Monday, July 06, 2009

Schizophrenic Gender Confusion over Jenny Lewis at Freebird Live
by Jon Bosworth

My dude side said: I didn't think there'd be so many guys here. But then a lesbian friend told me she skipped the womens room line by using the mens room, and my chick side was all "you go grrl." I realize my girl side is pretty dorky, but wait until my dude side has a few more whiskeys. Then everyone at the Jenny Lewis show will know who the real ass is. I didn't know much about Jenny. I know she often reminds me of Loretta Lynn. I also know she did some stuff with Postal Service (Ben Gibbard from Death Cab is Barsuk labelmates with her former band). And I've heard a couple of songs by some band called Riley Cairo or something (I love making up new misnomers for Rilo Kiley). The truth is: I've tried to avoid alt country ever since Jason Trachtenburg told me his then 13-year old daughter (and drummer for the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow) could do anything she put her mind to, except be in an alt country band.
"Let's hope we never have to have that conversation," he said, dreading it more than any birds and bees conversation.
But when you're at Freebird Live in Jacksonville and some girl flies, guitar and hair engaged, into a honky tonk jam, both my dude and chick sides were like "oh damn."
My dude side said we should've gotten there early enough to catch the opener and the highly celebrated Heartless Bastards, but my chick side said drinks would be cheaper at the new pizza place up the street. My chick side always wins the alcohol argument. I arrived just in time for Jenny's set.
Although it escaped my Loretta Lynn archetype almost immediately, it went on to sound like a young woman with an uncanny grasp of the fundamentals of blues-oriented southern rock. Could this be right? Could the child actor who starred opposite Fred Savage in the 80s video game movie The Wizard really be capable of authenticity in her music? Is it possible that a 30-year old woman that was born and raised out west could grasp the fundamentals of southern music? People thought my skepticism was unfounded, after all she has played with many of my favorites, including Cursive and the aforementioned Postal Service, but those were West Coast types of bands. And sure, she did some stuff with Conor Oberst, whose music often borders on brilliance and his country western efforts are especially compelling, but authenticity is hardly Conor's strong suit, so that gave me no reason to expect anything real. I mean this is Freebird Live. Charlie Daniels plays this stage. The Skynyrd family OWNS the damn stage, if you're fake on that stage, it shows. I've seen plenty of alt country and folk rock bands get up there and immediately their true colors showed. They may not have been ashamed, but I left embarrassed to tell people what I did that weekend. Mason Jennings? No, you didn't see me at that gay show, I'd never go to that hackneyed loser's city hippy jam? It must have been my dorky dorky doppleganger. Or my chick side without my dude side in tow.
But just like that Jenny turned from cheeseball alt country to something genuine. Right before my eyes. Did you see that happen, Trachtenburg? Take note: alt country can get you that quick. While my chick side was really starting to get into it, trying to hang my hair in my face and swing my hips, my dude side recuperated by remembering Allison Kraus and realizing: Jenny Lewis isn't really blazing new ground. She has plenty of precedent she could spend time studying until she was able to present a really compelling facsimile of authenticity. My chick side countered with: you're rocking your head (the dude version of dancing). Her music has an indie feel that you can't help but dig. It even makes me want to forgive the alt country aspects, because the ripping southern rock style guitar solos ring true at The Freebird, that hallowed hall of Jacksonville's rock legacy. My dude side did point out that it isn't really girl rock, her band is loaded with dudes. To which my chick side pointed out that the drummer was a girl. THE FUCKING DRUMMER! And I was sold. Jenny Lewis played with balls, and that made me respect all things ovarian. Mars and Venus were aligned at the close of Jenny Lewis' set.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Pop culture will not eat itself in Jacksonville, because there seem to be forces at work preventing there to be any culture left for the eating. In this strange and fearful era of business breakdowns and presidential quests, it is hard to pull the aperture back in and stay focused on local. But what we let happen here will only inflate into bigger intrusions and worse situations. That said, we cannot ignore the actions the city takes.

