No, Jacksonville doesn’t have that House of Blues but it does have the next best thing. No, scratch that, something better!
Mojo Kitchen BBQ Pit and Blues Bar on Beach Blvd is our answer to the over-hyped, over-priced chain of “blues joints” in major cities across the states. But unlike the real HOB, Mojo Kitchen actually hosts Blues concerts (I saw Sick Of It All at the HOB in Chicago of all places!), and damn good ones too!
Stacey B and I went out on a limb to pay the $10 cover for a band we had never heard of, The Nouveaux Honkies. The write-up in Folio sounded pretty awesome (and yes, I still stand by my earlier rantings, but hey) and since we both live at the Beach and nothing exciting was going down in the Core, we decided to check it out.
I had never been there before but I was immediately impressed. The decor is very arty and fun with tons of Blues-inspired paintings and posters. While I would have preferred somewhere more reminiscent of a rickety juke joint down by the bayou, it is The Beaches after all. Seeing as how it was a BBQ place and all, and being from Texas I do consider myself to be quite the connoisseur, I ordered a Carolina Pork sandwich and suggested Stacey get the Chopped Brisket. And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the best BBQ outside of The Lone Star State – no shit! Washed it all down with a couple of Shiner Bocks and it was time for the music!
First up on stage was a grisly bearded guy with a train engineer’s cap who appeared to be doing a solo acoustic set. Yeah, not so much. This phenomenally talented dude was Ben Prestage, a bona-fide one-man-band! The sound that came from the stage was a swampy, whisky-soaked Tennessee blues that made you stomp your foot and slap your leg. He even did his own version of this cover. By the time he brandished his cigar box-broom handle guitar I was smitten. I’m not kidding when I say this guy could play the drums with his feet about as good as I can with all my limbs. I was left with no choice but to purchase both his albums and hope it was half the experience seeing him live was.
I felt really sorry for the headlining band because no matter how awesome you are, it is nearly impossible to follow an act like Ben’s. People will always remember that guy who played the drums, guitar, bass, and harmonica all at the same time and hooted and hollered about fire and brimstone. Nevertheless, The Nouveaux Honkies brought it. Their mix of Rockabilly, country, blues and roots rock was all snakeskin, tuxedo ruffles and red lipstick. Rebecca Dawkins can do some amazing things with her violin and Tim O’Donnell’s hollow body Gibson spat fire and damnation all over the place. It was truly one of those nights where you know you picked the most awesome thing to do possible. I am super-stoked for Reverend Horton Heat at Freebird Live on Oct 29th now, that’s for damn sure!
BTW, Stacey B and I are starting and indie-folk band! First jam session is today after Bike Polo, so stay tuned for updates on that!