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Friday night’s free concert was the Gainesville Community Jazz Band.  This is the second time I’ve seen them and the second time I’ve attempted to photograph them.  Photographing an orchestra is always tough for me.  I’m not one of those photographers who goes crawling around on the stage; I’d prefer the public not notice me at all even though I suspect some must see me as the sweaty blonde with the Panasonic Lumix.

One of the drawbacks of the Lumix is the lack of a better zoom, so I do need to be fairly close to the musicians in order to get a decent picture.  With orchestral set-ups, music stands tend to get in the way, so the angles are important.  Also, no special filters means that I often am dealing with reflection or glare, and the poor guys who aren’t standing in the best lighting get short shrift and are turned a dull orange.

These photos are a major improvement over last season’s efforts.

Next up are a few photos of the New Florida Favorites, a pick-up band put together by Mike Bouleware for the purpose of playing at the Florida Folk Festival.  Here, the tent was the limitation, as was my own pocket camera.

The NFF’s are a legacy band originating with the Florida Favorites, a band in which Mike Bouleware’s parents played in the 1940s and 1950s.  The NFF’s sounded as far from a pick-up band as you could imagine.  The (too) short set was pure joy for lovers of country and bluegrass.  Once again, the excellence of Gainesville musicians stood out.

Some years ago, I was an agent for bands that were based in San Francisco. I booked them into local clubs and I booked them on a bar circuit that extended from the Whisky in West Hollywood to the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle.  I always sent bands through Juanita’s Burro Room in Chico since it was a midway point between SF and Portland.  I used to go out five nights a week (and work full-time in the day; oh, to be 30 again) and I heard a lot of music.  After a while, the music scene changed, or I changed.  I wasn’t into “dance” music and at some point music just started sounding like a lot of noise to me.  I went back to listening to classic English rock and L. A. canyon folk and I stopped going out to see live shows.

Moving to Gainesville changed that.  I’ve been blown away by the sheer talent, ability, and creativity of the local musicians.  Gainesville is a little music hub whose only drawback is that it seems to be lost on the wider musical map.  For now, it’s our little secret. 

NEWS:  I am beginning to write my book “The Box of Fruit I Promised You (And Other Gifts from Florida).”  The first chapter will be about the Skydog Goldtop guitar.  The book discusses Florida’s hidden culture, hidden well enough away that few know of it.  I’m covering the entire state, so if you know a person, event, tradition, thing, or custom that you think is worth a chapter, drop me a line.

You can’t have Free Fridays with Donnie Sloan.  Besides providing top-notch security services, Donnie also keeps the rain away.  Would you dare rain on this guy?