The State of the Scene

by Kellie Abrahamson
Locals artists are making good
Several local bands have found themselves in the national spotlight recently. You’ll get to know many of them in this very issue, but country act Branch & Dean (from Macclenny), indie pop project Radical Face (made up of one-half of Jax’s equally popular Electric President) and electro-folk artist Emperor X are among those making waves in the industry.

Bands have more gig options
Gone are the days where there’s nowhere to play. Northeast Florida now has a variety of venues happy to host a local band. “The opportunities for local musicians [have] never been better. Not only do you have dedicated live music venues like Jack Rabbits, Brewsters Pit, Freebird Live, but there has been a large growth in restaurants/bars featuring live music such as Mojo’s, Mellow Mushroom, Burrito Gallery, etc., plus smaller indie venues such as TSI, Burro Bar, Shantytown, Warehouse 8B,” explains local promoter Jason Lewis.

Fans are (finally!) showing up
Thanks in part to the opening of the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the 2007 renovation of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, big names are adding the First Coast to their tour schedules and, in turn, music lovers are turning out in droves. “So far this year we’ve had sold-out shows with genres like country and Miranda Lambert, rock/punk with Rise Against/Bad Religion, hip hop with Wiz Khalifa, pop with Selena Gomez, jam with Furthur … and bluegrass/country with Alison Krauss,” says Daniel Larson, Marketing Manager for the Amphitheatre and PVCH. But they aren’t the only venues packing in the patrons. The Florida Theatre saw huge turnouts for last month’s Death Cab for Cutie concert and September’s Fleet Foxes show (which was, incidentally, their only Florida date. Take that, Orlando!). And Freebird Live’s upcoming appearance by Skrillex- who recently graced the cover of Spin Magazine- sold out literally months in advance.

The rise of the “Duval Do-All”
More and more, we’re seeing everyday people doing their best to make a difference in the scene. Homegrown record labels have popped up, new venues have opened, and local music showcases are being held at bars and clubs all around town. Without passionate people at the helm, pushing to make our little corner of Florida more appealing to artists, we’d see a mass exodus of talent, and then where would we be?

Sure, we still have a long way to go, but we are seeing steady progress and a renewed interest in what the First Coast has to offer. Read on to learn more about a few of the bands and individuals who are striving to make their mark and who are, in turn, helping Jacksonville’s music scene survive and thrive.