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Playing Around

SURF ROCK STILL SWIMMING

Jax Surf Fest II was six long hours dedicated to surf rock that I thought would never end. Seven bands, both local and national, played their own version of the classic Dick Dale genre, most of them pretty standard represenatations of the genre, sticking to the typical mold of surf-rock: a 4/4 rhythm and a fast tempo. Although technically talented, their sounds tended to run together after awhile. 

Jacksonville locals The Crowkeepers went on while the sun was still shining. There was hardly an audience this early, but they played like there was one. Full of energy, but not too much. It was very fitting of typical surf music. The second band, Tidal Wave, a three-piece from Tampa, started things off much faster, bending chords, and strumming more chaotically. "Are you ready for a beach party!?" shouted the lead singer, and then played their most popular song "Beach Party." It sounded like a party on the beach or something.

There are long breaks between each band. Too long. Everyone takes forever to set up, and they all have their own gear. The only thing to keep the audience entertained between sets is a merch table with skateboards up for raffle.

The Surge is the band that takes the stage when an audience starts to funnel in. Lead guitarist Eddie Katcher is known in surf rock circles as a legend, and a veteran of the Atlanta surf music scene. A smile is on Katcher's face the whole time, perfectly in tune with the other three members. They perform in uniform, red shirts and all with greying hair. They break up their set of originals with a lively rendition of "Hotel California," which the crowd immediately recognizes. It was a welcome surprise, and the band pulled it off well. 

Another Atlanta-based band, MOONBASE, takes the stage and offers thanks to their predecessors: "Eddie Katcher is my hero. I wouldn't be standing on this stage if I hadn't met him." They had more of a punk sound, focusing on loud drums. But then it was back to the same old …   More

Our Picks

THE GREAT UNVEILING OF THE TVS

BIGGEST SCOREBOARDS EVER!

FULHAM vs. D.C. UNITED

Gather round for the great unveiling of the monolith … er … the new EverBank Field scoreboards — basically the biggest TVs ever, bigger than anything in Texas, bigger than a million jumbo jets (according to billboards around town). Fulham F.C. (aka Shad Khan’s European soccer team) will face off against the MLS’s D.C. United, then comes the unveiling of the 55,000-square-foot big screens (so what, they don’t want to show us soccer on video boards?). Khan’s fiesta for his new scoreboards wraps up with a performance by country superstar Carrie Underwood. 6 p.m. July 23, EverBank Field, Downtown, $29.70-$61.95.   More

PLAYING AROUND

BRAIDED SUN SHINES WITH REGGAE-TINGED EDM

ELECTRONIC REGGAE POP

BRAIDED SUN

Braided Sun is all about duality; it’s their motto. They appreciate life’s yin and yang, and try to convey that through their electronic music project. The duo from Ponte Vedra Beach, Luke and Nadine Walker, just began releasing music, and have already scored a few stops at this summer’s Warped Tour. Their reggae-tinged music has an electronic dance vibe that sounds like something from an Ultra Music Festival. Put on your sunscreen, pretend – or “pretend” – you’re on acid and chill out with Braided Sun’s we’re-in-this-together vibe at the local premiere of Taylor Knox’s new surf movie De Passage. With Hoyle, 6:30 p.m. July 20, Freebird Live, Jax Beach, free.

 

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PLAYING AROUND

'RENT' SOARS ON CHARISMA AND STELLAR VOICES

It can be difficult to predict what something will become when you’re close to it. Whether it will endure. If it will stay relevant in a fickle market. How it will grow, if at all.

Though the bohemian artists in John Larson’s Rent faced similarly uncertain futures, there was no doubt in the musical’s enduring potential when it debuted off-Broadway in 1996.

With 160 in attendance for opening night on Players by the Sea’s Main Stage, the cast and director Alejandro Rodriguez rose to the occasion note-for-note. The size of the stage and sparse set might have seemed too minimalist in staging one of the best musicals ever written. Two tables, three simple scaffoldings and a backdrop painted by Chip Southworth (Keith Haring’s Ghost) was the whole of home-sweet-slum New York. But like the characters that inhabited the stage, the theater made ends meet with no shortage of charisma and charm. 

And it really was the small details that added that charm. You could smell the matches as Roger stamped them out on the floor during “Light My Candle.” You could hear the live band just out of eyeshot off stage flip their sheet music or tune an instrument. You could feel Joanne’s heels as she stomped and dragged them during “Tango Maureen,” and you could see the tears trickle down the cheeks of the company on the emotional “I’ll Cover You — Reprise.”

Charming as those things were, they were simply background noise to the talented voices in this cast.

The narrative starts slow with Mark and Roger (Ross Frontz and Elias Hionides), but the 525,600 minutes of their story kicks into overdrive when the live band and company arrive to perform “Rent."