Granted, we all want to see crime reduced, but I am not the only one that sees the misdirection of the DART program causing more harm than healing to this problem. If you are not aware of the DART closings, please read Gwennod Stuart's great article in the last issue of Folio Weekly (if you can still find one laying around, unfortunately they don't publish online) or check out some of these very articulate reports:

These focus largely on the closing of The Pearl and a little about TSI (both clubs are focused on the 18 - 34 set - wildly reminiscent of the "scorched earth" closings by the Fire Marshal back in the 90s) but the agency claims to have closed nearly 20 clubs in the last 90 days.

Now whether or not minor permit violations should have such dire consequences is one question. Another is whether or not there ought to be a less police-oriented agency that can help small business owners jump through all of the required hoops to prevent being raided and closed by police. But there also seem to be personal rights being violated (since when can police raid a business and search everyone in the place, where is their probable cause?) as well as the rights of business owners.

The stated mission according to the city's website is:
"The Jacksonville Drug Abatement Response Team (DART) was established in January 1996 to combat illegal drugs in Jacksonville by focusing on the property where drug activity flourishes. Working with landlords/property owners, the team develops strategies and marshals resources to reduce drug activity."

Well they were not working with the owners of Pearl or TSI when they raided their businesses and shut them down. I know the owners of these clubs and they would have gladly allowed any inspector to enter their premises and inspect it. They would also comply with whatever recommendations the inspectors made. None of the citations were for major incidents (an extension chord and some christmas lights) and no drug arrests were made, as far as anyone seems to be able to tell - so what is the real and present threat?

Even more important - how do these reduce crime and promote business, two things that should be at the front end of every city effort in these hard times. As the economy gets worse, crime will increase. How does discouraging poeple from going downtown help reduce crime downtown? Any business owner in the core will tell you that more good people downtown means less crime. It is simply a matter of more witnesses and less dark, empty streets.

So when Charlie Crist sent down the budget cuts that have and will continue to reduce the quality of life in a city already being soffocated in crime and poverty, we didn't raise enough of a stink to do anything about it. Hell - we're all working really hard to make ends meet, who has time for voluntary political action, I understand that. But this is a Duval-centric problem that needs to be addressed by Duvalites like us.

Who changed the direction of this agency from shutting down and condemning crack houses (good idea) to shutting down and condemning legitimate businesses (bad idea). Add this misguided effort to the new rule that drinking in the usually barren streets of downtown during Art Walk is now officially against the rules, it just seems like someone is either trying to start up a new prohibition or they are simply afraid of Jacksonville growing into a town with any real indigenous culture.

What You Can Do
I don't know what sort of political action makes sense. I don't know who you should write to. We keep voting assholes into the offices they either have failed in or are very likely to proceed to fail in in the near future. So I'm putting the political stick down and picking up my performance art stick.

I suggest that we make some official looking uniforms that have the DART logo on them and raid bars that don't fit the usual hit list criteria and videotape the responses, the reactions, and the effects of the raid. We'll hit Twisted Martini and Mavericks, Mark's, Dive Bar, and then head to San Marco and Riverside. We will raid and evacuate the most upstanding of clubs until every bar owner understands how frustrating it is to work against a China-like police force with arbitrary direction and secret agendas. Perhaps if we harness enough people with money toward this problem, something effective can actually be done.

If someone has a more reasonable solution, please advise, because I'm pretty sure my Ghetto DART Impersonation Posse will eventually be arrested and we'll have no friends left to bail us out.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kuwait and Drop Sonic at Burrito Gallery on August 14th

If you know me, you know that I love a good live rock show. I miss playing in local bands, but watching local bands almost makes up for it.
I like the bands that are still full of piss and vinegar. The ones that haven't burned out or faded away. But nothing compares to an articulate and ferocious band playing in a downtown courtyard.
There aren't many local bands lately that have been worth getting all excited about. Don't get me wrong, Antartic is phenomenal. Buffalo Tears are wicked cool. Black Kids are fucking famous. There are plenty of bands I dig. But have you seen Kuwait?

Kuwait's first show at Eclipse, not long ago, was anticipated by the local rockers to be a pretty good grouping. Scott Madgett of Goalie on drums, Paul Paxton of Crash the Satellites on bass and computer (yes - computer) and Richard Dudley, former bass player for Tracy Shedd and a tertiary guitarist with Crash a few years ago, on guitar. This trio was pretty much a guarantee, but at their freshman performance they proved their consummate musicianship was matched by their ability to compose songs that rock. Songs that are alternately filled with agression and serenity. Songs that have no vocals, and yet manage to never feel absent of them. This is post rock at its best.

