By Harold George
So I am basically incapable of letting September get near without mentioning that it’s my birth month, and I will add that it is also the month that our fair city was founded, 450+3 years ago. This means that September should be a big month any given year, but lately, the 9th month is turning into THE month of the year to be in St. Augustine.
For the third year in a row, residents and visitors alike will be treated to the month-long Sing Out Loud Music Festival. The brainchild of Ryan Murphy and his Amphitheatre Super Team, Sing Out Loud has something to offer for everyone’s musical taste. Plus you can’t beat the price: FREE!
The hardest pill to swallow is that you can’t see all the bands. That would require some voodoo shape shifting that I have yet to figure out, but let me know when you do. So I am downloading the SOL app to help make some choices, and here are some of my best bets for weekends one and two — I think it is easy to say that September is the month with biggest chance of many Great St. Augustine Nights.
If you haven’t been to a backyard show at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Sunday September 2nd is a great opportunity to see what it’s about. You have no excuses because you most likely have Labor Day Monday off, so commit to several hours of acts like Carsie Blanton, Katie Grace Helow, Al Riggs David Dondero, The Mountain Goats, and the Weepies. The Backyard at the Amphitheatre combines the fun vibe of a house concert with the excellence of a professional venue. You are going to leave that show with several new friends and a band crush or two. The whole thing gets started at 2pm.
Friday, September 7th is the night I will get to see two of my favorite St. Augustine Bands play at two of my favorite venues. First off, Ghost Tropic will play the Colonial Oak Stage at 6pm that night. When I recount some of my favorite nights in St. Augustine, the Colonial Oak Stage is usually the scene for memories filled with the joy of people coming together to enjoy awesome music. It’s the perfect stage for Ghost Tropic, a band that shows you what magic can be made when you put a bunch of librarians, band geeks, and a chemist all into one package. Some of the members of GT have played in other local favorites such as the Wobbly Toms, Minimum Rage, Deadaires, and Kenny & The Jets, but together they create a sound that is truly their own. Lyrics that are emotional as they are eloquent are backed with some of the best musical talent around town. Sweet, Angry, Slowcore, Shoegazer, Powerful — these are just a few of the words I reach for to describe this band. Time may not heal all wounds, but it sure has made Ghost Tropic better and better.
Down the street, the Space Heaters play Prohibition Kitchen at 10pm. I cannot say enough good things about the Space Heaters, who will put you in the perfect party mood. However, it’s the following band I am all about that Friday night.
I do not do late nights that often, but I will for The Young Step, who close out the night at Prohibition Kitchen, starting at 11:30pm. I can easily imagine The Young Step in the company of some of the great acts that emerged from the CBGB experience of the late 1970s. This band is pure alchemy, making magic with imaginative lyrics and an original sound that will immediately get under your skin and make you happy you left the house.
So, maybe you are not in the mood for rocking bands and rowdy crowds that night? The Sing Out Loud lineup has something for you, and I am placing my money on two singer-songwriters extraordinaire to provide a memorable evening just off the main drag.
Michael Jordan must be seen and heard in order to appreciate his beautiful relationship with his guitar. You would be wise to head over to Dog Rose Brewery to enjoy a performance that weaves acoustic artistry with lyrics of deep personal poetry. You will be a fan of Michael Jordan before the night is over. His performance starts at 7:30pm.
Amy Hendrickson is so busy setting up cool open mic events and being a cheerleader for St. Augustine’s arts community that one might not realize she is phenomenal music presence in her own right. An evening with Amy Hendrickson is one you won’t forget. Get yourself over to Bokeh Bar Gallery to catch her SOL performance at 9:00pm. Engaging, soulful, and lush, Amy’s voice will make you sit back and settle in for the night. You will want to stay to the end and wish for more. I have seen her in a band, seen her as a torch singer, but “Guitar Amy” as some like to call her, is a source of strength and inspiration.
Make the most of the Sing Out Loud festival by downloading the SOL app. You can create your own personal itinerary and get updates and news about the festival every time you open up the app. While your at it, use your smart phone to make smart choices about getting around town, and have a fun AND safe evening. Spend some time perusing the Sing Out Loud website at singoutloudfestival.com/schedule/
I have always thought St. Augustine was a much more interesting town to experience as a resident rather than a visitor, and the Sing Out Loud Festival is proving to be the perfect expression of that experience. The love affair continues in our beautiful town, and September is the best month to find yourself enjoying a Great St. Augustine Night.