Tag Archives: Music

The Curt Towne Band plays Killer Acoustic Show

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The Curt Towne Band

Welcome Southern Rock Music fans, HappyJack is back with another article on one of the South’s favorite new Southern Rock bands.

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I was born here and I still live here in Jacksonville, Florida, home to many popular artists, particularly Southern rockers. Many bands and artists in this town are connected – like family – to each other, because of the music and the friendship this genre brings.

This is the hometown of Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, The Curt Towne Band and many more great artists.

I was raised on the West Side of Jacksonville, where most of these bands were formed, and I ran into members of these bands all the time. When I  was 16, I actually bagged groceries at Winn Dixie each week for Lacy Van Zant, father of Ronnie, Donnie and Johnny Van Zant.

I remember running into Larry Junstrum (.38 Special ) every month at a local restaurant on Normandy Blvd. and running into Donnie Van Zant at a Grainger’s Lumber store and Johnny Van Zant at another grocery store in the same area. For a Southern rock fan, life is great in this town of Jacksonville.  Seeing these guys around town, not hiding themselves, and acting like normal people was so cool.

And, there are plenty of others who were raised with Skynyrd connections, like local rocker Curt Towne.

Curt has enjoyed the friendship with members of Skynyrd since he was knee high, as he lived just a couple of doors from Allen Collins, and he was able to talk and become friends with him, along with other members and many other bands.  Growing up with these Southern Rock Music Legends, the personal journey of Curt Towne is seen deeply in his new band, The Curt Towne Band, with every song they play.

And of course, this band has opened recently for the best in the industry – Montgomery Gentry – along with a benefit show with hometown heroes of Southern Rock, Molly Hatchet (Bobby Ingram, Tim Lindsey, Dave Hulbek). The Curt Towne Band has been busy recording new tracks in between concert dates – getting down the final touches on the new CD.

I had the chance to catch up with them again recently backstage on tour with Montgomery Gentry and I was surprised to see them announce a special intimate acoustic show to showcase the talents of each member of The Curt Towne Band.

As I stood backstage, I also ran into Bobby Ingram (Molly Hatchet) and his wife who were also there to support The Curt Towne Band and witness the history the band was making tonight in front of 6,000 fans who came from many miles away to see the band and hear the music that has been missing from real Southern Rock. A fantastic double bill show, The Curt Towne Band and Montgomery Gentry, which was a sell out.

The band starts off the show with a great upbeat song instantly bringing fans up out of their seats to dance to the music. The crowd was wonderful with so many in attendance tonight wearing a limited edition black tee-shirts. These black shirts were purchased at earlier shows and no longer in print; seeing all of those shirts showed all in attendance that this band has a following long before the major acts started calling them to open their shows.

We saw hundreds in attendance wearing the black shirts and then watched new fans grabbing everything they could from the merchandise table. The band offered CD’s, shirts, and other great items – while fans stood in line patiently waiting their turn to order, this band gave the headliner a run for the money on total tee shirt sales.

Meanwhile – the band itself is playing song after song from their debut EP, and also added in new unreleased material into the mix, instantly gratifying everyone in attendance. The music was outstanding, in full acoustic sound, with all of the songs that this band has recorded, along with a few new ones – a treat!

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Lead Singer / Songwriter / Guitarist – James Aaron has such a good voice, like a young Bob Seger. He boasts a perfect range with a rough balance. Watching him, you see how passionate he feels about his work, belting out verses that hooks you and grab your attention. He has the ability to put it on the line with a powerhouse voice. The fans listened and when each song is over they all instantly raised there hands in appreciation. It feels so good to be witnessing the beginnings for this much sought after band tonight.

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Lead Rhythm Guitars – Curt Towne, the man with all the experience, all the chords, all the hooks that make this band rock. I’ve met him a few times and he is one of the nicest guys, always receptive, always caring about your conversation with him. He instantly proves his roots with the first song, a dedication to the Southern Rock music genre as he follows in the footsteps of his industry elders. Ronnie Van Zant would be proud of his songwriting, and the fans have made it clear, they love every song he performs with his hard working band. The ability to play chords and change the feelings in each song is simply amazing to see and hear. This band’s music reminds me of the “Nuthin’ Fancy” era recordings of Lynyrd Skynyrd – All classics, all heartfelt. The Curt Towne Band will be around for a long time.

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Bass Guitars – Greg Wilson Thompson is as versatile as you can get. Greg plays heavy bass and has experienced playing and touring with many bands including a band called THE LESLIE HAWKINS BAND formed by one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s back-up singers. The solid foundation he plays today at this event makes the band stand out as a contender in the highest regard for a new Southern Rock music era.

The band closes with “Long Live My Country”, a must hear tribute song to the beliefs of this band: freedom, religion, gun rights and life.

This song means so much to many people already. It is their anthem, the type of song that any band would want to have as a closer. This song grabs everyone that hears it and brings them in closer. It builds with excitement on every verse and ends with a feeling of being blessed.

I was blessed myself to be part of it all.  I can’t wait for the new album and another great tour from this band.

Thank you to The Curt Towne Band for standing out in this showcase concert for the fans tonight, and the industry reps in attendance.

