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Old Town Tunesmiths

Folio Weekly takes its songwriter showcase to St. Augustine

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Anyone who attended our inaugural Folio Weekly Songwriter Showcase in August knows it was one for the record-books. Now we continue the series with this Fall Songwriter Showcase, starring Jolie, Jessica Leigh and Mallory Jen. The three Northeast Florida singer-songwriters perform original material and share insights in the charming garden of St. Augustine’s award-winning wine bar, Casa De Vino 57. The event takes place just as the Ancient City prepares to welcome the holiday season—and as its townsfolk begin nominating their favorite people, places and things in Folio Weekly’s annual Best of Saint Augustine reader poll.

JOLIE Jolie is a true St. Augustine success story. Within two short years, the young pianist, singer and songwriter has established herself as one of the Ancient City’s premiere up-and-coming acts. What’s more, she is successfully navigating the tough transition from apprenticeship—learning the craft by playing other people’s songs night after night—to songwriting mastery. As the performer plied St. Augustine venues like the Colonial Oak Music Park and Casa De Vino 57 (where she is effectively the house band), audiences ceased requesting their favorite cover songs, and began asking to hear original material. Jolie unveiled her debut five-song EP, I Can Only Be Me, on Nov. 13.

JESSICA LEIGH This Jacksonville-based singer/songwriter is one link in a multigenerational chain of musicians. Her first passions were gospel and musical theater; then her father, Don Walton (proprietor of the legendary Don’s Music and Pawn Shop), introduced her to blues and rock ‘n’ roll. His connections allowed her to observe first-hand some of the greats—including Les Paul, B.B. King and The Allman Brothers Band. She often returns to these formative influences and adapts them to suit her confessional style of songwriting. “Creating music has been a form of therapy,” she says. A large part of her creative journey has been raising two children, who are now adult musicians themselves.

MALLORY JEN This nomadic performer is a true bohemian. Mallory Jen is alternately based in New Orleans, Savannah and St. Augustine—and she has absorbed the musical traditions of each historic city. Her style spans swing, folk and bluegrass. For all her old-time curiosity, however, Jen’s songs live squarely in the contemporary world, where she tries to reconcile the creativity of her free spirit with the stifling conformity of the modern world. Jen is a regular presence on historic Aviles Street, especially during First Friday Artwalk.

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