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Americana music lovers camped beneath the live oaks at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the 17th annual Suwannee Springfest March 21-24.

The first two days of the festival lucked out with fair weather. There were memorable performances by Spirit Family Reunion, Tornado Rider, Scythian, Von Grey, Keller and the Keels, Elephant Revival, Peter Rowan, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Whetherman, Leftover Salmon, the Travelin’ McCourys and countless more off-stage in the campgrounds.

Day three’s weather was not so kind to Springfest. Thunderstorms cancelled many of the day’s shows. Park employees had to bring in bales of pine straw to counteract the puddles and mud.

Despite the heavy rains and tornado-worthy winds Saturday, headliner Old Crow Medicine Show’s set still went on. The 6-piece string band kept the rain-soaked crowd’s spirits high by playing their hits “Wagon Wheel” and “Tell It to Me”. Fiddle player and vocalist Ketch Secor revealed it was not the band’s first time in Suwannee, they had played there 11 years before.

Covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ songs seemed to be a popular choice throughout the weekend. Keller and the Keels did a rendition of “Breakdown” and Old Crow Medicine Show played “American Girl.”

Artists came together for jam sessions throughout the weekend. Peter Rowan joined Keller and the Keels for a number, as did the Travelin’ McCourys. Violinist Darol Anger played with Leftover Salmon at their Friday set on the amphitheater stage. 

Festivalgoers who stuck it out in the rain Sunday morning enjoyed a sunny and warm afternoon of music by The Mosier Brothers, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan & Friends, Jerry Douglas and Nikki Talley.

Springfest attendees can share their experiences and recommendations on the Suwannee Springfest Facebook page.




An adult Easter egg hunt? The mind reels with possibilities of what you might find hiding in the eggs. Mini-bottles? Condoms?

Although these speculations are as fabricated as the Easter Bunny, the event is real: On March 23, the Jacksonville Jaycees will host its second annual Adult Easter Egg Hunt at Hemming Plaza in Downtown Jacksonville.

For only $15, you’ll get the opportunity to relive childhood memories and possibly even find a prize egg. Over 1000 eggs will be hidden throughout the plaza. Inside each egg, participants will find candy or a prize ticket. Prizes include gift certificates and sweet swag baskets from local businesses like Sephora, Fionn MacCool’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Carrabba’s, Longhorn, Publix, Sweets by Holly, Crispers, Chipotle, Which Wich and PRP wine tastings.

There will be other “adult” offerings as well: beer, for starters. When the fast kids push you down and snatch all the eggs, you can drown your disappointment. The good people from Bold City Brewery will be there serving craft brew for $4 a pint, or you can purchase three beer tickets for $10.

Those Jacksonville favorites, the food trucks, will be on hand as well.

Funds raised at this event will go to support the many local community service projects organized by the Jacksonville Jaycees. The Jacksonville Jaycees are particularly involved with the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, the Ronald McDonald House, Habijax, Wounded Warrior Project, animal shelters and other local charities on the First Coast.

You have to be 21 to participate in the Adult Egg Hunt, but you don’t have to bring your own Easter basket — loot bags will be provided for you to lug away the spoils. This event is rain or shine, and the organizers suggest that a flashlight might come in handy to help you spot those elusive, well-hidden eggs. There will be photo opportunities you won’t want to miss. Think of how awesome you’ll look in your new Facebook …   More


Open mic has a proud tradition in Jacksonville dating back a couple of decades — and then some. I emceed nights at Fusion Café and Fuel in the 1990s, and, of course ,Al Letson (who has gone on to accomplish as much as any writer of his generation) had his night at Voodoo years ago.

To borrow a phrase from Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on, in the form of the Cypher Open Mic Poetry and Soul, held at Da Real Ting Café every first, third, and fifth Thursday of the month. Hosted by DJ Monsta and Ill Clinton — names familiar to those who know what's happening in Duval — this is a showcase for talent and is worth checking out.

Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show starts at 9 p.m. The show ends at midnight. Entry is $5 all night long, 18 and older. There is a full dinner menu, and for those who need liquid fortification, there are 3-for-1 well drinks, which is a drink offer that no reasonable person can refuse.

