Saturday evening Rebecca had planned a rare weekend night off. Her husband Joshua had received an award at work, and she thought we had a great opportunity to celebrate that and take in some music together. So we headed out to Green Cove Springs to a place we’d heard about but hadn’t had a chance to visit—Red’s Wine Bar in Green Cove Springs. Considering the abundance of musical talent in this area—Clay County—I think it’s time to rename the area “Musicville.”
We tooled it down the very scenic Highway 13 as the sun began to set. That’s a beautiful drive that can make you forget just how developed Florida is becoming. Rebecca had done a show at Brick Oven in Fleming Island the previous weekend, and a couple musicians, one of them Dave Mitchell, chatted with her about music. He told her he’d be performing at Red’s on Saturday. We’d all discussed where to go that evening, and we decided to go there because we’d never checked it out.
Green Cove Springs is a small town with a population of approximately 7,000. The downtown area has the usual combination of the charm of yesteryear combined with present regeneration. Red’s is on Walnut St., a short distance from the banks of the St. John’s River where the CalaVida Arts Festival is held in Spring Park. Rebecca and Jen have played that festival a couple times, and it’s always a pleasure to attend.
Red’s is a classy wine bar. There’s no pool table. There’s a broad selection of wines and beers. The bar doesn’t serve food, but there was a great food truck there, Country Kitchen, and we bought something to tide us over until we left for the restaurant where we had supper. The food was really good.
The music that night was easy listening—Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Kenny Wayne Shepherd. You might expect country, but that wasn’t the case. Mitchell capably delivered acoustic tunes, setting himself apart from many other male vocalists because he can consistently sing on key. He didn’t make us endure long stretches of guitar riffs just to fill time. Mitchell knows a lot of songs. Percussionist Jeff Shapiro accompanied Mitchell, and the duo sounded as though they’d played together forever. The percussion and the acoustic guitar made for a very pleasurable listening experience.
After we left to head to our restaurant, I brought up the fact there’s so much good music across the Buckman, the bridge that spans more than 16,000 feet but doesn’t sport high walls. The first time I drove over the Buckman after moving here, my knuckles were white as I gripped the wheel. People do like to fly across that bridge.
I don’t know why there’s such a flourishing organic music culture in Clay County, but there is. Countless times I’ve found great music there in unexpected places, just as we did at Red’s Wine Bar. You can find good music any night of the week in that county, and you’ll find a variety of genres.
The other place you’ll find lots of great music here is on the coast, at our beaches. Downtown Jax often has music at various Hemming Park events, but Jax is so large and spread out it doesn’t have the cohesive feel of Clay County towns. I think one difference in the Clay County venues I’ve been to involves the audience. Venues in this area tend to draw a music listening crowd, or at least that’s the case with the places I’ve been at where Rebecca performs. She has a regular gig at Brick Oven in Fleming Island, and it’s always a pleasure to go there.
We had a great time at Red’s Wine Bar and we’ll definitely go back. If you’re looking for a place with laid back tunes and some stellar wines as well as lovely atmosphere, give it a try. We enjoyed it very much. One other perk—Red’s actually has comfy chairs.
Shane Myers is another musician who plays at Red’s. I hope to go hear him one of these days because I like his voice.
I enjoy finding new indie musicians, and I enjoy writing about them. So for me, our visit to Red’s on Saturday was a double plus. It was for Rebecca too. For her, this was a nice break, listening to tunes by someone else at a newly discovered place. An all around good time.
(Kay B. Day/March 25, 2019)