This past Friday night, there were at least two places in Suwannee County that were hopping late into the night. My evening started with the powder puff football game at Paul Langford Stadium. If you have never seen the girls of Suwannee High School play football you are missing out. Each year the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes battle it out to see which class has the best female athletes. To add to the entertainment value of this event, the boys are the cheerleaders for the teams and compete against each other in hilarious fashion. This year the sophomore girls won the game and their cheerleaders won as well. After that, I went to the Spirit of the Suwannee to check out a new band that was playing in the music hall.
I knew it was packed by how far away from the hall I had to park. Once inside, I could not find a seat. The band was taking a break, and people were enjoying their food and drinks. They opened their next set with the U2 hit “With or Without You.” That song is one I have heard Bono sing twice live, and Justin Time played it flawlessly. After a couple of country songs that the crowd loved but that I am not familiar with, they played “Shut up and Dance,” originally by Walk the Moon. The hall was rocking and the dance floor in front of the stage filled up. Before this set was over, they played “The Joker” by Steve Miller, “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, and the country hits “It Ain’t the Whiskey” by Gary Allan and “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. Despite all of the singing about whiskey, the favorite beverage of the attendees was beer. The bar backs were getting quite a workout carting the cases of bottles around.
Justin Time is a newly formed group comprised of musicians who have played for other bands in the past. Part of the reason they are able to play such a wide variety of music is because so many of the band members are able to play multiple instruments. Frank Freihofer from Live Oak plays the guitar and sings. Nick Kirby from Live Oak also plays guitar and sings. Matt Johns from Lake City plays the saxophone, the guitar and sings. Kenny Chinn from Orange Park plays the keyboard and trombone. Carl Manna from Branford plays the drums. I have heard Carl play with many other groups and it is always a good time. Jonathan Benefield from Lake City plays the bass. I imagine this group will be performing together again judging by the crowd’s reaction to their music.
In their next set, they played “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, several country songs, and “Sugar” and “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. I don’t know what time Justin Time wrapped things up, but by 11 p.m. I was tired and headed home. On the way, I passed Armando’s on 129 and noticed there was a large crowd and many cars in their lot. It was great to see more than one venue doing well on a Friday night in Live Oak. It is not necessary to leave the county to have a good time anymore.
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at email@example.com.