I couldn’t wait to see the film “Billy Elliot” after its release in 2000. The irresistible story of an 11-year-old boy who discovers ballet to escape the hard realities of a decaying English mining town and the energetic, aggressive dancing spoke to my predilection for British accents and musicals.
When it became a staged musical in 2005, I lumped it in with the pile of productions recycled from old movies. Sure, many of those have been good, but most of them have not broken new ground. Even with music by Elton John, it wasn’t high on my list.
So, I didn’t have high expectations when I saw the touring production of “Billy Elliot the Musical” at the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts Feb. 26.
Instead, I was blown away.
It’s rare to see a musical that stretches the medium, but “Billy Elliot the Musical” does just that. Instead of simply telling the story from the movie, the creative team reimagined the narrative as if it were originally being told in the musical format.
It probably helps that the original production was directed by Stephen Daldry and choreographed by Peter Darling, the same team behind the movie.
The songs aren’t particularly memorable; you won’t find yourself singing them to yourself as you walk out of the theater. But the music drives the fantastic staging and unbridled choreography throughout.
The first scenes are a bit slow, but once the dancing starts, it’s mesmerizing. “Solidarity” acts as a montage of Billy’s growth from clumsy boxer to ballet prodigy set against the growing clashes between police and striking miners. The scene juxtaposes pixie ballerinas and rugged miners as they intertwine in one building dramatic conflict.
When Grandma tells Billy about her complex relationship with his late grandpa during “We’d Go Dancing,” we see their feisty, flirtatious relationship played out in a bar full of …
A five-panel mural, featuring Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and other local musicians, created by a group of First Coast High School students, has been installed in Downtown Jacksonville across from the Florida Theatre.
The mural was produced by 25 students in the Behavioral Education and Social Skills Teaching program.
The program is for students who have emotional and behavior difficulties and have been removed from regular classrooms.
The students and five staff members spent eight weeks in art classes planning and creating the mural. It was installed July 11 outside Dos Gatos, which is across the street from the Florida Theatre.
The project was led by Kendall Barsin, Florida Theatre director of marketing and Cathedral Arts Project teacher Laurie Brown.
The heavy hitting sounds of SOJA came through to a massive crowd at Mavericks as The Movement and John Brown’s Body opened.
The Movement has gone through some member changes over the last year and a half as their lead singer removed himself from the group. However, the group still put on a great opening act.
John Brown’s Body kept the crowd dancing as their reggae/jam band influence laid the way for SOJA.
“Give it up for The Movement and John Brown’s Body,” Hemphill said. “We've been touring with these guys for like 5 or 10 years.”
SOJA came on with their horn section blasting to “Mentality,” a song that is meant to open up people’s thoughts to the world around them.
“We were the students but now we’re the ones who teach, we were the children who your lies we did believe. But we ain’t kids no more and we don’t need your speech,” lead singer Jacob Hemphill sang.
Following the first track off of their latest album “Strength to Survive,” SOJA went back to their hit single “I Don’t Wanna Wait” off of their 2009 album “Born in Babylon.”
The song expressing their views for better change in the country around them had the crowd’s hands going up and down with the beat.
“Moving forward to right now, a government that let you down, a racist leader no one trusts and an army that’s bigger than us,” Hemphill sang.
After playing “Decide You're Gone” the band followed with their acoustic track “She Still Loves Me,” however it was done in a much more upbeat tempo and the group did not hold back its enthusiasm.
Though experiencing technical difficulties during the first few songs, including mic feedback and guitar sound, the group continued on with the show.
The powerful album title song, “Strength To Survive,” drew multiple cheers as the band sang of the world’s condition.
Bobby Lee, bassist and vocals, dropped his sunglasses down for the song he originally wrote in the …
Although they’ve been around since 2009, the indie rock band Dead Stars, is beginning to make more noise than ever.
The three-piece band — cousins and Jacksonville natives Jeff and Jaye Moore and friend John Watterberg from Albuquerque, N.M. — just finished recording their second album, "High Gain." The five-song EP is set to drop June 4.
Dead Stars has recently gained notoriety after the single "Waste Away” was featured on MTV Hive’s website.
But guitarist Jeff Moore says he's taking the recent publicity with a grain of salt.
"It’s great. The ultimate goal, of course, is for as many people to hear your music as possible. You obviously want to enjoy what you do, and you want other people to hear it. Any time people are paying attention it’s cool. … I just want to keep on going and keep making music. Whatever happens, happens. We’ve been doing this for a while … so you try to not get too excited or too bummed either way. Whether things are good or bad you just try and keep going,” he said.
