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If metal’s “golden age” of macabre on-stage personas, outlaw getup and pyrotechnic extravaganza has passed, Avenged Sevenfold resuscitated its charm on April 26 at Welcome to Rockville.

Preparing for last performance of the day, those who hadn’t succumbed to a beer- and funnel cake-induced coma on the littered grounds made their way over to witness the metal mainstays. Well before the band’s set time, the audience had accumulated past the stage-light tower, nearly 150 yards from the stage barricade.

Ears perked up and quiet anticipation turned to cheering as the first burly, Sabbath-inspired riff of “Shepherd of Fire” pummeled out over the audience. Sevenfold took the stage and delivered an unrelenting sonic assault for the duration of its near 90-minute performance.

The audience was going to get their money’s worth, like it or not.

“We’re on a strict curfew, and we don’t want this to get canceled for next year,” vocalist M. Shadows said in a very brief lull between guitar solos and fireballs. “So, let’s just play another song before I chit-chat our way to the curfew.”

The statue of a skull king sitting on a throne of skulls holding a skull scepter watching over the proceedings was a bit much. But that’s the point. In case you were standing at a far distance from the stage, the camera crew would make a dramatic cut to it every few minutes.

Their live performance sounds tighter than ever. Synyster Gates effortlessly rips solos out his custom Schecter guitar with a disinterested, bored expression that only adds to his charm.

Sometimes, guitar solos can feel like an indulgence of the guitarist, while the audience and the rest of the band wait for the next verse. That feeling doesn’t come into Synyster’s playing; the solos feel like an organic part of the song. And the guy has got style, bending a note with one hand and flipping the bird with the other. The crowd ate it up.

M. Shadows showed impressive …   More


For the final 15 minutes, “Million Dollar Quartet” had the crowd on its feet.

Keep in mind, this came only after a standing ovation that felt more obligatory than any the Artist Series had seen this season. If only the writers allowed these legends to uncork their fire earlier and if only the story was engaging enough to hold it all together.

Don't blame the stars. Cody Ray Slaughter (Elvis Presley), James Barry (Carl Perkins), Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash) and John Countryman (Jerry Lee Lewis) displayed the vocal and musical talent to keep the Times-Union Center's Moran Theater rocking on April 22. But for too long, the 100-minute musical (without an intermission) rests on a thin plot of four legends arriving in Memphis with very different agendas.

Based on the legendary recording session on Dec. 4, 1956, at Sun Records, the jukebox musical takes liberties with the songbook, but that mostly can be forgiven. (Other lesser-known songs and more gospel hits were played at the actual session, which was recorded by Sun founder Sam Phillips.)

To be fair, major hits "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Folsom Prison Blues" kept the opening night crowd tapping their feet, and that finale of "Hound Dog," "Riders in the Sky," "See You Later Alligator" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" sent many home satisfied.

However, some of the lines in "Million Dollar Quartet" might leave you wondering if these jokes were even funny in 1956. At one point, Sam pleads "Say amen, somebody," and Jerry Lee replies, "Amen, somebody."

No, it wasn't all that bad. Carl points out that "drunks don't buy records," and Johnny's reply, "they just make them," earned one of the night's biggest laughs.

Barry delivers the most memorable performance, though he has the advantage of playing the least-known of the four legends.

As Sam, Vince Nappo has the unenviable task of trying to hold the story together. More than once, he comes running out, begging for applause from the audience. …   More


The Avondale gallery that’s helped Northeast Florida art lovers meet world-renowned artists Peter Max and Mackenzie Thorpe and actress-turned-artist Jane Seymour is closing on or before April 20.

Avondale Artworks proprietor Ken Stutes told Folio Weekly that “revenues haven’t been sufficient to justify continuing it,” and parking in Avondale had become a problem for visitors to his gallery.

Avondale Artworks has also hosted the works of Salvador Dalí, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dr. Seuss and others; it was open nearly five years at two locations on St. Johns Avenue.

“I really liked the Dali exhibits. We had over 107 pieces. We had six original works by Dali,” Stutes said. “Being able to bring that work into Jacksonville was incredible to me.”

Stutes reminisced about the interactions he and visitors had with the artists. He was at first hesitant to display Thorpe’s “Leap of Faith,” because it depicted children jumping off cliffs.

He shared his concern with Thorpe, who said: “They’re not jumping to their deaths. They’re learning how to fly." Stutes said visitors to the gallery loved “Leap of Faith.”

Stutes is offering major discounts on his inventory before he closes.


Delta riffs roared high as draft beer and sauce-slathered meats stained fingers and beards and tie-dyed shirts during opening night of the Springing the Blues Music Festival, which runs April 5-6 at the Sea Walk Pavilion on Jacksonville Beach.

Parker Urban Band opened the main stage with some of the smoothest R&B singing of the evening from Juanita Parker-Urban and Myrna Stallworth. Their rich, full voices were complemented by the tight percussion and vibrant brass and harmonica musicians. The band would seamlessly transition from punchy verses to extended, loose jams that showcased the strengths of each musician.

