Porchfest 2018: Gem of a festival in North Florida

The first time I went to Porchfest in the Springfield community of Jacksonville (FL), I was in awe of everyone coming together to share music and admiration for the unique homes. Porchfest is a free event. People can stroll the wide streets and hear music on porches throughout the neighborhood. Food trucks, kids’ activities, and a big mix of musical styles await those who come out for the 2018 festival. 

In Jax, two talented musicians definitely on an ‘Eternal Odyssey’

Jacksonville’s best kept secret is the city’s diverse music community. From rap to country to blues to metal to everything in between, this sprawling Florida city has an abundance of musicians doing live music every night of the week. Now two Jacksonville musicians, brothers Kent and Brent Smedley, have announced a new album due out from Combat Records, part of the EMP Label group, in early 2019. For both these musicians, music has indeed been an ‘Eternal Odyssey’, the namesake for their new musical endeavors. 

Meet Gerry and the Schaks: American classics, skilled musicians, an unforgettable voice

I encountered the band Gerry and the Schaks quite by accident. I’d read a fascinating novel, The Ruby Tear Catcher, by Nahid Sewell, and after I’d written about the novelist for a national magazine, I remained connected with Nahid via Facebook. One day I was scrolling down notifications, and saw a post she’d made about her husband’s music. I clicked on it. I loved what I found. 

Most requested songs at gigs are often from the past

It doesn’t matter if you’re a performer or a music enthusiast, if you’ve taken in live music performances, you will always witness special requests. While it’s true most of my experience is in Americana or country venues, the requests cover all genres. “Time after Time” is a perfect example. 

Hot song? Take a chance on Independent Music Awards call for entries

Are you an indie musician with a hot song? Have you recorded the song in a “fully mastered and complete” format? If so, you might consider entering the Independent Music Awards contest. Entry fees are reasonable, and the bang for your buck if you win will definitely be positive. 

Two creatives: Author and singer have stories to tell on Iran and more

I first came to know Nahid Sewell through her novel The Ruby Tear Catcher. I read the novel, and concurrently running through my mind were the Iranian expatriates I came to know well as friends in the 1980s. I wrote about her novel for The Writer Magazine. Years after I wrote that story, I saw video Nahid posted of her husband on Facebook where she and I had reconnected. I was blown away again. 

Spotify ‘experiment’ shakes up the Big 3; opportunity for indie artists

Spotify has big record labels in a tizzy over a policy that may help indie artists. Before this new initiative, if you wanted to get to the top of the charts by traditional means, you had three options. Now it appears indie artists will have another potentially better option, and the labels who’ve controlled the industry are not too happy about it. 

Gunboat Diplomats latest: Paean to summertime pop

With Gunboat Diplomats, you never know what to expect. These musicians recording as a group, who perform in a variety of venues and bands, including solo acts, most definitely embrace variety. The last song, “Original Sin”, was described as “a bastardized bossa nova.” I liked that song, bastardization or not. The latest from GD is a sharp turn compared to past recordings, however. 

Count on a request for ‘Freebird’, but it’s not on popular karaoke list

It never fails. At least one person, at almost every gig from among hundreds of gigs in a single year, will request a song. The most frequent request by far, regardless of the city or state they’re playing in,  for our band is “Freebird”. It’s not on a popular list of karaoke songs, but another one Rebecca often plays is on it. “Friends in Low Places” is most definitely popular among all age groups, probably for one reason. 

Music for a Friday: Meet Ahi, if you haven’t already

I spend a lot of time reading about music and listening to it. I do this because of my daughters’ business but also because I love music. I met Ahi not long ago by way of a blog I read. I have these Emily Dickinson moments when I find a song that just thrusts itself into my heart. I feel the same way when I find a poem that is a real poem instead of the artificial word games so many academics have reduced that genre to. When I found Ahi’s “Breaking Ground,” I got that Emily thing going. 

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