BRUTAL INTENT

There is a meme currently making the Internet rounds spoofing the many sub-genres of metal. Truth is, every genre of music has sub-genres, including rap, country, blues, R&B and even Americana (in descending order of quality: Authentic, Crap, Hipster Beardo Jugband Crap, Ukulele Crap, Acoustic-Guitar-Strumming Bonnaroo Girl Crap, Mumford & Sons).

But metal fans take their sub-genres seriously, and there are even feuding camps, insisting that their metal is better than all the other metals. What’s worse, to non-metal fans, it all sounds the same – loud, angry, violent, bad for kids.

But not to Clifford Newkirk, founder of Southern Druid Booking, which concentrates on booking metal bands of all genres from around the country at Shantytown, Burro Bar and Rain Dogs. Newkirk has also spun off a small record label for his fellow metalheads. He’s a die-hard fan who respects all metal genres, and works hard to promote the scene on a local and national level.

We recently spoke with Newkirk about the ins and outs of promoting headbanging.

Folio Weekly: When was Southern Druid founded?
Clifford Newkirk: I started Southern Druid to book shows in 2012. It wasn’t until about January of this year that we started using it as a label as well.

Who are the main organizers of the label?
The label came about when Erik Reeder joined Southern Druid. He and I had worked on shows together for a few years and played in a band together. We’d just met a couple of great bands we wanted to work with, so we decided to start pulling our resources and put out some releases.

Since you guys aren’t making a profit, where does the money come from to release and distribute this stuff?
Our own blood, sweat, and tears.

What sub-genres of metal do you cover?
We’re down for anything. Grind, punk, sludge, hardcore, doom, black, death, just about anything heavy or dark.

What formats do you handle? Cassette? CD? Vinyl?
So far, we’ve put out a couple tapes and are currently working on a 7” vinyl for Wvrm. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do more vinyl releases in the future, but they aren’t cheap. We might get around to doing CDs, but we just prefer the older formats.

How many Northeast Florida bands do you handle, as opposed to national or international acts?
As a label, we’ve done releases for North Carolina grinders Wvrm as well as Florida band Bucket Flush and our own old local Jax band Atma. For shows, we get bands from all over the country and beyond. I’m currently setting up a show for a punk band from Brazil.

In the ’80s, Tampa was a mecca for metal bands. Where is that Florida mecca today? Does it even exist?
Most big cities in Florida have great scenes with awesome bands that are doing great things these days. There isn’t really a “Florida mecca” anymore since the Internet was able to connect metal heads globally.

Give us your assessment of the Jacksonville metal scene compared to that of other areas.
Jacksonville’s a tough crowd. Friends of the bands and a couple of diehards that come out to just about everything are the usual crowd. Recently, I’ve been seeing more people at shows who haven’t been out before, so that’s a good sign.

Is it difficult to book shows in a place like Jacksonville?
It’s not the easiest, but I love doing it. I do shows to help out touring bands that are working hard to get their music out there and also to try to get Jacksonville recognized as a legitimate place for shows. Lots of big tours pass right over Florida, and we gotta start bringing all-sized bands if we want to see those big bands here.

What age range do you see at shows?
We see all ages at our shows. The grind and black metal shows normally have more of an older crowd, whereas the punk and hardcore shows are normally younger kids still in high school or college.

What criteria do you use to decide who gets on the label?
If a band has good music, are cool dudes and really looking to do things with their music, we try to reach out to them in any way possible.

What’s your metal concert dream lineup?
Wvrm Fest. Every year we put on a fest called Wvrm Fest. Lots of great bands from different genres and everyone having a great time. Yeah, you can go to a mega fest like MDF [Maryland Death Fest] and see your “dream lineup,” or you can have a great time with some regional and local bands that really bring it, right here in Jacksonville.


Southern Druid events: facebook.com/Southern DruidBooking/events. 
To buy Southern Druids artists: southerndruidrecords.storenvy.com/

About EU Jacksonville

october, 2021

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