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the flog

GRACE & Perseverance

The Episcopal Church of Our Savior has stood on the banks of the St. Johns River in Mandarin since 1880. In that year, missionary Charles Sturgess organized the church in the spot where writer Harriet Beecher Stowe and her husband Calvin had been holding bible readings for approximately 12 years.

Since that time, it has weathered 52 hurricanes and tropical storms but has never suffered significant flooding. The church might have endured the high winds of Hurricane Dora in 1964, but a hickory tree fell on its historic chapel, shattering the stained-glass window dedicated by Stowe to her late husband and damaging the structure beyond repair. A replica of the original church with a larger sanctuary was built and dedicated in 1966.

Last year, the church survived Hurricane Matthew's storm surge when the rush of waves and rising water caused severe damage to its riverbank but left the structures unharmed.

But the church's luck changed on September 10-11, when Hurricane Irma brought nearly 15 inches of rain to the city. The runoff from the surrounding neighborhood rose past the church's red brick stoop and seeped into its hallowed floors.

As Jacksonville turned its attention toward the historic rise of the St. Johns River, the church worried about flooding from the other direction. As floodwaters ran off from surrounding neighborhoods, the lower areas on the property acted like catch basins and the water pooled.

Reverend Joe Gibbes, the rector at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior, said the main part of the church and the chapel was spared of any flood damage.

The same could not be said for the adjacent buildings. The office, meeting rooms, nursery, choir room and Sunday school rooms were all soaked with several inches of water that damaged the carpet, walls, and electronics.

After the waters receded, the property was a mess.

"We had some large limbs down around the property and just a ton of debris," Gibbes said. "A ton of really nasty …   More

A KING, but no Crown

Al Shepard, better known by the stage name Blueprint, has enjoyed a storied career navigating through the ebbs and flows of the hip hop industry.

When it comes to the art of making hip hop music, Blueprint is a jack-of-all-trades. He has produced, composed, lyricised and rhymed on many different records-and has done all four tasks throughout much of his work. Between 2000 and 2017, he released 14 albums, was featured on 42 tracks for various artists (among these are Aesop Rock and Illogic) and did production work for three other artists. He's put in the time and paid his dues to the hip hop community a dozen times over, wearing many different hats along the way. Now he's added one more topper to his collection: filmmaker.

Based on his album of the same name, King No Crown (2015), Blueprint's recent documentary captures the creative process behind the album and delves into an examination of himself and other artists as they struggle with success and obscurity.

Blueprint is currently touring through the Midwest and the South, and up and down the East Coast, screening his film for fans old and new. The personal, in-depth production shows locally at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Sun-Ray Cinema in 5 Points. Grab a ticket now and stick around after the screening-Blueprint holds court in a Q&A.

The versatile Blueprint was kind enough to pause for a phone interview and answer a few questions. Here are some highlights.

Folio Weekly: What was your first introduction into music? Were you exposed to it a lot as a kid?

Blueprint: In my church, we had singing groups and a brass band, a lot of stuff like that. When I was young, I was kinda surrounded by that. My brother played in the band and was with some of the singing groups. I was really young and my mother could sing really well, but no one really pursued music professionally; it was just all through church. After that, hip hop kinda came in and that kinda got me into DJ'ing when I got to college, …   More


Corgis and Senators and SHREK, Oh My!

The events section of Facebook is a crowded and bizarre place. It's like that corkboard at college that people use to advertise movie nights and job fairs, but whacked out on meth. One second you're looking at an event for kilt night at the local pub and the next you're being invited to the local community health fair.

While digging through the events trash heap, a few needles in the Facebook haystack are surely just waiting to be found. Just like curds separating from whey or your racist uncle saying something stupid at Thanksgiving, it was inevitable. So, fortunately-or unfortunately-a handful of curds floated to the top.

At the top of the hour on October 6th we have the Senator Ted Cruz & Congressman Ron DeSantis Texas BBQ at Sawgrass Country Club. It shouldn't be too hard to spot with all of the old white dudes who will inevitably be in attendance. Legend says that when the light hits them just right, it bounces off their skin and refracts into the atmosphere creating an off-white aurora borealis. Or, you can just follow the train of jacked-up trucks sporting Confederate flags as they make their way there.

