Blogs: The Flog
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the flog

Oh Captain, My Captain

What can one say upon learning that we have lost the great Von Barlow? Quite a lot, as it turns out, but it takes time to figure out just the right words. Von was a pillar of this community, and not just in the metaphoric sense of the word. He was a physical structure, elegant and stylish and strong; he bore the load of thousands of pounds’ worth of men and women who owe him a debt that cannot be expressed in mere dollars and cents. More like rare jewels and precious metals.

I count myself among those people. Barlow was the first drummer I saw with my own eyes. My uncle took me to my first jazz concert back in 1991. Trumpeter Longineu Parsons was working the Jazz Festival at the (recently demolished, for no good reason) Jacksonville Landing, and Barlow was the drummer that night. I am happy to say that both those men would later become two of my closest friends in this business, but I am sad to say that one of them is no longer here.

Barlow was a fixture at all the hip spots, either as a performer or hawking his patented “Clix Stix,” which gave the common man access to some of the percussive effects he developed in the course of a career that ran close to 60 years. He worked the festival countless times, in countless settings, and joined its Hall of Fame in 2007. He even performed at Woodstock, backing O.C. Smith, but their set didn’t make it into the movie. That really sucks.

He may be best known for his Sunday sessions at the Casbah, which remains one of the most unique live music settings you’ll find anywhere in this era. For more than a decade, that spot was the proving ground for young musicians from JU, UNF, FSCJ, Douglas Anderson and elsewhere. They would gather around their hookahs and Turkish coffee, cases in hand, just waiting for their chance to get that work on heads like “Cherokee” or “A Night in Tunisia.” If they could hang, especially on the meteoric tempos he preferred, bragging rights …   More

the flog

Socks & Undies

Elvis Mujić dropped in and introduced himself at Folio Weekly HQ last week. The Michigan-based guerrilla comedian was prepping a Jacksonville residency of sorts, which begins next week. Mujić is performing a series of donation-only stand-up shows at shelters and other venues (Fly's Tie, Shantytown Pub, Tent Hookah and Choppers), all benefitting people experiencing homelessness. He also planted a donation bin in our Downtown atrium. The project is dubbed The Socks and Undies Tour, because that's the price of admission. An interesting idea! We thought we'd ask him some questions.

 

Magid: Who are your comedic influences? Who did you stay up late to watch on television when you were growing up?

 

Mujić: Currently Donald Trump, one of the funniest comedians working right now! Growing up, I watched anything on Comedy Central—and I had funny friends. I remember going to my friend's house, and he played Dave Chappelle's Killin' Them Softly. I was amazed that something like that even existed. Like, they're just going to sit there and listen to him talk?

 

What was going on in your life when you took to the stage and discovered your talent?

 

Nothing! Wasted a full scholarship, not sober, on probation, and living with my parents. My first open mic was at Thistle Coffee House in Detroit. There were seven people in the audience, including two crackheads. My friend Brad was with me, and we both thought it was obvious I should keep going. Later that night, we watched a fight break out at a bowling ally. It was hilarious.

 

Comedy can be cathartic for the audience and performer alike. What do you hope to achieve when you step on stage (for yourself and your audience)?

 

My main goal is to be funny. I don't like agenda-driven comedy. It's nice when a point is made, but having fun and being funny is my focus. Also, I thoroughly enjoy messing with people.

 

You've traveled all over the …   More

the flog

So Hard to Say Goodbye

There are no guarantees in life, and fewer in art. However, it is a bit stunning to bear witness to Adam Levine’s departure, after only about a year, from the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. Levine, PhD., came into the George and Kathleen Gibbs director and chief executive officer role with fanfare and hope. And truly, in the year of his leadership, the museum seems to have returned to life, literally and metaphorically. The doors have been thrown open. Levine seemed intent on creating a space for dialogue across the centuries, with a bend toward the ideas influencing our time.

