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When Jim Brickman steps on stage at The Ritz Theatre tomorrow night, he brings with him more than 20 years of being a well-established adult contemporary music star. The pianist, vocalist and composer is routinely filed under New Age, but he distances himself from that label, as his work runs the gamut of contemplative instrumentals to well-honed, vocally driven songwriting. The tour Pure Piano: The Greatest Hits promises to feature now-classic Brickman songs sure to satisfy longtime fans and perhaps even convert the uninitiated.

Born on Nov. 23, 1961 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Brickman began playing piano at age five. After studying music composition and performance at Cleveland Institute of Music, Brickman began writing commercial jingles for notable clients including Pontiac, Isuzu and McDonald’s.

In 1994, Brickman caught the ear of music fans. That year, the acclaimed New Age record label Windham Hill released Brickman’s debut album, No Words. The first single, “Rocket to the Moon” immediately soared onto the Billboard charts. More than 20 years after its release, “Rocket to the Moon” gives a concise glimpse into both Brickman’s writing and performing style, with a rolling melody and chordal passages that touch on the sentimental and even somber.

In the years since, Brickman has released more than 35 albums, featuring original music, seasonal favorites, a tribute to The Carpenters and even a collection of Christian music. The Grammy Award-nominated Brickman is considered to be among the best-selling contemporary pianists. A global audience has put his album sales at more than seven million copies sold; four have earned gold record status.

Yet Brickman’s career enjoys a wider trajectory than that of simply being an instrumentalist. Collaborations with artists like Lady Antebellum and Martina McBride have broadened his appeal to audiences worldwide.

“People have more of an expectation of the style …   More


Bush WHACKED on Education

The deceptively named “Fewer, Better Tests” bill, backed by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s future, was delayed by the state Senate Education Committee March 27 amidst accusations that last-minute amendments had been “stolen” from a more popular bill. South Florida Republican Sen. Anitere Flores sponsored the Bush-backed bill, SB 926, which was filed in response to Sen. Montford’s efforts to dial back high-stakes testing in his competing bill, SB 964. Montford, a Democrat, is the former Superintendent of Schools for Leon County.

Veteran Republican and former Senate President Tom Lee blasted his colleagues for displacing Montford’s bill for partisan reasons, and scolded them for raiding aspects of Montford’s bill that had already gained bipartisan support, presenting them as last-minute amendments to Flores’s bill.  Lee characterized the underhanded actions of his republican cohorts as an “abomination” of the legislative process. 

Public school advocates say that despite its name, Flores’s bill, SB 926, does not reduce the number of tests, and it would ratchet up Florida’s already high-stakes testing scheme. The Bush-backed bill would tie grade-level proficiency in the Florida State Assessment (FSA) to data from another test, the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP).

Florida Department of Education Secretary Pam Stewart rejected the NAEP-tie-in last year. Advocates from the public education advocacy organization, Common Ground, say linking the two tests could dramatically lower passing rates, which they contend would lead to worse school grades and “plummeting property values.” 

In a press release, Common Ground argues that true testing relief is to be found in former Leon County Schools Superintendent Bill Montford’s bill:

SB 964 eliminates the 9th grade FSA and all but two of the current state End of Course exams, …   More


Lateral DRIFT

In the American Southwest, there are hiking trails so remote that only the most experienced backpackers can reach them. And in a few of these remote locations, on forgotten and largely unseen ledges or deep in a narrow cannon sit the perfectly preserved baskets of the Anasazi culture. Thousands of years old, and unimaginably fragile, these object are the kinds of artifacts from which information can be gleaned…in addition to their inherent beauty. They exist both as objects and as the memory of that object.

These rarities that exist most at the moment of being seen (after arduous treks through the back country) offer an ideological parallel when considering the Jacksonville Dance Theatre’s upcoming performance IN HERE: Artifact. Slated for the evening of March 25, the two-part event is an evening of solo performances—each one an original composition by the soloist—that takes the idea of “artifact” as the point of departure/meditation/instruction. The idea is one that Artistic Director Rebecca Levy began toying with at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. She described being surrounded by hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars-worth of art, and as others around her were engaging in conversations about market valuation, productivity versus accessibility and other highly monetized phenomena, she was just “laterally drifting.”

“I was thinking about how we [dancers] experience the human condition in real time…how we create art that will literally never exist again," says Levy. "[Because] its power lies in its moment of disappearance, its moment on the stage."

This idea, of art that is made--to paraphrase choreographer/dancer Crystal Pite--“of blood and muscle and bone,” is to be almost unable to leave an artifact behind. “Visual artists think about art as a commodity," says Levy. "What if we could make something that lingered—where does the “making” [in a work of art] occur and …   More



Before beginning, I must emphasize that Disney's cartoon version of Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie of all time. Not just my favorite Disney movie—my favorite movie of ALL TIME.

