Words and images by Sarah DeNicolais
Live music is at the heart of Jacksonville’s culture. Local artists are greatly supported by the citizens and for that reason legendary artists, such as the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, have risen to stardom from the streets of our city. Without local venues for these talented artists to share their passion, their names may never have been heard.
Check out these five venues for yourself to find out what makes them unique.
St. Augustine Amphitheater
Located in the United States’ oldest settlement is the St. Augustine Amphitheater, an outdoor music venue slightly secluded from the popular tourist attractions just across the Bridge of Lions. The venue, built to celebrate St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary, came to life in 1965. The amphitheater offers the visitors a form of entertainment that differs from the typical sites most people see during their stay, such as the Castillo de San Marcos. The east side of the bridge shares its quirky character with its animated restaurants and other local businesses. Some of the industry’s most well-known musicians, varying from country to pop to alternative artists, have performed under the pavilion.
The Seawalk Pavilion, located on the dunes of Jacksonville Beach, hosts festivals all year long that offer free admission to a day of music and arts. Some of the events they host, Springing the Blues and Seawalk Music Festival, attract people from all over. This is a popular place for people of all different backgrounds, beliefs and values to come together and share a love for music and a passion for supporting some of the city’s many talented individuals.
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Near the Florida-Georgia border, nestled in the woods along the Suwannee River, is Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park – a utopia for music and nature lovers alike. The otherwise quiet forest comes to life on select weekends to attract a genuine, fun-loving crowd that is always ready to dance the day and night away. The park hosts music festivals of varying genres all year long and festival-goers refer to the venue as a “home away from home.” Blue grass, experimental or even electronic music can be heard under the trees at any of their many stages. There’s a weekend for any type of music-lover at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, the sister to the St. Augustine Amiptheater, lies off of A1A in the heart of Ponte Vedra. The venue also hosts some of the industries top performers, but the smaller venue offers music-lovers a more intimate experience with their favorite artists and is known for its powerful acoustics. The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall has different events varying in size and genre every week and brings a piece of the Jacksonville nightlife to the otherwise mellow PV.
1904 Music Hall
Located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville is 1904 Music Hall, a small, urban music venue with a personality shaped to welcome each night’s performer. The venue hosts local bands but also attracts crowds with artists well-known in the alternative scene. 1904 has multiple stages for artists to perform – an indoor setup near the bar with a full light system, as well as an outdoor, porch-style stage surrounded by murals and picnic tables. A short, 100-foot walk will make you feel as though you left one show and arrived at another. 1904 shares it’s backyard with Spliff’s Gastropub, a restaurant offering a colorful menu and a laid-back atmosphere. Stop in to try out Mary Jane’s Hummus and the Bowl of Green.