When asked what type of genre Dead Stars fits into, Jeff said that although they joke about being “nerd grunge,” they consider themselves more of a fuzz pop or indie rock band, but that there’s really no right answer.
“There’s so many different kinds of music put under the indie umbrella now, but I just feel that for us [it’s] just having that simple set up of drums, bass, guitar and vocals, of course. I like to explore what we can in that minimalist type of setup.”
The band finds a lot of inspiration from bands both old and new. Growing up, The Beatles were one of these inspirations.
Today, they listen to a variety of bands. The combination of older bands from the late '80s and early '90s, like Dinosaur Jr. and newer bands, such as Yuck, provide inspiration in finding their own, unique sound.
Writing the songs themselves is very …
Three years ago, Dead Tank Records closed its doors and Josh Jubinsky began focusing on his highest priority: family.
“Selling records at shows, touring with a band or trying to operate a store and job at the same time,” Jubinsky said in an email interview. He felt he could not properly put family as his top priority.
Working at the Main Library in the children’s department for almost 10 years now, Jubinsky says, “it’s very helpful to have a steady job and a great place to work. I’m really lucky in that regard.”
Now, Jubinsky and Dead Tank are back with upcoming releases are already in the works. A 7” split involving musicians Captive Bolt and author Gary Francione is nearly complete as the B-side is already available on their site deadtankrecords.wordpress.com. “It should be out in June,” Jubinsky said.
With the hiatus set in motion as his daughter was born, passions were shifted for Jubinsky. “As far as ‘true passions’ go, I’d say raising my daughter takes the cake.” However, music is still very important to Jubinsky as he wants to impress that upon his growing child.
Also in the works, Emperor X will be set to release a record after his return from Europe, where he is currently touring. “Right now, we’re still ironing out the details for the record, and actually he’s very busy having a great time on tour in Europe.”
Family man, record producer and a builder of his own furniture, Jubinsky looks to create that perfect balance where family is his No. 1 priority as he continues his grand music endeavors.
The St. Johns Cultural Council honors women in the community for making significant contributions in the arts with its fifth annual Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts (ROWITA) ceremony at 6 p.m. March 10 in the Black Box of the Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine.
These women will be honored and recognized during the program followed by a reception. The keynote speaker is Jean Rahner, co-founder of Limelight. The 2013 winners are Diane Bradley, Debbie McDade, Patti Rang, Mary Siess and Wendy Tatter.
Bradley is an educator of the arts and a visual artist who is passionate about youth involvement in the art world. For the past eight years, Bradley has jointly presented the Annual All-County High School and Middle School Arts Show alongside the St. Johns County Schools. Bradley also led to the creation of the annual Tactile Show for the blind and visually impaired, which is now in its 12th year. Bradley continues to donate her time and efforts to the St. Augustine Art Association by managing their biggest fundraiser, the annual Spring and Fall Art and Craft Festivals and the Nature and Wildlife Exhibition.
McDade is a jazz singer who went to New York as a teenager to pursue her career. McDade is listed in the Encyclopedia of Jazz, and she adopted the stage name Debby Moore, which was given to her by Louis Armstrong. McDade released her record, My Kind of Blues in 1959. McDade sang alongside American jazz pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines and has also starred in movies while working in Japan. McDade is active in community efforts, while serving a board member of Excelsior Museum and Cultural Center and the Foot Soldiers Memorial Project.
Rang has been a cultural advocate and re-enactor in the creation and organization of events to celebrate the colonial life of St. Augustine for more than 30 years. She is a leader and contributing member of the East Florida Rangers and the 60th Regiment of Foot in local and regional events. Rang wrote a cookbook …
Not many were prepared for the buckets of rain that poured for more than three hours at the Sublime with Rome concert July 20 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. Many a beer was diluted as concertgoers made the dash from the concession area back to the cover of the amphitheater.
Despite the less-than-ideal concert conditions and unrelenting heat, fans were all smiles. The energy of the crowd was sky high when doors opened and swelled as the night drew closer to the hour when Sublime with Rome would take the stage. HB Surround Sound, Julian Marley and Pennywise got the night started and really put the crowd in an upbeat mood.
Sublime with Rome are on their summer tour with guests Pennywise and the Descendents.
The music and energy were on point for the night. Lead singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez, drummer Josh Freese and bassist Eric Wilson swaggered onto the stage to earsplitting excitement from the crowd. More than 3,500 voices rang out in answer to Rome Ramirez as he grabbed the mic and greeted adoring fans.
