The Church | “Under The Milky Way” at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall 11/17/23

I recently had the privilege to see the Australian alternative guitar rock band, The Church, live at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. They were so good! They were touring behind a new album but also played some of their old hits. Here’s one of their all-time tunes: “Under the Milky Way”.

So much of the Church’s music has a melancholic feeling, almost like Pink Floyd in some ways, just really interesting and great listening music. I think this song, which has a pop element to it, may be their most popular, ever. It still sounds just as fresh as it did 2-3 decades ago. Check out their new album, “The Hynogogue”. It is also fantastic! I haven’t been able to quit listening to them!

Folly Beach, SC

We recently visited Charleston, SC recently and while we were there, we visted Folly Beach. Cool place, a lot like any East Coast beach town! Fun and funky with a mix of tourists and locals. Their new pier is pretty darn spectacular. We enjoyed tooling around the town and had some drinks up on a rooftop bar across the street from the pier.

Charleston, SC Getaway

My wife and I recently took a quick little trip up to Charleston, SC for my birthday! We bought tickets to see one of our favorite old bands – the Hoodoo Gurus, an Australian surf rock band. As luck would have it, Gretcehn’s aunt and uncle had recently bought a place up that way, and let us stay there. It was so beautiful! We had never been to Charleston and didn’t realize how (relatively) close it was – about 4 hours from Jax. It’s an awesome town, and we had a blast! We also went to Folly Beach (see next post). If you haven’t been to Charleston, put it on your to-visit list!!! Amazing food, beautiful historic architecture and laid-back people. It’s kind of like an upscale St. Augustine. Here’s some pics from the trip!

Child of Love | We The Kingdom | Florida Theater

I’ll post a couple of more from the We The Kingdom concert live at the Florida Theater this week. This is the first half of one of their hits, “Child of Love”, maybe my favorite one that they sing. Their concert was a literal party! 🎉 Had to get this in two parts as the video accidentally shut off.

Child of Love Part 1
Child of Love Part 2

Holy Water | We The Kingdom | Florida Theater

Enjoyed a date night out at the Florida Theater with Gretchen Wednesday night (yes, smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Nicole)! But Holy Cow, We The Kingdom put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a ton of shows in every different genre you can think of. If you don’t know them, they are a contemporary Christian band with a rock/blues/soul musical style (think Hammond organ, heavy guitars), and a retro-70’s-feeling stage vibe. You may recognize a couple of their songs (Child of Love, Holy Water) which have been big crossover hits. They have what you would call some “epic” stadium-style songs, the kinds you can’t help but get out of your seat, clap, stomp, and sing along with. They are incredible vocalists, multi-instrument musicians, and performers that just kill it live. One of the things that is really interesting about this Dove and Grammy award-winning band is that it is composed of two brothers, and one of the brothers’ daughters, and his son, along with one of their good friends. So, it is a multi-generational family affair, which is just so unusual. Obviously, they all have that musical gene! Gretchen and I had such a great time. The Florida Theater was packed and it looked like they filmed much of the show. Here’s Holy Water.

The Fixx Live – Secret Separation (Extended Version) | Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

Here is the last video I made of The Fixx at their concert on 9/17/22 at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. This is a really beautiful, extended version of “Secret Separation”. It has always been my favorite song by the band. Fittingly, they saved it for their last performance as part of their encore. This was a fantastic, sold-out show in an intimate venue. The band was great. The crowd was great. And I think that both sides really appreciated what they experienced from one another that night. Enjoy this last one!

The Fixx Live – One Thing Leads to Another | Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

I recently had the opportunity to catch The Fixx, one of my all-time favorite bands that I only had the opportunity to see once before, 37 years ago at the UF Bandshell, for free! 😃 As luck would have it, a friend of mine had two tix in the second row to their recent show at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL that he could not use, and he offered them up to my wife and me, so I got to see them once again, for free. And, were they ever fantastic! These guys still have plenty of juice! The concert was sold out and the crowd was hyped. I think the band really enjoyed their stop here. Here is the classic, “One Thing Leads to Another” by the Fixx recorded on 9/17/22. Apologies for the lack of focus in the first 17 seconds! It resolves after that! Enjoy!