The 2019 Impressionists show not only pulled out lesser-known artists, but it also sparked conversation around collectors and how collecting can be a political act. Two Damien Hirst works (on loan) are instructive exemplars of the artist’s fascination with death, especially Sanctitude (2007), which, with butterfly wings entrapped in house paint, defies the inherent grace and beauty of the insects and gestures instead to a sticky-gleeful acquisitive mentality that delights in literally pulling the wings off of (butter)flies. Paired with Black Sun (2004), the other Hirst piece on loan, which is a huge tondo work heaped high with resin-encrusted flies, the absurd death messaging is doubly underscored. Like a teenager who wears “black on the outside because they feel black on the inside,” with a side of, “What’s for dinner, mom?” it is funny to contemplate and shape an opinion against. In short, it's the good work of a museum.

Most recently, the museum opened Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt, and the show (from the Brooklyn Museum of Art) is a fantastic exemplar of Levine’s interest in Classicism in a contemporary context. During his short opening remarks for the show, he stressed that this kind of destruction of symbols not only took place in the ancient world, but that it has corollaries throughout history and lessons for our …   More

the flog

Today, Your Prince Has Come

Strictly speaking, Joshua Bowlus is a local musician, and a very good one, but such phrasing is imprecise. He’s one in a long list of luminaries churned out by the UNF jazz program, which as a brand is seen (and heard) as formidable on the global scene. There is probably no major jazz city in this country, and perhaps any other, where there is not at least one UNF graduate holding their own among on the stage on any given evening. Of course, that includes the home base here in Northeast Florida, where the spotlight falls on Bowlus’ quartet at the Blue Jay Listening Room this Saturday night.

Bowlus took private classes at Stetson University while still in elementary school beginning his studies at UNF under the tutelage of pianists Keith Javors and Kevin Bales, all of which occurred under the all-seeing eye of department head Bunky Green. The intervening years have seen Bowlus emerge not only as a bandleader in his own right, but also a first-call sideman for other artists, not just here but in places like France, China, Spain and of course New York City. Backing Bowlus is his regular quartet, a group skimmed from the cream of the city’s jazz elite: Juan Carlos Rollan on tenor and alto saxophone, Ricky Ravelo on bass, Ben Adkins on drums. All four are well-versed in the material, but none of them are singers—not professionally, anyway. As such, they are bringing in one humdinger of a ringer to kick this session up a notch or two.

Vocalist Linda Cole (a cousin of the legendary Nat “King” Cole”) began her career in a trio with her parents in Freeport, Illinois, aged only three. The “Singing Cole Family” eventually grew to include six additional siblings, and their circles likewise expanded to encompass much of the Central States region, where they played hundreds of shows through the 1960s. Established early on as a purveyor of pop music and gospel, Cole branched out into rhythm and blues, hitting the road as …   More

the flog

Brian Begone

Last night, Jacksonville City Councilmember Matt Carlucci circulated an email urging Brian Hughes to resign. Hughes is Mayor Lenny Curry's longtime political strategist and current chief administrative officer.

Carlucci began with his personal observations of Hughes' confrontational style (which he also noted in our December 25 feature story). "[Hughes'] presence in City Hall, in my opinion, based on my experience, has been an impediment to our city moving forward," Carlucci wrote, "and this has lead to the worst governmental environment and chemistry that I have ever witnessed or experienced in my public service career." Hughes’ name may not be familiar to the general public, but any insider can attest to Carlucci’s experience.

Carlucci then went on to lament the erosion of public trust that has taken place in recent months: "Our city cannot move forward because so many of our community leaders and citizens have become distrustful and tiresome of our city government. A mayor cannot be an effective leader with a chief of staff who is not collaborative and cannot be relied upon to build honest and forthright relationships. There is a cloud of bad government over Jacksonville at this historic moment and time. This is my opinion as a citizen and councilmember of my beloved hometown, and believe and know it not only reflects my views, but the views of so many who want the best for Jacksonville. Our citizens deserve better. We deserve excellence."