Drop Sonic has been playing Jacksonville fairly regularly over the past eight or nine years. Their riff rock is a little bit of led zeppelin and a little bit of blues explosion, but they do it like they're mad at you. In fact, I would describe their set like that person you meet at a bar that you think is trying to start a fight with you, and right when you think the fight is going to break out, they burst into smile and tell you they were just fucking with you all along. Then you start to like them, and not just because they seem really nice after that, but also because they told you they were kidding before you threw a punch and made an ass of yourself. I realize that is an obtuse example, but they rock in some really gutteral, almost unsettling way.

These two bands are nothing alike in many ways, but in creating articulate and intoxicating rock songs that will carry on in your head most of the night, they are the same. And there is a rumor that Locust Grove may even get things started for people that show up early. If you want to see a good rock show in an unusual setting, watching rock bands at Burrito Gallery is always an incredible experience.
This has been a convoluted post, I know, but this show will kill and it will be effin' worth the scratch to see it. There's gonna be some cheap beer and other drink specials. But if yer totally broke, still come downtown and listen to the rock from outside of the gate. It won't be as fun and you can't drink, but the music will still be worth your while for sure. If you're looking for a great time on Thursday, come to the show. I think you need this.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jaxvillain's Jacksonville Journey

Making Murder Work for Us Instead of Against Us

Stop feeling so sorry for yourself, Jacksonville. I know. We screwed up. We re-elected a sheriff that made our city nationally ranked! In gun violence. And now that the guns are spreading out of their normal Northside streets and into our ArtWalks (shooting in Hemming Plaza 7/2) and First Fridays (shooting in 5 Points 7/4) it is apparent that re-electing the guy that ushered in this era of violence was not a well conceived strategy.

Even the mayor’s crack team of NFL celebrities haven’t managed to come up with a good solution. We were all confident that if you got enough millionaires that live in gated communities on the Southside together, they would surely be able to come up with a solid solution to the issues of poverty and violence coming from Jacksonville’s Northside, but even that seemingly fool-proof plan has not ebbed the trend.

The fact is lots of Jacksonvillians love to shoot guns. Many of them like to shoot those guns at people. And as much as the Times-Union says that they are pressuring authorities to do something, the truth is that we still have gun shows, we still book gangster rap shows at the Five Points Theatre, and we still send police into poor neighborhoods to brutalize and arrest any black people they find. We’re not really trying all that hard.

So lets turn this lemon into lemonade! Sure, many lives are ended at the barrels of Jacksonville guns, but we’re still Where Florida Begins! Plenty of towns have garnered a healthy tourist market from their natural tendency to kill people. Dodge City and many of the other towns that earned a reputation during the days of the Wild West have turned their murder rates into cash cows. And their murder rates aren’t even in the top fifty anymore!

The Real Jacksonville Journey is a new tourist attraction that makes the most of murder! We here at Jack’d are investing all of our time and energies into making this guided tour of Jacksonville murder sites a part of everyone's Florida vacation. While many city officials have been reluctant to get on the bandwagon, we are sure that this optimistic solution will be a hit. And the best part is, the more people that get murdered, the better! All it does is make The Jacksonville Journey even more popular!

Get on board our convertible bus at Shanty Town in Springfield. We have not finalized contracts, but we are hoping that when Boston Tom, the Shanty Town regular that was gunned down by a teenager in front of the bar about a month ago, will be able to be our celebrity tour guide when he has fully recovered from his gunshot wounds. He’ll tell you the tragic tale of some dimwitted teenagers on a mission to rob the city’s poor little punk rock bar and how the night ended as so many nights in the River City do: in a haze of bullets and blood.

Then climb onto the bus as Boston Tom takes you on a grand tour of the most recent crime scenes, updated daily! Hold onto your hats when you pass Confederate Park, because sometimes random bullets hit passengers of the convertible bus. You should be so lucky to witness a real Jacksonville murder first-hand. While that is not altogether unlikely during your visit to the Bold New City, it isn’t guaranteed to happen on our Jacksonville Journey tour. But just to enhance the tourist experience, we will employ several people to hide in popular high-crime areas and leap out at our bus brandishing one of Jacksonville murderers’ favorite firearms to fire on the tourist. Name the gun that is fired or the victim from that location and you win a free night in an Arlington motel!

