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PLAYING AROUND

Witty banter and solid — though unspectacular — performances helped capture the audience in “Butterflies are Free," playing through Feb. 16 at the Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine.

Written by Leonard Gershe in 1969, the play centers around a young blind man, Don, who moves out of his overbearing mother’s house and tries to make it on his own in the big city. After a month, he meets the girl next door — a zany, outgoing and ditzy divorcee named Jill. An inevitable and rather predictable romantic fling ensues.

Constant puns on blindness keep the play from becoming too emotional or boring. The loudest laugh came when Jill was explaining how she became a hippie to rebel against her mother. Then, her mother loved the idea and followed in her footsteps. That’s when Jill “joined the young Republicans for Ronald Reagan.”

The set was that of a humble apartment complete with a make-shift dining room table, constructed from a bathtub and wood plank. A guitar, a box of cornflakes and a bunk bed were the defining features of the set. Audience members remarked that the set was too simple and “didn’t have the '60s feel.”

The performances by the four actors captured the audience’s attention, but the lead actor’s unconvincing portrayal of blindness came off more zombie-like and took away from his overall performance.

After starting a bit slow, the action picked up in the second act. The humor sprinkled throughout the play are not as memorable as the lasting impact and sympathy the audience gets from Don’s character. “Don’t leave me because I’m blind, but don’t stay because I’m blind,” he says to Jill in the midst of an argument.

This performance is capable of holding your attention, touching your heart, and producing a few laughs.

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Playing Around

Fourteen-year-old Tori Jackson, who will be a high school freshman later this year, heard the Girls Rock Jacksonville message loud and clear.

“The moment I felt empowered was when one of the counselors told me, ‘This is your place.’ She said that we do not have to be nervous at camp, we can express ourselves, and girls rock!”

Girls Rock Jacksonville has been providing a safe space for girls to boost their confidence, express their musical creativity and rock their way through those awkward teenage years since 2012.

The camp — founded by Ace Canessa, Sarah Humphreys and local musician Summer Wood — offers girls the chance to learn to play an instrument, write their own lyrics and create a band to perform in a camp showcase. Two years later, the camp continues to grow and help give a voice to groups of girls every summer.

Aside from teaching girls how to play instruments, the goal of Girls Rock Jacksonville is to equip girls with self-confidence.

Though the camp’s name implies that rock is the main genre, Jackson says that’s not exactly the case. “Our genre was kind of all over the place. We had some rapping in our song, we had some indie rock sort of things and we also had some riot girl moments,” she laughs.

Sisters Yani and Lulu Ritchie also recall their camp experience fondly. Lulu, the drummer for Moonlit Shadows, remembers how easy it was to make friends and connect with her bandmates. She said, “during our practice band time we would just chill and then after 45 minutes we would actually talk about the songs and get to know each other more.” Yani of Yani and the Rosettes learned to play bass at the camp. Though she says she’d never really worked in groups before, she was able to improve her teamwork skills.

Canessa is looking to expand the Girls Rock Jacksonville camp into an after-school program. “In the past we’ve had a pilot once-a-month mentorship program,” she says. “But it never really quite got off …   More

Playing Around

The Dave Matthews Band is playing the arena tonight, and the show’s been sold out for months (approximately 17.3 seconds after tickets went on sale, by our calculations). So either you’re going (we’re judging you), you wish you were going (judging), or you think there might be a better way to part with your hard-earned cash (we can be friends).

Looking for something else to do? Here are some non-DMB happenings around Northeast Florida tonight that are worth your while:

1. See Jenny Lewis at the Florida Theatre. She’s about the same age as the main dude from DMB, except cuter, and incredibly talented. And she’ll probably play some Rilo Kiley songs. (Ray LaMontagne plays, too.)

2. Check out the amateur comedy hour at the Comedy Zone in Mandarin. Watch other people purposely embarrass themselves, then feel better about yourself.

3. Karaoke at Club TSI: Keep the whiskey coming, head on stage and purposely butcher a DMB song. (It won’t be hard.)

4. Trivia Night at the Garage: Drink about five different IPAs and demonstrate how much smarter you are than everyone else.

5. Go to the Jax Jazz Collective CD Release concert and party at Underbelly: Jacksonville has a great jazz scene, but we don’t pay enough attention to it. Fix that.   More

PLAYING AROUND

ELECTRONIC REGGAE POP

BRAIDED SUN

Braided Sun is all about duality; it’s their motto. They appreciate life’s yin and yang, and try to convey that through their electronic music project. The duo from Ponte Vedra Beach, Luke and Nadine Walker, just began releasing music, and have already scored a few stops at this summer’s Warped Tour. Their reggae-tinged music has an electronic dance vibe that sounds like something from an Ultra Music Festival. Put on your sunscreen, pretend – or “pretend” – you’re on acid and chill out with Braided Sun’s we’re-in-this-together vibe at the local premiere of Taylor Knox’s new surf movie De Passage. With Hoyle, 6:30 p.m. July 20, Freebird Live, Jax Beach, free.

