Music has a way of bringing people together.
Whether it’s a group of friends listening to a favorite band or a father teaching his young daughter to play the piano for the first time, there’s hardly a better bonding experience than that of a great tune.
In Ocala Style’s first-ever music issue, we bring you the stories of local musicians and singers and how music has influenced their lives. We also bring you one of Ocala’s newest—and coolest—musical ventures. It’s a place where you can scope out your newest instrument or even learn to play a new one. (Have you ever tried the ukulele?) And there’s nothing like grabbing a few of your best buds and enjoying a weekend full of great music and lasting memories at a music festival. Fortunately for you, Florida’s chock full of festivals you won’t want to miss this season—and we’ve got details on all the best ones.
So whether you’re looking for a new local band to check out or hitting the road for a rockin’ festival, we’ve got something to spark a musical note in anyone.
Interview by MacKensie Gibson
When Mickey Summers, Mike Matz, Eddie Johnson, Brian Young and Will Harding get together, it’s hard to tell where one stops and the others begin.
Together, these guys make up the bluegrass band Pasture Prime, a great play on words for this good-humored group of older gentlemen with country souls.
“In this group, nobody is really the leader,” says mandolin, fiddle and guitar-player Mickey, “We try to be democratic.”
As I went around the group learning who played what instrument, the upright bass player, Will Harding, assures me, “No matter what Mickey says, I’m the leader.”
Eddie does most of the vocals and plays guitar, Brian plays banjo and Mike plays resonator guitar, switching off instruments depending on the song. They take turns playing the bones and gutbucket, Mickey jokes.
“Bluegrass music is about death or women, mamas and trains,” Mickey says.
“And the sadder it is, the faster you play it,” Will adds.
Besides subject matter, Mickey explained that an acoustic guitar, a fiddle and a banjo are the staples of bluegrass music.
“If we don’t have a bass, then I have to tap my feet to keep rhythm. I couldn’t play if you held my feet down,” Mickey says.
One time while playing on an aluminum stage, he had to take his shoes off to avoid sounding like there were three discordant bass players.
Although this particular group has only been together a few months, you may recognize Mickey and Mike as former members of Sweetwater Blue Grass Band. Despite their fairly new conception, these men seem like they’ve been buds for years, interacting effortlessly in their stomping grounds, the Silver River State Park.
Mickey’s wife, Rayne (Pasture Prime’s No. 1 roadie), is the head park ranger, and Mickey works at the park as well.
“Parks are conducive to this kind of music—go out in nature and hear some bluegrass, by gosh,” Mickey says, adding that most of these types of shows are fundraisers for the parks.
The band members meet at least once every other week to rehearse, but they do it for the love of the music.
“Bluegrassers tend to have a lot of fun; everyone is friendly. You just kind of play on your own funds—don’t give up your day job,” Mickey says, explaining that their jobs range from minister to teacher to working with OPD.
“We normally just get string and gas money,” Will says.
Generally, the group plays old bluegrass classics, so they don’t record albums yet due to copyright infringement, but they perform at festivals and parks around the state, including Bluegrass in the Park at Silver River State Park on April 6 and the Ft. Cooper State Park Bluegrass Music Festival in Inverness on April 20.
As far as original songs go, “We can make ‘em up on the spot. Get tears in your eyes and think about your 14 divorces—something about a milkman,” Mickey says.
“The whole point of the thing is it’s really fun to play. We’re always smiling,” Will says.
Kings of Awesome
Interview by Cynthia McFarland
The pulsing, hard-driving rhythm that is Kings of Awesome draws fans both old and new whenever this Ocala-based band performs.
Formed in 2007, the group started as an original band doing cover songs, but for the last several years, they’ve focused on their own music. Kings of Awesome recently recorded their debut album, Coronation, featuring 13 all-original songs. Produced by Ramsees of Pharaoh Music, at press time the project was in the “mix and master” phase for a spring release and will be available through CD Baby and, hopefully, iTunes.
Kings of Awesome plays southern metal, a “southern fried version of heavy metal,” explains KC Stark, 26, co-founder of the band and lead guitar player. “We’re light enough to be on the radio, but heavy enough to still make a lot of noise.”
The group counts among its main influences Pantera, the heavy metal band that dominated the early to mid-1990s, and Clutch, the American rock band formed in 1990.
KC is joined on stage by lead singer and co-founder Matt Robarge, 40, Joseph Harp, Jr., 21, on bass, and Chad Williams, 31, on drums. KC and Matt played together in a cover band in the mid-2000s before forming Kings of Awesome.
