Over the course of eight consecutive years, Summer Jam (#SJ8) — an Ybor-centric music festival/block party — has cemented its place as the definitive way to celebrate the waning days of the season while basking in the different shades of sonic glow provided by some of the nation’s finest up-and-coming (and already established) bands. With an emphasis on not having repeat acts, Summer Jam always proves to be an über-eclectic, fresh live music experience.
“When we started this eight years ago, part of our goal was to embrace the music & culture that we loved and to say, ‘a music fan is a music fan – regardless of genre.'”
– Summer Jam co-founder Joe D’Acunto
There have been struggles along the way (does anyone remember SJ4?), format changes (a few incarnations of the festival — especially the BASK-influenced SJ5 — had a big time art component), losses (the late DJ CLIPS played SJ3), and more than a few massive absurdities (the madness that was Czar Pool Party for SJ6), but through it all Summer Jam has been a reason to feel proud to live in the Bay area.
“When we started this eight years ago, part of our goal was to embrace the music & culture that we loved and to say, ‘a music fan is a music fan – regardless of genre,'” co-founder Joe D’Acunto wrote SubAp! in an email, “we wanted to keep part of the focus on all the talent that existed and exists around the bay area, around FL, around the SE and more recently, beyond – to continue to bring artists/musicians off all types to Ybor.”
The tradition continues in 2k12 as SJ8 takes over Labor Day weekend to bring you 15 bands from every corner of the country. There will be something for everyone: west-coast anthemic pop (Chasing Kings), SoFla hip-hop (Bleubird), journeyman folk (David Dondero), filthy garage rock from St. Pete (The Black Roses + Jensen Serf Co.), and even electro-folk from Tallahassee-based up-and-comer Moon Lasso.
Follow the links above to buy advance tickets and print out a handy-dandy schedule/guide, then scroll below to get learned + listened on each and every band that will be hitting Crowbar and New World Brewery on Saturday. More information on the event is available at our calendar page.
Social Media Nuts: Tag your Tweets + Instajams with “#SJ8” and contribute to a collaborative Spotify playlist here.
DAVID DONDERO // NWB – 10:50 p.m.
Named one of NPRs greatest songwriters alive along with Dylan, McCartney, and Waits, this once Pensacola-based 43-year-old is the epitomie of the travelling troubadour. “South Of The South” (listen to an early demo below) is a Florida-centric song where he sings of “tender chickens in Florida rotisseries,” “humidity so think you cut it with a knife,” and mannequins that “smell of coconuts and Coppertone.” A true American treasure with an affinity for Cuban food and café con leches – do not miss his set.
Photo by: Kelley Jackson ©
JENSEN SERF CO. // Crowbar – 11:10 p.m.
Easily the Bay area’s best young band (none of them are older than 19 years-old), Jensen Serf Co. have spent their first year of existence refining a brand of ocean-kissed, scuzzy garage rock that’s made them festival darlings and a must-see live act. Guitarist Peter Kokkinakos and bassist Asa Ferqueron provide crushing rhythms through their Silverface Fender Amps whilst singer/drummer Benjamin Saylor screeches, howls, and thunders his way through lyrics about the beach, the ’91 Lions, and St. Petersburg amongst other things. Listen to “York Ski” below.
THE OWSLEY BROTHERS // NWB – 8:10 p.m.
Comparisons and sonic descriptors do this Walton County-based blues-rock trio no justice, but if you imagined The Black Keys being impregnated by the fire of a Jack White guitar solo then giving birth to said devil child in the back of a stolen, flaming ambulance, then you might have an inkling of an idea of what the Owsleys’ sweaty, sexed-up, electrified delta blues feels like. Listen to “Pure Lust” below.
APPLEBUTTER EXPRESS // NWB – 9:50 p.m.
Having just played the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., this Tampa-based, ukulele-driven four-piece jam outfit is riding high on their driving, noodly jams and have garnered themselves one of the most-faithful fanbases in the area. Putting together a care-free, foot-shuffling set might be one of the reasons legions of Florida’s jam music lovers have flocked to the Applebutter Express. Listen to “Handguns and Hammocks” below.
Photo by: Paige Maitland
EASTER ISLAND // NWB – 9 p.m.
They’ve only been a band for about two years, but Easter Island have already broken out of the Athens, Ga. creative scene is a huge way thanks to a brand of progressive-pop music that features dual vocals from brothers Eathan and Asher Payne. “Hash” features all the propulsiveness of a Thursday track, while cuts like “Weekend” and “Frightened” (listen to the latte below) showcase the outfit’s ability to weave together instantly-likeable atmospheric pop.
NOT A PLANET // Crowbar – 8:30 p.m.