On the few scouting missions we’ve done in our bus, we’ve taken along a few groups of tourists to test out the experience. Here are their rave reviews:

“It was terrifying! I felt like I really lived in Jacksonville!” –Beth Hollaway, Columbus Ohio

“I think some of last night’s whisky fell out of my ass in Brentwood!” –Brian MacDougal, Troy, North Carolina

“I’m afraid the kids will be disappointed with Disney’s Hounted Mansion when we get down to Orlando now that we’ve been on the Jacksonville Journey.” Meredith Swanson, Providence, Rhode Island

“I’ve never been so scared in all my life.” Brent Johnson, Detroit, Michigan

Don't miss Jaxvillain's Jacksonville Journey this murder season!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Winds of Langerado
camping in a cow pasture and rocking the shit out of the port-o-lets
By Jon Bosworth

The Beastie Boys are gracious headliners.
Just before I-95 hits Miami, Langerado festival goers from Eastern Florida were diverted through “The Glades” (Mike D made the Everglades sound street). We aimed to arrive at Big Cypress Seminole Reservation at 8 pm on Friday, the second night of the event.

As we came closer to the 6th annual four day live music festival, Langerado, we caught up on some of the bands we weren’t familiar with on our iPod and indulged especially in some of the favorites we hoped to catch live. We knew we were going to miss the grass-roots live hip-hop band, Roots, and suspected getting through the gate and setting up our tent would mean we would also miss indie rock stalwarts Built to Spill, but those were unavoidable so we tried not to think on it (although we did pour a little beer on the ground when The Seed by Roots came on the iPod).

From 8 until 9:30 pm we were waiting in an unending line of cars along the dirt road entrance to Big Cypress Seminole reservation. Attendees who arrived on the first day waited twice as long, reports varied from 3 hours to 4 ½ hours (make sure you have plenty of gas). After a superficial search of our car (my Volvo doesn’t look nearly as drug-addled as most of the vehicles pouring into the reservation this weekend) and rigorous interrogation (“did you bring any glass?”) we were moved on into the facilities. Throughout the long line to get in, I complained fiercely about the hippies that organize these jamband festivals, but once inside I realized that it was facilitated brilliantly and smoothly and the long line had nothing to do with the efficiency of the management, it was a matter of sheer numbers.

As we broke clear of the entrance gate, our eyes widened to take in the landscape of tents. It was like a post-apocalyptic city constructed of nylon and lit by enormous sodium lights on towers. There were tents set up next to cars for as far as I could see, and the shirtless people stumbling through the evening paths remained oblivious to new arrivals driving on these paths to get to their campsites. Campsite is an overstatement. Don’t assume you can handle a festival like this just because you “like camping.”

Camping at Langerado is more reminiscent of being stranded somewhere and forced to create a makeshift home for yourself by the light of your open trunk. Except for instead of being alone and stranded, you are in a sea of hippies and you are probably already experiencing a contact high.

As we pitched our tent in the dark we could hear, booming from the glowing light on the horizon, the Beastie Boys playing Shake Your Rump. We scrambled to peg the tent into the swampy ground and lock all of our camping supplies into our vehicle. Then we forged out into the unknown, following the In Sounds from the Way Out through the gypsy-like rucksack village.

The scene was surreal. A fierce wind ripped at all of the nylon tents and canopies and all sorts of hippies, from committed, white, VW bus-driving dreadies to weekend dead heads with their good boy haircuts and hemp jewelry to obviously well-off white middle-aged dudes that landed themselves good jobs that allowed them to keep their wild beards. All factors were well-represented, except one. Where were the panhandling, sad-eyed breed of dirty, devil-stick-juggling hippies? Well, they were there, but there weren’t many of them. A $250 ticket is a pretty effective filtration system, and so only the most solvent of hippies could afford to attend. Many, obviously, came as part of their business model, because drugs and paraphernalia (glass) were being hocked at every corner tent.

Although the usual jam band hippy may have been kept from this particular festival by the lofty pricetag, the dregs of the earth always gravitate toward hippy music festivals. And they are drunk and high and they are camping three feet from your tent.