“It’s like making a marriage work, but you have two extra people,” says KC of the four-member band. “Sometimes, everyone doesn’t agree, but when it works, it’s amazing. It takes a long time for a band to find its groove. We’ve been through five bass players and three drummers. Right now the chemistry is awesome and everybody’s on the same page.”
The band plays the club scene in Orlando, Gainesville, Tampa and other Central Florida locations. Close to home, the Backstage Lounge in Gainesville is a regular haunt.
For the time being, both KC and Matt have day jobs, KC at Sound Exchange Music, while Matt is a graphic designer. Joseph and Chad are both college students.
“We’re not gunning to be rock stars. We just want to bring the music we enjoy out to other people,” says KC, a self-taught musician who has been honing his craft since he started playing in the eighth grade.
“There wasn’t YouTube when I was learning; I just heard songs and taught myself to play them. Even though I’m a metal-head at heart, I love all music, and if I heard it and liked it, I’d try to play it, whether it was Lionel Ritchie or Jim Croce. Everything for me has revolved around music. I even met my wife, Christina, through music.” (She was a fan he invited to one of their gigs back in 2008.)
The release of Coronation is a professional milestone, one the group hopes will open doors to more opportunities.
“We’d love to make a living recording and touring,” KC says. “We don’t really want to be rich and famous, but we’d just like to make a comfortable living at it. I’d love to be able to say I get up and play guitar every day for work!”
Want To See More?
Check out Kings of Awesome at reverbnation.com/kingsofawesome and facebook.com/kingsofawesome.
Music Festival Madness
Interview by Cynthia McFarland
As a high school senior, it’s one thing to have dreams for the future. It’s another thing entirely to already know which college you’ll attend, which major you’ll choose and what you’ll be doing after graduation.
For Hannah Falestiny, 17, a senior at Trinity Catholic High School, music has been such a huge part of her life, it’s no surprise her future plans are brimming with song.
“I’m going to Berklee School of Music in Boston and will major in music therapy,” says Hannah. “After graduating, I will spend six months working in a program for autistic kids at Massachusetts General using music to teach them coping and calming strategies.”
This determined songstress and musician is the daughter of Hany and Kathleen Falestiny and “baby sister” to brother Andrew, 21, and sister Marcel, 22.
Born and raised in Ocala, she started voice lessons at age 11, but she’d already been singing in the school choir since third grade. Today, her strong pure voice can be heard in a variety of genres as she performs for special events.
“I sing modern classical, and I love Broadway, jazz and contemporary music,” she notes. “I’ve always wanted to be on Broadway; hopefully, I will be one of these days.”
Hannah also plays the flute, and her musical talents have opened doors to experiences most teenagers only hope to find.
In 2012, she spent time in both Italy at the Narnia Arts Academy and in Austria, performing and studying with her instructor Ricardo Luna.
“I went to the Florida Flute Association and met Carol Wincenc, who is Professor of Flute at Juilliard School of Music, and she encouraged me to audition for Narnia,” Hannah recalls. “I was accepted and used part of my college money to go there. We played throughout Italy and got to perform in an ancient theater.”
While Hannah has worked with well-known voice instructor Bill Doherty in The Villages, she admits she’s also found inspiration close to home.
“My mom was always in music but never did anything professional with it. I realize now how good she really was—probably better than I am. She and my grandmother always had me listen to Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald.”
Hannah’s enthusiasm is apparent as she talks about how music can improve life for people in many situations.
“They’ve found that art and music parts of the brain survive, even in Alzheimer’s patients,” she notes. “At FSU, they developed a pacifier that plays music when someone is breathing normally, and the music stops if they stop breathing. They’re using this with Alzheimer’s patients, autistic and mentally handicapped children to train them to breathe normally.”
Vice president of her school’s student council, Hannah is also part of the music ministry and sings in the school’s weekly mass.
For Hannah Falestiny, performing is a singular pleasure.
“I just love making people happy with my music. It’s almost selfish, but I like to make others happy when they hear me. I want to soothe them and create the mood for a good day.”
Scott & Michelle Dalziel
Interview by MacKensie Gibson
It all started at Tortilla Flats in Iowa when Michelle decided to arrive in person to audition instead of sending in a demo.
“I hoped whoever was there would let me borrow a guitar,” Michelle says. Luckily Scott was there to lend her his acoustic, and from there, it was love at first sight.
“It was definitely a lightning bolt moment,” says Scott.