I’ll be back again with another great story from the band soon, in the meantime look for their music on iTunes and other fine retailers.

HappyJackthe insider on what’s happening in music in Northeast Florida every month right here!
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Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂


Muse – Debuts Psycho

Muse Debuts Psycho – New Single

A few months before the release of their new album, Muse has finally released a new single to give us a taste of what we are in store for, and it’s music to our ears.

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Check out the powerful new single (and video) from Muse. “Psycho” will be featured on Drones, the band’s seventh album, due out on June 9th on Warner Bros. Records, and which can be pre-ordered at the bottom of the post.

The song is a gritty rocker, featuring all of the elements of Muse that we’ve grown to appreciate – hard-driving guitar riffs, thunderous bass and drums and diverse vocals from Matthew Bellamy, including a few nicely interspersed Marilyn Manson-esque moments. Checking in at a robust 5 and a half minutes, it’s a nice long rock ‘n roll excursion that will entertain any rock fans.

As you’ll see in the captivating video and hear in the lyrics, the psycho immortalized in this song is a maniacal war fighter / killing machine. Listen to it below and let us know what you think.


1. Dead Inside
2. [Drill Sergeant]
3. Psycho
4. Mercy
5. Reapers
6. The Handler
7. [JFK]
8. Defector
9. Revolt
10. Aftermath
11. The Globalist
12. Drones

The first official single from the album, “Dead Inside,” will debut the week of March 23rd.

Pre-order Drones here:

Crossfyre – Finland’s Southern Rockers Interview

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Interview With the Members of Crossfyre

HappyJack is back with another cool interview – This time it’s “Crossfyre” – Southern Rockers from Finland and the USA!

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Hello guys – glad to have you take a minute from your studio time and touring schedules to answer some questions for your dedicated fans,  When I heard you are playing Southern Rock in Finland, I had to check you guys out, and I was not disappointed in the music. I know that this band started in Florida, and now you’re playing to a lot of Southern Rock fans in Finland. How’s life on two Continents?

Who inspired you to begin making music ?

Michael “StarBuck” Majalahti – Lead Vocals – Black Sabbath
Dan Ronnbacka – Bass Guitar / Vocals – The Beatles
Jaakko Kinnari – Guitar – a Finnish band called Hurriganes
Jari Ravaska – keyboards – Billy Preston (Rolling Stones Organ Player)
Danny Cross – drums – The Beatles
Jay Jay Asikainen – guitar, backing vocals – Eric Clapton

What?s your current instrument gear ?

Ronnbacka – Fender Roscoe Beck five string and Gallien Krueger Amps
Kinnari – Fender Strat ’65 and an axe I put together myself from leftover parts I had lying around. And a Marshall Jubilee combo 50/25
Ravaska – Nord Electro 4
Cross – Custom made 28bd 14×14 tom 18×18 floor tom 14×8 DW Snare
Magnus Ljunqvist – Nord Electro 2
Asikainen – 335 Gibson and Fender deluxe-

My favorite track on the New “CROSSFYRE ” CD is ?

Majalahti – Ironhorse
Ronnbacka, Ravaska, Cross – Born To Be Free
Asikainen – Crying Heart

Dinner when on tour or event usually consists of ?

Ronnbacka  – Steak
Kinnari – Some kind of beef and fries with some kind of veggies and a salad
Ravaska – Hot dogs
Cross – A nice steak
Asikainen – Steak and salad

The best gift I ever received in this band is –

Majalahti – Meeting my wife
Kinnari and Ljunqvist – Playing on the Rock Legends Cruise
Asikainen – Touring in Europe

My most treasured instrument is?

Kinnari – My ’65 Fender Strat
Ravaska – Hammond B3
Cross – My old custom shop drums
Asikainen – My old Stratocaster

Favorite Music Artists? 

Majalahti – Motley Crue
Ronnbacka  – Deep Purple
Kinnari  – ZZ TOP
Ravaska – Pink Floyd
Cross – CCR
Asikainen – Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

When I’m looking to get inspired I ?

Majalahti – Look at my wife
Ronnbacka  – Play my acoustic bass on the couch
Kinnari – Sit down and play
Ravaska – Silence
Cross – Play on my acoustic
Asikainen – It comes when it comes

My favorite travel destination is ?

Majalahti – Japan
Ronnbacka – Rome
Kinnari – Northern California
Ravaska – London
Cross – Texas
Asikainen – Key West, Florida

The last song I listened to was ?

Majalahti – “Child of Light” by Abbot
Ronnbacka – “Dust In the Wind” by Kansas
Kinnari – “Mercenary Territory,” Little Feat
Ravaska  – Robben Ford
Cross – “Simple Man,” Lynyrd Skynyrd
Asikainen – “Feels like Rain”

The city that has the best Fans is …

Majalahti,  Ronnbacka, Ravasaka and Asikainen – Braunchweig Germany
Kinnari – Maybe one of them towns in Northern Finland. Kuusamo or Ivalo
Cross – I loved Poland this past summer tour

When did you start playing ?

