I drove to Tallahassee this past weekend to see a concert and to watch the Seminoles try to play football. Friday was one of those days I hope to never forget. Saturday was one of those days I hope to forget as quickly as possible. It was my first time listening to a concert at Cascades Park and my first time seeing JJ Grey and Mofro play live. I know I will be going back to see more shows at this one-of-a-kind venue.
I arrived in Tallahassee just as workers were leaving their offices for the day around the capital. I found one of the free parking garages that are available for events at Cascades Park, and I learned the hard way to only enter the parking garage on the level that does not have a boom gate. Luckily, my reverse of shame was not very long and there was a long enough pause in traffic to not cause an accident. After my parking adventure, I started walking into the park to find the Capital City Amphitheater. They were not letting people in yet, so I made my way to the Historical Electric Building that is adjacent to the Amphitheater. The building now is home to the Edison Restaurant, and it would be worth the trip to Tallahassee just to eat here. It was a great place to have a drink and a meal before the concert.
Once inside the gated area near the Amphitheater, I got in line for an armband stating I was over 21, and then into another line to purchase a cold beverage of my choice. Later in the evening, I stood in yet another line for the restroom. The show was sold out and I am glad there was at least some of sort of capacity control in place because it felt crowded. The music quickly helped to decrease my claustrophobia, and I realized what a beautiful place to see a concert this is. Roosevelt Collier, who I have had the pleasure of seeing many times on stage at the Spirit of the Suwannee, played an outstanding set as the sun was on its way down behind the trees. Roosevelt’s music and the loosening grip of the heat helped to improve my mood before JJ Grey took me on a journey to a part of Florida that sounded so much like Suwannee County.
Hearing the stories and inspiration behind JJ Grey’s music was a big part of the show. You could tell he had a strong connection to the Florida landmarks he sang about. One song in particular, “Lochloosa,” really spoke to me. I wished that the windows of the Capitol building were open and that maybe a politician or two could hear the words he was singing. When he says all we need is one more development, Mickey Mouse, golf course, country club, and gated community, I wonder at what point the leaders of Florida would stop green-lighting such endeavors. Before the night was over I had heard the best harmonica playing ever and the best live performance of “Hey Joe” originally by Jimi Hendrix ever. It was not hard to understand why the show was sold out.
I was hoping that the good times of Friday night would continue on into Saturday, but you can’t always get what you want. It was rough watching the Seminole football team struggle to beat a team that they paid to come to Tallahassee. The fact that it was still about 100 degrees for the 5 p.m. kickoff only added to the misery. If the Seminoles continue to play the way they did for the second half against ULM, it might be another year without a bowl appearance for my alma mater.
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.