In November, local indie rock band Kingsbury will bear-hug modernity and offer their new EP, Lie to Me, for free through their website (www.kingsburymusic.net). There will be an option to donate to their artistic efforts, so don't be a tightwad. But wait! Besides the EP, their entire catalog will also be up for grabs, and there's some good shit in there. Take that, Radiohead.
Having just completed its second run, the ELLA Music Fest has now officially become annual (Oct. 2-4, Cameo Theater). I'm all for a two-day musical fete built on the Florida female voice, but too much cliché drifted around last year's inaugural roster. Sorry, but I refuse to engage in the condescension of grading on a musical curve; that implies that women can't go shoulder-to-shoulder with men. They can, and I know it.
Therefore, I'm happy to report that this year showed notable evolution with the addition of prime-time locals like Terri Binion and Alexandrah. Having seen many impressive performances by Binion, I didn't think I could have any more esteem for the woman, but the first part of her set elevated her even closer to heaven. Flanked only by fiddler Jessy Daumen and chanteuse Kaleigh Baker, Binion awakened the haunting beauty of a misty Appalachian dawn with her banjo and showed an arresting side of her effortlessly graceful Americana.
Another standout was Miami's Raffa Jo Harris. With what's truly a voice out of time she resurrected Billie Holiday, and she paired that voice with an earnest acoustic guitar instead of overly precious jazz revivalism, thereby highlighting the virtue of her singing without schtick.
The fest has yet to fully tap the more daring female voices in the area's underground (Garbo's Daughter, Little Debbies, etc.), and stereotypes continue to dominate the lineup. Still, ass-busting organizer Robert Johnson has the ball moving and is drawing needed attention to Florida's women in music. From here on, it's just a matter of judiciousness and outreach, and this year was a commendable stride forward with better attendance, good solidarity and a superior venue.
In the interest of disclosure, I must mention that my mother is part-owner of the building at 1013 E. Colonial Drive, this year's ELLA site. Though zoning laws prevented the new Will's Pub from opening there, all sorts of interesting temporary events have been held in the venue, including the last Nude Nite. The current occupants are enthusiastic, art-minded and willing to open the space for a decent concept. Because good event spaces are limited, I'm passing along the intel.
Fiery new Welsh trio Future of the Left opened a strong triple-header in fierce fashion (Oct. 4, House of Blues). Two-thirds of the band are alumni of the totally badass but now defunct Mclusky, and thank the baby Jesus that it totally comes through in the high-voltage sound. Their simple but aggressive method fared well live and delivered a wrecking ball of noise and math.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists were also excellent. Then again, their irrepressible brand of punk — with its singularly optimistic melodicism and heart-bursting passion — never gets old. Sending it home nicely was headliner Against Me. The Gainesville heroes have officially made it to the big time, but they did it the right way. Tragically, success and quality often have an inverse relationship in music. So far, Against Me is proving to be one of the bright exceptions.
Speaking of Gainesville talent realized, Hot Water Music alum Chuck Ragan headlined the well-conceived Revival Tour (Sept. 28, the Social). The folk-punk showcase was anchored by Ragan, Lucero's Ben Nichols and Avail's Tim Barry but broke from the typical rigid format of a multi-act bill, with players moving in and out of each other's sets. Extending the idea is the fact that other special guests, like Kevin Seconds, Jesse Malin and Against Me's Tom Gabel, appear throughout the tour. The Orlando stop's most notable additions were the pedal steel of Todd Beene and the golden country-gospel voice of Austin Lucas.
The result was something far more intimate than the average concert. Rather than the typical formality of performances, the night was warm with spirit and fellowship, like friends gathered in a garage or on a porch instead of a stage. It was a concept that paid maximum entertainment dividends. By the end of the show, seven players (mostly expats of punk) were on stage together, demonstrating a top-shelf sampling of the new country firstname.lastname@example.org