Ronnbacka – My brother got me a bass guitar when I turned 14
Kinnari – Piano at the age of six
Asikainen – At the age of 13 

What does a new artist need to break out in the current Rock biz ?

Ronnbacka – Good original songs
Kinnari – Good songs recorded and produced well and an ability to perform live the way that’s is consistent with the sound on the records. And good connections and good luck…
Ravaska  – Social media
Cross – Exposure
Asikainen – Be different and original 

How much input did you personally put into the recording itself ?

Ronnbacka – I wrote all the bass tracks and backing harmonies
Cross – Songwriting and drums
Ljunqvist – Keyboard tracks
Asikainen – As much as possible 

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Why should Major Bands select you guys to open the shows ?

Majalahti – We have a good drive and a sound
Ronnbacka – Because we are nice people and we love to rock 

Today’s songwriters lack inspiration. Where do you, as a songwriter go to get that inspiration ?

Majalahti – To the gym
Ronnbacka – Everyday life
Kinnari – Me myself have to just sit down and not to give up
Ravaska – Travelling
Cross – From the blues and joy in life
Asikainen – From life

Why do you think there is such an interest in Rock music now ?

Kinnari – Many people are just fed up with the overproduced radio pop
Ravaska – Rock is coming back
Cross – People like real instruments

Did you get to enjoy yourself in the studio ? Highlights ?

Majalahti – I was sick the day I sang the lead voice overs, but like a miracle, I got the tracks down, like someone would say Hell Yeah !
Kinnari – All of it was fun
Cross – Hell Yeah!
Asikainen – Yes, getting to work with HANNU LEIDEN from HAVANA BLACK

What jobs do you currently work in between gigs and festivals ?

Majalahti – Pro Wrestler
Ronnbacka – IP support at a University
Kinnari – Some occasional computer repair stuff
Ravaska – Studio work
Cross – Restore cars

The new released hit single ” Born to be Free” is getting a lot of requests – What is the story behind the song ?

Majalahti – Life and freedom
Cross – Wrote the song a day before going to the studio Starbuck came in and wrote some of the verses and JayJay and Kinnari came up with the riffs end of story
Asikainen – Life goes on

Describe what this band is all about and the future goals of each member

Majalahti – Playing good music
Ronnbacka – Playing some good rocking music
Kinnari – Good bluesy rock and roll
Ravaska – Touring the world
Cross – Always been the music and touring and trying to get better at it !
Asikainen – All about some good old rock-n roll

Thank you to the Band’s Management Team, and thanks to Crossfyre, Finland’s Southern Rock Legends for answering questions for the fans.

Take time to get the new CD and Crank it Up!   Wait until you hear what Finland can do with Southern Rock. These guys love Skynyrd , .38 Special and Marshall Tucker Band (I do, too).

* We’ll see you guys on the road soon !  You guys Rock !


If you enjoyed the interview with the band – please be so kind to “LIKE US” on this page and save us as a Favorite on your Toolbar – to see our articles every week with Rarasfarm.com magazine.


HappyJack – Rarasfarm’s insider when it comes to Southern Rock N Roll, supporting music that you love to hear!  And, please check out the other articles I have written!   I’ll be back soon with another wonderful interview with out Favorite Bands – Cheers !


Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂


The Shackeltons – Records


The Shackeltons – Album Review

“Often it takes something tragic happening for something beautiful to be born…”

It’s been nearly six years since Mark Redding, vocalist and primary song writer for The Shackeltons first learned of his mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis and took a hiatus from music. Fans have been patiently waiting and are finally about to get what they have longed for, a new Shackeltons album. Those fans will be more than pleased with the new album, Records.

Six years seems too long a time to go without releasing any music but Records seems to boast six years’ worth of experience. Fans from years back will hear a metamorphosis in the new album. Redding experienced a lot in his six-year sabbatical and it really shows. Often it takes something tragic happening for something beautiful to be born. All the songs on Records are a testament to this but no song better exemplifies what I mean than the fourth song on the album, “Mum.”

The beauty and the shame in the new album is that many of the songs delve into emotions that the average listener may be able to sympathize with but not necessarily empathize. From the lyrics to the instrumentals, every song on the album is packed full of raw emotion. Many of those listeners who cannot empathize with the songs can almost take on the emotions behind the songs through Redding’s honesty in each and every offering. However, it’s no secret that The Shackeltons are somewhat experimental and their new album is no exception. That being said, there will be listeners who simply don’t take the time to understand Records for the beauty that it truly is, but who wants listeners like that anyway?

With the progression of the band comes even more experimental sounds. There’s plenty of dissonance on Records and the beautiful production quality sounds artfully dirty. The shallow listener who didn’t “get” The Shackeltons last album, will “get” this album even less. The fact is that great music has never been understood by everyone; and music understood by everyone has never been great. I would compare the sound on Records to a melting pot of sounds from Iggy Pop to Brand New’s Daisy album. Similar to The Shackeltons, not everyone understood Iggy Pop nor Brand New but perhaps that’s why they’re still getting mentioned today on rock blogs.

Similar to Brand New’s Daisy album, Records gets better and better every time you listen to it. You will hear or appreciate something new about it every time you give it a listen. It’s infinite like a piece of abstract art, you could take it in a thousand times and get something new out of it every time. A record with replay value is worth ten times more than a record good for a few spins and Records is proof of that.

