democracy, and we’ve got to get Congress to stop him. We're mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law."

MoveOn projects a grand total of 990 protests across the nation. Florida alone is expected to host 41 of these.

The Jacksonville event takes place on San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin, in front of Whole Foods. St. Augustine activists are set to demonstrate at the Plaza de la Constitución.   More

the flog

From the Ashes

A building strengthened with love begins its reconstruction after being scorched in a St. Augustine arson spree in 2014.

Located at 45 Cordova St., in the Ancient City's historic downtown district, the house was built by the Cooley family in 1890. Architect Jerry Dixon purchased the property in 1989. He said he rented part of the first floor, based his business out of the building, and even lived in it. Dixon formed a bond with 45 Cordova over the 20 years he spent as its owner.

On June 23, 2014, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue, 45 Cordova was the first of multiple locations at which fires were reported. The majority of the Dixon Design Group’s headquarters was burned down.

"I'll never forget that day," Disxon said. "It was just after 3:00 in the morning when my phone rang. Thank goodness, at the time, I was not there. My home and my plans were torched."

Due to the destruction of the property, Dixon decided to put it up for sale. His love for the building never dwindled, even after the fires did, but he knew it would be a tall task to restore. He figured the building was damaged goods to any potential buyer.

Local real estate agent Karen Vander, however, saw the property as an easy sell. She was able to sell the property within 50 days to Bruce Maguire's Maguire Land Corp.

“Jerry is a well-known architect," Vander said. "He had all the designs drafted and had approval [...] for the exterior he wanted to construct.”

Dixon also had a permit for the rebuild. He helped make the property as appealing as possible. Vander said the downtown St. Augustine area is in high demand. Retail businesses and restaurants clamor for the chance to set up shop in the area. This fact made 45 Cordova even more attractive to buyers.

“There is a high demand for downtown property because there is a limited supply,” Vander said. “Cost of entry is high as well.”

The current owner Bruce Maguire said the area is …   More