The Brandon Santini Band hailed straight from Beale St. Tenn., which Santini made abundantly clear by his on-stage swagger and showbiz get-up. That’s not to say they’re all show and no pulp; Santini could rip the solos out of his effects-laden harmonica for minutes on end — occasionally stopping to gasp for oxygen and offer a charming wink. The guitarist’s rig was particularly bare-bones — he used a jacked-up-to-10 tube-screamer to make his telecaster squeal and kicked it off to fade back into the rhythm.

From a guitar-playing perspective, Joanne Shaw Taylor was possibly the best musicianship of the night. Taylor could skillfully coax an array of tones and textures out of her Les Paul, transitioning with ease from cool, emotive solos to loud, ballsy riffs that would garner at least a head nod from the audience. With the earnestness and grit she used to sing the blues, it was nearly impossible to tell she comes from across the pond.

“She ain’t no Southern country girl?” an audience member remarked after she dropped the drawl between songs to talk in a natural English inflection.

The Taylor outfit was an interesting crew, with a middle-aged bassist who looked like he just stepped off the ACDC reunion tour bus with the Angus Young-inspired antics and facial expressions he would get into while delivering the rhythm. The …   More

Playing Around

After the initial success of the movie “Bring It On,” filmmakers did what they do best: Made a lot of lame sequels. The first one was “Bring It On Again,” and somehow they made three more after that.

Then, Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty had another idea, transforming the original movie script into a musical. That’s when the magic happened and made it on Broadway.

“Bring It On: The Musical” is about the bonds formed from two rival high school cheerleading squads. It is loosely based on the 2000 original “Bring It On” starring Kirsten Dunst.

Much like fried chicken and waffles, cheerleading and musicals seemed an unusual mix, but they won critics over. The Broadway musical scored Tony Award nominations for best musical and best choreography.

The show has a particularly diverse cast with some real-life cheerleaders who have very little experience in theater and others who have never cheered before this show.

“Everyone had their strengths and everyone had their weaknesses,” actress Mia Weinberger says. “So everyone helped each other out and that’s what really made it seem like a team effort.”

Weinberger has been singing, dancing and performing for most of her life. She’s starred as “Legally Blonde,” “Berenstain Bears LIVE!” and “Wizard of Oz.” In “Bring It On,” she’s currently playing Kylar, a ditsy character with a heart of gold.

Weinberger admits that she can be a little ditsy at times herself, “I like to call them my Kylar moments.”

“Between the music and the choreography, I just think there’s a lot to offer. And everyone can find something they love in it,” Weinberger says.



At first, the concept of Christian metal might send up a red flag. It’s an oxymoron between the worlds of furrowed-brow conservatives and the carefree piss-and-vinegars giving them a collective, pounding migraine.

But it’s a thing, and if you’re not keen on hearing damage on tap, call-help-there’s-blood-in-my-larynx screaming and tattoo placement that will shatter the prospect of gainful employment — stick to Toby Keith, ‘cause most of that is still here. If you are into that kind of stuff but don’t want the holy business shoveled down your gullet, this is a convenient genre; you can’t begin to decipher the message without a thorough listen-a-long with the lyric book liner (necessary) in one hand and a bottle of aspirin (recommended) in the other.

The only quick indicator of this being a unique, niche area of metal is the audience. These are pretty average, yes-ma’am-no-ma’am, A-B Honor Roll kids. About 520 of these bright seeds packed into Murray Hill Theatre March 23 to watch The Devil Wears Prada play tunes to make them want to head bang themselves into whiplash and generously clobber the pulp out of one another in a form of dance more closely resembling a merciless blood-sport than any outward expression of merriment.

But it’s all in good fun, and the Dayton, Ohio, five-piece (now touring as a six) didn’t disappoint. Everything about their sound is urgent and intense. Crushingly loud guitars layer over crashing cymbals, piercing snare drum and that growling, impassioned singer. Like traditional metal, the band utilizes very tight stop-and-go-rhythms — head-banging and scissor kicking and generally making a ruckus of things along with them.

Guitarist Jeremy DePoyster impressively managed to nail every note on the guitar and his sung choruses despite having a mop-head of hair in his face the entire set — and that’s not saying the music is simple to play. It’s not. The speed at which Prada performs their songs, …   More

Playing Around

Like that awkwardly funny DJ Huey Calhoun, "Memphis" might seem rough around the edges. But that fantastic cast — Huey would say "fantastical" — makes this the best of Artist Series' Broadway season.

Yes, those spectacular blue guys from Blue Man Group invited me on stage in January, but I'll still take the sometimes sweet and sometimes sultry sounds of "Memphis." Presented by Artist Series, the production continues through March 23 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Jacksonville.

In 1950s Memphis, white DJ Huey falls hard for black club singer Felicia Farrell, and he's eager to help her get on the radio, though he has to get there first. He finds his ticket to stardom while playing "race music" for white folks and helping give birth to rock 'n' roll.

Huey and Felicia are a mismatched pair, not only because he's a graceless doofus and she's a true talent, but also because this is the segregated South.

In the early scenes, Joey Elrose portrays awkward so well, I was beginning to doubt he could pull off the transformation to DJ star. He proved me wrong.

