You've heard the unanimous raves about the White House. Though set in a residential context, it's as acoustically professional a music hall as you'll see in the city. Furthermore, through partnerships with smart, connected show organizers like the Civic Minded 5 and the Accidental Music Festival, it features some very legit talent from the international vanguard.
The place is pure idealism and absolutely DIY, but built on a more secure non-profit financial footing than those utopian but unsustainable black-box spaces that are always coming and going. Most of its almost weekly events are free, with the exception of some special and exclusive ticketed engagements, which tend to be true experiences very much worth the price.
Of all independent venues, this local treasure is worth supporting. Now, they've just introduced a new opportunity to do that in a way that also has direct kickback to you. For $100 – a small sum for the sheer amount of culture and fellowship you get from this usually free place – you can become a 2015 Timucua Arts Foundation member with reserved prime seating (first three rows downstairs or first row balconies) and half-price discount to ticketed events. Get in on this at timucua.com.
Though I appreciate the stands of Canadian hard-left provocateurs Propagandhi (Jan. 2, the Social), I can take or leave their boxy, conventional music. All their personality, it seems, is reserved primarily for their rhetoric. I just wonder if they'd have such a devout following if they sang about cats. Actually, they'd be Internet sensations, but you know what I mean. Their show, however, with all the physical passion they incite, is a worthwhile physical experience.
Now if Propagandhi could match the power of their music to the power of their beliefs, they might be somewhere near the wave-making War on Women, who jumpstarted the night. As their name indicates, this co-ed Baltimore hardcore band is founded on a hard feminist edge, and their challenging point of view is as topical now as ever in the global discourse. But instead of a total pill, they deliver the fist-pounding message with equal force in rock and showmanship. If you don't care much about their politics, they'll still rock your face off. If message is all you require, go read an essay. But if you like both – hard and straight up – dig into War on Women, who'll soon be releasing a searing new J. Robbins-produced debut LP (self-titled, Feb 10).
Beth McKee's First Thursday Songwriter Series has become a pretty big thing. Local musician Beth McKee curates it with discernment and, consequently, it showcases some pretty serious area talent. To celebrate its 2014 run, the series just held a "New Year's Roundup" (Jan. 1, the Smiling Bison).
Upon entry, the packed house was a hive buzzing with many familiar songwriter faces, many of whom have been showered in roses here in this column. Over the course of this blowout special, a dozen of them would perform. Of the eight performances I saw, the best were no surprises, including Beartoe, Kattya Graham and Jackson and Forest Rodgers. Wheeler Newman – who's been decent with a band – really shined solo, sounding more assured than I've seen of him before. In recent years, Justin Beckler has been spending so much time in the producer's chair for many of Orlando's notables that seeing him work his own distinguished rustic soul on the mic is a rare treat, and it was great to see again.
But goddamn, Daniel Hanson (Fat Night, Fast Preacher) commanded it stronger than anyone else I saw. Seeing how much steeze and butter he was able to muster up there just by himself, it's clear this kid is now packing rare star power. He's come a very long way in a relatively short time to become one of the city's smoothest soul slingers.
In sum, this was one of the most credentialed local singer-songwriter lineups I've seen. Between its championing of the songwriter and its prestige in the community, McKee's Songwriter Series offers one of the most vibrant and concentrated slices of Central Florida's top songwriter talent. The next one's Feb. 5 (the Smiling Bison).