As you can well imagine, I had very, very, very high expectations for this year's remake.

The live action film brought back everyone's favorite characters. I was wary about Emma Watson playing Belle, but she really won me over with her singing and just overall understanding of the character.

The beast, on the other hand, was over-animated and made to look almost more like a human than, well... a beast. Dan Stevens, who plays the beast/Prince Adam, nevertheless did an excellent job portraying this classic character.

My biggest complaint with casting has to be Gaston. Luke Evans is an amazing actor and he really did the best he could with the character of Gaston, but to me he was too old and not nearly as brawny as the character is written. After all, this is the character who sings, "So I'm roughly the size of the barge." Evans is fit but he does not fit that description by any measure.

The biggest controversy surrounding the film was that the character of Lefou, played by Josh Gad, was gay. I hate to break it to everyone, but duh. Lefou has clearly been in love with Gaston since the cartoon version. It’s like people think it's totally appropriate to hold a teenage girl against her will and for her to fall in love with a magical half animal/half man hybrid, but dear god don't let the children see a gay man.

This live action version also made some changes from the original when it should have left well enough alone. They tried adding in a backstory about Belle’s mother but it fell flat and I was left thinking, ‘Did we really need that?’

The film’s original songwriter created new scores for the film, which incorporated all the originals, except “Human Again,” dang it.

Overall, I give this movie an …   More



There are levels and depths of certain strains of music that surely transcend modest entertainment. Arguably, one could say that there are levels and depths that even transcend the realms of melody, harmony and even recognizable timbres. In the 20th century, music movements and schools such as modernism, minimalism, drone compositions and even free jazz offered works that demanded attention from the audience, if not at times being indifferent to audiences altogether. Arnold Schoenberg’s radicalized 12-tone composition system launched serialism and chromaticism, inspiring acolytes including Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Edgard Varèse’s timbral and rhythmic concepts were driven by his belief in “sound as living matter.” Varèse’s ideas eventually permeated late-’60s rock audiences through the music of Frank Zappa, who was an ardent adherent of Varèse’s compositial philosophy.

This tribal role call of avant-garde music eventually attracted mid-century composers including John Cage, Harry Partch, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman, Luciano Berio, Henry Flynt, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. New notational systems, “prepared” instruments and unorthodox voicings became common. Concepts of tempo and rhythm were overtaken by unrestricted duration, the sustain of a piano key more revelatory than its original struck note. Avant-garde music detonated acceptable ideas of what music is, while pointing the way music can go.

It was a kind of poly-movement based on the syncretic and the stripping way, most tellingly in the hybrids of Indian Classical music and the narcotized electronics and vocal tonalities of La Monte Young and Terry Riley, who would both perform for hours at a time, creating mystical cathedrals of sound.

One elder composer who pointed the way was Erik Satie. A prominent figure in the early-20th-century Parisian avant-garde, Satie (1866-1925) was a standout in a scene of artistic …   More


How Does the President "Respect" Women

Every year the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8, a holiday created to commemorate the movement for women’s rights. Today President “Grab them by the Pussy” took to Twitter to celebrate. Trump's tweets about the holiday included words like "respect," "honor" and "vital." If you happen to be one of his 26.1 million followers or haven't been living under a rock, Trump using these words in the same sentence as "women" may come as a surprise. After, he's been so “respectful” of women on Twitter and irl.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to remind ourselves how much our president "respects" and "honors" we "vital" women.





Do you feel respected yet, ladies?    More


9 Rejected Names for A Day Without A WOMAN

On March 8, women across the country will stay home, wear red and shop local for A Day Without a Woman, a follow-up protest created by the Women’s March on Washington. According to the Women’s March website, the protest, which takes place on International Women’s Day, is intended facilitate “recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system--while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”

That’s right, in spite of the fact that we have a newly-elected president whose daughter is capable of saying with a straight face that he’s not a misogynist, that he believes all the bangable chicks like her are just as good as a man, we ladies are still getting the shaft–and not the good kind–on payday and in society at large.

Nearly 100 years after we finally got the right to vote, and 45 years since Congress ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (still working on getting those last pesky three states, including Florida, to ratify it – c’mon state Senator Audrey Gibson, we can do this!), as of 2015, a woman in America still makes an average of 80 cents to a man’s dollar, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Nothing like economic inequality to keep the 'good god, how is this still a thing' going. Sigh.

Anyhoo, in the spirit of turning those “can you believe this manspreading asshole on the Skyway?” frowns upside-down, here’s some names that were probs rejected before they settled on A Day Without a Woman.

“Day the boss learns where the coffeemaker is.”