If watching politicians and closet-KKK members eat barbecue isn't really your thing, head up to Jekyll Island on the 7th for Jekyll Island Corgi Beach Day. With a costume parade, a race and a trick contest, Corgi Beach Day is gearing up to be the place to be-Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show be damned. Besides, just imagine the majesty of watching a herd of corgis stampede across a beach. While you're imagining that, also imagine the Chariots of Fire or Rocky training music playing while it happens-it's okay to cry, beautiful things can have that effect on people.

Skip forward a week and take a step back in time with the 90s Block Party on the 13th. Take a break from ol' Donny T's Twitter feed and look back on the brighter days of Bill Clinton and mood rings. Don't forget to dig out your G-Shock watch you hid in the closet-right next your …   More

Trying EVERYTHING, Trying Nothing

The movie short Susanna begs viewers to immerse themselves through a series of glossy, fashionable vignettes into the titular character's life. Written by Victoria Dieffenbacher, directed by Michel Jaumin and shot on location in Jacksonville, the movie takes stylistic cues from Nocturnal Animals, The September Issue and, to a lesser extent, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Susanna (Susanna Nelson): young, blonde, Caucasian and beautiful, is always clad in the sartorial equivalent of le mot juste; her wardrobe edges toward glamour and signifies very specific things, from the carefree halter-dress of courtship to the modest but exquisite lace dress of establishment loneliness, to a Grecian-style peignoir for swanning about the house. It is heterosexual drag writ anodyne and suburban-a polished platinum dream-version of a have-it-all-ish life complete with a model-ish career in fashion.

Therein is the rub. The film feels ambiguous: The viewer is never certain if empathy or sympathy is the correct emotional response; or, if like so much glossy but unattainable/sustainable imagery, we are being asked to merely witness the deliberate staging of a life prettily pouted through. There is one scene that offers emotional depth-and so gives more insight into the titular character is as she is "listening" to her friends. Amid the hubbub of what can only be well-intentioned and highly gesticulated advice, one friend-played by actor Suzi West-gazes at Susanna as if she is a younger version of herself while silently seeming to say, "you pay for the material happiness in this life with dissatisfaction and sadness." It the most affective pause in the film, filled with fleeting bitter sweetness.

Susanna has recently been selected for screening at this year's Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York, United Kingdom; it was also selected for the International Fashion Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium; and is being screened here in Jacksonville, 6 p.m. Oct. 5, DeLO …   More


For the Love of B-MOVIES

For the uninitiated, riffing—in the comedic sense—is a type of observational comedy. You see something funny and then point it out in some sarcastic manner.

The cult of riffing on crappy movies is a strange yet lovely thing to watch. For Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu, it’s the perfect mash-up of career and hobby. Their decades-long careers in the field began with the ever-popular ’90s cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000—a popular choice among college kids and film geeks alike.

Along with their other comedically talented MST3K cast members, Conniff and Beaulieu would spend 90 minutes watching the most cringe-worthy B-movies they could find, simultaneously riffing on them. Conniff and Beaulieu played the villainous duo of Dr. Clayton Forrester (Beaulieu) and TV’s Frank (Conniff).

As the mad scientists—“mads” for short—of Gizmonic Institute, Frank and Trace would force Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson), a janitor trapped against his will on a spaceship called the Satellite of Love to watch crappy B-Movies as part of their plot to take over the world. Think A Clockwork Orange’s brainwashing scene, but with a lot less eye-clamps and morbid imagery and many more robots and Ed Wood.

After Conniff left the show toward the end of season 6, and Beaulieu after season 7, the duo continued to work together collaborating on podcasts and live appearances. When 2007 rolled around, bringing with it Joel Hodgson’s new Cinematic Titanic, Conniff and Beaulieu once again got to do their thing, this time live and on stage touring around the nation.

As Conniff put it, “The only thing more fun than doing Mystery Science Theater movie riffs is doing movie riffs live in front of an audience. You actually get to hear the laughter and we just basically got addicted to that.”