Jack Johnson at Ameris Bank Theater – Alpharetta, GA

Jack Johnson, “Home” at Ameris Bank Theater 8-20-22

Woot! Date night! My wife, Gretchen, and I recently made a quick trip up to the ATL (Alpharetta, GA) to catch a Jack Johnson / Ziggy Marley concert. It was an awesome show! Jack was great, as usual! He played new stuff from his new CD, Meet the Moonlight, many old hits, and also threw in some great covers- Jimmy Buffet’s A Pirate Looks at Forty, Sublime’s Bad Fish, Steve Miller Band’s Space Cowboy, and even The Cure’s Just Like Heaven! (Long live the 80s! … and the 70s and 90s, I guess! 😃) . Ziggy Marley was also excellent. He played some of his music and a few of his dad’s songs. Here is an encore acoustic performance of Jack Johnson’s song, “Home“. Below that is a dual shot of the front stage and back lawn of Ameris Bank Amphitheater. Beautiful venue! It holds 12,000 people, I think. The show was sold out.

Florida Alligator in the Ocean? Yep.

Sharks, jellyfish, and now one more thing to look out for in Florida’s oceans…

Only in Florida … Yes, gators like to go to the beach, too!

My daughter, Kaelyn, and I had considered paddling out to catch a few waves on this day (6/30/21), but the tide was dead low and swell fading after work, so we bailed and I decided to go for a run on the beach, instead. It was probably a good thing we skipped our session because when I got to the beach, someone else was paddling out at our local spot inside the Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve in South Ponte Vedra Beach, between Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano / St. Augustine – a real-life ripper / shredder!

This was about a half-mile south of the northernmost entrance to the park. I felt conflicted. I wasn’t sure who the real “local” was in this case. I’m a 3rd Gen native of Northeast Florida, but this guy still wins! In all my years here, I have actually seen gators on the beach a couple of times and even a little one in the water. But I’ve never seen one this size (a medium-sized junior) just go waltzing into the ocean like this. If Florida wildlife makes you nervous or you’re planning a beach vacation here, soon, you don’t want to watch this video… but I’m guessing you will anyway, so enjoy!

Quick Update: So, it appears my gator video went viral. Shortly after posting it on IG, I started getting DMs asking about reposting it or in some cases, just tagging me. Coastal Republic was first, followed by a slew of others. Within the first week, I could easily see nearly half-a-million views on just the major channels, themselves, and not any of the thousands that mentioned friends to share it with them. Tim Bonython, the acclaimed Australian cinematographer who produces Swell Chasers, made Biggest Wednesday and is currently producing The Big Wave Project, who has captured some of the most amazing big wave footage ever at places like Shipsterns, Chopes and the Right, among others, message me to use it in his IG story. Discover Sharks (over 245,000 views!) posted it, Beach Grit, Reel Life Fishing, Everglades Holiday Park (production home of the tv show, “Gator Boys“), NSB Inlet, Reel Life Fishing, Sustainable St. Augustine, Memol Wildlife, among others. Big shout out to NSB/NCFL ripper and Creative Director/Digital Marketer, Matt Dayton for letting me know what was happening with the video, which was quickly getting reposted without attribution in some places, and speaking up to make sure I was properly credited when he saw it. Appreciate it, Matt!

Kelly Slater Tuberiding | Surfers of Fortune

For friends who surf, I thought you might enjoy this clip from Surfers of Fortune, a vintage 29-year old VHS surf film by Brian Bleak. You can no longer buy it. It’s not on DVD. You might be able to find it on YouTube. It featured the Quiksilver crew tooling around Indo. It is one of the films that inspired my own surf travels through the years. Incredible surfing. Amazing soundtrack. Beautifully and creatively filmed, and edited.

A few years ago, my precious copy of Surfers of Fortune got jammed up in an old VHS player. I tried everything to get it out or just get it to move but was unable to do it. But in my eyes, that tape was way more valuable than the player, so I took the machine apart, destroying it in the process to salvage the tape.

Recently, I hooked up another old VHS player to watch it for the first time in many years, and yes- it is as brilliant as ever.

