Fascinating Rhythm Orchestra

Date: Every other Wednesday
Venue: Jacksonville Comedy Club
Tickets: Contact Comedy Club
Contact: Burk Shields 477-0395

Big Joe Hapi is a booking agent, but it would be easy enough to confuse the burly fella with a plain ole bookie. You know, the take your bets and then come to collect his money with a baseball bat type bookie. “Some people had to go,” explained Hapi. Don’t worry, Hapi wasn’t talking about anything nefarious. He was referring to the band split-up that led to the creation of Fascinating Rhythm Orchestra, a local band that he represents. In reality, Joe “Mr. Hawaii” Hapi is an affable gentleman who is obviously passionate about the groups he represents. Trombonist/bandleader Burk Shields discusses that situation further. “Top Shelf was the original band that I was part of,” says Shields. “We broke up due to creative differences, which is another way of saying the other guy was an assh*le. We’re with a good group of guys now. We don’t get involved in ego battles. As leader of the band, I pride myself on treating each member with respect.”

Anyone familiar in the least with music knows that breaking up over “creative differences” is the band equivalent of stating your divorce is a “conscience uncoupling.” Putting this negativity behind him and with Big Joe as his fullback, Shields and company have marched forth—5 saxophones, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, a piano, bass, drums, and guitar in tow—and in December of last year formed the Fascinating Rhythm Orchestra (FRO). The group traces its roots back to 1999, where the six-piece combo was formed after Shields retired from Lockheed Aircraft, where he played lead trombone for the Lockheed House band under the direction of Benny Goodman’s brother, Harry. In their current incarnation, they strive to create the sort of Big Band sound from the early ‘60s that pairs well with a tasteful dinner and dance session while dressed to the nines.
FRO (you gotta love that acronym) can currently be seen live at the Jacksonville Comedy Club every other Wednesday, when the spacious venue takes a break from zingers in order to bring you swingers. You’ll recognize timeless tunes of yesteryear such as ‘Georgia on My Mind,’ ‘Proud Mary,’ and ‘Sweet Caroline.’ Dinner can be purchased while you watch, and there is even a dance floor provided should you feel like shaking it to ‘Mambo #5’ or slow-dancing with your dame to ‘Moonlight Serenade.’ FRO has been playing at Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "Jax Comedy Club" since last January, and is trying to get the word out in an attempt to expand their audience. As is the case with most local musicians, funds are always an issue. The band is comprised of city and county players who only get paid based on the number of people who come through the door, and they could always use a few more.

“When we first started, this place was half empty, now it’s half full,” says Shield jokingly (and fittingly, given the venue). He goes on, “Great experience here. Started slow. First couple shows were some of the coldest and wettest days. Music is good. Band is great. The Support from Steve Smith (Jax Comedy Club owner) has been excellent. We’re trying to expand to hotels and restaurants. We’re an unknown quantity, but we are good.” In addition to the shows held at Jax Comedy Club, Fascinating Rhythm Orchestra will also play on the main stage at the shipyards during downtown’s Oktoberfest.

About Richard David Smith III

writer, lab rat, and purveyor of fine energy drinks. pro Oxford comma.