When the Titanic crew split up in 2013, Conniff and Beaulieu didn’t feel like stopping at that juncture. …   More

Delfeayo Marsalis is Jazz ROYALTY


There is always something about watching live music inside a church that’s just special, independent of whatever is actually going on there. Part of it is the aesthetics, of course; the interior design tends to lend a certain majestic feeling to whatever is going on there. Such feeling resonates among musicians and audiences alike, leaving all involved inspired to make the most of the experience from their own perspective. But the real key is in the acoustics; the music sounds richer and fuller than it would in most other settings. Bad music sounds decent, decent music sounds good, and good music sounds great.

So what happens when you have truly great music in a place like that? Find out on Friday night, Sept. 29, when ace trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis leads a crackling-hot unit, comprising pianist Anthony Wonsey, bassist David Pulphus and drummer Jasmine Best, to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, kicking off Riverside Fine Arts Series' new season. (The intermission and post-show reception feature an exhibition of new silk paintings by Nena Tahil.) Surely the building’s designers, now long gone, never conceived of the place as a locus of live music, let alone live music of this style. But if they could hear it, odds are quite good that they would be as pleased as everyone else.

Marsalis was born into jazz royalty in 1965, the third of six sons born in New Orleans to the pianist Ellis Marsalis and his wife Dolores. He and his brothers were all child prodigies, whose prodigious output and pugnacious pedagogy essentially laid the foundation upon which jazz music returned to commercial and critical prominence, beginning in the early 1980s. The lion’s share of hype is rightly apportioned to oldest brother Branford, an iconic tenor saxophonist of ferociously diverse tastes (he got David S. Ware signed to Columbia, and he also led the Tonight Show Band under Jay Leno). And then there’s Wynton, who’s probably the …   More

St. Paul & the BROKEN Bones


St. Paul & the Broken Bones, a soul-infused brassy rock band, is among the top rising groups on the road today. After their first successful album Half the City came out in 2014, and after an extensive world tour, they went back into the studio to make their newest record Sea of Noise, which debuted in 2016. Crowned by many as one of the best and energetic live acts to be touring today, their Thursday, Sept. 28 show in Jacksonville—headlined by Hall & Oates, is not to be missed. Jesse Phillips, co-founder, gitarist and bass player, took some time out from traveling to sit down and talk with us before their only Florida show.


You're on tour at the moment; how's the road?

The tour is going great … It's been a really busy summer, it's been good, though, we've been all up and down [the] East Coast and West Coast, we spent some time in Europe, and we are going to start this little run with Hall & Oates and that’ll be a lot of fun to cap it all off.


Has touring changed since the inception of the band?

Well [pause], it’s gotten a lot more comfortable. [Laughs.]

Instead of a 15-person passenger van, a tour bus really is a game-changer. It sort of gives you your day back on tour. When you're in a van, you wake up every day and get in … drive for five or six sometimes seven hours to wherever you're going, with … eight or nine other people. I mean, our band is big, you add a couple of crew members in there and it’s just a bunch of people. So now you just play the gig, you get on the bus and you go to sleep and you wake up in the next town on the next day. It's a beautiful thing, you can get out, go get coffee or go for a run or find a park, it's a really nice change.


You did about 200 shows in 2014; fewer in ’16 and ’17. Has touring taken a toll on you?

Yeah, I mean, there's the sort of predictable stuff, like some of the guys are married and …   More


Katie Thiroux, who played The Ritz Theatre & Museum on Sept. 24, is part of a new generation of jazz vocalists who have managed to make the music once again relevant to younger audiences, to an extent unprecedented in the modern era, here defined as roughly the last 40 years or so. Not only does she sing and write much of her own material, she plays upright bass, which puts her in the same class as contemporaries like Georgia Weber and the already-great Esperanza Spalding.

Thiroux has cut a wide swath this summer, touring in support of her second album, Off Beat, dropped Aug. 18 on Boulder-based Capri Records, which also released her debut album two years ago. Introducing Katie Thiroux went over quite well in jazz circles; it was named “Debut Record of the Year” by the Huffington Post, and finished among the top five debuts in the annual NPR Jazz Critics’ poll.