The Shackeltons newest album isn’t for everyone but it’s for everyone else. By that I mean that the Katy Perry and Maroon Five fans of the world might not appreciate Records but hardcore indie rock fans will recognize the album for the rare gem it truly is. The bottom line is if you are a previous fan of The Shackeltons, you will be thrilled and if you’re a new listener looking for a deep record to sink your ears into, look no farther than Records.

Joey Farese

Ex Pantera Members form “Hellyeah” and Smoke Rockville Festival

Hellyeah Concert Review
Welcome To Rockville, Jacksonville

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Wow what a weekend in North Florida!

HappyJack is back with some cool feedback from the Rockville Music Festival. This event was held in downtown Metro Park in Jacksonville, on a weekend bathed in sunshine. The two day Welcome To Rockville was one of the country’s most prominent metal events, and one that had everybody in the industry talking.

This Rock Festival was loaded with so many cool bands, some new and some classic, that I knew this event was gonna be the event to see. Major acts, one after another, were making Jacksonville History. I’m talking more than 40 bands!

Jacksonville has banned acts from playing here in the past – Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne and others. This Southern town has had a lot of Bible thumpers rule the City Council, but a change may be in the air.

How this event got through is a miracle – as for weeks the local news was reporting complaints from everyone from both sides not wanting to start this kind of event – A Heavy Metal Festival – not in our backyard, especially not an annual one!

The Lawyers got the permits passed and the event was set – and tickets were sold, and sold and sold – total 40,000 for the weekend, including a fully Sold Out day on Sunday.

I arrived at the Festival with Cretin, the editor of Rarasfarm.com, and we split up to photograph the different bands alternating playing on four different large stages on the fairgrounds. I immediately went to the main stage and started shooting the opening bands. High energy bands that wanted to make new Jacksonville’s fans their own.

More about them later – right now this review is about a special band – Hellyeah.

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Anybody who knows metal, cannot talk about metal music without mentioning Pantera, a very high energy Heavy Metal powerhouse from Dallas, Texas. These guys really had the industry at their feet, releasing gold album after gold album, year after year. Two brothers created this band – “Dimebag Darrell,” the long-haired lead guitarist who proved a force to be reckoned with by his peers, and Vinnie Paul, the powerhouse drummer with the bombastic drums that sound like cannons.  Pantera made huge leaps over the years, releasing mega selling albums with bone crunching chords that made you play the CD again and again! Pantera was on the verge of being the Metallica everybody wanted Metallica to be – but never was.

Pantera is a band that plays certain type of metal riffs, where you can expect a gathering in the pit of metal heads, passionately shoving each other back and forth in a frenzy of spins. I personally watched some action that was borderline crazy. The fans really enjoy metal music and want more after these bands left town. The camaraderie between the fans is amazing at the huge Festivals.

The fans enjoyed the raw gut wrenching A chords playing from the guitars from Pantera – that cracked your ribs. The songs were much better than Metallica’s basic sound – with Pantera’s catchy 3 chord riffs that made you smile. These guys were a band to see – full balls to the wall metal.  Pantera created a lot of fans, and toured endlessly around the USA with other acts – blowing away the competition on every show.

One night in a club, tragic struck the band, as Dimebag Darrell was shot while playing on stage. Pantera lost a very important person in the industry – a well loved and very good guitarist, and brother.

Vinnie Paul started another band, with the ex-members of Pantera, along with a new face or two, to make the metal music world on fire again. The band played Welcome To Rockville Saturday night and 10,000 screaming fans went wild like for no other band that day. Hellyeah, the name for this new band adventure – was 10 times more polished – and every song sounded tight.

These guys played Dean Markley Guitars and Gibsons exclusively, which made the crowds jump all night; and Vinnie Paul playing his heart out on the biggest set of red drums ever. I play Ludwig drums and thought I had a big set – this guy has cannons – 12 feet of drums wrap around him.

Now, Vinnie is not a tall person and getting the perfect shot for photography was not going to be easy.  I moved around many times to finally get that picture that really showcases Vinnie. I got it and you can check it out above.  He was all smiles to the fans and was really enjoying the massive crowds that came to see Hellyeah.

The band had an average of 3 people crowd surfing, while they played. I have never witnessed so many people in the air on the fingertips of others and passed to the front where security was getting tired of handling the rowdy fans throughout the bombastic heavy metal riffs that were being played.

Hellyeah had you banging your head and from the very first note played. NO OTHER BAND OUT-PERFORMED THEM – THEY KICKED SERIOUS ASS. We are still talking about this show in Jacksonville and hope they come back again!

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Hellyeah is an American Heavy Metal Super group, consisting of Mudvayne lead vocalist Chad Gray, who screams out the metal lyrics with such ferocity, that many respect the hard work he does instantly. He wore a Hellyeah T shirt that fit him well with black jeans and black shoes, and a 6″ Mohawk hair cut. This punkish metal head lead singer was definitely hitting it off with the fans, with this voice from Hell. He was doing things that the other bands wished they could do; carrying the songs with powerhouse vocals. He got everyone’s attention and no one wanted this band to stop.

Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell was in top form with his cowboy hat – a staple in his rock n roll identity. He was nothing short of the coolest looking guy at the festival.  Perfect blend of metal chains, beads, charms and a bandana under the hat made him look like a real rocker – which he is. With his rhythm guitar, he plays A chords that crack your ribs and other hard to play notes. This guy did not rush the songs; he played perfectly with the band and what a combination to hear and see these guys in person. The hardest chords played on guitars, turned up to ten, was overwhelming to us all. Thank you for the best metal ever. Jacksonville Florida is slowly becoming a hip scene for metal music – and it’s about time! They really sounded this good – please go get their CD and play it loud.

Hopefully the city Leaders in this town will open up some more dates in the future for Festivals like this

See our full Festival recap here: Welcome To Rockville

I’ll be back with another Concert Review soon. Until then, tell your friends about RARASFARM.COM!

Thank you to the band and management teams – without you – we cannot inform the masses that want to know about their favorite bands. Thank you Rarasfarm.com for the best Rock Music Scene on the web.

We will have a full photo gallery from Hellyeah and a slew of other bands this weekend, so Like Us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter/Instagram.

Happy Jack

RARA’s Florida Music-Festival Survival Guide

RARA’s Farm Florida Music-Festival Survival Guide

As winter nears an end, festivals season beckons. With Music fests like Aura, 9 Mile, and Wannee coming up, Florida has a lot to offer rock lovers. If you really want to get the full festival experience, it’s a good idea to do the camping option that most festivals offer. Camping alongside thousands of rock loving festival goers and future friends is just as awesome as it sounds. Not only will you meet lots of cool people but you’ll also be able to get into the festival grounds before everyone commuting there.

Hardcore festival goers know how important it is to come prepared but for the first timer, it’s difficult to know exactly what to prepare for. I went to my first festival several years ago and found myself severely under packed and under prepared, but have since learned a few key rules to remember when preparing for a festival. Follow this brief survival guide to make the most out of your festival experience.

The first and most important item on the shelter list is your tent. You won’t be spending much time in here but the time you do spend will be vital. Festivals certainly aren’t cheap, so you’re going to want to get your money’s worth by seeing as many acts as possible during your time there. In order to do this you’re going to have to wake up early and go to bed late, leaving you little time for sleep. Yet, sleep is necessary in order to sustain the festivities another day.

If your festival is a multi-night event, an air mattress is a necessity. I thought I could go without an air-mattress on my first festival experience and was sorely mistaken. Each night that you spend sleeping on the ground leaves you more sore. If you don’t own an air-mattress, I highly advise investing in one; it will make every bit of your experience that much more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be the highest quality air-mattress; it just shouldn’t require electricity to inflate.

Whatever you do, don’t forget your tent’s rain covers. Even if the forecast predicts clear skies, you still need to bring your rain covers. According to Daven Hiskey at todayifoundout.com, “air holds a certain amount of water vapor in it. How much water it can hold depends on the current ambient temperature. The higher the temperature, the more water vapor air can hold”. This is bad news for Florida festival goers because Florida is hot at the start of festival season and becomes more so as the season progresses. According to Hinskey “the temperature along the surfaces of these objects can eventually cool past the ‘dew point’ and once this happens, water from the air will condense on the objects, forming droplets” and these droplets will form all over your tent.

In other words, if you don’t bring your rain covers, your tent will get soaked inside. Dew droplets will form on the top of your tent and proceed to drop right inside while you’re making the long trek back from the festival grounds. After a day of music and party, all you’ll want to do when you get back is collapse into your tent and pass out. Yet, this might not be so enjoyable if the bottom of your tent is soaked. However, even if you forget your rain covers, at least you’ll have your air-mattress to float around on inside your tent.

While your tent is important, it’s not the only piece of shelter you’ll want to have with you. Listening to music all day is tiring, especially if you’re as passionate about it as I am. That being said, you’ll want to make the journey from the festival grounds to the camp grounds at least once a day for a rest-sesh. You’ll be standing or dancing all day so it’s nice to be able to sit down in a comfortable spot and grab a bite to eat midday. Unfortunately, your tent will most likely be scorching hot during the day due to the heat trapped inside. Luckily, you read RARA’s Florida Music-Festival Survival Guide, so you knew to bring a canopy with you; cheers to you, my friend.

Canopies are a great way to get shade from the brutal Florida sun, while still being able to enjoy a nice breeze. If you have two or three tents worth of people going it’s a good idea to setup the tents facing towards one another with the canopy in the middle. Set-up some folding chairs around the edges and just like that, you’ve created a living room for you and your friends. It’s also a good idea to lay down a tarp underneath the canopy and in between the tents; this will prevent dirt and mud from getting into your tent.

While the canopy is great for relaxing, it’s even better for making friends.The campgrounds can be like a small city; and if the campgrounds are Party City, then you want your camp to be the mayor’s office. With the canopy/tarp living room setup you’ll undoubtedly have people stopping by to say hello. I’ve met significantly more people at the festivals I brought a canopy to, which is cool, but what’s cooler is what people are willing trade you for just a minute in the shade.

