PHOTO: Mark O'Connor
Ever wonder just how your favorite band happens to come to NE Florida to do a show? If you peel back all the layers of record labels, publicists and marketing you’ll always find a promoter that envisioned the event.
In Jacksonville, the large majority of the major concert acts at the Arena are coordinated locally through SMG while at St. Augustine’s Amphitheatre and at Jacksonville’s historic Florida Theatre acts are booked by their staff. Most of these type concerts are part of a band’s national tour schedule and feature well known musicians that bring a large fan base. They also host a variety of specialized local events.
But there’s plenty of great bands around that can’t fill 1500+ seat venues but that we want to hear. That’s where the local music entrepreneurs come in. There are a handful of seasoned professionals and one newcomer in the tunescape of Jax. Tim Hall has been bringing exciting new music to Jack Rabbits in San Marco for over ten years and has also expanded his musical magicianship, along with Judy Van Zant, to the Freebird Live in Jacksonville Beach. Flying Saucer Productions headed by Tib Miller brings many eclectic and vintage shows to Jacksonville stages and Jason Lewis of Orange Garden Productions hosts a variety of shows ranging in venues from gigantic Metro Park to the comfortably cozy confines of Underbelly in 5 Points.
The new face on the block (or chopping block) is Jimmy Saal who’s launched Atypical Arts Presents production company. Jimmy hails from the Richmond/DC area and brings a fresh perspective and a very unique brand of entertainment to delight and enlighten. He has an ambitious nine show schedule for his first year of Atypical Arts which has already brought in the delightful multi-media musical carnival of Balthrop, Alabama, and as part of the Jacksonville Film Festival, the cautionary film documentary of the band Fishbone, Everyday Sunshine, to the Five Points Theatre which included an after film discussion with the renowned music journalist, Greg Tate.
“I want to build something different for Jacksonville. I love it here and have discovered friends here that really enjoy and support uniquely intelligent shows and that’s something I can do.” Jimmy explained recently over a plate of Mojo’s barbque.
Jimmy has had an eye for the unusual and a knack for building the architecture of successful stage shows. What started as nearly a drafted position, Jimmy was named to head up the Virgina Commonwealth University’s concert committee and in 1979 packed the venue with the J. Giles Band and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. That’s when he caught the entertainment bug. Soon he was managing a popular local DC band called The Good Guys and before long was hitting the tour trail along with a rock band called Simply Red. “That first tour was an eye opening event” quiked Saal, “and I seem to remember we played a gig in Jacksonville at Einstein A Go-Go.”
Road work with a band can be wearing, so Jimmy landed in New York and was offered a position at the newly started Spin Magazine and joined the publication in its infancy at issue #6 then later served as Advertising Manager for both Spin and Vibe magazines. Jimmy returned to event promoting with Central Park’s Summer Stage Festival with five different shows per week and also the avante guarde Lincoln Theatre Festival. “The opera crowds are the most aggressive,” laughs Jimmy. “They stand at the stage door and demand to use the restroom. They can get vicious.”
“The biggest show we ever did was with the band Ratdog (the spin off members of the Grateful Dead). It was the day after Jerry Garcia died and the crowd just continued to build and build. You’d look around and see all kinds of famous people like Paul Simon sitting there, just hanging out and enjoying the show.”
Jimmy went national as event manager staging live radio productions of the Grammy, Superbowl and Country Music Awards.
So, what brings this high caliber event producer to our fair city? “The love of a good woman.” states Jimmy emphatically and went on to explain his wife, Dr. Felicia Snead, took a position at the UF/Shands Proton Center so he and their two sons, Marley and Miles moved here and made Avondale their home.
Look for some exciting shows in the coming months from Atypical Arts. “I want to present movies with something more” and that Saal does incredibly well by tapping his “heavy” pals from the entertainment industry Jimmy is able to bring special films to Jacksonville audiences with the added experience of an open discussion following the screening with the real-deal music writers and artists who witnessed the event.
Look for Rebel Music: The Bob Marley Story on November 11th at the Five Points Theatre with Vivien Goldman, well known music writer, author, who wrote 2 bios on Marley and x-punk artist who had some success in England back in the days of her friends the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren and (her x-roomie) Chrissie Hynde of the Prentenders. She’s also a professor of Punk & Reggae at the Clive Davis School of Record Music at NYU in NYC.
Passing Strange from Spike Lee will be shown on December 16th with a conversation with Bill Bragin, Director of Public Programming of Lincoln Center and truly one of the leading live music producers in the US.
And for New Year’s Eve 2010 EU Jacksonville teams up with Atypical Arts to host a year-end celebration show that will be remembered for many new years to come by bringing to Jacksonville’s historic Five Points Theatre The New Orleans Bingo Show. According to show co-producer, Raef Godwin after a recent trip to the Big Easy, “I was told, if you want to experience something completely born of New Orleans that captures the spirit of this town….GO SEE BINGO! I did and it blew my mind!”
Says Wikipedia: The New Orleans Bingo! Show is an interactive theatrical cabaret and musical band from New Orleans, Louisiana. The show features original music by New Orleans singer and songwriter Clint Maedgen who created the show in 2002. The show also showcases original short films, comedic skits and a live game of bingo played with the audience. The group toured with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 2007 and 2008. The Bingo! Show will be playing The Voodoo Experience held at City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana over Halloween weekend 2010.
Godwin explains, “Fleur De Tease” (that accompanies The New Orleans Bingo! Show) is–in it’s own right–a French Quarter force that captivates the audience’s collective imagination and drives you deeper into the dream….a dream filled with all the noir surrealism of David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’”. This will be a spectacle like Jacksonville has never experienced.
The New Year’s Eve show will kick off at 9:00 on Friday, December 31 at the Five Points Theatre and is being presented by Riverside Dental & Silver Chiropractic and Wellness with part of the proceeds benefiting JASMYN & the Riverside Arts Market. For more info and tickets visit: AtypicalArts.eventbrite.com.