Some of the best performances of the night came from songs that featured the entire company, as the actors created harmonies with each character pushing their voice to pop out of the melody and then back in with …   More

PLAYING AROUND

LARS BEHRENROTH UNLEASHES DEEPER SHADES OF HOUSE

DEEP HOUSE

LARS BEHRENROTH

Even heavyweights in the DJ remix world get flak from music purists for not treading new ground in songwriting. But a true remix, one that takes a song’s core element in a completely new direction, is a legit discipline on its own. Lars Behrenroth, host of the global weekly radio show Deeper Shades of House, has mastered that discipline, and he brings beats he uses to move and groove audiences the world over to Northeast Florida. Presented by The Garage, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. July 19, St. Augustine Amphitheatre, $15.   More

PLAYING AROUND

MAD COWFORD RIFFS ON BROADWAY IN COMEDY REVUE

COMEDY REVUE

MAD COWFORD

If you’ve never seen improv comedy, you might be prejudiced by that open mic night when some poor schmuck’s dick jokes fell flat, yet you felt obligated to laugh. Not so at Mad Cowford shows: The improv troupe draws consistent, high-energy crowds every weekend night to their Northstar Substation digs ($5 gets you in). A loyal audience returns week after week to participate in their sketches, scenes and games. The group celebrates eight years performing here with the comedy revue variety show Way Off Broadway. 8 p.m. July 19, Theatre Jacksonville, $20, theatrejax.com, madcowford.com.   More

Playing Around

'THE WIZ' TAKES SOULFUL JOURNEY DOWN YELLOW-BRICK ROAD

MUSICAL

THE WIZ

Dorothy takes a soulful journey in a local youth production of The Wiz, an African-American musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that fuses rock, gospel and soul. Students in the 100 Youth Voices musical theater program show off what they learned at Stage Aurora, an award-winning nonprofit theater company offering arts education programs to underserved students. This production is the centerpiece of Stage Aurora’s Black Arts Festival. 7 p.m. July 18 and 2 and 6 p.m. July 19 at Stage Aurora, Gateway Town Center, Northside, $15-$25, 765-7373, stageaurora.org.   More

PLAYING AROUND

SWAMP RADIO DELVES INTO HISTORY OF 'ANCIENT CITY'

SWAMP RADIO

SUMMER PERFORMANCE

Swamp Radio has given new meaning to the phrase “live radio.” Performed before a live audience and available by podcast, the show focuses on the history, culture and flavors of Northeast Florida. Local poets, playwrights, storytellers and songwriters hit the road to share the area’s rich culture in the quarterly variety series. For its summer show, Summer in the Ancient City, Swamp Radio highlights the history of St. Augustine, with historian Wayne Wood and a performance by husband-and-wife folk duo The WillowWacks. 7:30 p.m. July 18 and 19, Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium, $25 for adults, $20 for students.   More

PLAYING AROUND

A TALE OF OBSESSION AND DYING IN '33 VARIATIONS'

In a parallel tale of obsession and dying, 33 Variations’ plot focuses on one woman's journey to understand the motivation behind one of Beethoven’s last works.

The central character, Katherine Brandt (played by Sinda Nichols), is a musicologist who has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. She’s consumed with trying to make sense of Beethoven’s strange compulsion to put aside other pieces during his latter years, with failing health and the steady loss of his hearing, to write 33 separate variations of a waltz by a composer he originally felt was beneath him.

The 5 & Dime Theatre Company and director Lee Hamby produce 33 Variations, which was written by Moisés Kaufman (author of The Laramie Project) and received five Tony nominations after its 2009 Broadway debut. The play is staged July 18-20 and 25-27 at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.   More

PLAYING AROUND

STAGE AURORA KICKS OFF BLACK ARTS FESTIVAL FRIDAY

The Gateway Shopping Plaza, once a popular shopping hub on the Northside, is now a drab town center where the main attraction is Publix. But something inside the Gateway Mall is attracting an audience of its own.

Through the vision of founder Darryl Reuben Hall, Stage Aurora Theatrical Company has been bringing productions to the stage since 2001 and showcasing arts on the Northside.

Stage Aurora continues to make an impact in the community through its Black Arts Festival, now in its seventh year. The festival gives participants an opportunity to show their talents in a variety of art forms. This year’s festival features an Oceanus Tae Kwan Do exhibition in which students will display the teachings of Master Joseph E. Morgan, and a production of the Tony award-wining musical The Wiz featuring 100 Youth Voices. According to Anntoinette Jones, who works for Stage Aurora, the actors (who are mostly students between the ages of 6 and 18) have been working on the production for about two and a half months. She also says that the students won’t be the only ones who will be given the chance to display their talents. Kids of all ages are welcomed to show off their artistic ability to the Stage Aurora audience at the 2014 Youth Talent Explosion.

Though Stage Aurora offers local actors a chance to express themselves on stage, they have also hosted nationally recognized performers at past Black Arts Festivals. Jones says T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (from That’s So Raven), Tony Award winner Melba Moore and Ella Joyce (in a performance of A Rose Among Thorns) were three highlights from past festivals.

The Black Arts Festival spans the July 18-20 weekend, beginning with the Oceanus Tae Kwon Do exhibit on Friday and ending with the 2014 Youth Talent Explosion on Sunday. Performances of The Wiz are Friday and Saturday.   More