There’s not a lot of use for money at most festival campgrounds; and because of this, not a lot of people bring money with them. This lack of U.S. currency leads to something pretty awesome happening – people start to barter for everything. You can trade a good conversation and a seat in the shade for just about anything from cigarettes to food. Although, it’s not polite to ask anything in return for an open seat, a lot of people will be eager to repay you for your hospitality.

Remember, the amount of rest you are able to get determines the amount of party you’ll be able to comfortably enjoy. Make the most of your night so that you can make the most out of your day.

Every festival provides food vendors but you’ll want to avoid these if you’re on a budget. It’s not that the food is unappetizing, in fact a lot of times vendors will offer up mouthwatering meals. The catch is that these vendors prey on the unprepared festival goer. If you forget to bring food, you’ll have no choice but to buy food from them and they name their own price. Since all the vendors are likely run by the company putting on the festival, there’s no competition to drive the price down. Because of this unfortunate food monopoly, I have ended up paying as much as fifteen dollars for hamburger the size of a McDouble.

If you don’t have copious amounts of money to spend on food then you’re going to want to come prepared. Check with your festival’s website to find out if the campgrounds offer grills. Unfortunately, you won’t be grilling up any hamburgers or steaks. In the Florida heat, you’ll be lucky if the ice in your cooler lasts into the second afternoon of the festival. This means anything you bring in a cooler must be eaten within the first thirty-six hours or it will start to go bad. When you consider the distance you may have to walk from your car to your campsite, it just isn’t worth it to haul a cooler.

However, just because you can’t grill up steaks doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a hot meal. Canned foods like ravioli or soup can be heated up using the can as a cooking pot. All you’ll need is a canned food, a spoon, a knife, a lighter, coals and a potholder, and you’ve got yourself a hot meal. Open your can of soup using your knife and place it on the grill over the hot coals, wait a few minutes and take the hot can off the grill using the potholder when ready. BOOM! The lunch of champions has been made, and now it’s time to enjoy your meal in the comfort of your camp’s living room.

While hot meals are most desired during your festival experience, they’re not always practical. You’ll want to bring snacks with you when you leave your camp for the festival grounds. You’re going to be gone for hours at a time and it’s nice to be able to stop and snack at times. Trail mix and beef jerky are two examples of good snacks to bring. You want something that not only tastes good but will also fuel your body. Protein, carbs, and calories are vital to keep you head bangin’ through your favorite band’s set list.


With all this eating, you’re also going to be doing a good deal of drinking. Water is key to survival, especially when you’re constantly sweating from dancing so much. Water bottles are awesome but they are heavy and awkward to carry. A lot of people who bring water bottles end up abandoning them on the hike from the car lot to their camp site. Gallon jugs are a little bit easier to carry and are more eco-friendly. Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle or canteen. To avoid weighing down your luggage, make sure to fill up your canteen as often as possible from the free water fountains on site at the festival grounds. If you remember to drink a lot of water while in the festival, you’ll only need to bring about a half a gallon of water per person per day for the campgrounds.

It’s also a good idea to substitute some of your water for Gatorade or some other form of sports drink. Your body may not be used to so much abuse. According to Edward Kane with bodybio.com, “Body fluids are primarily water and electrolytes” and with all the sweating you’ll be doing during the day, you’re going to lose a lot of both of these. Kane says “Electrolytes turn on all thought and motion, almost like a wall switch. They trigger all events like muscle action by controlling ion channels”. So in laymen’s terms, you need to replace the electrolytes you sweat out in order to keep partying.

Finally, once you have all the drink you need to survive, you’ll want to pack the drink you need to party. Rules vary from festival to festival so remember to check your festival’s website for exact specifications; but most festivals permit one handle of alcohol or one case of beer per person. If food inside the festival grounds is expensive, then alcohol is priceless. You’ll want to drink at the camp before you head out to the festival grounds in order to avoid paying an arm and a leg for alcohol. I advise the handle over the case as the beer will be warm by the end of the first day. However, keep in mind that most campgrounds prohibit glass bottles, so you’ll want to find your favorite liquor in a plastic bottle.
Even if you don’t drink alcohol, it’s not a bad idea to bring some with you anyway. With all the bartering going on in festival campgrounds, everything has a value. In my festival experience, alcohol seems to be at the top of a lot of festival goers’ hierarchy of needs, giving it high value among barters.


The amount of clothing you’ll need depends on the number of days and nights you’ll be camping and festival going. It’s a good idea to bring two pairs of clothing per day; it’s usually a little bit cooler at night than it is during the day so it’s nice to be able to change clothes accordingly. More importantly, your clothes will be disgusting by midday and you’ll want to get out of them. If your sweat isn’t enough to make you want to change your clothes midday, perhaps the thousands of other sweaty people bumping into you will be enough to make you want to change, not to mention the dirt and dust constantly getting kicked up into the air.

It’s also important to have a plan B when it comes to clothing. It’s usually hot in Florida during festival season so it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s going to be hot during your festival. However, there’s nothing worse than being caught in the cold unprepared, so it’s usually a good idea to bring an emergency set of cold weather clothing. As with most things, better safe than sorry.