The couple moved in together three days after that fateful meeting, got married three months later and released their first album a year later. They have been making folk music and touring the country together for the past 16 years.
“Our music is kind of an eclectic Americana, weaving all the genres together under one acoustic roof,” Michelle says.
The couple uses electric and acoustic guitar as well as the djembe, an African drum, to create a unique and interesting sound; however, neither of them stick to just one instrument.
“We play whatever the song needs,” explains Michelle.
The couple, with their 12-year-old daughter, Aubrey, met up with me at Mojo Grill on Pine Avenue where they often play gigs and where Michelle hosts Acoustic Rising Star, Ocala’s version of American Idol, every Tuesday at 6:30pm.
“I want to help other musicians get where they’re going because so many people helped me,” Michelle says.
Scott and Michelle have been living in Ocala with their three children for three and a half years, playing in local venues as well as traveling all over Florida for shows. They spend their summers touring the rest of the country.
“Aubrey likes to go on tour with us sometimes,” Scott says, “She’s our best CD seller. She took home about $35 in tips last time!”
“She’s gonna grow into our manager,” Michelle says laughing.
The duo’s fifth album, Another Roller Coaster, was just released, in which three songs were produced by Grammy award-winning audio engineer and music producer Bruce Swedien. Michelle says their song “Imperfection” is featured in Bruce’s new book, The Bruce Swedien Recording Method.
Bruce did a lot of work with Michael Jackson during his time and asked the couple to write a song about the King of Pop himself to commemorate their time together. Michelle and Scott gladly obliged and wrote “Timeless” in his honor. They explained that the song is about the pain of not having him here anymore.
These types of human experiences are the kind that Scott and Michelle try to capture in their music. It’s a cathartic experience for them, even when they end up writing about deeply personal and painful experiences.
Although playing music certainly isn’t the most lucrative career to have, the couple has managed to raise a family doing what they love, including teaching music, playing gigs and other extracurricular music endeavors.
“Sometimes making a living as an artist is a struggle, but it’s also very rewarding. All the lives you touch,” Michelle says.
Want To See More?
To learn more about Scott and Michelle, visit their website at dalziel.net and listen to their albums on iTunes.
For music fans, nothing says “spring” like packing up your camping gear and hitting the road en route to a music festival. While March is definitely the start of festival season in our state, music festivals are abound throughout the summer months. Whether your idea of the perfect festival comes complete with on-site camping and lukewarm showers or you want to be able relax in your hotel room after the day’s festivities, our state is likely to offer a festival that suits your fest style. From heavy rock and country music to indie, dance and folk festivals, festival-goers can indulge in their perfect musical weekend without traveling far from home.
Will McLean Music Festival
March 8-10, 2013
The Will McLean Music Festival is held each year as a celebration of Will McLean’s music as well as folk music from other Florida entertainers. Featuring multiple stages and workshop areas, a weekend advanced ticket runs $32 or $37 at the gate, and single-day tickets are available.
Gasparilla Music Festival
March 9, 2013
With music from a wide variety of genres on multiple stages, the Gasparilla Music Festival is a one-day event with headliners such as well-known band Best Coast, Dr. Dog, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and many more local and national artists. Advance general admission tickets are $25, or tickets can be purchased for $30 at the gate.
Ultra Music Festival
March 15-17 & 22-24, 2013
In its 15th year, the Ultra Music Festival will host an expected 330,000 electronic music fans. Featuring an unprecedented number of DJ and live music performances over two weekends, a two-weekend combo ticket is $575. At this point, single general admission tickets for weekend two are sold out, but tickets are available for weekend one for $300.
March 21-24, 2013
Featuring new and traditional folk, roots rock, bluegrass, Cajun and acoustic blues musical styles, the Suwannee Springfest will host performers such as Jerry Douglas, Leftover Salmon, Keller & The Keels and Donna The Buffalo. Weekend passes that include camping are available for $165, with single-day tickets also available.
La Musica Music Festival
April 8, 11, 14, 17, 19
Now in its third decade, La Musica brings together the finest musicians of Europe and the Americas to present familiar and often unheard chamber music. Attendees can expect six performances over a five-day period. Tickets for the entire series run $175 and include a rehearsal pass, and single-day tickets are available for $40 each.
Tampa Bay Blues Festival
April 12-14, 2013
The Tampa Bay Blues Festival is considered by many to be one of the world’s best blues events, and it’s located right on the shores of Tampa Bay. This year’s performers include Dickey Betts & Great Southern, Jonny Lang, Tab Benoit, and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Weekend rates start at $90, with single-day, VIP and after-show tickets also available.