The new album puts Thiroux front-and-center in a quintet that includes pianist Justin Kauflin and drummer Matt Witek, as well as two veteran reedmen: Roger Neumann on tenor and soprano saxophones, and Ken Peplowski on tenor and clarinet. Both wield their alternate horns on the title track, creating a sound reminiscent of “Jitterbug Waltz” beneath the leader’s Blossom Dearie-esque vocals. It proceeds along at a breezy, medium tempo, with track 6, “Ray’s Idea,” a notable exception, swinging in 4/4 behind a clarinet lead, bookended by Thiroux’s scat-singing. The torch songs continue to simmer until the album closes with a funky, minimalist take on the classic standard “Willow Weep for Me,” a duet feature for Thiroux and, well, herself.

The Los Angeles native has been playing bass since she was eight, having started on violin at four. She joined the faculty at Berklee College of Music immediately after graduation, later earning her Masters in Jazz Bass from Cal State/Long Beach. All the while, she pursued a parallel track as …   More

Water, our Greatest Asset and Our Greatest LIABILITY


On Friday, Sept. 15, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville hosted photographers Gideon Mendel and Bob Self to discuss their work as it directly relates to Hurricane Irma.

Mendel is an internationally known and lauded photographer who has documented (among other projects) the late 1990s AIDS epidemic and violence in South Africa. His current project, Drowning World, is the photographer’s attempt to “photograph the human reality of floods,” said museum director Caitlin Doherty, who counts him as a personal friend.

Self is easily one of Jacksonville’s leading photojournalists. He’s worked at the Florida Times-Union for 33 years, and is driven by his curiosity and love of this place to document the city and the region. “Covering a storm is different when it is in your own backyard,” he said.

The lecture, Stop Press: Gideon Mendel in Conversation was hastily put together in the wakes of hurricanes Irma and Hugo. Mendel was already en route to Jacksonville when Doherty called to invite him to speak. She explained that she was “struck with the need for immediacy […] how does/can/should a museum respond to the only idea that is [currently] relevant to this community, Irma?”

“I’ve got a flight in the morning; do you have a place I could sleep?” Mendel replied.

Drowning World, said Mendel, is his attempt to do something very visceral, to “look people in the eye.” His images, for which he has three categories, Floodlines, Watermarks, and Submerged Portraits, examine distinct facets of the disaster experience: The portraits are images of people directly impacted by flood—they stand in water that's often cloudy with filth, and gaze directly back at the viewer. “I can’t bring very much to them, but a sense that their predicament has been seen and witnessed.”

Floodlines is as it seems, images of spaces that have been destroyed by …   More

Reflections on the collaborative installation Solar-Powered Spacesuit

Solar-Powered Spacesuit is the collaborative effort of the Blessyourheartcrew (BYHC), a collective that includes a combination of fine artists, public artists, street artists, graphic designers and an arts educator. The exhibition opened on Sept. 19 and is on display in Kent Campus Gallery at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ). Contributing artists include Matthew Abercrombie “Dstryr,” Mark “Cent” Ferreira, Christy Frazier, Dustin Harewood, John O’Brian and Shaun Thurston.

BYHC prepared for the exhibit in the Phoenix Art District, a series of warehouse buildings owned by Frazier in the industrial section of Springfield. Materials were reclaimed from the three-building campus and used to form many of the works on display. Natural materials found outside were also used in the creation of several of the pieces. This use of repurposed and natural materials illustrates the artists’ connection to Phoenix Art District and the influence life in Northeast Florida has on their work.

Some of the members in the BYHC cut their teeth as artists by working and developing their skills in the fringes of Jacksonville’s art scene. Present in their collective pieces are elements of mysticism as well as darker tones that portray their alter egos as quasi-anti-hero personalities. This is most present in the multi-panel work positioned as the centerpiece in the gallery.

Artists’ individual personalities shine through in their solo pieces. Thurston’s deep interest in earth science, the cosmos, and the duality of worldly life and the spiritual realm are present in his pieces, which incorporate organic forms and a color palette that can be found in nature. Thurston’s works can be contrasted to the works of Ferreira, who admits that as an artist, he's a product of the 1980s. The gridded patterns present in Ferreira’s work are reminiscent of 8-bit games for the Nintendo Entertainment System; 1984’s …   More