On April 4, the WB will be in the house, recording the event for a local program. The smart performer would show up tomorrow, do a poem or a song, then bring it back in April for the cameras.   More


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.   More


Legendary singer-songwriter, poet, actor and cultural phenomenon Bob Dylan arrives in May, but for those who want tickets, the time is now. Dylan performs with support from Dawes, 7 p.m. May 5 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The $40-$60 tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. March 22 at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the amphitheater. Those who bought tickets to the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival have a pre-sale opportunity, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 20, only at the amphitheater box office. Members of the nonprofit Friends of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre may purchase tickets 10 a.m.-10 p.m. March 21 at 1-800-745-3000,,   More


The Cummer Ball gala will feature chandeliers and glasswork from 36 Jacksonville University glass and ceramics program students, faculty and alumni on March 16 at The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Riverside.

The chandeliers will be sold at a live auction during the event with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the museum.

“I’m into engaged learning opportunities, and this is that and more. It allows the students to display what they’ve done, and then to have it critiqued directly in the marketplace, with a sale being the best final critique,” said Brian Frus, a JU assistant professor of glass, according to a press release from the university.

The auction will feature 21-year-old students Aly Volk’s “Iceburst” and Kayla Socha’s “Silly Lilly.”

“I love that we got to do this. We don’t get an opportunity like this anywhere else, to show our work,” Socha said.

Any chandeliers not sold during the ball will be sold at the Cummer’s store afterward.

Donald Mills has five different chandeliers being auctioned off, including “Green Room,” “Plum Purdy” and “Autumn Vines.” Mills said he feels more accomplished knowing that there is a utilitarian aspect to his project.

The ball begins with cocktails at 6 p.m., then the live auction follows at 7 p.m. The evening will continue with dinner and dancing and live music from the Tangee Renee band.

For more information on the JU Glass and Ceramic program visit To learn more about the 2013 Cummer Ball, visit   More


Janet Bawcom's performance at the Gate River Run was worth $17,000.

For the young fans she gave high-fives on the race course, smiles were free.

"It's an accomplishment if I can make that kid smile," Bawcom said of sharing the moment with children on the race course before she even had the lead.

After running side by side with Alisha Williams for 7 miles, Bawcom broke away to win her second consecutive Gate River Run title on Saturday, March 9, in Downtown Jacksonville.

In the men's race, Ben True pulled away from Bobby Curtis in the final mile and held on to win his first River Run title, ending Mo Trafeh's three-year run as champion.

"Once I knew that Mo wasn't making the move, I knew it was going to be more of a tactical race," True said. "I was looking forward to it.

"I figured it was going to come down to Bobby and I for a kick."

True finished in 43 minutes, 38 seconds, while Bawcom ran it in 49:44. True could not erase the elite women's head start of 6 minutes, 35 seconds, but he and Bawcom each won $12,000 for claiming the U.S. 15K national championships.

Bawcom is 2 for 2 at the race and hasn't allowed a man to pass her at the River Run, claiming an additional $5,000 for the equalizer bonus each time.

The Brooks Rehabilitation Challenge Mile drew a record 298 competitors, including former Jaguars player Richard Collier, who was paralyzed from the waist down after suffering multiple gunshot wounds in 2008. Collier finished the mile race in 9 minutes, 45 seconds.

After the race, he teared up while talking to reporters and said the race was tougher than he expected.

True, who returned to the River Run after a second-place finish in 2011, beat Curtis by two seconds. Three other men — Ryan Vail (50:18), Sean Quigley (50:20) and Christo Landry (50:21) — finished within eight seconds of True.

The 34-year-old Bawcom, who went by Janet Cherobon when she won her first River Run in 2012, beat Williams, 31, by seven …   More


Country duo Florida-Georgia Line performed a free show March 7 for a large crowd of Jacksonville University students, faculty and their friends and family.

Recently endorsed by superstars Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, Florida-Georgia Line, Tyler Hubbard of Monroe, Ga., and Brian Kelley of Ormond Beach, started their careers playing open mic nights and writing music after crossing paths at Belmont College in Nashville.