Tortuga Music Festival
April 13-14, 2013
Transforming Fort Lauderdale Beach into an oceanfront music experience, Rock the Ocean hosts the inaugural Tortuga Music Festival, featuring top country and rock artists such as Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, The Avett Brothers, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. A general admission, two-day pass is on sale now for $149.
Florida Music Festival & Conference
April 17-20, 2013
With past headliners such as Third Eye Blind, Flogging Molly, Minus The Bear and many more, the official Florida Music Festival & Conference lineup won’t be released until late March or the beginning of April, and weekend tickets are not currently on sale as of this writing. Most shows are 18+, although some are 21 and over.
Wanee Music Festival
April 18-20, 2013
Headliners such as The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule make this a festival you won’t want to miss. Weekend tickets are on sale for $195 for a limited time only, so if you miss the window, make sure you put this on your calendar for the 2014 festival.
Welcome To Rockville
April 27, 2013
If you’re into heavy rock and metal, Welcome To Rockville is the festival for you. This two-day event features rockers such as Alice In Chains, Limp Bizkit, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 3 Doors Down and Shinedown all in one venue. A two-day, general admission ticket is on sale for $99.50, with single-day tickets also available.
Suwannee River Jam
May 1-4, 2013
Hosted by the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, the Suwannee River Jam features three days of music, art and camping with artists such as Sheryl Crow, the Eli Young Band, Easton Corbin, Rodney Atkins and Aaron Tippin. A weekend, general admission ticket runs $85, and single-day tickets are available as well.
Key West Songwriter’s Festival
May 1-5, 2013
With over 100 performers, 30 shows and 25 stages, the Key West Songwriter’s Festival offers five days of diverse live performances. Attendees will be introduced to the faces, voices and stories behind the songs and are invited to more than 20 free shows at some of Key West’s most popular drinking holes and hot spots.
May 1-5, 2013
West Palm Beach
Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival, SunFest is celebrating its 30th year. Although this year’s lineup hasn’t been released yet, you can expect five days of music you won’t want to miss. Early-bird general admission tickets are available until April 27. A five-day pass will cost you $61, and single- or two-day tickets are also available.
Hangout Music Fest
May 17-19, 2013
Gulf Shores, AL
With big names such as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Kings Of Leon, The Shins and The Black Crows, the Hangout Festival is three days of entertainment on the beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama, just 50 minutes west of Pensacola. Weekend general admission tickets are $229, with VIP tickets starting at $899.
Sarasota Music Festival
June 2-22, 2013
The Sarasota Music Festival offers festival-goers the chance to experience up-and-coming young musicians and world-renowned faculty artists over a three-week period with performances such as artist showcases, festival concerts, student recitals and Saturday symphonies. Order a festival pass for $75 to get an all-access pass to all festival events.
These festivals might require some travel, but they’re must-dos if you’re working on your music festival bucket list. Plan in advance, though. Many of these sell out quickly, and tickets might go on sale up to a year in advance.
South By Southwest
March 8-17, 2013
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
April 12-14 & 19-21, 2013
Stagecoach Country Music Festival
April 26-28, 2013
Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge
May 24-27, 2013
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
June 13-16, 2013
Summerfest: The World’s Largest Music Festival
June 26-30 & July 2-7, 2013
Essence Music Festival
New Orleans, LA
Newport Folk Festival
July 26-28, 2013
August 2-4, 2013
August 9-11, 2013
San Francisco, CA
Austin City Limits Music Festival
October 4-6 & 11-13, 2013
Already bought your festival ticket? What you should bring depends on whether you will be camping and what your particular festival allows on-site. Most websites have lists of items to bring and what you should leave at home. No matter what, don’t leave home without these essentials.
Phone with charger
Personal ID and copies of your ID (in case the real thing gets lost)
Cash (most festivals have ATMs, but you can avoid bank charges by bringing it in)
Keys and backup car key
Health insurance card
Venue map and directions to venue
Watch (so you don’t miss your favorite show!)
Small first aid kit (most festivals will have a medical tent for emergencies)
Grocery bags/large plastic bags for dirty/wet clothes
Blanket for ground cloth
Lounge chair if permitted
Flip-flops for showers
Closed-toe shoes for shows
Camera (check website for types allowed in shows)
Snacks if permitted in festival (trail mix or granola bars are a good idea)
Tent and camping essentials if camping