BEST OF JAX 2013

Arts & Entertainment

The best in theater, art, clubs and more

Photo: Dennis Ho, Photo illustration: Chad Smith
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens (represented by Wendy Steve and Wendy Stanley) won Best Museum.
Dennis Ho
The Shim Sham Room (with Dreu Brigman and Nicole Greenwell) won Best New Club.
Dennis Ho
J-City (Jamaree Thomas) won Best Musician.
Dennis Ho
Players by the Sea (with Joe Schwartz, Bradley Akers, Ron Shreve and Barbara Colaciello) won Best Community Theater Group, and Players' "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" won Best Theater Production.
Dennis Ho
Matt Abercrombie, Tommy Armageddon and Morrison Pierce participate in First Wednesday Art Walk in Downtown Jacksonville, which won Best Art Walk.
Dennis Ho
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Best Actor

Victor Jones

Proving that an actor doesn’t have to live in LA or NYC to be a working actor, Victor Jones has appeared in two movies of the week (including “Prize Pulitzer” with Courteney Cox) shot in Jacksonville, the James Bond feature “Licence to Kill” and a number of national commercials (most notably, a Buckingham Palace guard in an Imodium commercial). His biggest claim to fame might be an appearance in a newsroom street-fight scene in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” If, he said, it doesn’t wind up on the cutting floor. — KS

 

Best Art Exhibit

Jim Draper, ‘Feast of Flowers,’ The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

When local landscape artist Jim Draper decided to mark the 500th anniversary of the naming of Florida, he got to work on “Feast of Flowers.” “It seemed appropriate to celebrate those native species that have remained in this fragile ecosystem,” Draper said of his multidisciplinary series of paintings based on local landscapes. The series was exhibited at the Cummer from December 2012 through April 2013. “My hope is that, through exhibiting images based upon these natural systems, we can all develop a better understanding of the bounty that lay before us.” — KP

 

Best Art Walk

First Wednesday Art Walk

Touted as a “free, self-guided tour that combines astounding visual and live art,” Downtown Jacksonville’s monthly Wednesday Art Walk is the place to hobnob while checking out local talent. Regular venues include the headquarters at Hemming Plaza, Southlight Gallery, The Florida Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville with works by artists and artisans like Jennifer Knudsen, White Witch Jewelry, Erica Spofford and Conrad Van Wyk. Themed events such as Pet Walk and Oktoberfest are crowd pleasers. Ride your bike, hop on the bus, hail a cab or ride the Skyway. Any way you get there, First Wednesday Art Walk is not to be missed. — KP

 

Best Artist

Yvonne C. Lozano

Known for her depiction of faceless children and Dingo, the blue dog, Yvonne C. Lozano is more than just another local artist. Through socially engaging public art projects like “I AM JAX” (artistic silhouettes that tell the story of Jacksonville citizens through social media) and Operation: Bring Art to the People (free art drops throughout the city known as #freeartfriday), Lozano is a driving force for cohesion among artists and the community. “Art is a powerful tool, and my work is meant to do more than just be hung up on a wall,” Lozano said. “It’s meant to engage and encourage people to love, interact and connect with our region.” — KP

 

Best Author

Jesse Wilson

Growing up a foster child, Jesse Wilson didn’t exactly have the quintessential happy childhood. But he’s turning those early-life challenges into a positive experience — for himself and others. Wilson, who works as a foster home and teen advocate at Family Support Services of North Florida, is writing a book about his life in the system. The still-untitled memoir features notes from his actual case file (he says he doesn’t remember many of the events described). As a teen, he penned a book of poetry inspired by his life at the time. — KS

 

Best Comedian

Moonpie

“Are you SERIOUS?” An ironic question from the man dubbed the funniest in town. Moonpie (née David Hicks) got into the funny business working in promotions at a local radio station. He’s since dabbled in stand-up comedy; wrote/produced/starred in a cable variety series called “The Babble Show”; appeared in several independent films and scored a memorable cameo on “Glee” (taunting Sue Sylvester, no less). These days, he runs CineCity Jax, a networking group promoting local performance arts, and is writing a screenplay — a comedy, we assume. — KS

 

Best Comedy Club

The Comedy Zone

For more than two decades, The Comedy Zone has attracted regional and national acts including Chris Rock, Carrot Top, Jeff Foxworthy, Tracy Morgan, Louie Anderson and Brian Regan to its small but mighty stage (Carlos Mencia, Drew Carey, Mick Foley and Keenen Ivory Wayans are among those who have performed this year). Owner Fred Pozin also cultivates budding comedians with stand-up workshops and local all-star nights at the club. And if eight years of winning the category (since we started it) weren’t enough reason to get into the Zone, comedian Doug Benson dubbed it “the best comedy club off a freeway.” Now that’s funny. — KS

