With an unforgettable voice as huskily hypnotizing as a warm Southern summer evening, Jacksonville native Christina Wagner is a powerful presence in the NE Florida cultural scene.
This pint-sized powerhouse knows how to draw a crowd. A singer and songwriter since childhood, Wagner's first professional performance took place at Thee Imperial in Downtown Jacksonville 17 years ago, when a friend dared her to get up onstage and sing a song with him. Since then, she’s performed all over the First Coast and is known to pick up the mic at Rain Dogs. She’s also a strong proponent for the arts in Northeast Florida, booking and promoting rising talent and participating in cultural events like St. Augustine’s upcoming Sing Out Loud Festival.
The nearly month-long celebration is held Sept. 1-22 at venues throughout St. Augustine, featuring more than 200 local and regional acts. Wagner will be performing along with Tim Barry, Austin Lucas and Chuck Ragan as part of St. Augustine Amphitheatre’s Front Porch Showcase, Saturday, Sept. 22. Doors open at noon; Wagner’s performance commences at 12:15 p.m. She’s thrilled to participate in Sing Out Loud for the second time and looks forward to checking out other musicians and some comedians throughout the month. “There are just so many good acts. I’ll be like a kid in a candy store, just bouncing around,” Wagner laughs.
“The older you get, the more you’re, like, ‘Oh, no, not a festival,’ you know what I mean?” Wagner jokes, “especially in Florida. You think of a bunch of people walking around, sweating their butts off. The way that they do it [at Sing Out Loud] keeps you moving around. Some of these are smaller, some of these are larger performances. It’s something I enjoy because you can go from venue to venue and it also makes you go into these different little pockets of these different stages that you might not have come across before.”
The Sing Out Loud Festival website details a lineup schedule and venues, enumerating an eclectic mix of artists performing throughout the city. Jason Isbel & the 400 Unit, The Decemberists, Lucero, Iron Reagan, War on Women, Tim Barry and Southern Avenue are just a few of the seemingly endless acts scheduled. There’s something for fans of every genre. Wagner encourages Northeast Floridians to get out and experience the event. “The shows are free, it’s a good time of year, things aren’t brutally hot outside, and it’s nice to take a little day trip to St. Augustine,” she says, “It’s wonderful. You just have to experience it. You won’t be disappointed. There are restaurants. It’s kid-friendly. It’s like a little family trip.”
Sing Out Loud is a dynamic celebration of all that this region has to offer. “It’s pretty incredible the amount of talent we have here,” Wagner says. “We have such a wide variety of different things, it’s exciting. I’ve been playing solo for 17 years around town and I’ve been able to be a part of it and watch it transform into what it is. It fluctuates sometimes, you know. You’ll have little pockets of dead time and you’ll have these glorious acts that come along. I think now it seems to be picking up more steam. In conjunction to a lot of the work that’s done with the St. Augustine Sing Out Loud Fest, we’re putting Northern Florida on the map.”
Christina Wagner’s Sing Out Loud performance is one to put on your calendar. Her acoustic, alt-country, Americana style, flavored with a Latin nod to her Costa Rican heritage, is unique and unforgettable.
In addition to her performances, Wagner is well-known locally as the owner of Rain Dogs, an eclectic bar that's a cultural gathering place in 5 Points, Riverside. The hang-out destination where new talent is discovered and people of vastly different walks of life sit side-by-side; maybe they're interacting, getting to know how others live. Among the rotating art shows, comedy, trivia, poetry jams, open mic, occasional political events, and a jam-packed performance calendar, there are few other places that feel so authentically Jacksonville. “There’s something going on every night of the week,” Wagner says. “Just swing by. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Wagner loves living and working in Jacksonville’s urban core, drawing attention to First Coast artists and performers and encouraging others to get involved in the local arts scene, which changes and grows constantly. “Go support live and local music. Most of the shows are affordable and you’ll be surprised. There’s something going on all the time,” she explains. “The more people attend these shows, the more people are going to be inspired to start these shows. And when you go out and support these kinds of events, the more we’re going to be putting it on, the more people are going to be inspired, the more of a pool of talent we’ll have to pick from. It all starts with the support.”
Christina Wagner, Tim Barry, Austin Lucas, Chuck Ragan
Starts 12:15 p.m. Sept. 22, St. Augustine Amphitheatre's Front Porch Showcase, singoutloudfestival.com, free.