Who knew that huge hooks, big drums, and even bigger melodies could come from the Midwest? Not A Planet, apparently. Songs from this trio’s Napsack EP play like pop gems just dingy enough to keep naysayers and anti-pop purists from running away. “Please Don’t Go” finds frontman Nathan Corsi pleading like a desperate Robert Plant while the half-time stomp of “Bring Her Home” (listen below) has all the bounce of an Alabama Shakes song combined with the desperation of Jeff Buckley.
THE WOOLY BUSHMEN // NWB – 7:50 p.m.
Hitting play on a Woolly Bushmen record is an open invitation to a little sonic time travel. The Orlando-based rockabilly three-piece sound like they came from a 1960s garage practice session and songs like “Sidetone Shuffle,” (listen below) “Gritz,” and “Like The Other Night,” harken back to a time when John Lennon & co. looked to channel the inimitable energy of Chuck Berry. For fans of Dr. Dog and Delta Spirit, it’s rock and roll from another epoch that somehow feels at home in the 21st century.
THE ROSEWOODS // NWB – midnight
Formerly known as Jackly, The Rosewoods are fronted by Kristina White, who — along with bandmates Elliot Dickson, Nick Valladarez, John McDonald, a d Greg Baker – crafts classic rock informed by their influences which range from Cream, to The Who, to Janis Joplin, and Sleepy Sun. All hell breaks loose on the recoups “Why Do You Do It?” (listen below) while the band slows it down and lathers on soaring lead on a brand new song, “Image.”
CHASING KINGS // Crowbar – midnight
Coming to Tampa all the way from Los Angeles, Calif., Chasing Kings have been crafting feel good, über-melodic, shout-along pop since their 2009 breakout track “The Current State Of Our Future” (where frontman Michael Goldman makes them sound like a less English, happier, plugged in Mumford Sons) and continue that trend on a brand new tracks“Do It To Myself” (listen below) and “Nice Guys.” Borg are propulsive gems of harmony-drenched songs laced with epic synth and lead guitar parts a la The Killers or Scissor Sisters
REC CENTER // Crowbar – 7:40 p.m.
A longtime Tampa favorite that just released their debut LP (Tin Year) via New Granada Records, Rec Center features Susie Ulrey coloring breathy vocals and confessional lyrics on top of arrangements that feature the talents of storied local players like Michael Waksman, Brian Roberts, Keith Ulrey, and cellist Melissa Grady. Cuts range from organ-driven diary entries (“Monster”), sweeping anthems “No. 2,” and lighter, bouncy cuts like “Damn, Julie. Damn” and “Soft Pursuit” (listen below).
EMPIRE CINEMA // Crowbar – 6:10 p.m.
Since their inception just last year, post-rock outfit Empire Cinema have been honing in a sound that seemed to come straight from the 80s. Informed by Joy Division and The Smiths, Brendon Hock has led his band through forceful, energetic sets opening for the likes of Have Gun Will Travel and most recently Zulu Wave. Listen to “A Man, A Plan, A Dream” below.
MOON LASSO // Crowbar – 9:20 p.m.
As a part of the Spirit Cat collective of artists, Moon Lasso is in good company (Hundred Water, Michael Parallax, and Saskatchewan all share ties with the collective). The Tallahassee-based soundsmith most definitely belongs as songs from the Lamplighter EP are lo-fi, electro-folk featuring airy vocals and thoughtfully layered loops that make for an extremely introspective and rewarding listens. Check out “Semetary Spector” from the Lamplighter EP (artwork above) below.
THE BLACK ROSES // NWB – 6:30 p.m.
Summer Jam has a great contingent of blues-inspired acts for its eighth incarnation, and St. Pete-based two-piece The Black Roses are set to make themselves standout in the loudest, most insane way. Singer/guitarist Drew Anthony is a shrieking, reckless frontman and the band are living, sweating, proof that garage-rock does is most powerful when it’s stripped down, turned up, and in your face. Listen to “Her Love Stops Atom Bombs” below.
OUTMODE // Crowbar – 7 p.m.
On a recent live mix (listen below), Outmode crafts ambient, experimental sonic droplets of sound thatslowly morph into a throbbing drum sequence before finally collapsing into a series of breaks and more washed out percussion. It all happens in just over half-an-hour and makes for one hell of an auditory experience.
BLEUBIRD // Crowbar – 10:10 p.m.
Ft. Lauderdale’s Bleubird would be categorized under “MC” if the internets could keep their grasp on him, but he transcends that categorization and emerges as more than that with his high-energy, always conscious, sometimes hyperspeed raps, which he’s been putting together since ’99. Songs on his Street Talk series of EPs are colored with a smorgasbord of sound samples and span all sub-genres of hip hop from southern bounce (“cyp not pyt (clean yo plate)” – listen below) to organ-drenched feel-good Biz Markie-esque cuts (“Willie Wu”). Truly unique rap music without all of the pretentiousness that sometimes permeates intelligent hip hop.