 

Best Community Theater Group

Players by the Sea

Best Theater Production

‘Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson’

In life, Andrew Jackson never visited the city that bears his name; he was the provisional governor at the time the city was incorporated, and it was named after him only in “tribute.” However, Jackson’s image proliferated throughout the summer. Players by the Sea ran “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” over four weekends in July and August, playing to strong crowds from start to finish (bit.ly/therewillbeblood). It was a high point in a good year overall for the company, which has grown into a real community asset since its founding in 1966. The theater’s other offerings this year included “Amadeus,” “Passing Strange,” “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” and “Young Frankenstein.” Coming up this fall are “Quills” opening Oct. 18 and “The Whipping Man” opening Nov. 8. — SH

 

Best Place to Attend a Concert

St. Augustine Amphitheatre

A steady flow of varied national acts earned the St. Augustine Amphitheatre a win in 2012 (and every year since ’09) and this year was no different. With about 4,100 seats, the covered amphitheater’s 2013 shows have ranged from rock to hip-hop to country, featuring performers like Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, Smashing Pumpkins, Alan Jackson, Chicago and Kendrick Lamar. Upcoming shows include The Lumineers with Dr. Dog, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame, Barenaked Ladies, Passion Pit, Justin Moore, The Avett Brothers and Alabama Shakes. — HL

 

Best Dance Club

Mavericks

Best DJ

Joe Buck

Best Concert

SOJA

Jacksonvillians love, love, love country music. When folks want to go honky-tonkin’, they head to Mavericks at The Landing. On Thursday through Saturday nights, it’s DJ Joe Buck who’s usually there to make sure they have a good time. “I’m big on playing all the customers’ requests. I don’t just play what I think they want to hear,” said Buck, who has DJ’d at Mavericks off and on since the club opened in late 2007. Whether you’re a line dancer, booty shaker or slow dancer, Buck’s got you covered. “I want people to leave that club saying, ‘Man, I had a blast dancing,’ ” he said. But don’t pigeonhole Mavericks as strictly a country music club. Mavericks also holds concerts featuring artists from other genres. According to Folio Weekly readers, the best concert on the First Coast this year was SOJA, a reggae/rock band with hip-hop influences. SOJA, which stands for Soldiers of Jah Army, hails from Arlington, Va., near Washington, D.C., and they rocked a crowd at Mavericks in July. — HL

 

Best Dance Studio

Dance Trance

With multiple locations throughout Northeast Florida, including Neptune Beach and San Marco, Dance Trance is the place to sweat it out on the dance floor. Established more than 20 years ago, Dance Trance is a dance fitness program that utilizes hand signals to cue dancers to changes coming up in the music — a mix of jazz, funk, Latin, reggae, hip hop and more. With beginner, intermediate and advanced level classes, Dance Trance has become so popular that it even offers its own clothing line, from dance pants to hot shorts. — KP

 

Best Gallery

CoRK Arts District

Located on the corner of Rosselle and King streets, CoRK Arts District features more than 80,000 square feet of warehouse space showcasing workspaces and galleries of some of Northeast Florida’s most talented artists. Housing everything from woodworkers and painters to glass-blowers and ceramicists, CoRK has gained fame as the lifeblood of Jacksonville’s art community. Over the past year, the space has showcased a cornucopia of events, including “The Sum of Cube + Cubism” by Overstreet Ducasse and Stephanie Glen; “Cut Paint Draw” featuring Hiromi Moneyhun, Sharla Valeski and Bruce Musser; “Through the Fire”; and “The All Americans” featuring Ducasse, Dustin Harewood and Princess Simpson Rashid. — KP

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Club

Metro Entertainment Complex

“Complex” is the perfect word to describe the Riverside nightclub said to be the largest LGBT venue in Florida. For starters, Metro Entertainment Complex houses seven distinct venues ranging from a piano bar and disco to tiki bar and female impersonator showroom (Sondra Todd and Rhiannon Todd are staples). Weekly events include an amateur male strip contest, “drag-okie” (Karaoke hosted by drag queens, of course) and bottomless Thursday (not literally). Then there’s the “complexity” of its staff and patrons. Male? Female? Both? Neither? — KS

 

Best Gentlemen’s Club

Gold Club

What makes a gentlemen’s club “best” certainly depends on one’s reasons for patronizing it. To Folio Weekly readers who chose Gold Club, sexy dancers aren’t the only criteria. Discreetly located on a blink-and-you-miss-it side street off Atlantic Boulevard, the adults-only club does cater to clientele who appreciate the female form, especially one spinning around a stripper pole, but it’s also a full-service steakhouse, with VIP bottle service and TVs. — KS

