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Music education was the buzz at the I love Music Festival June 8. All the artists reinforcedthe importance of music education and schools, including the director of the event, Michael Butler, a “band nerd” himself.

The tour featured Teflon Don, EverSay, K-Lotto, and the headliner, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. 

“If they are getting ready to cut the football team, that is front page news. If they are getting ready to cut a music teacher, no one knows about it. It is very silent. The I Love Music Tour is here to try to bring that voice out and raise it up,” Butler said in a testimonial during the tour.

Two local artists made names for themselves: SweetLu, who sounded like a mix of Bruno Mars and Wiz Kahlifa, and GudGud, three women who sounded like a modern Destiny’s Child. Both artists are working with the Mighty Music Group, a management and production company.

GudGud sang “U” and had the crowds wanting more. Fans can catch the R&B’s group new single at the end of the summer. GudGud, Britney, Princess and Nina, sang and danced beyond expectations for an amateur band.

Jacksonville Beach native SweetLu's down-to-earth disposition continued even off-stage when he mingled with fans. 

"We have been lucky to have been a part of the I Love Music Tour, both in helping spread awareness for the show and in working with participating artists GudGud and Sweet Lu,” said Christopher Myers, co-founder of Mighty Music Group.

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus took the stage with a roaring crowd ready to hear good music — and they didn't let them down, playing “As I the Enemy,” their No. 1 hit on the U.S Christian rock charts, and “Face Down,” their seemingly most popular song, along with “Reap,” a hit in the WWE wrestling realm.

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' Ronnie Winter and Duke Kitchens met in an AP music theory class in 2001 and decided to put a band together. Since …   More


The sold-out Capital Cities concert left the crowd at Jack Rabbits sore-footed, sweaty and smiling on the way out the door June 19 at Jack Rabbits.

The indie pop-rock quintet from Los Angeles had the crowd dancing while playing all but three of the songs from their debut album, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” including the hugely popular “Safe and Sound.”

To close out the night, they played a remixed version of “Safe and Sound,” their Cash Cash remix.

Jack Rabbits allowed for an intimacy between fans and the bands, and Capital Cities stayed after the concert to talk with their fans.

The Dog Apollo, a local band from Jacksonville, played a seven-song set — including “Ghost” and “Spirit of the Plain" — to get the crowd on their feet and in the mood to sing and dance the night away.

Capital Cities started from pretty modest beginnings when jingle writers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian met on Craigslist and came together to create the five-man band.

Vocalists Merchant and Simonian were accompanied by the jazzy melodies of Spencer Ludwig on the trumpet and the masterful strumming of guitarist Nick Merwin and bassist Manny Quintero. “Safe and Sound,” their first song, was released as an EP in 2011 and shot to No. 1 on Modern Rock radio.   More


Michael W. Smith, Mathew West, Sanctus Real, Luminate and Jason Castro performed at Freedom Fest 2013 — a two-day Christian music festival held June 29-30 at Christ’s Church.

The big day came June 30 with thousands attending and more than 700 volunteers, Cullum said.

Francesca Battistelli, Peter Furler with Phil Joel, Jason Castro and Luminate led a singing-and-worship event on Saturday night.

Later in the afternoon, one of the anticipated acts, Luminate, had a meet and greet after their set.

“It’s awesome,” Sam Hancock of Luminate said. “Just what Freedom Fest represents is not only American freedom, but the freedom we find through Christ.”

Sam added that making the event free to the public was something special and gave even more meaning to the name.

Plum took the stage next and sang their praises, getting the crowd involved as the evening approached.

Sanctus Real came out after Plum and brought the upbeat sounds to get the crowd moving as anticipation for the headliners drew closer.

With the sun setting behind the overcast sky, comedian MC Bone Hampton came on between Sanctus Real and Matthew West to keep the crowd entertained with jokes. Hampton has played a prison guard in "My Name Is Earl" and a prisoner in "Medium."

Hampton brought out Matthew West to an eruption from the crowd as they began playing their upbeat set.

“Playing in Jacksonville, where they love their Gators and like to eat their ‘mashpotaters,” West sung, drawing laughs from around the crowd.

West played two videos from fans who sent in stories, inspiring him to write songs in their honor. He followed each video with the song that was inspired by the stories.

All the build-up led to Michael W. Smith, a legend in the Christian music industry who has been playing for more than 30 years.

With time an issue due to the delay, the fireworks extravaganza was rescheduled to be during Smith’s …   More


Jacksonville International Airport has become an extension of an ever-growing and developing art scene with its 14 permanent installations and two galleries.

This month's exhibit features the work of Amy Cheng, who last week created and installed the mosaic mural, "Celestial Playground." 

The mural is made of glass, ceramic, and stone mosaic, with gold flowers made of brass. The "Celestial Playground" adorns the walls between the Sky and Haskell galleries. The brightness and colorfulness of the mural and its cosmic, sky and space influences were desiged by Cheng to make the viewer feel less stressed about the challenges of air travel such as security and flight delays.

"'Celestial Playground' was inspired by space and the sky — it is an airport — and the floor was blue so I mimiced that.  The piece is designed to give the viewer a sense of lightness, of joy,” Cheng said. “I wanted to give the travellers and facility something visually lovely and cheerful.”

Cheng, an artist in New York, was commissioned to complete her mural after competing with more than 90 other applicants.





The 12th annual Art Basel in Miami Beach was met with more enthusiasm and communal excitement than ever before. Outside of the main event at the convention center was an endless landscape of street art, galleries, pop up shows and other major fairs.

The Moksha family art fair, which takes place at 7th Circuit Studio in little Haiti, is a high point every year. A heady tribute to Terrance McKenna, "Return To The Dreamtime," featured a live reading by Dennis McKenna and a film made by Ken Adams with wildly psychedelic computer graphics and a cosmic, earthy soundtrack woven into video-taped interviews with Terrance dating back to 1989.