“A day without a catcall.”

“A day without a pussy grab.”

“Day Netflix better not fucking freeze.”

“Day Netflix is guaranteed to freeze.”

“Day our Amazon overlords made up to boost …   More


He said WHAT?

Green Cove Springs Chief of Police Robert Musco retired last month. According to records provided to Folio Weekly by the City of Green Cove Springs, prior to his retirement, Officer Kimberly Robinson alleged in a complaint that Chief Musco referred to her as his “token” and made other statements with racial undertones. 

The complaint states that in front of other employees Musco yelled out to the officer, “Here’s my token . . . get in here token,” then asked if she would be working the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities. She replied that she was scheduled to have the day off, saying, according to the complaint, “That is my holiday … and I’m going to enjoy the day off,” to which Chief Musco responded, “Columbus Day was taken from us for Martin Luther King Day.” The complaint said he further stated that officers who work the MLK Jr. Day event are paid overtime.

News4Jax reported that according to the city’s Human Resources Department, Musco did not deny making the statement; further, that Green Cove Springs City Manager Danielle Judd indicated that Musco would not have remained with the department if he hadn't stepped down.

FW’s attempts to contact Musco for comment were unsuccessful; Musco’s cell phone is disconnected and his house is up for sale.

According to the complaint, Musco also asked Robinson’s superiors to “calm her down” and to get her to drop her actions against him.

Even though many officers have said Musco was a “great guy” and some felt his comments might have been taken out of context, the company the city hired to investigate the matter found he had harassed the officer, who is African-American, because of her race; in addition, that he used a “mocking tone” when referring to the city’s celebration of MLK Jr. Day. The company found that these behaviors violated the city’s no …   More


On the Front lines for FORESKIN

Today, the intersection of Hodges and Beach Boulevards was occupied by the Bloodstained Men & Their Friends. Dressed in all white with splashes of bright red in the genital region, they were hard to miss. These red-crotched men (and women) stood in protest of the practice of circumcising male infants; they believe it is the individual’s right to decide to cut the foreskin–or not.

Brother K, CFO and co-director of Bloodstained Men, formed the organization in 2012 to support keeping the very thing he feels that he has been deprived of. He even changed his name to Brother K in 1986, which he says was to protest circumcision based on his belief that it is associated with giving a child its name.

“I felt that the medical lies were not sufficient to explain why I had been circumcised,” Brother K explained. “So the more I researched it, I had understood that I had been subjected to a religious sacrifice called medicine.”

In the belief that America stands alone in what they call a “barbaric” procedure, the Bloodstained Men have a more European mindset of what is medically appropriate. 

Rejecting the idea that circumcision in infants is more hygienic and healthier, Brother K does not agree with medical findings that circumcision is preventative of UTIs, penile cancer and other problems, such as paraphimosis, a condition wherein the retracted foreskin of an uncircumcised male can’t return to its normal position, potentially resulting in gangrene and amputation.

The Bloodstained Men believe that having a foreskin is an essential human freedom that doctors and parents take away from an infant.

Brother K said, “It would be naïve to say you haven’t missed out on something, it’s meant to hurt you, it’s meant to be a punishment, its meant to diminish and reduce sexual life.”

This group believes that society holds men to a different standard than they do women, …   More


FIGHTING Mad ... at Somebody

When J.D. Vance’s uncle was a child he was kicked out of a drugstore after playing with a toy. The manager who expelled him was concerned the toy might be broken.

When his parents arrived, they threw one of the toys against the wall, slammed another into the ground and started smashing other merchandise. They demanded to know why their child was kicked out of the store.  

Vance’s grandmother screamed for his grandfather to assault the manager. His grandfather leaned into the manager’s face and told him, “If you say another word to my son, I will break your fucking neck.” The manager apologized and the grandparents “continued with their Christmas shopping as if nothing had happened.”

J.D. Vance’s book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis offers a view into the lives of working class, working poor and just plain poor white families who live in the cities and towns of the Appalachian Mountains.

Vance realizes his grandparents did not react like a normal middle-class family. He explains, “That’s what Scots-Irish Appalachians do when people mess with your kid.” His grandparents were “like everyone else in our family, they could go from zero to murderous in a heartbeat.”

Many readers have sought out Elegy to understand the rising popularity and eventual presidential victory of Donald J. Trump. Published in 2016, the book spent 29 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and was the top seller for three weeks.

In 2004 former U.S. Senator James Webb wrote a book on the Scots-Irish from the Appalachian region called Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Some reviewers believed the book helped explain George W. Bush's presidential victory in 2004. Its author, Webb wrote that the Scots-Irish represented a “GOP secret weapon.”

But if Webb’s book venerated the fighting spirit and patriotism of the Scots-Irish of …   More