Quick takes from One Spark 2014, Jacksonville, FL 4/9-10/14
The unlikely success of last year’s One Spark crowdfunding festival caught the sleepy River City by surprise, and this year’s festival drew a huge response from innovators and developers ( ” Creators ” in One Spark lingo ) who have lined the streets and parks of downtown Jax to compete for venture dollars. Thankfully, the event planners took pains to provide multiple stages and venues for local live music!
Wednesday highlight- Weekend Atlas
From the tiny fenced border of the Beer Garden, we caught a fine set from local Indie folk/ rockers Weekend Atlas in the first of their four shows at OneSpark . Drawing from influences the Head and the Heart and Mumford and Sons, the band- Nick Garcia – Guitar, Kelly White – Vocals, Brennan Hinck – Vocals/Guitar, Carter Hess – Trumpet, Michael Urbizu- Drums, Mike Pruitt- Keyboard, Jacob Casey- Bass– knocked out a short, tight set in limited time before giving way to kindred spirits Northe. Look for the band on Friday at 5pm at Cowork and 7pm at1904 Music Hall, as well as Saturday at 5 pm at the Landing and 7:30pm at the Omni Hotel. They are Project # 20439 so cast your vote!
Hopping off the no-charge for the fest Skyway Express and walking into historic Hemming Plaza, we were greeted by the finest bluegrass band in these parts, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, playing a spirited set between the Skyway pillars. GCM had been playing live on the great public radio WJCT throughout the day, and deserve great props for treating fans and new listeners to enticing tunes sure to bring folks downtown for the fest. Most artists play short sets at several venues around town, including the Main Stage at the Landing on the St. John’s River, where we later caught GCM in full swing!
Moving out of the Plaza along Laura Street, just past the wonderful Chamberlain’s book store and our finest Italian restaurant, La Cena, we ran up on a huge bottleneck around a small street stage with the band Third Kind laying down their jazz/funk dance tunes.
Very nice! Moving downhill toward the river, we caught a cool running set of ska/punk/reggae by Chieforia at the Landing. These guys would make a great Sunday afternoon on the water at Cap’s or River City!
But once again, the hottest set of the night was found at the Beer Village in the tiny stage now facing northward as RYVLS cranked out fifteen minutes of original hard pop/rock tunes to a crowd of …well, almost no one!
As shown by the GCM shots above, One Spark puts artists in varied venues, mostly unannounced to the public, and with no regard for how many visitors will be passing by at a given time. The challenge for any artist is to still ” play like you mean it “, regardless of the house, and RYVLS surely did. At times echoing diverse influences from Radiohead to Bowie, the band cranked out short catchy melodies powered by choppy, Vegematic-like rhythm guitar laced with blistering lead solos. Their spot on the Landing stage was two hours away, but you might have thought the pawnshop was going to repo their gear the way they finished out their set. Kudos to the band for keeping it real, and sorry to those who missed it!
Saturday night highlights- Universal Green
Despite epic lines to board the Skyway Express we were able to get to Hemming Plaza and head down Laura Street. We quickly ran into a jumpin’ crowd outside the Landing for the Last To Leave Band playing party cover tunes.
The main stage at the Landing featured a lovely set by Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson, p/m/a Flagship Romance , playing what they call ” contemporary harmonic folk ” for an appreciative crowd. The Jax Beach couple have a compelling vocal blend, and have aligned their musical career with the clean water cause via the organization charity: water.
And the evening found yet another great show at the Beer Village, local progressive hip-hop band Universal Green. Featuring an unusual line-up of horn, violin, rapper, and keys out front, the band played Rhythm and Blues-based tunes with rock guitar and reggae beats punctuated by the ska horn. Look for this band at the clubs!
Perhaps the strongest performance was the ongoing spirit of grace, cooperation, and innovation that pervaded the venues, performers, creators, volunteers, and One Spark staffers. Kudos for a knockout event!