The band members talked about how it all began in an interview before the show.

“We met through a mutual friend, got together and started doing our thing. We realized we had a cool thing going with our voices,” Hubbard said. “I don't think we ever expected it to quite happen this fast. We had big dreams and big goals. We had our fingers crossed and we still do.”

After college, the duo set out to make a name for themselves, cramming their equipment in Kelley's Chevy Tahoe and hitting the road. They played acoustic shows and did a number of odd jobs to support themselves along the way. Mowing lawns and cleaning cars, the duo kept pursuing what they wanted to do — make music — with no plan B in the works.

With the release of the duo's first EP in 2010, they began to gain momentum, and the crowds at their shows started to expand. It was May of last year when the boys from opposite sides of the border released their EP titled "It'z Just What We Do," which included the hits “Cruise,” “Get Your Shine On” and “Tip it Back.”

The duo quickly caught the eye of labels when their single “Cruise” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Music chart after a mere 19 weeks, climbing to that spot faster than any band since 2006. It sold 100,000 copies even before the band was signed. In July 2012, they signed with Universal Republic Records.

Florida-Georgia Line pumped out all of their hits under the newly opened Larry Strom Amphitheatre on Dolphin Green …   More


St. Augustine chalk walk organizers are seeking sponsors and volunteers for Paseo Pastel.

The chalked promenade will take place on the grounds around the city parking garage and St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, beginning with an event party 7 p.m. March 22 and continuing through March 24. This event is part of many designed to celebrate the city’s 450th anniversary with a theme of “St. Augustine Living Heritage.”

Organizers say this event is a first for the city, and they plan to schedule it annually through 2015, the year of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary. They expect 70 artists will be drawing on 4-foot by 6-foot sections of sidewalk 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. March 23.

Visitors can watch as the artists work, then see the finished art March 24 before it is washed away. Admission to the Chalk Walk is free.

Lee Jones, the chalk walk’s featured artist, has participated in chalk festivals across the U.S. Jones hosted a free chalking workshop on Feb. 23, allowing the public to try out chalk art.

Artists participating in the Chalk Walk will be competing for cash prizes. Local businesses will also be involved with the event, which is still seeking more sponsors. Live music will be provided as additional entertainment throughout the weekend.

For more information on St. Augustine’s first Chalk Walk or to get involved, visit the website or email the organizers.   More


From getting hacked with a lawnmower blade by Billy Bob Thornton in the classic "Sling Blade" to once being described as Johnny Cash's favorite country singer, Kentucky-born country star Dwight Yoakam is versatile.

He's successful, too. The 56-year-old Yoakam has sold upwards of 25 million albums worldwide over his four-decade career. He didn't disappoint a packed house at The Florida Theatre March 5.

Yoakam blasted his hit "Honky Tonk Man," the song that introduced the singer to the masses, to an enthusiastic crowd. Yoakam's 1986 cover of the Johnny Horton original reached no. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and its music video was the first country music video to ever play on MTV.

When Yoakam strutted his signature shuffle, he received bursts of applause from the crowd. He performed tunes from his early albums, "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc." (1986) and "Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room"(1988), to his newer albums, "Blame the Vain" (2005) and "3 Pears" (2012).

"Thank you all for listening to our new stuff and giving it a chance," Yoakam said. "We didn't ask you guys beforehand, so I guess you didn't have much of a choice, though."

Yoakam peppered the set with these quips and other funny anecdotes between songs.

"A Heart Like Mine", a single off of "3 Pears," was voted the 39th best song of 2012 by Rolling Stone -- and for good reason. The song is adventurous and it transcends genre, as Yoakam has done his entire career. It's catchy, offering a twangy steel-guitar riff during the verses, and drawn-out indie rock style chorus. The "hook" of the song sticks in your head for hours after you hear it.

Yoakam's lead guitarist, 39-year-old Gene Jaramillo, wore a rhinestone blazer and looked like a last-second fill-in Yoakam picked up from some punk-rock band. He didn't play like one, though. Jaramillo added incredible leads to Yoakam's classic and current songs, without overpowering them.

Yoakam couldn't finish the show without …   More

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