When enjoying the culture of our town, tourists use their senses. Vacationers fan out, tasting the regional foods, seeing the neighborhood sights and feeling the warm waters of the ocean. Local musician and entertainer, Cara Burky, noticed it was a little quiet around Jacksonville Beach, however, and decided to do something about it.
“[Jacksonville has] a lot of really good big venues, but for an artist that can’t necessarily book those big venues, they’re pretty much subjected to playing bars and restaurants,” Burky said. “I thought, what Jacksonville — specifically the beaches — really lacked was a space for this particular type of show-goer, artist interaction.”
The Blue Jay Listening Room, which opened in 2017 thanks to Burky, not only encourages live music in Jacksonville Beach for both locals and tourists but also a new way to experience it. The intimate, 100-seat venue allows for a type of artist-audience interaction that is a world away from being one in 52,000 at TIAA Bank Field.
“I think it’s important for artists to have a space where they can really resonate with people and tell their stories,” Burky said. “It’s a unique opportunity to be able to perform for people who are hanging on your every word.”
The Blue Jay Listening Room attracts both local acts and artists from around the world who are interested in what the venue offers. For those melomaniacs obsessed with experiencing something new, Burky said she is excited for March’s schedule, one which packs some of her favorite artists around the region and beyond.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11
Describing themselves as “indigenous to South Louisiana,” the six-person, multi-instrumental group embraces its creole roots with lighthearted earnestness while exploring experimental sounds and rhythms. Fans can expect a little French in your fiddle with this fresh take on indie roots music.
SATURDAY, MARCH 14
Folk is People: EP Release Show
Local Jacksonville-based band, Folk is People, is debuting their EP release at the Blue Jay Listening Room to an impressive amount of fanfare. The indie-folk band is led by Stacey Bennett, who describes the music as “metaphorical clarity that is never indigent nor self-pitying.” Folk is People has maintained a strong following since the band debuted its first full-length album in 2016, “The Devil Always Comes.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 20
Also known as “Raw Dawg,” Gales picked up the guitar at the age of four and developed into what Burky calls “a really kickass blues guitarist.” Now 45, Gales has recorded 18 albums, performing with numerous celebrated artists, including Carlos Santana and Lauryn Hill. Recently, he won the Blues Music Award for Blues Rock Artist of the Year. For those interested in being impressed by radical guitar work, Gales isn’t a show to be missed.
SUNDAY, MARCH 22
“I don’t say this lightly, but she is by far, my favorite singer, ever,” said Burky of singer/songwriter Kaleigh Baker. Currently hailing from Orlando, Baker is a powerhouse of vocal agility, with a weighted sound reminiscent of Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Baker is no sleepy songbird, however, but a gut-punch of throaty, soulful incantations that fill the room and leaves no survivors.
FRIDAY, MARCH 27
For lovers of the blues and reggae, Corey Harris has got you covered. Credited with being influential in launching an acoustic blues guitar movement in the 1990s, he has plenty of experience. Harris’ easy-going South African-influenced lyrics don’t fall into a standard blues or reggae categories, however. Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Harris has traveled the world to evolve his distinct sound which is both traditional and uniquely Harris.
For tickets or information on the Blue Jay Listening Room, visit www.bluejayjax.com
Those interested in attending a show are encouraged to purchase tickets early as space is limited and tickets sell out quickly. Also, Burky asks that first-timers be aware the Blue Jay is an intimate venue and the audience is prohibited from talking and asked to silence their cell phones during sets. This gives members a chance to actively listen and performers to engage in storytelling in a unique way that allows them to connect with their audience.