by Jack Diablo
Not only does the Riverside Arts Market have great food and friendly vendors hawking their handmade goods, it also brings you quality entertainment fit for the whole family. The location even boasts one of the finest outdoor music venues in Jacksonville, with amphitheater-style seating and a killer view of the St John’s River.
From great music to magic, there is plenty to keep you occupied. A majority of the acts are traditional street performers. You can catch a death-defying escape artist or watch a young man juggle torches and machetes while riding a unicycle. Even the kids can count on a good time at the drum circle hosted by the Riverside Children’s Arts Center where they can bang on hand drums and shake tambourines.
But the River Stage is the entertainment nucleus. There you can expect to see local musicians playing original tunes and cover songs for an attentive and appreciative audience. Most recently, the lineup included singer/songwriters Steve Piscitelli, Jimmi Mitchell, and Larry Magnum who played country, R&B, folk and classic rock.
Making the pieces fit to make the music happen was no small task. Long before the first performers took to the stage there were worries about the acoustics of the facility. “Initially, we were concerned about live music under the Fuller Warren Bridge and the effect vehicle noise would have,” says the market’s music coordinator, Andy Burke. “But beyond a barely discernible hum, there is no problem.”
Burke is the owner of Village Idiots Productions, whose goal it is to provide quality live music in Jacksonville. “Working with Riverside Arts Market is an excellent opportunity to showcase the amazing musical talent we have in this city,” Burke says.
Expect to see a wide array of musical styles as the Market grows and more diverse acts are incorporated into the show. The only requirement in terms of style is that the music be family friendly. Burke explains, “We want music that is accessible to a wide variety of age groups. We want young people and retirees to sit side-by-side enjoying the music.”
In the future, Burke would like to book younger, more unknown acts to play at the Market. “It is one goal of the Riverside Arts Market and Village Idiots Productions to utilize the music amphitheater as a venue for aspiring musicians,” says Burke. These acts would have an opportunity to play during the morning part of the event, with the more established performers playing in the afternoon. “It is our hope that we can help nurture inexperienced yet competent performers to transition from the morning period to the afternoon.”
Playing at RAM offers the kind of exposure most young musicians only dream of and in a positive and accepting environment. Burke emphasizes, “The bottom line is that performing on the River Stage is a lot of fun.” Be sure and take the time to check out some of the wonderful entertainment and support local musicians during your next trip to the Riverside Arts Market.
Come to RAM for the Jam!
by Jack Diablo