Sometimes in Florida, the bands come to you, but as many grumbling music fans know, most often, you have to go to the band. Whether that means a short trek to Tampa or a long shot toward Atlanta, it’s typically a modest gamble you’re taking on the type of venue that becomes your destination. For me, I put my money on Ponte Vedra Concert Hall to catch Neko Case (stream her setlist below). Located in between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, it’s in a beach town on good ol’ A1A. A friend who grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach rolled her eyes hard when I asked where I should plan to get dinner, and it’s true, the town is really not much more than a tract of windy road cutting through luxury homes, a retired golfer’s paradise. But the venue.
Converted from an old church, the concert hall has this brilliant sign of fat-bulb lights and is nestled directly in front of a recreation area; it made me nostalgic for women’s center shows in my high school hometown. Inside, the room itself was very similar to the small room at the Plaza – open, standing room only for this event. The sound in the room was more than adequate, especially the closer we clustered toward the stage. To enhance your drive (if you’re planning to catch Cat Power on Nov. 8), make sure to cut in through St. Augustine and drive along the beach. There are no streetlights along this darkened stretch, enhancing the moodiness of Florida’s fall ocean, and even on a cloudy night, as it was for my visit, leaving the twinkling stars to their god-given task of lighting your journey.
So, listen, can we talk about Everyone’s Piano? Red Lion Pub fell victim to neighbor squabbling when they donated a 1929 solid-wood Haddorff piano to the community by positioning it permanently just outside their doors. The idea was to encourage community composers or casual players to utilize the instrument, an offering they say is inspired by street pianos placed around Boston in September of this year. Apparently, their neighbors weren’t keen on the music community Everyone’s Piano attracted, or else they’re just those grumpy soulless sorts in dire need of a Pixar plotline. The officials were called, and the pub is fighting for the right to keep the piano for its intended purpose, outside and available always for musical whims. I have a feeling the piano will stay put, but if you’re curious to follow this odd duck of a controversy, you can keep up at facebook.com/everyonespiano.
Well, whaddya know, November is my month to pick the records you can vote on for the next installment of A Record Club (Lil Indies, Nov. 11). Last month’s Surfer Rosa conversation was probably my favorite so far, because everyone had a Pixies story, and most of us had many. It’ll be hard to resist pushing for Lou Reed after Sunday’s shock, so if that strikes you or you are newly interested to join up and vote (or just mock my music picks), we’re still hanging out at facebook.com/groups/orlandorecordclub. I can take it; Velvet Underground taught me to keep my head held high.