When it comes to shoes, there’s only one way to go – comfort. I get it, hiking shoes aren’t the coolest or maybe you want to wear your converse so you can get all your new friends to sign them, but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that you can comfortably get around. You will walk more in a four day period at a festival than you will in two weeks’ time anywhere else. If walking from the car lot to the campsite, and then from the campsite to the festival grounds isn’t enough, once you’re in the festival grounds, stages can be over a mile apart in some cases. Don’t let your shoe choice stop you from making it to your favorite band’s set on time.

Finally, it’s very useful to bring a backpack with you. You’ll want to bring snacks with you from your camp to the festival grounds, and you’ll need a place to keep that drumstick you catch during the show. You don’t need a hiking pack or even a school backpack. I recommend a small drawstring bag; it’s light and simple with just enough room for the necessities.

In the end, it’s important to look cool at a festival, and you should always stay true to your own unique style, but you need to remember why we wear clothes. When a caveman first strapped some leaves to his foot and called it “ughuh” by which I’m sure he meant “shoe”, he did so because it helped him get around, not because it looked cool, which it did. Festivals and festival camping have a way of making us remember our most basic needs and clothing is no exception. Remember to bring the clothes you need, even if they’re not the clothes you want.

Bonus Tips

  1. Bring a decongestant or nasal spray. Festival snot is a thick, black mucus that forms as a results of inhaling the dirt and dust that gets kicked up into the air by the thousands of people shuffling around the festival grounds.
  2. Be cool, man! Remember that everyone is there to have a good time, same as you. You will undoubtedly run into loud, pushy, or generally annoying people, but don’t let it get to you. When you’re in the pit at a festival, moving ten feet can literally make all the difference in the world. Moving a short distance means surrounding yourself with an entirely new group of people, so if the people surrounding you are getting on your nerves, don’t sweat it!
  3. See what you came to see. Checkout the set times online and make sure none of your favorite artist’s set times overlap. If they do, make plans to leave one artist partway through their set in order to make it to the end of your other favorite artist’s set. Overall, it’s not a bad idea to plan out exactly who you want to see and when you want to see them each day. I have found that it’s hard to stick to the plan but it’s always helpful to have one.
  4. Lock it up. For the most part you’ll come across nothing but goodwill and good vibes at a festival, but there are always a few bad apples in the bunch. Bring a padlock for your tent to prevent smugglers from raiding your camp. Just the sight of a lock will deter most thieves since there are so many tents without locks.
  5. R.I.P.! Prepare a eulogy because your phone will die. It doesn’t matter how sparsely you use it, it will die. I find it’s best to keep your phone turned off except for times that you really need it. If you’re like me and your phone is your only camera, it’s a good idea to only turn your phone on every now and then to take pictures.
  6. Dirty is a relative term. Festivals that offer showers at the campgrounds charge a lot for patrons to use them and as a result, most people just don’t shower. Stay ahead of the game by showering in the sink or at the hose; most campgrounds offer one of these two options, it’s where you’ll be brushing your teeth.
  7. See no evil, hear no evil, sleep better. It’s a good idea to bring ear plugs and eye-covers in order to get the best night’s sleep possible. The ear plugs are to block out the people that don’t sleep. I don’t know how it’s possible but some people party from the time they get back to the campgrounds at night till the time the sun comes up in the morning. That same sun comes up pretty early and if you want to sleep a minute past sunrise, eye-covers are clutch.
  8. Yearbook it! Bring a permanent marker and something to sign. You’re going to meet a lot of really cool people and it’s nice to be able to keep something to help you remember all the new friends you made.

I hope this survival guide has been useful to you. Festivals are exhausting and strenuous but most of all they are fun. Pack well and prepare for the time of your life, but above all else, rock on. If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this survival guide feel free to tweet me with any questions or concerns. Find me @JoeyFarese.

Hiskey, Daven. “What Causes Dew.” todayifoundout.com. Vacca Foeda Media, 21 6 2012. Web. 8 Feb 2014. .

Kane, Edward. “The E-Lyte Story: Why You Need Electrolytes!.” bodybio.com. Body Bio Inc., 7 5 2010. Web. 10 Feb 2014.

Sick Puppies Rock Jacksonville’s Freebird Live Cafe

sick puppies freebird
Sick Puppies at Freebird Live

Sick Puppies Jacksonville Concert Review

I had just finished hosting nine hours on my FM Radio show here in Jacksonville, and was ready for my day off to see Sick Puppies, Indie rockers riding a recent wave of popularity – a band I had heard much about, but one I had never took the time to really listen to.

I grabbed my phone, lined up a photographer and began to plan for the show at the legendary Freebird Live Cafe in Jacksonville Beach.  I did my homework and quickly realized that Sick Puppies has been working the rock music scene for fifteen years. They have a lot of talent and plenty of hit songs. So, this assignment was going to be a fun one, and I was ready to go.

I was impressed by the venue. The first thing you notice is how clean and professionally set up the design is. With an upstairs balcony that allows the fans to watch from above, it really makes it much more accommodating and fun to enjoy, versus a venue with a flat floor.