The Beastie Boys are gracious headliners because we heard them start as we drove onto the complex, but here we were another hour later, coming into the festival grounds, where the stages were, nearly a mile away from our “campsite,” and they were still playing. Playing and jumping and rhyming. I was disappointed that we had missed the songs they played their instruments on (I’ve only seen the Beastie Boys on their License to Ill tour, so they didn’t play any instruments), but was thrilled to see the only single band that forever influenced rock and hip-hop music equally. Not only did we get to see them play for an hour, but we also got to enjoy an encore. They picked up their instruments and played Saboutage. Gracious indeed.

Jamband heroes Umphrey’s McGee and STS9 kept the rock going nearly the entire night, until those fierce winds started to carry in some considerable thunderstorms. At 3 am the remnants of festers still in the festival grounds started their hurried march back to their tents, with us caught in the flow. Knowing we were a mile away from our tent, we all but jogged back, beating the deluge of rain by mere minutes. When it finally stopped, our hastily pitched tent and our clothes were drenched, but our sleeping bag managed to stay dry. We slept fitfully for a few hours.

After the morning hunt for a port-a-let that wasn’t overflowing with feces and an unsuccessful attempt at finding free running water, we were ready to take on a full day of festing and the weather couldn’t have been better (even if our clothes were wet).

The fears surrounding a springtime festival in the Everglades are many. Unbearable humidity, mosquitos the size of hummingbirds, and torrential downpours top the list. The daunting storms that passed over Florida the first days of this year’s festival promised to realize many of those fears, but actually turned into a Saturday godsend. Well, perhaps not for the poor saps whose tents and canopies rolled like tumbleweeds through the rucksack villages at the hands of the ferocious winds, but for most of us the wind kept the sun from feeling as hot as it was and kept the bugs at bay. And the trial-by-rain of the first two days weeded out the weaker music fans, which must have been few in number since there was still in excess of 10,000 attendees.

A popular pastime during the festival seemed to be sleeping in the sun to the tunes of bands such as Railroad Earth, but music wasn’t all there was to do. Members of the Seminole tribe were providing airboat tours of the Everglades. On Saturday afternoon I participated in Shabbat with Hasidic Jew and reggae artist Matisyahu. During this traditional Jewish Sabbath performed in a tent, men and women were separated by a curtain. A Rabbi said a prayer of healing over the names of specific participants that were suffering from illness. Then they read sanctimoniously from the Torah. Seeing Rabbis in traditional dress is odd, but even stranger was seeing the faithful while they were celebrating Shabbat, and then seeing the same guy sans his Yameka dancing to jambands and looking stoned in his tie-dye and cargo shorts.

Headliners such as Beastie Boys and REM are of course also very memorable. For a festival only in its second year of international celebrity headliners (last year was Flaming Lips), Langerado has quickly gained stature as a festival that rivals the biggies, including Bonaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza.

The festival grounds featured a full sized Ferris Wheel as a centerpiece (rides were $5, but from the peak you could spy the vast landscape of tents in the rucksack village surrounding the grounds) and four of the five stages faced the center, creating a perimeter. The largest stage was the Everglades Stage, which was also the first you came to after passing the Ferris Wheel. The secondary stages included the Swamp Stage and the Sunset Stage. The smallest stages included the Chickee Hut Stage (referred to affectionately as the “Pussy Ranch”) and the Greening Stage.

There was plenty of room between the stages, so there was little to no bleed-over between the bands, but sound is always an issue at outdoor festivals and this one was no exception. What was exceptional, though, was the impressive video work done for the headliners on the Everglades Stage. It was edited together live to bring an experience to viewers that could not get close enough to distinguish the famous members of the bands on stage. Even if you couldn’t get in close enough to see Michael Stipe, the camera work transmitted onto the enormous screens on either side of the stage got you up close and personal with the performance. Even if MCA was too short for you to make out from your distant vantage point during Beastie Boys’ set, the cameras put you into the middle of the party with him.

Far and away the best show of my Langerado was Ghostland Observatory. Admittedly, the bands I was excited about included The Shout Out Louds, Minus the Bear, Thievery Corporation and Pelican. My wife was anticipating Ben Folds, G-Love, of Montreal and Ghostland Observatory. Of my hopefuls, I got to see Pelican. Of her hopefuls she got to see Ghostland Observatory. Ghostland Observatory stole the show out from under every other performance I witnessed that weekend.

