The inaugural Sing Out Loud Festival has been in full swing for two weekends, bringing quality entertainment to multiple venues across St. Augustine. While plenty of attention will be paid this weekend to the bonanza of national artists here to close out the festival, just as pivotal are the many showcases giving local musicians their chance to shine. And our favorite is the That’s What She Said All-Female Showcase at Nobby’s on Friday, Sept. 9..
Organized by St. Johns County Director of Cultural Events Ryan Murphy and Jacksonville-native-turned-St. Augustine-chanteuse Chelsea Saddler, That’s What She Said is a follow-up to last October’s Women’s Music Fest — and a preview of the second annual version, scheduled for Oct. 9 at Planet Sarbez. “I think Ryan liked the idea of showcasing some of the women in town — and it’s a small town, so there are only so many of us,” Saddler laughs in a phone interview with Folio Weekly Magazine. “It’s still very much a boys’ club here, so we’re really excited to give a few local women a platform” — on a Saturday night, at one of St. Augustine’s most revered DIY venues, with a stage manager and sound guy (provided by Murphy and his Amphitheatre team) to boot.
So who’s playing at this thing? South Florida native Kim Brown has been performing locally for two years while finishing her degree at Flagler College. The accolades are already pouring in: Last winter, she won Narrow Magazine’s Best Song of 2015 for “Crystal Ball,” an arena-pop banger destined for big things. “Kim is younger, but she came onto the scene like a firework,” Saddler says. “She writes great original tunes, which makes us really happy — she’s not doing covers like 75 percent of the people around. She’s a powerhouse, for sure.”
Next up is longtime Jacksonville staple Alex Marie, of the band Lawless Hearts, which released an acclaimed full-length, Creatures of Habit, last year. “I actually went to middle school with Alex Marie at Landon, the last year it was an arts school before everything was transferred to LaVilla,” Saddler recalls. “So I’ve know her since I was a child, which makes it really cool to follow each other’s careers. Alex and her band usually play all-electric everything, but for this showcase, they’ll be doing an acoustic set, which will be fun to watch.”
Speaking of acoustic tunes, St. Augustine’s Evans Sisters may be young — Sarah is 18, Ruthie is 16 — but they come from solid local artistic stock (their dad, Jesse, fronts beach-rock faves LoveChunk) and they’ve got lots of experience under their belts, performing at special events like the city’s 450th birthday. “We’re all rooting for them as far as new emerging young artists,” Saddler says. “They’re not even old enough to be in the bars where we want them to play, so we can get them to only so many gigs around town. But they have the sickest harmonies. And when Sarah starts playing guitar … she has this natural ability to just take over and transform it into a drum. At 18, she’s better than some of the people in town who’ve been playing for years and years.”
Finally, a name that any First Coast music fan will immediately recognize: Christina Wagner. A major player in Florida’s punk and alt-country scenes for years, Wagner also co-founded Downtown dive bar and current epicenter of Jacksonville’s underground music scene, Rain Dogs. When she climbs on stage to channel jazz, country, blues and classical guitar, it’s impossible not to get swept up in her orbit. “I saw Christina for the first time eight or nine years ago, and she was the epitome of what was awesome then: She would get on stage with her bottle of whiskey and tell the crowd to shut the fuck up. Being 22 years old and seeing this badass woman on stage taking control and being exactly who she wanted to be was really cool.” If you know Christina, you know it’s hard to pin down her performance schedule (along with that of the ultra-underground Rain Dogs), so don’t miss the chance to see her serve as an integral link between multiple generations of Northeast Florida women here.
The best thing about the That’s What She Said Showcase (besides that awesome name)? It’s all for a good cause, according to Saddler, who also helped organize the inaugural Lincolnville Porch Fest and accompanying Sing Out Loud showcases. Expect plenty of plugs for the second annual That’s What She Said Women’s Music Festival on Oct. 9 at Planet Sarbez — Saddler says the plan is to double last year’s attendance of 100 people, along with the proceeds raised ($700 in 2015) for Girls Rock Camp in Jacksonville. “All the money raised from the door in October goes to buying the girls amps, instruments, mic cables, and food for the summer camp, which Alex E from Tomboi and other female Jacksonville musicians are heavily involved in,” Saddler says. “So many of us have grown up together, so it’s really cool to watch as each of us finds our own way. Hopefully this showcase is a good representation of that.”