 

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PLAYING AROUND

COMEDY REVUE

MAD COWFORD

If you’ve never seen improv comedy, you might be prejudiced by that open mic night when some poor schmuck’s dick jokes fell flat, yet you felt obligated to laugh. Not so at Mad Cowford shows: The improv troupe draws consistent, high-energy crowds every weekend night to their Northstar Substation digs ($5 gets you in). A loyal audience returns week after week to participate in their sketches, scenes and games. The group celebrates eight years performing here with the comedy revue variety show Way Off Broadway. 8 p.m. July 19, Theatre Jacksonville, $20, theatrejax.com, madcowford.com.   More

PLAYING AROUND

SWAMP RADIO

SUMMER PERFORMANCE

Swamp Radio has given new meaning to the phrase “live radio.” Performed before a live audience and available by podcast, the show focuses on the history, culture and flavors of Northeast Florida. Local poets, playwrights, storytellers and songwriters hit the road to share the area’s rich culture in the quarterly variety series. For its summer show, Summer in the Ancient City, Swamp Radio highlights the history of St. Augustine, with historian Wayne Wood and a performance by husband-and-wife folk duo The WillowWacks. 7:30 p.m. July 18 and 19, Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium, $25 for adults, $20 for students.   More

Playing Around

MUSICAL

THE WIZ

Dorothy takes a soulful journey in a local youth production of The Wiz, an African-American musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that fuses rock, gospel and soul. Students in the 100 Youth Voices musical theater program show off what they learned at Stage Aurora, an award-winning nonprofit theater company offering arts education programs to underserved students. This production is the centerpiece of Stage Aurora’s Black Arts Festival. 7 p.m. July 18 and 2 and 6 p.m. July 19 at Stage Aurora, Gateway Town Center, Northside, $15-$25, 765-7373, stageaurora.org.   More

CONCERTS

When Sir Paul’s people hook up media types with review tickets, they really hook you up with review tickets. Like, on the floor, 12th row, maybe a hundred feet from the man who has defined rock ’n’ roll for the last 50 years, a living legend in every sense of the word. These were $500 seats, as I heard some clearly intoxicated bro behind me announce. (My photographer was not so lucky; he learned that his photo pass only granted him access for the first two songs. After that, he was escorted out of the building, and had to wait outside for me, as I was his ride. Clearly, I got the better end of that deal.) For that kind of coin, you expect not just a concert, but a show. And Sir Paul delivered.

Before we continue, a confession: I wasn’t a huge Wings fans, beyond maybe “Live and Let Die” and “Band on the Run.” And I’m not sure I could name three songs from the entirety of McCartney’s solo efforts, but then again, neither could most of the 12,000 or so people in attendance. Without John Lennon as a sort of ballast, McCartney leans a little too much toward sap and sentiment. That’s what made The Beatles work so well: John and Paul balanced out each other’s impulses. And so I, like almost everyone else, was hoping for a set list deep in Beatles songs. We got what we came for — “Yesterday,” “Back in the USSR,” “Paperback Writer,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” etc. — especially toward the end of the evening. 

When you are Paul McCartney, and you are doing a world tour, you can afford to hire some of the finest musicians on the planet, and McCartney’s backing band was indeed flawless, effortless, as you would expect. And while Paul’s voice showed its 72 years from time to time, especially on the high parts of “Maybe I’m Amazed” — no, Times-Union, he has not …   More

Playing Around

The City of St. Augustine and the rich cultural diversity it represents has survived as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. In celebration of the 450th founding anniversary of St. Augustine, Ancient City Mosaic will display 450 works of art by local and regional artists.

Each of the 450 works, one for each year of the history of St. Augustine, will be of the artists’ depiction of a historical landmark, event, figure or tradition relevant to St. Augustine.

Entries will be accepted — one per artist — through April 15 at St. Augustine's City Hall, Lightner Building, 450th Offices, Lobby B on the third floor, 75 King St., St. Augustine.

Registration for the event is $10 for adults (18 and older), which includes the canvas. Canvases for adults must be picked up at the Michaels Stores location at 310 CBL Dr., St. Augustine. A $10 gift card to Michaels Stores will be given to the first 100 people to register and pick up their canvases at Michaels Stores, which is sponsoring the event.

Children (17 and under) may receive a free 8-inch-by-10-inch canvas through participating St. Johns County Schools. For schools that do not have Ancient City Mosaic canvases, students may pick them up at City Hall in Lobby C on the fourth floor, 75 King St. The registration cost is $5 for children to submit their artwork to the Ancient City Mosaic Project.

Project organizers seek local artists who wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to display their work. Artists of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to participate in this commemoration of the nation’s oldest city. Any medium that will fit on the supplied canvas will be accepted.

The selected art will be displayed at all six St. Johns County Public Library locations and the St. Augustine Art Association from May 3 to June 1. The 450-piece mosaic will be displayed June 15 through Aug. 10 with a reception honoring the artists and …   More

PLAYING AROUND

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

 
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