Alex Grey presented an original spoken word piece accompanied by didgeridoo, percussion and electronic loops. North Florida's own electronic jam outfit Greenhouse Lounge played the main Moksha event on Saturday night, which included live painting by Alex and Allyson Grey, Mark Henson and others.

Florida Mining Gallery owner and artist Steve Williams succeeded in unifying dozens of ambitious North Florida artists to a produce a multi-building, multi-media art experience called "North of Modern." Partnering with Global Investments and Majestic Properties, Florida Mining Gallery was able to transform six unused and abandoned retail spaces and curate a high quality pop-up art shop.

A theme of re-purposing unused space into social centers seemed to prevail and was perhaps best expressed in Kedgar Volta's installation "Urban Impositions" and Quintron & Miss Pussycat's wild set, which took place in deep in recesses of the abandoned building.

The "North of Modern" presentation and Moksha's Return to the Dreamtime prove that grassroots efforts and teamwork involved in more intimate art fairs are a refreshing oasis in an untamed wilderness of hype and hysteria that often abound in the art world.   More


Julio Iglesias thinks nearly all his songs are “sexy.” And he made sure to introduce them as so.

For the 1,400 fans clapping and laughing March 2 in Downtown Jacksonville, Iglesias probably couldn’t turn that charm off.

In between songs, he took a seat on his stool to talk and joke with the audience.

He asked only for a small favor, “If you make love tonight and you get pregnant, name [the baby] Julio.”

Julio Iglesias’ charm reflected in both his singing and his on-stage delivery, energizing about his fans at the Moran Theatre in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

He thanked the audience again and again for coming to his concert on Oscar night.

Iglesias sang in Spanish, French and English. He drew the biggest reaction with his rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Two ballroom dancers added an extra kick as they danced throughout many of Iglesias’ Spanish songs. They had an electrifying chemistry, and Iglesias later explained that they were married. He then asked the man, “Can I kiss your wife?” before he proceeded to kissed her.

One of the most defining instruments in the performance was the saxophone. Even Iglesias remarked, “If I played the saxophone like you, I would invite all my girlfriends to bed and play for them.”

Iglesias is so natural on stage that one can’t help but think it is second-nature for him. The entire performance seemed like it was improvised, yet it flowed so smoothly and seamlessly.

Iglesias might have surprised some with his exit. After an hour and a half, he walked off stage, the band finished, and the lights turned on. That was the end of that.



The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s “Contemporary Classic: Artisan Edition,” a fundraising gala to benefit MOCA’s educational endeavors, is 6-11 p.m. April 6.

Tickets for the gala are $200 for the “Classic Dinner,” which is seated in the galleries and will feature dishes made by local chefs with local ingredients.

Tickets are $50 for the “Classic Party” after dinner with dancing, interactive art experiences and Jacksonville-brewed spirits.

Dinner will kick off at 6 p.m. in the galleries and the party will follow at 8 p.m. in MOCA’s Teresa and Arthur Milam Lobby.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will support MOCA’s exhibits, educational programs and outreach initiatives. Among these programs is “Voice of the People,” which features recorded accounts and descriptions of works of art by students and adults; and “Rainbow Artists,” which promotes social interaction among children with autism through artistic activities.

The featured exhibit during the gala is “SLOW: Marking Time in Photography and Film.” This exhibit focuses on still photographs, films and video works that explore questions of time and duration. The exhibit features the works of seven artists whose methods in addressing the concept of time complement and challenge one another.

MOCA Jacksonville is located at 333 N. Laura St., in Downtown Jacksonville, next to the main library.

To purchase tickets call Director of Development Jason Kirk at (904) 366-6911, ext. 202, or visit   More


Legendary singer-songwriter, poet, actor and cultural phenomenon Bob Dylan arrives in May, but for those who want tickets, the time is now. Dylan performs with support from Dawes, 7 p.m. May 5 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The $40-$60 tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. March 22 at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the amphitheater. Those who bought tickets to the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival have a pre-sale opportunity, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 20, only at the amphitheater box office. Members of the nonprofit Friends of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre may purchase tickets 10 a.m.-10 p.m. March 21 at 1-800-745-3000,,   More


One local man aims to keep local creative people in town with his music video countdown show "Music 4 U" (M4U). The show premieres 7:30 p.m. April 7 on CW17 with an emphasis on local music, fashion and art.

The show will feature Kentucky-born Kojo Robinson the show’s host and creator, as he presents a weekly viewer-chosen, top-five music video countdown, as well as a fashion segment from “Mz London,” or Shadae Myers. Kojo will speak with Northeast Florida artists, entertainers, athletes and personalities during the half-hour show.

Jake McCain of CW17 spoke about the year-long process the station and the show's creators went through to get to this point.

“We worked with Kojo and made suggestions and changes to get it to the quality of which we could air the show,” McCain said. “We gave constructive criticism throughout, and it was a back-and-forth process. As revisions were made, they implemented those suggestions, and we moved forward towards the green light.”

Kojo said that the process was a lengthy one, but it has been fun pursuing his dream.

“The main purpose is to show viewers that Jacksonville has a lot of talent that people aren't aware of,” Kojo said. “Many artists have to leave Jacksonville to get exposure. We want to stop that. We want to keep our talent and even bring talent from surrounding areas here.”

Strongly supportive of local music, artists and Jacksonville, Kojo said that he plans to keep the show here even if it he’s able to develop a national following.

“We are having a lot of people contacting us and sending us their videos,” Myers said. “It's a great feeling to get that support. We would love to eventually go national with the show, while keeping M4U right here. We want to make sure Jacksonville becomes that place where artists go to get their music to the masses.”   More

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