 

Best Karaoke Place

Austin Karaoke

You probably think you sound like Christina Aguilera or Michael Bublé when you’re singing in the shower, but the reality is you don’t. And that’s the beauty of Austin Karaoke. Jacksonville’s only Karaoke-only bar allows patrons to sing in private rooms with state-of-the-art, fully computerized Karaoke systems. No host to goad you, no strangers to heckle you: It’s just you, a microphone and monitor, and whoever you choose to invite — or not. Rooms are rented by the hour, and reservations are suggested. — KS

 

Best Movie Theater

Cinemark Tinseltown

It’s not just the quantity of screens that makes Cinemark Tinseltown and XD the readers’ choice: It’s the quality of the movie-going experience. Ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall screens with custom sound (that’s the “XD”) and digital format with ultra-realistic 3-D make audiences feel like they’re in the film, not just watching it; while amenities like self-service kiosks, online ticketing and an onsite café and arcade offer convenience. And don’t forget to “go to the lobby to get [yourselves] a treat.” — KS

 

Best Museum

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

With a permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art and more than 110,000 annual visitors, it’s easy to see why Folio Weekly readers vote for the Cummer. Aside from extensive visual exhibitions and displays, the museum gem hosts regular lectures, studio classes, “Conversation and Cocktails,” concerts, “Talks & Tea,” garden tours and volunteer and docent opportunities — a true Riverside institution for more than five decades. This year, the Cummer renovated its riverview Olmstead Garden and built a new sculpture garden facing Riverside Avenue. Check out the upcoming “Modern Dialect” collection, featuring respected American artists, opening Oct. 19 in the Mason Gallery. — KP

 

Best Musician

J-City

Jamaree (pronounced Jah-mar-ee) Thomas, aka J-City, wants to be a hip-hop trendsetter. The 20-year-old Jacksonville native said he has been making music since he was 7, and he’s now in the studio recording his first album. “The message of my music,” he said, “is about enjoying life and making the best of every moment that we’re here.” His music has spread in a grassroots, word-of-mouth fashion, and he wants his fans to know that “the best is yet to come.” — HL

 

Best Live Music Club

Freebird Live

Since opening on First Street in Jacksonville Beach in 1999, this club named for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song, “Free Bird,” has remained a haven for live music junkies seeking a rock ’n’ roll fix. But the music doesn’t stop there. Freebird Live also books hip-hop, jam, funk and blues musicians. With two floors, two bars and space for about 700 people, standing-room only, the non-smoking club brings in nationally touring acts while supporting local bands, too. Upcoming shows include Built to Spill, Less Than Jake, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Baauer and Clutch. — HL

 

Best New Club

The Shim Sham Room

This hot new club’s website lists so many meanings for “shim sham,” the Smurfs are jealous. So slip into your sexy threads and hit The Shim Sham Room in Jacksonville Beach for the night. You never know, you could meet a shim sham who wants to shim sham at the shim sham — shim sham? Translation: You might meet a fine-looking lady who wants to, um, dance at the after party — you know what I’m saying? Probably not, but go anyway. — CG

 

Best Open Mic Night

Three Layers Café

There has been a long tradition of regular open mic nights around the region; they’ve generated some of our most accomplished singer-songwriters and spoken-word artists. But it’s been quite some time since one has had the staying power of those held every third Thursday at Three Layers in Springfield. (However, look for Chamblin’s Uptown to give them serious competition in next year’s balloting.) Here, performers compete to have a paid gig the following month, which is sometimes their first paying gig ever — an awesome incentive. — SH

 

Best Outdoor Festival

Jacksonville Jazz Festival

Facing ever-present suburban sprawl, the city is always searching for ways to bring people Downtown. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival does just that, packing streets annually with thousands of residents and out-of-towners jazzed about live music and a juried art show. The crowd gives Downtown a swell, urban vibe. Performers in 2013 included Trombone Shorty, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Yellowjackets and the supergroup BWB, plus local favorites such as Von Barlow’s Jazz Journey and Tropic of Cancer. — HL

 

Best Trivia Night

Dick’s Wings & Grill

Hosted by Trivia Nation, live team trivia is on the menu at Dick’s Wings & Grill five nights a week at rotating locations (the University/San Jose restaurant is the newest addition at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays). The competition can get fierce (there are free bar tabs on the line, people) but remains friendly, which is one reason Dick’s takes the prize — and 30 different flavors of wings to munch on between questions probably doesn’t hurt, either. — KS

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