Rising from the opaque smoke that spilled from the stage into the audience (which then collided with the pot smoke from the crowd) lasers shot off into space and an electronic dance music took over the night air. In spite of my general cynicism about the return of 70s and 80s pop with bands such as Vampire Weekend and Black Kids (sic), Ghostland Observatory brought a fresh energy to their spectacle of a two man show. They also brought a laser, so, yeah, they win.

The singer of this Austin, Texas duo made a reference to the sacred ground, and when he spoke of it, it dawned on me that his dark, earthy complexion looked like it could be Native American. Also, he’s from Texas. Also, he had his hair in symmetrical braids on either side of his head.

Dressed in tight jeans, a vest, and sunglasses, he alternately strutted and danced to the music piping out of his cohert’s stack of samplers and synthesizers. Oh yeah, and his cohert was dressed like a white warlock in a floor-length cape with a dramatic upturned collar. An odd couple indeed. Also helping push them above the throngs of new 80s throwbacks was the fact that the singer also played guitar, and was actually quite good at it. He was better at guitar when he took it on than his white warlock stagemate was at drums when he sat behind those, although it did provide a nice perspective of where there musical collaboration must have started.

Ranging from Prince to Asia to Dire Straits, Ghostland Observatory brought not just an 80s schtick back, but they made the entire playlist on the 80s radio station sound redeemable. And the ladies wanted to eat the singer whole. I guess it’s been a while since a singer was a good musician and sex symbol, so Ghostland kept us all happy.

Rumors had it that the other exceptional performances were by Backyard Tire Fire, Matisyahu, Ben Folds, Built to Spill and the Walkmen.

Langerado can’t be described by any single account, for each attendee the festival was different. Depending on the time of your arrival, the space you are assigned to camp in, and the bands you choose to see, every account is likely to be unique, but there are some unifying conditions that will help hippies in the future distinguish the 2008 festival from other concerts and other years. First, of course, are the relentless winds that will be sure to live on in the folklore spread throughout Volkswagens all across this great land. That is the sort of phenomenon that helps people remember this particular festival for years to come. Helping festers forget is what we came to refer to as the “Injun’ Rules” of the Seminole reservation. They never stopped selling alcohol, making this drunken fiasco the kind of experience you will always remember forgetting all about.

Monday, January 14, 2008

this is the funniest thing I have seen yet this year.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I haven't posted in months. Anyone that did try to keep up with this blog during the six or seven months when I posted regularly, Im sure have given up hope.
One of my flaws is that I always post when I'm drunk.
Another is that i don't regard the first as a flaw.
I said: "Galt - This is Isaiah Brock from The Cadets in a band in the late 90s that is named after an Ayn Rand character."
My friend Denny gently noted: "Hey JB...Isaac Brock was in Modest Mouse...Isaac Bear was(is?) in the Cadets."

and i know this. but drunken posts lead to retarded statements.

Something else that has disturbed me so fiercely it has me key-shy from posting is my frustration that no one seems to know about Inertia and Hip Hop Hell record stores in Springfield. Somehow EU's own columnist Hilary Johnson has publicly complained about a lack of record stores in town and i have recently received a query from a Jacksonville newcomer:

"My husband and I moved to Jacksonville a year ago from Lexington, Ky. I'm missing my favorite vinyl warehouse of goodness back in Ken-tuck, and I'm googling about trying to find a place here in Jax to buy records. And I don't mean boxes upon boxes of bad easy listening garbage. I mean obscure 1950s rock and roll, dreamy frech pop and jamaican ska. Where can I find such a magical place here?? You seem to be the kind of guy who might know. I've been scouring Riverside and Avondale, as we live just on the other side of Cassat and loooove that area, but so far have stumbled upon lots of fun antique stores and nothing dedicated solely to vinyl musical goodness. Can you help? Thanks in advance."

Well Jen, Springfield has what you are looking for. Josh Jubinsky and Ian Ranne own two conjoined record stores in Springfield (just North of Downtown)
1520 N Main Street
check out for more ladies.

I have a lot of other stuff that I was thinking about Blogging about tonight, but I'll just leave it at these retractions for now.

let me know what i messed up later.