Jasmin Richardson's voice would lift any cast. Her "Someday" and "Colored Woman" along with her part in "The Music of My Soul" are moving.

This cast is full of scene-stealers from Avionce Hoyles as Gator, belting out "Say a Prayer" to close the first act, to Jerrial T. Young as Bobby delivering a resounding "Big Love." He also displays some amazing moves.

Joe DiPietro's story proves more raw than expected with one beating and one use of the N-word that drew gasps from the opening night audience.

Even when the tone is light, this is Memphis in the 1950s, so we go from "hockadoo!" to "hock-a-fucking-doo" in no time.

Historians of rock 'n' roll might notice the story is based on real-life DJ Dewey Phillips, remembered for being the first to play a record of a young Elvis Presley. Phillips later asks Presley on air what high school he attended to make sure …   More


“What is this even … a spaceship taking off?” a girl in the audience turns and asks as the first notes of Leverage Model’s set March 8 at Burro Bar. Apt guess.

Churning, synthesized electronics flow over pounding drumroll and anxiety-inducing guitar feedback. Ready for lift off.

Our interstellar guides look like they just beamed out of some Wes Anderson flick. Hell, maybe they did. If so, the ship must have found its home planet, because this audience is a spitting image.

Shannon Fields tangos his away up and down the stage while recounting the majesty of our Wells Fargo and Bank of America buildings (with what might be sarcasm or irony — take your pick) in a voice so effects-laden it appears disembodied from his nimble frame. The drummer looks like he just punched-out of his job in IT and the guitarist wears a Roaring '20s flapper-era headband with pearly bead tassels that bounce across his bushman face. You know, quirks for quirks' sake.

“We have a moral imperative to present ourselves with the upmost decency,” Fields says with businesslike candor.

Everything is offbeat, except for the tunes. Well, literally anyways.

It’s an entertaining assault on the senses. Soaring falsettos lead into frenetic, jittery grooves as Fields alternates between mic and megaphone. Dance beats drive every moment. There’s a lot going on, and it’s surprising to see such a layered and versatile amount of textures and tones coming from just four musicians. The synthesized samples and beats are expected and welcome in the pop genre Leverage Models calls home, but there’s a rock-and-roll, devil-may-care presence here, too.

Fields is energetic. One minute he’s dropping tango moves with the audience, the next he’s walking on any platform he can crawl on top of and the next he’s rolling around on stage. He’s the primary writer and driving force behind the project, and the backing band seems to perform as such. They’re professional, and …   More


Starry Nights will return to Metropolitan Park with progressive rocker Chicago and five-time Grammy Award winner Christopher Cross joining the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for two concert events this spring.

Billed as Jacksonville’s edition of Saturday in the Park with a full orchestra, Chicago rocks out on its 1970s and ‘80s hits on May 31. Christopher Cross, best known for the album “Ride Like the Wind” and singles “Never Be the Same” and “Say You’ll Be Mine,” performs with the symphony on June 6.

The concerts are both set for 8:15 p.m. and gates open at 6 p.m. The concerts take place race or shine, unless conditions put the musicians or concertgoers in danger, symphony officials said during the official announcement on Thursday, March 6.

Subscriptions to both concerts are now available with table seating ranging from $70-$170 per seat and $500-$1,250 for full tables of six or eight. Lawn seating is available at $30 for adults and $10 for children younger than 12.

Single event tickets will go on sale Monday, April 7 — table seats at $35-$85 and full tables at $250-$550. Lawn seating is $15 for adults in advance, $20 at the gate (children are $5).

For more information or to buy tickets, call 354-5547 or visit the box office at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Jacksonville.


Note: Christopher Cross' Starry Nights concert was originally scheduled for June 7, but it was moved to June 6 after the U.S. men's national team scheduled its Sendoff Series soccer match against Nigeria for June 7.



Julio Iglesias thinks nearly all his songs are “sexy.” And he made sure to introduce them as so.

For the 1,400 fans clapping and laughing March 2 in Downtown Jacksonville, Iglesias probably couldn’t turn that charm off.

In between songs, he took a seat on his stool to talk and joke with the audience.

He asked only for a small favor, “If you make love tonight and you get pregnant, name [the baby] Julio.”

Julio Iglesias’ charm reflected in both his singing and his on-stage delivery, energizing about his fans at the Moran Theatre in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

He thanked the audience again and again for coming to his concert on Oscar night.

Iglesias sang in Spanish, French and English. He drew the biggest reaction with his rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Two ballroom dancers added an extra kick as they danced throughout many of Iglesias’ Spanish songs. They had an electrifying chemistry, and Iglesias later explained that they were married. He then asked the man, “Can I kiss your wife?” before he proceeded to kissed her.

One of the most defining instruments in the performance was the saxophone. Even Iglesias remarked, “If I played the saxophone like you, I would invite all my girlfriends to bed and play for them.”

Iglesias is so natural on stage that one can’t help but think it is second-nature for him. The entire performance seemed like it was improvised, yet it flowed so smoothly and seamlessly.

Iglesias might have surprised some with his exit. After an hour and a half, he walked off stage, the band finished, and the lights turned on. That was the end of that.