All of this is, of course, correct. Hughes needs to go. But, in Folio’s opinion, his boss is equally responsible for the repeated breaches of public trust that Carlucci rues. We understand Carlucci must work with the mayor—we don't—and we hope that Hughes, as controversial and creepy as he is, does not become a scapegoat for the entire administration, which many suspect is corrupt from top to bottom.   More

the flog

Just Too Sweet

Pocket of Lollipops has two equal parts. There's Maitejosune Urrechaga, who utilizes more bass guitars than John Wick does guns (her instruments of choice are a Fender PJ and a Cardinal by PureSalem, who began sponsoring her last year; she also plays the cello). Tony Kapel, her husband, plays synths, electronics and drums, specifically a Gretsch Catalina Club kit. They both share vocal duties, with lyrics overlapping in a style similar to bands like Guv’ner, Boss Hogg and Sonic Youth.

The band is based in Miami, where the couple was born and raised. They keep themselves busy as key facilitators of alternative culture in South Florida. As such, they don’t get out this way nearly as often their fans here would prefer, which is too bad, because they’re a natural fit with this scene. Their December 27 appearance comes midway through a quick mini-tour of the state, which also includes stops in Ft. Myers, Cape Coral and Boca Raton. The diversity of venues reflects the band’s eclectic tastes and the universality of their quirky charm: stops include the iconic Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, followed by a DJ set at the Miami Book Fair, an Art Basel wrap-up show, Robot Brewery in Boca Raton and a couple of record stores.

This is their first Northeast Florida gig in two years, and it's at the historic Kona Skatepark, which doesn’t host live music nearly as often as it should. “Last time we visited Jacksonville, we decided to check it out,” Kapel said. “We have been trying to book a show there for a while. So it was nice to get this chance to play.”

2019 was their tenth year as a band, and one of their most successful. Their first album, MT Your Pockets, was released in January 2010, followed by Vivid Reprise in 2011 and Broken Balloon in 2012. The Letters to Larrup EP (2013) was really what brought their sound to wider audiences (that and the video for “Cute Chaos,” …   More

the flog

Immortal Technique

It’s been nearly five months since the death of Paten Locke, and his legacy continues to grow. The dozens of artists who were influenced by him are doing their thing all over this country, and they carry his name with them everywhere they go. A large sum of them will gather in the Urban Core this weekend, with three full nights of DJ action lined up to lead us into the new year. All of the talent involved, and most of the audience, are people who were directly impacted and influenced by the man once known as DJ Therapy. Some of them might have never gotten into the business at all if it weren’t for him.

Thursday night, Dec. 26, Shantytown Pub hosts the tin anniversary of the Full Plate label and the seminal album Studies in Hunger, which Locke released with his longtime co-conspirator, the rapper/DJ/professional chef Dillon Vaughan Maurer (aka Lobsterdamus, aka DJ Lobby P). The duo first met back in 2004. “I was going to school at UF and had just put out my first 12 inch. DJ Basic of Asamov threw the song on an episode of ‘Skills Center Radio’; Paten heard it and apparently wanted to meet me. His exact words were something to the effect of, ‘Who’s this kid from Jacksonville rhyming like this? I need to meet him, so I can let him know he’s not as nice as he thinks he is,’ or something like that.”

Then the action moves Downtown, to the Justice Pub, where more than a dozen DJs serve up Little Plates, a specified concept that Locke and Maurer developed. The gimmick, in the pro-wrestling sense of the word, revolves around 45RPM records, long the medium of choice for singles, but mostly neglected by turntablists until the Full Plate crew brought it back. Not even Locke himself could muster a reliable guess as to how many records he owned. “It’s hard to say,” Maurer said, “but my approximate guess would be all of them. He owned all of the records, tons of 45s—he collected …   More

the flog

Nobody Is Above the Law

Tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m., on the eve of an expected vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, Northeast Florida activists will take to the streets to express support for the presumed outcome, namely the impeachment of Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump faces two charges: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. Republican representatives have unanimously circled their wagons around the embattled president, but House Democrats hold the majority.

