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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

The Flog

You'll FLOAT, too … right on down to the movie theater

After lurking in the shadows of our minds for 27 years, Stephen King’s IT reaches the light, as the story is once again brought to life through film.

Though many people think the 1990 TV show is “the” cinematic telling of the story, comparing the new to the old does a bit of a disservice to both versions. Even if collective nostalgic tendencies pull in a certain ’90s direction, it's probably best to look at the two films as separate entities. If a comparison is needed, compare the new film to the true source: the book.

Like many stories that have come from Stephen King, takes place in Derry, Maine—a fictional town that has ties to many of King’s literary works. For most of its history, Derry has been plagued by a series of strange cases of missing children that happen every 27 years. The children are never found and are seemingly forgotten as missing children posters are posted, one on top of the other.

In 1988, Derry is again struck with a string of unexplainable cases and thus begins the present story. Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), little brother to the main character Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), vanishes one rainy day and Bill investigates what may have happened.

Time passes, and it's suddenly 1989 and school has been let out for the summer. As more children go missing, Bill and his friends (The Losers Club) begin to suspect that there may be something more sinister going on than first imagined.

An ancient and demonic entity has awakened from a 27-year slumber and has begun, once again, to prey upon the children of Derry. To spare the town from a fate to which so many others have already succumbed, The Losers Club must face the monster—along with their own personal demons.

IT is not only an effective piece of horror fiction, it's a beautiful and, at times, all too familiar, coming-of-age story. The familiar angst and nervousness of growing up is ever present as the characters …   More

The Flog

JaxDocFest: Social Commentary This Way Comes!

The second annual Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival is here again. Held in 5 Points, Jax Doc Fest presents a wide variety of social viewpoints on film from around the world.

Everything from the art of pole dancing to a Limp Bizkit concert in Russia will be showcased at this year's festival. Whatever your interests may be, the festival is sure to spark discussion throughout the Northeast Florida film-loving community.

Both American and international filmmakers will be showcasing their works this weekend. According to Elizabeth Lawrence, executive director and festival founder, the inclusion of an international voice will be an interesting and important element when adding to the film discussion.

For Lawrence, the festival's goals and purpose are to spark discussion in the local community as well as the documentary film community. "I think it is very important," said Lawrence. "It's the voice of the people. It creates discussion within the community."

This year's film topics cover a wide swath of the social palette, including politics, mental health, animal rights, adult education, disabilities, environmental issues and women's empowerment.

Some of the filmmakers are part of the discussion as they lead Q&A sessions after their films screen.

Filmmaker Michael Galinsky is returning to the festival this year with two of his newer films, All the Rage andWorking in Protest. In All the Rage, Galinsky is the main character in his own documentary, as he examines the almost-15-year-long battle with chronic pain he endures with the help of a radical pain specialist, Dr. John E. Sarno. The film explores not only the pain itself, but the connection the human body makes between emotional suppression and the actual sensation of feeling pain.

According to both Lawrence and Galinsky, Working in Protestis the more timely of the two because it chronicles Galinksy's almost-30-year journey into the world of protest. Starting in …   More


UPDATE: Complaint Filed Against Gainesville "Hot Cop"

Yesterday, in an effort to bring y'all a desperately needed post-Irma chuckle, we posted a tongue-in-cheek story about the three night officers with the Gainesville Police Department whose picture went viral.

In the never-ending story of why we love/hate the internet, today the Gainesville Sun reported that GPD is investigating Officer Michael Hamill, who is pictured in the center of the photo, for reportedly making antisemitic statements on his personal Facebook page.

According to the Sun, a screenshot of an April 2013 post on Hamill's page reads: "Who knew that reading jewish jokes before I go to bed would not only make me feel better about myself but also help me to sleep better as well. Here is one for everybody, 'What’s the difference between boy scouts and jews?' Anybody know? Well it is because 'Boy scouts come back from their camps.'" [sic]

Another post the outlet allegedly received from a source shows Hamill posting in 2011: "so I find it funny that people will talk about how our government needs to do something about our economy and in reality it’s YOU who needs to stop taking advantage of our system and get a life and do something with your life. Gotta love reality when it hits you in the face. Stupid people annoy me. Put them in an oven and deal with them the Hitler way. Haha."

Hamill reportedly was sworn in as an officer in 2016. GPD is investigating and did not provide the Sun with a comment about the complaint.   More


Are Gainesville Hot Cops HOTTER Than Northeast Florida's Finest?

On September 10, the Gainesville Police Department night crew turned the temperature waaayyy up on Facebook by posting this: 


The internet went wild. Some of our favorite comments:

" if Florida wasn't already wet enough."

"I can't believe how many women are objectifying these poor, fine, young, strong, handsome, brave, sexy, delicious, virile, ovulation-inducing, mouth-watering, beefy..... I can't remember where I was going with this..."

"These guys really change the meaning of the song "F@ck the Police...""

"But who will protect these guys from an impending Cougar attack?"

A glorious time was had by all and GPD got deep into the fun. Whoever does their social media deserves a major award, cause this update had us at UP:


1. We are dying with the comments. You've actually made our chief blush with some of them.

2. MRS. Nordman and MRS. Hamill have also enjoyed knowing how millions of women are going crazy over their husbands.

3. We can confirm that Officer Rengering (far right with the amazing hair) IS SINGLE.

4. On another note, Officer Rengering is being placed into Cougar Prey Protective Care, similar to the witness protection program for his safety.

5. Please do not call 9-1-1 and request this group respond to your "incident"

6. There WILL be a calendar."

But now, a question: Whose officers are hotter? Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has laid down some pretty stiff competition in this category.

Exhibit A, B, and C you tonight:


JSO Sergeant Billy Irvin, whom you may recall from a few months back, is dripping wet in this photo because he just legit SAVED A WOMAN'S LIFE in the St. Johns River.

We vote JSO--nothing against those fine young officers from Gainesville, but Irvin has that 'fresh from an act of heroism' thang we just can't resist. And he's a homer.

BUT we'd love to see more evidence.   More