"What's up, St. Augustine and Jacksonville! We're so happy to be back in Florida!" cried Rome before breaking into their first set. Beyond that, Sublime with Rome didn't do much to interact with the crowd, which could have added so much to an already supercharged and excited audience.
Sublime with Rome played some of their newer songs, written after Rome joined the band, including "Panic" and "Take It or Leave It." They also played a lot of Sublime originals: "Bad Fish," "Date Rape," "Smoke Two Joints," "Summer Time" and "April 29, 1992." Concertgoers were on their feet dancing and singing throughout the night, but they really went wild with each Sublime original.
Since October 1964, Jones College Radio has transmitted the increasingly surreal genre known as "beautiful music" throughout the Jacksonville area. This category is diverse to the point of seeming inchoate to those who are not aficionados. "Beautiful music" can be anything from the lush sounds of the Jackie Gleason and Mystic Moods Orchestras to the American classic sounds of the Ray Conniff Singers and 101 Strings. If you listen to Jones College Radio for long enough, you may even hear music from the benighted 21st century -- "Don't Know Why," the slice of heaven from the coquettish chanteuse Norah Jones, was on there one recent evening.
Those who have lived in Jacksonville for decades likely have found themselves scanning past the station on their way to the nihilist nothingness offered by the corporate rock and rap stations. But if you've ever found yourself needing more than the amorphous rebellion clear channel has to offer, true anarchy and rebellion can be found on Jones College Radio, where forgotten groups like the Anita Kerr Singers perform willfully anodyne covers of harder rocking songs … like "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tenneille.
Despite the station's willful ignorance -- and thank God for it -- of the twerking and blinging of the modern era, the station has done well in the ratings. The station's website at wktz.jones.edu/ claims that the station is in the top 5 with the 35+ set. Despite this consistent ratings success, however, problems have been looming with the station's finances this fall.
A recent spot on the station, played maybe once an hour or so, laid the case out plainly in Jones College Radio's first attempt at a pledge drive in recent memory. The station is still popular, yet many of those who listen to it do not support it financially. If Jones College Radio does not raise $200k in the next couple of months, the future of beautiful music in Jacksonville -- and most of the rest of the …
In the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival in St. Augustine, Cathedral Arts Projects students will perform their interpretations of what it’s like to live in Florida — April 27 and 28 at the University of North Florida’s Lazzara Performance Hall.
CAP presents its annual production with the theme “Viva Florida” as Northeast Florida students showcase their talents in theater, ballet, step, ballroom dance, African dance, violin, ukulele, percussion and chorus.
The young performers’ creativity has stemmed through their own exploration of Florida’s history and natural beauty, said the Rev. Kimberly Hyatt, executive director of the Cathedral Arts, in a press release.
Performances are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. April 27 and 2 p.m. April 28 at the Lazzara Performance Hall. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
CAP is the largest free afterschool program in Duval County for students participating in the performing arts. CAP is funded in part by The City of Jacksonville; Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville; State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; and the National Endowment for the Arts, according to CAP.
Life was good for Orlando business owner Dan Ellis in the spring of 2009. He had a wonderful marriage, three happy children and a successful printing business. But by that fall, he’d begun to slur words and suspected something was seriously wrong with his health. Ellis was diagnosed with progressive ALS, a debilitating terminal illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2010.
The 18-minute short documentary film, “Dan Behind His Eyes,” chronicles Ellis’ time spent creating giant paintings with his daughter Gina in 2011, by which time he had lost nearly all muscle control and could only communicate using a Dynavox eye movement sensor. The film will premiere at the World Arts Film Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville on April 11.
“I wanted to use art and music and color. Dan surrounded himself with art, and that’s who he was,” said Sheri Kebbel, the film’s director and producer. “So this film, I wanted it to be so that people would not look away. That it was not so ugly and so hard in knowing that it was a terminal illness to where they have this feeling of ‘Well, what do you want me to do about it?’”
Kebbel filmed the Ellis family from November 2010 until March 2012, just a few months before Dan Ellis lost his battle with ALS last June. In addition to the short documentary “Dan Behind His Eyes,” Kebbel directed and produced an hour-long, feature-length film which follows Ellis’ interactions with family and friends and his artistic collaborations with his children and hip-hop rapper MC Serch while in the grip of progressive ALS. The feature film is currently in post-production and will be submitted to film festivals in the fall.
Kebbel will join Kevin Boylan, medical director and founder of the ALS clinic at Mayo Clinic in Florida, and Kim Hanna, president and CEO of the ALS Association Florida Chapter, for a short question and …