A couple of weeks ago, locals noticed the three foot strip between the sidewalk and 3rd street had gone from grass to dirt, seemingly overnight. Another beautification project, Yeaay!. We are all for beautification! What was to come was not exactly what we had in mind.

all it needs is some rain!Apparently, the state had decided that because of the drainage problems arising from an accumulation of sand, the narrow strip needed to be ridded of the existing grass (which had roots by the way) and the excess sand excavated. Fine!

The turf that they subsequently laid looked like it was left over from the last century. Brown dried out grass barely hanging on to squares of sand, obviously lacking in root structure and conceivably a fire hazard with the dry conditions we were having. It just needs some rain, said the state!

Well, rain it got – in the form of the first tropical storm of the season, Barry. One day of rain, not constant by any means but with some significant downpours, squares of turf and clumps of dead grass were littered all along both sides of A1A. Not a pretty site.

It seems also that during this expert beautification and road maintenance project, some of the privately owned irrigation systems bordering the project mysteriously got broke.

All in all, a shoddy project done haphazardly by the state, no fault of our fastidious local governments.  Whose paying for this anyway?




Sunday – The day started out overcast, dreary and dismal. By the time we got to the festival grounds the cold winds had died down, but there was still a high, thin layer of cirrus clouds blocking the sun. Not too bad of a day, but not as pretty as Saturday.

Billy Gibson took the stage at 2 o’clock for a 45 minute set, and we noticed that for whatever reason, being the weather or that it was Easter Sunday, the crowd was particularly sparse. Billy is an excellent harmonica player and his band was tight and well skilled, belting out the blues to an appreciative, albeit small audience.

Over on the west stage, Shane Dwight was at it again after his appearance on the main stage yesterday, and a long after hours session at the Ocean Club. Sweet Home Alabama once again pleased the many die hard Skynard fans of Jacksonville.

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Saturday – The second day of George’s Music Springing the Blues outdoor music festival started out cold as expected. Struggling early to get into the sixties, by mid afternoon the good ole Florida sun was out in full force. With the shoulder to shoulder crowd blocking the wind, people were dancing to the blues and shedding the layers by 3:00 pm.

At the main stage, guitarist Sue Foley twanged away the blues and had a nice little Latin blues guitar tune going on. At the same time over on the west stage, the winner of George’s local band competition Conrad Oberg played to a packed crowd. Conrad is a 12 year old blind dude from Jacksonville that started playing the piano early on in life and cut his own album at age 10. Oberg started the set on the piano but quickly moved on to the guitar. Accompanied by his father on standup bass, and a drummer that looked like his older brother, the show was pretty much all him, featuring tunes running the gamut of blues history. While his style seemed a little erratic, he certainly has the talent and fingers his guitars like he’s reading Braille. At times seeming a little rhythmically challenged, Conrad would most certainly benefit from a better band.

Saturday night all right! Temps quickly plunged when the sun went down and the breeze stilled under starry skies. The crowd hung around and partied dancing to the tunes of Shane Dwight, a talented blues group invited back from last year. Shane certainly knows how to play the crowd! For his encore he traded his derby for a U of Florida cap, and sprung into a rendition of Sweet Home Alabama because, he said, he likes to make people feel good. You do know your audience Shane. (Jacksonville is an integral part of the Gator Nation)

Closing out the night was Tab Benoit and his trio hailing from the Cajun region, who seemed bent on “gettin his friends and goin crawfishin?. An excellent guitarist that has his own unique New Orleans blues style, Tab and company rocked the crowd till ten under temperatures of 52 degrees.

After hours parties happened all over the beach, officially at Mojo’s Bar-B-Q and Blues Bar, and with Shane Dwight heading up to the Ocean Club to jam into the wee hours, which means about 2am in Jax Beach.

springing the blues springin the blues Shane Dwight blues music festival music festivals blues festival Sue Foley festival outdoor festival outdoor festivals

Friday kicked off the largest free outdoor music festival at 5pm with Eddie Kirkland and Willie Green wailing from the Jacksonville Beach Seawalk Pavilion stage to the delight of a surprisingly packed festival grounds. The annual George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival, held on the first weekend in April, attracts performers and fans from all over the country for three days of partying on the oceanfront.

Springin the Blues at Jax Beach

This year promises to be a cool one with temperatures barely getting into the sixties. The first weekend in April can be unpredictable in north east Florida. Just last week the peeps were flocking to the beach to enjoy lower eighties and sunny skies. Now its twenty degrees cooler, but at least we still have the sun.

Despite the cooler temps, they built it and we came. The paid seating area up front was full Friday night and the multitudes covered the festival grounds all the way back to the Quality Suites hotel. Festival vendors are out in force showing their wares, and the food court is busy serving up Bar-B-Q, Gyros and seafood to the hungry for more festival goers.