Sick Puppies at Freebird Live
Sick Puppies at Freebird Live

Back to the show; after the opening bands took their bows, it was time for the headliners. The lights went black and smoke bellowed out unto the excited fans on the floor. Sick Puppies took the stage and were immediately busting loose with a fast uptempo song that had everyone head banging and dancing to the hard-driving tune. No metal, just really cool rock and roll jams that I will be listening to on my MP3 player long into the future.

These cool sounding Australian rockers formed back in 1997. Sick Puppies consists of vocalist and guitarist Shimon Moore, who the crowd immediately adored, with his good looks, happy attitude, and showmanship that other front men only wish they could offer. He was an instant success with the energetic crowd. Moore played his guitar with enthusiasm, but took time not to rush the solo’s, which were very well-received by the fans.

He stopped a few times to chat between songs. With triple duties: singer, lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist; he showed no signs of wear.

The long haired beauty playing bass guitar is Emma Anzai. She had everyone’s eyes, because she commanded the stage like no other female in a long time. With the mounted fans blowing at full speed and her hair swirling, it was hard to take your eyes off the visualization of this captivating musician.

Sick Puppies at Freebird Live
Sick Puppies’ Emma Anzai at Freebird Live

The pulsating beats that she hammered out were mesmerizing to watch and a joy to hear. She played to the fans and they really enjoyed her, seeming down-to-earth and untouchable at the same time.  Stalking the stage, she assured the fans were getting complete access to her, which was refreshing to see from a veteran musician. And her perfect on-time bass playing just added to the experience.

Drummer Mark Goodwin, was the backbone of this trio with thunder-drums and pounding excellence that you typically only see in the studios. One thing I realized watching and listening to this show – They could have recorded the next live CD right there at Freebird’s – they sounded like they just came from the studio.

These guys are professionals at what they do. After enough concerts, reviews and shows I’ve been to, I respect seeing a professional band that will always be remembered for how good they really are – without engineers changing the sounds or producers taking over the controls on the soundboard to make the band sound better than they actually are. Sick Puppies is one of those rare gems. No need for any adjustments; they have their sound and act down pat!

That’s why they have pushed through with popular rock hits for years, offering up jams that really are hits and great songs for over 15 years now, and still rocking like it was their first tour. This trio is a can’t miss act who I’ll be catching any time they return to town, and highly recommend that you do the same.

I also appreciated that they gave many fans an opportunity to meet them after the show, and impressed by Moore’s humility, something rarely seen in this world of rock and roll. Thanks to Sick Puppies for a great show and for showing love to the Florida fans who flocked to Freebird Live to see you. At this point, I will put this show down as the best of 2013 and I have witnessed a lot this year in my hometown (Skynyrd’s hometown) of Jacksonville.

Freebird Live was an ideal venue for the show. The club is owned by the the wife of the late Ronnie Van Zant (lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd).  If you ever get to Jacksonville, get down to the beach and check out Freebird Live Cafe; you’ll be glad you did. It has a nice historical context, as well. You’ll see rare memorabilia from the Lynyrd Skynyrd family – Gold and Platinum albums everywhere; guitars adorning the walls , and many memories for the hometown locals are shared throughout. I highly recommend everyone to visit  this venue and witness some rock history – the atmosphere is overwhelming! 

Another review for another cool band coming soon – right here at Rarasfarm.com – save us as a favorite on your toolbar.

I’ll be back!

92.1 FM
Jacksonville Florida

Brooklyn’s Hank & Cupcakes gets everybody jumping in Jacksonville!

Hank & Cupcakes
Hank & Cupcakes – photo Leon Jonjock

Hank & Cupcakes Jacksonville Show Review

Another great show at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, Florida – this time the techno rock stylings of Hank & Cupcakes.

Hank & Cupcakes
Hank & Cupcakes – photo Leon Jonjock

I was impressed with this group. They stood out over the other three 3 bands I was there to review; hard to believe these artists are only a duo! Only two of them, but the most exciting music I have ever heard. – I was amazed at the way they performed together with so much love and happiness for each other.  It was exciting to see and hear – this duo stealing the show and dominating the audience’s attention.

They commanded everyone’s attention – with cool hip bass pounding beats – and a girl who loved to beat those drums! Their formula works, and had everybody in the house very happy, very quickly.

Last August, Hank & Cupcakes recorded their album with Swedish producer Ludwig Boss- at the famous Hansa Studios in Berlin, where landmark records from U2, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, R.E.M. & many more were made.

They released 5 song EP, Ain’t No Love late last year; and the subsequent debut album, Naked was released in July and is definitely worth a listen.  I have listened to the EP – Mp3 set on my headphones every day since the show – and I am a happy man! Grab their EP MP3 online somewhere and enjoy this music man ! Check it out here: Ain’t No Love – Single – Hank & Cupcakes

Thanks to Jack Rabbits – for another great show – they always bring the best in talent when booking.

And be on the lookout for another cool concert review from HappyJack!  Until then , take care , and keep Rarsafarm.com as a favorite on your toolbar !

Happy Jack
See more photos from the show here: RARA’s Farm’s Facebook