I wanted to share this extraordinary clip of a young Kelly Slater surfing one of the most incredible waves anywhere in the world – Lance’s Right (aka Hollow Trees or HT’s) because it is still today, the single greatest display of tube riding I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot). It is complete mastery: entering, exiting, slotting, positioning, sitting, standing, drop knee, even critical drop-ins … switchfoot. Incredibly, 29 years later, at age 49, he’s still performing professionally in world-class, Tom Bradyesque-style. He may not be his 20-year-old self (shown here), but he’s still remarkably close. But enjoy this! (P.S. You may have to turn up your volume. This is a decades-old VHS that was subsequently recorded straight off my television set, so not the greatest quality).

Crystal River Kayaking with the Manatees

Looking for a fun Florida “staycation” getaway? Check out kayaking with the manatees in Crystal River during the winter months when the manatees head into Florida’s springs to keep warm. Super inexpensive adventure and a chance to experience some pretty interesting Florida wildlife up close and personal. You can even jump in and snorkel with the gentle giants if you like (but no touching, of course). We used Get Up & Go Kayaking for the outfitters. They have crystal clear see-through kayaks and great guides who put you right on top of the manatees. Check ’em out!

Manatee Crystal River
Family kayaking
Young people kayaking
Two manatees in Crystal River
Kayaker and manatee
Woman and manatee
Two manatees
Manatee
Manatee

Up, Up, Up…

On our trip to Franklin, NC, we visited a place called Picken’s Nose, which is a demanding hike through a bear sanctuary, but also one of the most beautiful places in North Carolina. One thing we didn’t realize before we went was that the entrance to the trailhead required an 8-mile drive up a winding, narrow gravel road, which would be fine in my Jeep, but not in my wife’s car, an Azera with a low-set base, which is the one we took on the trip. It was well worth it, but be aware should you ever decide to go.

Rock Sliding in Tallulah Gorge

So, if you go to Tallulah Gorge State Park and show up early enough in the morning to get one of the 100 daily permits that are issued to go beyond the end of the regular trail all the way to the gorge bottom, and you make that difficult hike, this is your reward. It’s a pretty unique experience and a fun one!

Rock Sliding in Tallulah Gorge State Park

Backyard Bobcat – Twenty Mile in Nocatee

Check out this great video! Not long ago, Gretchen saw a large bobcat in our backyard and got a pic of it from inside our screened porch. Not long ago, we saw another one. This one was a little smaller (perhaps a female or a junior?) but really beautiful! I walked outside to video it, about 15 yards away. It saw me and stopped and looked right at me. It wasn’t a bit scared! I, on the other hand, had one hand on my phone and the other feeling back behind me towards Gretchen, making sure she was holding the door open in case this thing decided to spring! 😅 Fortunately, it relaxed. This is in The Crossing at Twenty Mile in Nocatee. Apologies for the shaky start! I was tiptoeing!

Sidewinding

 

 

My daughter Kendall and I came across this fellow while hiking in Payne’s Prairie in Gainesville, FL recently. Ironically, I had literally just finished telling her seconds before, about how the area reminded me of other places in North Florida I’d explore as a child, and that we’d occasionally find rattlesnakes living in abandoned gopher tortoise holes. Then lo and behold, as soon as I finished that sentence, we came upon this good-sized rattler splayed out right across the trail. Great experience! You don’t see these guys as often as you used to.

Jack Johnson, St Augustine Amphitheater, Bad Fish, 2017

Here’s some bad cell phone footage of Jack Johnson on his recent (2017) stop at the St. Augustine Amphitheater in St. Augustine, Florida (Sorry, I was too busy watching and listening to try and film him!) Fantastic concert, as always! Here’s Jack doing a cover of Sublime’s Bad Fish and Boss DJ.

Willy Wonka’s Cane Sugar Syrup Factory in Middendorf, SC

The Blizzard Branch Syrup company in Middendorf, South Carolina makes pure cane sugar syrup using fresh cut sugar cane and a hand press. Sugar cane goes in. Sweet stuff comes out. Then it’s off to be strained boiled and strained again. Willy Wonka has nothing on these guys! I’m pretty sure this is where they recorded the sound effects for that movie, anyway. This is a great example of sustainable farming and agritourism. Interesting stuff! We had a good time romping around up there while visiting family in Hartsville, SC over the Thanksgiving holidays.