Blues could be heard coming from the west and the east from the likes of the Daddy Mack Blues Band and Greg Baril on the main stage, and Roger Hurricane Wilson and John Miller Blues on the smaller west stage across the grounds. Wrapping up the first night was Michael Burks on the Pavilion stage with an hour and half of soulful screaming guitar licks, as he roamed amongst the masses to the delight of the dancing and beer drinking blues fans.

A pretty successful start for our three day rite of spring in Jax Beach. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of hotties walking around proud in their little string bikinis this year at George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival!

springing the blues springin the blues music blues music festival music festivals blues festival seafood festival festival outdoor festival outdoor festivals

Kicking off the festival season in Jacksonville Beach Fl this weekend is the 17th annual Great Atlantic Music and Seafood Festival. Located oceanfront at the festival grounds, the giant Seawalk Pavilion houses the outdoor stage, facing a large city block of grassy space where people from all over swarm to the beach to party, dance, drink beer and pig out on local seafood.

On Easter weekend comes the big one. Springin the Blues is Florida’s largest free outdoor music festival attracting bands and fans of the blues from all over the country. Three days of blues, food, fun, and non stop partying. Events include a two day surfing contest, bike ride and 5K beach run, and plenty of after hours jam sessions at the local bistros.

Festival season at Jax Beach marks the beginning of Spring, and the local partying season. Always an abundance of beautiful women walking around the festivals in their pretty little bikinis, trying to get a jump on their naturally deep summer tans.

Plenty of bars and restaurants line first and second streets, and the Jacksonville Beach Fishing pier is just up the boardwalk, all within walking distance of the festival grounds. And of course, don’t forget about our wide sandy beaches that attract some of the best bods around.

Just west of the Pavilion is another city block of grass where vendors set up shop, and the kids can bunji bounce and climb a rock face among other fun kid attractions. Vendors on the festival circuit offer all kinds of unique clothes, carvings, and jewelry, with a distinct Caribbean flair.

On the south side is the food court, where the smell of local seafood, bar-b-q, and other specialty cuisines permeate the air. Beer and wine can be bought at the many beverage tents, and all of the music festivals at the Jacksonville Beach Seawalk Pavilion and festival grounds are always free.

Yep, Jax Beach is and always has been the place where the poor townies that live across the ditch (aka Intercoastal Waterway) come to party and get wild. The locals enjoy a laid back beaches lifestyle, and always look forward to festival season for the diversity and just pure fun that it brings.

 

beach festival

Tropical Storm Ernesto kicks up some fun in the Jax Beach SurfAugust 31, 2006 – Tropical Depression Ernesto left the Florida mainland Wednesday, and like a pent up post pubescent teenager, quickly regained its stamina over the warm Atlantic waters. Ernesto was officially declared Tropical Storm Ernesto around 11 o’clock that night.

About the same time, the beaches east of Jacksonville experienced the first band of Ernesto, rapidly moving cumulus clouds accompanied by thunderous booms and bright flashes, winds around 25 mph and brief but torrential downpours. The bands continued racing onshore intermittently throughout the night and by morning it was over. Or was it? (more…)

July Fourth, Jacksonville’s favorite holiday, saw the day begin with a cloudless sky and a massive scurrying to the beach by locals throughout Duval County. A day of laying out and frolicking in the waves was had by many, and as usual it seems that most of our visitors headed straight for the Pier. Perhaps it’s due to the ample parking in the area, or just because humans like to gather around other humans, at any rate, it was crowded. (more…)

The Fourth of July holiday is a long standing tradition at the beaches of Jacksonville. Locals welcome their friends and famiies from town to enjoy a day or two of partying at the beach, and the summer vacationers fill up the hotels for a weekend of sun, sand and surf. (more…)

Once again Jax Beach has the dubious honor of avoiding the brunt. This time however nobody expected much from Alberto, being a Gulf storm with hurricane aspirations that never came to fruition, and having to make the arduous journey across the state of Florida. Nevertheless, with the center of the storm passing well to the north and west of Jacksonville, that put the most active south eastern edge of Alberto directly over the Jacksonville and beaches area. (more…)

April 30th, 2006 - For 60 years the city of Jacksonville Beach has deemed it necessary to officially declare the beaches as “open” by having a parade loop around Second and First Streets. Originally conceived as a way to attract people to the beach, up until a couple of years ago the festivities also included a three day festival. Then the businesses in Jax Beach started whining about having too many people coming to the beach and not patronizing their stores, restaurants etc. At that point, our city council members decried that we don’t need to attract people to the beaches because they will come anyway. Thus came the banning of the 3 day festivals, (except for Springing the Blues) and the festivals in Jax Beach dwindled from about 5 festivals to what appears to be only 2 this year, as the Fiesta Playera quietly gets dropped from the agenda. (more…)

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