The St. Augustine and Jacksonville events are part of a nationwide mobilization organized by MoveOn.org. There are 564 such demonstrations planned across the nation. Indivisible St. Johns is spearheading the St. Augustine event, which takes place at the Plaza de la Constitución. In a press release, Indivisible spokesperson Mary Lawrence wrote: "The mobilization is part of a massive, grassroots effort to ensure Congress holds Donald Trump accountable for using military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections and obstructing Congress. We demand that the House of Representatives fulfills its constitutional duty by impeaching Donald Trump and that the Senate remove him from office. Congress must show that no one is above the law. Our gathering will be a peaceful and solemn one with a focus on defending our democracy. Those attending will hold flags, banners, lights and signs, emphasizing the seriousness of the charges against Trump—and the threat his behavior poses to the rule of law and our national security."

The Jacksonville event is more improvised, largely due to the difficulties of demonstrating in Duval County. Organizers observed: "Due to the lack of accessibility to [U.S. Rep.] John Rutherford's district office and the lack of a public venue, we will be meeting on the public sidewalks at the intersection of McCormick and Monument. As we come together on public sidewalks, we are highlighting the lack of public venues that allow citizens to peacefully …   More

the flog

The Road, More Traveled

The rock-star-as-egomaniac trope has sadly earned its cliché status, but in no way does it apply to Ken Stringfellow. Despite having earned the right to behave any way he likes, the alt-rock veteran has the patience of a saint. I know this from experience. I had to reschedule our interview several times, as my own ruthless pace caught up to me. He was very good about it, grandly gracious and loquacious as can be.

Stringfellow has spent most of the last few weeks on the road, alone, driving from station to station on a journey that will carry him from one end of the continent to the other. “It seems like I've driven about 5,000 miles on this tour so far, according to the rental car odometer,” Stringfellow says. “This Eastern leg I'm on now is 27 shows in 28 days!” He has another 30 U.S. shows or so to go, followed by another dozen in Europe. It’s a brutal itinerary, but one that he seems to relish.

Born in October 1968, Stringfellow is probably best-known for his work with The Posies, which he formed in Washington State with Jon Auer in the mid-‘80s. They’re still around today, having released eight studio albums and some 17 EPs over the years. Stringfellow has produced six solo albums, and he’s currently on the road in support of his most recent projects. In addition to his long career as a band leader and solo artist, he has built a formidable reputation as a hired gun for iconic artists. And I mean iconic. We’re talking Neil Young, Thom Yorke, Robyn Hitchcock, Mudhoney, Mercury Rev, Ringo Starr and the Afghan Whigs. He toured with the mighty R.E.M. for a decade and assisted in some of their final albums. He was also a major part of the reformation of Big Star, one of the great cult favorites of the 1970s.

All told, Stringfellow has well over 250 album credits on his resume, and they include some of the most well-known alternative bands of the modern era. Having worked with such a diverse array …   More

the flog

Making a Statement

On Friday, Sept. 20, young people across the nation—and around the world—are staging a simultaneous strike to urge political leaders to take immediate action on climate change. The protest comes three days before the start of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, but activists hope to influence government at all levels, including the municipal.

To that end, local students have organized a Jacksonville event, which takes place in Hemming Park, Downtown, at 10 a.m. One of the organizers is Katie Carlson. The Stanton College Preparatory School sophomore told WJCT’s Melissa Ross that she was inspired by a Rhode Island protest she attended earlier this year, but has been disappointed in the lack of urgency in Northeast Florida.

“I haven’t seen much movement,” she explained. “When I saw the opportunity to have a strike here ... in coordination with thousands of people [globally], I really wanted to take that opportunity.”

The complacency Carlson notes locally is all the more troubling, given Northeast Florida’s position on the front lines of climate change. “I think that, especially in Florida, with sea level rising, we could be heavily impacted.”

This global event is the culmination of more than one year of piecemeal action. Students across the U.S. have been walking out of classrooms in protest every Friday. The movement has grown and become multigenerational. Next week’s UN Climate Summit represents a turning point, as scientists warn that this may be the last, best chance to seriously address climate change before its effects become catastrophic.

In addition to the Jacksonville event, there will be a 5 p.m. flash strike in St. Augustine, on the Downtown side of the Bridge of Lions.   More